Commissioners defer G-P purchase extension decision; put courthouse settlement agreement on hold

The Columbus County Board of Commissioners took no action after a 55-minute closed session Monday night on whether to extend a June 30 purchase deadline the county had given the owners of Project Black to purchase the former Georgia-Pacific property between Whiteville and Chadbourn.

Instead, commissioners recessed their meeting and will reconvene at 7 o’clock Thursday morning, a highly-unusual meeting time, when they are expected to take a vote on the extension.

The requested extension is thought to be for 90 days.

The unusual early Thursday morning meeting was scheduled because commissioners already had planned to meet anyway Thursday at 8 a.m. to depart county offices for a tour of the Tabor Correctional Institution.

Also in the closed session, commissioners heard from County Attorney Mike Stephens that a settle agreement with Group III, the builder of the new Columbus County Courthouse, is on hold. Earlier in the month, commissioners had agreed with Stephens’ recommendation to accept a settlement with Project III that would knock $290,000 off what the county still owed for courthouse construction because of problems that have plagued the new facility.

Although Stephens gave no details during the “general account” of the closed session that commissioners approved after they returned to open session, he said that no papers had been signed by either party regarding the settlement and that difficulties with the proposed settlement involved language that he did not further discuss. Stephens said the $290,000 monetary agreement was not contested by either party but that other provisions raised a flag with him, prompting him to advise commissioners to delay final approval of the settlement.

The county attorney would not elaborate on the nature of the language that he sees as problematic.

See more details in Thursday’s print edition of the News Reporter.