County Commissioners Honor The Life Of Earl Scruggs
At their May 1, 2012 meeting, the County Commissioners adopted a Special Recognition Resolution Honoring the Life of Earl Scruggs expressing appreciation for his contributions to the music industry.
Destination Cleveland County Board of Directors July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013 Brownie Plaster, Chairwoman Adelaide Craver, Vice Chair John Schweppe, III, Secretary/Theatre Committee Co-Chair Trip Boinest, Theatre Committee Co-Chair Robin Smith, Treasurer Millie Wood, History Co-Chair Sherry Grenier, History Co-Chair Linda Horn, Events Co-Chair Myra Dixon, Events Co-Chair J.T. Scruggs, Scruggs Center Chair Shannon Kennedy, Communications Chair Stan Anthony (Mayor of Shelby) Stephanie Burrell
DCC Launches Website And Gets New Pieces For The Earl Scruggs Center Collection
An article in The Star on July 9, 2012, tells that $7.4 million has been raised for the Earl Scruggs Center, including a recent $100,000 grant from N.C. Rural Center.
DCC Executive Director Emily Epley says that the museum may open as early as the end of this year. Meanwhile, the new website will share information.
The former Appalachian State University Appalachian Cultural Museum donated several items to Destination Cleveland County for the Earl Scruggs Center, including a restored fretless banjo, 1905 fiddle, dulcimer, Stella guitar, Clyde R. Hoey portrait, 1820 plank chair, and three photographs.
It should be noted here that these items are being housed at the storage facility in the old Hunter School building where the artifacts from the Cleveland County Historical Museum are located. Cleveland County is renting this building from the Cleveland County School System, so the Cleveland County government is paying for the storage of Destination Cleveland County’s property.
DCC Is In Violation Of The Lease Agreement A Fourth Time
Term #5. Use:Lessee shall be entitled to use the Property for the purpose of maintaining and operating “The Earl Scruggs Center-Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills” to enlighten, educate and celebrate the people, traditions, and values of all Cleveland County communities, past and present, through the presentation of compelling and experimental exhibits and multi-faceted programs.
Cleveland County leased the Historic Courthouse to Destination Cleveland County for use as the Earl Scruggs Center-Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills. Now they have changed their name to the Earl Scruggs Center- Music & Stories From The American South.
Are they now encompassing the whole South instead of showcasing what is unique about the history of our local region?
City Council Talks Of More Travel and Tourism Money For DCC
On July 13, 2012, The Star tells that during last week’s city council meeting, Mayor Stan Anthony suggested using travel and tourism funds to benefit Destination Cleveland County’s, Earl Scruggs Center.
It should be noted that Mayor Stan Anthony was a member of the Steering Committee in the summer of 2006, along with DCC’s Brownie Plaster and others, who decided that the Earl Scruggs Center and the Don Gibson Theatre would be catalyst projects for the Shelby Center City Master Plan; then he was employed as DCC’s architect for the Don Gibson Theatre in 2008; and now he has served on DCC’s Board of Directors for the last four years (2010-2011/ 2011-2012/ 2012-2013/ 2013/2014).
City Councilman Joel Shores suggested allowing Shelby Police Department to use city hall and making a deal with Destination Cleveland County to use the tourism money as leverage for city space in the old courthouse. He said with Shelby Police Department running out of space, he is thinking outside the box to produce a solution that won’t burden taxpayers.
(The old State/Flick Theatre, which was renovated by DCC for the Don Gibson Theatre, was purchased by the City of Shelby in 1999 primarily for its proximity to the current City Hall Complex as it would be an important acquisition for the City’s future growth. Now the Shelby Police Department is running out of space and needs to expand. But the old State/Flick Theatre is no longer available for city expansion, as the City Council voted in 2007 to lease the building with an option to purchase for the tax value of $207,137 to DCC for the Don Gibson Theatre, for $1 a year, plus they threw in $500,000 of travel and tourism money as a matching grant to renovate it.)
DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster said the historic courthouse building looks large from the outside, but space is limited inside. She said areas not used by the Earl Scruggs Center exhibits will most likely be used for an education center and hospitality.
City Manager Rick Howell said the city council will make a decision on distributing travel and tourism funds in August.
At the Shelby City Council Meeting on July 16, 2012, among the matters Mayor Stan Anthony mentioned for Council’s future consideration, was the request for City Manager Rick Howell to prepare a recommendation to provide ongoing financial support over a period of time to Destination Cleveland County for the Earl Scruggs Center Capital Fund utilizing local occupancy tax funds intended for travel and tourism purposes.
Councilman Joel Shores also suggested drafting an agreement with DCC to utilize a portion of the facility at the Earl Scruggs Center for City Council meetings on the basis the City may need the additional space provided by the Council Chamber for the overcrowded Police Department. Mr. Shores said it would save the taxpayers’ money by not constructing new City facilities.
The dilemma of the overcrowded Shelby Police Department was discussed in an article in The Star the next week on July 23, 2012. The Police Chief said the department hasn’t had adequate room in years. City Manager Rick Howell said “the long-term solution is obviously a new building for the police department. That’s much more of a mountain to climb in the current economic climate, and that’s something we would give a lot of discussion and discourse on. Mayor Stan Anthony said there are no current plans to expand the police department. “Obviously we don’t have money to do anything,” Anthony said. He said department expansion is one of the city’s next major capital projects as part of a long-term plan. Anthony said that is at least five years into the future.
City Passes A Resolution Authorizing $200,000 Travel And Tourism Funding To Destination Cleveland County
On September 17, 2012, the City of Shelby Resolution No. 53-2012 A Resolution Authorizing Disbursement of Additional Travel and Tourism Funding For Fiscal Year 2012-2013.
The City Council authorized the disbursement of local occupancy tax funds in the amount not to exceed $200,000 over the next five (5) fiscal years to Destination Cleveland County for travel and tourism-related capital expenditures within the Earl Scruggs Center located in the historic 1907 Cleveland County Courthouse.
The City Council authorized the City Manager to obtain activity reports from the funded organization detailing the use of said funds. The same shall be reported to City Council following the close of each fiscal year ending June 30.
Jim Allen Dies
On September 19, 2012 James Platt “Jim” Allen, 80, dies at Carolina’s Medical Center ending a year’s long battle with congestive heart failure. Listed in his obituary, among his achievements, he served as Editor of the Shelby Daily Star, Chairman of the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce, President of the Rotary Club, and Charter President of the Cleveland County Historical Society.
An article in The Star that same day says that friends and colleagues remember Jim Allen as a visionary, whom they credit with early efforts to open the Don Gibson Theatre and Earl Scruggs Center in uptown Shelby and with co-founding the Foothills Merry-Go-Round Festival in 1998.
“Jim was one of those folks in Shelby who really put his heart and soul into our community and worked always with a vision toward making Shelby and his community a better place,” said former city mayor Ted Alexander. “He was a very visionary kind of person. Any good effort or endeavor, Jim could be counted on to be behind it.”
Jim Allen ran against Ted Alexander in the 2003 Shelby mayoral race, and Ted Alexander won by a narrow margin in a runoff.
“I got to see his character up front during the campaign and knew he had the best interest of our city at heart,” Alexander said of Allen. “I even told people that no matter who won, I felt we had a good mayor. Our city would have been in great hands with Jim.”
Ted Alexander credits Jim Allen with the initial work now conducted by Destination Cleveland County. He said he traveled with Jim to Nashville several times to visit Earl Scruggs and also communicated with the Gibson family- with hopes to honor both in uptown Shelby venues. “ (Allen) convened several years’ worth of meetings,” Alexander said.
“I just grew to respect him so much and like him as a friend. I’m just saddened by the loss of Jim.”
Shelby Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Holtzclaw who worked with Jim said,
“He was a leader. A fine gentleman. He was very dedicated and very proactive. He was always looking to find better ways to serve the community. He had big dreams for a little town.”
County Commissioners Honor The Contributions Of Jim Allen
At their October 2, 2012 meeting, County Commissioners made a Resolution in Memory of Jim Allen in Appreciation of Contributions to Cleveland County. They say that he was a visionary among the Cleveland County Community. They mention his distinguished service to the community as Editor of the Shelby Daily Star, his efforts to help promote countywide zoning, his active role in the consolidation of the three school districts in Cleveland County, his serving as Chairman of the Board of numerous boards in Cleveland County leading to his earning the Shelby Lions Citizen of the Year in 1999. They tell that he co-founded the Merry-Go-Round festival. And said that the vast array of activities that he participated in showed that he gave unselfishly of his time and talent to benefit others. They express sincere appreciation and deep gratitude for the dedicated and distinguished service of Jim Allen to the citizens of the City of Shelby and Cleveland County.
What they did not mention is Jim Allen’s important role in the Cleveland County Historical Museum nor give him credit for his efforts of the initial work in founding the music heritage of Cleveland County, without which there would be no Don Gibson Theatre and Earl Scruggs Center.
Is this omission because they abandoned Jim Allen’s plans for the Southern Music Heritage Museum that they had supported both publicly and financially, and threw their support to the rogue members of Jim’s committee who became Destination Cleveland County and took Jim’s idea and ran with it, along with the Cleveland County Historical Museum’s artifacts which the Commissioners claimed, saying they were abandoned in the courthouse building.
DCC Asks County Commissioners For A Loan Of $1,389,073.00 To Facilitate Opening The Earl Scruggs Center
On December 11, 2012, County Commissioners Meeting DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster and Earl Scruggs Center Chairman J.T. Scruggs, addressed the County Commissioners. Mr. Scruggs explained that the purpose for their being there was to, “ask for help to finish the project.” He said, “We are asking your consideration to allow finance through the county so we can open in six months.”
He outlined the remaining costs to complete the Earl Scruggs Center as follows:
Total remaining costs to complete- $1,535,386.
Plus 1st year marketing, grand opening, and operating- $300,000.
Total cost- $1,865,386.
Total cash on hand- $476,313.
The total pledges to come in are $755,400. (Calendar year 2012 $47,000; 2013 $399,600; 2014 $62,100; 2015 $62,100; 2016 $62,100; 2017 $57,000; 2018 25,000; 2019 $25,000; 2020 $25,000
Total pledges left $755,400.- Data as of Nov. 26, 2012)
J.T. Scruggs presented a request from DCC. He described the request as two-fold: DCC requests to borrow $1,389,073 from the County. DCC currently has $755,400 committed to pledges. The pledges will be used toward repayment of the loan to the county. Through pledges, $447,100 of the loan would be repaid in 2012 and 2013. The rest of the loan would be repaid by 2020. The numbers, however, still reflect a shortfall of $633,673.
The second request is for Cleveland County to extend its annual pledge of $250,000 by two years. This would leave a shortfall of only $133,673 which would be raised by DCC.
(This annual pledge of $250,000 they are referring to is the $250,000 per year of the $1.5 million committed by Cleveland County taxpayers to renovate the interior of the courthouse. By now DCC has received a total of $1.5 million with the final of the six payments of $250,000 given on August 22, 2012. Now they want Cleveland County taxpayers to give them another half a million dollars toward renovating the building.)
Mr. Scruggs thanked the Commissioners for their support throughout this project. Commissioner Hutchins asked if the pledges would be used for operating the Scruggs Center. Mr. Scruggs explained that the pledges would be designated to paying back the loan to the county.
Ms. Plaster said DCC is continuing to raise money for the Center. She stated that over $5.8 Million has been raised for this project with only 10% remaining to complete it. She said thank you for your support so far on this project. I hope you will choose to help us with this additional request as we know it will pay back many times in economic development.
She described the economic impact of the Earl Scruggs Center as $12 million a year for ten years and said the Center is already receiving statewide national and international recognition. She told the Commissioners that getting the Center open now will help jump-start the tourist traffic and the interest in Cleveland County instead of waiting for several years. She said supporting an organization for its hard work and diligence that is creating positive economic outcomes for the county makes sense.
She said that since the county owns the building, there is no collateral so it would be difficult for Destination Cleveland County to borrow the money.
In the Shelby Star, Ms. Plaster spoke about the status of the project explaining that the renovations have been completed and the DCC office has moved to the third floor of the building. All design work has been completed and the Center can be open within six months of financial commitments being secured.
She made reference to the fact that Cleveland County and Destination Cleveland County received a $1.5 million Economic Development Assistance Grant toward the construction of the Earl Scruggs Center. In the grant, the Center is expected to open by April 2013. She said, “As you know we received a grant from EDA of $1,543,000. At this point they expect us to be open by April of 2013.”
Commissioners Chairman Ronnie Hawkins expressed concern that April is four months away, rather than the six-month target set by DCC. “If you aren’t opened by April 2013, who is liable to pay the EDA Grant?” Hawkins said.
J.T. Scruggs said the county signed the grant for the building and DCC signed for the organization.
Brownie Plaster told Commissioners if the county does not let DCC borrow the money, the Earl Scruggs Center will miss the April 7, 2013 deadline and the county will be required to repay the $1,014,779.00 the county has received of the EDA grant.
Ms. Plaster said Destination Cleveland County has asked for an extension, but so far they have not gotten it. She said she thinks if DCC could move forward now and be able to give them an exact date, they might extend for them. The extension will not be extended without an opening date. The remaining funds need to be raised before the Center can open.
Ms. Plaster said if they have the money they can be open in 6 months. She said DCC looked at “just getting something in there” so they could open it. “We could open but it would be significantly substandard. All of the advisors and consultants advised us not to do that,” explained Ms. Plaster.
Commissioners asked what is lacking in order for the Center to be opened. J. T. Scruggs responded there is a little over $1 million in fabrication that needs to be completed. They are still working on obtaining rights to several pieces of music. Getting the rights to a 30-second piece of music can cost between $3K and $10K dollars. There has been no cost to use any of Earl Scruggs’ music or name. He says they can’t get the $500,000 balance on the EDA grant because it is contingent on finishing the project.
Chairman Hawkins advised Destination Cleveland County that Commissioners would place this as an agenda item on their December 18, 2012, regular meeting for a vote.
DCC has set several opening dates in recent years but has pushed back the center’s opening. Cleveland County resident Brendan LeGrand addressed the Commissioners at the podium after the meeting and reminded them that according to the lease agreement DCC has 5 years to be open and the deadline of that date will be March 18, 2013, if they are not open by then they will be in default of the lease.
Resident Addresses County Commissioners About DCC’s Lease Agreement Violations
In the citizens’ recognition portion at the beginning of the December 18, 2012, County Commissioners Meeting, Cleveland County Resident Brendan LeGrand gave the Board a prepared statement reminding the Commissioners that DCC has not obeyed the terms of the Lease Agreement, and she listed the violations of the agreement:
#16. Naming Rights– Lessee shall not have the right to name rooms. She gave them the Honorary Naming Opportunities schedule where they sold rights to name Courtroom $250,000; Rotunda $100,000; Major Exhibit Room #1 $250,000; Elevator $50,000; Café $50,000; and offer other naming opportunities for Exhibit Rooms #2, #3, and #4 for $250,000 each and Resource Center and Conference Room for $100,000.
#17. Restored Courtroom-The lease said the courtroom would be restored and DCC said they would restore it to its previous grandeur, but the courtroom has been stripped and its history destroyed. She gave them a photo of the old courtroom and a photo of DCC’s renovations to the courtroom that they now call the “Great Hall.”
#14. Commencement and Completion of Renovation– Lessee shall commence renovations to the leased property within 12 months from the date of the lease. It was three years before DCC began renovations of the building.
#20. Default of the Lease– (c) Lessee fails to fulfill any duty or obligation imposed by the lease- They defaulted when they did not fulfill the duty or obligation imposed by #14 of the lease that said they had to begin renovations of the building in 12 months.
#5 Use– Lessee shall be entitled to use the property for the purpose of maintaining and operating “The Earl Scruggs Center-Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills.” Now they have changed their name to the “Earl Scruggs Center-Music & Stories from the American South.
#14. Commencement and Completion of Renovation– All renovations shall be completed and the Center to be located in the leased property shall be operational within 60 months from the date of the lease. If the Earl Scruggs Center is not open by March 18, 2013, DCC again defaults on the lease #20 (c).
County Commissioners Approve A Loan Of $755,400 To DCC
At the December 18, 2012, County Commissioners Meeting, County Manager Eddie Bailes says he has reviewed the current pledges that DCC has and he feels there are adequate pledges to cover a loan of $755,400 to DCC.
He noted that should the county grant DCC a loan of $755,400 and they are approved to borrow the remaining funds required to open, the Earl Scruggs Center should be able to open within six months.
Since DCC cannot borrow against the building, the current contents of the building (fixtures, display cases, etc.) will be used as collateral for the loan.
During the last meeting, it was brought up that the lease with DCC was scheduled to expire in March. Commissioner Holbrook recommended that the county not only consider giving DCC the loan but have deeper discussions regarding the extension of the lease.
Commissioners were concerned with loaning DCC the money and them being unable to secure a second loan. J.T. Scruggs said DCC will not spend any of the loans from the county until the EDA grant is secured.
DCC has been working on securing another loan. If DCC gets an indication of approval, they will go to EDA to request an extension
The Commissioners voted unanimously to grant DCC a loan of $755,400 contingent upon a second loan being approved by a lending agent and the EDA grant being extended after an opening date has been set. The loan to the county is to be repaid by the year 2020 with the current pledges being used to pay back the loan.
What Will Be The Real Impact On The Economy Of DCC’s Projects?
Armed with their economic impact studies done by Gardner-Webb University projecting $18-$20 million a year, Destination Cleveland County sold the County Commissioners and the City Council on the idea of the Earl Scruggs Center and the Don Gibson Theatre.
These governing boards bought into DCC’s dream and in turn sold it to the people, leasing taxpayers’ buildings to DCC for $1 a year, and funneling taxpayers’ money into them for renovations.
As time has passed, even The Star, who has called those who questioned the impact of these venues “Debbie Downers” and “naysayers” seems to be backing off of DCC’s projections of the potential economic impact of their projects.
In an editorial in The Star on July 15, 2012, the editor says, “Even if the Scruggs Center only brings in a fraction of the projected economic benefit, it will be a welcomed jolt for our region.”
Another editorial in The Star on December 30, 2012, says of the Earl Scruggs Center, “ Even if it just ends up being a wash, what a great new jewel to add to the county’s crown!”
A fraction of the projected economic benefit, or a wash, is not what these projects were billed as. Can our depressed local economy afford jewels in our crown?