• 4:49 pm NICA racers return to Brown’s Creek Bike Trail in Bladen County
  • 4:34 pm Phase II ahead of schedule in downtown Elizabethtown
  • 2:40 pm UNCW presents a two-night celebration featuring selections from operas and operettas
  • 2:38 pm Southeastern Fellowship Senior Golf Association Plays At Deercroft
  • 2:35 pm State Superintendent Mark Johnson Announces $2 million in Federal Grant Aid to Districts and Schools Affected by 2018 Hurricanes

By Erin Smith

A request regarding the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy property, which was formerly known as the School of Extended Hope, was brought before the Bladen County Commissioners on Monday.

Before the presentation on the property, the Commissioners recognized Captain Jeff Singletary for his retirement after 30 years of service to the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Jim McVicker thanked Captain Singletary for his service as did Bladen County Commissioners Chairman Ray Britt. Captain Singletary was joined by his wife and children.

Following the recognition, Bladen County Manager Greg Martin presented the property request to the Commissioners requesting the School of Extended Hope property be given to Bladen County Youth Focus Project.

“The school system has had an offer to acquire the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy and that adjacent property and so, as is required by the North Carolina General Statute, the school system is now coming to the Board of Commissioners to offer the first right of refusal,” said Martin.

He told the board, he has received a letter of support from Bladen County Schools Superintendent Robert Taylor supporting the request. Martin explained if the County has an interest in the property, now is the time to let the Board of Education know those intentions.

In a written request to the Bladen County Board of Commissioners, the Bladen County Youth Focus Project requested the Commissioners “relinquish ownership of the Extended Hope Building, all property associated with the building, and the remaining property of the original 10 acre tract to Bladen County Youth Focus Project, Inc. with no options to be returned to the county.”

“That decision (to place any restrictions in the deed) really is up to the Board of Education,” said Martin.

He continued, “In the past, on the two deeds between the Board of Education and Bladen County Youth Focus, there have been conditions such that the property is required to be used for public purposes like civic or recreational type purposes, they continue to be owned by the non-profit organization and, if that is not the case, the property would revert back to the Board of Education.”

Commissioner Michael Cogdell made a motion the board approve the transfer of the property as specified in the letter received from the Bladen Youth Focus Project,  including any of the details worked out between Bladen County Youth Focus Project and the school system. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins.

Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson said, “I think the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy is doing a good job. I really don’t understand why the school system is totally giving it away because of the financial burden they are under but it is their choice. I have no problem with it. The County has no need for that property.”

Commissioner Peterson offered a substitute motion to request the Board of Education to add the stipulation in the deed “if it ever ceases to be used for what this group wants to use it for, it reverts back to the Board of Education.”

“That’s the way the Board of Education has done every property they have given. The one in Bladenboro and Spaulding-Monroe, that’s the stipulation so I would like to make my substitute motion. Now, whether they (the Board of Education) do it or not, it’s up to them,” said Commissioner Peterson.

Commissioner Ashley S. Trivette pointed out the precedent has been set in the past for the property to revert back to the Board of Education.

Chairman Ray Britt called on Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy Headmaster Roland McKoy asking if the building will continue to be used for educational purposes.

“That is the only thing that it can be used for,” answered Minnie Price, President of Bladen County Youth Focus Project, Inc.

Chairman Britt continued stating he has received a letter in the past, as has Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell, regarding the historical value of the property.

Commissioner Cogdell asked to speak to his motion.

“The only reason I made that motion in the context that it was presented to us is that we don’t have any discretion as to what description is put on the deed. We don’t make that call,” said Commissioner Cogdell.

After further discussion, Price explained that Bladen County Youth Focus Project owns all of the other property and buildings surrounding the Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy.

“We (Bladen County Youth Focus Project) are wanting to own Extended Hope,” said Price.

“I understand that, but it is being used for Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy,” said Commissioner Peterson.

The board voted 8-1 to approve the Board of Education’s request to give the property which was formerly the School of Extended Hope to the Bladen County Youth Focus Project with the stipulation that if the property ceases to be used for the purposes in which it was given, the ownership will revert back to the Board of Education.  Commissioner Michael Cogdell cast the lone “no” vote.

In other business:

*The Commissioners approved a $10,000 donation to Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial for the Small Business Incubator Project in the former post office building in Elizabethtown.

*The Commissioners appointed Eddie Knight to the Bladen County Animal Control Board and tabled making appointments to the Child Fatality Protection Team, Keep Bladen Beautiful, Planning Board, Watershed Review Board, and White Lake Planning and Zoning ETJ.

*The board approved a Vital Records Policy and a Consumer Complaint Policy for the Bladen County Health Department and the commissioners approved an independent contractor agreement for Family Nurse Practitioner Services.

*The Commissioners approved a contract for services with the Lumber River Area Agency on Aging and approved the Division on Aging Advisory Committee Revised By-laws.