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Franklinton sets meeting to study reuse grant

FRANKLINTON -- Town commissioners have scheduled a work session to figure out if and how they'll aid a couple's plan to build a business around helping the disabled.

Stan and LeaAnne Hahnel approached the town in the spring of 2015 about helping them acquire a $40,000 building reuse grant to turn the old Henderson Pharmacy building across from Franklinton Middle School into a store akin to a Goodwill.

The Reuse It Center would feature clothes, furniture and other items, but it would also be a place where people with disabilities could be employed and trained so they could find more permanent work later.

The project hasn't quite gotten off the ground yet and Stan Hahnel was back before commissioners during their July 17 meeting, asking the town to commit a 5 percent match to a project expected to cost $251,550.

"We've gone through the process before," said Stan Hahnel. "We've dotted our i's and crossed our t's."

Town Manager Tammy Ray admitted that, right now, town staff and officials are looking over a mixture of information from the older grant process along with some new changes that have been made.

"There are a lot of things that need to be fixed in it," Ray said. "And there is some understanding that has to be done."

Commissioner John Allers suggested the board use a work session to take a longer look at the matter.

"I'm not trying to put the brakes on this," he said, "but I want to make sure we get it right.

"We should set a workshop so everyone can learn what these grants are and we can be on the same page.

"It's a great business plan," he said. "But, the overall grant program and process; we all need to be a little bit smarter."

The Hahnel's, through their nonprofit venture, Transforming Communities, want to employ people with disabilities to help operate the retail store.

"We'll train them not only in retail," Stan Hahnel said, "but we'll also give them some management experience by the time they're done."

The venture won't create permanent jobs, Hahnel said, but it will provide the training employees with disabilities would need to seek permanent gigs somewhere else.

"It's a great program for people with disabilities," he said.

Town commissioners have scheduled a work session for Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Annex.

The meeting is open to the public.


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