Granite Falls to seek grant to bring expanding business to town

Feb. 04, 2014 @ 10:12 AM

The Granite Falls Town Council agreed Monday to apply for a grant that would help a business move from Lenoir into a vacant building on North Main Street.

The town is seeking a $200,000 Department of Commerce building reuse and restoration grant for A. McGee Wood Products Inc., a Lenoir wood processing and assembling company that is consolidating its two Lenoir facilities into the former Henson Timber Products Corp. building at 171 N. Main St.

McGee would need to invest $400,000 in the building, create 20 jobs over the next two years and maintain those jobs for at least six consecutive months. The Town of Granite Falls would administer the grant and provide a 5 percent match, $10,000.

The town council initially approved plans to apply for the grant in July, but they were delayed because the grant was initially offered by the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, which the General Assembly voted last summer to phase out after a state audit raised questions about the organization’s handling of its state-provided funds. The Rural Center’s functions now fall under the umbrella of the Department of Commerce.

At the same meeting, the town council received an annual report from Police Chief Ritch Bolick that revealed that felony arrests in Granite Falls are up, rising from 46 in 2012 to 56 in 2013, while misdemeanor arrests are down, falling from 375 in 2012 to 327 in 2013. Granite Falls Police made 146 arrests for shoplifting in 2013, 109 for drug offenses, 85 for non-DWI traffic offenses and 49 for DWI.

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Fewer new homes were built in Granite Falls in 2013, according to a report presented by Town Planner Greg Wilson. The town saw two new single-family residences built within its limits, compared to six in 2012. More home construction took place in the town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction, with 10 homes constructed compared to five in 2012.

The town’s electric department served a total of 2,394 customers in 2013, department supervisor Rick Sisk told the council. Most of those customers — 1,984 — were residential, while 370 were commercial, four were industrial and 36 were municipal.

Squirrels remain the electric department’s largest problem, Sisk said, just after vehicle accidents.

The town council also recognized Granite Falls Police Department Lt. Chris Jenkins, who was named the county coordinator of the year for District 9 of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. Through the highway safety program — the organization behind North Carolina’s “Click it or Ticket” and “Boose it or Lose It” campaigns — Jenkins works with county agencies to coordinate local enforcement campaigns, from DWI checkpoints to checking kids’ carseats at Walmart.