The president and CEO of the Golden LEAF Foundation responded in an email to Halifax County commissioners and officials Wednesday concerning a $350,000 grant to aid in the demolition of the former Roanoke Valley Energy Facility site which is tied to Roseburg Forest Product’s Roanoke Valley Lumber sawmill project.
Because of certain details discussed in Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting and also discussed in the email, commissioners took $350,000 from the county’s budget with the understanding that Golden LEAF will provide the same funding for another project.
Scott Hamilton, president and CEO of the organization, said in the email, which was also forwarded to rrspin.com, that the organization remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting economic development in rural, economically-distressed, and tobacco-dependent communities like Halifax County.
Hamilton did take exception to a sentence in a Tuesday rrspin.com article on the matter which described the organization as “backing out of the grant due to changes in the structure of the land purchase agreement between the seller of the property and Halifax County Business Horizons.”
“We certainly understand the importance of the project to the county and eastern North Carolina. We remain committed to working with the county to find a way to offset the cost of this project expenditure,” he said in the email.
In explaining the organization’s participation in the project, Hamilton said, “Halifax County approached Golden LEAF regarding possible funding for this project and proposed a structure in which a nonprofit organization (Halifax Horizons) would acquire the property and use Golden LEAF grant funds to pay to complete the necessary demolition before transferring the property to Roseburg Forest Products.
“As a charitable foundation, it is required that Golden LEAF grant funds would go to the nonprofit organization for the demolition. Golden LEAF incorporated that requirement in the grant terms that were provided to the county staff following the April meeting of the Golden LEAF Board.”
Golden LEAF subsequently learned that under the final agreements regarding the property, which were negotiated without Golden LEAF’s involvement, the county was to pay the current owner for demolition at the site and the owner would transfer the property directly to Roseburg Forest Products. “While this structure met the needs of the property owner and Roseburg Forest Products, it did not satisfy the legal requirements for Golden LEAF to fund this project.”
Hamilton noted, however, rather than terminate the grant or require the parties to restructure the deal to be consistent with the original proposal, Golden LEAF staff proactively suggested a possible resolution to the county under which Golden LEAF funds would be used for another project in the county.
This resolution, which must be approved by the Golden LEAF Board, will allow the county to use its funds for demolition and offset those costs with savings elsewhere, avoiding any negative financial consequences for the county.