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Granville Health gets upgrade money in new state budget
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OXFORD — North Carolina’s fiscal 2021-22 budget allots $10 million to the Granville Health System that officials say is for upgrading the “buildings and infrastructure” of the Oxford hospital and its related facilities.

The allocation appears in the so-called “money report” published by the House-Senate conference committee that hammered out the state’s spending plan ahead of its final approval in the state Senate on Nov. 17 and the state House on Nov. 18.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the budget into law later in the day on Nov. 18.

The earmark for Granville Health was one of 10 like it in the budget that, as a group, targeted rural hospitals or facilities involved in some aspect of mental-health care.

It tied for the second-largest of the allocations, behind only a $15 million allocation to the Cape Fear Valley Health System in Fayetteville that legislators said was intended to “address rural health disparities through the development of a medical education and research center.

After Cooper signed the budget, Granville Health officials issued a statement that quoted Granville Health CEO as saying the impending renovations and upgrades will allow the system to “have a significant impact on the health outcomes of our patients for years to come.”

But the statement didn’t offer details on what projects system officials have in mind for the money, and elaboration on the point wasn’t immediately forthcoming. Granville Health spokesman Al Leach said officials are “working on” an additional statement, but it was still pending as of Tuesday.

The hospital’s money wasn’t the only earmark in the budget for Granville County.

Legislators granted $35 million to the South Granville Water and Sewer Authority, which provides utilities in the Butner, Creedmoor and Stem area.

Authority officials, like their Granville Health counterparts, issued a statement after Cooper signed the budget thanking local legislators for their help. They indicated that the money will go toward a set of sewer-line and pump station improvements east and west of Interstate 85 in the Butner area that they expect will cost more than $50 million.

Vance-Granville Community College, like its 57 counterparts in the N.C Community Colleges system, received a share of the $400 million legislators set aside for new construction, renovations to existing facilities, or general repairs.

Its roughly $7.4 million share was above average for the group, but did not approach the largest of them, a trio of $20 million earmarks for the community colleges in Charlotte, Raleigh and Fayetteville.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.

Community Uplift Project designed to help those in need
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HENDERSON — It’s hard to bring up Thanksgiving without thinking about food.

Making sure people are fed is a major part of what Henderson-based Community Uplift Project sought to accomplish on Saturday with its Thanksgiving Feed 300 event. But the group has another purpose, as the name of the project hints.

“We come to inspire,” said Community Uplift Project founder Tiffany Jones, a Henderson native. “We come to lift up the people naturally and spiritually. I designed it for people to be able to eat, to be able to have clothing if something was to happen and they didn’t have clothing. So we supply clothing.

“I also supply food throughout the year just to make sure people have everything they need to survive, especially now with the winter coming up. We want to make sure people have what they need and to make sure we pour into the people spiritually because in this season, that’s what we need.”

An estimated 38 million people face hunger in the U.S., according to Feeding America, a hunger relief organization.

Jones and several other volunteers gathered Saturday at the Crossroads Event Center off of N.C. 39 with the hope of feeding 300 people. Annie Bullock provided the space at the event center, Michael Fisher donated 2-pound bags of flour that filled an event center table and Courtney Crudup was scheduled to make home deliveries. Those were a few of the names that helped make the event possible for Community Uplift Project, which Jones established more than a year ago.

“The goal is to make sure we feed those that are in need: the elderly, families, children, the homeless — whoever is in need today,” Jones said. “We want to make sure that they eat. Especially with Thanksgiving coming up, we want to make sure that they have food.”

Angela Wright of Henderson’s Red Bud Missionary Baptist Church and Delorise Cooke of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church helped prepare takeaway bags for visitors that came through the food line.

Wright said they wanted to give back a portion of what had been given to them by God. Passing on a positive message was as important as the plates and bags of food they served.

“How awesome it is ... to give,” Cooke said. “And it’ll come back to you. But we just want to encourage people.”

The origin of Community Uplift Project can be traced to Jones organizing yard sales when illness kept her out of work. Jones amassed an inventory of household items, shoes and clothes, and elected to give them away rather than sell them.

“I was sitting there doing yard sales one day and the Lord said give it all away,” Jones said. “At that point, I was like, ‘Give it all away?’ From that moment, I just obeyed God and started giving it all away.”

From there, Community Uplift Project grew by word of mouth and through social media.

Jones wants people in need to know they aren’t alone and that there’s somebody willing to help them.

“People need to be uplifted spiritually because people are going through mental battles,” Jones said. “People are having mental illness problems. And if we can be a part of helping them out of that, then that’s what my heart’s desire is. My heart desires to make sure that people are good mentally, physically and spiritually. So that’s my goal.”

As for food and Thanksgiving?

It’s not always about the turkey, ham or dressing for Jones.

“Thanksgiving for me is about family,” Jones said. “It’s about loving on each other. It’s about being thankful for what God has already done for us so far throughout the year ... being thankful that we’re all still here.”

Grants will help Warrenton businesses adapt to COVID
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WARRENTON — Businesses in Warrenton can now get help in adjusting their operations to meet conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working Landscapes is offering Hometown Revitalization grants to Warrenton businesses that have had to make changes, or are planning changes, because of the COVID pandemic.

The grants, ranging in size from $500 to $2500, are funded by the Duke Energy Foundation.

The deadline for submitting applications is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15. Grant awards will be announced by Jan. 15, 2022.

Access the application form online by going to


To be eligible, an applicant must:

• Be an incorporated business, either for-profit or nonprofit, legally incorporated in North Carolina or with a fiscal agent that is legally incorporated in North Carolina.

• Have fewer than 50 employees.

• Be located and headquartered in Warrenton.

The awards are intended to help small businesses recover or “pivot” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A “pivot” may include adding opportunities for the business to adjust to the effects of the crisis, such as modifying physical space, improving an e-commerce site for online sales or expanding capacity for delivering goods and services.

Grant funds may be used for such things as furniture to expand outdoor dining, for materials to construct takeout windows, for additional fixtures required to comply with public health requirements, for building e-commerce platforms, or for other equipment or tools needed to adapt to changing circumstances caused by the pandemic.

The awards may be used to reimburse small businesses for expenses already incurred.

The awards may also support storefront beautification projects, but COVID-19 recovery projects will be prioritized.

The awards may not be used for payroll, rent or utilities.

Priority will be given to:

• Businesses located on Warrenton’s Main Street.

• Businesses with a retail storefront.

• Businesses owned by people of color.

• Projects that can demonstrate a community benefit.

Projects that do not meet these criteria are also welcome to apply, in the eventuality that prioritized projects do not exhaust all grant funds.

If you have questions, contact Working Landscapes by telephone at 252-257-0205 or by email at gabriel@workingland scapesnc.org.

School systems using some COVID aid to give workers bonuses
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HENDERSON — Some local school systems have joined the ranks of those that are offering “retention bonuses” to their employees to encourage them to stay on the job and take on additional duties.

Governing boards for the Granville County Public Schools and the Warren County Schools approved their separate bonus packages earlier this month.

The Granville system is offering a one-time, $1,000 bonus to all permanent, full-time employees, while the Warren system is offering its teaching staff up to a $1,200 bonus, the precise figure being tied to when an employee joined its payroll.

Both are using federal economic stimulus money to cover some or all of the cost.

Administrators in the Granville schools say they proposed the bonuses in response to the “increased stress and workloads” employees are facing amid the continued pandemic, the increased competition for labor and a higher than normal number of vacancies.

Warren County Schools officials, meanwhile, also decided to increase to $13 an hour the minimum hourly pay for “classified” staff like bus drivers and custodians who are in jobs that don’t require a teaching or administrator’s certificate.

The increase took effect with the system’s November paychecks and preceded by nine days the state’s decision to raise the minimum wage for school support staff to $13 an hour in fiscal 2021-22 and $15 an hour in fiscal 2022-23.

Both systems are going to pay out their one-time bonuses in January. The moves are costing the Granville schools about $1.1 million and the Warren schools more than $285,000, officials in those districts said.

The Granville bonus package also includes an additional, one-time bonus for bus drivers that will pay anyone who drives a morning route $250, anyone who drives an afternoon route $250, and anyone who drives an additional, regular double route another $250.

The Granville bonus plan includes a clawback provision that requires employees to sign an “opt-in form” that says they will remain with the system through the 2021-22 school year. If they leave early, they will have to pay back any bonuses.

Permanent part-time employees in the Granville system will get $600 instead of $1,000.

“We know how difficult things have been for our educators recently, and we wanted to find a way to reward those who continue to be loyal to GCPS,” Superintendent Alisa McLean said. “While they deserve far more, we are pleased that we can direct a portion of the federal COVID funds allocated to our district for this important effort.”

In the Warren system, teachers can also receive “extra-duty” pay for covering a classroom that aren’t part of their regular assignments. Support staff are eligible for up to a $600 bonus, the amount as with teachers being tied to when they joined the payroll. And bus drivers who took on extra routes between the start of the school year and Oct. 29 are getting a one-time “extra-duty coverage payment” of $250.

Interim Superintendent Keith Sutton said earlier this month that once the state budget was approved, Warren County Schools officials would “re-evaluate our pay scales to make any necessary adjustments to ensure long-time, experienced employees are fairly compensated for their years of experience, education level, training and additional responsibilities.”

The new state budget — delivered by legislators four months late, albeit after extensive behind-the-scenes negotiations with the governor’s office — went into effect after Gov. Roy Cooper signed it on Nov. 18. As expected, it includes an array of pay increases and bonuses that affect K-12 school systems throughout North Carolina.

Contact Ray Gronberg at rgronberg@hendersondispatch.com or by phone at 252-436-2850.