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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575

Shell building financing OK'd
Supervisors officially approve Patriot Centre addition

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County Board of Supervisors on Monday officially approved the county helping to finance the construction of a 100,000-square-foot shell building in the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park.

The board approved financing the building without help from The Harvest Foundation.

A resolution unanimously approved by the board calls for the Henry County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to issue $3.5 million in lease revenue bonds to help design, construct and equip the building, which will be built on Lot 10 at the Patriot Centre.

The IDA owns the lot, which it will lease to the county, the resolution shows. The county and Martinsville have agreed to share revenues from any company that eventually locates on the lot.

Of the $3.5 million in bonds, $1.5 million are to be issued this year and $2 million are to be issued in 2009, the resolution states.

County Administrator Benny Summerlin said the exact construction cost of the building will not be known until contractors' bids are received.

The vote was unanimous among the five supervisors who were at Monday's special meeting. Collinsville District Supervisor Jim McMillian could not attend due to a previous commitment. However, board Chairman Jim Adams of the Blackberry District said McMillian has told him that he favors the resolution.

The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is to pay $129,000 a year in carrying costs on the building during the construction and for a year thereafter. The county and city then are to pay the carrying costs in years two through five on a 67 percent-33 percent basis, respectively. That would amount to $86,430 for the county and $42,570 for the city, county officials have said and the resolution indicates.

In July, the supervisors endorsed a plan for the shell building's construction. At the time, they saw a document saying that "if the building remains unsold at the end of five years, The Harvest Foundation would pay for it."�

That is the same arrangement that had been approved for the former shell building in the Patriot Centre. That building was bought by RTI International Metals, so Harvest's help in paying for it was not needed.

Martinsville City Council endorsed the new shell building plan a couple of days after the supervisors gave their endorsement. However, Mark Heath, president and chief executive officer of the EDC, told the council he thinks construction could be funded solely by the county, city and the EDC with no involvement from Harvest.

That is what the supervisors' resolution reflects.

Heath, who was out of town Monday and could not be at the supervisors' meeting, has said the plan does not include Harvest's involvement. Harvest officials have said the foundation so far has not considered participating.

Several supervisors said they were under the impression that Harvest was going to participate in funding construction. Yet finding out that Harvest is not planning to take part did not deter them from voting in support of the resolution.

"I really believe we can handle" financing the building, said Iriswood District Supervisor Paula Burnette. She added that she thinks the foundation will be "keeping an eye on" the project in case its assistance might be needed.

Adams and Ridgeway District Supervisor H.G. Vaughn both said that RTI - once the company gets up and running at the Patriot Centre - might help officials attract a firm it does business with to the new shell building.

RTI "certainly will be a big draw" to the building, said Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan.

Before the vote was taken, Adams said the vote basically would depend on "how comfortable are we that we'll have an occupant" within five years.

Summerlin indicated that the county should be able to afford participating in the construction because its reserve funds have risen more than $1 million a year for each of the past five years.

Still, Buchanan said the supervisors need to be fully aware of which entities are involved "any time something like this" issue comes up in the future.

Summerlin said approval of the resolution is the only formal action that the supervisors will have to take pertaining to the shell building, even though the IDA will have other documents to approve.

He anticipates that construction of the building can start within three to four months and construction will take about nine months, he said.

Also Monday, the supervisors unanimously approved a transfer of $50,000 from the county's reserve funds into a contingency fund to start a "Criminal Apprehension Fund."�

Supervisors referred comment to Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry, who said he would not comment until a news conference scheduled Friday morning.

The transfer was approved following a closed session called to discuss legal matters with the county attorney. Deputy County Administrator Tim Hall said the discussion met the legal requirements to be held in closed session, but he was unable to further explain, he said.

He indicated that the rationale for going into closed session to discuss the transfer might come up during Friday's news conference.

County Attorney George Lyle could not be reached after the meeting for comment.


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