The heart of Clay County not to be ignored
In 2015, the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association volunteers gave 11,000 hours — equivalent to five and a half full-time employees — of their time to assist efforts to revitalize Clay County which, of course, includes the preservation of the courthouse.
The CCCRA also raised more than $45,000 through individual donations, institutional grants and events sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Courthouse.
The 1888 historic courthouse and the square upon which it stands are the heart of Clay County. One can ignore his heart only to his detriment. This is true of a person, a town or a county.
The CCCRA, in coordination with Preservation North Carolina and the State Historic Preservation Office, established six construction phases to achieve the preservation of the courthouse.
The first and second phase have been completed. The third phase is to be done this year.
The remaining phases are planned to be completed by 2020 if funds are available.
The Clay County Commission supported efforts to preserve the historic courthouse by including $50,000 in each of the 2013 and 2014 budgets.
No funds for the courthouse were in the 2015 budget. A request has been made to the commissioners to again include $50,000 in 2016.
Legislation was passed by the state enabling the county to lease the courthouse to a non-profit to operate — ownership of the courthouse would be retained by the county as well as responsibility for the maintenance of the exterior.
But, due to various delays, this document was not agreed upon and signed before the three-year deadline.
A request has been made to Sen. Jim Davis for this enabling legislation to be reenacted.
The CCCRA has shown its commitment to the preservation of Clay County’s Historic Courthouse and has two grant applications which are dependent upon a lease agreement between Clay County and the CCCRA being signed.
The commissioners of Clay County should do whatever is in their power to get this legislation passed and a lease signed so that progress can continue as planned and help fund this important project.
The historic heart of Clay County should no longer be ignored.