Monday, February 6, 2023

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Graham, NC 27253
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County taps Greensboro contractor to revamp former bank for future elections office

Former First Horizon Bank building at 1128 South Main Street, Graham, will become county’s Board of Elections headquarters

Alamance County’s commissioners have decided to hire a Greensboro-based contractor to renovate a former bank building in Graham to serve as the new headquarters for the county’s elections office.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the board unanimously selected the H.M. Kern Corporation to overhaul the now-vacant structure at 1128 South Main Street, which had most recently served as a branch of First Horizon Bank.

The commissioners agreed to award this contract to Kern on the advice of deputy county manager Sherry Hook, who informed the group that the firm’s proposed fee of $730,000 had been “lowest responsible bid” of the seven which the county received for this project.

“We have dealt with this company before,” Hook went on to reassure the commissioners before their 3-to-0 decision. “H.M. Kern – they’re the ones that did the renovation on the historic courthouse.”

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The county had originally acquired the decommissioned bank building in February after another contender for the elections office’s new headquarters was effectively sold out from under them. After a round of negotiations with former bank’s owner, the commissioners agreed to purchase the property for $925,000 – a slight discount from the property’s assessed tax value. The commissioners also earmarked another $850,000 to renovate and expand the facility to suit the needs of the elections office, which has outgrown its existing headquarters at the corner of Maple and Pine streets in Graham.

Hook told the commissioners that, in addition to Kern’s original bid, the county will tack on another $109,500 to the project’s anticipated cost to serve as a contingency. She nevertheless stressed that the resulting sum of $839,500 is still less than the original amount set aside for the bank’s renovation.

Hook went on to propose a tentative deadline of August 1 for the project’s completion, although she acknowledged that none of the would-be contractors was willing to guarantee this admittedly ambitious timetable.

Hook’s recommendation to hire H.M. Kern was subsequently approved by commissioners Steve Carter, Bill Lashley, and Pam Thompson. Excluded from that evening’s vote were commissioner Craig Turner and John Paisley, Jr., the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners – both of whom were reportedly under the weather on Monday. Although both Paisley and Turner had tuned in to the proceedings via the Zoom telecommunications platform, they were disqualified by their physical absence from taking part in any decisions, according to the county’s legal staff.

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