01/28/05 — Money being raised for Duplin Commons

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Money being raised for Duplin Commons

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 28, 2005 1:58 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin County commissioners have approved a study to prepare for a campaign to raise money for the Duplin Commons.

Ed Emory and Tom Fife of the Duplin Commons Foundation told commissioners this week that the study, to be conducted by the Ketchum Co., will help the foundation identify how much money volunteers would be able to raise to help the county pay off the debt it incurred in building the Duplin Commons projects.

The building projects include a new agricultural building and 2,000-seat events center.

The $3.3 million agricultural building is expected to be finished by the end of March. Furniture will be moved in during April, and the building should be ready to occupy in early May, officials say.

The $7.6 million events center should be finished by the end of September.

The county has been under pressure to relieve overcrowding of offices at Courthouse Square, and officials hope the events center will bring money into the county.

"We are not experts in the fund-raising field," said Fife.

The company wants $19,500 to do the study. The county already has $9,000 earmarked for the study in the late 1990s, and the foundation has donated another $1,000. The remaining money can come out of the sale of the Omega Building, which the county owned in Wallace.

If the money is available and the foundation volunteers will be able to raise it, Ketchum will provide counseling and other support for $347,000.

"The $347,000 may or may not occur," said Fife. He said all the foundation asks is help in finding out how much money can be raised.

Commissioner David Fussell was the only commissioner to vote against the planning study contract. He wanted to table the matter.

"How much more money will we have to give to this campaign?" he asked.

County Manager Fred Eldridge said the foundation can't go after $10 million over two years without help.

"They haven't identified whether there is $10 million out there to raise," he said.

Eldridge reminded the board that the foundation "has come forward offering to help reduce the burden on the county."

Commissioner L.S. Guy said the county is going to have to pay for a project manager somewhere down the road.