FCCS Director Marybeth Adkins said the June 4 fire that destroyed the Red Barn storage building in Norton left the agency in debt. The FCCS had bought the structure two years ago and was still paying on the property when it was destroyed. The property was underinsured, Adkins said, and the FCCS still has to pay for demolishing the remaining structure.
Norton Police Chief James Lane said Thursday that, after reviewing the fire and scene with investigators and the Norton Fire Department, authorities are not treating the blaze as suspicious.
“I spent days worrying because there was evidence that someone had been sleeping there,” Adkins said. “That’s a heavy load to bear.”
While the agency is looking for a new dedicated storage site, Adkins said the FCCS did have some good fortune in February. The Norton Lions Club had operated a clothing and goods donation center in a former mining and machine supply building at 430 Kentucky Ave., and the club agreed to give the FCCS the title. Half of the structure will become a storage and distribution point for clothes and household goods. The other half will become an after-school center where children can go for help with homework or access abuse-prevention services normally provided by the FCCS.
“We are open to anything people are willing to donate,” Adkins said.
Adkins said Wise County has also helped lessen the impact of the fire by taking care of landfill disposal fees for debris from the demolition.
While dealing with the aftermath of the fire, the FCCS will assume another role Monday: taking applications and handling payments to applicants for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rent and Mortgage Relief Program announced Thursday by Gov. Ralph Northam.
While full details about how to apply will be announced by the HCD Monday, Adkins said the FCCS and Appalachia Community Action and Development Agency will be responsible for $210,000 for applicants who need help with rent or mortgages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scott, Lee and Wise counties and the city of Norton.
Adkins said AppCAA will handle $105,000 for applicants in Scott and Lee counties, while the FCCS with another $105,000 will also help with Lee County and cover Wise County and Norton.
For more information about the program, contact the FCCS at (276) 679-7240 or AppCAA at (276) 452-2441 in Scott County and (276) 346-0054 in Lee County.