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On the move

WINDSOR – They’re on the move.

Well, almost.

At the regular monthly meeting of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, Bertie County Schools Superintendent Elaine White asked the Commissioners to approve the purchase of the county schools’ Central Offices.  The plan would be for the location at 222 County Farm Road to be used in the future by the county’s Sheriff’s Office.

When White appeared before the Commissioners at their Dec. 15 meeting she discussed how the re-location of the County Schools’ Central Offices were part of a set of strategic priorities entitled “Vision 2020”

In Dec. 2014 the Board of Education offered the 3.26 acre property for what the school board determined to be a fair market price of $300,000. White further stated that the Board of Education is prepared to reduce the sale price to $150,000 with payments over multiple fiscal years.

The school system’s short term goal is to move the Central Administration offices from the current County Farm Road location to the campus of the former high school, which will be designated the Bertie County Central Services Complex.

“We’re offering that building to you,” White said. “You’ve been there, you’ve looked at it and it’s a very good building.  Sheriff Holley’s been down and looked at it and so I’m here to offer that we turn that building over to you with the provision that you allocate to us capital outlay funds in the amount of $150,000.”

White said the funds, which would be the sale price offered in December, would go toward renovations planned at the old Bertie High School.  The vision is to eventually have the future Central Services Complex used for various education projects.

The superintendent said the sale amount would also allow the school system to make up the $20,000 shortfall from the new office renovation and the hiring of a recommended project manager.

Following White’s presentation, Commission chairman Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson then asked if other members of the board had questions on the allocation of the $150,000 from the capital funds budget for the purchase of the building.

Commissioner John Trent called the purchase a good move.

“I’ve walked through the building,” Trent said. “I’ve looked at the building and its well worth it, having been appraised at close to $900,000, which allows us to walk away with nearly $750,000 in equity.”

Commissioner Tammy Lee asked Bertie County Sheriff John Holley, also present at the meeting, if the building would meet the needs of the Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m not looking to move the entire Sheriff’s Office in there,” Holley replied. “But it would be perfect for what I’d like to use it for.”

Commissioner Stewart White inquired as to the amount the county would have to spend on the building’s renovation.

“There would be some,” the Sheriff answered. “You would have to have an Interrogation Room of a certain size; so there would be some (renovation expense), but it would be minimum.”

Lee asked if the new location was adequate for the county’s 9-1-1 Communications Center.

“I think anyplace would be better than what we have now,” Holley said, “because where we are now we’re in a flood zone, and when you have a flood your operation is down; so down at the Board of Ed would be perfect.”

Holley added that the transition of locations would be “like going from a Honda to a Lexus.”

Trent reminded the board that new 9-1-1 Communication equipment has arrived and is awaiting installment.

“I am not a Commissioner who wants to install it twice,” Trent emphasized. “We’d be putting it in one place, then tearing it out and putting it in another building; so my recommendation is moving forward with the purchase of this building.”

Wesson reminded the board that a lot of the work to upgrade the Sheriff’s Office would be done within the county and could be done within what has already been appropriated.

Following this, Trent made a motion to move forward with the purchase of the Central Offices from the county School Board for the $150,000 price, seconded by Commissioner Ernestine Byrd Bazemore, and the motion was approved unanimously.

Wesson then asked for a second motion to allow the superintendent the $20,000 from her existing capital budget to be able to do the additional work and hiring of a project manager.

“I’ve already advertised for one,” White told the board.

Trent made the motion, seconded by Bazemore and it passed unanimously.

Before discussion ended, County Attorney Lloyd Smith asked when a deed exchange (closing) would be taking place.

White said the completion of renovations at the old high school location should be done by the end of June, and that they plan to meet that mark.

Smith then said the schools’ attorney and his office would get together to draw up the necessary paperwork.