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Granville Commissioners’ Retreat Scheduled for Jan. 30-31

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-Information courtesy Debra A. Weary, Clerk to the Board, Granville County

The Granville County Board of Commissioners will hold a retreat on Thursday, January 30 and Friday, January 31, 2020, at the Granville Expo & Convention Center – 4185 Highway 15, Oxford.

The January 30 session will be a dinner meeting held from 4:30 – 9 p.m. The January 31 session will be an all-day meeting from 8:15 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Retreat Agenda includes:

Thursday, January 30, 2020

1. 4:30 p.m. – Call to Order, Invocation & Pledge of Allegiance

2. 4:35 p.m. – Welcome and Comments from Board Members

3. 5:00 p.m. – Dinner and Presentation by Fred Johnson (during dinner starting @ 5:15 p.m.)

4. 6:25 p.m. – Break

5. 6:40 p.m. – Update from Municipalities

A. Mayor Bobby Wheeler & City Manager Korena Weichel

B. Mayor Casey Dover & Mayor Pro-Tem Susan Cope

C. Mayor Janet Parrott

D. Mayor Jackie Sergent & City Manager Alan Thornton

E. Mayor Terry Turner & Town Manager Tommy Marrow

6. 7:40 p.m. – School System Update on School Social Workers or Other Matters

7. 8:00 p.m. – Break

8. 8:15 p.m. – Legislative Issues & Update

A. Senator Mike Woodard

B. Representative Larry Yarborough

C. Representative Terry Garrison

9. 9:00 p.m. – Recess

Friday, January 31, 2020

1. 8:15 a.m. – Breakfast & Networking Opportunity

2. 8:45 a.m. – Call to Order

3. 8:50 a.m. – Presentation from Masonic Home for Children Oxford

4. 9:00 a.m. – Economic and Development Services

A. Economic Development (10 minutes)

B. Planning & Zoning (15 minutes)

C. Building Inspections (10 minutes)

D. Construction Administration (15 minutes)

5. 9:50 a.m. – Break

6. 10:00 a.m. – Law Enforcement Center Project Update

7. 10:35 a.m. – Animal Management Update

8. 11:00 a.m. – Social Services Update

9. 11:25 a.m. – Senior Services Update

10. 11:50 a.m. – Lunch, Discussion & Break

11. 12:45 p.m. – Board Comments from Lunch with Department Heads

12. 1:15 p.m. – County Administration Update

A. Budget Calendar Review & Review of Process

B. Review of Financial Condition & Debt

C. Local Economic Trends & Conditions

D. Review & Discussion of Open Projects

E. Strategic Plan Update

13. 2:35 p.m. – Break

14. 2:45 p.m. – Follow-Up Discussions from Retreat Items and Key Take Away Items

15. 3:15 p.m. – County Manager Recap

16. 4:00 p.m. – Adjourn

Yancey Shares Family’s Cancer Journey With New Book

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-Press Release, Granville County Government

Granville County’s own Brenda Yancey is the first author scheduled for a series of book discussions at the Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford during the month of February. This book signing and special program will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 1.

Author Brenda Yancey with her recently-published book “After Cancer: A Family’s Journey to Normalcy.” (Photo courtesy Granville Co. Govt.)

Yancey’s book, “After Cancer: A Family’s Journey to Normalcy,” describes how her family depended on their faith to guide them through one of the darkest times in their lives. After her husband Larry received a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer in 2008, the Yanceys’ world was turned upside down. The life her family once knew, she said, was over – and a “new normal” was expected as family members struggled to accept the diagnosis and the impact it made on each of their lives.

“Every person has to make the decision to do what he (or she) feels is best, and what they feel God is leading them to do,” Yancey says in her book. “Every person is different, and each has to do what it takes to handle the situation.”

When the couple received the diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Yancey describes their reaction on hearing the news. While she fought back tears she had promised would not come, her husband was quiet as he carefully listened. “Okay,” she wrote. “We are going to trust God and take him at his Word.”

Through this newly-released book, Yancey tells the touching story of the support of her close-knit family and friends, the perseverance of her husband as he fought his battle with cancer and survived, and the choices she had to make concerning her own health. The book was written, she says, to encourage and help build up the faith of others who may be facing their own health battles. On Saturday, she will be sharing her own family’s experiences and signing copies of her work after the discussion.

“Life is good for us because we wake up every morning having a new appreciation for life,” she concludes. “When you come out of an experience like this, you see life totally different, and you understand that life is precious.”

A second local author discussion is scheduled for Saturday, February 16 with special guest Dr. Jason Miller. Miller will be introducing his latest novel, “Langston Hughes,” and will be providing insight into Hughes’ life as the first black author in America. This program will also begin at 2 p.m.

The Richard H. Thornton Library is located at 210 Main Street in Oxford and is one of four branches of the Granville County Library System. For more details about the Local Author Discussion series, contact Stefani Perry, Adult Librarian at 919-693-1121. To learn more about upcoming events scheduled at all four library branches, visit https://granville.lib.nc.us.

Granville Tourism Development Authority Offers Grant Opportunities

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-Press Release, Granville County Government

The Granville Tourism Development Authority (GTDA) is now accepting grant applications for the upcoming fiscal year.

The primary purpose of the GTDA’s mini-grant program is to assist Granville County organizations and agencies in the promotion and marketing of events and activities that encourage tourism and create an economic impact from visitor spending. The goal is to help stimulate events/activities that can grow and eventually thrive on their own merit, without direct funding. Any approved funding should be considered as a supplemental resource only.

Applicants eligible for grant funding must be a Granville County-based community group, nonprofit organization, county municipality or recognized community within the county lines. For-profit groups cannot apply for grant funding unless the event’s proceeds will go to a community-supported event.

Projects to be considered should encourage out-of-county visitors, with primary consideration given to those that promote the GTDA’s mission of marketing the area as a travel destination. (The tourism industry’s definition of a “visitor” is an individual trekking outside of 50 miles to attend an event or activity.) Events planned for off-peak times may receive higher priority.

Total funding of any event, project or program will not be greater than 25 percent of the total project budget and will not exceed $5,000. Included with the request can be a one-time artist/entertainment allowance of up to $1,000.

Grants applications will be accepted until April 3, 2020, for inclusion in the upcoming fiscal year (July 2020 through June 2021). The GTDA Board will review applications and will be prepared to make recommendations for approval during their May board meeting. Award recipients will be notified after July 1, 2020, when the new fiscal year begins.

Applications are available online or through the Granville County Tourism Development Office, 124 Hillsboro Street in Oxford. Visit www.granvillecounty.org/visitors/ to access the application or to learn more about grant requirements and/or the review process. Those interested may also contact Angela Allen, Tourism Director, at 919-693-6125 or [email protected]

‘Kitchen Table Conversation’ to Focus on GCPS Strategic Plan

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

Please plan to come out and join the discussion during Granville County Public Schools’ “Kitchen Table Conversation” on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. The event will be held at the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford from 6 until 8 p.m.

The discussion will focus on the district’s Strategic Plan and critical topics related to the success of GCPS.

This event is open to the community; everyone who has a vested interest in the school district is welcome.

Granville Commissioners Call Special Meeting on JTOH Lease Appeal

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-Information courtesy Debra A. Weary, Clerk to the Board, Granville County

Notice of Special Meeting

All interested persons please take notice that the Granville County Board of Commissioners will hold a Special Meeting on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at 4 p.m. at the Granville Expo and Convention Center located at 4185 Highway 15 South, Oxford.

The purpose of the Special Meeting is to continue the hearing on the appeal requested by Oxford Preparatory School pursuant to North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 115C-218.35.

Plenty of Community Events Offered in Granville This Winter

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-Information courtesy Granville County Government

JOURNALING FOR BEGINNERS is being offered at the Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford on Saturday, Jan. 25. Sharon Swanson, an award-winning essayist and Manager of Arts and Health at Duke University Hospital in Durham, will provide information on how regular expressive writing can improve overall health, mood and working memory while reducing stress. The session is scheduled for 2 p.m. Contact Adult Librarian Stefani Perry for details at 919-693-1121.

UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE programs are being offered through Feb. 18 at the Granville County Senior Center, 107 Lanier Street in Oxford. Instructed by the Families Living Violence Free organization, these informative sessions are being held each Tuesday from 1 until 2 p.m. and are open to the public at no charge. Participants will learn about healthy relationships, personal boundaries, how children are impacted and more. Call Marilyn Howard at 919-693-1930 for details.

LOCAL AUTHOR DISCUSSIONS are scheduled at the Richard H. Thornton Library in Oxford on Feb. 1 and on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. On Feb. 1, meet Brenda Yancey, author of “After Cancer: A Family’s Journey to Normalcy.” Yancey will discuss how a stage 4 cancer diagnosis changed the life of her family forever and how faith helped her family through this crisis.

Dr. Jason Miller will follow on Feb. 16 with a discussion of his new novel “Langston Hughes,” which provides insight on Hughes’ works, as well as his influence on the Civil Rights movement. Contact Adult Librarian Stefani Perry at 919-693-1121 for more information.

LEARN TO SPEAK SPANISH! Classes for beginners and beyond are offered Wednesdays through Feb. 26 at the Granville County Senior Center in Oxford. Instruction in “Beginner Spanish” is scheduled for 9 a.m. followed by “Conversational Spanish” at 11 a.m. Instructors are Herve Sergent and Laura Gabel. To learn more about the Creative Lifelong Learning program, contact Marilyn Howard at 919-693-1930.

FUN WITH LEGOS! Kids up to 6th grade are invited to compete in a Lego competition on Saturday, Jan. 25. Presented by the Granville County Library System, this contest will be held at the Richard H. Thornton Library from 2 until 4 p.m., with no registration required. Those interested should check-in at the Kids Area upon arrival. Prizes will be awarded and creations will be on display. Contact Amy Carlson, Children’s Librarian at 919-693-1121.

BARN QUILT PAINTING CLASSES continue with instructor Reba McInnis. Classes are offered through the Creative Lifelong Learning Program and are scheduled Jan. 30 and Feb. 20 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Granville County Senior Center, 107 Lanier Street, in Oxford. Registration is required. Contact Marilyn Howard at 919-693-1930 for more details and for a fee schedule.

CREATE YOUR OWN WORK OF ART with “Adult Crafternoons” at your local branch of the Granville County Library System. Sessions in Watercolor continue on Jan. 22 at the South Branch in Creedmoor (6:30 p.m.) Registration is NOT required. Contact Adult Librarian Stefani Perry at 919-693-1121 for details.

LOCAL QUILTERS, OR THOSE WHO WANT TO LEARN HOW, can join the Berea Library’s Quilting Club, which meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Berea Branch, 1211 Hwy 158. For details, call 919-693-1231.

MAKE HANDMADE THANK YOU NOTES with instructor Cheryl Munro. Offered through Granville County Senior Services’ Creative Lifelong Learning (CLL) program, this course continues on Mondays throughout the month of January at 1:30 p.m. Registration is required. Contact Marilyn Howard at 919-693-1930 for more information about this class and others offered through CLL.

T’AI CHI CLASSES are offered at the Granville County Senior Center in Oxford through March 10. Instructor Peter Kay, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the Chinese art, provides instruction for beginners as well as a continuation class. Those interested should contact Creative Lifelong Learning coordinator Marilyn Howard at 919-693-1930.

THE ROAD TO WORLD WAR I is a course offered through the Creative Lifelong Learning Program and is offered Mondays through March 2 at the Granville County Senior Center in Oxford. The instructor is George Robinson, who provides historical information that spans from the Civil War to the firing of the first shots in “The War to End All Wars.” Call 919-693-1930 for more information.

COME SEW WITH US! Carol Montague facilitates a sewing class at the Granville County Senior Center in Oxford on Mondays through Feb. 10. Learn more about sewing machines, reading patterns and other skills while working on hands-on projects. This course is offered through the Creative Lifelong Learning (CLL) program from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Contact Marilyn Howard at 919-693-1930 for details.

Granville County BOE Continues Negotiation to Lease JTOH

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

At a special called work session held at West Oxford Elementary School on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, the Granville County Board of Education voted unanimously to express its concern regarding the suitability of the former Joe Toler-Oak Hill building for use by Oxford Preparatory charter school. In a motion passed unanimously by the Board, the Board cited, “serious reservations regarding the suitability of the facility for children without making significant upgrades and renovations”.

In the fall of 2019, Oxford Preparatory School (OPS) requested to lease the now vacant school property beginning in June of 2020. The district declined their offer as it intends to sell the property in order to eliminate the liability of owning the aged facility and recover much-needed funding for other critical facility needs across the district. The poor condition of the facility was a major contributing factor in the Board’s original decision to close the school in January of 2019.

According to the district’s Master Facility Plan, which evaluates maintenance and capital improvement needs for all of its facilities, the campus had a five-year projection cost of $2.3+ million. At the time, the Board had been in the process of declaring it surplus property and subsequently offering it first to the County Commissioners as required by state law. The Board, therefore, responded to Oxford Prep and declined its request to lease the property for a future school year, because the Board intended to sell it as soon as possible.

Correspondence occurred between the two parties throughout November and December during which time the two parties debated the legal issues surrounding the lease request. In December, the Board did, however, provide OPS access to the building and allow their team of building inspectors to evaluate the condition of the facility.

Then, at the January 6, 2020, County Commissioners meeting, commissioners declined the first right of purchase of the school property and directed the School Board to enter negotiations with Oxford Prep to attempt to reach terms of a lease agreement that would be “practically and financially feasible.” The commissioners also permitted the Board to proceed with the sale of the property.

Following that directive, the Board then entered good faith negotiations and has held multiple meetings with OPS Executive Director Andrew Swanner and his attorney, David Hostetler of Durham. As of January 21, the parties had reached agreement on some terms, but significant areas of disagreement remain, including the necessity of certain immediate repairs and a fair rent for the building.

Throughout these discussions, Board of Education members have expressed concern about the ability of the JTOH building to house the number of students proposed by OPS. OPS has reported its intention to house three hundred or more students in the building, a student population far greater than the building has held in recent memory.

In the past 11 years, the school’s reported enrollment did not exceed 229 students, and at the time of its closing JTOH enrolled approximately 180 students. Even with those lower numbers, the school’s well could not always supply sufficient water to serve the school for a full school week, and the Board was forced to purchase and truck in additional water for students and staff. Other wells on the property have run dry. Board members and staff also expressed concerns about the ability of the septic system to serve that many students.

Third-party assessments show the school buildings are in need of roof replacements, major renovations to the heating system, as well as AC system upgrades. Without these critical repairs, replacements and upgrades, the district fears that the building might suffer from water damage and significant air quality concerns, which in turn could create potential safety concerns for those in the building. Mold had been detected in the school in 2018, and the district spent significant funds to remediate and address the cause of the contamination at that time. The private inspectors commissioned by Oxford Preparatory did not inspect the building’s roof or air handling/ventilation system.

Despite these serious reservations as expressed in its vote Tuesday evening, the Board of Education intends to continue its dialogue with Oxford Prep regarding the facility and what repairs would be necessary to bring it to a condition appropriate for housing such a large number of students and staff. The County Commissioners have indicated their intent to call a meeting on January 29 at 4 p.m. for an update on this matter.

In the meantime, the Board is in the process of listing the property with a commercial real estate agency. The 30-acre site and campus facilities are now officially for sale. The property has an appraised value of $450,000. Interested buyers may contact the Granville County School Board offices located at 101 Delacroix St., Oxford, NC (919) 693-4613 for additional details.

Oxford Prep. Hopes for Resolution to Outstanding JTOH Lease Request

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-Press Release, Oxford Preparatory School

Oxford Preparatory School has made three different offers to Granville County Public Schools in the past three weeks to lease the closed Joe Toler-Oak Hill building in order to accommodate Oxford Prep’s upcoming K – 4 expansion.

The Granville County Commissioners held a meeting on January 6, 2020, during which an appeal hearing was conducted on Oxford Prep’s request to lease the closed Joe Toler-Oak Hill building. The Granville County Commissioners determined that pursuant to NC General Statute § 115C-218.35 the building was “available” and directed the GCPS School Board to enter negotiations with Oxford Prep.

In the past two weeks, on two occasions representatives from Oxford Prep met with representatives from GCPS. After each meeting and upon reflecting on GCPS’s concerns, Oxford Prep modified the offer in an attempt to better address perceived impediments that had been discussed.

The Oxford Prep team, accompanied by GCPS representatives, completed an on-site inspection of JTOH. They were pleased to see the condition of the JTOH building. It was obvious that the maintenance staff from GCPS has taken a great deal of pride in and care of the building. In addition, an inspection by an outside firm was completed of the building for suitability, economic viability, and safety. Both inspections were done w/ GCPS personnel present. At no time were any safety concerns raised.

Oxford Prep is well aware of the deferred maintenance that has been suggested by GCPS. As a result of both inspections, Oxford Prep has a clear understanding of what facility improvements are needed and continues to believe the property is well-suited for the safe, short-term occupancy requested.

After the last negotiation meeting, Oxford Prep reworked its lease offer so that the lease agreement might be an economically and practically feasible one. The lease offer includes the following terms:

– $100,000 in total lease payments (including a $10,000 security deposit) to occupy the building from June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021 (equal to 22% of the appraised market value of the building)

– Take on 100% of GCPS’s upkeep costs once a lease agreement is executed until Oxford Prep vacates the building on May 31, 2021 (GCPS currently spends over $100,000 a year)

– Complete building repairs to include (drainage evaluation and remediation, septic and well repairs, boiler system repair, and repair sections of the roof as needed)

– Complete quarterly air quality testing and complete remediation as needed

The Oxford Prep leadership team and Board of Directors are optimistic that the Granville County Public School System will enter into the generous proposed lease terms, that serves the interests of GCPS, Oxford Preparatory School, and the citizens of Granville County.

For additional comment, please contact Andrew Swanner, executive director of Oxford Preparatory School at [email protected] or (919) 690-0360.

Rabid Animal Reported; Second Confirmation This Year

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-Press Release, Granville County Government

This year’s second instance of rabies has been reported in Granville County. A raccoon was picked up on January 17, 2020, in the area of St. Lucy Drive and N.C. Hwy. 96 South, Franklinton, with follow-up tests confirming that the raccoon was rabid. Residents of the area are being notified of the positive test results.

Granville County Animal Control advises all residents to ensure their pets have up-to-date rabies vaccinations, as required by North Carolina law (NCGS 130A-185). One-year vaccinations are provided for only $6 at the Granville County Animal Shelter, located at 5650 Cornwall Road in Oxford. Hours for vaccinations are Monday through Friday from noon until 4:30 p.m.

For more details, call the Shelter at (919) 693-6749.

Joe Toler – Oak Hill Continuation Meeting Canceled

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-Information courtesy Debra A. Weary, Clerk to the Board, Granville County

At the January 6, 2020 meeting, the Granville County Board of Commissioners approved entering into an order that the Joe Toler – Oak Hill Elementary School is currently available and requested negotiations between Granville County Public Schools and Oxford Preparatory School.

The continuation of that meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday, January 22, 2020, at 7 p.m., has been canceled.