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Lake Wylie group wants $200K to preserve historic school

A River Hills group wants about $200,000 from the York County Council to help save what they say is an historic Lake Wylie school house.

The 1,650 square-foot building, located on the property of a nearby Charlotte Highway church, is in danger of being demolished, said Don Long, a River Hills resident heading up the effort.

Long and others eager to save the building are forming a nonprofit to preserve the building, which they believe is the Laney School, built in 1914 to consolidate two area schools that date back to the 19th century, Long said.

The money would help the Laney School Preservation Project move the school house from its original location to land owned by the River Hills community and refurbish it for public events and meetings.

The group’s vision is also to have a museum detailing the history of the Lake Wylie area, including the lake itself, with exhibits – something that went away when the Duke Energy visitor’s center closed, Long said.

The history of the lake is “very important,” Long said. “There’s no place to demonstrate that right now.”

The money would come from a county grant funded through the hospitality taxes.

Hospitality tax grants must be used “to provide financial assistance for tourism projects which substantially increase overnight travel and day visits to York County,” according to the grant application. The grants are administered by the county’s tourism bureau.

Long said the move would cost about $26,000, which includes moving utilities. Refurbishing the building will cost $176,658.

The hospitality tax committee overseeing the grants and the county’s tourism board already approved the application, except for a request the group made for $9,300 annually over ten years for general operations, which falls outside the granting program’s purview.

The county council must give final approval to fund the project.

Councilman David Bowman was first to raise concerns about having received the proposal only Sunday. He asked for documentation of the building’s history and engineering reports verifying it’s secure.

After others raised questions, Chairman Britt Blackwell suggested they reconsider the request in two weeks, after the county council studies the proposal.

Councilman Bruce Henderson supports the project, saying his district has been denied support for a long time and recent attention has been “long overdue.”

‘Global’ manufacturer eyeing York County

In other actions, the county council unanimously approved offering incentives to a global manufacturing company promising $26 million in investments and 243 new jobs to York County in coming years.

In exchange, the county will fund up to $225,000 in road improvements in addition to fee-in-lieu tax agreements the county typically offers companies to entice them to come here.

The company, which officials are referring to as “Project Henry,” is considering building its headquarters in York County along with manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations.

The company makes consumer products and will provide many product assembly jobs, said Mark Farris, York County economic development director.

The company hasn’t yet bought property for the new operation, he said, but the county’s commitment is a step in that direction.

Farris said there’s been a lot of interest in York County recently. He hopes to announce soon three manufacturing outfits currently looking to purchase existing buildings in York County, he said.