County commissioners OK incentives package for Graphic Packaging expansion

Commissioners OK deal to help Graphic Packaging expand

Jessica Horne Staff writer

			
				                                Robeson County District 5 Commissioner-elect Judy Sampson raises her hand Monday during her introduction during the Board of Commissioners meeting, as Commissioner Pauline Campbell, left, applauds and Commissioner Tom Taylor looks on. Sampson will serve the remainder of the late Raymond Cummings’ term, until she is sworn in in December. Cummings died Aug. 7.

Robeson County District 5 Commissioner-elect Judy Sampson raises her hand Monday during her introduction during the Board of Commissioners meeting, as Commissioner Pauline Campbell, left, applauds and Commissioner Tom Taylor looks on. Sampson will serve the remainder of the late Raymond Cummings’ term, until she is sworn in in December. Cummings died Aug. 7.

<p>Dial</p>

Dial

<p>Oxendine</p>

Oxendine

<p>Taylor</p>

Taylor

LUMBERTON — Robeson County Commissioners on Monday approved an economic incentives package worth more than $100,000 for Graphic Packaging.

The county will give the Fortune 500 company, which manufactures items such as folded cartons and paper cups, a tax break on real and personal property up to $107,800 over a three-year period as the business undertakes an expansion project.

The incentives package was approved after a public hearing during which no one from the public spoke.

The project is estimated to cost almost $11 million and includes the addition of 20 machine operator jobs. The expansion also calls for the company to buy needed equipment, such as a new press and second cutter for its plant at 2801 Kenny Biggs Road in Lumberton, said Paul Evans, company regional manager of Human Resources. The location currently employs about 300 people,who helped make the project possible through their work, he said after Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

Graphic Packaging is removing old equipment, and hopes to begin the hiring process immediately and have three new pieces of equipment operational by January, Evans said.

“We are very excited about what you are doing in our county,” Commissioner Roger Oxendine said.

Commissioners Tom Taylor and Pauline Campbell echoed the sentiment.

“My husband retired from Graphic Packaging, so I know a little bit about Graphic Packaging,” Campbell said with a smile.

She thanked Evans and the company for the additional 20 jobs, which she said the county needs.

“Anything we can do to help you, we’ll be glad to do it,” Taylor said.

Commissioner-elect Judy Sampson joined the board for the first time Monday. She will serve the remainder of the District 5 term started by the late Raymond Cummings, who died Aug. 7. Sampson will be formally sworn in in December.

“We welcome Judy, and we are excited for her,” said Faline Dial, board vice chair, who led Monday’s meeting, which took place in the board’s chambers in the County Administration building at 500 N. Chestnut St..

“I look forward to working with each commissioner for the betterment of Robeson County,” Sampson said.

Commissioners Jerry Stephens and David Edge joined the meeting by telephone. Board Chairman Lance Herndon did not take part in the meeting.

In other business, commissioners spoke about drainage and flooding problems in their districts, some of which are caused by beavers.

“I want Miss Tammy to send a letter to the beaver guy,” Oxendine said.

A home on Pleasant Hope Road in Fairmont is experiencing major flooding from a “backed up” canal, Oxendine said.

“Those people have water running in their cars,” Oxendine said.

Taylor said many roads and flooded areas concern him, but the county’s hands are tied in the matter. When people complain to the county, commissioners contact the state, which says it lacks money to make the repairs, the commissioner said.

“I never seen the roads and the beavers as bad as they are,” he said.

Sampson spoke of a home on Buie Philadelphus Road that is situated in a low area, and experiences constant flooding. Residents must drive through water to get to their home, and sometimes must park in the highway.

She asked the county to assess the situation, and see what can be done.

“I know it’s private (property), but it’s — you’ve seen it,” Sampson said. “It’s bad. I’d love to see what we can do.”

“I don’t think it ever dries up,” Dial said after the meeting.

Legislators and state agencies, such as the N.C. Department of Transportation have been to the home, the vice chair said.

“They say there’s nothing they can do,” Dial said.

Anita Cunningham, a resident of 14th Street in Lumberton, shared a public comment that was welcomed by commissioners.

“I just appreciate your work and everything that you do,” Cunningham said.

The Lumberton resident said she moved to the county two years ago from Washington, D.C., to take care of her father, and decided to stay long-term.

“I got to tell you I love Robeson County,” she said.

Cunningham serves on the Robeson County Coalition for Sustainable Development and told commissioners she is committed to serving in more capacities and contributing more to the community if possible.

“We need more of that,” Taylor said.

Also on Monday, the commissioners approved:

— A $285,208.86 contract between the Robeson County Housing Authority and Victor’s Quality Roofing and Home Repair for roofing repairs at Morgan Britt in Lumberton and McColl Page Plaza in St. Pauls.

— A $12,575 contract between the Robeson County Housing Authority and Darnell Accounting Group Services, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, for fee accounting services from October 2020-2025.

— Appropriating $556,557 from the fiscal year 2019-2020 Robeson County Solid Waste budget and allocating the money to the 2020-2021 budget for the landfill’s $3 million expansion project.

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]