Journey to the Earl Scruggs Center Continued… Pt-6

City Passes A Resolution Authorizing $200,000 Travel And Tourism Funding To Destination Cleveland County

On Septemer 17, 2012 the City of Shelby Resolution No. 53-2012 A Resolution Authorizing Disbursement of Additional Travel and Tourism Funding For Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

The City Council authorized disbursement of local occupancy tax funds in the amount not to exceed $200,000 over the next five (5) fiscal years to Destination Cleveland County for travel and tourism related capital expenditures within the Earl Scruggs Center located in the historic 1907 Cleveland County Courthouse.

The City Council authorized the City Manager to obtain activity reports from the funded organization detailing the use of said funds. The same shall be reported to City Council following the close of each fiscal year ending June 30.

Jim Allen Dies

On September 19, 2012 James Platt “Jim” Allen, 80, dies at Carolina’s Medical Center ending a year’s long battle with congestive heart failure. Listed in his obituary, among his achievements, he served as Editor of the Shelby Daily Star, Chairman of the Cleveland County Chamber of Commerce, President of the Rotary Club, and Charter President of the Cleveland County Historical Society.

An article in The Star that same day says that friends and colleagues remember Jim Allen as a visionary, whom they credit with early efforts to open the Don Gibson Theatre and Earl Scruggs Center in uptown Shelby and with co-founding the Foothills Merry-Go-Round Festival in 1998.

“Jim was one of those folks in Shelby who really put his heart and soul into our community and worked always with a vision toward making Shelby and his community a better place,” said former city mayor Ted Alexander. “He was a very visionary kind of person. Any good effort or endeavor, Jim could be counted on to be behind it.”

Jim Allen ran against Ted Alexander in the 2003 Shelby mayoral race, and Ted Alexander won by a narrow margin in a runoff.

“I got to see his character up front during the campaign and knew he had the best interest of our city at heart,” Alexander said of Allen. “I even told people that no matter who won, I felt we had a good mayor. Our city would have been in great hands with Jim.”

Ted Alexander credits Jim Allen with the initial work now conducted by Destination Cleveland County. He said he traveled with Jim to Nashville several times to visit Earl Scruggs and also communicated with the Gibson family- with hopes to honor both in uptown Shelby venues. “ (Allen) convened several years worth of meetings,” Alexander said.

“I just grew to respect his so much and like him as a friend. I’m just saddened by the loss of Jim.”

Shelby Parks and Recreation Director Charlie Holtzclaw who worked with Jim said,

“He was a leader. A fine gentleman. He was very dedicated, very proactive. He was always looking to find better ways to serve the community. He had big dreams for a little town.”

County Commissioners Honor The Contributions Of Jim Allen

At their October 2, 2012 meeting, County Commissioners made a Resolution in Memory of Jim Allen in Appreciation of Contributions to Cleveland County. They say that he was a visionary among the Cleveland County Community. They mention his distinguished service to the community as Editor of the Shelbly Daily Star, his efforts to help promote countywide zoning, his active role in the consolidation of the three school districts in Cleveland County, his serving as Chariman of the Board of numerous boards in Cleveland County leading to his earning the Shelby Lions Citizen of the Year in 1999. They tell that he co-founded the Merry-Go-Round festival. And said that his vast array of activities that he participated in show that he gave unselfishly of his time and talent to benefit others. They express sincere appreciation and deep gratitude for the dedicated and distinguished service of Jim Allen to the citizens of the City of Shelby and Cleveland County.

What they did not mention is Jim Allen’s important role in the Cleveland County Historical Museum nor give him credit for his efforts of the initial work in founding the music heritage of Cleveland County, without which there would be no Don Gibson Theatre and Earl Scruggs Center.

Is this omission because they abandoned Jim Allen’s plans for the Southern Music Heritage Museum that they had supported both publicly and financially, and threw their support to the rogue members of Jim’s committee who became Destination Cleveland County and took Jim’s idea and ran with it, along with the Cleveland County Historical Museum’s artifacts which the Commissioners claimed, saying they were abandoned in the courthouse building.

DCC Asks County Commissioners For A Loan Of $1,389,073.00 To Ficilitate Opening The Earl Scruggs Center

At the December 11, 2012 County Commissioners Meeting DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster and Earl Scruggs Center Chairman J.T. Scruggs, addressed the County Commissioners. Mr. Scruggs explained that the purpose for them being there was to, “ask for help to finish the project.” He said, “We are asking your consideration to allow finance through the county so we can open in six months.”

He outlined the remaining costs to complete the Earl Scruggs Center as follows:
Total remaining costs to complete- $1,535,386.
Plus 1st year marketing, grand opening and operating- $300,000.
Total cost- $1,865,386.
Total cash on hand- $476,313.
Total pledges to come in is $755,400. (Calendar year 2012 $47,000; 2013 $399,600; 2014 $62,100; 2015 $62,100; 2016 $62,100; 2017 $57,000; 2018 25,000; 2019 $25,000; 2020 $25,000
Total pledges left $755,400.- Data as of Nov. 26, 2012)

12112012 J.T. Scruggs presented a request from DCC. He described the request as two-fold: DCC requests to borrow $1,389,073 from the County. DCC currently has $755,400 committed to pledges. The pledges will be used toward repayment of the loan to the county. Through pledges, $447,100 of the loan would be repaid in 2012 and 2013. The rest of the loan would be repaid by 2020. The numbers, however, still reflect a shortfall of $633,673.

The second request is for Cleveland County to extend their annual pledge of $250,000 by two years. This would leave a shortfall of only $133,673 which would be raised by DCC.

(This annual pledge of $250,000 they are referring to is the $250,000 per year of the $1.5 million committed by Cleveland County taxpayers to renovate the interior of the courthouse. By now DCC has received the total $1.5 million with the final of the six payments of $250,000 given on August 22, 2012. Now they want Cleveland County taxpayers to give them another half a million dollars toward renovating the building.)

Mr. Scruggs thanked Commissioners for their support throughout this project. Commissioner Hutchins asked if the pledges would be used for operating the Scruggs Center. Mr. Scruggs explained that the pledges would be designated to paying back the loan to the county.

Ms. Plaster said DCC is continuing to raise money for the Center. She stated that over $5.8 Million has been raised for this project with only 10% remaining to complete it. She said thank you for your support so far on this project. I hope you will choose to help us with this additional request as we know it will pay back many times in economic development.

She described the economic impact of the Earl Scruggs Center as $12 million a year for ten years, and said the Center is already receiving statewide, national and international recognition. She told the Commissioners that getting the Center open now will help jump start the tourist traffic and the interest in Cleveland County instead of waiting for several years. She said supporting an organization for its hard work and diligence that is creating positive economic outcomes for the county makes sense.

She said that since the county owns the building, there is no collateral so it would be difficult for Destination Cleveland County to borrow the money.

In the Shelby Star, Ms. Plaster spoke about the status of the project explaining that the renovations have been completed and the DCC office has moved to the third floor of the building. All design work has been completed and the Center can be open within six months of financial commitments being secured.

She made reference to the fact that Cleveland County and Destination Cleveland County received a $1.5 million Economic Development Assistance Grant toward construction of the Earl Scruggs Center. In the grant, the Center is expected to open by April 2013. She said, “As you know we received a grant from EDA of $1,543,000. At this point they expect us to be open by April of 2013.”

Commissioners Chairman Ronnie Hawkins expressed concern that April is four months away, rather than the six-month target set by DCC. “If you aren’t opened by April 2013, who is liable to pay the EDA Grant?” Hawkins said.

J.T. Scruggs said the county signed the grant for the building and DCC signed for the organization.

Brownie Plaster told Commissioners if the county does not let DCC borrow the money, the Earl Scruggs Center will miss the April 7, 2013 deadline and the county will be required to repay the $1,014,779.00 the county has received of the EDA grant.

Ms. Plaster said Destination Cleveland County has asked for an extension, but so far they have not gotten it. She said she thinks if DCC could move forward now and be able to give them an exact date, they might extend for them. The extension will not be extended without an opening date. Remaining funds need to be raised before the Center can open.

Ms. Plaster said if they have the money they can be open in 6 months. She said DCC looked at “just getting something in there” so they could open. “We could open but it would be significantly substandard. All of the advisors and consultants advised us not to do that,” explained Ms. Plaster.

Commissioners asked what is lacking in order for the Center to be opened. J. T. Scruggs responded there is a little over $1 million in fabrication that needs to be completed. They are still working on obtaining rights to several pieces of music. Getting the rights to a 30-second piece of music can cost between $3K and $10K dollars. There has been no cost to use any of Earl Scruggs’ music or name. He says they can’t get the $500,000 balance on the EDA grant because it is contingent on finishing the project.

Chairman Hawkins advised Destination Cleveland County that Commissioners would place this as an agenda item on their December 18, 2012 regular meeting for a vote.

DCC has set several opening dates in recent years but has pushed back the center’s opening. Cleveland County resident Brendan LeGrand addressed the Commissioners at the podium after the meeting and reminded them that according to the lease agreement DCC has 5 years to be open and the deadline of that date will be March18, 2013 and if they are not open by then they will be in default of the lease.