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Rhino Times - 2017-11-16
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-11-16 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 46 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, November 16, 2017 OLD COURTHOUSE RENOVATION John Hammer Parking Decks Shuffled Off City Council Agenda plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com The Weekly Hammer THE WEEKLY Hammer by John Hammer The new redistricting plan for the North Carolina state House and state Senate districts in Guilford County – drawn by the special master appointed by the federal court – have been released. The plan was drawn without consideration for incumbents and may be amended before being submitted to the federal court Dec. 1. Courts are not supposed to be partisan but in this case having lines drawn in a nonpartisan fashion is extremely partisan. One of the huge advantages to being the majority party is that Special Master Into Double Bunking the majority party gets to draw the districts to its own advantage. So for over 100 years the Democrats in North Carolina got to draw the districts to help Democrats get elected, but in 2010, when the Republicans won a majority in districts drawn by the Democrats, the federal courts decided that the Republicans couldn’t draw legal districts. The issue is far more complicated than is presented by the mainstream media because the mainstream media usually report that the federal courts have found that the districts were racially gerrymandered. What City Voting Patterns Less Polarized by John Hammer The voter turnout for the City Council election last week was about 15 percent, which is terrible and sounds even worse if you say that 85 percent of the voters stayed home. What drives turnout in most election years is the top of the ticket. In this case that would be the mayor’s race, and Mayor Nancy Vaughan won with over 67 percent of the vote over Diane Moffett, a political newcomer who moved to Greensboro the same day she filed to run. There never seemed to be much doubt that Vaughan would win, and without an exciting mayor’s race a lot of voters stayed home. The most interesting part of the returns was the votes that Vaughan received in east Greensboro. As usual the map detailing who won each precinct looked like Greensboro had been sliced right along the line between east and west. But in looking at the precinct returns, Vaughan didn’t win any precincts but she did get a lot of votes in east Greensboro. One question that remains in the mayor’s race is, now that Moffett lost her bid to be mayor of Greensboro, will she sell her house in Jamestown and actually move to Greensboro or will she give up her apartment on North Elm Street and go back to living full time in Jamestown. I’m betting on the latter. (continued on page 5) the mainstream media don’t usually report is that the US Department of Justice requires North Carolina to racially gerrymander the districts. The state is required to draw a certain number of black majority districts to facilitate electing black representatives and senators. So race has to be a factor in drawing the districts because, if the Justice Department determines that enough districts do not have a high enough percentage of black voters to elect black representatives and senators, then the districts won’t be approved. What the courts have found wrong with the North Carolina districts is that some districts have more black voters than they need. What the courts won’t tell North Carolina is what the magic number is that is just enough black voters but not too many. If the courts would release the magic number, that would do away with a lot of lawsuits; but it also wouldn’t allow the courts to redraw districts the way the federal judges want them drawn. However, it seems like if what federal judges really want to do is draw legislative districts they should run for the legislature. Redrawing the districts is partisan because the true purpose of hiring a special master is to negate the advantage of the majority party having the right to draw partisan districts. The directions from the court to the grand master were to draw districts in a completely nonpartisan fashion. In other words, draw districts that are more favorable for Democrats than Republicans would draw. So by going to federal court and getting in front of Democratic judges, the Democrats can get what they can’t win at the ballot box. According to the North Carolina Constitution, the state legislature draws the districts, and according to opinions by the US Supreme Court it is not unconstitutional to draw districts to favor one party. The maps drawn by the special master at a cost to the state of $500 an hour put both State Sen. Trudy Wade and State Sen. Gladys Robinson in District 27. State Rep. Jon Hardister and state Rep. Amos Quick are in District 59. Hardister recently moved because the districts drawn by the Republican majority put Hardister and Rep. John Faircloth in the same district. Hardister might want to consider getting a camper. State Rep. John Blust and State Rep. Pricey Harrison were both put in District 61 by the special master. When asked about the redistricting done by the special master, Blust said, “I think it’s Democrat gerrymandering.” He added, “There is no requirement that the districts be drawn nonpartisan.” According to the special master, some shapes are good for districts and some are bad. A circle is good and an L shaped district is bad. It would have been nice if he had gone into some more detail for the state legislature for when they have to draw districts in 2021, because knowing things like circles are good and L’s are bad is helpful. What about a C-shaped district? It’s almost a circle; would that be good or bad? You have to imagine that a Z would be a bad shape for a district but what about a trapezoid? For some reason drawing a circle in the middle of Greensboro is considered a really good district. A district that included Greensboro in its entirety would make sense, but why drawing a circle in Greensboro is wonderful is hard to imagine. Maybe it looks good when projected on a big screen. The whole issue is ridiculous and it brings up another point: federal Middle District Court Judge Catherine Eagles is not the only judge in the Middle District, and cases are supposed to be assigned at random. So how is it that Eagles seems to be on all the redistricting cases around here? The North Carolina legislature cannot appeal the case until the judges make a final ruling, and considering how they have behaved so far they are probably trying to delay the ruling until the last minute before filing opens in February for the 2018 legislative election. But even if filing has to be delayed, the state legislature needs to appeal this case. If federal judges appointed for life by a Democratic president are the only people in this country who can legally draw districts then there is something seriously wrong with the legal system. The people of North Carolina elected Republicans to the majority in the legislature and the Republicans have a legal obligation to draw the districts. It seems unlikely that the US Supreme Court is going to want to spend all of its time drawing legislative districts, and however these districts finally get approved, it’s only four years until 2021, when the whole process will start over.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 7 PARKING DECKS SHUFFLED OFF CITY COUNCIL AGENDA BY JOHN HAMMER 8 OLD GUILFORD COUNTY COURT HOUSE SHOULD BE READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP IN 2019 BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 ANIMAL SHELTER ALONE IN THE DOG HOUSE WITH STATE INSPECTORS BY SCOTT D. YOST 12 HIGH POINT TO GET ITS OWN FAMILY JUSTICE CENTER 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 15 PUZZLE ANSWERS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 19 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 21 SOUND OF THE BEEP 25 SUDOKU 26 NEWS OF THE WEIRD 28 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Cover: The Old Guilford County Court House on West Market Street is undergoing extensive exterior renovation. The side facing the Phill G. McDonald Plaza is already covered with scaffolding. Photo by John Hammer. Story on page 8 PUBLISHER Roy Carroll EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultant DONNA GOODWIN contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD 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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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer Wrangler headquarters has been in Greensboro for years, but now we’re getting something a bit more interesting. Wrangler is going to put a pop up store in the old Miller Furniture Building at 314 S. Elm St. The store will open on Dec. 1 and the plan is for it to be open two months. But if it works out that could be a lot longer. Wrangler sells jeans practically everywhere, but it only has two actual stores – one in Denver and one in Dallas. This could be the third. There will be a lot of specialty jeans and items that won’t be sold anywhere else in the area. Rumor has it that Downtown Greensboro Inc. President Zack Matheny was so enthusiastic about the new opportunity that he was seen mopping the floors in the old Miller Furniture Building, which has been closed for 10 years. But whether the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is chosen by Toyota-Mazda or not, it’s a great sign to be in the running. That means the Greensboro- Randolph Megasite is on the radar screen of site selectors, and if Toyota-Mazda goes somewhere else then we have a much better shot at the next one. It’s a huge hurdle to get over to be considered. Some people are questioning the rates the Rhino Times charged City Council candidates for campaign advertising. In accordance with the state law on political advertising, the Rhino Times charged all candidates the same price for ads. The rates are available on the Rhino Times rate card and if any candidate has a question about what they were (continued on next page) The word is that the Toyota-Mazda automobile plant site selectors have narrowed their choices to two states – North Carolina and Alabama. Even if North Carolina is chosen, it doesn’t mean it will be the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite. There are four megasites in North Carolina, but some say that Greensboro-Randolph is the front-runner. Photo by John Hammer The State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program brought 13 African journalists to Greensboro recently to learn about the free press in America and the Rhino Times participated in the presentation held at CoLab on Greene Street. Count on us to keep you on the go with our expert service and the long-lasting value of MICHELIN ® tires. STOP IN TODAY! More miles. With the safety you expect. THE NEW MICHELIN ® DEFENDER ® TIRE. Taylor’s Discount Tire 2100 E. Cone Blvd Fair, honest pricing Family owned and operated TAYLORSDISCOUNTTIRE.COM (336) 375-8883 MON - FRI 7:30 - 5:30, SAT 6:00 - 12:30 NO HIDDEN TIRE INSTALLATION FEES NO HIDDEN TPMS RESET FEES FREE ROTATION AND BALANCE FOR LIFE OF TIRES Life never stops moving. So take on every mile – and be there for every moment – with Michelin’s longest-lasting tire. * * Based on commissioned third-party wear test results in tire size 225/55R17 97H vs. Goodyear® Assurance® TripleTred™ All-Season and Continental® TrueContact™ tires in size 225/55R17 97H, and Pirelli® P4™ Four Seasons+ tire in size 225/55R17 97T, on a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; and in tire size 205/55R16 91H vs. Bridgestone® Turanza™ Serenity Plus tire in size 205/55R16 91H on a 2015 Honda Civic. Actual on-road results may vary. Copyright © 2017 Michelin North America, Inc. All rights reserved. The Michelin Man is a registered trademark owned by Michelin North America, Inc. TAYLOR'S DISCOUNT TIRE

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 hammer (continued from page 2) The at-large race turned out exactly how most people thought, with the exception that some thought City Councilmember Mike Barber would squeak through and he didn’t. Michelle Kennedy won by 99 votes. That’s a close race, and when you look at who won the precincts, between the two of them it shows an interesting pattern. Kennedy was expected to win in east Greensboro Districts 1 and 2, which are the two minority majority districts, and she did, but Barber picked up seven precincts in those two districts. Barber won most of the precincts in Districts 3, 4 and 5, but Kennedy won about 12 precincts in those districts. It’s good to have the at-large councilmembers elected from precincts all over the city. It indicates the city is not as divided as some people seem to think it is. It’s a strange race because Kennedy and Barber weren’t actually running against each other. They were both running against the other five candidates. My comparison ignores everyone else and looked at them as if they were running head to head. Of course, in the at-large race, Yvonne Johnson finished first and won far more precincts than anyone else. City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter finished second and might be referred to as everyone’s second choice. According to our unofficial count, in the six-way race Abuzuaiter tied with Johnson in one precinct and won three outright. Abuzuaiter once was elected without winning a single precinct, which is a remarkable accomplishment. The District 5 race was supposed to be close but it wasn’t. City Councilmember Tony Wilkins won five precincts and tied one. Tammi Thurm won all but one of the major precincts and ended up winning by 10 percent. One way to interpret the election is that, for all but one at large seat, the people in Greensboro were basically in agreement about who should win, and that agreement stretched across what had been long-standing political boundaries. So most people in most neighborhoods should be pleased with the election. But the election is also an indication of how Democratic Greensboro has become in a state that is trending more Republican. The council is now made up of eight Democrats and one unaffiliated member. Kennedy is unaffiliated but she is definitely liberal. Another amazing thing about this election is that other than District 3 Councilmember Justin Outling, all the men lost and the women won. Outling will be hard to beat, but if decides not to run in four years we could have an all-female City Council. Then again, if in four years the voters don’t feel the women did a good job, they could elect a bunch of men to the City Council. It appears that in four years there will be quite a bit of turnover. Vaughan and Johnson have both said that they don’t intend to run for reelection. District 4 City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann has indicated that she doesn’t intend to run, and it would be surprising if District 2 Councilmember Goldie Wells, who has already retired from the City Council once, decided to run again. So it seems likely that at least four seats will be open and that will attract a crowd to run. In fact, with four open seats, the number filing to run might beat this year’s total of 38. RHINO SHORTS (continued from previous page) charged, we’d be happy to provide them with the rate card. It’s refreshing to know that both the NCAA and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) that accredit colleges and universities agree that academics take a back seat to revenue producing sports. The SACS has agreed with the NCAA that there is nothing wrong with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill having fake classes for athletes in premier sports. It’s good to know that the organizations agree that the athletes in revenue producing sports are not at the university to get an education but to make money for the university, and it’s easier for them to do that if they don’t have to be bothered with going to class and studying. At least the governing institutions are all on the same page. SAVVY SOCIAL SECURITY PLANNING What You Need to Know to Help Maximize Retirement Income Jack Dubel CFP ® , AIF ® Financial Advisor/Investment Managament Consultant YOU • When should I apply for Social Security? WANT • How much can I expect to receive? TO KNOW • How can I maximize my benefits? The decisions you make today can have a tremendous impact on the total amount of benefits you stand to receive over your lifetime. Happy Thanksgiving We are grateful to all who attend our workshops and to all of our loyal clients. Look for information about future workshops in the New Year. RAYMOND JAMES FINANCIAL SERVICES INC. 108 State Street, Suite 110, Greensboro, NC 27408 | T: 336.907.2600 www.dubelwealthdesign.com Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. ©2017 Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certificate marks CFP ® . CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM and CFP ® in the U.S. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. DBA Name is not a registered broker/dealer and Dubel Wealth Design is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Veterans Day Flag Raising at Friendly Center Photos by Sandy Groover

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    by John Hammer www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 Parking Decks Shuffled Off City Council Agenda The two new parking decks and hotels planned for downtown Greensboro hit another snag at the Tuesday, Nov. 14 Greensboro City Council meeting. Three of the items concerning the parking decks, priced at $28 million each, were removed from the agenda. As late as Monday morning, Nov. 13, it appeared that the items would be voted on by the City Council. But negotiations with Rocky Scarfone, who owns the Cone Denim Entertainment Center on South Elm Street, which has two easements across the property where the proposed parking deck is to be built, are not complete. The city paid over $2 million for the land – now largely a parking lot that is bounded by East Market Street, Davie Street and February One Place – and was in the process of designing the parking deck when the city discovered that Scarfone owned two easements across the parking lot; one easement goes out to Market and another to Davie. These are platted easements that go back so long that the legal description refers to the corner of a stable. According to those involved in the negotiations, Scarfone says that he needs access to the back of Cone Denim for tractor-trailers and buses belonging to acts that play at the club. In place of the two easements, the city has reportedly offered Scarfone a 12- to 18-foot easement running between Market and February One and some alterations to the parking deck to make the area behind the club more accessible to large vehicles. The reason for the delay is that Scarfone’s architects and engineers had not completed their analysis of whether the options proposed by the city would meet Scarfone’s needs. City Attorney Tom Carruthers said that the city wanted to give Scarfone time to analyze the proposal made by the city before moving forward. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said at the meeting that she had asked for the items to be continued until some questions she had could be worked out. The city is committed to building two new parking decks. Along with the one on East Market, the city is building a parking deck on the southwest corner of Eugene and Bellemeade streets directly across from First National Bank Field. The Eugene Street deck will be built by the Carroll Companies, which also owns this newspaper. Both new parking decks are slated to have hotels built on top of them and have some retail on the ground floor. Both will be built by private developers but paid for by the city and will be city owned and operated once they are completed. The city has already allocated $2 million each to design the parking decks. What was on the agenda was $28 million each to build the decks. The cost of the decks, a total of $60 million, will largely be paid with parking fees. No problems with the Eugene Street deck were cited and no reason given for delaying taking action on that deck (continued on page 31)

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Old Guilford County Court House Should Be Ready For Its Close-up in 2019 Panorama shot of the renovation of the Old Guilford County Court House Photo by Robert McNiece by Scott D. Yost These days, people walking behind the Old Guilford County Court House at 301 W. Market St. in downtown Greensboro often just stop in their tracks and stare – and sometimes they whip out their phones and take a picture. The particular item of interest that’s now drawing all the looky-loos is an intricate wall of scaffolding that completely covers the back of the building that serves as the center of Guilford County government. The new outer layer on the rear is part of a roughly $3.5 million project to restore the Old Court House to its former glory and beauty – and to keep chunks of it from falling on citizens. Now that the scaffolding is up – and workers have access to every part of the back of the building – crews will repair the outer walls and trim, drill out old debris from crevices and inject new mortar, replace chipped edges and rotten banisters, galvanize cast iron supports, provide modern moisture protection and remove rotted out terracotta and replace it. The project will also include the restoration and renovation of the entrance steps, repair of some of the concrete slabs next to West Market Street and the replacement of 33 doors, including the entrance doors. The new doors will be more in keeping with the style of the Old Court House, which was built in 1918. For years, county officials have complained that the wood entrance doors aren’t appropriate for a historic building such as this one. Part of the project will entail a thorough cleaning of the building’s exterior. The restoration, beautification and structural enhancement project is expected to take over a year and isn’t expected to be completed until January 2019. The county plans to follow that with a landscaping project to give a fresh new look to the grounds around the building. The scaffolding now on the back of the Old Court House will be in place for about nine months and then be moved to the front, where it will cover the entire face of the building until that work is complete. The contract for the large undertaking was awarded to Greensboro-based J. Wayne Poole Inc. earlier this year. Jay Poole, who is overseeing the job, said the building should look a lot better in early 2019 – though, he cautioned, even with the massive repair and replacement effort and a thorough cleaning, it won’t look brand new. “You’re looking at a 100 years worth of dirt and grime and it’s not all going to come off,” Poole said. He said the project has presented a lot of interesting challenges. For instance, he said, putting up the scaffolding on the back of the building took a great deal of physical labor because the plaza behind the building can’t support the heavy machinery that would normally be used to move and lift the scaffold’s components. Poole said it took his workers five weeks just to get the scaffolding up on the back of the building, but doing the same in the front of the building should only take about half as long. “This was the harder side,” Poole said of the back, “because it won’t hold up a lift. In the front, we can use a forklift. In the back, the pieces all had to be physically handed up.” Poole said a study of the building showed it needed a great deal of attention. There’s a lot of cracking, water damage, crumbling terracotta and other issues that have to be addressed. “Most of the real damage is on the water table,” he said, referring to a flat surface area along the edge of the roof where water tends to collect. Poole said parts of the building are totally deteriorated, and in some cases matching replacement parts are hard to come by. He said there are only two companies in the country that supply some of the materials used in the replacement process. He said that Guilford County and his company are saving money by doing the back first and then using the same scaffolding on the front, rather than renting enough scaffolding for both sides at once. One challenge in recent weeks has been that the work was going on while early voting took place at the courthouse. Poole said the real problem wasn’t working around the crowds – instead it was that, just about every time he or one of his crew walked around the corner, a campaign worker tried to hand them literature and get them to vote for a certain candidate. “The fourth time that happened I had to tell them that I live in Summerfield,” Poole said. Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said the project hasn’t hindered early voting, but those voters – along with campaign (continued on next page)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 court house (continued from previous page) workers and county staff – have had to negotiate the fencing and heavy machinery. Work vehicles and other equipment also sometimes take away the already limited parking around the courthouse. One Guilford County employee who works in the building said the noise can be distracting, especially when jackhammers are in use. On the positive side, Poole said Mother Nature has been fully cooperating in the first stage of the project. “The weather has been good,” he said. “We’re allowed rain days and we haven’t taken one so far.” Poole also said that, once it begins to turn cold, workers will put up a fabric “skin” over the scaffolding. Portable heaters will warm the area under it, which means crews will be able work more comfortably even when it’s snowing, raining or very cold outside. Poole said this is one of the more interesting jobs his company has undertaken. He said the most noteworthy project his company has done was providing landline phone service to Bald Head Island in the ’80s. He said projects often take him far away from home, so it’s nice to be in Greensboro for a big job. According to Poole, the fact that J. Wayne Poole Inc. is based in Greensboro benefited his company when it came to keeping the price below those out-of-town firms bidding on the project. Other companies would have greater transportation costs for workers and machinery. Some county staff haven’t been pleased with the fact that the front of the Old Court House is now a big mess with lots of mud, tire tracks and some displaced sidewalk steps, but that’s what the project requires. Poole said the City of Greensboro has worked well with his company during the project. “The city had been really good,” he said. “We’re not supposed to park in the bus lane but sometimes we have to,” he said. Once the project is complete, Poole said, the old court house should be better than ever and firmed up with the latest version of the old construction materials. “This is 100-year-old material,” he said of what’s being removed. “Now the materials are a thousand times better.” When the project was first discussed in 2015, initial estimates for the Old Court House renovation project came in as high as $8 million, but it now looks as though it will be less than half that. Guilford County Facilities, Parks and Property Management Director Robert McNiece said this week that the cost of the scaffolding alone will come to about $200,000, and he added that other aspects of the job can be expensive as well since; for instance, the materials needed for historic renovation are often be in short supply. McNiece said Guilford County was also now wrapping up other projects that have been in the works for some time. He said the county has finished with structural repairs on the parking deck behind the Independence Center at 400 W. Market St. and that a major repair of the parking deck next to the county’s High Point courthouse is largely complete. “That one is structurally done but there are some cosmetic issues left,” McNiece said. He said one of the most complicated things about the Old Court House job is that so many people in the company have the name J. Wayne Poole. Poole said that are four J. Wayne Pooles in the company, but the “J” does stand for different names. He said he’s not sure why his parents liked the name J. Wayne Poole so much. “I guess they thought that, if they got a sweater with ‘JWP’ on it, they could keep passing it down,” Poole said. Jay Poole

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Animal Shelter Alone in the Dog House with State Inspectors by Scott D. Yost There are 125 publicly run animal shelters in the State of North Carolina and only one of those – the Guilford County Animal Shelter – is currently operating under a failed inspection status. Guilford County hopes it has finally found an answer for that and other shelter problems: After months of searching, the county has now made an offer to an applicant for the Guilford County Animal Services director position and hopes to have a new director in a matter of days. County officials say some of the shelter’s recent problems are due to the fact that it hasn’t had a full-time Animal Services director since late July, when the former director, Drew Brinkley, resigned suddenly after the shelter was hit with $1,200 in fines and several troubling problems were revealed by state inspectors. The Guilford County Animal Shelter has not only failed its inspection – it’s failed twice in a row. In 2017, the shelter has also received warning letters and was hit with fines, so county officials are eager to get the shelter back on track and they’re keeping their fingers crossed that this promising new prospect will take the job and turn out to be the person who finally gets the shelter running properly. According to Heather Overton, the public information officer for the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees shelters in the state, that department’s Veterinary Division doesn’t keep a separate compilation or spreadsheet of disapproved shelters, but she said the online reports are kept up to date. The Rhino Times checked the inspection reports for every operational public shelter in the state – shelters run by counties, cities, towns and even fire departments – and, in every case, the shelters were operating under an “approved” status, with the exception of the shelter run by the third largest county in the state. In addition to 125 public shelters, there is also an even larger number of animal facilities such as pet stores, kennels and private shelters that the Department of Agriculture also inspects. The Rhino Times didn’t check every one of those inspection reports for private facilities, but it did spot check a large number of current reports from those facilities across many counties and didn’t find a private shelter that was currently operating with a “Disapproved status,” as Guilford County is. Though, according to the Department of Agriculture, some of those have failed the most recent inspections. “We do have other disapproved shelters,” Overton wrote in an email. She added that she was aware of one community shelter that had gotten two disapproved reports in a row and then had had its permit suspended. She stated it is difficult to give an exact percentage of inspections across the state that result in a “disapproved” rating. “Since we treat all facilities individually, it is hard to give a frequency or percentage of disapproved or suspended,” she wrote. “Our goal is to work with all shelters to help them reach and maintain compliance.” But whatever the cause of the Guilford County shelter’s problems, it doesn’t seem to be that the state’s Agriculture Department is using an unreasonably tough scoring method or that the department is quick to fail or fine shelters. Several public shelters and private animal facilities in 2017 have received warning letters or civil fines, but those are few and very far between. For instance, on Oct. 10, the Appalachian Animal Rescue Center in Franklin, North Carolina, got a warning letter from Agriculture Department inspectors because the gravel in a play pit for dogs was less than the required six inches in depth, and also because some dogs didn’t have enough room in their cages, but no fine was issued in that case. And, in June, the Dare County Animal Shelter was fined $500 for a failure to vaccinate some animals from rabies in a timely manner. There are a few other cases of recent fines and penalties. However, over the last three years, no shelter in North Carolina has seen the extended run of trouble the Guilford County shelter has. The worst reports out of the shelter came in August 2015, when the now defunct nonprofit United Animal Coalition (UAC) ran the shelter and state investigators discovered more than 60 cases of animal abuse and neglect there. Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, who serves on the selection committee for a new Guilford County Animal Services director, said he feels confident that things are about to get much better at the shelter. He said Guilford County has just made an offer for a new shelter director and that he’s very excited about this prospect. “If this person takes it, then I think we will have the best run shelter in the state,” Alston said. County officials, however, are very cautious with their optimism when it comes to hiring a new Animal Services director, because a previous candidate looked very much like she was going to accept an offer from Guilford County, but in the end she decided to stay at her current job after that employer made a counter offer high enough to keep her there. In addition to getting a new director, the Animal Shelter would like to pass an inspection and remove that cloud from above it, but it’s not clear when the next inspection will be. Overton stated that shelter inspections are surprises. “Shelter visits are unannounced,” she wrote in an email. “The only exception to this is when a facility first opens and we come for the first time, usually this courtesy visit is scheduled.” Overton wrote that shelters are inspected once a year at least but may be inspected more than that if there are problems. “The frequency of when we return is determined on the condition of the facility and staff resources,” she wrote, adding that the state has 900 animal facilities it inspects. (continued on next page)

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