Highland Supervisors contribute $25,000 to Highland Center
Monterey, Va. – The Highland County Board of Supervisors took the first step toward approving a request from the Highland Economic Development Authority for $25,000 in county support for the Highland Center’s Capital Campaign to renovate the Highland Center building. County Administrator Roberta Lambert summarizes the request made by EDA Chairman Kirk Billingsley last month.
“At the Board’s October 2nd meeting, Mr. Billingsley presented a presentation requesting a $5,000 donation each year for five years for a total of $25,000 toward the Highland Center’s campaign,” said Ms. Lambert. “
Supervisor Kevin Wagner detailed how the Highland Center has brought several jobs and significant tax revenues to the county.
“The Highland Center has been doing good things,” said Supervisor Wagner. “They spearheaded the Allegheny Highlands Ag Center, and from that now we have, I think, four full-time and four part-time jobs. They created an improvement on the property that’s valued around $670,000, out of nothing. Then there’s property taxes that are going to be coming to the county. They’ll be generating tax revenues for the county in addition to the jobs they have created here (in Monterey), which is probably in the neighborhood of a half-dozen jobs that they kind of keep going around here. A lot of the arts are here, both the fine arts and the performing arts, the visual arts – all of that takes place here and it’s kind of a community center. And if all we have to do is provide a few thousand dollars toward it, I think that is a worthy goal,” he said.
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors David Blanchard also spoke in support of the EDA’s request for funds for the Highland Center.
“Well, I think a lot of their endeavor is economic development,” said Supervisor Blanchard. “There’s the business incubation, and with the large project of the Ag Center, the other agricultural projects that they have including the Allegheny Mountain School and the Farmers Market. It (this money from the county) is a small show of support. It’s a purchase of community services. It does show support that we’re behind them in their efforts not only to revive that building, but just to continue with their economic development efforts. People like that old school building up there. It means a lot to them. I like the old building too, but I like the work that does take place up there even more,” he said.
Supervisor Lee Blagg noted that it will be a major challenge to transform the old school building into a functional space that will serve county residents.
“The county gave these old schools to basically whoever,” said Supervisor Blagg. “Stonewall Ruritan Club got one. And to be truthful about it, when they gave it to us, I said the best thing you could do would be to take a bulldozer and push the thing over in a ditch somewhere and build a (new) building. They (the old school buildings) are a walking, sitting money pit and we have poured Lord knows, how much money in that building down there (Stonewall Ruritan). And we can pour more into it. This building (the Highland Center) is an architectural nightmare. I went to school there. Who puts a gym in the middle of a classroom? I mean it is. It is an architectural nightmare. There’s no telling how many millions of dollars you could spend on this thing and still not have it be functional,” he said.
Following the discussion, Supervisor Wagner made a motion to make a $25,000 pledge to the Highland Economic Development Authority to support the Highland Center’s Capital Campaign and that the money be payable over the remaining four years of the Board’s term in office. That motion was seconded by Lee Blagg and then was approved by unanimous vote of the Board. The timing of the payments to the EDA will be worked out at a future meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Highland County Board of Supervisors will be Tuesday, December 4, 2012. The Supervisors also have a work session scheduled for Wednesday, November 14.