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Norwood considers grant application

Monday night Norwood Mayor Harold Thompson opened a public hearing to consider applying for a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant for economic development, of which 60 percent of grant funds are required to benefit low- and moderate-income residents.

“Norwood has been approved to submit an application,” said Thompson, who noted the grant would fund re-use of a structure at 140 N. Main St. for a food manufacturing operation with retail space included.

Only one comment was offered at the public hearing, a question as to the responsibilities of the town and the building owner regarding the grant funds.

“The owner of the building is responsible for filing the application,” Thompson said, “and if the grant is funded, it would be administered by the town, with the owner providing matching funds.”

A required second public hearing on the application was announced for the next meeting of the town commission at 7 p.m. Jan. 22.

Commissioners also fielded a request from Chuck Howell, speaking on behalf of the South Stanly Dixie Youth Baseball League.

“I’m appearing before you to request assistance from the town toward the cost of electricity for lighting our fields,” said Howell, who noted that the cost of operating the lights normally runs $4,500 to $4,800 each season.

“Currently, we have about 170 players in the league, and each of them pays $80 to take part. However, to completely cover the cost for the lights, we would have to raise the cost to $150 per player,” he told the commissioners, noting the league is volunteer-run and partially offsets the cost through concessions, donations and sponsorships.

Commissioner Robbie Cohen, a former president of the baseball league, said he is “very familiar” with the league’s plight.

“We have reached out to Duke Power in the past to request their assistance, but without success,” he said.

The commission agreed in principle to assist the youth baseball group, but took no official action pending receipt of further information from town attorney Jim Phillips on best practices for payments of the lighting expense. Formal action on the request will be taken at the board’s Feb. 5 meeting.

The board also discussed funding of a “Winter Wonderland” event in February.

“Last year’s event was wildly successful,” said Town Administrator John Mullis, who described the 2018 affair.

“The event was held last year at no cost to the town,” said Mullis, who noted the town had not been able to procure donations and sponsorships to offset the $6,000 cost for the event.

Cohen moved, seconded by Commissioner Betty Harrison, that the town support the event. The motion passed by a 4-2 vote, with Thompson and Commissioner Larry McMahon dissenting.

Thompson questioned why the expense was not budgeted.

“I’m not against this event at all,” said Thompson, “but I feel the expense should have been planned for.”

“We just put the baseball league off until February, and they were asking for less, so I can’t support it,” said McMahon.

The event is scheduled for Feb. 2, but could be rescheduled if weather forecast for that day indicates warm temperatures.