ROCKINGHAM — The Rockingham City Council has finalized funding for the razing of the Steele building on East Washington Street and the construction of a multipurpose building to take its place.
Council members voted 4-0 to accepted a second grant, this one for $281,331 from the Richmond Community Foundation, to cover the cost of razing and construction. Council member John Hutchinson was absent.
Initially, a $475,000 grant from the Cole Foundation was intended to cover the entire cost of the project but that concept was shot down when the lowest qualified bid of eight received was $952,907.
Through value engineering — that is, eliminating elements of the project deemed unnecessary — City Manager Monty Crump and others worked with Carpenter Construction, of Oakboro, to whittle the cost of the project down to $756,331 — still more than $280,000 than the original Cole Foundation grant.
The city applied to the Richmond Community Foundation in March for the additional funds but it wasn’t until Tuesday the city made the grant award official.
The final cost of the project, which includes the construction of a new multipurpose building across from Discovery Place KIDS to serve as one part lunch room for children visiting the nonprofit museum and one part restaurant, is $806,831. That figure includes the city’s contribution of $50,500 that covers professional services.
Workers with Carpenter Construction began razing the Steele building nearly a month ago. Crump said Tuesday the project is on a 240-day timeline.
In other city news, Crump told Mayor Steve Morris and council members that he had received 34 applications for the position of fire chief. Current Chief Charles Gardner announced March 11 he would step down in August after 11 years at the helm of the city’s fire department.
Crump said he intends to begin interviewing candidates next week and hopes to whittle the list to up to five applicants. He remains on target, he said, to find Gardner’s replacement so the new chief has a period of time to work with Gardner.
RCC turns 50
Morris read a proclamation commending Richmond Community College for reaching its 50th anniversary.
The college was organized as Richmond Technical institute on April 2, 1964 and became Richmond Technical College in 1980. In 1987, the name changed again to its current designation.
Morris emphasized RCC’s place as a “regional hub” and service to more than 3,100 students in degree and diploma programs.