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County amends lease so Ronald McDonald house can expand

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Two rooms in the Ronald McDonald house that will soon be joined together to create a conference room on Feb. 6, 2017. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)


Ginger Livingston

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Pitt County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved amending a lease with the Ronald McDonald House to add about a half acre of land to the two acres it already leases to the facility.

The agreement will allow the Ronald McDonald House, located on county land near Vidant Medical center, to move forward with its plans to renovate the existing structure and build a 10,883-square-foot addition, said Phyllis Flye, the organization's recently retired executive director.

The house provides free accommodations to families who have children undergoing long stays at the hospital. It has served approximately 31,000 families since it opened in Greenville about 30 years ago, she said.

"As the needs of children's hospital continue to grow so do the needs of the Ronald McDonald House," Flye said. "We need more bedroom spaces, we need more family spaces, we need to update the facility, we even are going to include a meeting space the community can use at no charge.

"With all the exciting things we'll have going on we need a little extra land for all the parking we'll need for the services we provide," Flye said.

The addition will include a 1,000-square-foot dining hall and meeting space, a kitchen with four spaces for cooking meals and a pantry with private storage for each family, said Angela Phinx, project designer with MHAworks Architecture. There were be seven guest rooms on the second floor, including two that can accommodate larger families, she said. There also will be a second-floor laundry and gathering space for the families.

Once the addition is completed, the facility will have 26 bedrooms total.

The addition is being built on two acres the organization has leased from the county for more than two decades. The .58-acre addition is needed to expand the parking lot and to build a retention pond for managing storm water, said Michele Clements, an engineer with the East Group.

Under questioning from the commissioners, County Manager Scott Elliott said because the requested property is owned by the county it is already exempted from being taxed. Leasing it to Ronald McDonald House would not interfere with the possible sale of a nearby piece of county land that extends to West Fifth Street.

Also on Monday's agenda:

• Pitt County Schools' 2016 graduation rate was 83 percent, an all-time high, Superintendent Ethan Lenker said during his quarterly report to the Board of Commissioners. Twenty-six of the school system's 34 tested schools met or exceeded growth standards last school year, he said.

Lenker's report also included a rundown on special programs offered in various elementary schools, achievements in the high schools and the status of multiple construction projects underway across the school system. He also reported the efforts to reduce the number of suspensions and instances of bullying.

• Commissioners gave unanimous approval to a five-year, $975,000 contract with Corrisoft for the electronic monitoring program of inmates released from the Pitt County Detention Center.

• They gave unanimous approval of a $10,000 allocation to the Ayden Fire Department for the purchase of a fire truck.

• Planning Director James Rhodes reported the state of North Carolina will have approximately $100 million available for a hazard mitigation grant program, commonly called the "buyout" program, resulting from Hurricane Matthew.

Approximately $88 million will be used for the actual buyout, Rhodes said. Money will be available for buying property, elevating structures and reconstruction, he said. Local government will decide if it wants to participate in all three programs or one or two programs, Rhodes said.

The county must submit a letter of intent to participate no later than March 31, Rhodes said. Several other deadlines must be met in the spring and fall.

The county will oversee outreach efforts for the buyout program in Grifton and Winterville. Information about the city of Greenville's participation in the buyout program was not available Monday evening.

Individuals seeking more information on Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts can call the Pitt County Planning Department at 252-902-3250.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.