Grant will help put old building back to work

First Posted: 12/8/2009

LUMBERTON To Greg Cummings, Robeson Countys economic development director, the proposed $2 million to $3 million expansion of Pembroke-based Caring Touch Home and Behavioral Health Care is a real Cinderella story.
The company has received a $480,000 N.C. Rural Center Building Reuse and Restoration Grant and plans to renovate an old 40,000-square-foot factory building on Deep Branch Road in Pembroke to serve as its corporate headquarters. In addition to office and clinical space, part of the building will also be available for community events, including wedding receptions and birthday parties, according to the companys chief executive officer, Donna Lowry.
Lowry told he Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday that her company, established in 2005, has about 600 employees 300 to 320 from Robeson County serving more than 900 clients in an eight-county service area. The planned expansion, she said, will create at least 40 new jobs.
Our vision is about community and putting back, not just about putting money in our pocket, she told the board.
Caring Touch plans begin its renovations project on Jan. 18.
The county commissioners voted Monday to accept the grant. County Manager Ken Windley said the countys investment in the project is $14,400 with the rest of the matching funds for the project coming from the Rural Center, Caring Touch, the Lumber River Council of Governments and the town of Pembroke.
Cummings said that the county has been trying to market the old building about nine years.
That building is an eyesore and needs to be fixed up, he said. If they had not decided to fix that building up for its corporate headquarters, I might not have been able to move it for another five years.
Cummings, who also serves on Pembrokes town board, said Caring Touchs success at landing its grant will help Pembroke secure Community Development Block Grant funding that will help the town upgrade its sewer system.
This is a win for the company, the community and the county, he said. It will help create jobs and increase employment.
The commissioners also agreed to contact their state and federal legislative delegation in an effort to find funding to keep the Turner Terrace Boys and Girls Club in Lumberton from having to shut down.
Ron Ross, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Lumberton, told commissioners that unless money can be found the club will operate only three days a week beginning Jan. 4.
Ross said it takes about $65,000 a year to operate the Turner Terrace club, which serves 115 kids.
Ive tried to get grants, grants, grants, Ross told the board. So far, Ive been unsuccessful.
Ross added that he has also tried with no success to get additional funding from the national office of the Boys and Girls Club. Ross emphasized that he does not want to shut the club down.
In other business, the commissioners:
Re-elected Noah Woods as the boards chairman and Tom Taylor as the boards vice chairman. The terms are for one year.
Agreed to hire the Washington, D.C., lobbying firm of Marlow & Company to seek out grants and other opportunities for bringing federal money into the county. The contract, recommended by the county manager, calls for the company to be paid $3,000 a month.
Followed the recommendation of the countys Planning Board and rejected a rezoning request from James Kelly that would have allowed for a grill and cafe to open on Britts Road in St. Pauls.
Denied for the second time a conditional-use permit for Samuel Woods to establish a motorcycle repair shop on Prospect Road near Maxton.
Voted to amend the operating hours in Lacy French Curries conditional-use permit for Lacy Currie Drag Strip on Cain Road. The motorcycle race track will now be able to operate on Sundays only from 1 to 8 p.m. Currie told the commissioners that they are placing a financial burden on him by allowing so few hours on Sunday, the busiest day of the week at his track.

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