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County to buy barn at airport park

County commissioners Tuesday loaned $50,000 to the Economic Development Department so the county can buy an idle pole barn at the Hernando County Airport Industrial Park.

Last month, the commission told Economic Development Director Al Fluman to get bids for loans from local banks. Fluman got the cash advance to beat a deadline this month set by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission, which now owns the building.

Commissioners expect to get their money back after Fluman finds a lender to pay for renovations needed to bring the old truss plant up to current building standards. That should cost about $100,000, Fluman said.

"I'll give you the 50, but I want it back, Al," said Commissioner John Richardson.

Southeast Bank took over the structure several years ago after John D. Grubbs' truss-building company went out of business. In 1992, Southeast became insolvent, and the FDIC assumed control.

Now, county officials want to buy the building cheaply. Its value has been assessed at about $300,000. They want to renovate the building and lease it to a distribution center or light-manufacturing company. Fluman said the county can charge $99,125 in rent each year.

The site has an underground diesel tank, where studies show some fuel spillage that must be cleaned up. Fluman said rental fees would pay for that work.

Also, he vowed to seek financial assistance from Grubbs and the FDIC, who as previous title holders may be held accountable for cleanup.

"We feel that this is a good venture on the part of the county by virtue of the circumstances we are confronted with," said County Administrator Chuck Hetrick.

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