County tables vote on donating Armory

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.

Danny Wright
County Commissioner Danny Wright

In a decisive five to two vote, with Vance County Commissioners Danny Wright and newly-sworn Scott Hughes providing the nays, the Board chose to table a motion made by Danny Wright to donate the County’s one-half interest in the Armory to the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina Vance County Chapter.

The motion to give the interest in the Armory to the Club was precipitated by a presentation by Vance County Board of Education member Robert Duke, who spoke to the newly reconstituted Commission last evening and asked them to consider giving their interest in the structure to the Club to use as a permanent home.

Robert Duke
Vance County Board of Education member Robert Duke

The Henderson City Council has already voted to give its interest in the building to the Club, with restrictions and covenants that include a stipulation that any money from a future sale of the Works Progress Administration building revert back to the city.

Duke commented that no one can deny the need for a Boys and Girls Club in Vance County. He noted that the Club had already been granted a temporary space at E.M. Rollins Elementary School, but that such an arrangement could only last so long.

The School Board member also stated that such a move on the part of the county would help to preserve an important historical building.

Duke quoted a North Carolina General Statute to the Board that allows it to place restrictions and covenants on the gift, and he urged the Commission to do so.

Hughes was the first to comment, stating that he thought it was a good idea. He also stated that he would like to see it used by other non-profits as it has been in the past and continues to be used, such as for the yearly Shriner’s Fish Fry.

Duke responded that he believed other non-profits would be able to do so.

Hughes and Brown
Commissoners Scott Hughes and Deborah Brown

When Hughes asked Duke if the Club had the money for repairs, Duke responded that he did not think they did. He added that the organization would be better able to come up with the money than a government body is.

At that point, Commissioner Danny Wright moved that the County donate its half-interest in the Armory to the Club with restrictions not to sell the structure.

Commissioner Deborah Brown, who had earlier in the evening been unanimously appointed the Chairman of the Vance County Board of Commissioners, stated to Danny Wright that she appreciated the motion and knew that she was required to ask for a second to it. She also said that a public comment period was a time to receive comments, and that without a staff recommendation, the item should be sent to committee.

When Brown called for a second to Danny Wright’s motion, one was received from Hughes.

Commissioner Tim Pegram expressed concern about “other people” using the Armory, phrasing it as a liability issue.

County Attorney Stubbs Hight stated that he was “frightened about it”, referring to the liability aspect.

Board member Terry Garrison also stated that there was a question about liability in his mind as well.

Duke reiterated that North Carolina General Statutes allow the transfer to be made.

Hughes asked what the County has to do with the property if other organizations are using it.

Hight stated that liability insurance needed to be investigated.

Garrison introduced a substitute motion to table Danny Wright’s motion and move the matter to committee for a report during January’s meeting.

It was noted that a new member would have to be appointed to the Property Committee to replace former Commissioner Tommy Hester.

Danny Wright, in the discussion of the substitute motion, reminded the Commission that the City had donated its half of the property contingent on the County doing the same. He asked fellow commissioners what they would know in 30 days that they did not already know.

He indicated that tying the old library to the Armory had clouded the issue.

Incoming Commissioner Dan Brummit stated before the vote that there were a lot of unanswered questions as to the Club’s ability to handle the facility that should be answered before going forward.