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Monday, August 1, 2011

Push back the Control Freaks - Keep Hickory Alive

Another discussion that was held at the Future Economy Council meeting at the Conover Tavern last Thursday night related to the attempts of some Powers That Shouldn't Be in Downtown Hickory looking to put a stop to Hickory Alive.

This issue has been discuissed on this very blog in the  Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 3, 2011 -- Addendum on "The Future of Hickory Alive".  The below presentation is from the City Council meeting of May 3, 2011. The item was discussed at the behest of Alder Sally Fox and her point of contention is that the city doesn't need events that "so heavily focus on alcohol" and "that we need more family friendly events." Alderman Hank Guess stated that as a matter of principal that he can not support any function on City property that publicly endorses alcohol. Alder Patton wants to look into the costs associated with alcohol and Staff being utilized in association with the event and she doesn't know that this necessarily needs to continue. Alder Fox stated that this is the city's front porch and we need to be aware of better events. The Mayor asked if the Jaycees were still involved with this. Aldermen Meisner and Lail agreed to monitor the event over the summer. The Mayor added that this seems to be an event that many people seem to enjoy and we are trying to accommodate 40,000 people and he isn't sure that this is broke. Alder Fox stated that there are ramifications that many don't see and that is the reason she has brought the issue up. The Mayor then went into a diatribe related to the event called "Hickory Hops" and there not being food available during the first six hours of the event. Alder Fox then added about negative consequences associated with over drinking and that it may be few and it may be many.

And then, I also discussed this issue in an article and a Youtube presentation of Mayor Wright's Monday Morning Meeting on the subject. That article is entitled  Hal Row Show - The Mayor - Hickory Alive - A lack of tolerance for Younger Generations and it is from June 27, 2011. This was the second public discussion of this event and the Mayor described concerns associated with a mob of kids that he labeled as being 11 year olds and a lady called in to state that she was scared of these kids and inferred that they were keeping her from turning her car and another lady stated that she was deadset against the city "promoting" drinking on City property.

The Mayor stated that he wasn't pointing his concerns at the Hickory Jaycees or the Downtown Development Association, because he has no reason to think that they are doing anything wrong. A lot of underaged people are gathering there without adult supervision. They are not inside the ropes where the adult beverages are, but they are in alleys, streets, and corners. He stated that these children numbered in the hundreds. He stated that the city shouldn't be child sitting. He was distraught about how  afraid he was about the potential risks of something bad happening. He talked about what a shame it would be if we couldn't have outdoor activities, because we couldn't keep children away.

The Hound's Mindset: I called the Mayor up, because I have honestly had it with the Aged Control Freak mindset that has permeated every crack and crevice of this city over the last several years as the city puts the foot to the floorboard in trying to turn Hickory into an Assisted Living Community. I labeled what he said as diatribe and asked what are kids supposed to do. He talked about the YMCA teen center, which is a fee based organization, and movies and things that cost money. In this economy, people are going places to gather that are cheap, because they don't have a lot of money. The Council doesn't seem to care for poor people. As far as his statement, one man's mob is another social gathering. I do not recall anyone starting a riot in any recent time in Hickory. Maybe someone could figure a way to create some atmosphere for these kids and make a few bucks off of them.

If there are gang related activities, then of course that needs to be addressed, but gangs have zero to do with this event. That would be like attempting to stop High school sports, because a gang member might be at the game. Are you naive enough to not logically understand that gang members can be anywhere at any time in this community? You really want to lock down this city to that level?

In further discussions related to this issue, I have read Julia Rush's rant about her front yard and how Hickory Alive isn't classy. I have had several discussions with colleagues and the general public where people are getting frosted when looking at the City Powers That Shouldn't Be's swath of destruction. How much infrastructure and events have they destroyed in this generation? What is their legacy? Their legacy is that they want to be busy bodies who enter your life based upon the whims and fancies of their personal preference. I don't drink alcohol, but I support the right of those who enjoy an adult beverage to do so and what I see as hypocritical is that the vast majority of the people who have spoken against the alcohol drink themselves. Does that even make sense.

If they are drinking a beer or wine at the Tap Room or Lake Hickory Country Club it is supposedly alright, because it is "Classy" I guess.

Now I have been told that my rantings are negative. What power do I have? I don't create city policies of governance. I have not instituted one ordinance. I have not created an Alcohol Ordinance to impose exactly where Drinking Establishments will be located and whether I choose to allow them to have a permit to open. I have not made attempts to shut down local businesses or keep them from being established, because my crowd doesn't hang there. I have not gone around throwing ultimatums at business owners in this city. I have not attempted to shut down the traditional events that have gone on for years in this city. I constantly talk about things we should do and I am considered a destructive force, while others talk about what we can't do, attempt to control the social aspects of the city, and create a climate of intolerance; and they are construed as being positive? Let's get real!

At the FEC meeting from last Thursday night, the current President of the Jaycees Joanna Shere discussed this issue at length and much of it had to do with the relationship, or lack there of, that the younger generations have with Hickory City Government. The discussion was joined by Valerie Huffman, the past president of the Jaycees. The Hickory Jaycees are the primary sponsor of the event and the beer sales are what generates the revenue that they use to facilitate the event, along with Hickory Hops and Octoberfest and several other events centered around Hickory. These events have a several million dollar economic impact on the City of Hickory. Killing Hickory Alive will most likely kill the other events and the Mayor already expressed some bad things about Hickory Hops.

Joanna has stated that the group has attempted to make contact and have discussions with City Officials about the event, but the City has turned a deaf ear towards the Jaycees concerns, while gladhanding them and stating that they are not saying that the Jaycees and the HDDA are a problem. Well, one needs to understand that the HDDA is not a part of this fight. They aren't selling the beer and Sally Fox and Julia Rush are stakeholders in the HDDA. So, the bottom line is that the Jaycees have been sold out and they are standing alone.

Joanna stated that although it is against their personal desire, the Jaycees are already looking into alternative venues to hold this event. I already know that she is being approached by two other communities to move the event to their area. Hickory officials seem to think that they hold all of the cards and they are going to have things exactly as they wish, but what they fail to realize is that people are becoming so frustrated by City officials who constantly display a propensity towards tone deafness.

If Hickory continues down this path, they are going to start losing a lot of social events to other communities who understand and care about economics and want to grow their communities. Once again we come back to the old saying, "You never know a good thing 'til it's gone." The question is are the people of Hickory going to sit back and allow the vocal minority of Controllers, who make decisions based upon their personal preferences, without account towards the general welfare of this community, or are they going to say enough is enough?

To those who may not think this issue is real. You have no clue about the high stakes game of poker you have been entered into.

Please show your support for Hickory Events on Union Square by joining the Facebook page - Keep Hickory Alive.

Chamber "Future Economy Council" meeting at Conover Tavern, Conover, NC - 07-28-11
Photos by Pat Appleson of Pat Appleson Studios -
©2011 Pat Appleson Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved, Used By Permission - Check out the 30+ people who attended this event.


Silence DoGood said...

Negative? Negative for not toeing the line in relation to going along with whatever is done, said, or fomented? Negative because you dared to step out of the role of minion to speak or write your own thoughts, opinions, and views that are not conducive to the company line? Of course, any one that does that is negative, disgruntled, counter-productive, not a team player, or just a plain pain in the rectum. Frankly, I like playing those roles. Sometimes the overlords will even give pause before they open their mouths. But if they think you’re negative, wait’ll they read the next few sentences.

Give them what they want. Let Rudy, Sally, Jill, Brad, Hank, and whomever else wants to change the social venues of downtown have it. Move Hickory Alive, Hickory Hops, Oktoberfest, Farmer’s Market, and any and every other thing that brings people into that area out. Strike up a chamber ensemble to play something appropriate, I’m thinking Beethoven, Op. 131, in c# major, on Julia’s front brickyard…er…lawn. Turn downtown Hickory into a ghost town, replete with tumbleweeds and hang it around their necks like a 10 ton anchor.

I wrote on this blog earlier that there is strength in money or strength in numbers. With either of those going for you, you’ll be heard by the politicians. So I say boycott downtown and those merchants who want to control the area as their own little fiefdom. Avoid the area like they’ve spread anthrax on the sidewalks. Lets see how long their affluent friends can keep them going. Because you know what? There are at least 5 other places elsewhere in Hickory you can go to get whatever it is you can get downtown. If the City fathers think that kids or adults who drink are undesirable or just not their kind of people, then I say, works for me. Are there merchants downtown who don’t subscribe to the vocalized notions of the bourgeoisie? I’m sure there are. I’m sure that more than a few are likewise playing all sides against the middle; it is the Hickory way, after all, to be on whomever’s side you happen to be talking to at the time. There are a few merchants who like to see the people come into the downtown area for whatever reason, knowing that they might see something that will bring the back. Bring them back when they would have otherwise gone somewhere else. For those few merchants who think progress and know their strength lies in numbers of people coming into the area, they need support, for the rest, they deserve nothing less than a leper colony approach.

Did I just condemn myself to be vilified as a nay-sayer, malcontent, disgruntled, business hater? I sure hope so. I recognize that there has to be reasonable control over certain venues in any City. But to cling kicking and screaming to the 18th century buckle on the bible belt, and in the mean time, do precisely in private what it is you’re condemning. Of course, that is the Hickory way too; say one thing, do something else.

harryhipps said...

Beethoven, Silence? Let's modernize that a bit and give them some George Crumb, Edgar Varese,or horror of horrors, John Cage. Hickory would freak. On a serious note I would love to see Conover as the center of these events. They are centrally located in Catawba County, they have more sense, and I'm sure the bands would be welcome.
This is one time I feel like letting Rude E and Co. have their wish and don't fight with them. Just take opportunities away from Hickory and find more hospitable ground. If they want a Politburo trying to micromanage people's entertainment options, run nightclubs off, close down the sidewalks at dark and stifle fun, let them go ahead. And other towns can pick up the slack. I'm getting to the point where I'd kinda like to see them get all they want and see what the results are. Somehow I don't think it will lead to the yellow brick road.

Anonymous said...

re Hickory Alive:
Although I am in favor of these gatherings in general and have not found the hordes of youth to be particularly scary, the "security" provided by the Jaycees is a joke. Young kids duck under the yellow tape at will. Obviously young teens dance directly in front of the band. The Jaycees have caused a lot of their problems by not staying on the ball!
And sometimes the "clean up" after the event is just as slack- piles of bottle caps on Union Square on Saturday morning. No wonder downtown merchants aren't really happy about it.

Joanna Shere/President Hickory Jaycees said...

Interesting that the last poster, posted anonymously. I've love for you to come to us and tell us your concern. We DO want to address any safety or clean-up concerns individuals have but if you hide under veiled anonymous posts then I can't help you with any issues in relation to the event.

As for security, in past years we had 3 officers patroling the event. We started this year with 4 officers and 2 security guards. We ended the year with 8, that's right, 8 officers and 2 security guards. We have very few incidents within the yellow tape which is where our permit is in place. If that's not enough security, then I don't know know what kind of security you suggest beyond a SWOT team. I don't think the event even requires that much within the yellow border.

Just to clear up some misconceptions, people under the age of 21, families, etc are welcome within the yellow tape boundaries. This isn't an event that is soley about drinking. We have a church that set up for families and a gaming business that had events for teenagers. You just must be 21 to drink. The event is for the community as a whole. And i'm very sorry if you have issues with teenagers dancing but that is not a security issue. I would rather have teenagers dancing than causing trouble down the streets.

I get a little unnerved by the amount of people who seem to be judgemental on folks just wanting to have a good time. We have a community where the jobless rate is enourmous and we're spending way too much time worrying about a fun, FREE, event downtown that citizens can enjoy.

Seriously, do you want your town turning into the town from Footloose?

If you have some true concerns about Hickory Alive, I am more than happy to address them. We are always looking for ways to improve the event and we DO want it to be a safe event for everyone. Contact me directly at and I look forward to hearing from you directly which is what I would prefer than anonymously posting hearsay that facts have been skewed.

Deborah McNuer said...

The Mayor, etc. don't want alcohol related do they think Oktoberfest celebrates? How is that beer-laden festival any classier than Hickory Alive? Does the Mayor, Julia, Sally, etc. realize how slathered in double-standards they are? My bet is that they do, but don't really give a damn! Whatever keeps them in power...from running unopposed to making sure they only nominate the same old same old cronies, former ministers, etc. to the open positions of power and policy-making. wonder if they can spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?