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.
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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 2/21/2012 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:
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Invocation by Bill Gerrard United Methodist Pastor
A. Recognition of Gloria Farr, City of Hickory’s NC 2011 Main Street Champion - The proclamation was read by the Mayor: Gloria Farr's business may not be located downtown, but that is where her heart lies. An active volunteer in the Hickory Downtown Development Association, she served on the Board of Directors as Design Committee Chairman for a decade. She has brought her sense of style to downtown Hickory. Gloria was instrumental in a number of design projects, including the installation of "Destination Downtown" banners, which included soliciting donations from downtown business owners, coordinating design, and receiving approval from the appearance commission. She single-handedly raised money to purchase "Farmer's market" and "Shop, Dine, and Explore" banners. She spearheaded the acquisition of new downtown Hickory Christmas decorations. She initiated Hickory Union Square's first tree lighting celebration. She worked with city landscaping crews to refurbish planters. Having once said to her committee, "if it is going to get done we are going to have to do it," Gloria exemplifies the type of individual that gets things done. Hickory Downtown Development Association and the City of Hickory are fortunate to have such a volunteer as Gloria Farr, 2011 North Carolina Main Street Champion.
The Hound thinks Gloria Farr should be commended for her work and devotion towards downtown. She has a passion about seeing this city look nice. She doesn't have to do what she does and she isn't personally financially benefiting from these projects that she is working on. She does it because she cares.
B. Presentation By Community Groups Requesting Appropriations from the City Council During the Next Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2012. The Council will not take action tonight. Action will be taken when the Council considers the City’s annual budget in May or June. These presentations are made so Council Members can ask questions or make comments about the requests. Presenters will be allotted no more than five (5) minutes to make their presentations to Council.
Organization - Presentation - By Amount - Requested
Catawba Co. Economic Development Corporation - Scott Millar - $140,999 - Scott stated that we have had a pretty good year, but we could stand a lot more prosperity around here. A couple of the projects that they have worked on include Turbo Coating, Fairmont Designs - a reinvestment by a foreign company that has Chinese roots, Punker LLC is a German company that is coming in with the energy sector that is going to drive the analysis and opportunities that they think are going to provide good job opportunities in the next few years. Stewart Superabsorbent's and Shurtape Technologies with a new office facility in a surprising location.
Turbo Tech Products which has expanded further into Fairgrove Business Park. He also mentioned Convergys and Fiserv which are both continuing to hire and exceeding expectations that they have had. He complemented the new branding initiative by the city.
There (EDC) plan of work certainly includes some rebranding itself. What they are doing is taking an analytical and marketing approach to try and rename some of the opportunities such as the new Multijurisdictional Park. It originally has been named the Data Center Park Number Two, but some people from outside the area may not like the name. Data Center Park Number One is the Apple data center. People from outside of the community may not like the concept of Data Center Number Two, so the park will now be called the North Carolina data campus. New Multijurisdictional Park opportunities will come forward in the upcoming year. The first one is about to get its legs and will provide opportunities in the near term.
He sees a lot more opportunities in the energy field with Progress Energy and Duke creating the largest US-based utility in Charlotte and providing opportunities for companies like Turbo Coating and Punker that will be located nearby Charlotte, but prefer not to locate in the high-cost Charlotte area. He sees this as a great opportunity for advanced manufacturing and the EDC will provide marketing to attempt to lure companies from around the country and the world. What they are simply trying to do is create jobs and tax base here in Catawba County.
The Mayor asked what percentage of the money for Mr. Millar's Budget is provided by the City of Hickory. Mr. Millar stated that about 28% of the budget is provided by Hickory and 52% of the budget is provided by Catawba County.
Downtown Development Association - Connie Kincaid - $75,000 - In 1995 when the HDDA filed articles of incorporation, a mission statement was adopted. The partnership with the City of Hickory has produced positive changes downtown. In 2007, the HDDA hosted downtown's first community vision forum and next Tuesday they will host the second community vision forum. The community will come together and revisit the shared vision for downtown. The vision forum is free for all participants, but does require advanced registration.
The 15 member volunteer Board of Directors develops an annual program of work. It follows MainStreet USA's four point plan of approach to downtown revitalization. Downtown Hickory is known for its award-winning festivals. During last month's North Carolina Main Street conference, Hickory was awarded for its art crawls, which were recognized for an award of excellence. Hickory's Oktoberfest welcomed 100,000 people over the three-day event and generated $7 million in economic impact. Hickory Hops was attended by 2,262 people and generated $305,000 in economic impact. Other special events (Art Crawl, Candy Crawl, Swing under the Stars,and Hickory Holiday) target Hickory residents more than out-of-town visitors, yet the economic impact of these events was estimated to be over a quarter of a million dollars. This year, downtown is coordinating sales with the Farmer's Market that occurs on Wednesdays. These will include sales campaigns, in-store promotions, marketing and special event coordination. These contribute to the exposure of our diverse mixture of retail businesses. Our established commercial businesses are our downtown destination.
We have been told numerous times by downtown business and property owners that their biggest challenge is helping people to find their way downtown. And as you can see, it is time to repair our existing directional signs. The committee plans to reflect our city's wayfinding design with our existing wrought iron signs. We also coordinate the seasonal exchange of downtown banners. We're working with the public art commission to continue implementing the art walk. That will get us closer to reaching our goal of connecting downtown with Frye Regional Medical Center, the Salt Block, and Lenoir-Rhyne University to make them more pedestrian friendly.
Even during the downturn in the economy. Downtown has witnessed new private investment. Building renovations have been completed On 4th St SW and continue at the 1912 Depot. The Council House bed-and-breakfast is on the market, and they (HDDA) are hoping to promote the property in hopes that it will remain a bed-and-breakfast. Downtown Hickory has 23 buildings that are currently completely vacant or have some percentage of square footage that is currently unoccupied. Although we're currently maintaining an 87% occupancy rate, there are opportunities for business and property development with investment cost determined by the condition of the real estate. We are planning to host an open house of available downtown properties to assist property owners with filling their empty storefronts.
In 2011, we experienced 16 businesses opening, while six closed for a net gain of 10 new businesses, which created 46 new jobs. Total new investment in 2011 was $1.6 million. Since 2007, the combination of public and private investment in downtown has been more than $8 million. For more than a decade Hickory Downtown Development Association has requested the same amount of money. As with most organizations, the cost of doing business has challenged our imaginations to do more with less. This year will be more difficult for us. The stage will no longer be used on Union Square, which will in turn reduce revenues due to the loss of stage rental fees at the same time the cost of police protection during special events has increased by 8% and the cost of utilities from Duke Energy has risen by 7%. Subsequently, the cost of providing lighting for public parking and on city streets in several of the areas of downtown has risen. The services that we provide for the City of Hickory encompass a variety of projects. A few of them are administering the Main Street program, coordinating the downtown parking task force, collaboration of special events and distributing weekly updates of public inquiries of marketing construction on Union Square.
Habitat for Humanity – Water Taps - $22,850 - Mitzi Gelman was not present. The mayor spoke about this association. He stated that the city has for years donated water and sewer taps for Habitat homes. Habitat for Humanity has built over 120 houses in Catawba County, greatly enhancing life for probably over 600 people in this community. This gets property on tax rolls, helps people build equity, and pursue the American dream. This helps to improve properties that need to be enhanced or may be sitting idle.
Hickory Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau - Bebe Leitch - $20,000 - Bebe Leitch was not present. The Mayor stated that city likes the work that the Convention and Visitor's Bureau does.
The Salt Block Facility Improvement - Mark Sinclair - $100,000 - LT Thompson is the treasurer for the SALT Block, and he presented the information. The SALT Block is home to six important and dynamic organizations, including the Catawba Science Center, The Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory Choral Society, The Western Piedmont Symphony, United Arts Council, and the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library. The mission is to pay for the cost of the physical facilities for all of the organizations, except for the library. The foundation pays for the lion's share of utilities, heating and cooling, cleaning, building management and capital replacement. This allows the resident organizations to concentrate on providing wonderful exhibitions, programs, and activities that enrich all of our lives without worrying about the roof over their heads. This is an economic and cultural asset to our community, collectively serving over 300,000 people per year including students from every Hickory public school. Including the library, they serve over a half million people per year. The city provides security guards and ground maintenance for the organization. For the past three years, the city has provided monies for capital refurbishment of the buildings. This year, funds were used to help refurbish the second floor of the West Wing building, which was constructed in 1956 and had been largely untouched since that date. This cost over $800,000 and provides a community room, an atrium, new office spaces for the SALT Block foundation and United Arts Council, and refurbished bathrooms. Last year, the funding was used to replace roofs on two of the SALT Block buildings. Two years ago, the HVAC units were replaced.
United Arts Council of Catawba County - Lynn Loehr - $40,010 - Kimberly George, the President of the United Arts Council of Catawba County made the presentation. Since 1984, organizations that contribute to our quality of life and economic development in our community have been able to provide educational and arts programs. The strength of our cultural programming is a key part of the recruitment of new businesses and professionals to our community. The active arts council, the Hickory Museum of Art, the Catawba Science Center with its planetary and aquarium, the Hickory community theater, the Western Piedmont Symphony, Hickory Choral Society, The Hickory Landmark Society, and the Hickory History Center help set our city apart from other communities our size. Organizations seeking grants must contribute dollar for dollar. Each dollar contributed by the city translates to a minimum of four dollars spent in our community. The North Carolina Arts Council estimates the number is $24 spent locally for every dollar granted to the arts. In this fiscal year, the dollars have helped fund projects such as the Lenoir-Rhyne visiting writers series, the Lenoir-Rhyne friends of music series, a bilingual planetarium show for Catawba Science Center, folk art displays for children at the Hickory Museum of Art... In 2010-2011 project grants totaled $165,049. Operation grants totaled $240,000. Together that adds up to $405,049 spent and matched in our community. Again they ask for one dollar per capita.
Hickory Community Theatre - John Rambo - $50,000 - John Rambo made the presentation. Mr. Rambo stated that the partnership with Hickory was started by Kay Johnson, who work for the Department of Recreation. The city offered the use of the auditorium and the Hickory Community Theater has only once performed outside of its current location, when the boiler had to be replaced. The boiler replacement spurred the renovation that took place in 1986. The city contributed 50% of the cost. Since that time, the city and the theater have partnered for the upkeep of the building. The city and the theater worked together to restore the awnings in front of the building in 1994 to return it to its original appearance and following that the city and the theater co-authored the application for national registry status in 1999. The theater hosted the debates for the Mayoral candidates in 2005. When the city received All-American status in 2007, the theater hosted the city's screenings of the presentation for the competition...
At this time the theater has undertaken a capital campaign for extensive renovations of the facility and updates, and the goal is $1.2 million. This the first time this has been talked about in a public forum and the theater will be going public in April. Currently the theater has raised $500,000 of the $1.2 million goal. They are requesting the city's assistance for $50,000 of the first phase of the renovations which include an elevator to make the building ADA compliant and renovations to the restrooms to enhance their compliance with the ADA and also their capacity. Especially the women's restroom.
The volunteers for the Hickory Community Theater acknowledge with gratitude the support and contributions of the City of Hickory in making available old City Hall. As of the end of the Christmas season, 11,000 visitors have come to see the Hickory Community Theater productions.
The Hound was glad to hear some of these items. Usually there is a template that is followed and you just fill in the numbers. Of course the HDDA presentation is what caused my ears to perk up. The positive note is that they are looking to incorporate the SALT Block, Frye Regional, and Lenoir-Rhyne into a sculpture walk to make Union Square more pedestrian accessible and friendly. To that I say kudos. As I always have stated Downtown is and must be considered more than Union Square. As Rebecca Inglefield later states when she speaks during Citizens Requesting to be heard, the Ridgeview Library has a sculpture and it too should be considered as part of the pedestrian path.
I think that all of the art and cultural items are worthy endeavors. We receive a lot of benefit for those dollars. We have an excellent community theater and the SALT Block is one of the best cultural centers in this State. I also think Scott Millar does an excellent job with the EDC. He is one of the few people holding the cards close to the vest that I trust and that is because I see how much effort he is putting into attracting businesses to our area. The man is everywhere.
A. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from David Lee Brittain and Wife, Erin Brittain to Daniel Edgar Brittain in Oakwood Cemetery
B. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Daniel Kirk Brittain to Fonda Kay Brittain in Oakwood Cemetery
C. Special Event Permit Application for Hickory Crawdads St. Patrick’s Day Party Scheduled for Saturday, March 10, 2012 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at L.P. Frans
D. Special Event Permit Application for Grave Marking Ceremony for Clinton Cilley, Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (Civil War) by Catawba Valley Chapter of the North Carolina Sons of the American Revolution to be held at Oakwood Cemetery on April 21, 2012 from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
E. Amendment to Traffic Ordinance to Eliminate “No Parking Any Time” Requirement Along 18th Avenue Place NE Between 15th Street Place NE and 14th Street Place NE - A petition was signed by four of six homeowners along 18th Avenue Place NE to remove the “No Parking any Time” signs. When the signs were erected, there was a dispute between the neighbors about parking along the street. The dispute has since been settled, and the residents would like for the signs to be removed. A week-long parking study was performed by the Traffic Division, and it was found that only two vehicles were parked on the street, and that was at separate times. There is adequate lane width for thru traffic. Staff recommends that the “No Parking Any Time” signs be removed.
F. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of
Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following requests were considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on February 2, 2012:
• Tara Byrd, 712 3rd Street SE, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan in 2005. The current balance of the loan is $4,155.91. Ms. Byrd is in need of a roof. The Citizens’ Advisory recommends loaning her an additional $5,000.00 for her much needed roof.
Each of the following applicants is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2011 Urgent Repair Program. This program provides qualified low income citizens with assistance for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,000.
• Dorothy & Hosea Merrill, 357 8th Avenue Drive SW, Hickory
G. Grant Project Ordinances
1. To budget a $13,950 Federal Grant award from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services thereby establishing the 2010 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program project. This Grant will allow the City to fund a part time position which will manage the installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for target groups throughout the jurisdiction. The grant is fully funded with the exception of the $1,068 FICA benefit; therefore a transfer from the operational budget is necessary and is accomplished through BOA # 15.
Budget Ordinance Amendment
1. To appropriate $3,045 of General Fund Balance to the Legal Services line item. This appropriation is necessary to pay Smith, Rodgers, and Strickland for legal services and support to the Hickory Police Department. $3,045 represents Police State Reimbursement balances from previous years (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) that have rolled into Fund Balance at year end, therefore an appropriation is necessary.
2. To budget a $500 Police Department donation from the New Life Authentic Christian Community in the Police Department Departmental Supply line item. Funds will be used to purchase educational supplies for Ridgecrest and Ridgeview children's weekly meetings and supplies for working with youth
3. To transfer $1,068 of Miscellaneous Grant Reimbursements to the 2010 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program project. The City has received a $13,950 Federal Grant award from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to fund a part time position. This position will manage the
installation of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for target groups throughout the jurisdiction. The grant is fully funded with the exception of the FICA $1,068 benefit; therefore a transfer from the operational budget is necessary.
4. To transfer $37,900 of Contingency to the Code Enforcement/Nuisance Enforcement line item in the Code Enforcement Division’s budget. This transfer is to provide funds for physically securing Southern Desk property. A lien will then be placed on this property for the expense to secure it. (removed from the consent agenda) - Alder Patton inquired about the timeframe. Manager Berry stated that in the agenda. The money has been appropriated in the second reading. Alder Patton and asked if this would take a week or so, to which Manager Berry affirmed. Alderman Guess asked about an inferred potential buyer, to which Manager Berry stated that they never got any information that anything took place on that and it has become such a hazard that they must move forward to demolition.
5. To increase Powell Bill Revenue by $28,500 and budget in the Street Division Contracted Services line item for priority maintenance to the Falling Creek Bridge. This repair project is a short term solution; however a long term plan for additional work is under review. The $28,500 increase in the Powell Bill fund
represents actual over budgeted revenue thereby providing the funding source for the work.
New Business - Public Hearings
1. Resolution Confirming and Levying Assessment Along a Portion of 8th Street NW – Petition No. 01-12 - The City Clerk received a petition from the owner of property along 8th Street NW to install curb and gutter along a portion of their street per Section 29-2 of the Hickory Code of Ordinances. The City Council adopted a Resolution Directing that Street Improvement Project Be Undertaken on October 4, 2011, and the work was completed on December 19, 2011. The Preliminary Assessment Roll for Petition No. 01-12 has been prepared based on the curb and gutter constructed along 8th Street NW. Staff recommends that Resolution Confirming and Levying Assessment be approved. Council approved unanimously.
New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Second Reading - Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 15, Item 4 - To transfer $37,900 of Contingency to the Code Enforcement/Nuisance Enforcement line item in the Code Enforcement Division’s budget. This transfer is to provide funds for physically securing Southern Desk property. A lien will then be placed on this property for the expense to secure it. Staff requests that this item be approved on second reading in order to expedite the project. Council approved unanimously.
Citizens Requesting to be Heard
Larry Pope came to the podium and spoke about two issues. One, he wrote a letter to the city asking about direct travel for himself, as a visually impaired person, from the parking lot on Union Square to Union Square itself. Since that discussion, he has met downtown with two representatives from the city, because there seems to be a misunderstanding about what he is asking for. Larry noticed about a week after that a fence went up around the new Farmers Market facility that is being constructed, and it has narrowed down the walkway even more, and it has made it more difficult to get from point A to point B. And he knows that either we are going to have to come to a compromise or it leaves him no choice but to move forward as he normally has to when dealing with the City of Hickory.
The second item that he wants to address is about a meeting he had with the Mayor (Complaint prompts audit of Hickory Public Housing Authority) and one of the Assistant City Managers and the staff attorney some months ago, and he was told that during that meeting that the city has no control over an agency that is established through City Council and that there is nothing that they can do. He knows for a fact that last Monday or Tuesday, "You" called wanting to speak to the executive director of that organization because you had received a phone call from the media. When I met with you and the others from the city. I was hoping to settle what my concerns were about the organization, and it was not so.
I left that meeting, with no choice but to file a formal complaint with Washington HUD office and Greensboro HUD office. As you know, they immediately sent representatives and did an investigation and as you know, that decision is coming down probably somewhere in the middle of March. I made another phone call today, because there was an assault on a worker by the executive director, which is pending in court and comes up on this coming Thursday. When the person that was assaulted went to meet with the assistant DA yesterday, they were told that that case would be dropped. I am of the opinion that... I have no proof, but because of the city's wanting to protect that individual that committed the assault, I am of the opinion that the DAs office received a phone call asking them to dismiss the case. I hope that that is not what has happened, because I once again contacted HUD in Washington and in Greensboro and what their response was that... It seems like nothing is going to be done about the assault. And if the city, and those commissioners that you appoint to that board doesn't wish to do what's right, I will say to you in this open meeting, I hope that all of those individuals, including city officials that need to be arrested and prosecuted by the federal government will be done and it will happen, because it has been given more than one opportunity to resolve the issues. There was a meeting on February 10 with the board of commissioners, and none of them appeared to hear the complaints of those individuals who have been threatened, assaulted, or intimidated; which is against the personnel policy of both the local office and the federal office. They have a zero tolerance for that type of behavior. So I hope that sometime about the first or middle of April, I will be back here and I'll say I told you so.
The Hound says Wow!!! It will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Meg Locke, who is the owner of Groucho's Deli on Union Square, came to the podium. We're speaking tonight in direct relationship to the funding request that we put before you and I am speaking on behalf of a large number of business owners, merchants, and individuals who are faced with dramatic financial consequences due to a number of factors. It is our collective opinion that the health and welfare of our downtown depends on creating a new downtown business association that functions under the guidance and direction of the City of Hickory, under the City Manager's office with the Assistant City Manager of Development.
Over time, we have witnessed the steady decline in the marketing and promotion of the heart of our community. The Main Street program is absolutely imperative to our success and yet the present organization is faced with declining membership, fractured leadership, and a lack of commitment to the fundamental guidelines necessary to reach a large number of citizens and visitors to our area. We know that we have a phenomenal opportunity with the city, but the facts are as follows; currently over 60% of the HDDA's budget supports staff salaries and benefits. Less than 20% of actual members are active in the HDD and we believe that we have an alternative, and we respectfully request that you consider it.
Only those who will risk going forward can find out how far one can go. It is difficult to embrace change and yet risk and change are not only necessary but can create hope. I have personally advocated for downtown Hickory since 1995 when my family and I moved here. My business will celebrate its seventh anniversary in March. I have been a member of the current organization and actively involved in a number of levels. I can no longer afford to wait for the promotion and marketing of downtown. Because we do not market collectively, I have spent in excess of $25,000, and I am but one example in the last five years of what I have personally spent; when in fact, we could be marketing collectively. If we had one voice dedicated to the city' brand director, we would have greater success. Our proposal, and we are asking, and we would like the opportunity to talk to you further about this because we are a new organization.
Our funding request will also be for $75,000. $25,000 would create a new special events coordinator under the direction and leadership of the City Manager's office. This person would work with your brand director to coordinate all existing events, while working with the newly appointed committee modeled after the Business Development Council to create new diverse family oriented events to bring other visitors and tourists back downtown, that will benefit our merchants and our downtown businesses. We believe that the revenue that has previously been generated will not be lost, but only be enhanced by this new alternative. We will ask that the $50,000 be used as a line item to market our brand to follow what you have so assiduously done by marketing the entire city "Life Well-Crafted"... "Downtown Well-Crafted." We need a united voice in a united brand, and we need the help of the City Manager's office, and we need your help as Mayor and the Council to help us get this done.
Collective-bargaining, coordinated Branding, and the prudent use of funding will ensure the success of our requests. After years of inertia and frustration. We are committed to creating an organization whose focus, energy, and vision reflect our best and bring forest and citizens alike to the heart of our community.
The Hound can't see giving Union Square businesses any more money. They were given what they wanted with the Mainstreet organization. Go read the minutes from the early 2000s. This was going to galvanize downtown and that is when the city agreed to pump $50,000 per year into downtown. There have been multiple millions of dollars spent on Union Square. Is the city going to help market Springs Road? Southwest Hickory? 127?
There are plenty of businesses located throughout the city that aren't catered to by the local government. Once again we see the "Too Big To Fail" syndrome brought down to the local level. It seems that the more money directed towards Union Square, the more that they want. Where does this end? "If you don't do this we are going to go out of business, so you need to pay for our advertising, broadband, security. parking, events, event marketing, etc." You can go on FOREVER!!!
I can get ultimately vitriolic about this, but I am going to try not to. I think this is going to be a major issue in the next Citywide Election. You have just seen hundreds of thousands of dollar directed towards the big tent on Union Square. You see City Workers doing the work on this project, which means that there is cost that is being hidden. You see that this Council has shut down Hickory Alive and hear Connie Kincaid talking about the loss of revenue.
I agree that their needs to be an organization of Union Square business and property owners, but the city should not have any tentacles in such an organization. The city can take care of infrastructure, but should have nothing to do with the costs of doing business. Work with Connie Kincaid. If you want more revenues, then work out the details of a BID tax.
Al Spainhour next came to the podium and his presentation was short and to the point. He talked about the former Spainhour store, which belonged to his family, which was associated with downtown since 1929. He worked in the business for over 40 years, and he still currently works in downtown Hickory and he has seen the transition from the time of Beemer Harrell to the present day. Based on what he has seen and experienced in the last few years, and what he continues to see, the new downtown organization may well be able to deal with the current issues, and he endorses the plan of Meg Locke.
Dawn Giosi, who owns a business downtown called Welcome Home Furniture and Home Decor, spoke about the $11,000 she has spent since July to promote her business and help advertise locally. She can no longer do this. She is confident that the ideas to restore downtown can succeed with the help of the brand director.
Atty. Rebecca Inglefield next came to the podium. She passed out information to the City Council. She spoke about a book by Septema Poinsette Clark who married a man from Hickory and was a leader and pioneer of the Civil Right's movement. Another person, she has had fun learning about is Hickory's native son Chris Hughes. One of the founders of Facebook. He was born at Frye Regional and went to Oakwood Elementary and then Hickory High School. He is a public school product from this area. What we talk so much about in our area is jobs, and she cannot imagine anyone better than Chris Hughes to give us some advice. Chris Hughes wrote a letter to our state that appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer on September 9, 2011. This was an open letter to our General Assembly.
She read the letter:
Facebook Co-founder Chris Hughes Comes Out Against NC's Proposed Anti-Gay Amendment
She talked about Dr. Gail Long, who is from Conover, has created a group to help make schools safer for people who are gay. She next talked about the survey from Newsweek and the happiest and saddest cities in the United States. Hickory ranks at the bottom of both of the surveys. She talked about the book called The Coming Jobs War... every decision that you make now needs to consider the impact on good jobs. The Rise of the Creative Class is a book that was written 10 years ago, that is still really relevant to read... here's Hickory again at the bottom of this survey. So if someone is looking at this town considering moving here.... we're at ground zero, and this is a wonderful time for innovation, and that is what The Coming Jobs War talks about. We can't do things the old way. A good way to start is to create a resolution that says that we don't want that amendment.
She stated that she puts a lot of questions on the city's Facebook page, and she doesn't get any answers to her questions. She asked of anyone answers or sees any of the questions that are posed on Facebook. The Mayor answered that he does not know and that was the only question that he would answer. She stated that if the Mayor doesn't look at the City's Facebook, Who knows and who cares?
She stated that she was excited about the sculpture walk. It will help with diabetes and heart disease and make it a really fun city. But she knows that there's a sculpture at Ridgeview and it needs to be included. She is saddened that the city has lost its track team. The city had a track team and for some reason it has gone away.
She next talked about the fact that we have businesses in the area that produce awnings. Some of the best awnings made in the world and she believes that since we are at ground zero it would be a good time to stop the tent downtown and see if we can't use local awnings. We didn't have any competitive bidding, and no one understands that. Have some fun with that money and have some competitive ideas of some challenges with each other. And she understands it's not a time for discussion and she appreciates the city allowing her the time.
The Hound thinks the above presentation was awesome, because it gets at the crux of what I have been addressing. The decisions that this Council makes have a direct impact on our ability to grow the local economy. You have to look at the big picture. You have to think about the consequences, intended or unintended, when you make those decisions. And many times you have to put what is best for the community above your personal self interests and preferences. Can we do that in Hickory? I don't know, but I hope so.
Matters Not On The Agenda
The city has chosen to go to PC-based agendas. The Mayor announced that he may run for state auditor. He is not committing to that, but he is given some very serious thought to it. He does not intend to step down as mayor. He will try to be here for every council meeting. Atty. Crone went into the process of replacing the mayor, should he run and win.
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