Group Raising Funds for Water Study
The first $400 in contributions reduced the goal to $2,100 by the time a water study fundraising group adjourned Friday morning.
Headed by state Rep. Jamie Boles, the group met at the Moore County Chamber of Commerce office and decided that regional water needs are too important to lose a $39,000 grant because the county does not wish to participate.
“I think we can find 100 people willing to give $25,” said Frank Zamaroni, chairman of the Water Summit Task Force and a member of the Whispering Pines Village Council.
The Chamber of Commerce has set up a special account to accept contributions toward the $2,500 needed to complete the local matching funds to draw down the $39,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. The grant and matching funds will be applied to the $78,000 estimated cost of a comprehensive study of water and sewer facilities located on the Lumber River in a rural area near Wagram in Scotland County.
Boles told the group that interest in developing the regional water concept centers on three major points: protection of natural resources; building good relationships with all communities in the area; and securing jobs.
“This is not just a Moore County issue,” Boles said. “It’s about jobs and keeping people working here in Moore County.”
A memorandum from Pete Kruyer, chief financial officer for Gulistan Carpet in Aberdeen, to Boles and dated June 24 was distributed at the meeting.
Kruyer informed Boles that the Aberdeen plant employs about 340 people and is the largest industrial employer in Moore County. Gulistan also operates a carpet dyeing facility in a portion of the former WestPoint Pepperell plant and is dependent upon the utilities on the Lumber River.
The dye operation, which uses about half a million gallons of water a day, hires 50 people there.
“This is our only dye operation, and just about all of our carpet passes through this facility,” Kruyer said in the memo. “This water supply, obviously, is critical to the way we do business. Just as critical is the cost of water, which is governed by a supply contract between Gulistan and WestPoint.
“My main goal today is to make sure that any discussions regarding the West-Point water plant take into account our need for a consistent and affordable water supply.”
‘Piece of the Puzzle’
The Lumber River Council of Governments, which secured the Rural Center grant, has developed a schedule of local match distribution based on unit of government and size.
The schedule calls for Scotland, Robeson and Moore counties to pay $2,500 each, the municipalities of Laurinburg, Pinehurst and Southern Pines to pay $1,575 each, and the towns of Aberdeen, Maxton, Red Springs and Pinebluff $700 each. In addition, the Campbell Soup Company has offered to contribute $1,600.
Lumber River COG is providing the remaining $22,375 toward the matching funds, or 57 percent of the match.
However, Moore County officials have indicated that the county will not contribute the $2,500 toward the matching funds. They cite a vote by the Board of Commissioners several months ago when a motion was approved to participate in efforts to secure the study grant, provided no local funding allocation would be needed.
They also indicate only minimal interest in the Lumber River utilities, although interest has been expressed in buying water from the city of Laurinburg.
Tim Lea, chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, reiterated that position in a June 24 letter to Boles.
“The Moore County Board of Commis-sioners have 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.”
Boles praised Jim Perry, LRCOG executive director, for his work in securing the Rural Center grant.
“I’m disappointed that Moore County cannot participate,” Boles said. “I can’t speak for them. I hope it’s not the direction of the county of Moore.”
“This is not the answer to all our problems. It’s just a piece of the puzzle.”
‘Value in Future’
Don VanRoosen of Pinehurst, said the community must come to grips with the regional approach to, meeting water needs. So far, he said, the only enthusiasm for such an approach has been shown through Chamber efforts.
VanRoosen said that contrary to some reports, the Lumber River utilities are in good condition and are operating efficiently. They have not been abandoned, he said, adding that he and other Pinehurst officials have personally inspected the facilities there.
“It’s there,” he said. “It would be criminal not to use it.”
VanRoosen expressed puzzlement about the county’s lack of interest and recalled that “they have been interested in the past.”
Members of the group on Friday that examination of the Lumber River basin is one of about 17 recommendations contained in the McGill Associates’ water report released almost three years ago.
That recommendation calls for the county and its municipalities to monitor the city of Laurinburg’s ongoing study on Lumber River intake, where the former WestPoint Stevens textile plant previously used 7 million gallons daily in raw water.
The McGill report adds that these facilities “may have value to Moore County in future.”
Won’t Be Difficult
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Chamber, said the Chamber leadership has agreed to establish a special account to serve as a repository for contributions to cover the county’s portion of the local match. He cautioned that such gifts are not tax deductible, either as business expense or charitable contribution.
Checks should be written payable to Moore County Chamber-LRCOG Study and mailed to the Chamber office at 10677 Highway 15-501, Southern Pines 28387.
As soon as the $2,500 is raised, the Chamber will discontinue accepting contributions and those checks will be returned, Coughlin said.
“I’ll give you $100 to start it,” said VanRoosen after Coughlin completed the details.
Boles replied quickly, “I’ll match you.”
Boles called this an example of “how citizens can be in control” and recalled how easy it was last year to raise money to pay for flower plantings at the Pinehurst Traffic Circle.
Within a few minutes the collection had climbed to $400.
“It shows that this isn’t going to be difficult to do,” said Coughlin, who was acting as auctioneer as the meeting broke up.”
Contact Florence Gilkeson by e-mail at email@example.com.
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