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Commissioners approve contracts, talk economic development in called meeting

Rowan County Commissioners approved two housekeeping measures in seven minutes Monday before moving into closed session to discuss an undisclosed economic development matter.

In Monday’s special called meeting, commissioners approved a contract with Blue Ridge Environmental Consultants for road and sewer work. A late addition to the agenda, commissioners also approved an agreement with Winston-Salem philanthropist Christine Morykwas, who plans to build a feline wing at the Rowan County Animal Shelter as a gift.

The two contract approvals represented less than 25 percent of the total meeting length — 34 minutes. A majority of the commissioners’ time was spent in closed session to discuss a potential economic development announcement.

Economic development director Robert Van Geons and Airport Director Thad Howell, who were seated in the audience, stayed in the meeting room during the closed session. Commissioners reconvened in open session at 12:34 p.m. and adjourned seconds later.

After the meeting Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds wouldn’t elaborate on the company discussed in closed session, other than to say a formal agreement between the county and the undisclosed company could be reached in a month.

Edds clarified after the meeting the company discussed is not related to a trip Edds and Van Geons took to Atlanta last week to make a presentation to another undisclosed company.

The contract for the Rowan County Animal Shelter was a late addition to the agenda by Commissioner Craig Pierce.

Pierce said the contract would allow Morykwas to begin construction earlier, as she wanted to wait for the agreement’s approval before officially beginning work.

“We have taken a little time with Mr. Dees and (Morykwas’) attorney to get things finished up,” Pierce said. “We do have a final contract here and I would like to submit it for the board’s approval so she can move forward.”

In describing the animal shelter contract during the meeting, Pierce mentioned liability and worker’s compensation insurance, which would protect the county from being responsible if a worker was injured on county property while working on the expansion.

Initially estimated at $500,000, Monday’s approved contract lists building expenses for the new feline wing at $832,000

The Blue Ridge Contract is valued at $168,000. The approval of the Blue Ridge contract comes months after the county initially solicited qualifications from engineering firms in April 2014 and subsequently voted to negotiate a contract with Blue Ridge.

County manager Aaron Church during Monday’s meeting said a contract hadn’t formally been approved.

“It’s work that’s already been done,” Church said. “The engineer had a fee schedule, but not a contract. It’s good to have a contract for any liabilities that may come up.”

Some of the work included in the contract for Blue Ridge included:

• Engineering of water distribution systems in accordance with Salisbury-Rowan Utilities’ standards

• Identify areas where right-of-way or easement acquisition may be needed for the roadway and waterline projects

• Preparation of cost estimates for the roadway and waterline extension

•  Providing all services for administering the project during construction

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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