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Building reuse grant application, small business loan approved
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Morganton City Council

Building reuse grant application, small business loan approved

Small business loan approved for downtown business

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It looks like an industry in Morganton will soon be expanding after council members approved an application for a building reuse grant.

The Morganton City Council approved an application for a $240,000 building reuse grant for Project Umbrella, the code name for the manufacturing business that is looking to expand its current location.

The expansion is estimated to cost $1.8 million, with major costs including a new roof, remodeled loading docks and upgraded utilities. The expansion is expected to create 30 new jobs.

If the grant is approved by the rural economic development division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the city and county each will provide $6,000 toward the 5% local match required by the grant.

Pub owners get loan

Sterling Grill and Lounge, a business formerly known as Reece Winery and the Pub on Sterling, has come under new ownership and is looking to expand its operation.

Paul and Loretta Cordell, the couple who has been managing the business and soon will become the owners of it, applied for a $30,000 loan through the city’s restaurant recruitment loan program to improve the business’ kitchen equipment and help pay the business’ previous owners. The Cordells were also approved for another $30,000 loan through the Valdese Economic Development Investment Corporation, but that loan was contingent on the city of Morganton approving a loan.

A letter from Sharon Jablonski, the city’s director of cultural and creative development, said the Cordells are currently paying $1,800 per month to lease the building, plus $2,000 per month to pay the business’ purchase price. The current kitchen equipment only allows staff to work on about six orders at a time, Jablonski’s letter said.

With the loan from the city and VEDIC, Jablonski said the Cordells could pay the previous business owner’s purchase price with one of the loans and use the other to create a more functional kitchen.

The city council approved the loan, which, after five years of on-time payments, would be forgiven. Information from the city said that results in a payback of 50% of the principle, and the money paid back will be put in the city’s loan fund to help businesses in the future.

Grant funds to spark electric vehicle charging stations

Three electric vehicle charging stations soon will find a home in Morganton.

One of the charging stations, a DC Fast Charge station, will go in at 111 Bush Drive, near the new Starbucks off Exit 105 on Interstate 40, and another will be installed near Martha’s Park at 201 N. College St.

Another Level II charging station will go in at the Burke County Chamber of Commerce building at 110 E. Meeting St.

The city secured $240,252 in grant funding for the charging stations, and will have to pay $56,912 of its own dollars for the project. The project previously was budgeted in 2019, but because the state never passed a budget, the project was put on the backburner.

Contract extended for Greenway Connector project

Like most construction projects across the area this year, Morganton’s Greenway Connector has been no stranger to setbacks because of weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

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The duration of the project has had to be extended, and with it, council members had to extend a contract with Gannett Fleming to make sure North Carolina Department of Transportation certified inspectors remain onsite through the project’s completion. That is required by the federal funding the city received for the project, as well as its agreement with NCDOT.

A supplement of up to $37,073.34 for Gannett Fleming was approved by council members, but no budget amendment was required because funding still was available in the project’s budget.

Construction on the project is expected to be finished in late November.

Sewer project gets thumbs up

The first phase of an extensive sewer project was given the greenlight by council members Monday night.

Brad Boris, director of water resources, said the area of N.C. 181, Bost Road and North Green Street has potential for housing growth and the city already has seen 12-15% customer growth in that area in the last five years.

But the pump station and sewer lines are starting to experience capacity concerns and nearing the end of their useful life.

With the project approved by council, which is expected to cost a total of $3.5 million when all is said and done, Boris said the city is looking to add an additional 1,000 linear feet of sewer line, plus another 1,000 linear feet of replacement sewer line to better serve current and future customers.

He said the city also needs to start worrying about the safety of employees working on the pump station in the area because it currently is considered a confined space. Boris said the new pump station would allow not only for increased capacity, but would make it safer for employees working on the pumps.

The city is anticipating using American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funding for the project, and said it also has submitted requests for some private funding to support up to half of the expenditures associated with the project.

Council members approved a contract worth up to $505,000 with Merrick & Company, an engineering firm with which the city previously has worked, to provide a preliminary engineering report, full project design and engineering oversight for bidding and construction.

Other business

Council members also approved:

Minutes from the Oct. 4 meeting

Budget amendments for public safety, the general fund and public works to recognize receipt of insurance and FEMA reimbursements

An agreement with Great Lakes Data Systems for a broadband management software system

An agreement with ElectriCities to add a module for a workforce management solution to city’s current NorthStar CIS software system

Scheduling a public hearing for the Dec. 6 council meeting to consider closing an unused, unopened portion of Agnes Street

The meeting was capped off with two closed sessions, one to discuss economic development matters and another to discuss personnel matters, but no action was taken after the closed sessions.

Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at cmurphy@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphyMNH on Twitter.

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