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More than 65 participants and nearly 80 total attendees crowded into several rooms of the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education center to learn how to optimize their income and opportunities on land that they own.
Led by Michael Rhodes, of the NC Forestry Service District 8 Director, the event featured speakers from the Departments of Revenue, Conservation, state university system, Farm Service agency and Cooperative Extension services.
"It was a lot of information packed into a tight schedule," mentioned Wanda Campbell Clay, who coordinated the event. "We really need to break each topic down, and go into the programs in much more detail."
"Historically underserved property owners have no idea how many supportive programs there are that can help them save on taxes or give them more options. Without information, they are losing out."
Among the presenters were Joshua Johnston, on why a Forest Management Plan is helpful; Corey Klamut on Cost Share Opportunities through the NC Forest Service; Jeff Benenhaley on how Present-Use Valuation can reduce tax bills; Laura Prevatte on Opportunities through the National Wild Turkey Federation. Alex Sasser spoke on Farm Service Agency opportunities, and Justin Rosier shared about programs of the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Finally, Howard Wallace explained how the North Carolina State University Extension Service (Columbus and Bladen) can help. Jacob Barber, Agricultural/Horticultural agent for NC State, and Nelson Brownlee, Agricultural agent (Small Farmers) for NC A&T university, were also on hand to share information.
A light lunch of sandwiches, chips and drinks was provided, and GHW Center project superintendent, Ocie Jones, managed the parking to ensure that everyone had good access.
The program's high attendance and the strong response of the participants points to a need for an ongoing series. "We hope to do sessions on Estate Planning, Heirs issues, forming co-ops, and many other areas," said Carol Caldwell, GHW center's programming coordinator. Advisors from the Conservation Fund and the county and state agencies are already in contact to help create a regular series of informational events.
"We are proud to have the capability to welcome experts who can share life-changing information with the people who need it most," remarked GHW Center project leader Vincent Spaulding. "Information is power, and we're glad to connect people with that information."