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Rhino Times - 2017-10-05
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-10-05 00:32:48
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    Vol. V No. 40 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, October 5, 2017

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer With Monopoly by John Hammer The News & Record on Wednesday, Oct. 4 blamed state Sen. Trudy Wade for just about everything except the flu pandemic of 1918 and Hurricane Hazel. But that’s what happens when you mess with someone’s pocketbook, or in this case a newspaper’s statemandated monopoly, which is exactly what the state is getting ready to do. State Sen. Trudy Wade sponsored a bill that originally would have taken away the monopoly that paid circulation newspapers have on advertising required by state law, At Risk, N&R Lashes Out such as notices about public hearings and, by attorneys, for foreclosures, divorces and such. During the legislative session, the area the bill would affect was reduced to a pilot program for Guilford County, and that was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. In this session the bill is on the agenda to be introduced as a local bill and the governor cannot veto local bills. The bill would allow Guilford County to establish a portion of its website for government required advertising and also make it legal to run ads in newspapers with a limited number of paid subscribers, like the Rhino Times. The N&R doesn’t bother to explain why the state should require attorneys and governments to advertise in paid circulation newspapers like their own. The N&R does make the claim that more people see ads placed by the government and attorneys in paid circulation newspapers than might see them on government websites, but it states this without any evidence to support it. According to the current law that the N&R believes is all important for the future of the state, those ads can legally be placed in the Jamestown News or the Carolina Peacemaker, and neither of those publications has a circulation that equals 1 percent of the population of Guilford County. How much circulation does the Jamestown News have in Greensboro, Guilford County’s largest city, or High Point, Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Gibsonville, Sedalia, Pleasant Garden, Whitsett or Stokesdale? Does anyone who doesn’t work for the N&R actually believe that an advertisement in the Jamestown News is more readily available to the population of Guilford County than an advertisement on the Guilford County website that can be accessed from anywhere. What the N&R is upset about is not Wade, but money. The N&R receives a good amount of revenue from these advertisements because, by law, they must be placed in paid circulation newspapers. Reputable folks who are not simply trying to comply with the letter of the law spend the money to place the advertisement in the N&R or The High Point Enterprise, newspapers with some circulation outside of a tiny subset of the county. Of course the N&R is mad. But it is unfair to solely blame Wade for a bill that has been supported by the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. If the only reason for the law is hate and revenge, then it does make you wonder what the N&R did to the League of Municipalities and the Association of County Commissioners. The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has also come out in support of the law because they think it will save the (continued on page 4)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS 45 46 by John Hammer In the article last week headlined “High Point Wanted Yes or No on Baseball Stadium Money, County Gave Strong Maybe,” we got some folks confused. A part of the article states that Grasshopper President Donald Moore had posted favorable comments about the High Point stadium project on Facebook. That is incorrect. Don Moore posted favorable comments on Facebook and Don Moore is no relation to Donald Moore, the president of the Grasshoppers. As far as we know, Donald Moore has not posted any comments about the proposed stadium project on Facebook. It was our mistake and we’d like to apologize to Donald Moore for the confusion. As predicted, the new Rhino Times website did not go live without a few glitches. We hoped to get it up and running on Thursday. It was Monday before everything was worked out. But it’s up now and if you have any problems or suggestions, please let us know. We know there will be some problems but don’t know what they will be or we would have already fixed them. The current e-Edition will come up if you click on the front page below it, even though the front page is not the front page of the most recent edition. But we know about that problem, so it should be fi xed soon. President Donald J. Trump will be in Greensboro on Saturday at the home of Louis DeJoy and Aldona Wos at 806 Country Club Dr. for a $2,700 a plate fundraiser. I’d love to see Trump but I’m a little short of cash; if anyone has a extra ticket to the dinner, please give me a call. table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 6 CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS BY JOHN HAMMER 8 GUILFORD ANIMAL SHELTER FAILS INSPECTION AGAIN BY SCOTT D. YOST 9 RAINING AWARDS AT COUNTY HEALTH BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 HIGH POINT STADIUM LEADS TO TALK OF SECESSION BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 19 CAROLINA J O U R N A L 39 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 51 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 35 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 37 SOUND OF THE BEEP 44 PUZZLE ANSWERS 44 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 48 SUDOKU hammer (continued from page 2) county money. Wade’s bill was originally a statewide bill, but because so many paid circulation newspapers like the N&R went ballistic, it was reduced to a pilot project for four counties and then, fi nally, to a pilot project for Guilford County – Wade’s home county. It’s Wade’s bill; if the state is going to have a pilot project it makes sense for it to be her home county. Most people will not notice the effects of the bill at all because most people don’t read the government ads about public hearings, rezoning requests and such. I’ve been to more rezoning hearings than I can count and I have never heard anyone say they found out about the hearing through an ad in the News & Record. Plenty of people say they found out from a neighbor, the sign on the property or from the letter sent out by the city, but the city is also required to run ads in a paid circulation newspaper like the News & Record, and they go largely unseen and unread. There are people who do look for the notices placed by attorneys, such as for foreclosures, and those people should have no problem going to the Guilford County website to read them, or perhaps to some other newspaper like this one – because what the law actually does is open the advertising up to competition. It is worth noting that the law does not prohibit attorneys and governments from placing their ads in the N&R, but it does open the door up for competition. So what the editors at the N&R are really saying is that they want to keep their monopoly because it is a money cow and their aren’t many money cows left in the newspaper business. If the N&R wants to keep those ads and believes that it is an important public service to continue to run them in a paid circulation newspaper, all it has to do is lower the rates below that of Guilford County and other competitors. There is no reason to think that the ads won’t go to the lowest bidder. Cover: Greensboro City Council candidates endorsed by the Rhino Times. Cover by Anthony Council EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultant DONNA GOODWIN 216 West Market Street, Greensboro NC 27401 P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro NC 27429 | (336) 763-4170 (336) 763-2585 fax | sales@rhinotimes.com | www.rhinotimes.com

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com 2017 City Council Primary Endorsements by John Hammer Early voting for the Greensboro City Council primary ends on Saturday, Oct. 7 and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. The Rhino Times is endorsing candidates in all the Greensboro City Council races. Regardless of where you live in Greensboro, you can vote in your district race, for three candidates in the at-large race and in the mayor’s race. There are 38 candidates on the ballot, but five candidates in district races dropped out too late to have their names removed from the ballot, so their names are on the ballot but they aren’t running. In District 4, this means that there are three candidates on the ballot, but since Andrew Belford dropped out, City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann and Gary Kenton will face off in the general election regardless of the primary totals. All 15 candidates who filed to run for the three at-large seats are still in the running. The endorsement is based on far more extensive research than is mentioned in the article, but we did try to give you some pertinent information about each candidate in the race. If you want more information, most candidates have websites, and the League of Women Voters has a pamphlet available about all the candidates. The City Council races are nonpartisan, which means in the districts and the mayor’s races the top two vote-getters regardless of political party will face each other in the general election on Nov 7. In the at-large race – where you can vote for three candidates – the top six finishers regardless of party will be on the November ballot. Democracy Greensboro is mentioned throughout these endorsements. It is a political action committee that was formed by Nelson Johnson and others as a response to the 2016 election. The group came up with a platform for candidates, and at a candidates’ forum in September it graded the candidates on how well they complied with that platform. Democracy Greensboro is a far-left organization and its platform calls for SAVVY SOCIAL SECURITY PLANNING What You Need to Know to Help Maximize Retirement Income Don’t Miss This VALUABLE WORKSHOP Presented by 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 benefi ts you stand to receive over your lifetime. YOU CAN LEARN... • 5 factors to consider when applying for benefits • When it makes sense to delay benefits - and when it does not • 2 innovative strategies for coordinating benefits with your spouse • How to take advantage of survivor benefits, divorce spouse benefi ts and even divorce-spouse survivor benefits • What you MUST consider before remarrying NOV 8 | 11:30AM - 1:00PM (Lunch Included) Choose one of the following dates NOV 15 | 5:45PM - 7:15PM (Light Refreshments Included) Greensboro Public Library 219 N. Church St., Greensboro, NC 27401, Tannenbaum Sternberger, Room A To RSVP, Call Mike at 336-907-2600 or EM: mike.bonino@raymondhames.com 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. much more spending by the city on social programs such as housing, food and daycare. It also promotes civilian oversight of the Police Department with subpoena power, which is more power than the Greensboro City Council has. Mayor Mayor Nancy Vaughan in her second term has had some problems. She allowed protestors to disrupt far too many meetings without consequences, and once allowed them to take over the Council Chambers after the City Council, led by Vaughan, left the dais. Vaughan obviously struggled with how to handle protestors who insisted on disrupting meetings, but since the infamous taking over of the chambers she has had several people removed from the chambers and has controlled the meetings much better. It’s just one of those things, however: If the mayor loses control of the meeting it’s news, but if she controls the meeting it isn’t. The City Council met secretly on the $126 million bond package for months so that the public meetings were cursory. But evidently the public wasn’t bothered by that because the bonds passed overwhelmingly. The City Council too many times has jabbed at the North Carolina legislature and that has cost Greensboro state funding and state support. Economic development flows through the state and Greensboro hasn’t received much; to think the two aren’t connected would be naive. But Vaughan of late has been against passing meaningless resolutions that do nothing but make the relationship with the state legislature more difficult. With a City Council made up of eight Democrats and one Republican and a state legislature that is overwhelmingly Republican, there is bound to be some tension, but having won their case in federal court over the redistricting of Greensboro, Vaughan and the majority on the City Council seem more willing to try and work with the state rather than fight the state. Vaughan recently said in an interview, “I do think I am more qualified than the other two candidates.” And Vaughan is right. This is an easy call. Vaughan is far and away the only candidate in the race who voters should consider electing mayor. Vaughan has had accomplishments. Greensboro was the first city in the Nancy Vaughan state to equip all of its police officers with body-worn cameras and the first to have a policy on releasing bodyworn camera videos. The policy was overridden by a state policy, but taking the initiative to pass it was an accomplishment. The City Council has kept the tax rate flat; although the revaluation meant that people paid more taxes, at least the rate itself was not increased. Through bonds and increased fees, the city has provided funding to get the streets and roads back in an acceptable condition. The Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts is moving forward with a unique funding method that includes over $38 million in private funds and no revenue from the city’s general fund. Vaughan said she would like to serve one more term to finish fome of the projects she has started and the voters should giver her that opportunity. Diane Moffett has many of the qualities people look for in a mayor. She is intelligent, a good public speaker, funny and successful. But she has one huge drawback: She doesn’t live in Greensboro. I know that Moffett is registered to vote in Greensboro; she changed her registration on the same day she filed to run for mayor – as if she didn’t want to officially live in Greensboro one day longer than absolutely necessary. She and her husband, Mondre Moffett, both work in Greensboro. She is the senior pastor at Saint James Presbyterian Church and he teaches at NC A&T State University. But when it came time for them to invest in Greensboro and buy a home, they didn’t. They invested and bought a $400,000 house in Jamestown. There is absolutely nothing wrong with living in Jamestown, unless you want to be the mayor of Greensboro. Property taxes are lower in Jamestown and crime is much lower. There are a lot of good arguments for living in Jamestown, but if you want to run for mayor of Greensboro it seems you should be willing to invest in Greensboro. Moffett has no experience in Greensboro government. She has never served on a board or commission for the City of Greensboro because, as a resident of Jamestown, she has not been eligible to serve. It is also worth noting that Moffett has not voted in the past two Jamestown (continued on next page)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 endorsements (continued from previous page) municipal elections. It goes without saying that she has never voted in a Greensboro municipal election because she was not eligible to vote, not being a resident of Greensboro. One of the mayor’s main jobs is economic development, which means recruiting businesses to locate in Greensboro. One of the big sales pitches that Greensboro has going for it is that Greensboro is a great place to live. Business leaders do their homework and they will know that the mayor of Greensboro has a small apartment in Greensboro but also has a very large house in Jamestown. How is Moffett going to convince anyone that they should move to Greensboro and pay Greensboro’s high property tax rate when she has chosen to live in Jamestown with its lower property tax rate? I don’t mean to imply that there is anything illegal about Moffett running for mayor; she does have a legal residence here for voting purposes and meets all the legal requirements for running for office. But the idea of electing a mayor of Greensboro who has chosen not to live in Greensboro is an insult to the people who do live in Greensboro. Several weeks after Moffett changed her voter registration to Greensboro, her husband did the same thing. But they have not sold their house in Jamestown and that is where they have lived for the last 12 years. They worked in Greensboro but lived and paid taxes in Jamestown. Perhaps Moffett will encourage other well-paid professionals to do what she did and work in Greensboro and live in Jamestown, Summerfield, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Garden, Whitsett, Sedalia, Stokesdale, Gibsonville or High Point – anywhere within commuting distance but not in Greensboro. One of the big issues in this City Council election is crime and the Police Department. Jamestown, where Moffett lives, doesn’t have a police department and, according to a Jamestown resident who is running for mayor of Jamestown and not mayor of Greensboro, Jamestown hasn’t had a single homicide this year. Greensboro has had over 35. Jamestown doesn’t have a problem recruiting, training and retaining police officers because it doesn’t have any. Moffett in her professional job as pastor has certainly had to deal with the Greensboro Police Department and the violent crime wave that has hit most cities of any size. But in her personal life she has escaped to Jamestown where neither crime nor police departments are an issue. If Moffett were serious about wanting to be mayor of Greensboro, wouldn’t she at least have sold her house in Jamestown and bought a house in Greensboro? She and her husband have not. So if she is elected, do you think she will go home to a little apartment in Greensboro or to a fivebedroom, four-bath, 3,700-square-foot home in Jamestown? The other candidate running is John Brown, who is a registered Republican and has garnered the support of many Republicans, even though this is a nonpartisan race. Brown is slippery. He posted on his campaign website that Greensboro had bought the News & Record building for $8.9 million. Greensboro, in fact, has not bought the building. When asked about it. Brown said that he was just reporting what he had heard. When questioned further, he said that City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, “had mentioned that they had bought the building.” When asked it that were true, he said, “Tony had mentioned that the city could afford it.” He said that the City Council had met several times to discuss buying the building, and being able to afford it. But his campaign website didn’t say the City Council had talked about it – something that was in the newspaper – but that they had actually bought it. At the end of the discussion, I had no more idea why he had posted on his campaign website that the city had bought the building than when the discussion started. Brown on his old campaign website has a half hour or so video of him talking about what a bad idea it is for Greensboro to be building two new parking decks downtown. But when asked about it, Brown said, “I absolutely am not against the parking decks.” Brown said the city was selling the parking lot between South Elm and South Greene Streets just north of McGee Street; the city is not selling that parking lot. He also said that the city was selling the parking lot next to the Greensboro Farmers’ Market on Yanceyville Street. The city is not selling that parking lot either. Brown posted on his Facebook page: “Taxpayers who approved $5 million for the Old Battle forest parking addition in the 2016 Bond referendum should note their funds were redirected to the private parking decks downtown. Old Battle Forest will NOT receive any additional parking from this mayor or council.” There was no $5 million for an “Old Battle forest parking addition” on the 2016 bond referendum, and the city doesn’t plan to spend any 2016 bond money on the two downtown parking decks, which will be city owned parking decks and not private parking decks. On Monday, Oct. 2, at the Guilford County Republican Party candidates’ forum, Brown said that if there were protestors at a City Council meeting while he was on the dais as mayor, “You won’t see me running in the back. I’ll leap over it and take them out.” It’s worth noting that the people who took over the dais on that evening were women in pink hats. The image of the mayor coming over the dais to take out a group of women in pink hats is one I would rather not see on the national news. When asked about why he didn’t have signs on Westover Terrace where so many other candidates had signs, he said, “Mary Kotis is scared of me. They are all scared of me.” Kotis owns the property in question on Westover Terrace and is one of Greensboro’s (continued on page 12)

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Guilford Animal Shelter Fails Inspection Again by Scott D. Yost The Guilford County Animal Shelter has failed inspection and been hit with civil penalties. On Wednesday, Oct. 4, the Veterinary Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sent a “Notice of Civil Penalties and Notice of Warning” to Guilford County along with failing inspection results that listed numerous problems found at the shelter. The inspection report cited, among other infractions, a failure to address the spread of communicable disease at the shelter, a lack of required rabies vaccinations and a failure to provide water continuously to dogs while outside. The Oct. 4 inspection results – stamped “Disapproved” in red across the top – also cites “numerous inadequacies” from previous inspections that still have not been addressed by shelter staff, though they are things the shelter has been warned about in the past. In the new civil penalty, the Department of Agriculture has fined the shelter $1,200 and put the shelter on notice to get in compliance or face further action. The shelter was hit with fines in July when state inspectors found problems at the shelter. The Veterinary Division report on the Guilford County shelter found that, during an inspection on Thursday, Sept. 21, 14 dogs were in outside play areas without water bowls, in violation of a requirement that the animals have continuous access to water. The state inspectors also found that the shelter was not in compliance with several regulations meant to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among the animals. For instance, some dogs and cats with infectious diseases were not kept separate from the general population and the shelter also lacked proper signage that designated that the animals had a communicable disease. There was also no signage on doors to remind workers to close those doors to rooms where animals with communicable diseases were held. The Guilford County Animal Shelter was also cited for a failure to obtain and follow a veterinarian’s recommendation for a disease lasting more than 30 days. In addition, some animal food and bedding was not in “protected areas.” For instance, open bags of cat food were found in cat treatment areas. Inspectors found six animals for which required rabies vaccinations weren’t given or weren’t given within the required time period. Though the shelter has been warned several times over the last year about keeping up to date euthanasia manuals, those manuals were found to be “non-compliant” in several ways, and some euthanasia guidelines were completely missing. In addition to issues regarding the animals and proper documentation, there were numerous references on the report that showed the physical structure of the shelter was not in compliance. In August, Guilford County purchased land on Guilford College Road to construct a new animal shelter expected to cost $9 million and open in 2019. That will help address some facility concerns; however, in the report, state inspectors focused on the continued failure of the shelter to address concerns that aren’t related to the facility. Immediately after the fines were issued in July, former Guilford County Animal Services Director Drew Brinkley resigned from that position. The county is now searching for a new Animal Services director. The Oct. 4 notice, signed by Patricia Norris, the director of the Animal Welfare Section of the Agriculture Department, states that “Continued or future violation of the statutes or regulations referenced in this letter or the attached inspection reports will be considered a willful disregard or violation of the NC Animal Welfare Act and the rules issued pursuant thereto. Such willful disregard or violation may result in disciplinary action against your facilities license … and/or the assessment of a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation. Heather Overton, the public information officer for the Department of Agriculture, said the department takes a failure to address previous concerns into account when issuing penalties. Overton said the department will first generally issue warnings, then move to civil penalties. “It depends on the number, type and severity of areas of non-compliance,” she said. Continued problems can result in the suspension of a license to operate a shelter. Guilford County has 60 days to pay the penalty or appeal the fine. Last month, the Guilford County shelter rejected a truckload of donations from a High Point church because shelter staff believed a banned volunteer had been involved with that donation effort. The Guilford County Animal Shelter (continued on next page)

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    It’s Raining Awards at County Health Services www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 by Scott D. Yost Guilford County Health Director Merle Green has won the prestigious Carl Durham Award for Leadership in Public Health from the Association of North Carolina Boards of Health (ANCBH); and the county’s JustTEENS program – which runs clinics targeted at those under 19 years of age – has been named as GlaxoSmithKline’s model program of the year, one that the company believes should be emulated by other public health departments. Jean Douglas, the chair of the Guilford County Health and Human Service Advisory Committee, said she couldn’t be more proud of Green given the big honor she just pulled down. “Basically, it’s like the health director of the year,” Douglas said. “The people who called me just terrifically bragged on her and said nobody was more deserving than Merle,” Douglas said. Douglas said she was thrilled Guilford County’s recent efforts to promote teen health also got a big honor. Judy Southern, the director of clinical services for the Guilford County Health Department, oversees the teen clinic program. Sept. 29, Green was honored at a dinner in Asheville where she received the Carl Durham Award, named after a former North Carolina congressman and pharmacist who made many contributions to public health. Green said she was very honored by her award and she was delighted Guilford County has been recognized by GlaxoSmithKline for its teen clinics. Green’s contributions to public health that were cited include her role in the creation of the Evans- Blount Community Health Center in southeast Greensboro, as well as her efforts in establishing programs to provide healthy mobile food options for Photo by Scott D. Yost residents in “food deserts.” Green’s community service outside of her work in the department was also cited. Guilford County’s health department won the GlaxoSmithKline child health recognition award – also awarded in Ashville. The county has opened teen clinics in both Greensboro and High Point, which focus specifically on teenagers, with everything from the artwork to the reading material in the waiting room and the Wi-Fi access geared toward making teens feel welcome. The program’s goal is to provide private, teen-friendly, free or low-cost services to that age group and to make it more likely that young adults will come in for treatment. The clinics Merle Green offer physicals, immunizations, pregnancy tests and infection screenings as well as counseling and other services. The High Point teen clinic, which opened in May 2017, is in the center of an area where the highest teen pregnancy rate in Guilford County occurs. She said the Greensboro clinic was possible with a grant from Cone Health Foundation and the High Point clinic funding by the High Point Community Foundation along with the some additional money from Guilford County. “Both clinics have been very successful,” Green said. shelter (continued from previous page) had a giant scandal in 2015 when it was run by the now defunct United Animal Coalition, and the shelter was taken over by the Guilford County so that the county could exercise tighter control. Guilford County eventually hired Brinkley, who came very highly recommended from Orange County Animal Services, but Brinkley resigned in late July after the civil fines were levied when state investigators found dogs at the shelter had been left without adequate protection from the sun on a hot summer day.

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com High Point Stadium Leads to Talk of Secession by Scott D. Yost If anyone wants to know how seriously the City of High Point takes its proposed baseball project and downtown renovation plan, one need look no further than to the fact that some High Point officials are considering forming a separate county – one freed from the oppressive chains of Guilford County government. In recent weeks, that idea has grown in popularity and, while logistics make the move an improbability, the expanding Free High Point political movement shows just how angry and upset that city’s business leaders and elected officials are with what they see as the commissioners’ continued footdragging on a financing proposal for the High Point multi-use stadium and downtown revitalization project. After the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted 8 to 1 two weeks ago to delay a decision on whether Guilford County would use future tax revenues to help fund the proposed $35 million stadium – the centerpiece of the revitalization plan – many High Point leaders were extremely hot under the collar to say the least. Some High Point residents already have a name in mind for the new county – Piedmont County – a name that was proposed for that yet to be formed county just over a century ago when a similar secession from Guilford County was attempted by earlier players over different concerns. Some business and political leaders in High Point started semi-seriously considering the “nuclear option,” after the Guilford County commissioners didn’t approve funding on Sept. 21. In a vote four days later, the High Point City Council had an 8-to-1 vote of its own – to allocate $5 million in city funds to move forward on the project. High Point officials argue that the county commissioners’ vote to delay a decision was nonsensical given that nearly everyone in High Point involved with the project sees the wisdom of the move: The proposed downtown revitalization project has $100 million in private investment and development committed to it as well as the backing of business and political leaders from across the county. The project is designed to transform downtown High Point and, advocates point out, Guilford County will only contribute money if it is a success and there is increased property value in High Point’s downtown over and above current levels. So proponents argue that the county wouldn’t be “risking” anything at all by agreeing to use surplus tax revenues the county wouldn’t collect if the project wasn’t a success. The Guilford County commissioners, on the other hand, have said repeatedly that a vote to delay isn’t a no vote, and they have said that they’re “trying to get to yes,” but have concerns about some of the project’s financial projections and they want to make certain the stadium initiative is viable before putting Guilford County’s stamp of approval on it and committing $11.1 million in possible county tax revenues over the next two decades. That’s the reason the Board of Commissioners voted on Thursday, Sept. 21 to put off a decision on financing for 60 to 90 days, even though High Point officials are saying the hour is already late. After that meeting, tensions were elevated between High Point and Guilford County. At-large High Point City Councilmember Latimer Alexander’s Facebook page was one central focus for the breakaway county discussions that gained new life when the commissioners held their vote. On Alexander’s Facebook page, one poster, Greg Shepherd, wrote “Time to secede” and Alexander replied, “The 101st county would be called Piedmont.” Alexander added in later comments, “Piedmont would be the 27th largest county out of the 101.” He also pointed out that secession from Guilford County “almost happened” a century ago. Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad, who had spoken at the meeting about the passion of High Point residents and a need to try to find a solution, felt compelled to chime in on the social media conversation. “Latimer,” Conrad wrote, “certainly I understand tensions are high and as an elected official you need to do what you expect is best for your constituents. But, really, I have to ask did you hear my comments last night? Better yet did you listen? Do what you want but personally I was attacked needlessly in the last two weeks and still offered a pathway forward. I would encourage you to remain a part of a solution.” Still, project backers in High Point are madder than hornets, and the High Point City Council has now charged City of High Point staff to explore financing methods and ways to proceed with the initiative without county funding. Simultaneously, High Point continues to work aggressively to move the county commissioners from a “maybe” stance to a “yes.” In the talks between High Point and Guilford County, several representatives of High Point – including Mayor Bill Bencini and Mayor Pro Tem Jay Wagner – have said the county’s refusal could jeopardize the future of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA), a collaborative council formed two years ago by Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County in an effort to bring more business and industry to the county. Not long after the commissioners’ Sept. 21 vote, GCEDA’s Thursday, Sept. 28 meeting was abruptly canceled. The group meets monthly and, though at times those meetings have been shifted for July vacation or for Christmas, no planned meetings have ever been canceled before. The notice stated that, “With a number of key staff members out of town on business this week, we have decided to cancel this month’s meeting of the GCEDA Leadership Group.” The notice does state that the group will meet again in late October, but the cancelation and the buzz it created was just another indicator that the question of county funding for the High Point baseball stadium is shaping up to be one of the most consequential and controversial in county history. One reason stadium backers were so upset by the county commissioners putting the decision on hold is that, they argue, the baseball stadium must be open by May 2019. Otherwise, that facility will lose a season’s worth of revenue, which would throw off the financing plan, and the city would also lose the Bridgeport, Connecticut, baseball team that has committed to play in downtown High Point – if the ballpark is open in time for the 2019 season. That’s one reason the High Point City Council, on Sept. 25, voted to move forward with the revitalization project and begin design and demolition work to make way for the stadium. Council members say Guilford County can catch up and join in when it wants to. High Point had hoped to go before the Local Government Commission (LGC) on Tuesday, Oct. 3, to get approval for the loan to build the stadium. By law, that financial oversight commission – a branch of the North Carolina (continued on next page)

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