Supporters of a regional water study have donated $750 so far, and more is on the way.
Chamber officials said earlier this week that the office had received a number of calls from individuals promising to send contributions to the special fund.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners has decided not to pay its $2,500 share of the cost, and a group interested in proceeding with the regional study has decided to raise the $2,500 on the county's behalf.
At a meeting last Friday, state Rep. Jamie Boles told supporters that the Chamber of Commerce had agreed to set up a special account to handle contributions. Individuals had contributed $400 by the time the meeting ended Friday.
At the center of the study are water and sewage treatment facilities on the Lumber River in Scotland County. The facilities formerly served a huge textile operation in a rural area near the town of Wagram.
Although the utilities are located in another jurisdiction, their availability is of interest to Moore County for a number of reasons, including a recommendation included in the McGill Associates water study of three years ago.
The village of Pinehurst made a bid to buy the utilities several months ago but did not succeed because the Scotland County Board of Commissioners has not voted approval of the out-of-county purchase.
The Lumber River Council of Governments (COG) has secured a $39,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Center to cover half of the estimated cost of the study, which would encompass the preliminary engineering work on the utilities. The two facilities are in use but are not being used anywhere near capacity and are thought to have the potential for considerable expansion.
Acceptance of the grant is contingent upon receipt of $39,000 in matching funds. The Lumber River COG has agreed to pay $22,375 of the match. The council assessed participating local governments according to size.
However, the Moore County commissioners have balked at paying the $2,500 because the original agreement called for the COG to secure grants covering the entire cost of the study with no financial obligation to the county.
Tim Lea, chairman of the Moore County board, reiterated that position in a June 24 letter to Boles.
"The Moore County Board of Commissioners has determined unanimously that the commitment should be honored and, until such time, the board chooses not to change its previous decision to reject the request for the $2,500 match payment," Lea told Boles in the letter.
The Moore County commissioners took that original vote in March at the time the COG was authorized to pursue grant funding.
Moore County is not part of the Lumber River COG, but Robeson and Scotland counties are members. Drowning Creek, a tributary of the Lumber River, is the source of water for the Southern Pines municipal water plant. A portion of southern Moore County lies within the Lumber River Basin.
Chamber President Patrick Coughlin told the group Friday that the special fund is established for the regional water study only and that the account will be closed as soon as the $2,500 is raised. He also warned that contributions will not be tax deductible as a business expense or charitable contribution.
Coughlin said the chamber is involved because of its support of the McGill study and its facilitation of the Summit water task force, among other reasons.
Checks should be written payable to the Chamber of Commerce-LRCOG water study and mailed to the chamber address, 10677 Hwy. 15-501, Southern Pines, NC 28387.
Contact Florence Gilkeson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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