11/03/11 — School projects ready to start

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School projects ready to start

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 3, 2011 1:46 PM

Work is expected to begin Monday at Eastern Wayne Middle School, with Norwayne Middle School's project set to start a few weeks later, as the county embarks on a $17.7 million school construction/renovation project.

The commissioners, who in September approved the sale of $15 million in bonds as the primary funding source for the projects, cleared the way Tuesday morning for the work to start when they adopted a capital projects ordinance as well as a budget amendment for the projects.

The ordinance will authorize the demolition, construction, repair and renovation of facilities on both campuses.

"In order for the county to avoid the issue of appropriation every year of funds, proceeds from the bonds, we are required to establish a capital project ordinance allowing the project to go from one fiscal year to the next fiscal year," County Manager Lee Smith said. "Of course, we have done it through 2014 in case there are any issues with timing."

"We will be informed annually on what is going on," J.D. Evans said.

"Yes," Smith said. "We will be giving you progress reports. We will be having meetings every two weeks. We will have a monthly meeting of staff just to make sure that we are on line with payments and that type thing so we will give you a monthly or bi-monthly report on progress."

The motion by Commissioner John Bell to proceed was approved 7-0. Commissioner Jack Best did not vote, but was counted as a yes vote as per board policy.

Low-bidder Monteith Construction of Raleigh will do the work. Monteith submitted a bid of $14.5 million, which includes alternatives for items like an additional 20,000-square-foot classroom building for $1,963,000 and $250,000 in heating and air conditioning renovations to the cafeteria and gym at Norwayne and $227,000 for heating and air conditioning renovations to the cafeteria and gym at Eastern Wayne.

The $17,687,355 project will be financed mainly through the sale of $15 million in federal Qualified School Construction Bonds. The interest, about $700,000 annually, will be reimbursed to the county by the federal government. That reimbursement is contingent on annual federal appropriations.

The bonds will be paid off over a 14-year period at an interest rate of 4.33 percent. The annual installment payment will be $1,071,458. The county will use lottery funds to make the annual principal payment and local dollars for the interest.

The board of education has deeded the two school properties to the county to be used as collateral. The county will in turn lease the properties back to the school board.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners during their agenda briefing refused to allow the addition of a setback variance request on the agenda.

Commissioners last month tabled action on a two-lot subdivision on Rosewood Road. Owners/developers Addie and Durwood Evans also had sought a variance in the setback rules that would allow the front of planned modular homes to be 35 feet instead of the required 60 feet.

The Planning Board had recommended approval, but commissioners were concerned about allowing the variance. They asked that more information be provided including information about the septic system drain line located behind the property that was the reason cited for the variance.

Commissioner Steve Keen asked that the board discuss the issue during its regular session. However, Chairman J.D. Evans decided to return it to the Planning Board.

Commissioner John Bell agreed and said commissioners still lacked information they had requested.

However, Frances Whitfield, of C.L. Whitfield, (professional land surveyor), said she had turned the information in more than a week prior to the board meeting.

County Attorney Borden Parker said the information provided still did not include the septic system line that the county had asked for.

Commissioner said they were hesitant to allow the variance because it would move the homes closer to the road. The county ordinance regulating the setback was adopted out of concern about what would happen if a road was widened and a house was already close to the road, commissioners said.

No one spoke during a brief public hearing on the closeout of the county's 2008 $400,000 Community Development Block Grant Scattered Site Housing Assistance program.

The hearing actually was more of an information session on the closeout of the project and a review of its accomplishments and no action was required by the board.

David Harris of RSM Harris Associates, the county's Community Development Block Grant project director, told commissioners that the money had been used to replace three houses in the Mount Olive, Fremont and Pikeville areas and had come in under budget by $10,000.

The grants operate on a three-year cycle and Wayne County will be eligible to apply next year for additional grant funds, he said.

Commissioners adopted two proclamations.

The first, designating November as Military Family Appreciation Month, is a project by Charles B. Aycock High School DECA members Jenna Hussey, Jade Woodard and Addie Vail.

The second designated Nov. 20-26 as Farm-City Week.

The board met in closed session for an hour to discuss industry/business locating in the county. No action was taken when the board returned to open session.

In their consent agenda, the board approved:

* Appointing Evelyn Coley as interim director of the Wayne County Health Department at a salary of $81,456.

* A request by Mount Olive College officials to use fireworks on campus this Friday as part of its 60th anniversary celebration.