By LISA FARMER
Members of the Plain View community, and a number of elected officials as well, gathered Thursday night for a reverse raffle drawing fundraiser and a town hall meeting.
Plain View Community Coalition (PVCC) Treasurer Jim Schmidlin said all $150 tickets were sold and net proceeds will be $6,500.
“We sold out. We could have sold more. They were lined up out the door at 6 o’clock. This is a super supportive community in Plain View,” he said.
The money is being raised with the goal to bring a park to the old Plain View school site.
There is a separate fund to tear down the old school, which is in progress now. The group has raised $110,000 out of a $150,000 goal for this purpose and it should be done by June.
David Core, PVCC chair, pulled the tickets. Dean Matthews was the winner of the $1,500 prize.
Mr. Core said the company tearing down the old school does restoration work out of Florida and so far none of the material has gone to the landfill; it’s all being re-purposed.
Kim Schmidlin, the board chair for the Sampson County Board of Education, said it is a testament to the fortitude of the community that $200,000 in private donations have been collected so far to invest in a park.
“I don’t think the life of this property is over,” she said.
She said the school was built in 1927, and four generations of her family went to school there.
She said the northern district deserves a park. She said her vision is to pass by the property and see the lights, the children playing, folks out on the walking trail.
“District 1 has had tremendous growth,” she said, adding the area deserves a park.
She said to “move over the next hurdle”would be to apply for a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant from the state. There would have to be matching funds. The rub here is PVCC is not a local government and could not apply.
“As a community, would we be willing to release the property back to the county?” she asked. “We have to approach the county in the next few months. Time is of the essence.”
The event was also billed as a town hall with Commissioner Clark Wooten, who represents the area.
He said he was proud of the community and all the hard work members had put in. He said the fund balance increased 22 percent and per pupil spending increased 19 percent. He also said the county cut the tax rate a half cent per $100 property valuation which is unusual in a non-revaluation year.
Sampson County Manager Ed Causey also spoke and said the county recently saved almost $17 million in interest by refinancing bonds.
“I will tell you the finances for the county are sound. I will not tell you we are rolling in cash,” he said.
Public Works Director Lynn Reynolds also spoke. He has been director seven months, and it didn’t take him long to find out there was a problem in Plain View.
“I heard it loud and clear about the problem with the water in this side of the county,” he said.
People had low water pressure, and it was dirty.
“The consensus was people in Plain View wanted to go back to Dunn water,” he said.
Sampson County had been buying water from Dunn for northern Sampson but decided to draw from wells from Clinton instead. That water had to travel uphill 46 feet for miles and picked up dirt. Five weeks ago, the area was switched back to Dunn water. Now it’s actually going downhill.
Right now there is a sale on tap fees at $100 through the end of March. (The office is closed on Fridays.) It’s regularly $500 to $600.
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton also spoke.
He said he was honored to serve as sheriff, adding he is approaching his 16th year, the longest-serving sheriff Sampson County has ever had.
Also present were newly-appointed Register of Deeds Dwight Williams and Commissioners Sue Lee and Gerald Kivett. Former Commissioner Jarvis McLamb was also there.