Polk approves running water line to CooperRiis

Published 9:34 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The middle school to high school project was amended on Monday to include the extension of a 12-inch line to CooperRiis, which is estimated to cost approximately $111,000, although contractors attending Monday’s meeting said the cost will actually be approximately $10,000 less than projected. In approving a change order to the project, commissioners agreed to pay for the line not to exceed $111,000.
ETDC Chair Craig Hilton said the 12-inch trunk line will be available for future use as this part of the region grows. He said installing the line will be less expensive now than in the future and if CooperRiis expands as planned, having water will facilitate the expansion. Hilton also mentioned the many donations CooperRiis founders have given to Polk County organizations.
CooperRiis began in 2003 and has given organizations in Polk County $1.5M in donations.
“They are a valuable asset to Polk County both as providers and good citizens,” Hilton said. “The ETDC is requesting favorable consideration at your meeting tonight.”
Bob Morgan, who is an ETDC member, Mill Spring business owner and treasurer of the Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, said as a business owner CooperRiis has become a very important asset to him and has helped his business grow.
“Once a business is here, do we say to them, Okay, you’re on your own,” Morgan asked, “or do we recognize our first responsibility is to encourage the businesses, which are already our neighbors?”
“Let’s imagine that CooperRiis isn’t already here,” Morgan said. “One day Libbie Johnson (Polk County Economic Development Director) gets a call from (Don) Cooper and he is going to bring 116 jobs. The one request he has is the county runs a water line. Wouldn’t we approve that in a heartbeat?”
CooperRiis employee and Tryon Councilman Doug Arbogast said CooperRiis’ presence in the county helps local businesses like Deb’s (service station) because employees fill up their tanks there instead of driving to South Carolina. Arbogast said from the Tryon perspective, “If we were in Tryon and they wanted that amount (of water), we’d be driving it to them in buckets.”
Joe Epley said extending the water line extends the reputation of Polk County as being pro-business. He said the county really cannot go any other way because if it goes against running the water line it’s going to send a negative message about the county. Epley also mentioned in addition to CooperRiis’ donations to Thermal Belt Outreach, CooperRiis residents have been very supportive in volunteering their time at Outreach.
“It’s really an organization that really gives back to us,” Epley said.
Sharon Young, CooperRiis institute director, said she travels to represent CooperRiis. She said about a year ago she went to British Columbia and was asked by a group who wanted to start a mental health facility if people aren’t scared of a mental health community being located here.
“They asked, you certainly must run into problems,” Young said. “I was so proud to be able to look them in the eye and say this community has been nothing but supportive. Everybody has embraced us – right here in Polk County, N.C.”

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