Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
The 1855 historic courthouse building that houses the Rowan Museum will continue to be a county property.
The museum’s board of directors has declined an offer from the county to take ownership of the building at no cost.
During Thursday evening’s budget session, commissioners received copies of a letter from Edward P. Norvell, president of Rowan Museum.
Commissioners had agreed to offer the courthouse to the nonprofit organization to avoid problems with the county’s recently adopted prohibition on sale, consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages on county property.
Many of the groups who rent the museum for weddings and social events routinely serve wine or other alcoholic beverages.
Norvell thanked the board for the offer of the building but wrote that the stewardship and responsibility of ownership is more “than our board thought we were capable of handling at this time and for the foreseeable future.”
Norvell also asked the county to renew the board’s current lease for another 10 years. Commissioners voted to renew the lease in December 2005, but a new lease has never been drawn and approved.
In a separate letter, Norvell asked commissioners for a $10,000 increase in funding to offset the loss of income from the no-alcohol policy.
Commissioners agreed to allow the museum to honor all contracts that existed prior to the new policy.
The county has provided $10,000 annually to Rowan Museum.
“We estimate the recent changes in county policies affecting buildings owned by Rowan County and leased to others will adversely affect our budget in the range of $18,000,” Norvell wrote.
He asked for $10,000 to help offset the loss, saying that by next year the organization will be able to plan additional fundraisers and make up the difference.
During the budget session, Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, spoke in favor of the additional $10,000.
The proposed budget also includes an extra $100,000 for renovations.
Officials have said previously the annual upkeep on the building runs around $50,000 a year.
Commissioners are scheduled to hold a public hearing and are likely to take a final vote on the budget at their June 11 meeting, which gets under way at 4 p.m. The public hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The board meets in the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Meeting Room, County Administrative Offices Building, 130 W. Innes St.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or