The Richmond Observer – Rockingham Approves $ 25,000 Economic Development Loan; extends contract with Discovery Place Kids
Rockingham City Council on Tuesday approved a $ 25,000 loan for Rex Crouch Jr., who plans to open a gym in the location previously occupied by another gym, Evolution Fitness.
The loan is repayable over seven years at an interest rate of 4%. Gym equipment will be used as collateral.
The loan is provided through the Urban Development Action Grant Fund, a revolving door loan for economic development. The fund was created after the federal government loaned money to a local industry for expansion in the 1970s. This money was then returned to the city to use for small business loans. companies.
Evolution, Simply Chic Boutique, and Bold Moves Dance Studio all got similar loans in 2016, and Jeanna Cloninger got a loan to purchase Dairy Queen in 2018.
City Manager Monty Crump said all of those loans were outstanding.
The decision was made after a short closed session on the issue.
Crouch could not be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.
At one time there were two gymnasiums downtown. However, Rockingham Fitness closed in 2020 during the government-imposed shutdown and was not allowed to reopen until owner Judy Cagle died and Evolution owner Blake Altman moved to another location in 2020.
Council members also voted to extend Discovery Place Kids’ lease for another five years.
The initial 10-year lease was signed in 2011.
According to the agreement, the city is responsible for providing and paying for water and sewer, natural gas, electricity, and security services, while the museum pays for communication costs.
In a note to Crump, Discovery Place President and CEO Catherine Horne said the small chain of museums “greatly values and appreciates the relationship we have developed with you … over the past decade.”
“Thanks to your leadership, Discovery Place Kids-Rockingham has a bright future, despite the challenges we have all faced over the past 18 months,” continued Horne. “We look forward to working with you and your leadership to continue to make Rockingham a vibrant (and) attractive city for individuals and businesses.”
Crump said part of the original agreement called for the museum to welcome at least 30,000 visitors per year.
“Several years we’ve gone past that… and it’s very encouraging,” Crump said, adding that guests were from zip codes across the country.
Mayor Steve Morris said when he was there he often asked museum visitors where they were from.
Morris remembers meeting two families from Virginia – one who stopped on the way home from the beach and the other on the way to the beach.
The mayor called it a “textbook case” of an attraction that draws people to the city.
Crump said there is no doubt that the plan for DPK to serve as an anchor in the city center has been “fully realized.”
“It was a wise investment then and I think it’s a wise investment now,” added Crump.
The 2013 opening of Discovery Place Kids is often cited as the kickoff of the downtown revitalization frenzy. Since then, there have been more than a dozen businesses to open or relocate in the section between Leak and Caroline streets.
“I think that says a lot about what Discovery Place Kids says to us about Rockingham when they come back and want to renew the lease for another five years,” said Councilor Denise Sullivan.
City Councilor Gene Willard added that DPK is “really a great asset to the city”.
Discovery Place has its main children’s museum in Charlotte and another Discovery Place Kids location in Huntersville.
Before going behind closed doors, Crump spoke a bit about the process for hiring the new incoming police chief, announced last week as Captain George Gillenwater.
Crump said there were two well-qualified candidates within the Rockingham Police Department, but it was Gillenwater’s experience in investigations and senior management that sealed the deal.
Gillenwater will replace incumbent Billy Kelly, who has been the best cop in town since 2012. Kelly announced his retirement in August and will be leaving the department in mid-November.
“When I finished my basic training in 1992, I was fortunate enough to come and work for the town of Rockingham,” Kelly said. “I really enjoyed my career here. I was able to learn from Chef (Eddie) Martin, whom I still turn to today for advice.
After becoming a chef, Kelly said he was also able to learn “a lot” from Crump, adding that what he learned carried over to Major Eddie Grant and Gillenwater.
“I think Mr. Crump made a very good decision in hiring Captain Gillenwater and I think he will build on the foundation that has been laid over the past 29 years.”
Gillenwater thanked Kelly for putting him in a position to interview for the position, adding that he was “extremely grateful and grateful for the opportunity”.
“I can’t say enough good things about Chef Kelly and what he’s done for this department,” said Gillenwater. “I just hope I can carry on this tradition and if I can do a little bit of what he has accomplished, I will be successful.”
Also during the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson took time to comment on the city’s recently adopted mandatory vaccination policy.
City employees have until October 15 to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Any city employee not vaccinated by that date must provide weekly test results – at their own pace – or exemption documents to their manager and the human resources office.
Failure to follow the policy “will lead to disciplinary action, including termination.”
Crump told the RO on September 1 that about half of the city’s employees were vaccinated, adding that some of those who were had “concerns” about working alongside those who were not. not.
“We’ve always said how much we value employees and want them to be safe,” Hutchinson said. “Vaccination, I think, is the best way for people not to get potentially sicker if they get the virus. I also want to be sure, however, that we respect the exceptions the Constitution provides for sincere religious beliefs or other health concerns. “
Hutchinson said that while the city should aim to keep employees safe, it should also try to keep them in place.
Crump nodded in agreement when Hutchinson mentioned the exemptions.
CORRECTION: Rockingham Fitness was closed and not allowed to reopen during the government-imposed shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and owner Judy Cagle died before it could reopen. 21:38 9-14-21