Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tactical Edge - Ten Steps to restoring America

This is from a blog called the Tactical Edge. Maybe this is a little radical, but if the American Public continues to be pushed into a corner, what should you expect? What do you think?

My ten steps to save America - Tactical Edge - (August 27, 2010)

1. Every incumbent out on their (rear) in 2010. True independents are elected. No cleptocrats or republi-cons.

2. Two year moratorium on any new legislation while every unconstitutional bill, mandate, and executive order gets reviewed and rescinded. 2,000 pages of federal criminal code are burned.

3. The “federal” reserve system gets raided and all twelve banks’ hard assets are liberated.

The United States government cancels its debt to the IMF, Fed, and World Bank.
Federal reserve notes are burned in huge public ceremonies as gold and silver backed currencies are issued.

4. The military budget is slashed by half immediately. The d.o.d. handles nothing but defense. Other nations have to deal with their own problems. 5 year plan to phase out standing armies in favor of state sponsored militias. Navy remains under d.o.d..

5. All free trade agreements/job exportation bills are canceled. Import taxes are immediately raised by 500%. All businesses required to carry at least 80% US made goods. Steep fines for non-compliance (Wal-Mart). No more paying farmers not to grow food or private oil wells not to pump. Monsanto’s patents are immediately revoked. We rebuild our economy on goods and services.

6. Federal government budget is cut by 70%. All nonessential federal government agencies abolished (Homeland Security, FEMA, FDA, IRS, etc.). No more borrowing from private banks and other countries! 10th amendment becomes king! States handle their own business without selling their rights for federal money. Federal budget is made up of 10% contribution from each states’ budget forcing federal government to remain small and conservative.

7. Everyone at the SEC is fired! No more derivatives or mortgage backed securities. Stock market is for selling shares of legitimate businesses…NOTHING ELSE!

8. To kick-start the economy, the worlds largest construction project begins on the SOUTHERN BORDER WALL. 2,000 miles long, 25 feet high, 12 feet deep, 10 feet thick, topped with razor wire, and posted with “Keep Out” signs every 20 feet IN ENGLISH! ALL illegal immigrants are deported! Visa program rolled back to the way it was 75 years ago.

9. No more buying foreign oil. We use what we have (which is a whole lot in spite of what you’ve been told) while building wind turbines for electricity. Fleet vehicles are converted to run on natural gas. Alternative technologies encouraged without being crushed by oil companies. (hydrogen electrolysis, permanent magnet motors, steam, wood-gas, etc.)

10. Sit back and start enjoying our new found prosperity in under five years.

It all starts with step one. What other alternatives do we have? 20 years of civil war just to be reigned in by a monolithic government?

The Hound: I know this is radical, but the American people are being pushed into a corner. Feel free to comment on this. This is not my creation, but I honestly can't say that I disagree with much of it.

Are we really going to sit back and watch the demise of this country at the hands of the politicians and their corporate interests? The Founders intended for ordinary American people to take on the responsibility of leadership, not an inherited class of nobility. We were not meant to be subservient to a governmental class that has created a class system where, as George Orwell stated in Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others.

We are all supposed to have equal opportunity and the government is supposed to serve the interests of all Americans. Let's work to get that ideal back!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hickory Hound's 2nd Anniversary - Happy Birthday

The Hound was launched on August 28, 2008. Since that time we have had 26,750 unique visitors. I have studied the issue and come up with an estimate that 1 out of 4 of those visitors resides in Hickory. That estimate would mean that 6,687 locals have looked at this blog.

Thanks for this contribution Jeff Lynn whose B-Day was yesterday:

Let's put that in perspective. That means that 1 out of every 6 people in Hickory have looked at this blog. That means that practically anywhere you go in this area, somebody knows about the Hickory Hound. We have a long way to go and a lot more work needs to be done. We have to shed the ambivalence that has taken over the area. We have to get our citizens to care about what happens in this area. They must understand that their lack of participation in our governance leads to leadership that will not tend to their needs.

People from all over the globe have looked at this blog and I think that is good for Hickory. Those visitors include people who were originally from here and want to check on home; people who reside here, but may be away at school, in the military, or some other venture; or people who might be researching the area to move here or possibly locate a business here. I have received messages from many different people who have happened upon this site and they are very much interested in our story.

The Hound has over 300 people who are on the various e-mail or message lists including Google Groups, Facebook, and Twitter. There I notify my frequently returning visitors of any new articles. Since last year, nearly 400 articles have been introduced and I believe that I have been fair in those contributions. I have been chastised from all sides from time to time and I believe that says that the purpose is right on. Many times people have told me I am right on. Even when they tell me that they don't always agree with me, they say I have it right on most accounts. Hardly anyone has said that I don't have a clue.

Content wise, I have delved into many subjects. The main area of concern for this region is jobs. Since we went into this persistent 10%+ reported unemployment rate twenty months ago, it has looked as though there is no way out from underneath the predicament. That is the reason why the Hound constantly discusses the economy and economic development, because those issues should be at the forefront of all of our thoughts. You cannot create new jobs and industries without focused economic development.

I think that most of the people in this area stopped drinking the Kool-Aid long ago. The be happy and have a blindly positive outlook thing was not working. As I have stated before, you must honestly assess where you are in order to solve your problems. You can't put off solving your probelms to some time in the future. You must work towards solving them today. I believe that this blog has pried open the thought processes, albeit many times reluctantly, about ways that we should assess and solve problems. And although we aren't headed in the right direction, we have finally started the process of turning the ship around. And that momentous, in and of itself.

As we begin the third year of the Hound, the Hound will continue to evolve in its mission. In this age of constant and rapid change, we must remain nimble, while staying true to the principles of history. The Hound's intent is to always be accessible, more credible, and more integral to the needs of the people than other sources of information available involving the Hickory area. This Blog is only about me to the extent of my opinions. I will always try to separate the facts from the opinion and I hope I do a good enough job of expressing the difference.

Thank You Steve Fennell for pointing this out:

In the end, the Hickory Hound is about Hickory and its relationship to all of the people. It isn't just about Hickory's City Leadership or Hickory Proper's Citizens. It is about everyone who has a relationship with this city and this region and the effects that "Hickory" has on the world and the people based on Commerce, Governance, Politics, Action, and Quality of Life issues based upon "Hickory's" vitality, growth, and future. If you have never read The Objectives of the Hickory Hound, then I encourage you to do so. I believe we have adhered to these principles and this mission throughout the two years and we will continue to do so.

As we move forward, we will continue to gain more and more viewership, but I intend to have the same intent as day one. I am proud of how far we have come in the last year and we have already seen and expect to more saturation in the near term. My intent is not to ruffle feathers, it is to move this area forward. I hope that you will continue to participate and that this Blog will be a source that you can continue to rely on to get the information and depth of thought that just isn't available elsewhere. This is a community and I encourage you to participate and I appreciate any constructive comments you may offer.

Thank You,
James Thomas Shell

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Future Economy Council Meeting #17 - (August 20, 2010)

Link to this meeting at the Project 3P site.

VisionAire Aviation was a major part of this meeting. I wrote about VisionAire on August 13th in the article - The VisionAire Vantage - Aerospace Industry beginning a future in Catawba County

Mr. Rice answered questions pertaining to VisionAire after his presentation to the Future Economy Council.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"12 Books" Project - Increasing Child Literacy

This was sent to me by my friend, and friend of our community, Anthony Aldi. He is a teacher/professor of literature and he has a true passion for education and knowledge. He sent me a link to this creation that he is a part of. If you have any books that you no longer want as part of your library, please help.

12 Books Mission: (Facebook Page)
Because kids who own books look at them, we want kids to have books, to own, to read, to flip through, to demolish. Research consistently shows that there is correlation between the number of books a child has access to and his/her literacy. Mission:To increase literacy everywhere. Basically, literacy world domination.

So give us your age-appropriate books to give to kids in Longview Elementary.

Longview Elementary School
Attn: Jackie Welge
2430 2nd Avenue SW
Hickory, NC 28602
Phone: 828-327-2070
Map to School

Monday, August 23, 2010

Exposing the Left-Right Paradigm!

Link to Youtube video on Youth Unemployment - Hitting the Ground Jobless - This video is amazing.

The young lady, Tatiana Shears, says that Obama is an illusion of change and is basically the same as Bush and that Americans need to get passed the Left-Right paradigm. She states that she voted for Obama, because she expected change, but Obama hired an economic team that comes from the last three administrations (Volcker, Geithner, and Summers)and they don't care about the poor and the working class. She states that the power structure at the top of both of the parties is corrupt and they are sold to the bankers and the corporate interests.

Mike Derienzo speaks to the fact that the young people are going to be paying for the programs that Obama is instituting. He says that Obama sold him on Bi-Partisanship. That he would take the best of the left and the best of the right and he would be right in the middle and lead us into a bright future, almost like an FDR or JFK. He says it has all been left and it's just not happening.

In the U.S. unemployment amongst people aged 15-24 is up to 18% from 10% in 2007. And these statistics are from the same underreported statistics that we see sampled from the general populace. The numbers are likely close to double what has been reported.

Global Youth Unemployment Reaches New High - (New York Times - 8/11/2010) - Youth unemployment across the world has climbed to a new high and is likely to climb further this year, a United Nations agency said Thursday, while warning of a “lost generation” as more young people give up the search for work.

Data from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, show Spain had a jobless rate of 40.5 percent in May for people under 25. That was the highest level among the 27 members of the European Union, far greater than the 9.4 percent in Germany in May and 19.7 percent in Britain in March.

The Hound thinks it is time for people to sober up! I think it was alright to party when times were rolling along, but it is time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. There may be no jobs, but one can invest in oneself through education and knowledge. These young people have been forced to wake up, because their dreams have been shaken to the core.

How did people listen to Obama and not think that he was way out in left field? How could one not look at his past, look at the people surrounding him, look at the way that campaign took place, and not see where we are today. Maybe a little less Drinky-Drinky and Smoky-Smoky would have brought some good reasoning. And McCain or Hillary weren't good alternatives either. But I am sick and tired of braindead people hearing what they want to hear! Accountability will eventually lead to good leadership.

This young lady, Tatiana, is where I found myself in late 2006. That is when I awakened to what was going on. These two young people have business degrees, B-I-N-G-O! America isn't about business anymore! America is not Business friendly! America is Government friendly! As in, the Bureaucracy!

And it doesn't matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat and it doesn't matter which party is in charge. Government with its bureaucratic structure keeps getting bigger and bigger. Corporations with bureaucratic structures keep getting bigger and bigger and small businesses and sole proprietorships are getting wiped out. Who creates jobs? Small Business. And who ships jobs overseas? Huge Conglomerates. Who spends money out the wazoo? The Government. Who evades taxes through offshore accounts? Huge Conglomerates. Who is getting soaked through governmental fees and taxes? The small business people.

Who owns the government? The Conglomerates. Who is putting the thumbscrews on you? The Government. So therefore, can you not see that these multi-national conglomerates, through their willing surrogates in the government, are responsible for all of this economic mess that we are in and they are destroying our nation.

And if Republicans look at the video above and believe that they are above all of this, then look at Homeland Security and the rights granted in the Constitution that you usurped under the Patriot Act. Look at these endless wars. Look at the Banker bailouts and the offshoring of jobs that you played a major role in.

It is time for everyone to Wake Up to this Left-Right Paradigm. The parties work together in the interest of BIG! Big Government and Big Business! It is time to move back towards the Freedom-Liberty Paradigm!

Friday, August 20, 2010

1859 Cafe begins Social Media Marketing Campaign

My Aunt, Jane Moore has asked me to create and maintain the 1859 Cafe Facebook site and utilize it to fully communicate specials, special events, network, and communicate with the customer base. I hope that you will come to the site linked below and feel free to share photographs, stories, and start discussions that involve your connection to 1859 Cafe. So please come join 1859 Cafe's Facebook page.

Link to 1859 Cafe's facebook page - Please visit often and Join!


I attempted to grow Watermelon's two years ago and they really never developed. This year I have had some success. This watermelon was a whopper. 2 feet wide and well over 10 pounds. It is an heirloom variety.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August Rant - Losing the Economic Battle against Chinese Slave Labor

This is how the Corporatocracy would have us live:

Living in Barren Dormitories. We are taught about the shanty houses that African Slaves were exposed to in the Old South and how those conditions were unacceptable. What is the difference between those houses and these conditions?

The workers are working twelve hours a day, seven days a week doing piece work. And they are earning about $300 per month. Even in a developing nation that doesn't sound like a valid wage to me.

This is not Free Trade. This is Slave Trade. How is anyone other than the Pimps from Wall Street, the Global Elite and their willing prostitutes in Washington and other World Capitals benefitting from this. This is the race to the bottom. This is the giant sucking sound. You can feel it. You can feel the energy of our great nation evaporating.

Do you enjoy your Ipod or your Ipad?

Apple iPod Factory Suicides - All the Latest News - 5/17/2010
Apple's parts supplier Foxconn faces more controversy - Daily Tech - 5/19/2010
Foxconn Installs Anti-Suicide Nets at Its Facilities - Daily Tech - 6/29/2010
Apple Reveals Child Labor was Used to Build iPods, iPhones, and Macs - Daily Tech - 3/3/2010
Foxconn stages anti-suicide rallies - Fortune - 8/18/2010

China Swallows Obama Stimulus Meant for U.S. Economy: Andy Xie - Bloomberg - 8/17/2010
Video on Youtube

The Hound wants you to understand that Trickle Down Economics does not work, because the economy is being manipulated by the richest 1/10th of a percent of the people in this World and these people are more interested in Speculative (Derivative-Gambling) economics than real world productive economics.

Who has benefitted from the offshoring of jobs? Prices of Goods may have only increased moderately, but wages have not kept up with real inflation. And what good is it to keep prices down, if a person can't keep their job.

The Wall Streeters and the Politicians are telling us to eat cake, while they have destroyed the American marketplace. It is just as I heard Paul Craig Roberts, the father of Reaganomics, state yesterday, the Elite have fouled their own nest (Deceptive Economic Statistics: While the economists lied the US economy died - Prison Planet - 8/18/2010).

The Elite Financiers of the World do not want to pull the rest of the World up to the ideals and standards of the brand known as "America." They want to pull us down to the standards of Third World Nations and treat us as slaves. They will point to how little the Chinese workers earn and how much they work as though it is a good thing. Do you want to live like that?

Our Economic reckoning is coming to a head. In my grandiose vision there would be an awakening, but it feels like that is too much to ask for, people will not recognize catastrophic Economic circumstances until they are upon them and then it will be too late. The criminality and corruption that we have seen for years is going to have to be dealt with. We need tariffs on these foreign slave goods. We need to rebuild the infrastructure and productive capacity of our country. We must reinstitute sound financial policy and the cherished freedoms bestowed upon us by our forefathers.

Praise Jesus Almighty that he spares us with pity, because we have forsaken the Light with our material decadence and I honestly do believe that.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of August 17, 2010

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 8/17/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below

Invocation by Chaplain Robert Ford of Glenn R. Frye Memorial Hospital

Consent Agenda:
A. Hickory City Council’s FY 2009 - 10 Priorities and Action Plan End of Year Report - Each year Council adopts the City Council Priorities and Action Plan that is derived from the Annual Council-Staff Retreat and the City’s master plans and initiatives. These priorities and action plans are used throughout the year as a guide to ensure that City departments advocate the philosophy defined by City Council. Following the close of each fiscal year, staff reports to City Council the results of the Priority and Action Plan.

B. Approval of Property Tax Refund as Recommended by Catawba County Tax Office to Huffman Grading, Inc. in the Amount of $31,876.61 - A refund is warranted due to duplicate listings of business personal property; once for an account listed in the City of Hickory and the other for business personal property located in St. Stephens Fire District. In 2005 the address was listed incorrectly on the listing form
as being located in the City of Hickory and continued through 2009. The bill for 2010 has been corrected. Information has been verified pursuant to the Catawba County Tax Office.

C. Resolution of Intent for Petition of the City of Hickory to Close City-Owned 60-Foot Right-of-Way on 9th Street, NE (Authorize Public Hearing for September 21, 2010)

D. Approval to Amend Stanford Park Curfew Hours for the 2010 Cycle North Carolina Event to be Held on September 27 – 28, 2010 - Staff requests City Council to grant a waiver of Stanford Park’s curfew ordinance for the 2010 Cycle North Carolina bicycle ride for participants on Monday, September 27, 2010.
This is a week long cross-state event coordinated by North Carolina Amateur Sports. It is designed to promote physical fitness and health while providing an economic impact and publicity to local communities. Twelve Hundred bicyclists are expected to participate which starts in Asheville and will conclude in Ocean Isle Beach. Stanford Park has been identified as the local “tent city” where some participants will stay. Riders will begin to arrive in Hickory the morning of September 27 and depart the morning of September 28, 2010. Staff recommends approval.

E. Approve Request by the Coworker Appreciation Day Committee for Eight (8) Days of Vacation Time -
The Coworker Appreciation Day Committee is requesting eight (8) days of vacation time to be used as door prizes for Coworker Appreciation Day scheduled for September 9, 2010 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. For the past few years, City Council has approved eight (8) days, with five (5) of those days used as the grand prize and the other three (3) days as additional door prizes.

F. Amendment to Traffic Ordinance by Reducing the Speed Limit From 35 mph to 25 mph Along 11th St, NW from the intersection with 12th Ave, NW north approximately 2,475 feet to the intersection with 15th Ave NW, 11th St Cir, NW from the intersections with 11th St, NW approximately 1,375 feet, and 11th St Cir Dr, NW from the intersection with 11th St Cir, NW approximately 250 feet to the Dead End - Under the City’s Traffic Calming Program an application was received for a speed limit reduction along 11th St, NW as indicated above and primarily serving the Forest Hills Neighborhood. Staff determined that a speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph would be acceptable, if the residents desired. The petition packages were received and were determined by Staff to be valid and met the 75% signature requirement. Staff recommends approval.

G. Amend the Traffic Ordinance by reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph along 5th St, NW from the intersection with 16th Av, NW north approximately 2,040 feet to the Dead End, 5th St Dr, NW from the intersection with 5th St, NW north approximately 1,090 feet to the Dead End, and 18th Av Ln, NW from the intersection with 5th St, NW east approximately 720 feet to the Dead End - Under the City’s Traffic Calming Program an application was received for a speed limit reduction along 5th St, NW as indicated above and primarily serving the Clydesdale Subdivision. Staff determined that a speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph would be acceptable, if the residents desired. The petition packages were received and were determined by Staff to be valid and met the 75% signature requirement. Staff
recommends approval.

H. Amend the Traffic Ordinance by reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph along 42nd Av Dr, NW from a point approximately 280 feet east of the intersection with 1st St Dr NW wand which is the City Limits west approximately 1,400 feet to a point which begins an existing 25 mph speed zone, 1st St Dr, NW from the intersection with 42nd Av Dr, NW north approximately 1,800 feet to the Dead End, 41st Av, NW from the intersection with 42nd Av Dr, NW north approximately 390 feet to the Dead End, 42nd Av Ct, NW from the intersection with 1st St Dr, NW west approximately 320 feet to the Dead End, 43rd Av Dr, NW from the intersection with 1st St Dr, NW west approximately 760 feet to the Dead End, 43rd Av Ln, NW from the intersection with 1st St Dr, NW west approximately 520 feet to the Dead End, 44th Av, NW from the intersection with 1st St Dr, NW west approximately 800 feet to the Dead End, 2nd St Ln, NW from the intersection with 44th Av, NW south approximately 250 feet to the Dead End, 2nc St Ln, NW from the intersection with 44th Av, NW north approximately 320 feet to the Dead End, 3rd St Ct, NW from the intersection with 44th Av, NW south approximately 320 feet to the Dead End, and 3rd St Ct, NW from the intersection with 44th Av, NW north approximately 380 feet to the Dead End - Under the City’s Traffic Calming Program an application was received for a speed limit reduction along 42nd Ave. Dr., NW as indicated above and primarily serving the Moore’s Ferry development. Staff determined that a speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph would be acceptable, if the residents desired. The petition packages were received and were determined by Staff to be valid and met the 75% signature requirement. Staff
recommends approval.

I. Amend the Traffic Ordinance by reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph along Blue Sky Court from the intersection with Robinson Rd. east approximately 1,100 feet to the Dead End, and Treadwell Lane from the intersection with Blue Sky Court west approximately 350 feet to the Dead End - Under the City’s Traffic Calming Program an application was received for a speed limit reduction along Blue Sky Court as indicated above and primarily serving the Blue Sky Acres subdivision. Staff determined that a speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph would be acceptable, if the residents desired. The petition packages were received and were determined by Staff to be valid and met the 75% signature requirement. Staff recommends approval.

J. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs -
Applicants Joshua and Misty High is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s Police Officers Homebuyers Assistance Program for property located at 459 14th Avenue, NE in the amount of $10,000.00. Funds are budgeted for the above through the City’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or program income received through the Community Development Block Grant Program. The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2009 Urgent Repair Program for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,000.00. Funds are budgeted through Hickory’s Community Development
Department funding received in FY 2009-10.
• Terry Huffman; 841 18th St, NE
• Marcy Wilson; 218 7th St, SE

Kenworth Development Group is undergoing an improvement/repair project at Kenworth Hall in the amount of $147,709.00 and requests refinancing of two (2) existing loans inthe amount of $279,811.23. One loan has ten (10) years remaining and the other has fourteen (14). The request is to refinance to twenty (20) years at the existing interest rate of 1.5%. Kenworth Development is current with all payments and the refinance will assist in the improvements to Kenworth Hall. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee at its June 5, 2010 meeting recommended approval of the above applicant requests.

K. Approve Offer to Purchase and Contract From the City of Hickory to Joel B. and Jonathan T. Mauser For the Purchase of Property Located Adjacent to the City’s Public Services Complex on 9th Avenue, NE in the Amount of $93,000.00 - This is a 3.2 acre vacant lot adjacent to and between the Public Services Complex located on 9th Avenue, NE and currently owned by Joel and Jonathan Mauser. These are two (2) 1.6 acre tracts located on each side of the Public Services driveway. The 0.3 tract consisting of the existing driveway is also included which is shown as an existing ROW but will clear up any potential deed questions. The current Public Services Complex property was partially purchased from the Mauser Family in the 1980’s. The purchase of this vacant property would be a good investment for future expansion of this facility, which will be needed in the future to continue to serve our citizens. Miller and Associates performed an appraisal of the property dated April 27, 2010 for $93,000.00. The land value is approximately $162,525.00 with an approximate tax value of $50,789.00 per acre. The expense of this property would be shared equally by both the general and public utilities fund. Staff recommends approval to purchase said property. To expedite a timely closing, City staff is requesting two readings be held on August 17, 2010.

L. Proclamation Declaring August 9, 2010 as “Marine Corps League Day” in the City of Hickory in Recognition of the Marine Corps and the First National Convention of the League to be Held in North Carolina

New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Resolution and Order for Petition of the City of Hickory to Close 16-Foot Alley Adjacent to City-Owned Property Located Behind Bank of Granite Building Between Main Avenue, NW and 1st Avenue, NW - On July 6, 2010 the City of Hickory petitioned to close a 16-foot alley adjacent to City-owned property located behind Bank of Granite Building between Main Avenue, NW and 1st Avenue, NW in order to allow sale of the property. This portion of alley is no longer necessary for public use, and it appears that the closing of this portion of right-of-way is not contrary to public interest. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on July 23, July 30, August 6 and August 13, 2010. Chuck Hanson made the presentation, whichwas given the Unanimous consent of Council.

2. Petition 10-04 – Rezoning of Property Located at 926 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard, SE From Planned Development Mixed Use (PD-MU) to C-4 Commercial - This 0.68 acre property is located at 926 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard, SE and is owned by Claude and Mariette Gagne. The property owners petitioned to have the property rezoned from Planned Development Mixed Use (PD-MU) to C-4 Commercial. The Hickory Future Land Use and Transportation Plan classifies the property as Regional Commercial as being suitable for retail and service uses which cater to local and regional clientele. The C-4 Commercial district provides land-use standards, which accommodate these types of land-uses. The property owners indicate they intend to continue to utilize the property for commercial purposes. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on July 28, 2010 voted unanimously to recommend approval of the requested rezoning. Staff finds the request to be consistent with Hickory by Choice and recommends approval.

Alder Fox had concerns about the changes to Commercial Development that have taken place in that area and the emphasis. Mr. Overby stated that if a plan hasn’t happened in 12 months to 2 years, then action will be taken by staff to revert the property back to its former status. Alder Fox further stated that this is a major entrance way into Hickory. She stated “What are some of the criteria that are going to make that a better looking addition…?” Mr. Overby stated that the standards are across the board. Alder Fox asked if most of the single shot developments along Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard are straight C-4 zoning. Alderman Meisner interjected that evidently the property owner couldn’t assemble his tracts with adjoining tracks to make a planned unit so he is pulling his unit out. Mr. Overby stated that yes the adjoining three tracts are under different ownership. Alderman Lail asked if PDMU has a minimum acreage to which Mr. Overby stated yes. Alderman Lail stated that essentially makes the other properties non-performing to which Mr. Overby stated no that they are still performing in the district in and of itself. Alderman Meisner stated that sometimes we are hindering property owners from developing their own property by keeping them in PDMU. Mr. Overby stated yes it can. PDMU should be for larger projects of significant scale.Alderman Meisner stated that he understands Alder Fox’s concerns. It would be nice if those 4 or 5 lots would join together and not have so many driveways and parking lots. Council approved - 5 yes (Lail, Meisner, Seaver, Guess, Patton) and 1 No (Fox).

The Hound is wondering whatever happened to the rewrite of Hickory By Choice. It was supposed to be done by April and now we are into August. To me there are only two choices of explanations. The former document was such a mess that the myriad of mazes that it created are taking more time to address than anyone could have ever imagined. The other choice is that there are people sticking their noses into the rewrite and to please the various overbearing intruders in the process, it is taking this long to add the extra layers of a maze to the original convoluted system. I certainly hope it is the former.

Alder Fox’s mindset shows the thinking that has been entrenched into development issues over the last decade. If she wants that property developed in a manner to suit her personal tastes, then she needs to buy the property and follow her heart's desire. It is hard for property owners to consolidate property in this manner and gain this communal agreement that she desires. The only way what she desires can happen is for a major broker/developer to come along and consolidate the property. I think one of the problems this community has seen is such a consolidation. Commercial Property in fewer and fewer owners hands is not good for the marketplace.

Such consolidation is not good for the local economy. It means over inflated rental and lease costs for potential and existing entrepreneurs. And it causes major real estate conglomerates to be less responsive to the needs of their tenants. There will be more of an attitude of “You’ll have to deal with me. Where else you gonna go?” Can’t you see that is not a good principle? We need more property owners, more competition, and fewer impediments to the flexibility of the marketplace.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Second Reading - Approve Offer to Purchase and Contract From the City of Hickory to Joel B. and Jonathan T. Mauser For the Purchase of Property Located Adjacent to the City’s Public Services Complex on 9th Avenue, NE in the Amount of $93,000.00. To expedite a timely closing, City staff is requesting two readings on August 17, 2010. Council Unanimously approved.

2. Recommendation by the Business Development Committee on Selection of Branding and Marketing Consultant - The Business Development Committee interviewed four (4) firms to develop a comprehensive branding and marketing campaign. City Council will have final acceptance authority of the consultant’s work and will be periodically engaged throughout the project. The branding and marketing initiative will focus on population growth through the recruitment of active adults, “live anywhere” professionals and entrepreneurs. The key elements of focus will be research, elements in delivering the message, development of strategies and tactical plans, working with portal development team and defining how the core message will be expanded to the EDC and CVB initiatives.

Alan Jackson addressed the Council. The recommendation is NorthStar out of Nashville, Tennessee. The committee wants NorthStar toassist the BDC to perform research about who we are as a community and how do we brand ourselves, what the current vision of Hickory is, and how do we work with that vision, how do we communicate and craft a strategy to better communicate that message out to the rest of the world; looking at residents and businesses looking to move here. Research will be important to recommend what we ought to be doing and coming up with strategies and being a key advocate with those strategies moving forward. North Star came in with case studies of cities very similar to Hickory where they performed outstanding work and displayed outstanding ideas. This process is just the first phase. This is going to be an ongoing process. Alan said that the BDC will be coming back before the Council. They need not only a commitment from City Council to work with this firm and get this firm under contract, but also a commitment to be available and open when the BDC comes back and says we are ready to take some of the recommendations they have brought to us and move forward and do this. Otherwise, this is just going to be a process that is going to stop and it’s not going to help us at all. It’s just going to be a novelty sitting on a shelf.

Alderman Lail asked Alan about mentioning 4 months and if that was a working timeframe. Alan stated that is the best estimates they have been told. The process involves surveys, interviews with key figures, and city staff. The firm also understands about the proposed portal website and they will be a partner on that. Alderman Lail asked about middle of Winter-Early Spring they will come back to Council with the costs and that will fit in good with the budget cycle. Alan concurred and stated that several of those items are going to be, we need to do this or we need to do that. They don’t know what those steps will be. Attorney Crone asked if they were going to have a Contract Phase 1 to bring back to Council? Alan concurred.
Council Unanimously Consented.

The Hound is glad to see this moving forward. In personally knowing Alan, he is an digester and assimilator of information. Anytime he has been in a forum or roundtable where I have been present, he focuses on what you say and then he makes pointed and relevant statements or asks questions that get to the heart of the matter. He never tries to control the discussion. I think he enjoys the whirlwind of information as much as I do. It tends to make one a more well rounded person and I most definitely believe it leads one to better solutions for problems. I believe he is an anti-ego type of leader. I hope that the City will give Alan the room that he needs to operate and the authority to move forward with the proposals he and this group shepherd.

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard
Mr. Dent Allison requests to speak regarding the screening of outdoor storage
– Mr. Allison is the President and owner of Shook Builder Supply. A Hickory business, in business for 63 years. Currently they employee 25 people, down from 70. They have paid over $1 million in real estate taxes and tens of millions in sales taxes. He is before Council to appeal the outdoor screening ordinance as it relates to his business. Presently his company is not in compliance, but they have worked hard to modify the ordinance by reducing the scope of major and minor thoroughfares. There is an appeal process through the planning department. However, the ordinance is still a burden to Shook Builder Supply.

They are required to put up a 6 foot by 200 foot portion of opaque material along their fence (to hide materials). They cannot put up trees or other natural barriers due to asphalt paving on the property, nor vinyl slats due to the fences age. They are a retail/wholesale business that needs roadside exposure (visibility) in order to sell their product. Their customers need and appreciate the ability to see this merchandise. If the opaque material goes up in September, this will negatively impact 7% of the business’s sales. He states that he cannot withstand that loss.

His competitors, Lowe’s and Home Depot, have products on display and are held to lower screening standards, because they are part of a planned commercial development, which negotiated lower standards with the city – this was from Mr. Brian Frazier, Director of the Planning Department. So these lower standards are working against local businesses to the benefit of out of town competitors. He stated (the obvious in the Hound’s opinion) about this not being fair.

He then went on to reiterate that they are a building supply and they have a great deal of lumber, which is combustible and also flammable liquids like diesel and gasoline. Shook has been broken into three times in the last 14 months, all three times police officers have stated that they need to have an unobstructed view into the yard. The Police Department’s "Crime Prevention through environmental design report" recommends the removal of all material from exterior fence lines to create more natural surveillance. Mr. Allison stated that this would have to apply to the opaque material. Similar comments have been made by his insurance agents. By enforcing the usage of this material the city would only be making a bad situation worse.

In Summary, he is asking the City Council to direct the Planning Department to exempt Shook Builder Supply from the outdoor storage ordinance, which he is allowed to do. Mr. Allison stated that this would be the only common sense and clear thing to do. This is purely cosmetic, he is worried about arson, and they are fighting for their life. Sales will be hurt. They aren’t a junk yard. They aren’t a truck wrecking service. They are a building supply. His products need to be seen. Lowe’s and Home Depot have lower standards. They are penalizing local businesses and driving them out of business.

Alderman Meisner asked what is seen through the business's fence? Mr. Allison stated treated lumber and building supplies. And he is stating that he is being penalized for transacting business and national chains are not. Mr. Allison stated that they are driving them out of business. He understand the city’s desire for beautification, but we are 2 ½ years into the worst recession we have ever experienced. We are fighting for our lives. Lastly he showed the stack of documents pertaining to the ordinance document and stated that the law was poorly written in 2004, the land development board worked on it, the Chamber of Commerce worked on it… It’s not fair. It’s not professional, especially in these times.

The Hound thinks everyone knows his stand on this issue. Harry Hipps stated it during his efforts in running for Council. This business sells materials that need to be seen. That is common sense. It is also a fact that this property should have been grandfathered into this ordinance. They basically sit on a concrete slab up against Sandy Ridge Road on a piece of property designed in the 1940s that used to be a dirt road and I believe it wasn’t incorporated into the city until the 1960s or 1970s.

I do think that Mr. Allison does himself harm by not being engaged with the public on issues. I won’t get into specifics, but a couple of times when I have tried to converse with him in the past, he told me that he didn’t have time for me. He needs to think about that and analyze that. Especially, where was this type of defense three years ago. I think he could have nipped this in the bud then by coming forth and shouting to the roof tops on WHKY (Hal Row’s show) and the Hickory Daily Record. Did he think people were just going to read his mind or eventually come around to his way of thinking?

I’m on Mr. Allison’s side. I understand the plight of small business, especially his business and the lack of building taking place due to the Real Estate Depression. He makes several pointed and valid arguments above. I don’t agree with him on the “woe is me” versus big bad Home Depot and Lowe’s argument. Those establishments are following code. They don’t have visible materials other than seasonal items and storage buildings in their parking lots. That is as much common sense as what Mr. Allison has brought to the table. I think that Council, Staff, and the Planning Department need to get past this “Policy Wonk” stuff.

We all understand the desire for the city to not look like a run down dump. I think there are bigger fish to fry involving those ideals. Let’s reassess priorities and work with the people of this community to fulfill the potential for economic growth, progress, and viability of the community and then the rest of this stuff will eventually take care of itself.

Alderman Seaver mentioned the upcoming Kenworth Neighborhood block Party set for September 16th and also mentioned the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn September 27th – October 3rd..

Alder Fox mentioned the idea of the Rental registry and when it will be addressed. manager Berry stated that there will be a workshop next week – no date was mentioned..

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ruthless Enlightenment!

Max Keiser on the Alex Jones Show - This is great!

Correction Corp of America - Turning Prisons into Corporate Industry - CCA Investor Call; Reports 12,000 Empty Beds (in Texas)-(3/8/2010)

Chip and pill: The hi-tech tablet that will text you when it's time to take another dose - London Daily Mail - 8/14/2010

Lithium in drinking water has 'anti-suicide' effect - New Scientist - 5/13/2009

Google-Verizon deal end of Net Neutrality - Google News Search equals 764 articles

Internet 2.0 - Internet Freedom and Human Rights 2.0 - Discovery news - 1/22/2010

The Tyranny of Copyright - New York Times (1/25/2004) - Is copyright law curbing our freedoms and making it harder to create anything new?

Junk Bonds and Derivatives issued at record pace - 'Junk' Bonds Hit Record - Wall Street Journal - 8/14/2010

Pension Check may not be in the mail - Chicago Tribune - 8/15/2010

Drug Recalls Surge - CNN - 8/16/2010

Harvard dumps Israeli Holdings - Harvard insists Israeli shares sale not driven by boycott - The Guardian - 8/16/2010

Quantitative Easing - Monetizing Debt - Fiat Currency - Printing Money - (Wikipedia)

The Hindenberg Omen - 'Hindenburg Omen' Flashes Technical Gauge and Its Creator Sense Stock Gloom; 'Good Conspiracy Theories'? - Wall Street Journal - 8/14/2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Smart Start's side of the story - Catawba County Partnership for Children Basics

Smart Start / Catawba County Partnership for Children Basics:
Smart Start was created by then Governor Jim Hunt to ensure that children were entering school healthy and prepared for success, as brain development research and numerous other studies have confirmed the importance of the first five years of a child’s life. The underlying premise of Smart Start is to bring a variety of early childhood services and professionals together to efficiently and effectively serve children and their families. As preparing children for success in kindergarten and beyond is a very complex issue, communities were asked to create strategic plans that addressed their own local needs, including child care, health, and family support needs for children birth to five and their families.

The Catawba County Partnership for Children was created as a private 501(c)3 non-profit agency in 1995 to work with our community collaborators, and a strong Board of Directors, to determine what Catawba County’s greatest needs were for young children and families. Based on this assessment, Smart Start funds have been utilized to develop projects to address our most pressing issues.

One of our local priorities is the child care subsidy program, which provides funding to help lower income families afford child care placements for their children. The child care subsidy program existed at the Department of Social Services prior to the beginning of Smart Start, but with Smart Start funding, we were able to serve even more children with this very important service, allowing parents to work as their children were cared for. Today, 43% of our total Smart Start allocation goes towards our county’s child care subsidy program. (The Smart Start contribution represents a fraction of Catawba County’s total subsidy funding, which also includes other state and federal funding.) Along with this subsidy funding, a total of 80% of our local Smart Start funding goes towards programs and support services related to our child care community (consultation, training, resource and referral, salary supplements for teachers, educational support for teachers). The other 20% of our funding goes towards family support, parent education, and dental services for eligible children.

The Catawba County Partnership for Children is housed in the old Sweetwater Elementary School, which was closed down in 2008. The space serves as a family-friendly center for early childhood services and also provides a significant cost reduction, as we have been able to efficiently house several Smart Start funded projects, several preschool classrooms, and other school-based early childhood programs in the same facility. The collaborative opportunities, as well as the collective cost savings, have been significant.

The Children’s Resource Center is one of our local Smart Start funded activities. They are our county’s child care resource and referral agency, dedicated to educating families about child care options, what quality child care looks like, and about other community resources. In addition, they provide significant support to local child care programs, including centers, half-day programs, and family child care homes, working to improve overall quality and education of staff. They also support new potential child care programs by providing technical assistance and education regarding the licensure system and understanding the local early childhood framework. The CRC is committed to parents having choices about their child care and other service options.

NC’s Licensure System:
The star rated licensure system, which rates the quality of child care programs in North Carolina, was created by the NC Division of Child Development. Smart Start has not had a formal role in creating or updating this system over the years. This star rated licensure system applies to all licensed programs in North Carolina, including private for profit, private non-profit, church-sponsored, corporate sponsored, and public pre-kindergarten classrooms. (The More at Four programs are indeed required to have a rating scale done as part of their licensure process, same as with any licensed program. More at Four classrooms are required to have at least a 5.0 rating scale score.) The Division of Child Development’s website lists ALL licensed programs in the state. You can search by county, type of program, star level, or a number of other characteristics. (The Division’s website is

More at Four:
The More at Four Pre-Kindergarten Program was designed to serve eligible and unserved 4-year olds in a high quality preschool classroom for the year prior to entering kindergarten. Children who are enrolled in a 4 or 5 star child care center are not eligible to participate, as they are already considered to be served. Children are absolutely not recruited from our local child care centers for the More at Four program. The program is designed to find those income eligible children who would previously have had no group care experience prior to starting kindergarten. The state provides some of the funding for these classrooms, and the local hosts for the classrooms (in our case our 3 local school districts and Sipe’s Orchard Home) provide matching funding to make the program free for eligible families. The More at Four program runs on the school calendar, during school hours. It is a parent’s choice to apply for the More at Four program and ultimately, if their child is accepted into the program, to accept that slot for their child. For families that are not accepted, either because they are ineligible or because there is no more space, they are referred to The Children’s Resource Center, our local child care resource and referral agency, for other child care placement options.

This response was submitted by Kim Salyards of the Catawba County Partnership for Children Basics to the article: "Smart Start" putting Private Childcare out of Business?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The VisionAire Vantage - Aerospace Industry beginning a future in Catawba County

James Oscar "Jim" Rice Jr. moved back to Catawba County from St. Louis, Missouri in October of last year. He is the principle founder of VisionAire Jets LLC. The objective of this company is to carry on the program for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of the Vantage business jet originally developed by VisionAire. Below is the summation of what this airpane is all about and I personally think this is an exciting prospect for our county.

The VisionAire Vantage is a single engine business jet. It is a lightweight airplane, because it is built from composite materials. This jet is able to cruise at speeds of 400 miles per hour and above the weather at 40,000 feet. The jet also only needs 2,500 feet of runway to land. The plane has a spacious cabin that has the capacity to carry a pilot and 5 passengers in a club seating arrangement.

Mr. Rice thoroughly researched the needs of business owners. The intent was to fill the niche between piston/turbo prop aircraft and jet aircraft. During the 1980s, Cessna quit developing and selling single and twin engined piston aircraft that they had been selling to medium sized companies for years. Mr. Rice realized that companies with $10 million to $500 million in sales would not have aircraft available to service their needs in the future. The research showed that there was a certain type of aircraft that these companies would like to step up to.

Mr. Rice next put together a team that was not bound by conventional thinking nor bound by conventional methods of marketing and manufacturing. This made the design of the Vantage revolutionary. Burt Ruttan, of X-Prize and Voyager fame, the owner of Scaled Composites in Mojave, California worked with VisionAire to design the Proof of Concept Prototype to prove that the revolutionary concept of the Vantage was viable.

In 1995, a mock-up of the jet's cabin was unveiled at the National Business Aircraft Association Convention in Las Vegas. In the Fall of 1996, the first Vantage was rolled out at the Scaled Composite facility airport in Mojave, California. On November 16th of that year, the jet took flight for the first time.

The intention of this jet was to expand the market and make it feasible for mid-sized companies to have access to a jet that previously they could not afford.

A concept called the Partner's Program was developed which would allow multiple owners of a Vantage to have access to jet transportation, while sharing the costs. This program would be developed into "Pods." Five aircraft would be placed into secondary markets and 25 business owners would own these aircraft. Visionaire would supply the pilots, scheduling, and maintenance of these aircraft and make sure that a plane was always available when the customer needed it. At the time, this was estimated to be a very profitable part of the venture.

David Okenfuss, a manager with VisionAire, next went over whether it makes sense to start a whole new industry here in Catawba County. VisionAire would be pioneering an effort to bring the aerospace industry to Catawba County. Mr. Okenfuss pointed out that Aerospace is en vogue in North Carolina and fits into the State's overall economic plans. North Carolina has been seeking industries that are progressive, high growth, and high tech to offset the traditional textile and furniture industries.

Their are collaborative efforts involving State officials, Aerospace consortiums, Universities, and local colleges working to put together the necessary resources to meet objectives. On May 21st of this year, the North Carolina Department of Commerce hosted its 3rd annual Aerospace Executive Forum in New Bern. The Governor shared her vision and instituted an Aerospace initiative. She instructed Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco to convene three working groups of Aerospace professionals to make sure that the State has the education, workforce development programs, and industry recruitment partnerships in place to help the state succeed.

Governor Perdue encouraged the State to have the spirit of the Wright Brothers. As most everyone knows, aviation began here in North Carolina. She reminded everyone that the Wright brothers were big dreamers who had the guts and tenacity to go after their goal -- to fly. She encouraged everyone to go after this goal and participate in this initiative with that same spirit.

There are several community colleges in the State that have Aerospace programs, but there is no such initiative or program in Catawba County. There are several of these community college programs that are specifically designed for Aerospace companies. Several Consortiums, such as the National Aerospace Development Center, are all working together and feel that Space Flight and Aviation are essential to growth, prosperity, and the security of this country.

North Carolina State University initiated the North Carolina Aerospace initiative based upon the need for research, workforce development, and further growing awareness of Aerospace within the State. The North Carolina Aerospace Alliance does the same, but with more of a military alliance.

North Carolina already has a diverse aerospace industry. It is home to approximately 350 companies and employs 11,000 workers. The size and scope of these companies range from huge conglomerates to small start-ups. Unison in Asheville makes high tolerance precision jet engine components and Safran (54,000 employees and $12 billion in revenue worldwide) has a division in Monroe that makes jet engine components. Honda Aero is a wholly owned subsidiary of Honda Motor Company and is responsible for Honda Aircraft development. They have a joint partnership with General Electric to develop a turbo fan engine in Greensboro.

Through North Carolina State, a lot of research is being done involving advanced composites. Combined with the labor market, such as in Catawba County, with heavy displacement of industrialized workers, this could be a good fit for such a workforce. Spirit Aerosystems is building the composite fuselage for the Airbus A-350 in Kinston - a 500,000 square foot facility, 304 acres. VX Aerospace in Morganton is taking old corroded and fatigued metal structures and retooling and redesigning them utilizing composites.

Of North Carolina's 23,000 Aerospace workers, 80% work in production and 20% are design/engineering jobs. At this time, the total economic benefit to the State is $11.8 billion. The average worker in the industry makes $70,000 per year compared to the average income of workers in Catawba County of $32,500.

Aircraft have longevity, unlike fashionable industries such as furniture where you have to constantly reinvent yourself. It takes a lot to get an aircraft designed, developed, and certified, but once you do aircrafts can be manufactured under the design for a long time. The Beechcraft Bonanza is the longest running program in American Aviation history. The plane was introduced in 1947 and it is still being produced and it is completely the same.

How would VisionAire benefit Catawba County? Once the program comes online and is ramped up, 400 jobs after 4 years are projected with wages ranging from $15 to $35 per hour. That adds up to $16 million in wages annually. This would be derived from $500 million in sales and economic activity annually.

This would be a worldwide operation and would develop other industries related to the Aerospace offerings of VisionAire. Many of the people associated with such ventures can also lift the culture of our area, because there will be demand for the finer things in life. This can reinvigorate the retail and hospitality industries in this area. People from Asia and Europe do not care for the fare offered at the local corporate cookie cutter restaurants and all you can eat buffets. They want wholesome foods served in clean, warm, attractive, and hospitable environments and they want the creature comforts associated with the finer things in life. The Dynamism in the economy means most everyone's income levels will rise along with extra amenities that increase our local quality of life.

One of the key components that VisionAire wants the area's inhabitants to understand is that the company can take any displaced furniture or textile worker and easily train and adapt them to the manufacturing skills needed to assemble this aircraft. An example is that the same skills and processes used in upholstering are utilized to create composite materials.

VisionAire also wants to possibly utilize some of the manufacturing warehouses that are currently vacant. Their manufacturing process does not have to be located on an airport. Only the wing attachment facility will have to be located at a local airport. The company is looking to offer job specific training for its future employees in cooperation with the local community colleges.

Mr. Rice reviewed some issues involving the aircraft. Although this airplane was designed 15 years ago, there is still no airplane that serves this niche in the market. There is nothing else out there that has been designed to do what this aircraft does. He stated that this is bad in one sense, but it is good for VisionAire and those involved in this process going forward. The objective is to be a profit leader in the business jet aviation market by producing a safe, reliable, low cost, high performance business jet aircraft. This is where the focus is.

Mr. Rice learned about airplanes as the Director of Marketing and Services for Superior Continental Corporation (acquired by Siecor in 1980). These jets are business tools utilized to move people around the country.

Mr. Rice went on to talk about the dynamic and growing market involving this category of aircraft and some of the technological innovations that they are looking to incorporate into the Vantage, that have come about over the past 10 years of downtime the aircraft's development has faced. There will be a different engine installed into the aircraft. It is more advanced, lighter weight, has fewer moving parts, and is as reliable as the previous engine. The evolution of GPS will allow more modern avionics to be incorporated into the design. This advancement will enhance safety through radar and controls to allow the jet to know when other aircraft are in the vicinity. There have also been further advances in the lightweight composite materials that are FAA certified. The VisionAire Vantage is the pioneering aircraft that led to these evolutions in development.

The Vantage was ahead of its time. There are other jets that are similar, but they have positioned themselves as personal jets in the marketplace. The Vantage allows you to step into it, not crawl into the seats. The interior is the largest cabin in its class. The aircraft is the only one in the lightweight class with a lavatory. This airplane also allows single pilot operation. A light jet adds affordability and allows access to smaller airports.

The airplane's payload allows a 1,000 mile range. The typical business trip is 600 to 700 miles, which makes the distance capacity ideal. The plane has a 15 to 1 glide ratio, which allows you to cut the engine at 30,000 feet and glide for 77 miles (37 minutes). Most anywhere in the country you can put it down on a runway. The cost of the Vantage is $2.5 million or less. In comparison a Gulfstream Jet costs between $25 million and $50 million.

The Vantage is a great combination of speed, range, comfort, and affordability. It isn't the fastest, the most comfortable, the cheapest, and it doesn't have the longest range; but the mixture of the four makes it the best package.

As far as the technology, the company does not have to invent one thing in order to build the aircraft. Everything is already available. they only have to integrate existing parts into the aircraft system.

Utilizing numbers from Honeywell and Rolls Royce, the company envisions selling 11,000 aircraft (annually 2010-2020 period) worth revenues of over $200 Billion. They envision selling most of the aircraft in America (over 50%), with some in Europe, and a growing market in Asia (China). Over time, Mr. Rice feels that companies will purchase this plane for mid-level management.

The aircraft is flexible with the ability to fit a stretcher inside utilizing its oval door. The airplane would also be perfect for Military, Coast Guard, and Drug Interdiction management, because the airplane has the ability to loiter at low speeds and also fly at high speeds. there are a lot of uses besides business uses.

Company Engineers will not have to be located in this area. They can be located anywhere. The development work on the plane has been completed. Everyone involved in the original project has agreed to come back on board. This looks to be a three year project. The technology is there. $130 million has already been spent on the project. And it is going to take capital to move the process along. There is a high barrier to entry, but this is achievable. This is a risky proposition, but it is doable.

The Hounds Note: This is the airplane that I was talking about. Mr. Rice is truly a gentleman and Steve Fennell has been a friend of mine since I was 13 years old. Mr. Okenfuss was also a pleasant person to meet and he thoroughly gave some important specifics relating to this jet and the Economic Impact this would have on our area. I think that we should do everything that we can to make this happen. How can you read this and not get excited about the prospects.

Contact Information for Mr. Rice at VisionAire Jets:
(877) 334-8504
(704) 325-3286
(704) 325-3945 Fax

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jim Rice - A Man ahead of Time - He wanted to diversify Catawba County Industry in 1977

James Oscar "Jim" Rice Jr. recently moved back to Catawba County from St. Louis, Missouri. He is the principle founder of VisionAire Jets LLC. The objective of this company is to carry on the program for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of theVantage business jet originally developed by VisionAire. I will be writing a subsequent article dealing with the prospects and possibilities of this jet being assembled here in Catawba County.

Below is an article that was published in February of 1977 detailing the need to diversify Industry in this area. Mr. Rice played a vital role as part of a Task Force created by the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce that created what we know today as the Economic Development Corporation. Read below and see that if our area had taken action sooner involving the suggestions therein, then maybe we could have alleviated many of the economic pains that we have gone through over the last decade.

(Chamber Views article, February 1977) - Editors Note: The following is an Interview with James O. Rice Jr. regarding plans to establish an Economic Development Commission for Catawba County. Mr. Rice served as Vice-President of Economic Development for the Chamber in 1976 and currently serves as Chairman of the Chamber's task force to establish the commission. He is President of The Resource Group Ltd., a management consulting firm with offices In Conover.

1. Why do you feel there is a need for additional Industry In Catawba County?
Chamber members will remember that in 1975 the Chamber set up a task force to evaluate the commercial and industrial mix in Catawba County. The study by the task force showed that there is a need for a diversification of industry in Catawba County. It was pointed out in the study that of 439 industrial firms in the county. the strongest concentration is in furniture with 36 percent; textile, 9 percent and hosiery, 26 percent. Over 70 percent of our industry concentration is in three industrial fields. This means that if unhealthiness develops in anyone of these particular industries it has a tremendous negative effect on Catawba County. Another matter that came up during the study was that Catawba County loses a lot of good talent each year when our college and high school graduates seek jobs in other types of industry that are not represented here. Also, it was noted that we could use many more white collar jobs and still not affect the labor base negatively in the county. Looking at it from a county-wide standpoint and at the financing of future services which come from the tax base, it is very evident that if Catawba County is able to attract industries that require a lot of capital, then the tax base will be improved which will mean that citizens will continue to get the additional services needed and the cost will be spread among additional entities.

2. What is the Chamber's policy regarding the recruitment of new Industry?
The Chamber has developed a policy to establish an economic development commission in Catawba County which would seek new business and industry on a selective basis in accordance with their impact relative to (1) labor requirements, (2) energy and natural resource demands, (3) environmental considerations, (4) manufacturing facilities requirements, (5) zoning requirements, and (6) housing requirements. This policy also states that the Chamber will continue to support and develop manpower programs consistent with local business and industry needs. The type of industry to be sought will be capital intensive, meaning that they will have a large investment in plant facilities and equipment and will use a limited number of employees in producing the product. The result will be very little noticeable effect on the present industry since the new industry will help to keep many Catawba County citizens from leaving to find the type of employment that they now seek elsewhere. Also, the new industry will probably attract additional people to the County to work that live in surrounding counties.

3. What type of new industry would be recruited?
The specifics have not been pinned down on the exact type of industry, whether it be chemical, electronic, materials handling, etc., however, it is expected that the economic development commission will diligently seek diversification from furniture, textile and hosiery.

4. What effect will this new Industry have on existing Industry?
We learned on a factfinding trip to Wilson and Fayetteville last year that many of the obvious type fears that present industry might have concerning additional new industry coming in are unfounded. A businessman in Wilson who is president of a firm that has been in existence for over 100 years stated that at first he was opposed to new industry coming into the Wilson area. He pointed out, however, that after a decade of seeing what new industry has done for the area his fears were unfounded. He lost almost none of his labor force and found that the positive effects of managers of other industries coming into the area strengthened his industry's management and personnel, as well as the community at large. Certainly the new industry will attract a few of the workers from present industry. No one could deny that; however, with the diversification of industry that will be attracted, it is not expected that any local plant will have a wholesale run on its labor force. In fact, because Catawba County is geared toward progress, it could mean that each industry here now will have an even better selection in the labor market as additional people move to Catawba County.

5. What plans are being made to establish an Industry recruitment program for Catawba County? When will It be established?
Fortunately, members of the Catawba County Board of Commissioners and other leaders of cities and towns in the area also see a need to increase the tax base and diversify industrial jobs available. Because of this interest, the Chamber is joining with the county and municipalities to form a joint task force to develop plans for establishing an Economic Development Commission. It is expected that this work will be done in time for the Catawba County Board of Commissioners and municipalities to make a decision on budgeting money for the program. It is expected that an industrial development commission and office could well be set up by mid-summer and no later than January, 1, 1978.

6. Will this program require a full time professional?
In order to assure the success ot an Economic Development Commission which will be composed of a cross-section of Catawba county citizens, including business, professional, governmental leaders, it will definitely take a full time professional staff person to implement the plans outlined by the commission. This professional must have such a background that he will be able to deal with local industrialists and commercial people as well as presidents and top officers of companies, which we wish to attract here. We would hope that we can acquire someone who already has experience in attracting industry.

7. What type of funding will be required to establish this program?
Though no specifics have been determined concerning a budget for an Economic De- velopment Commission and office to support it, it is expected that an annual budget would run in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.

8. How long after the program Is established should we expect new industry to io- cate?
After looking at other programs started in other areas. We would be very fortunate if we could attract a significant industry to Catawba County within a two-year period. Certainly we would want to set a goal to attract one much earlier than that; however, to do a proper job of getting this program established to operate for many years in the future, the commission will be meeting with officials of companies that are making long-range plans and the results would not be seen for some of these companies for at least three to five years.

The Hounds Notes: The Economic Development Commission detailed above was formed into a commission called the "Catawba County Industrial Development Commission." In 1993, this commission was merged with the Hickory Office of Business Development and renamed the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. This is the organization that Scott Millar presides over today.

At the time, in 1977, as you can read in the article, many Furniture and Textile business owners balked over the idea of bringing other forms of industry into the area. The main reason was because they were worried about Labor Competition and a resulting escalation of wages. Labor is the number one cost of most businesses in the United States.

In the late 1970s, even though the national economy was stagnant due to inflation, Catawba County was experiencing full employment. Mr. Rice was an Employment Recruitment Specialist and his firm (The Resource Group) was having to aggressively recruit people to the area to fill the jobs in our local manufacturing industries. I know this very well, because my mother worked for Mr. Rice for a time in the late 1970s. I know how dynamic the Job Recruitment industry was at that time.

Our area was growing, but we had a problem, because we weren't able to move forward with the modernization of our industry into new sectors, such as high-tech electronics and energy related fields. Cable was still a small sector of our industrial make-up in 1977, but it was on the way towards blossoming in the early 1980s, with the deregulation of the telephone industry and the advent and subsequent growth of the cable television industry. There was a smooth transition to the Telecommunications - Cable - Fiber Optic Industry in the 1980s and 1990s as the Textile/Hosiery workforce began to be off shored. And no one minded, because the Cable Industry jobs paid more.

Once again what we saw was the lack of diversification that Mr. Rice describes in the article above. Except for short periods of time in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s, we experienced very low unemployment from the mid 1970s until the year 2000, especially in comparison to the rest of the nation. Since 2000, those tables have turned dramatically. I have shown the numbers in several articles on this site. Not one month since the year 2001 have we been better than the national average when it comes to unemployment.

My next article is going to be about the new opportunity that Mr. Rice is bringing to our doorstep. I am excited about the prospects of assembling Jets in our area. That is the culture that we need to establish in this community and it is long overdue. A mindset towards excellence and 21st century technology along with a Can-Do spirit. Now that formula can take you places.

Contact Information for Mr. Rice at VisionAire Jets:
(877) 334-8504
(704) 325-3286
(704) 325-3945 Fax

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Smart Start" putting Private Childcare out of Business?

In the mid 1990s former Governor Jim Hunt came up with the "Smart Start" program for child care. This program was designed to ensure higher quality care by assisting all child care facilities (private, corporate, for profit, or non profit) to ensure that all children in the state were exposed to higher standards of childcare. Some of the following indicators of quality were identified: pre-kindergarten (pre-K) teacher education, nurture and child/teacher ratio's, age appropriate environments, and nutrition.

Before this program was begun, the North Carolina Division of Child Development would issue an annual license to a facility in compliance with their book of State rules and regulations. North Carolina’s Childcare Regulatory book is the second most voluminous such document, only ranking behind California. This book of regulations includes codes involving fire, sanitation, and building safety for the respective counties in the State.

In 1995, Catawba County launched Smart Start and the Catawba County Partnership for Children. At that time most child care facilities in this county were operated by private business owners. Keep in mind that pre-K teachers, support staff, and the facility had to meet the regulated standards set forth by the North Carolina Division of Child Development.

At that time the local Smart Start organization distributed "grants" to the local childcare facilities so that the Smart Start organization might assist with education, environments, books, supplies, safe equipment, etc., to help meet some of the newly defined criteria that were believed to be minimally acceptable quality standards. These grants were not initiated because business owners solicited the government for grants, but because these childcare facilities provided the places where children actually spent most of their days. Parents needed help with the prohibitive costs of childcare.

This initiative enabled many parents to work or go back to school. It was looked at as an opportunity for the children of families that fell into the lower end of the socioeconomic strata to be enrolled in a licensed center that used the funds to raise the bar on quality. At the time, these facilities agreed that this was a worthy endeavor. Research has shown that if children can't be with their own parents, then they still need a safe, nurturing environment in order to progress successfully through these early years.

As time went has gone on, the Division of Child Development has revised rules, added rules, dropped rules, and eventually came up with a 3 component licensing system that has since been modified into a 2 component “Star” rating system. The Stars that facilities now receive are based upon earning points within this two component system. Thus a childcare center is rated and licensed as a one to five star facility based upon this point system. A One Star rated center means that the facility has met minimum state regulations... Two Stars, higher standards… Three Stars even higher voluntary standards were met… All the way up to the highest, a Five Star facility. This is similar to Hotels or Restaurants that are critiqued by AAA, Mobil, or Michelin.

As research continues on the human brain and child development, studies have shown that the first five years of life are the foundational years and therefore the young child's experiences can affect everything for the rest of their lives. The child’s experiences at this age indicate future success and thus well being. It is imperative that they get a good foundational start to their lives.

The lady that shared this information, I am divulging, operates a highly rated childcare facility here in Catawba County. All facility Star ratings are for a 3 year period, after which a subsequent rating inspection must be conducted again. Facilities must apply and undergo an observation by inspectors who come to the center and observe the different age groups. Afterwards, these inspectors chart measurements based upon what they saw and the questions they asked staff.

What this lady is seeing with her current periodic inspection is that there are major additional requirements and measurements that her facility (and other facilities) must undergo to obtain their standard rating. It also bothers her that there are exceptions made for public schools and some churches.

The rating scale is not necessarily required for private "mom and pop" owned child care businesses, but it is a requirement of all state licensed centers; except for the public school "More at Four" programs, which consist of "At Risk" children who are recruited into their programs. This lady has lost enrolled children from her facility to the public school’s “More at Four” program. A percentage of North Carolina lottery funds are channeled into the “More at Four” programs. The "More at Four" program is part of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This program was initiated and coined by our last Governor, Mike Easley.

High star ratings seem to be synonymous with programs that have high funding (in other words a lot of Money). The “More at Four” program isn't required to undergo a rating scale, but will do so because they have the funds at their disposal to afford the $200,000 playgrounds that appear to "raise the bar on quality."

You can visit the North Carolina Division of Child Development Website and see that they promote ONLY Government programs and other funded programs, which have been awarded Federal funds. They make it appear as though they are centered around "CHILDREN,” but they are really centered on the Almighty $$$!

Common Sense shows that the reason that any center wants a higher star rating is to appear as though they are a better facility, but we all know that this can truly be deceptive. More Stars does not necessarily equate to a better quality of childcare. The highest quality of child care centers around the integrity of the individuals caring for the child. Why would a parent choose a caregiver with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education, but no experience or nurturing ability? A system that looks at these sorts of quantitative measures looks at a child like they are a project; instead of an individual human being who needs nurturing, love, and good chemistry with the caregiver. The public school system fosters a structure and mindset that the child gets who they get (as a caregiver/instructor) and that’s the end of it.

Here we will explain why having more Stars on your wall, as a private childcare facility, is critical to the survival of a one’s business. The more stars that a facility manages to get, the more of a monthly bonus per child the facility is awarded from the Department of Social Services (DSS) subsidy program. DSS receives funding from the Division of Child Development. That may sound like a great way to entice childcare providers to lift their standards of care, but it goes back to showing that this isn’t about the children, it’s about money.

Since the monthly bonus money goes to the big facilities who get the funding to put the shiny new buildings in place and the educated teachers that get a "package" that the “mom and pops” can't afford, they exploit the so called "At Risk" children to promote the bureaucracy’s agendas.

It has been pointed out to me that the local Catawba County Smart Start Program is housed in a new building at the old Sweetwater Elementary school. They have also opened up two “More at Four” classes and a Head Start program, which is an overlapping of services and double expenditure of our tax dollars. They are trying to fill these programs by recruiting from the private facilities. The lady who brought all of this to my attention stated that these Public Entities are recruiting children out of her private program, into their program, because they received funding to open these new classrooms and the end result is that her facility is looking more and more like a ghost town.

These local public childcare programs have recruited anywhere from 2 to 5 children from this lady’s childcare facility annually over the last few years. They are making the “At Risk” children’s parents believe that they don't have a choice, if they want to attend a program for free, then they have to enroll at their facilities, She stated that that this isn’t true. Doing the math: one "At Risk" child's annual tuition at her childcare center is $5,460. (subsidy pays it with a small parent fee, but the parents of so called "At Risk" children are the biggest contributors to their own child's "At Risk" status, parents SHOULD be held a tiny fraction responsible). $5,460 X 5 = $27,300.00. That's how much revenue the government is taking out of her facility, on average, annually. How many other facilities are facing similar circumstances?

This lady believes that the growth of the educational bureaucracy in Catawba County is growing more and more out of control and they are using young children to promote a lie. She believes that the administrators of these programs are blowing our tax dollars on luncheons, comfortable furnishings, and ego. She states, “They have taken federal funds and continue to create bogus job titles for themselves so that they can keep channeling money into their pockets and out of the child care facilities that have given the real blood, sweat, and tears.”

The Children's Resource Center has stated that they opened another "More at Four” classroom at Sweetwater this year, because they moved it from the Balls Creek area, because that area didn’t need it. Looking at the demographics, that makes sense. The Hickory area has many more Hispanics and any child that speaks Spanish as a first language, in their home, receives a spot in the “More at Four” program. And the "At Risk" criteria are advertised as being centered on children who are not already in high quality programs, such as the one this lady owns. The Public Educational Bureaucratic programs are basically all over the Department of Social Services day care unit in recruiting “At Risk” children into their public facilities, for their programs. They do this, because these children are considered "At Risk" and thus they qualify for subsidy payments.

All of these bureaucratic agencies know that they are taking children from the private facilities, because DSS keeps documents and records that show where these children have attended pre-K. The government is terminating subsidy vouchers about two weeks before the school year starts, so that they can say that the children aren't being served. What used to go into the already existing high quality centers in our area is slowly, but surely, being taken from the private facilities; except for the subsidy bonuses based on Star ratings and a few (regulated and required) workshops for teachers from centers such as the YMCA's, CVCC lab pre-school, or favored centers such as the United Way and the Boys and Girls Clubs, who also get big funding opportunities, yet need to meet the basic requirements and ongoing education requirements to stay licensed.

DSS is paying market rates for each child they have recruited into these public programs. This means that the children that are aggressively being recruited away from private childcare centers, that have earned higher stars, are driving the cost of child care over the top for the lower middle class working families in our county. Most young people starting families don't usually start off with six digit incomes in Catawba County. Market rates go across the board and vary from county to county. Working class families who deserve quality care can't afford to pay the going market rates, but childcare centers will be in breach of contract with DSS, if they offer a discount. Centers are not allowed to give breaks to working families who don't qualify for subsidies and can get into trouble with DSS, which has the wherewithal to start an investigation. The DSS has the capability of putting a childcare facility out of business.

The Children's Resource Center (Smart Start) is funding projects such as the Parenting Network (where parents are forced to attend meetings held by various systems), The Early Childhood Support Team, Health Nurses, Behavior Specialists, Infant/Toddler Specialists, Early Start Specialists, Dental Screenings and so on!

The health department already HAS health nurses for those who can’t afford them. The Smart Start Team health nurse drops off information that she has probably copied off of the internet (most daycares have internet or access to it), The “Behavior Specialist” does nothing but visit centers. The “Infant/Toddler Specialist” (this lady has never seen her). Many times the dental screeners offer condescending comments to the poor teachers who spends 40 hrs a week with (some) children that need their home life to change. They give out cheap tooth brushes, Made in China, and send a letter to the parents telling them that they need to go to a dentist, but only for the children that have Medicaid.

The lady who provided this information to me in confidence stated that this information could result in the death of her business, if her name got out. I truly appreciate this information. It is eye opening to see what a local childcare provider is having to deal with, just to stay in business. Why are we allowing the government to do this to a small business person who obviously cares about the children whose life she touches? Is this type of control and manipulation of parents and children a good idea? Is it a good idea to allow the government to monopolize childcare? Is that not the direction we are headed towards? Are you comfortable with this?

I hope that you appreciate this person’s point of view and that you realize and understand the raw power and undue influence a government can have when it sets its mind to exercising control over something. And this control is over the Progeny of America and our future.