Journey to the Earl Scruggs Center Continued… Pt-7 (end of series)

USDA Approves $700,000 Loan To Destination Cleveland Counyt

USDA approved the $700,000 to DCC in July to purchase several large and elaborate displays and iteractive exhibits for the Earl Scruggs Center. The collateral for the loan includes financial statement on the equipment, assignment of income and a promissory note.

Where Did Destination Cleveland County’s $6.5 Million For The Earl Scruggs Center Come From?

The information below was given on the loan application received by USDA from DCC on March 22, 2013. Added to this information is the approved $700,000 loan from USDA.

USDA Loan $700,000
NC Department of Commerce $1,543,000
NC Rural Center $100,000
Golden LEAF Foundation $250,000
NC Department of Cultural Resources $20,000
City of Shelby $200,000
Cleveland County $1,500,000
Private Donors and Foundations $2,187,000
Total Project Cost: $6,500.000

Destination Cleveland County Board of Directors July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014
Brownie Plaster, Chair
Adelaide Craver, Vice Chair
John Schweppe, III, Secretary/ Theatre Committee Co-Chair
Trip Boinest, Theatre Committee Co-Chair
Robin Smith, Treasurer
J. T. Scruggs, Scruggs Center Chair
Linda Horn, Events Co-Chair
Myra Dixon, Events Co-Chair
Shannon Kennedy, Communications Chair
Millie Wood, History Co-Chair
Jeff Powell, History Co-Chair
Al Dunkleman
Jeff Ross
Michael Poage
Karla Haynes
Tropzie McCluney
Stan Anthony
(Mayor of Shelby)

July 9, 2013 Cleveland County Commissioners Meeting Minutes-
ACTION: Johnny Hutchins made the motion, seconded by Susan Allen, and unanimously adopted by the Board, to approve the following change to the Cleveland County Code of Ordinances:

WHEREAS, The Board of Commissioners of Cleveland County,
North Carolina, find it to be in the best interests of the citizens and residents
of Cleveland County to add an additional exception to Sec. 6-1 (a) of the
Code of Ordinances;
CAROLINA that the Code of Ordinances is hereby amended as follows:
Section 1: The following sentence shall be added to Sec. 6-1 (a):
“This section shall also not apply to the property leased to Destination
Cleveland County, Inc. and known as The Earl Scruggs Center: Music
and Stories from the American South.”

Section 2: This ordinance shall be effective as of the date of its adoption.

DCC Sets Opening Date For Earl Scruggs Center For January 11, 2014

An article in The Star on August 29, 2013 tells that Destination Cleveland County has announced January 11, 2014 will be the opening day of the Earl Scruggs Center.

DCC representative J. T. Scruggs says that the center itself is expected to open to visitors in late November or early December 2013.

DCC officials said $2.5 million has been put into the renovation of the building. They say the county and other agencies have helped with funding, but nearly 50 percent of the support has come from private local donors.

The January 11, 2014 grand opening will include an evening event, “Remembering Earl: Music & Stories,” at Shelby High School’s Malcolm Brown Auditorium, featuring national recognized artists.

The Earl Scruggs Center will be open free to county residents on Wednesdays.

[This free day is required by Term #15. Hours of Operation of the Lease Agreement- Once the Center to be located in the leased property is operational, the Lessee agrees to keep the Center open to the public and fully operational for a minimum of thirty (30) hours per week. The Lessee shall designate at least eight (8) hours of the Center’s operating schedule for free admission to Cleveland County residents. Term #15. was amended on April 2, 2013. They want to change the amount of free time for Cleveland County residents to tour the Earl Scruggs Center from 8 hours per week to one day per week, as they are only going to be open for 30 hours per week.]

In September 2013, DCC announces that Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, and Earl Scruggs’ sons Gary and Randy are among musicians who will perform at the January 11, 2014 grand opening, along with award-winning dobro player Rob Ikes and award-winning banjo player Jim Mills. Tickets will go on sale in mid-October. By the first of December the performance is sold out.

An article in The Star on December 3, 2013 states that according to DCC officials, standard Earl Scruggs Center hours will begin January 2, 2014, and doors are still expected to open before the end of 2013. “It’ll be open by the end of the year and then certainly starting January 2 will be our standard operation hours Wednesday through Sunday,” DCC Executive Director Emily Epley said.

Brownie Plaster, DCC Chairwoman said the center’s “soft opening” would be quiet, but that it would be open by the end of the year.

DCC Violates The Terms Of The Lease Extension For The Earl Scruggs Center

closedEDA extended the Earl Scruggs Center opening date to December 7, 2013. Cleveland County Commissioners extended it to December 31, 2013. There was no announcement of a public opening of any kind in December 2013.

The Earl Scruggs Center was slated to officially begin standard hours on January 2, 2014. The Star was invited to tour the Earl Scruggs Center on Friday, January 3, 2014. DCC officials unveiled the Earl Scruggs Center signs that morning at 11.45 a.m. The Earl Scruggs Center was closed on Saturday, January 4. The grand opening was held January 11, 2014.

DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster’s Journey To The Earl Scruggs Center

DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster’s journey to the Earl Scruggs Center began when she was a member of Jim Allen’s committee to create the Southern Music Heritage Museum to be located inside the Cleveland County Historical Museum at the Historic Courthouse. Musicians were to include Don Gibson, Snuffy Jenkins, Smith Hammett and many others in addition to Earl Scruggs. Jim Allen publicly announced that dream in 2003, gathered his committee and first met in early 2004. The County was on board and even paid for the initial designs in 2005. Brownie Plaster was a latecomer to Jim Allen’s group.

Louise Scruggs became adamant to have the building to honor her husband, and have Don Gibson honored in another venue. Louise Scruggs was Earl Scruggs’ manager, and she wanted to broker the best deal for him.

Brownie Plaster was among those of Jim Allen’s group who wanted to honor Louise Scruggs’ wishes. This group became Destination Cleveland County and got the support of both the City of Shelby and Cleveland County governments as well as the Chamber of Commerce.

Brownie Plaster has never publicly acknowledged Jim Allen’s part of the music heritage before Destination Cleveland County took over. She refers to the former courthouse as a failed museum.

She begins the story of her journey to the Earl Scruggs Center in 2006, when Destination Cleveland County started.

In an article from, a Nashville newspaper on January 12, 2014 written by Peter Cooper On Music: Earl Scruggs’ legacy helps rejuvenate his hometown,’ the writer says, “the county court moved from the location in 1974, replaced by a historical museum that languished and failed. It was locked up in 2004, and the most beautiful building young Earl Scruggs had ever seen became something less than beautiful. A consultant came from NC State University, supposedly to talk about how to care for the closed museum’s artifacts.

101_3028 “He said, ‘We can’t talk about that, we need to talk about your town: This place is dying,”’ said Brownie Plaster, chairwoman of Destination Cleveland County, a group whose name drew snickers from from locals who thought Cleveland County would never become a destination for travelers.

Plaster’s group, though envisioned an uptown Shelby that embraces and marketed its history. In 2006, they contacted the
Scruggs family.

“We brought Gary and Earl here in ’06,” Plaster said. “We hadn’t taken care of our own stuff, but we were wanting the family to entrust Earl Scruggs’ legacy to us. We had to build trust.”

What she fails to mention is that this journey began long before she took over. This article is typical of the journey to the Earl Scruggs Center as told by Brownie Plaster.

The End