Commissioners agree to buy bank building for $1.7 million

Fayetteville Road location could house, consolidate county services

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — No, Richmond County is not looking to get into the banking business.

Though county officials decided in 2013 to take over the animal shelter and animal control, the tentative deal to purchase for $1.7 million the main branch of First Bank at the corner of Fayetteville Road and Richmond Road has nothing to do, directly with the financial industry. But it could be a way to save money, officials said.

Stephanie Spradlin |

Stephanie Spradlin |

The commissioners adjourned the regular public meeting at 6:05 p.m. Monday to enter executive, or closed, session to discuss “a property matter.” After approximately 30 minutes, the commissioners reconvened and quickly voted 6-0 to approve the purchase — with one condition. At Commissioner Ben Moss’ request, the agreement was modified to include a daily fine of $500 if First Bank had not vacated the building within 12 months of the signing of the contract.

Commissioner Kenneth Robinette recused himself from participating in the closed session and the vote to approve the purchase. Robinette said after the meeting that he removed himself from the conversation because of First Bank relocates to a property his family owns through Tri-City Inc., “I may have a conflict of interest.”

“I didn’t even see the contract” before the vote, Robinette said, in an effort to remain open and transparent.

The contract now goes back to First Bank officials for approval.

The commissioners did not discuss the purchase or the intent of the future use of the building in open session. Moss said after the meeting that it’s a good deal. He and Marian Savage, clerk of the Board of Commissioners, said the county has long looked for a building to consolidate certain county services such as, Planning, tax collections and the water department.

Savage noted that the First Bank location could offer taxpayers a drive-through window — a benefit that could save them no small amount of time from standing in line on the 15th of each month. Moss said the cost of new construction could reach $3 million or more for a similar building. Alternatively, renovating the existing county administrative building on Hancock Street is cost-prohibitive, requiring “several hundred thousand dollars.”

“This is a great deal,” Moss said.

The two-story First Bank building has an appraised value of $1,729,672, according to online county property records. The current administrative office building has a value of $1,620,459 — but the true worth of the two buildings are hardly comparable, Robinette said.

Moss said moving to the 1401 Fayetteville Road location would allow the county to save on utility costs as well. Robinette said that in colder months, the electric bill at 125 S. Hancock St. is upwards of $6,000 per month. Renovating the building, he said, “is almost kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.”

“It’s a sick building,” Robinette said, noting there’s mold in some places. “It’s got a lot of issues. When the wind blows, you can see the curtains move.”

Robinette said that commissioners have been looking to provide a “one-stop shop” for taxpayers and county government services for nearly 17 years. The First Bank building has better parking and is generally a better location, Robinette said.

“Thankfully we’ll keep First Bank here in Richmond County,” Robinette said. “I really think it’s a win-win for everybody. Opportunities like this don’t come around too often.”

The commissioners would have to vote on what happens to the Hancock Street building. Robinette said county official will work with the city of Rockingham to make a move in the best interest of both the county and the city.





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  • Alice Kaulfers

    Hate to sound off but…..What a great deal….ohhh that’s right not open for public discussion. Of course a new building COULD cost 3 million what a deal 1.7 million dollars and an estimated several hundreds of thousands of dollars for improvements…sounds like almost 3 million… I’m sure there hasn’t been any other building that the county may have already have access to that could be used…perhaps this is an emergency…after all there may never be another bank with a drive thru for sale that needs hundreds of thousands of dollars of improvements.

    • Reid

      The improvements of several thousand dollars are for the old building, not the bank. Read more carefully.

      • Alice Kaulfers

        Thank-you for the correction, my mistake. They could have spent several hundreds of thousands to improve what they already have as opposed to 1.7 million…just seems like a lot of money for an already financially depressed area.

      • Joey DeBerry

        They will need Restoration on this Bank to Accommodate all Depts that will be put in there and yes it will by the time They Waste all the money buying at 1.7 Million and Renovating it will cost near 3 Million for the 6 Commissioners to Sit there Tails in and then the old County building will be empty as is Many others sitting empty Here are and most of the Old Court House will be nothing but a huge mostly empty Sheriffs Dept. And Alice is Dead on with it as well we need more done here than a Newer Building to Park their Tails in. Fix what we have .

    • mltex

      Makes me think of the $10 million sports complex. Heck they could have bought the race track for $4.3 million and put soccer and softball fields in the infield and parking areas.

  • Joey DeBerry

    This is the Crap the Voters here are tired of and these Commissioners are up to no Good again and we do not need a Bank Building for County Business for these Commissioners are still doing the same mess as always and you Bunch Just Nailed the Coffin Shut on your selves voting for this behind closed doors will cost you at your next Reelection and we will start Our Campaign to send you Home .You Bunch are the most Wasteful Spending Commissioners knowing the people will not support this move so enjoy it while you can. You still do not see the Needs Of This County that all that money needs to go to other Problems in this County, how in the World do you Sleep or Even Show your Faces in Public I will never Know .All 6 of you have no Idea what you are doing but feeding your wants instead of the needs of the Citizens and This County you continue to let Fall Further behind Times and we are all most The New Little Mexico as it is Looking like with all these closed down Buildings and Restaurants car lots we see everyday here and you Bunch must just be BLIND . Good Luck trying to get Reelected again ,God Help us here ?

  • Joey DeBerry

    Now Its time to see if these Commissioners can work with the people to gain any trust and the City itself can turn things around or try to control the Citizens again that they all work for and as I said at the Beginning of the Election this Year Things are Changing and we will not Tolerate the old ways here any longer ,so if these want get it done we will reelect them again and if they do not get Rid of Crump before the next Election Morris and some more will be Scratching their Heads still not realizing what they did wrong again as Goodman said in his letter, the Democrats Lost this Election and if there is not some major Changes made and the ACA OBama has Forced on this Country and his Poor Leadership has caused the Democrats to Start Falling from the Apple Tree . We the people own this country not you 6 and until You Politicians Realize that you will keep falling from the TREE. We need more than a Sports Complex that we as the Voters Voted against 70 Percent are not ready for and the way you went by Shoving it down our throats didn’t work either when we need TO CLEAN UP THIS MESS OF A COUNTY AND CITY OF ROCKINGHAM First. Jobs that are not Fast Food Restaurants with part time pay and then the Restaurant being built as usual as most Projects here has changed at the last Minute to accommodate the City’s wants as Crump and Morris did will not Benefit the Kids at Discovery Place as it was Told it was going to be a Deli Restaurant from the start that the kids could eat at and Now Morris and Crump said in the Daily Journal and on the Pee Dee Post that the Children will bring bag Lunches now since the Swamp Sauce Grill will be there now. So it want Benefit the Kids now so they can eat at Discovery Place instead of wasting time CROSSING THE STREET . So these 2 and all the other supporters of theirs and Fat man will continue to WASTE MORE MONEY for their Pet Projects . All the years the Voters were used as Pawns are over and it showed as it will in 2015 & 2016 Elections as well .So hold on to those seats as long as you can or Start Listening TO ALL CITIZENS IN RICHMOND COUNTY or Expect the Same again .FIX THIS COUNTY OR GO HOME because the Majority of the Voters here are TIRED of Living under you Controlling. The Swamp Sauce Grill would do better on Broad Street but it is being built for the Politicians not the Citizens as we all will see there Daily. GOOD LUCK CRUMP AND MORRIS?

  • Joey DeBerry

    Basically these Commissioners Think like Disposable BIC Cigarette Lighters, Throw it away and Get another to Spend Millions on it to Renovate and buy with our Tax Dollars that needs to BE SPENT ON THIS COUNTY NOT FOR YOU TO SIT IN and Vacate another building and by doing so the Court House will be mostly a Large Sheriff’s Dept meaning most of it will be Empty and left to Deteriorate which is a land Mark full of History and the County Building as well that has a window to pay water Bills why Throw it away. We told you we were going to be like Glue to you all as you Continue your Wasteful Spending and you will see it again at Reelection Time . Enjoy your Ride for now cause as Mr Goodman said Democrats Lost this Election making Mistakes as You Continue to do and there will not be another Chance for you if you Continue to make Stupid Mistakes on our Dime. Good Day

    • Teresa Grant

      How about spending that money on a REAL Homeless Shelter, with services to help with all aspects of being homeless. The old Covington Rest Home is available for purchase , it would definitely make a great place to get back on your feet. All our tax money is wastefully spent, constantly making decisions for the county without the citizens involvement. I am with Joey and will be MORE than Happy to start a campaign for all of the “OLD CROANIES” removal from office. Oh, of course I have only been voting for new commissioners for the last several elections, if we want change in our county we as the citizens should stand our ground on a bed of rock.

  • william english

    @Joey Deberry….your letters are almost incomprehensible. I dont know what rock you have been living under, but the old Richmond County Government building is in a sad state of disrepair. Its nearly 100 years old. If the county uses the bank building for their offices its a great idea. The current building….even if millions were spent on it..will still need 100 year old building maintaince…and the costs are never ending. The bank building is perfect for the county offices, its got a great location, plenty of good parking…and its a nice looking place, not a cavernous old dinosaur like the current building. Instead of constantly decrying the commissioners, you should be applauding them for thinking in the future, instead of the past.

    • Joey DeBerry

      William you are just short minded as the Politicians are if you believe all the Bull Crap you want to support wasting money on a building we do not need with all the needs this county really needs done before they waste money on a bank building for a drive through window to Collect Money for Taxes a paying water bills and look at the Traffic Jam that will be Created with all the Cars sitting in line out into the street .These Politicians here keep spending our tax dollars on Projects that will not benefit this County but for them only at our Cost and if you want to Keep living in a run down County you are in the Right one and have you ever took a ride around East Rockingham and Took Broad Street Lately , must do not drive or must be blind not to see this town Looking alot like Little Mexico with all the empty and dilapidated building this county has let fall to Ruins .You want to play Politics you got one to argue with now .IF these useless Politicians have no idea what is needed to Revitalize this City or County except more empty buildings that REALLY MAKES THIS COUNTY INVITING TO LURE Good Businesses to move here with all we have to Offer them and old boy the ANSWER IS NOTHING and as long as these City and County Continue on their Mission to Get this Town in the Dark they get Fatter and Bigger Pockets for them Selves. This will continue until we as Citizens want a Cleaner Town to be Proud of and it is not there YET but we will get there with them or with out and maybe a Protest like Ferguson Mo and a Petition to Remove them will be the Answer with the 70 Percent that Voted Against there Wasted Money on a Sports Complex they did Buy behind our backs and all this is done behind closed doors and we will not Support anything they vote for Shutting the Citizens out to do their Dirty Voting which we have a Right to be involved in so when you want to play some more REPLY BACK?

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