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Rhino Times - 2017-04-20
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-04-20 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 16 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, April 20, 2017 FORMER ANIMAL SHELTER DIRECTOR PLEA BARGAINS John Hammer Greensboro’s Stealth 2¢ Tax Increase John Hammer City Council Approves $30M Hotel Project plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer N&R Kicks Wade by John Hammer If the News & Record were a reputable business, the publisher would call state Sen. Trudy Wade and apologize. But the N&R is not reputable. It doesn’t correct its mistakes and has shown little regard for common decency or the truth. Even in today’s world, when someone has had a tragedy in their life, like the death of a family member, you allow them some time to grieve and to get back into the swing of things – even if you disagree with their political positions. Saturday, April 8, Sen. Wade’s father, Joseph Herman Wade, died. On Thursday, April 13, News When She’s Down & Record reporter Kate Queram attacked Wade in an article in the News & Record and made light of the fact that Wade was not in her office in Raleigh on Tuesday, April 11. According to Queram, Wade was not in her offi ce on Tuesday, April 11 for an appointment with some High Point University students. The implication was that she was purposefully avoiding the scheduled meeting with the students. But Wade’s father’s funeral was Tuesday, April 11. Even in the rough and tumble world of politics, it is understandable by most for someone not to be in their offi ce on the day of their father’s funeral. But Queram not only attacked Wade, she attacked Wade with lies. The article states that a couple of High Point University students had an appointment with Wade on Tuesday, April 11. That is not true. Queram could have found out it wasn’t true if she had bothered to ask at Wade’s offi ce. Bob Mays, who is Wade’s legislative assistant, said that it is the policy of the office not to make many appointments during the legislative session because the schedule of meetings and committees changes so often. Mays said that Wade only had one scheduled appointment that day and it wasn’t with the students. He said the students didn’t have an appointment but, when they called, were told they were welcome to come by and see if Wade could meet with them. The students might not realize that “come by any time” is not an appointment, but Queram should. Queram also said that there was a sign on Wade’s office door in Raleigh th at said she would be out for two weeks because of her father’s death. That isn’t true either. The sign said that the senator was out because of her father’s funeral and would be back on Wednesday, April 19. With a little research, RHINO RHINO TIMES TIMES BUSINESS BUSINESS AND AND Queram would have discovered that the legislature was taking its Easter break and wouldn’t be in session again until April 19. Wade wasn’t the only elected offi cial who wouldn’t be in Raleigh over the Easter break; most of the legislators would be gone, spending time with their families and their constituents. This is a normal part of the legislative session. It is also worth noting that from April 11 to April 19 is not two weeks. Queram didn’t do her job as a reporter in checking for the facts before she wrote the article. And she didn’t do her job as a human being and instead attacked someone because she wasn’t in her office for students to drop by on the day of her father’s funeral. The attack on Wade didn’t add anything of note to the story, but the opportunity presented itself, and considering the News & Record’s enmity toward Wade, it’s not surprising the paper printed it to try and make Wade look bad. It’s sad to see Greensboro’s only daily newspaper stoop to such a level. Truth is important, but so is common decency, and sadly the News & Record has proven that it no longer has either. SERVICE DIRECTORY SERVICE DIRECTORY For information to advertise in our Directory call (336) 763-4170 Reach over 50,000 in our Service Directory. in our Service Directory. Reserve your space by calling Reserve (336) your 763-4170 space by or calling emailing (336) sales@rhinotimes.com 763-4170 or emailing sales@rhinotimes.com

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3 Benefiting Make-A-Wish ® Join us for the annual Kentucky Derby Classic presented by Ralph Lauren Saturday, May 6, 2017 | High Caliber Stables | Greensboro, NC The afternoon encompasses all things Kentucky Derby with traditional Mint Juleps, beer and wine, bourbon tastings, southern cuisine, live and silent auctions, a hat contest, and of course a live feed of the Kentucky Derby as the excitement happens at Churchill Downs. Most importantly, the Kentucky Derby Classic is an afternoon of charitable giving to fund the mission of Make-A-Wish ® . Purchase your tickets today at: KentuckyDerbyClassic.org

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer The Rhino Times will hold its April Showers Schmoozefest on Thursday, April 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Blue Agave Mexican Bar & Grill at 3900 Battleground Ave. Those who sign in and wear a name tag are welcome to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (while supplies last). Here is some free advice for anyone who is writing an announcement about an event. It’s a good idea to include the day of the week along with the date. A lot of us are calendar challenged and we can’t look at June 10, 2017 and automatically know that it is a Saturday. We don’t know that July 4 is on a Tuesday this year or that Christmas is on a Monday. The Guilford County legislative delegation made up of the state representatives and senators who represent parts of Guilford County in the legislature is holding a town hall meeting on Thursday, April 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Greensboro City Council Chambers in city hall. House Bill 827, if it becomes law, could make the roads in North Carolina safer and easier to travel. The bill establishes a fine for drivers riding along in the left lane and backing up traffic, even if they are going the speed limit. Most of us realize that on interstates and four-lane highways, cars are traveling at speeds above the speed limit, and anyone who has driven further than a couple of miles on these roads knows that there are drivers who get in the left lane and refuse to move over to the right lane, even though they are constantly being passed on the right. The worst is when one of these drivers in the left lane decides to travel at the same speed as the car beside them in the right lane, setting up a rolling roadblock. People who drive like this seem oblivious to the traffic backing up behind them, even when drivers behind them honk their horns and flash their lights. Traffic jams are nonpartisan. I hope Republicans and Democrats support this bill. Maybe along with the $200 fine for impeding the flow of traffic, these drivers should have to take a driver’s education class. News & Record Managing Editor Steven Doyle said in a Sunday column that the N&R strives for balance and fairness in its news reporting. If that is the truth then the N&R is failing miserably in its effort. Not once in the many articles about the Charlotte bathroom ordinance and House Bill 2, which was the state legislature’s response, did the News & Record report accurately or fairly about either. But reporting accurately would not have promoted the N&R’s left wing agenda. Even Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson has said publicly that the News & Record leans left in its news reporting. At least someone over there is being honest. The Muse, my faithful companion and I went to Nags Head for Easter weekend. On the way back we detoured and drove across Lake Mattamuskeet. I had seen the lake but had never driven across it. Lake Mattamuskeet is definitely not on the way and the detour won’t take you past any fast food joints, but if you have a little time it’s well worth it. Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural lake in the state. It’s 18 miles long and 7 miles wide and is on average 2 feet to 3 feet deep. It’s a strange place. Hyper-Sudoku The New York Times

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 6 CITY COUNCIL VOTES FOR STEALTH 2¢ TAX INCREASE BY JOHN HAMMER 8 SNEAKY STRATEGY KEEPS DISTRICT 8 COMMISSIONER SEAT UP IN THE AIR BY SCOTT D. YOST 12 HIGH POINT HOPES FOR HOME RUN IN $30 MILLION STADIUM DEVELOPMENT BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 23 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 25 STREET LEVEL 59 th Annual Book Sale Over 50,000 volumes! Thu. April 27: 9am - 8pm Fri. April 28: 9am - 8pm Sat. April 29: 9am - 1pm 10 FORMER ANIMAL SHELTER DIRECTOR PLEA BARGAINS CRUELTY CASE BY SCOTT D. YOST 11 CITY COUNCIL APPROVES $30M HOTEL PROJECT WITH NO COMMENT BY JOHN HAMMER 26 35 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 19 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 21 THE SOUND OF THE BEEP 28 NEWS OF THE WEIRD 30 SUDOKU 30 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 33 PUZZLE ANSWERS 3506 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC 336-288-4721 | www.stfrancisgreensboro.org THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS! Title Sponsors: Best Logistics Group and Triad Freightliner of Greensboro Dr. Seuss Sponsor: Triad Urgent Care, PLLC Gold Sponsors: Contour MedSpa * HaystackCRM * Plybon & Associates * Brown-Gardiner Drug Co. * Kaley Orthodontics * Pretty Shabby Design HARDWOOD LAMINATE AREA RUGS CARPET VINYL TILE 336-288-6643 336-288-6643 Any Size Rooms! EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo INCLUDES Installation! Pad! Moving Furniture! Take Up & Disposal! managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultants DONNA GOODWIN TYE SINGLETON 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 Mobile Showroom A + This sale can not be combined with any other offers. See store for details. Call Today & We’re On Our Way! 1 Year Interest Free Financing! on approved credit Area’s Largest selection of Pet Friendly flooring 1yr INTEREST FREE financing on approved credit Greensboro • Wilmington • Myrtle Beach 336-288-6643 2837 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro • Mon-Fri 8am-6pm • Sat 10am-4pm

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Greensboro City Council Votes For Stealth 2 Cent Property Tax Increase by John Hammer Greensboro property owners are going to pay more property taxes next year following action by the City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, April 18. It’s confusing, but by voting 8 to 1 not to increase the property tax rate of 63.25 cents, the City Council effectively voted to increase property taxes by about 2.11 cents. That will result in about $5.7 million in additional revenue for the city, so property owners will pay about $5.7 more in property taxes. City Councilmember Mike Barber cast the lone vote against keeping the 63.25-cent property tax rate, which in effect raises taxes. It might sound like keeping the property tax rate the same would not raise taxes, but this is a year when property reevaluation by Guilford County goes into effect. Since the value of property increased, in order to keep taxes the same, the city would have had to lower the tax rate to what is called the “revenue neutral” tax rate. In the past, when property was reevaluated, cities and counties would get a good bump in revenue by keeping the rate the same and claiming they had not raised taxes. In 2003, the state legislature mandated that cities and counties notify the public of the “revenue neutral” tax rate. Revenue neutral is the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue as if reevaluation had not occurred. The revenue neutral rate takes into account property that was annexed, new construction and other activity that result in increased tax revenue, but not the increase in property value, which comes with a revaluation. At the revenue neutral rate, the average property owner would pay the same amount in taxes as they had paid the previous year. Some would pay more if the value of their property increased more than the average for the city, and some would pay less if their property value increased less than the average, but in effect property owners would pay the same amount as they had paid the previous year. The final figures aren’t in for the revenue neutral tax rate, but according to the city finance department, the current estimate is that it is 61.14 cents. The revenue neutral rate of 61.14 cents means that keeping the tax rate at 63.25 results is an effective tax increase of 2.11 cents. The revenue neutral figure is an estimate but it is not likely to change significantly. So, on Tuesday night, the City Council did what it has said that it wasn’t going to do – it raised taxes by about 2.11 cents. Most of this increase will go to pay for the bond money that is going to be spent. City Manager Jim Westmoreland said that spending bond money at the rate that had been considered would require a tax increase of about 1.75 cents, and additional money was also needed to increase employee compensation. This City Council previously passed a motion to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour. Barber didn’t comment during the meeting on the motion by Councilmember Justin Outling not to raise the effective tax rate from 63.25 cents. But after the meeting, when asked why he voted against not raising the tax rate, Barber said, “Because I understand what revenue neutral means. This council just voted for a tax increase, but I didn’t.” After the meeting, Outling said that he understood that keeping the same tax rate effectively raised taxes but that their had been talk by councilmembers of raising the property tax rate, which would have been even more of burden on property owners and he wanted to have councilmembers on record opposing a tax rate increase. So this year the taxpayers of Greensboro will receive a stealth property tax increase. The rate won’t increase but you will pay more in taxes. It really doesn’t matter what the City Council calls this tax increase because the result will be that the property owners will pay more property taxes and the city will receive more property tax revenue. If that isn’t a tax increase then what is it? For the City Council not to raise taxes it would have to pass a budget with a tax rate of about 61.14 cents. And since the City Council has instructed Westmoreland to present a budget with a tax rate of 63.25 cents, there is no chance that Westmoreland is going to ignore the direction of the City Council and keep taxes flat on his own. Greensboro, the third largest city in the state, currently has the highest tax rate of any comparable city in the state, and this tax increase will assure the city of staying at the top of the tax rate heap. Charlotte, the largest city in the state, has a tax rate of 47.87 cents. Raleigh, the second largest city, has a property tax rate of 41.83 cents. Durham, the fourth largest city, has a tax rate of 56.07 cents. And Winston-Salem, now the fifth largest city – having recently been passed by Durham – comes closest to Greensboro with a tax rate of 58.50 cents. It’s worth noting that three of the fastest growing major cities in North Carolina – Raleigh, Charlotte and Durham – all have tax rates lower than Greensboro’s. And with the action of the City Council on Tuesday, that is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. City Councilmember Sharon Hightower argued for a tax rate increase in addition to the stealth tax increase but didn’t get any support from other councilmembers.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Sneaky Strategy Keeps District 8 Commissioners Seat Up In The Air by Scott D. Yost The Executive Committee of the Guilford County Democratic Party held a raucous and chaotic meeting on Tuesday, April 18 that left many Democrats in the room angry and in a state of stunned disbelief after a contingent of white committee members in the heavily black Board of Commissioners District 8 voted successfully to put off the selection of a new commissioner for the district until Wednesday, April 26. The only item on the meeting agenda was finding a replacement for former Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp, who stepped down from the Board of Commissioners earlier this month to take a job as the director of government relations for NC A&T State University. Trapp had publically endorsed longtime former Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, a five-time chairman of the board, for the District 8 seat. Trapp said Alston was the best choice to take that vacant spot and a large majority of people in the meeting room Tuesday night clearly desired that outcome as well. Alston was the only candidate running for the position and the only candidate nominated and seconded when the nominations were closed at the Democratic Party Headquarters on West Meadowview Road in Greensboro. At that point, it seemed as though the entire affair was going to last five minutes and be completely uneventful other than the perfunctory coronation of Alston. But what happened next sent the meeting into turmoil: After the nominations closed, but before the vote on Alston, former NC District 58 Rep. Chris Sgro – who lives in District 8, is the executive director of the LGBT rights organization Equality NC and was one of 18 people voting – made a motion to adjourn the meeting and schedule another meeting for April 26. Sgro said that would allow time for other candidates to come forward and the process would therefore not be done in haste. The vote outcome is determined by a weighted system in which members’ votes can count as more than one vote. Some members get only one vote but others get more – the number is based on the number of votes from that District 8 precinct that were cast for the Democratic candidate for governor in the last election – so the number changes every four years. Though there are 20 precincts in District 8, only six of those precincts are organized. Those are districts that largely sent white precinct chairs and vice chairs to the meeting to vote. So though District 8 is overwhelmingly black, the decisions at the April 18 meeting were largely controlled by the white block of District 8 precinct chairs and vice chairs, who obviously had a majority share of the votes under the weighted system. Sgro’s motion was seconded and there was a vote by a show of hands, but the party’s brand new chairman, Ralph Rodland, was unable to discern the outcome given that the vote was close and the party Photo by Scott D. Yost Former Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston (left) and Guilford County Democratic Party Chairman Ralph Rodland at Tuesday’s Guilford County Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting members’ votes carried various weights. Rodland and the voting committee members left the meeting room for about 10 minutes to tally the votes using recorded signatures and, when Rodland returned, he announced that the motion to adjourn had passed. When he made that announcement, the meeting became even more contentious and there were many people shouting over one another. Rodland tried to bring order to the room, but given the heated emotions at play, that was impossible to do at times. Rodland was conducting his first full meeting as chairman and it was truly a baptism by fire. The ambiguous vote by a show of hands had shown that it was a contingent of white members who had backed Sgro’s motion. Several Democratic Party members said later that, although District 8 is overwhelmingly black, much of the district isn’t well organized, and that opening provided the contingent led by Sgro, who is white, to have a large say in the outcome. “All white! All white!” one angry audience member shouted when it was announced that the motion to adjourn had carried. Several in the room expressed concern loudly that this meant that those members voting to delay the vote might name a white commissioner to represent District 8, but Sgro said that the next District 8 commissioner would be black. Though the meeting had been declared over, no one left and, when some members of the audience called out to Rodland asking him to recognize them to speak, Rodland said there was no need for anyone to be recognized or for any other action by the chairman because the meeting was over. “I’m sorry folks, he said. “That’s just the way the rules are written. All I can do is enforce the rules that are in front of me. It’s over. “ While some were pointing out the racial implications of the situation, others shouted that Sgro was a hypocrite. In March 2016, Sgro was selected by the Democratic Party to fill a vacancy in the NC House of Representatives created by the death of former NC District 58 Rep. Ralph Johnson. Some at the meeting said Sgro won that seat at a quickly held, thinly attended Saturday morning Guilford County Democratic Party meeting and it was inconsistent for Sgro to be now saying this current process had been too rushed. “You are a hypocrite!” one man shouted, repeating it several times. One woman called out to Sgro: “Last March, when you replaced Ralph Johnson, Mr. Sgro, it wasn’t ‘too quick.’ It wasn’t ‘too quick’ when you came over here on Saturday. Now there’s all this hullaballoo about it being fast – it was not fast in March!” She also stated loudly that Alston was clearly the best choice for the job. “We know we don’t want to put a neophyte in there in the budget season,” she said. “We know that Mr. (continued on page 14)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 20, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Former Guilford County Animal Shelter Director Plea Bargains Cruelty Case by Scott D. Yost Nearly two years after state investigators found widespread animal neglect and abuse at the Guilford County and Davidson County animal shelters, Marsha Williams, who ran both shelters in 2015 and was charged in Davidson County with felony cruelty to animals, pleaded guilty to reduced charges. The Guilford County commissioners and other county officials now have closure on that animal shelter issue – the fate of Williams – but they’re still seeking finality on another matter: the location of the new $9 million animal shelter the county has in the works. Unlike the Williams case, that question is still unsettled. Williams wasn’t charged in Guilford County, but the lingering Davidson County case ended last week. Davidson County prosecutors were gearing up for a court battle in which Williams’ attorneys filed motions alleging selective prosecution on racial grounds. However, Williams’ plea bargain deal made that and a related motions moot. Williams, who was charged in Davidson County with one felony count of animal abuse and two felony charges of obstruction of justice, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty and obstruction and received a 45-day suspended sentence, 24 months of probation and a $100 fine. Davidson County District Attorney Garry Frank said that the cases of two other related Davidson County shelter workers – Williams’ daughter and one other employee – are being prosecuted separately from Williams’ case. Williams has never made any public comments on the case that shocked Guilford County and Davidson County residents in mid-August 2015. Animal welfare advocates said some revelations from the state findings of animal mistreatment in Guilford County emphasized a need for a new shelter, which should lead to better conditions for the animals being held by the county. While there’s now closure on Williams’ case, the question of the location of the county’s new animal shelter remains an open one. Some interested parties want the shelter to remain right where it is, at 4525 W. Marsha Williams Wendover Ave., just south of I-40 and convenient to High Point, the county’s second largest city. Recently, the High Point City Council weighed in on the shelter location – to the chagrin of some Guilford County commissioners who said they thought the move was a little presumptuous. The High Point City Council voted to adopt a resolution that supported keeping the county’s shelter at the current location. The resolution stated that the High Point Police Department transported 2,400 animals to the shelter in 2016 and added that “moving the shelter from its current location off Wendover Avenue to a site farther north in Guilford County will significantly increase travel time for High Point Animal Control Officers, causing them to be unavailable for service for additional hours each week, and … a shelter location farther away will increase the wait time for an animal to receive needed care.” That resolution also pointed out that the Wendover Avenue site is centrally located in Guilford County, making it easier for High Point citizens to claim animals and drop them off. That resolution states, “Some of our lower income families already struggle to make a trip to the shelter on Wendover due to transportation issues. If High Point residents cannot a 45-day suspended sentence, 24 months of probation and a $100 fine. or will not drive to the new location, then [a] large number of animals will be euthanized.” Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman said the county should keep the shelter where it is since the county has the land, residents are familiar with the site, it’s in a central location and neighbors in that busy business district can’t complain about the noise or extra traffic a shelter brings. However, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips says he’d like to see a site with more space for volunteers to walk the dogs and also space for more services. The county commissioners originally voted to move forward with plans to build the shelter on countyowned property in east Greensboro on Burlington Road next to the Guilford County Agricultural Center. Area residents and the Greensboro city councilmembers who represent the area objected to not being consulted before the Board of Commissioners vote. Once residents of the area and the City Council representatives of that area were notified of the plans to put an animal shelter there, they objected to the whole project. Earlier this year, the commissioners were secretly looking at a potential site in northern Greensboro near Horse Pen Creek Road. However, sources say the price tag on that property was too hefty. Price is also a big factor when it comes to another site now under consideration. The commissioners haven’t discussed the location publically, but one said the option is convenient to High Point. So it looks at this point as though – whether the commissioners keep the shelter where it is or move it – the new shelter will end up fairly close to High Point. Phillips said he expects the commissioners to make a decision within 60 days. “I realize I said that same thing in February at the retreat,” he said of the commissioners’ retreat over two months ago. “We’ve narrowed our focus down to the existing site and one other,” the chairman said. Since the location of the site is a secret, the commissioners may be running the risk of angering a new neighborhood if they choose this site and then announce it – if there are neighbors living nearby who don’t want to be next to a shelter. Some commissioners say off the record that they thought the High Point resolution was a little out of school, but Phillips said he understands that High Point does, so to speak, have a dog in that fight. “They certainly have a right to weigh in,” he said. Phillips added that, even the Horse Pen Creek Road site that was under consideration would have been fairly convenient to residents in High Point given the new road and highway construction in the area. Phillips said one thing being looked at closely is where animals are picked up and where the families adopting those animals live. He said the county has been “heat mapping” animal control calls and other data regarding the shelter’s use. Phillips said it’s important to make the location decision in a deliberative manner and, given that the new shelter is going to serve Guilford County residents for years to come, it’s more important to get the shelter placement right than to get it done quickly. According to the chairman, some animal welfare advocates are eager for the new shelter to be built and they therefore want a location chosen soon, but he added that the new site under consideration only showed up recently and more research is required. “The other property surfaced late in (continued on page 14)

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