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Stanly commissioners add support to Oakboro sewer project with potential loan

At an emergency meeting Thursday of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners, the board added support to the funding of a sewer project in Oakboro.

“A lot of water and sewer improvements have to be made,” County Manager Andy Lucas said, in terms of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry’s moving to Oakboro.

The county secured a $2.5 million grant from the Utility Development Fund to help Oakboro build water lines, Lucas said.

Stanly also got a $2.5 million grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation for a water tower. The Golden Leaf Foundation, of which Albemarle attorney Charles Brown is the chairman of its board, distributes money from tobacco settlements to increase economic opportunity in rural areas.

Lucas said the county’s goal was to secure $3 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) for sewer work in Oakboro.

However, the federal EDA said the county has to match funds on a 50-50 basis. Money also must be immediately available.

Oakboro Town Administrator Doug Burgess said Oakboro would need to take out a loan, Lucas said. Because the EDA needs a letter by July 1 to show they have matching funds available, Burgess asked if the county could loan Oakboro the money.

Lucas said when operational the new plant will use on average 130,000 gallons of water per day. Even if Oakboro were to get a loan elsewhere, which he said they should get easily, the money raised from the sale of water would cover a loan and then some.

For the letter, Lucas said, Oakboro needed to show it had more funding available. Applying for a private placement loan takes more time than the grant proposal’s July 1 deadline, which is why Oakboro asked the county for interim financing.

Commissioner Scott Efird asked about the EDA’s hesitance to approve the grant. Lucas said because of recent news of lowered unemployment in Stanly, the EDA was “having a really difficult time trying to justify” the grant.

Lucas also noted the county is still economically distressed. The county “has a lot of commitments (but) we haven’t seen anything come out of the ground,” Lucas said about proposed projects. Those commitments, he added, did not include Charlotte Pipe, which has broken construction on the new plant. (For related story, click here: https://www.thesnaponline.com/2021/03/24/local-state-officials-get-update-on-charlotte-pipe-plant-in-oakboro/)

Chairman Bill Lawhon asked if a loan by the county would convert to terms specified if Oakboro needed the county’s money before private loan funds were available. Lucas said it would.

Commissioner Lane Furr moved to approve the potential loan, seconded by Vice Chairman Tommy Jordan, and the motion passed 6-0. Commissioner Zack Almond was not in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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