Commissioners approve nearly $29 million bid package for construction of Farm, Food and Family Education Center

Randolph County Commissioners

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday, September 5, with a variety of budget-related matters and requests on the agenda.

The board first recognized the Randolph County Public Library’s Community Navigators Program for winning the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners 2023 Civic Excellence and Innovation Award.

“This award is given annually to 10 successful programs in the state, and so from time to time, it’s not uncommon for Randolph County to have a program that is recognized in this way,” said Commissioner Hope Haywood.

“This program embeds social workers at the public libraries in Randolph County. So, they have scheduled hours at each of the libraries, not just the main one, but at the others too. So, in essence, we are taking services through our navigators to our people in different parts of the county. We took the services out to where the people are with the birth of this Navigator program.

“There are all these agencies that provide different types of care and resources, but to the average person who is facing hardships in their lives, they have no idea. We don’t want people who just need some resources to end up putting their children into foster care because they cannot provide for them and coming onto the DSS radar or ending up on the radar for the Sheriff’s Department when there are resources that are there.”

According to Haywood, since February of 2022, the program has helped 758 clients with needs ranging from housing, food insecurity, medical matters, employment and transportation.

The board also approved a budget amendment to reallocate funding in response to a public safety market analysis that the county had done.

“We’re losing deputies to the City of Asheboro, Randleman, Siler City and the same thing is happening in our EMS programs,” said Board Chair Darrell Frye. “We’re losing good people that we’ve trained because someone else has come along and offered more money, and I think that’s to be expected.

“We knew when we adopted our budget in June that this study was underway. So, included in our budget, we had already set aside a lump sum of money pending the outcome of the market study.”

The budget amendment reallocates $446,309 total – broken down to $377,625 to the sheriff’s department, $33,186 to building inspections and $25,498 to public health – in order to address competitive pay.

“We are trying to address it, trying to be competitive and we want to show our employees our appreciation,” Frye said. “All the things we take for granted, these employees make possible in this county. We’re appreciative of that.”

The board then approved a $28,913,936 construction bid package with Holden Building Company for the construction of the Farm, Food and Family Education Center.

“This is the result of many, many hours spent with the community stakeholders putting together a plan for this Farm, Food and Family Education Center,” said Randolph County NC Cooperative Extension Director Kenny Sherin. “I think there’s a perception out there that this is for agriculture, and yes, it will benefit agriculture, but this is for the community also. Of the many projects that are done and part of the county’s portfolio, this project had the ability to benefit many residents in Randolph County.”

According to County Engineer Paxton Arthurs, the expected completion time for the F3EC will be in the first quarter of 2025.

The board also approved the application for a needs-based public school capital funds grant for South Asheboro Middle School.

“We’re in year nine of our 10-year facilities plan,” said Asheboro City Schools Superintendent Aaron Woody. “We just finished our renovation project for Asheboro High School. In that process, we’ve continued to review the needs and priorities of all our facilities across the school district, and now, with the exception of our high school, all of our buildings are at an average age of about 60 years.

“We had heard whisperings about a pretty significant needs-based capital improvement grant through the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and that has indeed happened. It is a grant that includes new construction as well as renovation projects. The grant requires a match from the county based on NC Department of Revenue assessed real estate value. So, counties that have an adjusted market value that is less than $40 billion are eligible to apply for this grant with a 0-35% match. In Randolph County, the current match would be 15% of any dollar amount that we pursue.”

Asheboro City Schools will apply for $35 million in funding through the grant, meaning that if accepted, the county’s required portion will be $5.25 million.

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners will next meet October 2.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal