RALEIGH — An allocation in the state budget will help a local charity in a big way.
N.C. Rep. Sarah Stevens, who represents Surry County and serves as Speaker Pro Tem in the N.C. House of Representatives, said the state budget passed by lawmakers last week includes $100,000 for the Shepherd’s House in Mount Airy.
“It’s just to assist with helping the homeless,” said Stevens.
She explained that the money isn’t earmarked for any particular program at the Shepherd’s House. Instead, the organization will be able to use it as it sees fit in its mission.
“We care about people,” added Stevens.
Stevens said during every budget process the Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tem have certain discretionary monies set aside to be appropriated to worthy causes identified by members of the body.
“I explained what the Shepherd’s House does,” said Stevens. “We agreed it is worthy of assistance.”
Mary Boyles, executive director at the Shepherd’s House, said she was completely surprised when Stevens called to inform her of the funding state legislators had allocated to her organization.
The money is a sizable chunk of change for the homeless shelter, as such a contribution is equal to nearly half of the shelter’s operating budget in 2017.
Boyles hadn’t conversed with Stevens about the possibility of garnering state funds, but she said the shelter’s mission must be turning a few heads.
“They see the need,” said Boyles. “We are going head on into making a difference in the lives of those we serve.”
Boyles said 5 percent of all contributions, including the state monies, will be deposited into an endowment to ensure the Shepherd’s House is always around to help the community, and a portion of the money will go toward general operating expenses.
However, most of the dollars allocated by lawmakers will go toward the shelter’s capital campaign. It is raising money for a renovation and expansion.
The curve in the road
A curve in the road has been a concern in the Shoals community for decades, according to Surry County Commissioner Van Tucker.
The curve on Shoals Road about 200 feet south of Shoals Elementary School was a “tragedy waiting to happen,” said Tucker. Large trucks filled with sand from the Yadkin River or carrying chickens travel the road on a regular basis.
He said he has always been concerned that traffic backed up at school drop-off and pick-up times could make for the scene of an accident as one of those trucks rounds the blind curve.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners sent a resolution to state legislators asking them to appropriate monies toward straightening the road. According to N.C. Department of Transportation representatives, $60,000 was needed to complete the work.
Stevens said the budget passed by lawmakers despite Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto includes the funding for the project.
“They have already started working,” said Tucker, noting that workers were at the site surveying and cutting trees shortly after the budget was passed.
Tucker said he was happy to see the process work and change achieved for the safety of motorists who travel the route and kids who attend the school.
“As a member of the Shoals community, I’m happy we are seeing progress to remedy this dangerous situation,” said Tucker. “This is the culmination of the efforts of a lot of people.”
Stevens also noted the budget includes $500,000 from the state’s Clean Water Trust Fund to be put toward the project to extend Mount Airy’s Ararat River Greenway northward.
She said the allocation will alleviate any need for city officials to request grant dollars from the fund.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.