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East Spencer's Dunbar Center falls into foreclosure

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
EAST SPENCER — The Paul Laurence Dunbar Center is now in foreclosure and is scheduled to be sold in three weeks.
Shady Grove Baptist Church has owned the Dunbar Center, located at 820 North Long St. in East Spencer, for nearly three years.
Andrew Abramson, a Salisbury attorney representing the church, attended the foreclosure hearing Monday but did not contest it, said Rowan County Clerk of Court Jeff Barger.
The property is set to go up for auction at the county courthouse at 11 a.m. Oct. 25.
Shady Grove Baptist paid $400,000 for the Dunbar Center, according to county records, which includes the 92,000-square-foot former school and about 7.5 acres.
It planned to lease the former classrooms for either office or retail space.
When the church bought the property in December 2008, it took out a $300,000 loan from SunTrust Bank.
As of Monday, Shady Grove Baptist owes a principal amount of $290,949.46, plus $37,477.63 in interest on the loan, the foreclosure notice states.
According to court documents, SunTrust says the church is in default and has not made a payment on the loan since July 23, 2010.
Meanwhile, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the reported embezzlement of money from the East Spencer church.
Alonza Williams was pastor when the embezzlement reportedly took place, but he has since been removed from the church, along with the finance director at the time, James Neely, and his assistant, Tiffany Davenport.
Maxine Broadway, chair of the board of directors at Shady Grove Baptist, said Friday that the congregation was “dissatisfied with (Williams’) leadership.”
East Spencer Alderwoman Phronice Johnson, who also serves on the church board, said Monday that she and other church members are not commenting further on the issue.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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