08/16/12 — Local projects on list to compete for Golden LEAF funds

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Local projects on list to compete for Golden LEAF funds

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 16, 2012 1:46 PM

A nine-member community review team charged with prioritizing local projects seeking a share of $2 million from the Golden LEAF Foundation will meet Tuesday, Aug. 28, to review its work and begin its deliberations.

The projects under review followed six months of community meetings held at Wayne Community College to identify local needs that would qualify for the funding.

The meetings produced 24 projects representing nearly $27 million in total costs with $13 million being sought from the foundation's Community Assistance Initiative -- a grant-making process targeting the state's economically distressed, or Tier 1, counties.

The prioritized proposals will be presented to the Golden LEAF Foundation board of directors for a decision.

Golden LEAF money comes from the tobacco quota buyout and settlement reached several years ago between the federal government and the tobacco companies. A portion of the money paid out by the companies was set aside to boost economic development and quality of life in the state. The foundation was created to distribute the money.

"The review team has a tough job to do," said Pat Cabe, foundation vice president of programs/ community assistance and outreach. "There were 24 projects submitted requesting over $13 million in support and there is a $2 million budget for this grants initiative.

"We expect that the review team will finish its work by mid-September, at the latest, in order for the priority projects selected to submit full proposals to Golden LEAF for funding decisions at the December board of directors meeting."

Foundation President Dan Gerlach reviewed the projects during the June meeting, providing foundation staff feedback, asked questioned and offered suggestions about each one.

Grant requests ranged from $2,500 for the Reach Out and Read program to $1 million for a Civil War and heritage center at Waynesborough Village and $2 million for an employment initiative program.

Before the meeting concluded, groups of people representing civic, government and education broke up into three smaller groups representing the areas they had identified for possible projects.

Each group submitted three people for the review team.

The team is made up of:

* Education and workforce development: Dr. Phillip Kerstetter, Mount Olive College president; Mike Haney, existing industry specialist with the Wayne County Economic Development Alliance; Susie Acree of the Partnership for Children of Wayne County; and alternate Dorothy Moore of Wayne Community College.

* Economic development and infrastructure: Robyn Wade of An Open Door Community Development Corp.; Chuck Allen, Goldsboro City Council; Sherry Archibald, Paramount Theatre; and alternate Kari Sander of Mount Olive College.

* Youth services: Mary Ann Dudley, Boys and Girls Club; Darren Goroski, Goldsboro Family Y; and Linda Dean, principal of Riverbend School at Cherry Hospital; and alternate Mural Lanier of Wayne Community College.

Committee members had to sign a conflict of interest form and are not allowed to vote for any projects they are involved with or stand to profit from.

Once the projects are selected, formal proposals will have to be submitted by Oct. 12. That will give the foundation time to study the proposals, Ms. Cabe said.

The final decision will be made by the foundation board when it meets Dec. 6.

"We are grateful to everyone who has participated in the Community Assistance Initiative process in Wayne County," Ms. Cabe said. "There is more work to be done, but folks have worked hard at a good pace and have put a lot of thought into developing goals and potential projects.