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Cumberland commissioners to consider funding request for Civil War history center


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the issue of funding for the Civil War history center will not be on the City Council agenda Monday night unless the council approves adding it.

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Sept. 8, is expected to decide whether to consider a request to fund the proposed N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.

The issue is on the agenda for the board’s agenda-setting session. If the board agrees to the proposal, the item will be placed on the board’s Sept. 19 regular meeting agenda.

Also on Thursday, the board will consider funding for the T.J. Robinson Life Center in Hope Mills.

At the June 9 agenda session, center director Charlotte Robinson presented information about the T.J. Life Center and the programs it provides. Robinson asked that the county provide $5,000 a month for 10 years to fund center programs, which include midnight basketball, showers for homeless students, special needs sports programs, and a juvenile diversion program.

The board at that meeting directed County Manager Amy Cannon to put the item back on the August agenda session. Cannon recommends the board consider the funding request.

Mac Healy, chairman of the history center foundation’s board of directors, also made a presentation and updated the commissioners on the history center project. Healy and the history center committee are asking the commissioners to commit to the $7.5 million the board previously designated for this project through a resolution. That original resolution of support expired on Dec. 31, 2020, according to Cannon.

In a letter to the board, Healy states, “Our intent is to ask for a reconsideration of the January 17, 2017 resolution in which the Commission offered support for the History Center project. We recognize that the resolution documenting the County’s commitment of $7.5 million to the project had several requirements that the History Center Foundation was required to meet. Due to the State of North Carolina not having a budget for over two years some of the requirements are associated with dates that have expired.”

In his letter, Healy went on to say that the county’s and city’s commitments to the project — an expected $7.5 million from each — allowed the committee to convince the state legislature to provide nearly $60 million in major support in the current state budget toward the center’s development.

“We have now met or exceeded all the requirements,” Healy wrote.

In her memorandum in the agenda packet, Cannon recommends the board consider the funding request.

A group supporting the history center appeared before the Fayetteville City Council during a work session Tuesday night pushing for the city’s financial support.

Because the city agreed to provide land and Civil War-era buildings for the project, its proposed allocation has been reduced to $6.5 million.

The City Council was deadlocked Tuesday night on whether to move forward with funding, but councilwoman Brenda McNair has since said she misvoted on the issue.

City Manager Doug Hewett on Wednesday said the matter will not be on Monday night’s agenda unless the council approves adding it.

The commissioners also are expected to go into closed session to consider acquiring real property and for attorney-client matters.

The agenda session begins at 1 p.m. in Room 564 of the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse.

Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at jbrady@cityviewnc.com.

Cumberland County, Board of Commissioners, N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, funding