Carroll gets $5M more for school work

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Additional work on Carroll County High School can proceed after the county received a $5 million loan from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The money will cover more than just replacing the aged heating and air conditioning system.
On the eve of a meeting scheduled by the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to discuss funding options for the work on the high school, Supervisors Chairman David Hutchins announced that the county has learned that it will get the facilities loan from the federal agency.

“As some of you know, we have been working diligently — oh, for several months now, I guess — on trying to find a way to do something with our HVAC system in the high school, and we have been notified that that work is paying off,” he said.
That process started when Travis Jackson, now Hillsville town manager, still served as the regional representative for Rural Development.
The application that led to Carroll County getting the new $5 million loan stemmed from an application made to Rural Development in order to pay for work associated with the Phase III construction project at the Carroll high and intermediate schools, Jackson told The Gazette.
In 2010, the community facilities money was directed toward healthcare-related entities, not schools, and the $26.7 million requested by Carroll for its two schools was not funded that year.
But Jackson never removed the application for community facilities funding, which led to the announcement of the $5 million loan from the USDA with a 3.5 percent interest rate, repayable over a 40-year term.
“We have been awarded those funds. The IDA will be administering them,” Hutchins said. “I think we’re going to try to get started on that very shortly.”
The chairman believed there would be a request for proposals for the needed work released very soon.
The funds will pay for not only the heating and air condition upgrades, but also a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab and connecting natural gas service to the high school, Hutchins said.
The supervisors on Monday also considered an item to allow the IDA to procure “a line of credit for school construction for interim financing in the amount not to exceed $4 million for CCHS project,” according to information in the supervisors’ board packet.
School officials have requested approval for the interim funding because the USDA cannot close its loan until all the design work on the high school project is completed, County Administrator Gary Larrowe explained.
Not all the planning has been completed on the STEM lab or the natural gas service, through planning is finished for the heating and air conditioning system.
This also relates to another approval item for procuring engineering services to complete that planning for the project, Larrowe said.
“It could end up taking several months to actually make that happen,” he said. “In the meantime, we would not want to hold up HVAC progress at the high school, so there is a need for interim financing.”
USDA funds can be used to pay off the interim loan and the interest, the county administrator added.
The board approved unanimously the items related to the school funding, as well as several other matters all as a part of the consent agenda.
In a related matter, Supervisor Bob Martin later noted during supervisors time that the high school will still need a second gym, and he hoped that the county board can work with the school board to make that happen in the future.