Journey to the Earl Scruggs Center Continued… Pt-7 (end of series)

County Extends Opening Date For The Earl Scruggs Center

At a work session on January 22, 2013, County Commissioners discuss the delay in opening the Earl Scruggs Center. When the County Commissioners leased the Historic Courthouse to Destination Cleveland County on March 18, 2008, the agreement was that the Earl Scruggs Center would be operational within 60 months, by March 18, 2013. Now it is not going to happen.
When discussing the lease agreement’s 60 month deadline to have the Scruggs Center open, DCC Chairwoman Brownie Plaster told Commissioners that was just a tentative date DCC had given the Commissioners in their contract with Cleveland County.

Earl Scruggs Center Chairman, J.T. Scruggs explained that an opening date cannot be set until an order can be placed for the rest of the furnishings needed to open the center. And they still need money before they can place an order. DCC has been working with USDA regarding a loan for the remaining funds needed to finish the project.

Mr. Scruggs said that after talking with EDA, he feels strongly if DCC can give them a firm date within a reasonable period of time, they will extend the grant.

He also said DCC has asked for an extension from the EDA and a spokesperson said, “Give me a date and I’ll consider it.” He said the person may have leeway to make decisions.

Commissioner Jason Falls asked if there was any way the Center can open just to meet the criteria of the grant. J.T. Scruggs said there is a possibility to close the grant without the opening date, but if DCC were to close the grant, they would not get the $500,000 left to be paid by EDA, therefore they would be unable to finish exhibit fabrication.

Mr. Scruggs explained to Commissioners that renovations of the courthouse cost a little over $2.2 million, and in order to get the figure up to $3 million, so that DCC could get half of it-($1.5 million)-from the EDA grant, that DCC had to add in the exhibit fabrication as part of the renovations, and that the $528,221 balance to come from the EDA grant still goes against renovations.

DCC would like to open the Earl Scruggs Center by the end of 2013, and if they had the money in hand, Mr. Scruggs claims it would take approximately six months to open.

Commissioner Eddie Holbrook said, “From a Commissioners standpoint, we need to be as cooperative as we can. If we legislate a timetable, it could come back from EDA in a negative way.”

Commissioner Ronnie Hawkins said that once DCC receives their loan and talks with EDA, the date of the extension of the EDA grant should be the date of the extension of the Lease Agreement with Cleveland County.

The Commissioners voted unanimously to extend the DCC lease ninety days from March 18, 2013 [to June 18, 2013] and asked that DCC come back and give Commissioners a firm opening date after the EDA grant has been extended.

County Commissioners Establish Cleveland County Historical Collections Policy Concerning The Artifacts Taken From The Cleveland County Historical Museum

At their meeting on February 19, 2013, County Commissioners discuss their new policy regarding access to the artifacts that have been given to the Cleveland County Historical Museum, and now Commissioners consider to be the property of Cleveland County since the county claims the artifacts were abandoned in the courthouse.

Following this train of reasoning, if the County Commissioners say the artifacts now belong to the county, they belong to the taxpayers. But the public has not had an opportunity to see the artifacts since the Cleveland County Historical Museum closed in 2004. In fact, freshmen in high school have not had an opportunity to see these historical relics since they began public school in the first grade.

Just to give an example of the jumping through hoops the public must do now to have access to the artifacts, now that they have been taken by the county from the closed Cleveland County Historical Museum that was waiting for renovations so that it could be reopened, and given by County Commissioners into the hands of Destination Cleveland County in 2006:

Citizens Ask County Commissioner’s Permission To Photograph Artifacts

In August 2011, a group of three senior citizens asked Commissioner Johnny Hutchins to take them to the storage facility where the artifacts are located to photograph a few artifacts.

Prior to the scheduled visit, Annmarie Reiley-Kay, curator of the artifacts at the facility, who is paid with county funds but reports to DCC, calls and warns that she has to take the photographs so that the county will own them, and that the citizens must sign a document that states the uses the county allows for the photographs, and that the photos cannot be used for profit.

One of the photographs needed- a picture of a metal barrel that houses a time capsule that will be opened in 2041 at the county’s Bi-Centennial- is to be used by one of the citizens in a history documentary for sale to benefit a local high school class reunion.

Another citizen wants a photograph of a writing kit for a descendent of the donor.
A third photograph requested is by a descendent of John R. Logan, who wants a picture of the transit that Mr.Logan used to lay out the streets of Shelby.

Commissioner Hutchins says he doesn’t see why the citizens can’t take a picture of the artifacts and use it for whatever they want.

On the day of the scheduled visit to the storage facility, Assistant County Manager Eddie Bailes meets the group with a contract to sign. He says this is what Commissioner Hutchins and County Manager David Dear told him to do. The group did not sign the contract and they did not get to take the photographs.

Commissioner Hutchins said he would take the group back another day. On the appointed day, the John R. Logan descendent could not go. The other two citizens desiring photographs go to the facility and are met by Commissioner Hutchins, Commissioner Jason Falls, and Assistant County Manager Eddie Bailes. Along with Curator Annmarie Reiley-Kay, they supervise as they allow two Kodak snapshots of the metal barrel to be taken. The Curator takes the picture of the writing kit at a later time and mails it. The citizens are not asked to sign a contract that time.