County commissioners decide old hospital buildings’ fate, consider broadband project
Abby Cavenaugh Staff Writer
At the regular monthly meeting Dec. 3, the Anson County Board of Commissioners made a decision on the fate of the two early 20th century-era buildings on the Anson Community Hospital site, and considered a project to improve broadband access within the county. A decision on whether or not to allow a solar farm to locate on Carver Street in Wadesboro was deferred until the January meeting.
The first item of business at the meeting was to elect a board chair and vice chairman. Anna Baucom and Ross Streater were both re-elected as chair and vice chair, respectively.
A request for a conditional use permit for the proposed solar farm on Carver Street and an update on the county’s renewable energy ordinance were both postponed until January, at the request of County Manager Lawrence Gatewood so that the county planner could attend and give her recommendations.
After a brief closed session for the board to discuss economic development, Donna Sullivan with the N.C. Department of Commerce made a presentation to the commissioners on a proposed Anson County Broadband Inventory Study. Sullivan is part of a division of the N.C. Department of Commerce called N.C. Broadband.
She explained that the inventory assessment was developed to identify 13 counties in the state with high levels of unserved and high levels of unemployment. The project is funded through the federal government, and she said she anticipates the work to start in 2014, if the county approves.
“A broadband infrastructure is essential for communities to thrive in today’s global environment,” Sullivan said, adding that in a survey, 55 percent of businesses said broadband access is key in their decisions on where to locate or relocate.
Sullivan said that there are 704 households in Anson County that have no access to even basic Internet. “These numbers are probably understated,” she added. “That’s why we want to partner with counties.”
She also pointed out that according to House Bill 44, the state will require all schools to transition to digital learning by 2017. Sullivan plans to partner not only with the county, but with other local organizations that help provide computers to needy families, like the Caraway Foundation and HOLLA! Baucom said that she and the board will consider the option. “We cannot let our children get behind,” she said.
Hospital buildings to go out for bid
County Manager Gatewood reported that the estimated tax value of the two old hospital buildings and 2 acres of land on the Anson Community Hospital site have an estimated tax value of $294,030.
“I do have a recommendation,” he said. “And I believe this plan will address all of your concerns.”
Gatewood said he would like the property declared surplus and sell it through sealed bids, with a minimum bid of $294,030. The property will be advertised for sealed bids May through June 2014, with the bids to be reviewed at the commissioners’ July meeting.
Commissioner Jarvis Woodburn asked what would happen if there were no bids, to which Gatewood replied, “We will move forward with the demolition at Carolinas Healthcare System’s expense.”
The commissioners unanimously agreed to Gatewood’s plan.
In other business at this month’s meeting:
The commissioners will next meet on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in the conference room at the Anson County Government Center.
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