Journey to the Earl Scruggs continued – Pt 3

Citizens Hold Two Town Hall Meetings And A Courthouse Rally

The question-and-answer session Commissioner Holbrook mentioned never happened. So the citizens decide to host a Town Hall Meeting. Hoping to hear from all sides, they invite the public, the County Commissioners, City Council members, and other officials to attend and publicly discuss the projected Earl Scruggs Center.

In fact, two Town Hall Meetings were held at the Cleveland County Memorial Library. Also a rally for those who opposed the Earl Scruggs Center being located at the Historic Courthouse was held on the Lafayette Street side of the Courthouse grounds. DVD’s of those meetings are available to the public. News media attending the events included WBTV in Charlotte.

County resident, Brendan LeGrand, who had spoken at County Commissioners meetings October 2, 2007 and February 5, 2008, opposing the Earl Scruggs Center at the Historic Courthouse organized the Town Hall Meetings and moderated the events.

First Town Hall Meeting

The First of the two Town Hall Meetings was held on Tuesday, February 26, 2008. About 80 people were in attendance, including Commissioners Eddie Holbrook and Johnny Hutchins.

Concerned citizens voiced opinions about the future of the courthouse. Citizens said they felt left out of the decision-making process of the Earl Scruggs Center and did not want it in the county owned courthouse. Many members in the audience said they felt the Scruggs Center location is a done deal based on how it’s been described so far by the county and DCC.

Commissioners Holbrook and Hutchins dismissed the claims that it is a done deal, saying that no deal has been struck to house the museum at the courthouse and nothing is finalized. Holbrook said a question-and-answer session could happen after a regularly scheduled business meeting to clear up any misinformation between the public and county.

Second Town Hall Meeting

The second of the Town Hall Meetings was held Tuesday, March 11, 2008 at the Cleveland County Memorial Library. Commissioners Eddie Holbrook, Johnny Hutchins, and Mary Accor attended the meeting.

Destination Cleveland County’s Rhythm and Roots marketing brochure is shared at the meeting. DCC’s Strategic Planning Task Force lists three County Commissioners- Eddie Holbrook, Mary Accor, and Jo Boggs- as members who that made DCC’s 5 year plan for the Don Gibson Theatre and the Earl Scruggs Center.

In the brochure is Eddie Holbrook’s written testimony endorsing the projects. Shown at the meeting is DCC’s eight minute sales promotion DVD that features Commissioner Mary Accor and Commissioner Jo Boggs on film endorsing these DCC’s projects.

DCC only needs these 3 of the 5 commissioners to vote ‘yes’ to get the lease of the courthouse approved for Earl Scruggs Center. (copy of Rhythm & Roots marketing brochure available.)

Commissioner Mary Accor gives out note cards to attendants to write out questions they want answered and says they will be answered at the next Commissioners meeting.
This never happens because the Commissioners vote at the next meeting to approve DCC’s use of the courthouse for the Earl Scruggs Center.

Courthouse Rally

The following Sunday, March 16, 2008, citizens opposing the county allowing DCC to turn the courthouse into the Earl Scruggs Center held a “Rally ’Round your Courthouse” peaceful protest at the courthouse.

Organizer Brendan LeGrand borrowed a bullhorn from the City of Shelby Chief of Police to address the crowd, as there was no sound system set up outside the courthouse. News media attending included Charlotte television stations and The Star.

The next day, March 17, 2008, The Star ran an article on the front page about the Courthouse Rally, siting citizens voicing their displeasure at Destination Cleveland County’s proposed use of the building. The article says, “Brendan LeGrand, armed with a bullhorn and clad in camouflage and combat boots, let the gathering against the DCC’s plans.”

Actually, Brendan LeGrand was wearing black jeans, black and white stripe turtleneck topped with a paint-splattered t-shirt, and a black cap with the word “FAITH” in white letters. The only camouflage she was wearing were black ladies fashion combat style boots with camouflage fabric insets with purple and green tie-dyed shoe laces.

Mrs. LeGrand called The Star publisher Skip Foster and told him it appeared The Star was trying to portray her as a militant. She told him the only camouflage she had on was the insets in the fashion combat style boots.

Two days later on March 19,2008, The Star ran a picture of her taken at the Sunday Rally and stating that Brendan LeGrand contacted The Star to say that she was not wearing camouflage or combat boots at Sunday’s courthouse rally. Since it is obvious from the picture that the fashion boots are combat style boots, was The Star trying to add liar to their portrayal of her?

The citizens who gathered on the Courthouse grounds that Sunday afternoon were dressed casually. Most were wearing jeans or sweats. None of other news media present at the Rally made reference to anyone’s attire.

Preview Of Lease Agreement

On Monday, March 17, 2008 at 4:55 PM, The Star shows online the terms of the lease agreement for the Earl Scruggs Center. The Star tell this in print the next day, even before the Commissioners meet to vote on it.

The article tells that the lease is for 10 years at $1 each year with an option for another ten years, the Cleveland County government will retain and repair the exterior and interior of the property. However, DCC can make improvements on the property including “major renovations” that do not disturb the structural integrity of the property. Renovations must begin within 12 months of lease signing, and renovations must be done and the museum has to be operational within 60 months from the date of the lease. Renovations must be approved by the county. The museum must be open to the public at least 30 hours each week. At least eight of those hours must be for free admission to Cleveland County residents. No more than 20 percent of exhibit space can be dedicated to one person or entity. DCC will pay any taxes during the lease. DCC will have access to “artifacts and other collectibles” owned by the county that are currently in the courthouse.

County Commissioners Approve DCC’s Lease For The Historic Courthouse For Use As The Earl Scruggs Center

To set the stage for the County Commissioners Meeting of March 18, 2008, a Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit is parked at the entrance in front of the Charlie Harry Building for all to see as they arrive for the Commissioners Meeting.

Mayor Ted Alexander stands at the door of the commissioners’ chamber giving out bright green “Yes, DCC” stickers to DCC supporters as they enter.

During the Commissioners Meeting, two armed Sheriff’s Deputies stand along the wall of the commissioners’ chamber on the right-hand side of the room where members of Destination Cleveland County sit, as if to protect them.

The commissioners’ chamber was filled- standing room only- with both critics and supporters of the proposed Scruggs Center location. During the public comment portion of the meeting, several county residents voiced their concerns before the commissioners voted.