In August 2006, the county commissioners passed the following resolution to support Destination Cleveland County. This was more than a year and 8 months before the commissioners signed a lease to grant the use of the courthouse for the Earl Scruggs Center.
SUPPORT OF DESTINATION CLEVELAND COUNTY
Mary Accor made the motion, seconded by Johnny Hutchins, and unanimously adopted by the Board, to approve the following resolution
IN SUPPORT OF DESTINATION CLEVELAND COUNTY
a group of private citizens has created an organization known as Destination Cleveland County, for the purpose of encouraging economic development in Cleveland County through the promotion of
the community as a travel destination and the development of visitor attractions; and WHEREAS, the efforts of Destination Cleveland attractions; and WHEREAS, the efforts of Destination Cleveland
County will include projects throughout Cleveland County and will benefit all Cleveland County citizens through the economic impact of tourism dollars and cultural events. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT
RESOLVED that the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners hereby supports the efforts of Destination Cleveland County in promoting our county as a travel destination as well as in the development of visitor
attractions. ADOPTED THIS THE 1ST DAY OF AUGUST 2006
The very idea brought forth by Destination Cleveland County was the original concept and idea that Jim Allen revealed in his plans for the music heritage museum, to be included at the old courthouse. On April 26, 2003, Jim Allen, former editor of The Shelby Star, announced his intent publicly at the Merry-Go-Round Festival, which he had co-founded. Allen introduced his plans for the Southern Music Heritage Museum, which would include Arthur Smith, Snuffy Jenkins, and many others as well as Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs. He felt that this would give the historical museum a shot in the arm. Jim Allen was the one who started the Cleveland County Historical Association in 1965 which became the Cleveland County Historical Museum, on May 8, 1976, and he continued to be the agent. Jim Allen was set on not having to ask the taxpayers to help fund this project. He was determined to make this work by raising money. Allen also had many people who were loyal to him. His hand-picked committee first met in early 2004. In July 2004, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation was formed for THE NORTH CAROLINA SOUTHERN MUSIC HERITAGE ALLIANCE, INC by County Attorney Bob Yelton.
On February 13, 2005, in Sunday’s paper, Jim Allen introduced his plans to the public in the Star. The article told that The Design Minds from Virginia, created the drawings for the interior for the Southern Music Heritage Museum and they are shown below. The county was on board with this project, as it was the county who paid via check in the amount of $1500. The check was signed by County Manager, David Dear.
Article from Star, 2-13-2005.
During the trips to Nashville to visit with Earl and Louise Scruggs, it became evident that Louise Scruggs, was adamant that the venue would host her husband only. Louise Scruggs was her husband’s manager. Yes, there really was a dust up about this issue of having Don Gibson to be a part of this venue, in spite of all claims to the contrary. Jim Allen said that some of his people became star-struck with Earl Scruggs and he named them – Brownie Plaster, Chamber and Historic Preservation Boards Member; J.T. Scruggs, Earl Scruggs’ nephew; Ted Alexander, Mayor of Shelby; David Dear, County Manager; and Chandler Poole, Director of Uptown Shelby Association.
The committee that Jim Allen had put together, voted to use the old courthouse to honor Earl Scruggs and that Don Gibson would have to be honored in another venue. Even though plans had already been drawn up in regards to the Southern Music Heritage Museum, and how it would honor both Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs, it simply would not be. This group solicited the support of county officials in making the courthouse a venue to honor Earl Scruggs.
In the next installment, we will continue with our journey to the Earl Scruggs Center.
The Journey to the Earl Scruggs Center- Pt 2
Renagade Committee Members Steal Jim Allen’s Dream And Run With It
Jim Allen said he wrote a lengthy letter to the County Commissioners explaining that it was not his desire to name the building for one person nor to devote the whole courthouse to be centered around Earl Scruggs. He told the Commissioners it was not a good idea to do this and he could not be a part of this group who wanted to have the Courthouse for an Earl Scruggs museum and to honor Don Gibson separately.
The Cleveland County Historical Museum still had a lease on the courthouse with Jim Allen as the agent. And the historical artifacts that had been given unconditionally to the museum, were still inside the courthouse, awaiting renovations to the building, so that it could be reopened
The County Commissioners ignored the Cleveland County Historical Museum’s lease agreement of the courthouse and the museum’s ownership of the artifacts. 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, which included County Manager David Dear, Mayor Ted Alexander, Uptown Shelby Association Director Chandler Poole, Earl Scruggs’ nephew J.T. Scruggs, and Chamber of Commerce Board Member and Historic Preservation Board Member Brownie Plaster.
This spinoff group got busy garnering community support for their plans. County Manager David Dear asked Greg Traywick, Extension Director of the NC Cooperative Extension’s Cleveland County Center to put together a Task Force whose strategic plan was to revitalize uptown Shelby and to look closely at the future use of the Cleveland County historic courthouse and address the preservation of the Cleveland County Historical Museum’s artifacts. Greg took suggestions from the city and county governments of whom to invite to be the members of the Task Force. Of the 42 members chosen, Jim Allen was not included.
Greg secured Dr. David Jenkins of NC State University’s Professional and Organizational Development unit to lead the group. They met for three days in the Hall of Fame Room of the closed Cleveland County Historical Museum sitting at tables and chairs placed among the artifacts.
These are the 42 members of the Task Force:
David Dear, County Manager
Rick Howell, City Manager
Ted Alexander, Mayor of Shelby
Mary Accor, County Commissioner
Chandler Poole, Uptown Shelby Association Director
J.T. Scruggs, Earl Scruggs’ nephew
Brownie Plaster, Chamber Board and Historic Preservation Board Member
Adelaide Craver, Chamber 20/20 Chairman
Janet Berry Tom Bridges Doug Brown Terry Brown Mickey Crowell Tommy Forney Stuart Gilbert Byron Gragg Jay Gragg Sherry Grenier Barry Hambright Luke Harkey Robin Hendrick Kitty Hoyle Sandra Keeter Shannon Kennedy Steve Leatherwood Eugene LeGrand Leon Leonhardt Dr. Becky Love Roger Martin Glenda Miller Shearra Miller Jack Palmer Mark Patterson David Royster Sally Royster Vicki Rudasill John Schweppe Bob Still Greg Tillman Greg Traywick David White Millie Arey Wood
Greg Traywick wrote an article for The Star on March 19, 2006 about the three day meeting of the Task Force. (show). He said he would highlight their progress in future editions of The Star. But this was the only article he wrote, because surprise, Destination Cleveland County suddenly appeared. DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster publicly has proclaimed many times that Destination Cleveland County was born in May 2006 out of this Task Force.
June came and Mayor Ted Alexander and a group of 18 people from the Chamber, including Board Member Brownie Plaster, piled into cars and went to Raleigh to discuss economic issues with Lt. Governor Bev Perdue and Department of Commerce Secretary Jim Fain.
City Budget Cuts Eliminates 3 Fire Department Employees, But Hires DCC Director and Purchases $40,000 City Center Master Plan
Shelby City Council said “No” to a tax rate hike, and layoffs loomed in the city budget process. City employees’ jobs were threatened.
At the City Council meeting on June 19, 2006, seventeen citizens spoke, including Assistant District Attorney Rick Shaffer, opposing cuts in the Police and Fire Departments, urging City Council to consider other options. The proposed budget passed 5-1 and indeed city jobs were cut, including three positions in the Fire Department, dismissing one employee six months short of her retirement, and leaving one fire station short a person.
Yet at that same meeting, the City Council made a donation of $25,000 to Destination Cleveland County, in anticipation of receiving a Rural Center Grant for their work to make Shelby a tourist destination. The City of Shelby had already appropriated $30,000 of travel and tourism money for this project in the General Fund, and that night they approved hiring Marta Holden, Executive Director of Destination Cleveland County to work part-time for the City. They approved $30,000 for salary, plus $2,300 for Social Security, and $17,700 for other expenses.
Also at that same City Council meeting, the Council voted to spend $40,000 with Arnett Muldrow and Associates in Greenville, South Carolina to prepare a Center City Master Plan for the City of Shelby.
To further support Destination Cleveland County’s claim on Jim Allen’s plans for the Southern Music Heritage Museum, and to promote DCC as an economic development tool, the Shelby Center City Master Plan was built around DCC’s potential projects, calling them catalysts for the economy.
An article in The Star August 28, 2006 tells of a newly formed Steering Committee whose task is to develop the Center City Master Plan. The article quotes Destination Cleveland County Chairwoman Brownie Plaster and Director of Uptown Shelby Association Chandler Poole as members of this Steering Committee working to create the Center City Master Plan. The Master Plan is a rubber stamp for DCC’s projects.
DCC’s further seal of approval came on August 1, 2006 when the County Commissioners passed a RESOLUTION TO SUPPORT DESTINATION CLEVELAND COUNTY. The County Commissioners also gave this group access to the artifacts belonging to the Cleveland County Historical Museum.
Jim Allen was sick and disillusioned and the loyal members of his group were disillusioned too. One of them said that it had become political and they felt like the Rebels against the Union. The renegade members of their group who took the dream, changed it to what they wanted it to be and ran with it, were the powers of the local government.
Who Is Destination Cleveland County And What Are Their Plans?
Destination Cleveland County even continued to use the name Southern Music Heritage Museum. An August 27, 2006 article in The Star called ‘Big Dreams’ refers to DCC’s proposed destinations, stating that “work at the Cleveland County Historical Museum is the first leg. The Earl Scruggs Southern Music Heritage Museum- On the court square in the former Cleveland County Courthouse.”
The article tells that the Don Gibson Performing Arts Center will be at the Rogers Theatre. Other projects on DCC’s drawing board include a multi-purpose uptown arena within walking distance of the courtsquare to be used for horse shows, concerts, art exhibits, and a place for Alive after Five when it rains, and a new interactive Cleveland County Museum to house the artifacts.
The next two days, August 28 and August 29, 2006, The Star had more front page coveage about Destination Cleveland County’s dreams in action. The August 29 article even included photos of the eight executive board members.
DESTINATION CLEVELAND COUNTY’S EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS
Chairman Brownie Plaster, community and civic leader who spearheaded creation of the Broad River Greenway
Executive Director Marta Holden founder of CommUnity, a group that works with at-risk Middle school students
Adelaide Craver, President of First National Bank and Chairman Cleveland 20/20 Economic Development Partnership
Shannon Kennedy, associate dean, Community Relations & Development, Cleveland Community College
Leon Leonhardt, retired tax attorney/CPA and cattle farmer
David Dear, County Manager
Rick Howell, Shelby City Manager
Jackie Sibley, Cleveland County Chamber Travel and Tourism Director.
It is worth noting here that David Dear is the County Manager, Rick Howell is the City Manager, Marta Holden is employed by the City of Shelby, and the other five executive board members of Destination Cleveland County are Board Members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Two days later, The Star published another article announcing the committee chairmen of DCC’s proposed projects.
COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN OF DCC’S PROPOSED PROJECTS
Robin Hendrick, chair of the Don Gibson Theatre
Millie Area Wood and Sherry Grenier, co-chairs of the Historical Museum of Cleveland County
Michael Poage and Dino Nicopoulos,co-chairs of the Uptown indoor Arena
Brenda Lowery, chair of DCC events
J.T. Scruggs, Earl Scruggs’ nephew, chair of the Earl Scruggs Museum of Southern Music Heritage. J.T. Scruggs tells how he got involved. He says, “Jim Allen, who first had the idea, asked me if I would help him with the museum. Obviously, since it was Earl, I said I would.”
On October 11, 2006, Destination Cleveland County incorporates as a North Carolina 501 (c)(3) non-profit Corporation.
DESTINATION CLEVELAND BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Martha (Brownie) Plaster, Chairman
Adelaide Craver, Vice Chairman
Millie Arey Wood
Ex-officio Board Members with voting rights but cannot hold office:
David Dear, County Manager
Rick Howell, City Manager
Jackie Sibley, Cleveland County Chamber Travel and Tourism Director
Marta Holden, Executive Director of DCC
DCC Works On Their Goals For Earl Scruggs Museum And Don Gibson Theatre
The County Commissioners have allowed DCC access to the artifacts that belong to the Cleveland County Historical Museum that are still located in the courthouse. DCC’s museum project co-chairs, Millie Arey Wood and Sherry Grenier begin sorting through and cataloging the Cleveland County Historical Museum’s artifacts, with help from community volunteers, Mickey Crowell Director of the Kings Mountain Historical Museum, and later a couple of ladies hired from the Biltmore House.
By the beginning of 2007, The Earl Scruggs Music Heritage Museum is being called by another name. At the February 5, 2007 Cleveland County Commissioners meeting minutes Destination Cleveland County representatives J.T. Scruggs, Millie Arey Wood and Sherry Grenier were talking of plans for The Front Porch-Songs and Stories of the Carolinas-The Old Courthouse.
Destination Cleveland County spends year 2007 researching, seeking advice, and traveling to other areas to visit museums and theaters. They solicit Gardner-Webb University School of Business to conduct a survey on which they project the potential economic impact on the county from their Earl Scruggs museum and Don Gibson theater projects.
The Broyhill School of Management Gardner-Webb University 10 year impact study of these two projects for the Cleveland County economy is an additional $204,906,879.26 for the Cleveland County Economy. The study says the operation of these two facilities will create an annual impact of approximately $14,800,000 and 203 jobs in the first year growing to $25 million and 343 jobs in the tenth year.
At their June 18, 2007 meeting The City Council adopted The Center City Master Plan. In their update at the meeting, DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster refers to the Earl Scruggs museum by a third new name- The Earl Scruggs Center-Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills.