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On a cool Tuesday night in March 2008, a group of people met at the library in a Townhall type meeting to air their views regarding the old courthouse and the upcoming deal with Destination Cleveland County.

On this night, Johnny Hutchins and Eddie Holbrook, two of the five County Commissioners were present and answered some questions. Fortunately, we have video clips of it and will share them with you here. Both commissioners stated that the leasing of the old courthouse to Destination Cleveland County was not a done deal.

It was not a done deal, Holbrook stated because no contract had been drawn up and no lease had been signed or agreed upon. Commissioner Hutchins stated that there was no verbal agreement either. Thankfully, that is plainly heard in the video clip.

(The next meeting, Mary Accor and Johnny Hutchins was there and passed out cards for the citizens to list their questions regarding this issue, and they would be answered by the commissioners at the meeting the next week. However, at the next meeting, the commissioners decided to forego the question and answer session and gave the courthouse to DCC)

My question is this: If no verbal agreement was made, not just of leasing the courthouse, but anything pertaining to the courthouse and such, then why was the discussion quoted below from the Commissioner’s minutes on November 20, 2007?

From Nov 20, 2007 Cleveland County Commissioner’s minutes:

Brownie Plaster, Chairwoman of Destination Cleveland County gave an update on the Earl Scruggs Center – Songs and Stories of the Carolina Foothills. Mrs. Plaster announced that on November 19, 2007, Destination Cleveland County was awarded $250,000 from the Golden Leaf Foundation for the Earl Scruggs Center. Mrs. Plaster stated her concern with the Cleveland County Historic Courthouse and its artifacts. She was pleased to present Millie Wood and Sherrie Grenier to give a detailed update on how the collection from the courthouse is being recorded.

Mrs. Grenier presented Commissioners with an object catalog worksheet of a blue bowl for reference, which had the twenty-two items noted. This form will be completed for every item in the Old Courthouse. This process provides as much detail as possible for proper inventory purposes. Commissioners were given a copy of the Historic County Courthouse Collection Preservation Project Status (copy found on Page _________ of Minute Book 30). She went over a timeline of events in the report and acknowledged Laura Overbey and Lenore Serra, museum professionals employed by the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. These ladies, along with Mickey Crowell, the Director of the Kings Mountain Museum, and many other volunteers have cataloged over 2,200 items. Mrs. Grenier explained that Past Perfect computer software system will be used in the future to allow the items to be placed on the internet for a “virtual museum.”

(why would one make such a statement if they were unsure of whether or not their plans would come to fruition?)
And if this was not a done deal, (except for that little technicality called a contract), one can clearly see the intent stated here, publicly:

JT Scruggs returned to the podium and thanked everyone for speaking in support of Destination Cleveland County. He then asked audience members who represented Destination Cleveland County to stand in support of his request for permission to work with the County Manager and County Attorney to draw up a contractual agreement for Destination Cleveland County’s use of the Cleveland County Historic Courthouse.

ACTION: Eddie Holbrook made a motion, seconded by Ronnie Hawkins, for Destination Cleveland County to work with the County Manager and County Attorney to draw up a contractual agreement for the use of the Cleveland County Historic Courthouse.

Commissioner Hutchins commended Destination Cleveland County and all of the volunteers for what they are doing and praised them for doing a great job. He told Commissioners that he would like to see a written document or draft of what he is approving.

Eddie Holbrook responded to Commissioner Hutchins by saying, the motion answers that request and is allowing the County Manager, County Attorney, and representatives from Destination Cleveland County to bring back to the Commissioners a lease agreement or contractual agreement. Commissioner Holbrook stated that the old courthouse is a great example of a partnership of county government, city government, and private enterprise. Three or four years ago, even the exterior of the courthouse was in need of upgrading and we can see what this partnership can achieve. Commissioner Holbrook believes that economic development, tourism, and quality of life are paramount and interwoven and these must all exist.

Commissioner Boggs thanked the volunteers for their work and believes that everyone is going in the same direction; protecting our heritage.

Chairwoman Accor thanked the citizens who had concerns and thanked those who tried to get those concerns answered. She also believes that everyone is on the same page which this makes this a workable situation and a win-win situation. Chairwoman Accor asked that the proposed document be on the Commissioners agenda the second meeting date in January.

ACTION: Chairwoman Mary Accor called for a vote on Commissioner Holbrook’ motion. Motion was adopted unanimously by the board, for Destination Cleveland County to work with the County Manager and County Attorney to draw up a contractual agreement for the use of the Cleveland County Historic Courthouse. (Clerk’s note: Commissioner Hutchins said he “did not want to vote,” however, under NCGS 153A-44 [Duty to Vote] and Commission policy his failure to vote was recorded as an affirmative vote.)

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Remember, Johnny Hutchins and Mary Accor are both up for re-election this year. At the moment, no one has signed up to run against them. If no one steps up, then they will return to the office without any opposition. Yet, many of us scratch our heads and wonder why, when we keep doing the same stupid things and get the same results. Gee, I wonder why.