Editor’s note: The author of this article sits on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina.
In an unanimous roll call vote, the Henderson City Council gave its interest in the Henderson-Vance Armory to the Boys and Girls Club of North Central North Carolina, Vance County Chapter.
The gift is contingent on the County of Vance ceding its half of the building to the organization as well.
At the outset of the debate, City Attorney John Zollicoffer expressed a doubt as to whether it was legal to give the property to a non-governmental organization. Later in the meeting, however, he found that such a gift was in keeping with North Carolina general statutes as long as the property was to be used for a “public purpose”. It was presumed that the mandate of the Club met the legal standard of such a purpose.
Boys and Girls Club President Elaine Chavis-Young thanked the Council on behalf of the children, stating that the facility would be used to build self-esteem and decrease teen pregnancy “on both sides of the tracks”.
City Council member Bernard Alston echoed a concern raised at a Henderson-Vance Economic Partnership meeting in September by Andrea Harris and Marolyn Rasheed about transportation to and from the Club. Chavis-Young responded that the Club was looking at partnering with local churches with vans to provide transportation, but that she believed that children and parents would find a way to attend.
Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert interjected that there was only one way to find about [the feasibility of] the program, and that was to “get moving”.
Chavis-Young also announced that an employee had been hired by the Club yesterday who will assist in getting the program up and running. The unnamed employee was said to have experience with Boys and Girls Clubs.
Henderson City Council member Bobby Gupton, who spearheaded the gift of the Armory to the Club, stated that in his view the facility was being given back to the citizens.
For the past month, the Council has been attempting to separate the Armory and the former library on Rose Avenue as it attempts to negotiate the dispostion of the jointly owned buildings with the County. Approximately four weeks ago, the Council solicited a tender offer for the former library from the County, but has not yet received a reply. All offers from the County have dealt with the Armory and the former library as a package.