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‘Golden’ gifts en route

Golden LEAF officials are headed to the Roanoke-Chowan area bearing gifts….lots of gifts.

On Friday, the Golden LEAF Foundation will presents checks totaling over $3 million to a trio of local counties. The money is to help with key projects in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties.

The check presentations are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Feb. 29 where the Golden LEAF Foundation will present Bertie County with a check for $300,000 during a ceremony at Bertie Middle School, located on US 13 north of Windsor.

Part of Golden LEAF’s Annual Grant Cycle, the grant money will support a project to provide computers for students and training and technology for residents of the county.

Golden LEAF President Valeria Lee will be joined at the school by Sandra Hardy, principal of Bertie Middle School, Chip Zullinger, superintendent of Bertie County Schools, Rickey Freeman, chairman of the Bertie County Board of Education, and Norman Cherry, chairman of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners.

Two hours later (11 a.m. scheduled starting time), Lee will present Hertford County with checks for over $1.9 million at the Jernigan Building Art Gallery on the campus of Roanoke-Chowan Community College near Ahoskie.

Part of Golden LEAF’s Community Assistance Initiative, the grant money will support a program to address a shortage in health care workers, a Parks and Recreations program and the Hertford County/ Roanoke Community College Early College High School.

Lisa Newsome, director of marketing & community relations at Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, Howard J. Hunter, III, chairman of the Hertford County Commissioners, Dr. Ralph Soney, president of Roanoke-Chowan Community College, Mike Basham, superintendent of the Hertford County Public Schools, and Hertford County Manager Loria Williams are expected to represent Hertford County during the check presentation.

From there, Lee is scheduled to be at the Gates County Community Center (US 158 east of Gatesville) at 1 p.m. There she will present Gates County with checks for $840,780 as part of Golden LEAF’s Community Assistance Initiative. The grant money will support a waste water feasibility study and renovation of the county’s community center.

J.S. Pierce and David Brown, respectively the chairman and co-chairman of the Gates County Commissioners, will join with Gates County Manager Melinda Hoggard to formally accept the funds.

Gates and Hertford counties are two of 12 counties currently involved with the Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative and among the first to receive funding through the program. The initiative assists targeted communities with projects that will help to stimulate economic activity or provide assistance in overcoming barriers to economic transition or community progress.

Under the Community Assistance Initiative, projects must be identified as a priority by the community before becoming eligible for funding. Proposals are accepted from community, town or county nonprofit organizations and governmental entities.

Bertie County is a recipient of one of the 191 Golden LEAF grants totaling over $117 million for educational and training initiatives. Golden LEAF Annual Grants Cycle focuses in the areas of agriculture, job creation and retention and workforce preparedness. Educational and community assistance projects that complement these priority areas are also given consideration.

About the Golden LEAF Foundation:

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting economically-distressed or tobacco-dependent communities across the state.

The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 643 grants worth more than $239 million since its inception.

For more information or to learn more about applying for a grant, visit

or call (888) 684-8404.