Commissioners vote to modernize school gyms

The Moore County Board of Commissioners voted to modernize three school gymnasiums at its Jan. 18 regular meeting. The projects will begin as soon as possible to offset inflation.

John Birath, Moore County Schools’ executive officer for operations, requested an allotment of $8,540,987 from the School Bond Premium Fund to modernize gyms at Cameron Elementary, Highfalls Elementary, and Westmoore Elementary.

The total for the three school gym modernizations is $11,540,987. It includes $8,540,987 in bond premium funds and $3,000,000 in estimated local capital funds supplemented by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund (ESSER).

PowerPoint image from Moore County School Board.

Inflation rates have risen from 5% to 30% since the school board heard the first presentation. This is complicated by a labor shortage and delays in receiving materials.

Birath said modernization includes heating and air systems, insulated roof systems, replacing glazing on windows, new entry doors, new bleachers, new or refinished flooring, new plumbing and meeting accessibility guidelines.

Birath said the projects would begin this weekend with interviews for a design team.

Commissioner Louis Gregory asked why these funds were not included in the 2018 vote for school bonds and said the public should be part of the process. Public speaker, Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey, said the order of need for replacing the Southern Pines, Pinehurst, and Aberdeen schools and creating more space in Sandhills Farm Life Elementary School was more important at the time.

Investors receive a premium return on bonds at 7% to 10%, and those dollars have been saved for capital needs, according to County Manager Wayne Vest.

The growth of funds for the three school projects will be combined with capital funds supplemented by federal funds under ESSER.

ESSER funds must be spent by deadlines and are assigned to specific improvements, complicating the project plan, and Birath said the combination of fund sources makes the projects doable.

In new business, the airport is expanding. The construction of 17 new hangars is funded by a $4,250,000 loan with Truist bank. The additional budget to complete the hangar taxiway and new internal airfield service road is $2,733,177 and is funded by a state grant. Repayment of the loan will be made from fuel sales, with 90% coming from hangar rent, and there will be no cost to the county. Large jets will be placed in some new hangars, and when there is no jet in one of the new hangars, the structure will house three planes, according to Airport Manager Scott Malta.

During public hearings, the board amended the Unified Development Ordinance. A full description of the changes may be viewed here, beginning on page 49.

Licensed medical offices are now prohibited in residential homes and neighborhoods because of traffic concerns and code requirements.

Massage therapists must now be licensed as required under the Moore County code.

An ordinance citation was created for the transfer of watershed allocation as required by N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for their approval of these transfers. This will prevent overdevelopment, which could lead to flooding, and watersheds play an important role in the environment.

Under complaint procedures, the time limit for investigations was lengthened from 10 days to 45 to allow thorough reviews.

Subdivisions may now operate their own mail house instead of using cluster mailboxes.

The board considered an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance for land use plans along highway corridors, but the request to allow high-impact recreation was dropped. The amendment would have removed the prohibition of high-impact recreation and placed it in a class requiring conditional rezoning in urban transition.

The request for the amendment was made by developer Pete Mace, who said he owns five acres off Highway 211 and has someone who wants to open a golf-putting business.

“Not trying to change the whole thirty-two miles,” Mace said as he dropped his request.

High-impact outdoor recreation activities are public or private businesses with the potential as a nuisance to neighbors. Some of these activities are fairgrounds, arenas, go-carts, mini-golf, drive-in theaters, athletic fields, batting cages, and target shooting.

A Cameron and two Pinehurst residents spoke against the amendment.

~Feature photo of basketball hoop by John Patota/Sandhills Sentinel.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].

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