Granite Quarry goes over potential ‘Project Wheel’ incentives

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen on Monday night reviewed the incentives it would be asked to give should an $11 million company expansion land in Granite Industrial Park off the new Chamandy Drive.

As proposed over a five-year agreement, Granite Quarry would provide incentive grants to the company totaling $172,219, while realizing $57,045 in revenue.

The town would follow the same parameters of the incentive grants Rowan County has said it is willing to give for “Project Wheel” — the Rowan Economic Development Commission’s code name for the potential investment.

The county’s “Level 1” grant offers an incentive to the company equal to 75 percent of what it would normally pay in real and personal property taxes per year, over five years.

For Granite Quarry, the new investment in Granite Industrial Park is projected to generate $45,925 annually in revenue. The town would pay back to the company 75 percent of that, or $34,444, leaving Granite Quarry with $11,481.

Again, this annual incentive grant would last for five years.

Over 10 years, the town would see $287,031 in new revenue. The calculations are based on the town’s current property tax rate of 41.75 cents per $100 valuation.

Granite Quarry and Rowan County as a whole are in heavy competition for this investment. The company in question already has a manufacturing facility in Rowan County that employs more than 25 people.

Facilities in Kentucky and Indiana also are being considered for the parent company’s expansion.

Should Rowan County be chosen, it would mean 94 new full-time jobs, each with an average annual salary of $33,334 with benefits. The company is considering two sites in Rowan, including Granite Industrial Park, which has a speculative building under construction.

The aldermen took no action on the incentives Monday night. Scott Shelton, vice president of operations for Rowan EDC, detailed the project. No one spoke for or against the incentives at a public hearing.

In other business, Fire Chief Dale Brown updated the board on his efforts to recruit more firefighters. Though the Fire Department’s roster is at 37, including part-time staff, Brown says he probably has a core group of five to seven active members he can count on.

Brown said he has three active applications for people who want to be firefighters.

“I was in that Fire Department 14 years, and I know what you’re talking about,” Alderman Kim Cress said.

A firefighter has to be committed, Cress said. The job requires nights and weekends at rookie school for six months, then firefighters must maintain their certifications.

“It takes a lot of training and a special person to do it,” Cress said.

At their recent board retreat, the aldermen learned about the staffing challenges when Brown reported the department could not respond to a particular medical call (which requires one person minimum) because no one was available.

The department had 76 calls in January and responds to about 700 calls a year. Mayor Bill Feather noted those numbers and said while one unanswered call is not acceptable, he does not want anyone to think the Granite Quarry department is not up to standards.

He credited Brown and his department for “doing a tremendous job.”

“Do pat yourself on the back,” Feather told Brown, “because you do a lot.”

At the retreat, Brown had asked aldermen to consider funding for more personnel. Alderman John Linker said he has only one vote but he is confident a new budget will address public safety needs.

“We’ve got to have fire and police,” Linker said. “That’s not an option.”

During public comments, Alfred E. Healy Jr., who said he is a retired fire chief with 20 years in fire service, expressed his concerns about several things at the Fire Department. He also spoke of the need for a new ladder truck.

“This fire station is a mess,” he said of the building’s current configuration and safety hazards for firefighters. “We need two fire stations.”

Police Chief Mark Cook also updated the board on what measures are being taken in response to the recent mass shooting at a high school in Florida.

Feather said he was asked recently what the town is doing in relation to school safety. The answer he had to give, Feather said, was a bit frustrating because he wasn’t sure what the town would do in response to a shooting.

Cook said Rowan-Salisbury Schools and local law enforcement have done due diligence in discussing and training for school shooting situations. Fire departments and Rowan EMS also have been involved.

Cook spoke of rapid deployment training that officers have gone through, and he said all officers have a comprehensive response guide they would follow.

“I feel like we’re in good hands in Rowan County,” Cook said. He’s part of a police chiefs group that meets every other month, and Sandy Gardner attends those sessions as a rescue management representative for the schools.

The Granite Quarry-Faith Police Authority has four schools within its jurisdiction or close response time, including Granite Quarry and Faith elementary schools, Erwin Middle School and East Rowan High.

Linker suggested establishing anonymous tip lines at those schools that might help law officers prevent dangerous situations.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.