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Rhino Times - 2017-11-30
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-11-30 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 48 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, November 30, 2017 Scott D. Yost County Hires New Animal Services Director plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com The Weekly Hammer What’s So Green by John Hammer For months I have watched a small portion of the Downtown Greenway take shape, and since it has opened, I decided to take a walk down the portion of the Greenway that runs along Fisher Avenue from Greene Street to Eugene Street. I don’t know what I expected, but considering how long it had taken the city to build this portion of the Greenway, I think I was expecting marching bands, maybe a moving sidewalk or outdoor cafes full of beautiful people drinking exotic drinks, but what I found was a wide sidewalk where a regular sidewalk had been. The truth is that the Downtown Greenway has great marketing but falls short on delivery. How could anyone be opposed to something called “Greenway”? It’s the only sidewalk in Greensboro with a full-time employee devoted to marketing, and the marketing has been amazingly successful. About the Greenway But marketing aside, the Greenway is a wider-than-usual sidewalk. The project began in 2001, and now, 16 years later, less than a mile of the four-mile wider-than-usual sidewalk project is complete. But don’t let the lack of progress fool you, because the Greenway project is still costing a bundle. The latest estimates are that the total cost of this four-mile wider-thanusual sidewalk around the downtown will be $36 million – or $9 million a mile – to widen the sidewalk. Except because this is a government project the sidewalk isn’t actually widened. The old sidewalk is removed and a brand new wider sidewalk is installed in its place. Or at least that is what I watched them do along Fisher Avenue. But still, $9 million a mile seems a bit high, unless maybe the wider-thanusual sidewalk is heated in winter and cooled in the summer. That would make it worth $9 million a mile and also greatly increase its popularity. It PHOTO BY JOHN HAMMER Greenways, such as this one in Fisher Park, look mysteriously like sidewalks. THE WEEKLY Hammer would make sledding on the wide sidewalk impossible, but you can’t have everything. But $9 million a mile is more than 20 times the cost of the sidewalks the rest of the folks in Greensboro are receiving. The city has contracts to put in about 18.3 miles of sidewalks in the rest of the city, plus some other improvements, at a cost of $13.6 million – or about $750,000 a mile. The ballpark figure used for sidewalk construction is $400,000 a mile. So theoretically, the city could have built a sidewalk along the existing sidewalk, doubling the size, for about $400,000 a mile versus the $9 million a mile for the all-new wider sidewalks. In some areas all-new sidewalks will have to be installed, but still the cost at $9 million a mile is a figure that only a government bureaucrat could love. If you were getting four miles of new sidewalk in your neighborhood and you don’t live downtown, the cost would be about $1.6 million, instead of the $36 million for the four miles of wider sidewalk downtown. During the election, some people complained that the City Council spent too much money on the downtown area at the expense of the rest of the city. It appears that with the cost of the wider-than-usual sidewalks downtown, that is pretty accurate. Another way to look at it is if the $36 million were spent on sidewalks in the rest of the city, it would be enough to build about 90 miles of sidewalks instead of the four miles of the Greenway. If you walk down the south side of Fisher Avenue now you are on a brand new wide sidewalk. On the north side you are on the old regular sidewalk where some of the blocks of concrete are a different shade of tan because they are newer or older. Some are not perfectly flat, but it gets you where you are going just as quickly. Knowing how the city works, about two days to a week after the Greenway is finished, the city will start PHOTO BY JOHN HAMMER This sidewalk in Fisher Park costs a lot less than a greenway. tearing up portions for water, sewer, infrastructure, street repaving, code enforcement issues, problems complying with the handicapped laws or something. Considering how much work the city does tearing up streets and sidewalks, it’s possible that other than during the grand opening, people may never be able to walk the full four miles without detouring around construction. Speaking of marketing, the Greenway marketing department claims credit for all of the new development near the Greenway, ignoring the fact that most of the property was developed when the construction on the nearby portion of the Greenway had not even started. It is entirely possible or even likely that some of the businesses that the Greenway is claiming credit for bringing to the downtown will be out of business before the Greenway is completed. One of the other aspects of the Greenway that is fascinating is that the city is holding public meetings on the design of a portion of the Greenway this week. This is a project that has been underway for 16 years, and if the city is being honest it isn’t designed yet. I hate to go out on a limb here, but my prediction is that the Greenway will be completed at the same time Greene Street will be two-way its entire length instead of two-way on the north and south and one-way in the middle. Back when Keith Holliday was serving his last term as mayor in 2007, he told me that one of the goals he wanted to accomplish before finishing his term was to have Greene Street become a two-way street. That was four mayors ago, and now Mayor Nancy Vaughan is about to start what she says is her last term as mayor. It may be too bold but I would like to suggest that in her last term as mayor, Vaughan attempt to complete the Greenway and have Greene Street become a two-way street from beginning to end.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 6 PIEDMONT TRIAD FILM COMMISSION SHOOTS FOR THE STARS – AND FOR OTHER PROJECTS AS WELL BY SCOTT D. YOST 8 SAY YES LOOKS AHEAD AFTER 2017 SETBACK BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 COUNTY HIRES NEW ANIMAL SHELTER DIRECTOR BY SCOTT D. YOST 11 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 23 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 35 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 19 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 21 SOUND OF THE BEEP 29 PUZZLE ANSWERS 29 SUDOKU 28 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Cover: Design by Anthony Council – photos courtesy of Piedmont Triad Film Commission. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST PUBLISHER Roy Carroll 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 30, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer The Greensboro Department of Transportation is holding a workshop from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 on what to do about Old Battleground Avenue and Cotswald Terrace, an area that has become a mess since the construction of the Outer Loop closed Cotswald Avenue and cut off Old Battleground. Why is this being held now, instead of six months or a year ago? The Outer Loop has been on the books for decades. Cotswald Avenue was constructed as a temporary road because the city knew it would be closed once the Outer Loop was built, so why wasn’t a plan developed before the road was closed and traffic became a problem? A note to those attending: This drop in session is known in some circles as divide and conquer. People look at the options and speak individually with government representatives rather than getting a chance to get together as they would at a public hearing held at one time with everyone interested in one room. This way the city staff gets to present its solution to attendees one on one, and those who don’t agree might never learn that there are many others who agree with them and not with the city staff. Progress North Carolina has sent an invitation to state legislators to attend a town hall meeting on Thursday, Nov. 30 at Temple Emanuel to discuss proposed changes to judicial elections in North Carolina, which includes a not very veiled threat. The legislators are told they can sign a pledge agreeing with Progress North Carolina or attend the forum. If they don’t sign the pledge or attend the forum then an empty chair will be placed on the stage representing them. Clint Eastwood was widely criticized for his discussion with an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention; evidently Progress North Carolina is hoping to have more success in arguing with empty chairs at its forum. If you’ve ever wondered how the city would operate without a City Council, the last six months of 2017 provide a pretty good indication. The City Council has held one meeting per month in July, August, September, October, November and has one scheduled for December. There has not been a time in the past 25 years when the City Council has met so infrequently. Mayor Nancy Vaughan has a plan to schedule one meeting a month to serve as more of a public forum meeting where the main order of business will be to hear from the public. The idea is that will allow the City Council to take care of business at the other two meetings every month. Whether or not the public will allow itself to be relegated to one meeting a month, and whether Vaughan can find four councilmembers willing to give it a try, remains to be seen. The big question is what happens when Nelson Johnson and his entourage show up at a meeting that is not scheduled for a public forum? Will they be allowed to take over the meeting as they have done in the past, or will they be told they have to wait?

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 S U N 10 Santa at the Biltmore Hotel 11:00AM – 2:00PM Tea with Clara Carolina Theatre | 1:45PM Greensboro Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” Carolina Theatre | 3:00PM PTJO’s 4th Annual Holiday Concert Carolina Theatre | 2:30PM & 7:00PM F R I all month S A T T H U F R I S A T 01 02 07 08 09 Spend the holidays Downtown Piedmont Winterfest Ice Rink LeBauer Park | November 17, 2017 – January 28, 2018 Christmas at Blandwood Mansion November 9 – December 31, 2017 Mousetastical Mouse Hunt Greensboro History Museum | December 1, 2017 – January 7, 2018 Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity Triad Stage | December 5-24 holiday events at the downtown parks Visit www.greensborodowntownparks.org for the schedule. holiday movies at the carolina theatre Visit www.carolinatheatre.com for the schedule. festival of lights 6:00 – 9:00PM First Friday! Participating businesses at FirstFridayGreensboro.org Greensboro holiday parade 12:00PM Christmas at the Carolina Carolina Theatre | 9:30AM-12:00PM Holiday Parade Fun at the Museum Greensboro History Museum | 10:00AM-1:00PM Gingerbread Brown Ale Release Preyer Brewing Company Tween Cooking Class: Whole Wheat Sweets, Treats Greensboro Children’s Museum | 5:00- 7:00PM Santa’s Workshop Day Greensboro Children’s Museum | 9:00AM- 5:00PM Santa at the Biltmore Hotel 11:00AM – 2:00PM Tea with Clara Carolina Theatre | 1:45PM Greensboro Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” Carolina Theatre | 3:00PM T U E W ED T H U F R I S A T S U N 12 13 14 15 16 17 W ED 20 F 22 R I S 23 A T S 30 A T Hanukkah Menorah Lighting LeBauer Park | 4:30-6:00PM Adult Cooking Class: Sugar Cookie Decorating Greensboro Children’s Museum | 6:00 - 8:00PM Rum Barrel Aged Mexican Milkshake IPA Release Preyer Brewing Company Teen Cooking Class: Whole Wheat Sweets, Treats Greensboro Children’s Museum | 5:00- 7:00PM Santa at the Biltmore Hotel 11:00AM – 2:00PM Sweet Santa Shop Something BARowed | 12:00-5:00PM Greensboro Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” Gala Performance Carolina Theatre | 7:30PM Nutcracker Gala Event Carolina Theatre | 9:30PM Santa at the Biltmore Hotel 11:00AM – 2:00PM Homegrown Artisan Market Preyer Brewing Company | 1:00-7:00PM Piedmont SongBag Carolina Theatre | 4:00PM Terrariums on Tap: Edible Gingerbread Preyer Brewing Company Santa at the Biltmore Hotel 11:00AM – 2:00PM SantaCon Bar Crawl 7:00PM Santa at the Biltmore Hotel 11:00AM – 2:00PM Rocking Noon Year's Eve Greensboro Children’s Museum | 10:00AM-1:00PM DOWNTOWNINDECEMBER.ORG

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com PHOTO COURTESY OF PIEDMONT TRIAD FILM COMMISSION The filming of The Disappointments Room in Guilford County was a big plus for the local economy. In this shot, Kate Beckinsale takes direction. Piedmont Triad Film Commission Shoots for the Stars – and for Other Projects as Well by Scott D. Yost Most of the talk about potential economic development in Guilford County these days revolves around giant carmakers or aircraft companies or other major brick and mortar projects, but there’s another sometimes overlooked type of economic development that brings millions of dollars into Guilford County each year. That’s the film, television and photography industry. The NC Piedmont Triad Film Commission leads the effort to maximize those entertainment industry dollars and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners recently gave the group a stamp of approval in the form of a $35,000 grant, awarded on a unanimous vote. Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing had not included funding for the film group in the county’s 2017- 2018 budget, but the county commissioners wanted to see it in there, so now, five months after the county budget was adopted, the board has added the money. It will go toward the operating costs of the film commission, such as supplies and salaries. While it’s not an essential function of government – and not the type of thing the Republicanmajority board usually funds – in this case the commissioners believed the return justified the expense. According to information the film commission provided the Board of Commissioners before that vote, in 2014-2015, movies, TV shows, commercials and still photography brought $34 million in direct generated revenue to the piedmont region’s businesses, and, in 2015-2016, that number was $23 million. Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips said he feels the county will get a lot in return for the money the board just put into the effort to lure more entertainment industry projects here. Several other commissioners made the same point when they approved the $35,000, which joins money already committed from other area local governments. The cities PHOTO COURTESY OF PIEDMONT TRIAD FILM COMMISSION of Greensboro and Winston- Salem gave $35,000 each this fiscal year, while the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau contributed $10,000. Surry, Yadkin and Alamance counties each gave the commission $2,000. Piedmont Triad Film Commission Executive Director Rebecca Clark said her group is working hard to bring in more of that business. “I just got a request for a TV show looking at sites for 2018,” Clark said. She said the Travel Channel television show Delicious Destinations was just the latest prospect showing interest in shooting in the piedmont. “There’s a whole lot of shows like that,” Clark said. Large motion picture productions film in Guilford County from time to time, but lesser hyped projects benefit the area as well. Clark said the commission works with film and television industry officials to attract TV shows, short films, photo shoots and big budget movies to Greensboro, Guilford County and surrounding counties. She said this area has seen a good amount of activity in recent years. Once a film crew is here, Clark said, her organization assists them in any way possible. That can mean showing them pictures of potential locations, helping them secure permits to close a road, or a long list of other things. “I do a lot of scouting,” she said. “I try to get in their brain.” “I’m on call 24/7,” Clark added. Major motion pictures that have filmed in the area – such as Leatherheads, The Disappointments Room, Cold Mountain and movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels – bring in a whole lot of business, Clark said. She said that, when a movie or TV show films, it typically leaves a third of its total budget in the shooting location. She said low-budget films may bring in $500,000, while major theatrical releases may total $15 million in spending in a region. In 2015, the makers of The Disappointments Room – a horror movie staring Kate Beckinsale that was filmed at a mansion in Sedgefield – (continued on next page)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 film (continued from previous page) spent $10.9 million in Greensboro and the surrounding area according to a state audit conducted after the filming finished. Clark said she worked about a year and a half on recruiting The Disappointments Room to the area. The film commission operates in Guilford and Forsyth counties – and all the counties that border those two. It actively pursues industry moviemakers and attempts to entice them to choose the piedmont as a shooting location. When successful, the rewards for area businesses can be big. The cast and crew of The Disappointments Room, for instance, used 1,402 room nights at Grandover Resort, the O. Henry Hotel, the Proximity Hotel, Homewood Suites and the Sheraton Greensboro at Four Seasons. The economic impact of the production on the Sheraton alone was $192,360 over a 4-month shoot. Productions spend money on things like supplies, makeup and wardrobe services, electrical and set construction and decoration. The studios making the film hire production assistants from the area, rent locations and patronize local businesses such as lumber stores. Some of the Greensboro vendors used by The Disappointments Room included Triangle Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Piedmont Triad International Airport, the Humane Society of the Piedmont, the limousine service Landflight Express, computer rental company Intrex, Sherwin Williams stores and area florists and cleaners. The cast and crew visited local doctors, dentists and optometrists. During that shoot, producers rented five private residences to stay in and, while there, used laundry services, office supply stores and document shredding services. Crews leased cars and trucks and producers rented office space from Koury Corp. The studio paid permit fees to the City of Greensboro, hired off-duty officers from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department – and, of course, companies like A Sani-Can raked in a healthy amount by renting portajohns to the cast and crew. Clark said a typical film crew has 200 positions. She said that often means jobs for graduates of area film programs at local colleges and universities. Over 300 people in Guilford County are listed in an online crew database and the piedmont triad region has 762 listed. About a decade ago, Guilford County landed one of its biggest films. Clark said getting the 2008 film Leatherheads – a comedy about a struggling pro football team in the 1920s – was a huge win for this area. “That was a positive on so many levels,” she said. “With what they shot here, they spent $5 million or $6 million – so it was a huge economic impact.” Clark said that, at one time, football games were played in small town baseball parks, so it was fortunate Greensboro had the perfect spot for them. “The way I got them here was War Memorial Stadium,” she said. She said having a major star like George Clooney here brought a lot of attention to the area. Clark said any motion picture or television show benefits the area in that regard, on top of money it brings in. She said a film shoot focuses a lot of attention on an area. “That’s the icing on top of the cake,” she said. Clark gave one example of how simply having a movie production in the area can be beneficial. In one incident that got a lot of publicity, some kids – a 10-year-old, 6-year-old and 5-year-old – had set up a lemonade stand near the shooting of Leatherheads, with a price of 25 cents a glass. Clooney got a glass, realized he had no money on him and he told the kids to hold on a moment. “George Clooney came back and gave the kid a $20 bill,” Clark said. “That story went viral; it went worldwide.” She said it was a thrill to meet Clooney and the other stars on the film. “He is so nice,” she said of the megastar known for his good looks. She said at one point he needed a room to stay in and the film commission tried to find him one. The O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro had a luxury suite available, but Clooney didn’t want that room. “He said he wanted to say in the same kind of room everyone else was in – so he’s that kind of guy,” Clark said. Other big names that have brought attention to the area are director Spike Lee and actor Scott Eastwood, the son of Clint Eastwood. Guilford County and surrounding counties seem to attract a lot of horror films – in part because scary movies often use rural settings and the county has plenty of those. “I used to joke that we’re the independent horror capital of the world,” Clark said. The Twilight Zone, Cabin Fever, parts of the Hellraiser series, The Disappointments Room were all dark stories shot in the area. Cabin Fever, a 2002 film shot largely in Stokes County, was a low-budget horror film that got a tremendous amount of wordof-mouth publicity. There was also The Gravedancers, which filmed in Greensboro. Internet Movie Database summarized the plot of that movie this way: “After a night of drunken exploits, Allison, Harris, and Kira are chased and terrorized by the ghosts of a child pyromaniac, an ax murderer, and a rapist.” As they say, all publicity is good publicity. Even a Bigfoot documentary show, like one recently filming in central North Carolina, can bring attention and visitors. In that case, for instance, it may bring in Bigfoot enthusiasts in pursuit of the hirsute hermit. Clark said one thing she likes about the business the film industry brings in is that it often helps pump money into the piedmont’s most rural areas. While people often focus their attention on the big films, sometimes it’s the small ones that bring money and attention. Clark pointed out that a short film in 2003, Two Soldiers, which is based on a William Faulkner story, was shot in this area and it won an Academy Award for best short film. She also said that, in recent years, the State of North Carolina has been less willing to give out incentives to attract movie and TV projects to the state, while Georgia has been very aggressive in that regard. Clark said she fought to get the new film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri to film in this area. That movie, starring Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand, was a near miss, she said. In the end, the attractive incentives from the State of Georgia convinced the studio to choose that location instead, Clark said “Georgia is one of the busiest states,” she said. She added that one draw of the Greensboro area is its diverse scenery. “There’s a huge range of looks in a 20-mile range,” Clark said. Greensboro’s South Elm Street, for instance, has proven to be a prime PHOTO COURTESY OF PIEDMONT TRIAD FILM COMMISSION location for period pieces. “It’s beautiful and quaint, and it’s been used as New York in the 1800s,” she said. “So you can get that look. But you can go 10 to 15 miles from there and at David Couch’s Summerfield Farms. We have that in the [location] library. You also have small towns like Gibsonville and Browns Summit. A lot of people love that all-American smalltown feel.” According to Clark, another big draw is Oak Ridge Military Academy. She said there’s a lot of interest in shooting scenes at colleges such as NC A&T State University, Guilford College, UNC- Greensboro, High Point University and other area schools. “That’s a very common request from production companies,” she said. Clark, who grew up in this area and “I just got a request for a TV show looking for sites for 2018.” – Piedmont Triad Film Commission Executive Director Rebecca Clark graduated from UNCG, said she’s really excited about being able to promote Guilford County to filmmakers and television producers. “I’m from this area and I love it,” Clark said. “I was born and raised here.” Clark said filmmakers, just like manufacturing companies, are constantly comparing the piedmont of North Carolina with other regions in other states and countries. She said many considerations that go into a location decision, such as incentives offered and whether the place has sites that fit the storyline as well as people qualified to work behind the scenes as camera operators, carpenters and production assistants.

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Say Yes Looks Ahead After 2017 Setback by Scott D. Yost Say Yes Guilford hasn’t said much publicly in recent months, however, behind the scenes, Say Yes officials have been meeting to figure out which direction to take the highly touted scholarship program that saw a huge setback earlier this year. Leaders of the group have now adopted a set of 12-month goals for Say Yes Guilford that includes being more open about finances, a reevaluation of the group’s governance structure, the creation of a task force to determine future funding goals and a desire to create a program in which all families, not just low-income ones, will get “tangible value propositions” from the program. The program began in Guilford County in 2015 with the announcement, made with a great deal of hoopla, that Say Yes Guilford would provide scholarship aid to students in families of all income levels; however, in March the group announced that, due to a huge miscalculation and a giant shortfall in funds, it would begin meanstesting benefits since there wasn’t anywhere close to enough money to fund what the group had initially promised. Say Yes had said it would pay the remainder of tuition costs at member colleges and universities after all other student grants and loans were exhausted – often known as “last dollar” scholarships – but Say Yes discovered that an endowment fund to pay out that kind of money would need to be over $500 million, instead of the initial goal of about $70 million. Though high-income and many middle-income families were cut out of the scholarships earlier this year, the new Say Yes goals state the program will strive to get back on a path that helps, in some way at least, families of all income levels. However, some elected officials say they’re uncertain about the program’s future prospects after a rough 2017. Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson, who’s expected to be the next chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said Say Yes Guilford’s announcement that it wouldn’t be able to meet its promises was a real jolt to area families that made college plans for their kids based on the Say Yes commitments. “I’m not sure it will be sustainable,” Branson said of Say Yes Guilford. Branson said that the initial financial models had been way off and, after that March announcement, there was significantly less enthusiasm for the program among many county residents. High Point Mayor Bill Bencini said that, even though the program had to push the reset button last spring, it is still a big positive for the area. “I think Say Yes is a wonderful initiative,” Bencini said. “I know they could not keep it viable at the previous levels, but I don’t think it’s a failure, because a lot of kids got scholarships. Hopefully, they can make some changes and continue on with fundraising.” Bencini said he knows that the High Point Community Foundation has been active in its effort to raise money for Say Yes in that city, but he added it isn’t surprising that donations fell off after the disappointment earlier this year. “There was a letdown with the level of participation after the first scholarship program wasn’t sustainable,” he said. In an effort to regroup and perhaps reorganize, Say Yes officials say they have been meeting for the purpose of discussing, evaluating and adopting goals for the upcoming year in order to make the program a success going forward. One of the criticisms of Say Yes Guilford has been that the leadership structure is way too vast and complex. It has boards, committees, executive committees, local leadership, national Say Yes to Education leadership and more. Many local officials see a need to reorganize the governance structure to create a simpler and less unwieldy one, with fewer cooks stirring the pot and with those cooks more on the same page. The first goal listed in the new 12-month plan states that the Say Yes Scholarship Board, which is responsible for establishing the policies that control how scholarships are awarded, will “review and agree on formal roles and responsibilities of board members.” Indications are that Say Yes donations have dropped from 2015 and 2016 levels, but it’s not clear how much. Two sources said that one good thing for the group is that all existing pledges continue to be honored even after the disappointing announcement earlier this year that Say Yes Guilford would not be able to provide scholarship money to all families. The group also needs to figure out what kind of money it can expect to raise going forward, as well as how much it will need to pay out each year. One bullet point from the Say Yes list of goals states, “The Scholarship Board will appoint a subcommittee to review and refine the scholarship model to ascertain [the] level of projected needs, potential policy changes, and fundraising requirements over the long term by August, 2018.” It adds that the model will be reviewed and updated annually. Say Yes Executive Director Donnie Turlington said his organization has been focused in recent months on overseeing scholarship payments being made to students who entered college in the fall, but he said his organization is also gathering data about future costs to see what future scholarship benefits are viable. Turlington, who became executive director in September, said those decisions are still being discussed, but he added that the group is now on more solid footing than it was in March. “I feel like things have stabilized and we are just trying to help as many families as we can,” Turlington said. “I think fundraising is stable.” He said the shape and size of future benefits is being determined and said Say Yes is collecting information to that end. “We haven’t done a full analysis of the next class, so they don’t have any exact numbers of how many people will want money,” Turlington said. He also said the Scholarship Board will review all the economic factors and donation projections and come up with a plan. “They will take a long look at it,” Turlington said. (continued on page 27)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 30, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com County Hires New Animal Shelter Director by Scott D. Yost After months of looking, Guilford County has hired a new Animal Services director to oversee the Guilford County Animal Shelter and the other services provided by that department. The new director, who has more than a quarter of a century of experience in a wide range of animal welfare services, is Jorge Ortega, who previously served as the senior director of operations for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Adoption Center in New York. Ortega comes very highly regarded in the animal welfare community and his hiring is expected to renew confidence in the much-maligned Guilford County Animal Shelter, which is currently the only publicly run shelter in the state operating under the specter of a failed inspection. County Commissioner Justin Conrad, who serves as chairman of the Guilford County Animal Services Advisory Board, said he was extremely pleased the county had been able to find and hire a new director of Ortega’s quality and experience. “It was not a short process and this was a critical hire,” Conrad said. He said a committee composed of himself, other commissioners and county staff had looked at a good number of candidates. “We knew we couldn’t just hire a body,” Conrad said. “We needed to hire the right person for the job and he is very impressive, with experience in Houston, Charlotte, New York and other places.” Conrad said it wasn’t a typical process that brought Ortega and the county in contact with one another. He said he had caught wind of Ortega and his impressive body of work, spoke with those he had worked with and got him to apply for the job. Guilford County commissioners and others have been working hard to get the shelter functioning well and the county has made several changes in management in recent months. The county even took the highly unusual step of making Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing the interim director of the shelter. Despite those temporary fixes, one overriding issue is that the shelter hasn’t had a true full-time director since former Animal Services Director Drew Brinkley resigned suddenly in late July after state inspectors found a host of problems at the shelter and fined the county. Ortega is a member of the board of directors of Petred, a Charlotte nonprofit that helps animals. Through that organization, he has worked to develop community outreach programs that help make veterinary services more accessible to the public and their pets. He was vice president of operations for the Humane Society of Charlotte where he was responsible for implementing the Humane Society’s programs, policies and procedures. He also helped with the long-range planning for that organization. Prior to that, Ortega was a regional manager for Pethealth Inc., a company Jorge Ortega that makes software used to manage animal welfare organizations. Pethealth makes microchips for pet implantation and offers other lost pet recovery tools to customers. The company also provides medical insurance for dogs and cats to pet owners. Ortega, who speaks both Spanish and English, is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, where he earned a degree in animal health science, specializing in veterinary and animal health technology. He has also worked for the SPCA in Houston. Ortega serves on the boards of Partnership for Pets Charlotte and the North Carolina Animal Federation. Guilford County has searched far and wide for a new director and the hope is that Ortega, with his extensive experience in animal welfare efforts, will help quell some of the constant criticism the shelter has been under and help fix some of the ongoing problems there. He’s also expected to play a role in the planning of the county’s new shelter expected to open in 2019. The new director certainly has a lot to do once he starts his job with Guilford County, where he’ll also oversee Animal Control in addition to the shelter. Just this week, a group of animal welfare advocates started a petition in an attempt to force changes at the shelter. That petition reads, in part, “We the undersigned, petition the Guilford County Board of Commissioners for changes pertaining to the running of the Guilford County Animal Shelter… Just in 2017, so far, the Guilford County Animal Shelter has failed two state inspections by the NC Department of Agriculture. Infractions pertain to record-keeping, animal care, facility upkeep, disease control, etc. In addition, the NC DoA, has assessed thousands of dollars in civil penalties.” The petition calls for the firing of certain individuals at the shelter. That protest effort may get put on hold now that a new shelter director is starting that job at the beginning of January. He may be the experienced type of director those animal advocates have been clamoring for. In 2012, Ortega was profiled in People on the Move section of the Charlotte Business Journal, which stated, “He has worked in the animal welfare field since 1992 in numerous roles, including veterinary technician, animal rescue technician, cruelty investigator, kennel manager and operations director. His experience also includes working with the Humane Society of the United States and for San Juan Animal Care and Control in Puerto Rico.” The article noted that he, his wife and two children “share their home with a dog and a tortoise, Mo and Leo.” This year, while speaking to a group in Lancaster County, South Carolina, Ortega said that keys to a more successful county shelter are forming partnerships among animal advocates and educating the public on proper animal care. He also stressed the importance of spaying and neutering pets, something that has been a real point of emphasis in Guilford County in recent years.

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