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Rhino Times - 2017-08-10
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-08-10 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 32 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, August 10, 2017 County in Support of Public Notice Modernization Scott D. Yost Rock Quarry Debate Ignites Emotions plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer The Weekly Hammer by John Hammer Old Home Week with the Commissioners Once a year, when County Editor Scott Yost is taking his well-deserved vacation, I attend a Guilford County commissioners meeting. Last week was my week. For about 10 years I attended all the meetings of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, so it is a homecoming of sorts, except it’s kind of like a homecoming where your old home place has been sold and there are a bunch of new people living there. This year was a little different because Skip Alston, who was a county commissioner during those 10 years, was recently appointed commissioner to replace Ray Trapp, who resigned to take a job in government relations with NC A&T State University. So seeing Alston up there seemed like old times. Since I attend all the meetings of the Greensboro City Council, I can’t help but make comparisons. Back when I was attending the meetings of both governing bodies, the meetings of the Greensboro City Council were calm and businesslike, where councilmembers disagreed at times but disagreed agreeably and rarely was anyone’s voice raised. Most votes were unanimous and even big issues engendered little discussion because everything had been worked out behind closed doors before the meetings. If the votes were there, often all the councilmembers voted in favor of the matter, even if they were opposed, to give a sense of unity. In 1992, the Guilford County commissioners had just been expanded by the state legislature, at that time controlled by Democrats, from seven members to 11 members, for the sole purpose of having a Democratic majority and it worked. The Republican legislature did the same thing in 2011, so that now there are nine members and a Republican majority. It’s politics. But back then, right after the 11-member board took office, the meetings were anything but calm and businesslike. They were loud and raucous. I never knew what to expect when I went to a meeting, or at what time I would get home, because meetings lasting until after midnight were common. Now everything has reversed. The City Council meetings have people jumping up and shouting at the council; it’s not uncommon to have the councilmembers shouting at each other; and this year people have been removed from meetings. People have been arrested at meetings, and once the crowd was so loud and unruly that the entire City Council left the dais and hid in the back room while the protestors took over the Council Chambers. The county commissioners by contrast have polite disagreements, vote and go home. However, one thing both meetings have in common is that an inordinate amount of time is spent discussing what the City Council calls Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) and what the commissioners call Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB). It’s the same thing. It represents an effort by the government to award contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women. City Councilmember Sharon Hightower harangues the city staff about nearly every contract that comes before the council because, even when the contractor has met the goals set by the city, she doesn’t believe that they have hired enough black contractors. The issue that came up at the county commissioners meeting on Thursday, August 3, concerned signing contracts with six architectural firms to be on call for contracts below $500,000. None of the six were black architects and there is a good reason for that, but one that Alston and Commissioner Carolyn Coleman didn’t accept: Of the 5,600 registered architects in North Carolina, there are only 34 black architects registered as HUBs. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there are only 34 black architects, because registering as a HUB is voluntary. Some businesses don’t get around to it because they have (continued on page 5) RHINO TIMES BUSINESS AND SERVICE DIRECTORY For information to advertise in our Directory call (336) 763-4170 Have Medicare questions? I have answers. Bruce Bailer Licensed Sales Representative 425 Spring Garden Street Greensboro, NC 27401 336-275-2651, TTY 711 www.MyUHCagent.com/ bruce.bailer

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer The Wyndham Championship will be here before you know it, Monday, August 14 to Sunday, August 20. And it’s really too early to tell, but if this unusually cool August weather continues, it’s going to be great for watching some of the best golfers in the world out at Sedgefield. The Wyndham has been attracting more and more of the top players every year. The word is that the pros love the Sedgefield course and enjoy playing in Greensboro. We should know how to run a golf tournament here because we’ve been doing it since 1938. That first year the total prize money was $5,000 and the tournament attracted a lot of golfers because of the big money being offered. Sam Snead won $1,200 as the first winner. False alarm on News of the Weird. Chuck Shepherd started News of the Weird as a letter to friends and it grew into a syndicated column carried by newspapers all over the country. When we received word that Shepherd was retiring, we called the syndicate to find out if they were offering a replacement column, but got no answer. So this week we found out that Shepherd has retired just like he said he would, but News of the Weird lives on and the latest column is in this edition of the Rhino Times. Last year Greensboro voters approved $126 million in bonds, and $25 million was for the downtown. Most of that money is planned to be spent on downtown streetscaping, mainly Elm, Davie, Church and Bellemeade streets. Greensboro Department of Transportation Director Adam Fischer said they are still in the planning stages for exactly how the money will be spent and they plan to ask for input this fall to find out what the public would like to see. He said he thought there were some areas where it will be easier to work than others, and they may get started on some of the streets as early as next spring. Fischer also said that it wasn’t part of this bond project, but that Greene Street north of West Market was slated for streetscaping next spring, and the funds had already been allocated. According to Fischer, the work they will do on Greene Street will work whether that portion of the street stays one-way or is changed to two-way, like both the northern and southern portions of Greene Street. It has long been the goal of some members of the City Council to have Greene Street become a two-way street its entire length, but so far the votes haven’t been there to do it. My mother, who will be 90 next month, received a robo-call purportedly from the Internal Revenue Service saying she was going to be arrested if she didn’t call some number. Instead, my mother called me and I assured her that the IRS does not use robo-calls to threaten people with arrest. But that means another scam preying on the elderly is out there and no doubt some will call the number and give them financial information. If you have any doubts about the validity of a call from the IRS, hang up the phone, look up the IRS number in the phone book and call them, but don’t give out any information to people claiming to be from the IRS on the phone. Last week there was an event giving a home to a veteran in Adams Farm due to the efforts of Building Homes for Heroes. District 1 City Councilmember Sharon Hightower was invited, as was District 28 state Sen. Gladys Robinson. When Robinson spoke, she welcomed the family to Senate District 28. The problem is that the house in Adam’s Farm is not in City Council District 1 represented by Hightower nor is it in Senate District 28 represented by Robinson. The house is in City Council District 5 represented by Tony Wilkins and Senate District 27 represented by Trudy Wade. Since Hightower and Robinson are Democrats and Wilkins and Wade are Republicans, some might see a grand conspiracy in the mix-up. But then again, as frequently as the districts change in North Carolina, with the ongoing battle between the Republican legislature and the Democratic federal court judges, who can keep up. If you haven’t been down South Elm Street in a while, it’s worth a trip. What was once the sleepy little corner of Lewis and South Elm streets is hopping. I was there recently at the Downtown Greensboro Inc. office talking to DGI President Zack Matheny, and after 5 p.m. I kept noticing people walking past on the sidewalk out front. It was a Tuesday afternoon, and there was no event scheduled, but that didn’t stop the steady stream of mostly young adults strolling past the office. Lewis and Elm is pretty much the epicenter of Andy Zimmerman’s efforts downtown. The many businesses he has had a hand in bringing to the downtown are attracting a crowd even on Tuesday afternoon. This is really getting funny. Last week we reported that the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement held a public hearing, the only problem being that there is no State Board of Elections (continued on page 8) Sale of Lake Jeanette, Buffalo Lake Goes Through by John Hammer A lot of people were hoping it wouldn’t happen, but last week the sale of Lake Jeanette and Buffalo Lake closed and now JW Demolition is the new owner of the two lakes. At the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association meeting on June 26 to announce that the lakes were under contract, the homeowners were united in their desire that Lake Jeannette not be changed, and it appears they will get most of what they wished for. According to Dixon Johnston, the president of the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association board of directors, the new owners signed the lease that restricts the use of the lake, and specifically outlaws jet skis and swimming. Will Dellinger, the president of JW Demolition, sent the homeowners’ association a letter in June stating that they had no plans to make drastic changes to the lake, but one change they were considering was allowing some private docks on the lake. Private docks were prohibited under the previous owner, International Textile Group (ITG), which acquired the lakes when it bought Cone Mills. Johnston said that the homeowners’ association board would be meeting with the new owners in about two weeks and his understanding was that private docks were still being considered. Johnston said he had been told that the owners planned to concentrate on Buffalo Lake first. Currently, Buffalo Lake is pretty to look at but no type of recreational activity has been allowed by ITG. Both fishing and boating were prohibited and there are no docks on the lake. It is expected that both fishing and boating will be allowed but boating will be restricted to boats without motors, or perhaps electric motors will be allowed, and the lake will be open only to the residents of the area. It is also expected that docks will be allowed on the lake. It is expected that at the next meeting of the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association board more complete plans of what the new owners have in mind for the lakes will be revealed.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 hammer (continued from page 2) table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 LAKE JEANETTE, BUFFALO LAKE SALE GOES THROUGH BY JOHN HAMMER 6 COMMISSIONERS SUPPORT PUBLIC NOTICE MODERNIZATION BY JOHN HAMMER 9 POLITICS MAKES MOUNTAIN OUT OF MOLEHILL FOR COUNCILMEMBER OUTLING BY JOHN HAMMER 28 9 10 ROCK QUARRY BLASTING DEBATE IGNITES EMOTIONS IN PLEASANT GARDEN BY SCOTT D. YOST 13 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 23 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 35 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 8 SUDOKU 12 RHINOS AROUND WORLD 15 PUZZLE ANSWERS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 19 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 21 SOUND OF THE BEEP 26 NEWS OF THE WEIRD 30 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR plenty of work and don’t want to go through all of the paperwork. But if a company that qualifies as a HUB isn’t registered, then they don’t count as a HUB. But Alston and Coleman insisted that out of 34 architects, Guilford County should have hired one. The problem was that none of the 34 applied to work for Guilford County. But the larger problem is that 34 is 0.6 percent of 5,600, and to make matters worse this is a local contract. An architect is not going to want to travel from Wilmington or Asheville, or even Charlotte or Raleigh, for some $200,000 job. They’d likely spend more on travel than the job is worth. Plus, Guilford County can ask, but it can’t force anyone to apply for the contract. In trying to please the elected officials, both city and county staffs seem to be spending a lot of time simply trying to get black contractors to bid on projects, and those who constantly raise the issue don’t seem to care at all about women contractors, or, at the county commissioner meeting, Hispanic architects. The concern is solely about black businesses. The Board of Commissioners meeting was much like the City Council meetings on this issue because Coleman and Alston accused the staff of not working hard enough to get a black architect. Hightower does the same thing at City Council meetings. If the percentages are not where Hightower wants them to be – and they never are – she accuses the staff of not working hard enough to get more black contractors. There doesn’t appear to be any end in sight for this issue since, as noted, on the city side the numbers can never be high enough, and on the county side, the fact that only 0.6 percent of the architects in North Carolina are black is not considered sufficient reason not to have one black architect on contract with Guilford County for small projects. Cover: Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland and City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter trying out LimeBikes at First Friday downtown. The bikes are available through the LimeBike app for $1 per half hour. Photo by John Hammer. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD advertising consultants DONNA GOODWIN 216 West Market Street, Greensboro NC 27401 P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro NC 27429 | (336) 763-4170 (336) 763-2585 fax | sales@rhinotimes.com | www.rhinotimes.com

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Guilford County Commissioners Support Public Notice Modernization by John Hammer The majority of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners are in favor of not being required to pay to place public notices in paid circulation newspapers and voted in favor of the resolution in support of a bill that would allow the county to place public notices on its own website. House Bill 205 was passed by the Republican legislature and vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. If the state House and Senate override North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, then not only will Guilford County have the option of placing public notices on its own website rather than paying to have them run in area paid circulation newspapers, but the county will also be empowered to sell space on its website to the state and to municipalities in the county for their public notices and to attorneys for the legal notices that they are required to run by state law. Guilford County would then have revenue coming into its coffers for public notices rather than going out. HB205 specifies that Guilford County would be allowed to keep 50 percent of the revenue and 50 percent would be allocated to the schools to fund teacher supplements. The Board of Commissioners at its Thursday, August 3 meeting, voted along straight party lines to pass a resolution supporting the state bill, which was sponsored by state Sen. Trudy Wade. Chairman Jeff Phillips and Commissioners Hank Henning, Alan Branson and Justin Conrad voted for the resolution and Commissioners Kay Cashion, Skip Alston and Carolyn Coleman voted against. Commissioners Alan Perdue and Carlvena Foster were both absent. Henning, who introduced the resolution entitled “Resolution in Support of Modernizing the Publication of Legal Advertisements and Public Notices in Guilford County,” noted that the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners had supported similar legislation for the past four years as part of its legislative agenda. Henning said, “It simply expands the options.” Henning added, “I think this is a no brainer. I don’t think it’s controversial.” The law would not require that Guilford County or any other entity place public notices or legal advertising on its website. The legal requirement for notifying the public could still be met by advertising in paid circulation newspapers, but it does offer the option of only running the notices and advertisements on the county website or of placing them on the website and continuing to purchase newspaper advertising. It is controversial only because the paid circulation newspapers see the law as taking away a state-mandated monopoly that brings them a lot of revenue. Under the current law, governments and those placing legal notices have no choice – the advertising has to be placed in a paid circulation newspaper. It is so controversial, in fact, that it brought the publisher of the News & Record to the Guilford County commissioners meeting – an event that has not happened in recent years. News & Record Publisher and Editor Daniel Finnegan, as one might expect, spoke against the resolution. He said that the public’s right to know should not be compromised, but failed to explain why – in this world of instant worldwide communication via the internet – the government should be forced by the state to communicate with the public only through print advertising in paid circulation newspapers. He noted that the News & Record placed the ads on its own website. Carolina Peacemaker Editor Afrique Kilimanjaro also spoke against the resolution. Kilamanjaro said that the law would remove legal notices from Guilford County newspapers. This will likely, but not necessarily, be the result of the law. If newspapers charge less for legal notices than Guilford County, then it is likely the newspapers will keep the business. Kilimanjaro also said the law would “hurt newspapers financially in Guilford County.” And that, of course, is the reason paid circulation newspapers are in such opposition. They now have a government mandate where public notices and legal advertising have to be run in paid circulation newspapers to comply with the law. If that mandate is removed then newspapers will have to lower their rates to compete with Guilford County. The question that has to be asked is, is it the job of the state to provide a revenue stream, much of it in tax dollars, to keep select newspapers in business. The very fact that the Carolina Peacemaker meets the requirements for public notices and legal advertising proves how outdated the current law is. The Carolina Peacemaker has a circulation of not over 5,000, almost exclusively in the black community of Greensboro. Guilford County has a population of over 500,000, yet according to state law, advertising in a newspaper with a circulation that doesn’t equal 1 percent of the population fulfills the obligation of public notice. Coleman said that she opposed the resolution because she didn’t think the state should “meddle” in county business, which is an odd argument since this is a proposed state law to amend an existing state law. Coleman added, “North Carolina has a number of poor people who cannot afford to have access to computers and tablets.” Coleman later explained that she didn’t think the poor people she was talking about subscribed to the newspaper but that they could go down to the library and read the newspaper. But by the same token, they could go to the library and use a computer for free to access the county website. Coleman after the meeting said that it would make more sense to her to have the advertisements run in free publications available to everyone rather than paid circulation (continued on page 8)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com SHORTS (continued from page 4) and Ethics Enforcement because Gov. Roy Cooper refuses to appoint it. Now the North Carolina Republican Party has filed a complaint against Cooper with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement for alleged illegal campaign activities, but once again there is actually no one to hear the complaint because the board doesn’t exist, except on paper. The North Carolina Supreme Court is supposed to rule this month on whether or not the legislature can create a State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and decide the makeup of the board. But until a final ruling comes down, this board that doesn’t exist will evidently continue to hold public hearings and accept complaints, except how can something that doesn’t exist accept a complaint? Greensboro police officers and members of the community celebrated the fifth annual Greensboro Dance Day on Saturday, August 5 at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club on Freeman Mill Road. Some of the participants were (top row, from left) Xtra, Alosha Anatoliy, Carolyn Woodruff, Dwight Ensley, Tech, Officer Lane and (bottom row) Officer Anderson, Elijah Dorsey, Taraji Hillard, Kamari Fuller, Kiah Cohen, Steven Floyd and Kamari Combo. county (continued from page 6) newspapers, but that she didn’t think placing them on the county website was right. Cashion, whose computer illiteracy has been well documented in this newspaper, said that she didn’t go to the county website for anything and didn’t think the commissioners should be talking about the bill at all. Alston said he thought they should wait to talk about the bill after it became law, not while they were waiting to see if the legislature overrides the governor’s veto. The commissioners voted 6 to 1 to pass a resolution to allow bars and restaurants in unincorporated Guilford County to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays beginning at 10 a.m. instead of noon. This is called the brunch bill and had already passed the board once, but did not pass unanimously. Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne said that since it didn’t pass unanimously, it had to come back for a second vote where a simple majority would put the new law into effect. So the brunch bill is now in effect. Coleman cast the lone vote against Sunday morning drinking. Alston and Coleman got into rather strident discussion about the county signing contracts with six architectural firms to be on call for county projects costing less than $500,000. Alston and Coleman objected because none of the six were black architectural firms. Facilities, Parks and Property Management Director Robert McNiece explained that of the 5,600 architects licensed in North Carolina, only 34 are listed as black on the state’s Historically Underutilized Business database and none of those 34 applied. McNiece said they had contacted several local black firms but none were interested in applying to work on small county projects. Coleman and Alston insisted that the county staff had not tried hard enough to include a black architect on the list. Alston said, “There are 34 out there and we have none of them on this list. I can’t support this list.” The list was accepted by the commissioners on a 5-to-2 vote with Alston and Coleman voting no and both promised to keep checking back until the county found a black architect willing to be added to the list. If you are looking for a prime example of micromanagement by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, you couldn’t do much better than the Rich Fork Preserve in High Point. The commissioners on August 3 unanimously approved the map of the walking and biking trails through the park. Rich Fork Preserve has been highly controversial because the hikers, along with the preservationists that want to preserve the old Hedgecock homestead on the property, didn’t want mountain biking trails on the property and the mountain bikers did. However, all that has been worked out and there was only one speaker on the plan for the trails, which keeps the mountain bikers on one portion of the property away from the historic Hyper-Sudoku The New York Times homestead. Cashion asked if there was opposition. Henning said that the fact that the chamber wasn’t filled like it was before was proof that the issues had been worked out.

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    Politics Make Mountain Out of www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 Molehill for Councilmember Outling by John Hammer No one raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest when City Councilmember Justin Outling made the motion, and then voted in favor of ending the request for proposal (RFP) process for the city health insurance contract at the July 18 City Council meeting. The motion passed on a 6-to-3 vote with Outling voting in favor of his motion to end the RFP process and the City Council moved on. But Beloved Community Center activist and former attorney Lewis Pitts has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Bar Association alleging that Outling had a conflict of interest and should be sanctioned. Questions have been raised about that vote because Outling is an attorney with Brooks Pierce, which does work for UnitedHealthcare (UHC), one of the two companies that participated in the RFP process. Outling said last week that he didn’t even think it was a close call. Outling said that if he was found to have a conflict of interest the city would have to revise its long-standing policy on conflicts of interest, which he said was fine with him as long as the city didn’t have “A special Justin Outling policy.” But Outling said he would follow the advice of City Attorney Tom Carruthers, and if Carruthers said that he had a conflict of interest he would take whatever action was necessary. This week Carruthers issued his opinion on Outling’s vote and Carruthers agrees it isn’t a close call. According to Carruthers, Outling was required to vote on the matter because he had no conflict of interest that would allow him to be recused. The City Council is different from some governing bodies in that, if a councilmember doesn’t have a conflict of interest and is recused, then councilmembers are required to vote. If a councilmember is present and doesn’t vote, the vote is counted as a yes vote. When councilmembers are absent from a meeting they are formally excused. Carruthers, in his memo to the City Council, states that it is a limited opinion on this one vote. Some of the factors that Carruthers lists are that this was not voting to award a contract but to end an RFP process. Carruthers states, “There is no direct or indirect financial interest in this termination that falls within the law cited above.” The “laws cited above” are the City Charter and state statutes on conflicts of interest, which require either a direct or indirect financial interest. He also notes that Outling is not a partner in the Brooks Pierce law firm but an associate of the firm. Partners in a law firm share in the profits of the firm; associates are employees who are paid a salary. As Outling noted, there is no way that the work the law firm does for UHC would affect his salary. Carruthers also notes that Brooks Pierce was representing UHC on an entirely unrelated matter and the law firm had no part in the RFP process. One of the factors that makes the whole situation both unique and sad is that Outling is the only member of the current City Council who has a job in the private sector. Only four of the nine city councilmembers have jobs and the other three all work for nonprofits. Outling said that the city didn’t want to define conflict of interest in way that would make it impossible for someone who worked in the private sector to be a city councilmember. When asked why this was coming up now, Outling noted it was campaign season and said, “It’s politics. It’s really a political thing.” Outling added that he saw the political attack as something of a compliment. He said that evidently they couldn’t find anything in his voting record to attack, so they came up with something else. Outling said that as long as all the councilmembers were held to the same standard, he had no problem complying, but he added that simply because someone worked for a nonprofit didn’t mean that there were no possible conflicts of interest. Councilmember Mike Barber is recused from voting on anything that has to do with Gillespie Park because he is president of First Tee of the Triad, which has a working agreement with Gillespie Park to use its facilities for First Tee programs. In the past, when more city councilmembers had jobs in the private sector, recusal came up more often and was often confusing. When reopening the White Street Landfill to municipal solid waste was an issue, then Councilmember Nancy Vaughan was recused because then City Councilmember Don Vaughan, who was her husband at that time, had a contract with one of the companies that was bidding on the project. And Zack Matheny, while a city councilmember, was also recused because the company he worked for was doing business with one of the companies that was bidding on a project. But then City Councilmember Robbie Perkins was not recused despite the fact that his company had contracts with one of the companies involved. Later Nancy Vaughan was allowed to return and participate in the final votes because the company Don Vaughan represented was eliminated from the process. It was as confusing as it sounds. Compared to all of that, this instance is a piece of cake. NEED CASH? Cherry’s Fine Guns is looking to buy or consign guns. We are interested in most handguns, most antiques and some long guns. If you are looking to put some cash in your pocket, give Kevin Cherry or Gurney Brown a call today. Please call Gurney or Kevin for details at 336-854-4182. 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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, August 10, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Rock Quarry Blasting Debate Ignites Emotions in Pleasant Garden by Scott D. Yost The Guilford County Planning Board hearing concerning a proposed new rock quarry mining project near Pleasant Garden is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13 – over a month away. But that case is already one of the most high profile county Planning Board cases in recent history and it’s energizing people on both sides. It also has Guilford County staff and others reviewing zoning appeal rules to assure that the county handles the controversial granite mining case in the right way. Texas-based Lehigh Hanson is a supplier of cement, concrete, asphalt and other building materials for construction projects in the US, Canada and Mexico. Hanson Aggregates Southeast LLC, a subsidiary of Lehigh Hanson, has submitted a rezoning request, as well as a request for a special-use permit, to Guilford County. The approval of both would allow rock blasting and granite mining in a 350- acre area in southeast Guilford County that was, in 2000, rezoned to be used as a clay mine for Boren Brick. That zoning, which is still in effect, designated the land “heavy industrial” but didn’t allow blasting – an added permission that Lehigh Hanson needs in order to extract rock from that site. The rezoning case will go to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners if the Planning Board’s decision is appealed – and it’s a virtual certainty that it will be. An appeal of the special-use permit would be to Superior Court according to one attorney handling the case. When the Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners hold quasijudicial hearings, the boards play a role close to that of a court of law adjudicating matters, and the board members and commissioners aren’t supposed to make up their minds before the hearing. They are often warned about even discussing the cases before hearings of this type. Opponents to Lehigh Hanson’s request to mine granite in the area have been gearing up for the fight in recent weeks – while advocates contend the blasting and added truck traffic would hardly be noticed by residents who live near the mine. The project has been a very hot topic for county officials and their constituents this summer. Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad said he can’t even get away from the discussion when he attends church services on Sunday mornings. “A lady came up to me in church and wanted to talk about it,” Conrad said. “I don’t think people understand the process. It will be a ‘quasi-judicial’ hearing, and, because of that, we can’t talk to people about it.” Area citizens have launched a “No Quarry Here” internet campaign on Facebook and other social media platforms in an attempt to stop the project. Some residents spoke out at a Board of Commissioners meeting in July, and public meetings are being held to organize the fight against the move. Project opponents claim that the noise, danger and increased truck traffic will destroy the current tranquility of the area. The group’s Facebook page states that the proposed mining operations would be “devastating” to the residents’ way of life and claims, “Not only will our day to day lives be affected, our land and ecosystem will be depleted!” It also states, “We must stop this before it’s too late. This company will make billions off our community and leave it in ruins.” Those fighting the move are being encouraged to contact government representatives – something that’s certainly happening to a great extent. Attorney Tom Terrell of Smith Moore Leatherwood is representing Lehigh Hanson in the rezoning request, and he said this week that the case was originally to be heard by the Planning Board on Wednesday, August 9. However, he said, the meeting needed to be held in the commissioners meeting room on the second floor of the Old Guilford County Court House to accommodate the expected crowd, but that meeting room was being renovated at that time so the Lehigh Hanson case was pushed back to September. According to Terrell, a lot of the fears voiced by mining opponents are unfounded. He said some of the postings on social media include “greatly exaggerated” claims, such as one that stated rock blasting will take place every day. Terrell said that, in reality, blasting will only happen two to four days a month. He added that the actual process is a lot tamer than many imagine. “The blasting is very 21st century,” Terrell said. “It is very scientific and involves a very thick liquid, not dynamite. It just fractures a very thin sliver of rock, causing it to collapse.” Terrell said the sound of those blasts is much less harsh than it was in mining operations decades ago. He also said that, if the project is approved and completed, there will be an average of 143 additional trucks daily going in and out of the mine and, when that number is doubled for round trips and when fractional trips are included, the total comes to 287. He said that number of trucks isn’t expected to significantly delay traffic in the area. Terrell also said that modern rock quarries do their business with minimal impact on the surrounding areas. “Generally, people don’t know they are there,” he said. Terrell told of one woman who spoke at a citizens’ meeting regarding the proposed project. The woman lived near an existing Guilford County quarry where blasting is already allowed, he said, and she told the group she was unaware of the mine’s existence until she just happened to stumble across it one day. “She said she’d lived there for years and she just discovered it when she was on a hike,” Terrell said. Terrell also said the closest residence to the granite mine (continued on page 12)

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