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Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Questions with Candice Harold - Candidate 2013 Hickory City Mayoral Election

Candice Harold is a Candidate in the upcoming Hickory City Mayoral race. She will first face an October 8th primary against incumbent Mayor Rudy Wright and fellow challengers Dr. Joseph Inglefield, Ernie Masche, Jeff Brittain, and Terry Revels. If she succeeds in being one of the top two vote getters, then she will move on to the November 5th at large election. The questions posed here are available for all candidates to answer. I have agreed to post them without critique and there will be no critical comments allowed in this article. There will be a "Candidates" Hickory Municipal Elections tab to the Right of this article. It will show anything related to these candidates as we move forward in this process. Anyone who wants to participate is free to do so. Please feel free to contact me at

1)      Can you give us some background and a history of yourself?  (Where were you born? What is your educational background?  Why did you come to or stay in Hickory?  Tell us about your professional accomplishments.) 

Yes, I was born in Hickory, NC and lived here up until I was 21.  At that time I moved to Raleigh, NC for a job opportunity and joined the United States Army Reserve.  I lived in Atlanta, GA for over a decade, initially prompted by a visit to help out an Army buddy of mine.   I relocated back to Hickory to my childhood home that I have been renovating.  Unable to find local work, I have worked as far as Wilkesboro and now I drive daily to Statesville to work as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) business consultant.

I was educated in Hickory Public Schools and had many academic and sports successes.  I am a National Beta Club Alumna.  I lettered in track & cross country at Hickory High School.  I have my undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in human resources management from Strayer University.  I am a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society.

I am in the application process for Masters in Public Administration programs, as education has always been of prime importance in my life.  I consider myself a lifelong student and plan to attend law school as well.
Professional accomplishments
~   Running a grassroots campaign for mayor of Hickory
~   Mentoring young ladies that are college bound
~   Managing a major women’s athletic chain store at age 18
~   General Manager of major retail chain business with $1.3 M annual revenue at age 25
~   Increasing quarterly revenue from $220,000 to $330,000 upon taking over leadership.
~   Successfully managing a staff of 40 employees
~   Managing a high volume retail coffee chain store with $2.1M annual revenue
~   Successfully managing the call activity of 200 phone agents remotely
~   Chairing the Headstart Parent Advisory Board
~   Junior Achievement Consultant
~   Being a Parents for Public Schools Member
~   Being a PTA Treasurer
~   Being a PTA Secretary
~   Running a successful consulting company
~   Running a successful transportation company
~   Power of One Achievement multiple times, based on doing the right thing as it relates to shareholders, customers and peers

2)       Tell us about the accomplishments you are most proud of achieving in your life?  Something besides having a family or raising children.  We all recognize that those are common goals that we all aspire to.  What’s the most exciting thing you saw/did/experienced were a part of in your personal life?  In your professional life? 

The accomplishments that I am most proud of are all of the ones above.  Each one of those accomplishments has shaped me into the person I am.  My work ethic and values shine in the work that I have done.  I find great joy in serving others.  The most exciting thing I have ever experienced was an Outward Bound excursion.  That wilderness excursion solidified through learned skills/tasks and the observation of how others deal with situations, that I am a survivor and not afraid to tackle new challenges.

In my professional life, the most exciting was seeing how my leadership and actions affected the P&L of the store location I was managing.  Increased revenue, sales and customer base because I was determined to be successful, treat people right and win no matter barriers that I faced.  Being so young at the time and achieving such high levels of success remains amazing. 

3)      If I were to ask people that know you to describe you what would they say?  
Candice is passionate, resilient, has a diverse point of view, knowledgeable, loving, determined, hard worker, helper, a leader, tenacious, strong character, analytical, thoughtful, great listener, open-minded and puts the needs of others first over her own.
4)      How much bearing do the opinions of the people around you have on your decisions?  
I am one who weighs the pros and cons when making decisions.   Input from others is valuable from others and necessary. I make decisions based on facts not opinions, emotions or peer pressure.

5)      Can you tell us of a professional mistake that you have made that may have had an impact on who you are today?  Does it still bother you?  Can you share with us how you came to grips with that error? 
A professional mistake that I made that has had an impact on the woman I am today would take us back to managing the retail store at 18 years old.  I was being recognized for top sales in the company, but the verbal accolades always came from my peers that were out of the region and/or state.  This bothered me at the time and I wondered why the District Manager never made mention.    It does not still bother me because as I continued to manage people, I realized what being a great manager meant.  It meant praising people when you catch them doing a great job and never taking the job they do for me for granted.  I learned to tell and show my employees they were doing a great job.  When I received bonuses, I have given each staff member an equal share of my bonus.  It is important for employees to know that they are valued and how much you care.

6)      If you were given enough money to tackle one project (think nearly unlimited) that you felt was important to the Hickory Area, what would that issue be? 
Wow! There are so many projects, so little time and so little money.  Homelessness and Jobs come to mind.  I am going to look at jobs/wages together which will affect the homeless as well.  I would increase the minimum wage of all Hickory Citizens.  What?  I would supplement the hourly wage gap to bring the hourly wage to $12.00/hour. We would also start a push for Made in the USA factories manufacturing everything from socks to furniture. I would provide a free 2-year education to all the citizens. Startup funds would be provided to all entrepreneurs.

7) Let’s say there is no money available for the foreseeable future.  What one project (priority) would you push as part of your agenda that can be done with little or no money?  

If there was no money available for the foreseeable future, my project would be a “Get Fit Initiative.”  Health is one of the areas mentioned in the Gallup report naming Hickory on the list of “Most Miserable Cities.”  Being a lifelong runner, I stick to that as a method to maintain my weight and stay healthy, plus I do not frequent fast food restaurants.  There are many residents suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.  People are faced with these issues due to heredity, socio-economic reasons and lack of healthy food choices in their communities.  
As a city, we can get fit together. The Downtown Farmers’ Market will accept the government electronic food benefit cards, so those living in poverty can have access to such treasures as fresh foods, instead of the current convenience foods.   We will partner with the NC Cooperative Extension to provide free healthy cooking and nutrition classes, plus gardening tips/assistance to the community gardens to be placed throughout the city in the areas that are not within walking distance to grocery stores.

Some cities have experienced much success with “Biggest Loser” events and it becomes annual or semi-annual.  Entrants pay a small fee ($20 for example) and the health measures such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels and/or weight are tracked for 6,8 or 12 weeks.  Winners receive the proceeds from the entry fee.  Workouts can be completed at community recreation centers and local health clubs to ensure no matter the area one lives, one can participate.  The collective focus on health could be something to catch on in Hickory!

8) What is your overall philosophy of the development of this area?  Where would you like to see us in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

My philosophy for the development of this area is growth.  In 5 years, we will be well into recovery from the economic downturn that we are facing present-day.  Unemployment has dropped substantially and growth can take the front seat.  There are more vibrant small business throughout the city because we have been investing in our most valuable resource, our people!  We continue to listen to the needs of the people and pride and morale are increased.  There is less disparity in the development of communities within the city.

There are more homeowners than ever before because people have the tools they need, such as knowing about down payment assistance programs and resource centers such as the Family Guidance Center to explain the process, plus there is more affordable housing for renters.  Public housing is stepped to where residents that do not want to be lifelong residents can have a managed plan to becoming homeowners or renters outside of public housing.  

Economic growth and equitable disbursement of funds throughout the city is prevalent.  Long-term 10-20 year goal is to ensure all these measures and others are in place in order for us to have sustainable communities that will stand the test of time and rough economic times without crippling to repeat what we have experienced during the economic downturn. 

9)  If you could define your Personal Legacy what would you like it to be?  What would you like to be remembered for? 
I would want to pass a legacy along of tenacity, honesty, respect for others, and love for diversity, purpose-driven, mentoring, entrepreneurial spirit and leadership.  I want to be remembered for empowering people with the education and courage to achieve their goals, aspirations and dreams. 

10) How do you define Leadership? 
Leadership is the ability to guide others to a common goal.  Leadership is making the tough call, when others wouldn’t.  Leadership is not about popularity, but solidarity.  Leadership is being able to empower, encourage and energize others.  Leadership is about getting the job done.  Leadership is balancing power and delegating effectively.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hickory - The Company Town

What we have seen in this community is that there are 60ish, 70, 80 and 90 year old people who are stuck in the nostalgia of yesteryear. They want to desperately go back in time to a place that held comfort for them. A place where everyone conformed to a top-down static reality. The plantation had evolved into the company town. The definition of a Company Town is a community that is dependent on one firm for all or most of the necessary services or functions of town life (as employment, housing, and stores). Old Hickory was basically an Oligopoly where a handful of companies ran the town and for the most part the families who controlled those companies are still trying to maintain control today.

That does not work in the modern ever changing world, but we have people who are holding us hostage. We have already seen the precursory economic decline in this community, and while the clock ticks towards the oncoming complete population implosion, we have those in charge telling us to sit down and shut up while they continue to attempt to jam their square peg into the round hole. All they are doing is busy work.

It is time that a 21st century mindset is allowed thrive in our community. I spoke about it all four years ago. Rudy Wright attempts to conveniently espouse that we have somehow turned the corner. This is the same Mayor Wright that was telling us after the economic implosion of 2001 up until 2008 that this was going to be our year, every year. His supporters say don't listen to Shell and his friends. They can't tell you why not to listen to us. They just attack me/us and say that we hate Hickory. No, I hate that they have that Old School, Company Town, segregationist mindset, "you stay on your side of town and we'll stay on ours, but we are going to tell you what to do on your side of town."

I know an older lady that lives in Highland. She moved there around six years ago. She reported gang activity and tagging to the police and to several members of the Hickory City Council. They listened, but didn't do much. She was actually told by a Council member that she should have known better than to buy a house in the Highland area. That is the mindset that I speak of above. They want to have slummy parts of the community. We've all met people like this in our lives. They build their egos up by putting others down... And that is why Hickory is failing. The Company Towners...

I go back to an article I wrote on July 25, 2009:

Hickory -- A Lack of Creativity?

We are living in a transitional age. A period of transitioning out of the industrial age and into an age of individual empowerment. That is causing great discomfort in our region, because many of the people here in our metropolitan area were married and devoted to Manufacturing and Production industries. The loss of these industries gives people a feeling of loss and abandonment.

Abandonment is defined as, to leave completely and finally; forsake utterly; desert.
Abandonment is a core human fear that everyone has experienced at some point in their lives. The people in our area, who are suffering through these rough economic times, brought about by unemployment or underemployment, feel lost and/or helpless, because the structure they were depending on for their very survival has disappeared.

These issues of Abandonment tend to damage ones self-esteem. The loss of our manufacturing economy is much like
abandonment by a friend. When a friend abandons you, they are still alive, but the pain that we feel is a sense of rejection. That is much the same as the people in this area who have employment issues. These people have not only lost their way of life; they have lost their sense of self.What our area is going through economically is overwhelming to many of our citizens. They are wary of the rapid change we are seeing and suffering Anxiety at the thought of having to adjust to such a different world. But, we cannot stop this change!!! We are part of this new global experience, whether we are willing participants or not. We can and must have an open dialogue about the future, but one thing is certain, we better get on the road that will lead to better economic circumstances; because the longer we wait, the harder the road will be to hoe. Doing nothing is not an option.

I believe the current economic climate in this nation requires that we define a new parameter of economic circumstance. We have to come to grips with the realization that our Manufacturing Industries are not coming back. Right now, around one-third of the Hickory metro's businesses are manufacturing. That is compared to 12% nationally and it is down from over 50% less than 20 years ago. We are suffering from that negative momentum and it is a waste of time to look in the rear-view mirror. We are going to have to redevelop our job structure by joining the new age of creativity and knowledge.

People must come to the realization that careers will no longer be determined by specific tasks. Employment will be determined by broader generalities. You will have to define yourself by the strength of your skill-set. Whatever you are good at and your niche and interests will determine your career. This means that your unique, and in many ways inherent, skill-set will determine your employability.

The name Richard Florida has been brought up in the Economic Development circles I have been involving myself in as of late. His focus is on social and economic theory. He is currently a professor at the University of Toronto. While he was teaching at Carnegie-Mellon University (in Pittsburgh, PA), he wrote a book called The Rise of the Creative Class. He believes the development of the Creative Class is a key driving force for economic development of post-industrial cities in the USA.

He wrote an article in the Washington Monthly, in May 2002, that describes his thesis of the Creative Class. The article is entitled The Rise of the Creative Class - Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race. While I don't completely agree with some of what the man espouses, I do agree with many of his premises.

In the article he displays a system of what he calls Creativity Rankings. Below is a summary of their meaning:
The key to economic growth lies not just in the ability to attract the creative class, but to translate that underlying advantage into creative economic outcomes in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses and regional growth. To better gauge these capabilities, I developed a new measure called the Creativity Index (column 1).

The Creativity Index is a mix of four equally weighted factors: the creative class share of the workforce (column 2 shows the percentage; column 3 ranks cities accordingly); high-tech industry, using the Milken Institute's widely accepted Tech Pole Index, which I refer to as the High-Tech Index (column 4); innovation, measured as patents per capita (column 5); and diversity, measured by the Gay Index, a reasonable proxy for an area's openness to different kinds of people and ideas (column 6).

This composite indicator is a better measure of a region's underlying creative capabilities than the simple measure of the creative class, because it reflects the joint effects of its concentration and of innovative economic outcomes. The Creativity Index is thus my baseline indicator of a region's overall standing in the creative economy and I offer it as a barometer of a region's longer run economic potential. The following tables present my creativity index ranking for the top 10 and bottom 10 metropolitan areas, grouped into three size categories (large, medium-sized and small cities/regions).
If you take a look at the article, you will see that the Hickory MSA was ranked #54 out of 63 in the Small Size City Rankings when this article was published in 2002. These rankings consisted of 63 metro areas reporting populations 250,000 to 500,000 in the 2000 Census.

We were ranked #61 out of 63, in the percentage of Creative Jobs that existed in the community versus total jobs in the community. (Wiki) Creative industries typically include industries that focus on: creating and exploiting intellectual property products such as music, books, film and games; or providing business-to-business creative services including advertising, public relations and direct marketing. Hickory also ranked near the bottom fourth, #48 out of 63, in High-Tech jobs. In the other two categories, Innovation and Diversity, we were ranked in the middle, #32 and #30 respectively.

The Hounds Opinion (July 2009)  - This article by Mr. Florida is seven years old, but I feel it holds a lot of relevance towards what Hickory has seen over the last seven years. I think over time that I will be able too prove the division between what I have constituted as Old Hickory and New Hickory. Some may not like the semantics of the term "Old Hickory," but I do feel it is the reality of our current circumstances.

The correlation between the issues that Florida describes with Pittsburgh of 2002 are much like the issues that our own city faces. Pittsburgh is a lot larger than Hickory, but it is in the foothills of western Pennsylvania like Hickory is in the foothills of western North Carolina. It was an industrial city that was primarily developed around steel, much like we developed on furniture and textiles. Pittsburgh has an excellent educational system that supports three major universities. And the most predominant issue Florida describes in this article is how the city can retain its best and brightest citizens.

Pittsburgh has apparently dealt better with the transition that Florida describes in this article. Their unemployment level is 7.3% compared to this areas 15.5% problem. Pittsburgh's primary industries have shifted more to high technology, such as robotics, health care, nuclear engineering, tourism, biomedical technology, finance, and services.

The people of Hickory should recognize that this city has a lot going for it, but we have to be honest about where we stand and willing to change the direction of this city to take advantage of its resources. We are losing many of our best and brightest young people and the numbers bear that out. While the middle-aged and elderly populations have grown substantially in the area, the 18 to 45 aged bracket has stood still since the year 2000. That reminds me of a church that doesn't add younger members. It is sure to fail. If we don't turn this situation around, then the writing is on the wall about the future viability of Hickory.

Hickory can no longer afford to give business "the business." We are moving into an age of connections and our government must become more adaptive and friendly to the needs of all business. If we want to grow this city, we must make sure that we have growing commercial enterprises. Lay out the ground rules, be consistent in the implementation, know what you are talking about, know the answers, and help entrepreneurs do their thing. Their needs to be an open dialogue between all of the citizens and city government. We must all come together.

A key to creativity is understanding and accepting the needs and differences of individuals. We should foster a tolerance of new realities. Many of today's realities were thought to be totally unrealistic and inconceivable in the past. In my opinion, we are running people out of this area and limiting our options, because we want people to conform to a template. We hear a lot about like-mindedness, but what about diversity? In the end, we can debate all of our differences, but we need to leave our egos behind and do what is needed to move this city forward in a positive direction. Everyone must be made aware that, from top to bottom, we are all in this thing together; because divided we will be sure to fall, but if we begin to collaborate, then we will soon stand in the positive reality of a bright and shiny Hickory.

Agenda about the City Council meeting of October 1, 2013

This Agenda is about the Hickory City Council meeting that will take place on the date listed above. 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. You can also look in the upper right hand corner of the front page of the Hickory Hound and (will soon) find the link to the past history of Hickory City Newsletters.

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

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

City Website has changed - Here is a link to the City of Hickory Document Center

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link:

City Council Agenda - October 1, 2013 

( Hound Pre-meeting comment) - Once again nothing stands out in this agenda. Nothing that might create the least bit of controversy will occur before the elections. We will only see self-aggrandizing propaganda sessions until late November and December.

Invocation by Rev. Susan Smith Walker, Assistant Pastor, Exodus Missionary Outreach Church

Special Presentations
A. Proclamation for Fire Prevention Week October 6-12, 2013
B. Branding Video Presentation by Business Development Committee – Laurie Hoover
C. Innovate Catawba
● Introduction of Debbie Shannon, Director and Program Manager for Innovate Catawba
● Update on Reinventing Spaces Workgroup, Stephen Shuford, Shurtape Technologies

Persons Requesting to Be Heard

Consent Agenda:
A. Special Events/Activities Application for Girls on the Run 5K, Lala Kozischek, Senior Wellness Director, Girls on the Run of Catawba Valley, Main Avenue, Union Square, December 7, 2013, 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

B. Special Events/Activities Application for Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center Vigil, Aleia Burwell, Victim Service Coordinator, Hickory Police Department, The Sails on the Square, October 15, 2013, 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

C. Special Events/Activities Application for Hickory’s Christmas Tree Lighting, Mandy Pitts, Communications Director/Brand Manager, The Sails on the Square, November 22, 2013, 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

D. Proclamation for International Walk to School Day, October 9, 2013. (Exhibit VIII.D.)

E. Grant Project Ordinance Number 2.
1. To budget a $9,000 North Carolina Historic Preservation Fund grant award and to budget $6,000 in local match funds from Interfaith Housing Development Corporation for the rehabilitation of the former Ridgeview Public Library. Grant funds will be used for Phase l of the project which includes window restoration, exterior trim repairs, ADA accessibility improvements to the rear entrance and some minor interior demolition. No funding from the City of Hickory is required for the grant project; however city approval is required because the city is the Certified Local Government and must act as the grant recipient.

F. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 5.
1. To appropriate $60,000 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the US Departments of Treasury and Justice) and budget in the Police Department’s Capital Improvement line items. This amendment is necessary to pay for materials needed to complete the parking lot project adjacent to the Hickory Police Department. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the US Departments of Treasury and Justice and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated
 2. To appropriate $2,430 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the US Department of Treasury) and budget in the Police Department's Capital Improvement line item. This amendment is necessary to cover an overage in this line item and maintain a balanced budget. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the US Department of Treasury and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.
3. To budget $76,500 of North Carolina Department of Commerce revenue for payment to Turbotec Products, Inc. for One North Carolina Fund Disbursement. A grant was approved by the North Carolina Department of Commerce One North Carolina Fund in the amount of $76,500 for local job growth and investment goals. Turbotec Products, Inc. has met the requirements to receive payment in the amount of $76,500.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Rezoning Petition 13-11 for the Property Located at 1076 Fox Chase Drive, Newton, containing .43 acres. - Ms. Crystal Kuhar has petitioned for rezoning .43 acres of property located at 1076 Fox Chase Drive. The petition is to rezone the property from Catawba County R-20 Residential to City of Hickory Low Density Residential (R-1) This public hearing was advertised on September 20, 2013 and September 27, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hound is the place for Candidate Issues and Discussion

I can't believe what I read in the Hickory Daily Record this morning. To put forth the piddly amounts of money that the current crop of candidates owe in taxes in the Hickory Municipal Elections is ridiculous. What does this have to do with this campaign??? Can you honestly say that this would have a negative effect on how any of them would govern?

Here we are 10 days away from the "Ward Primaries" and "Mayoral Primary" and nary a word on where the candidates stand on issues... nary a word on the direction they would take the city. Two candidate forums have been held and not one person from our local Paper attended. Notice that I called it a Paper, because I would be lying if I added the title News to it.

The Hickory Daily Record has been basically extorting the candidates, in my opinion, and maybe that is where this article comes from. The HDR keeps soliciting the candidates to buy advertising; soliciting them multiple times in multiple ways. They have changed policies on candidates getting their message out multiple times. I have reported it here. Those policies only make sense if you are trying to force candidates to buy space in the Paper to get a message out.

And how effective is their advertising. The Citizens for Equity in Government bought advertising from the Paper and advertised the Million Dollar Tent. The Paper went running to the other side and created a series of articles against the CEG based on the advertisements that they spent a lot of money on. No Steps Backwards morphed into Hickory United PAC and ran some pretty lame advertsing against Dr. Inglefield and Joe Brannock a couple months ago. I know that there were responses to those ads and none of them were run. Jeff Cline wheeled his 96 year old father out from the nursing home a couple days before the referendum election to say "why change something that isn't broken" and the HDR made a story out of that and there was no response afforded to the supporters of the referendum. They say there will be no letter to the editor allowed by candidates and then they allow Hank Guess's "I have a Dream" letter and don't allow anyone to respond.  People can only speculate about what is up with the HDR, their ambiguity, and their lack of consistency about policies.

What about the public service obligation of a newspaper. This is your community Hickory Daily Record. Do you not give a damn about what is going on around here? Maybe, just maybe the HDR should focus more on service and circulation, instead advertising sales. That doesn't mean to create an enemies list like our local government just because you don't like criticism. It mean become better. These policies don't make any sense unless you are attempting to (unfortunately there is no better word for it) extort money from the candidates. Why not allow there to be a back and forth in the editorial section? Why not run real profiles on each candidate, why not attend and report on the forums? The people's governance is what is at stake! Shouldn't the paper be interested in the community making the best and most informed decision?

You might not like what I have to say, but at least you can see that the Hound is attempting to get people involved and interested in their governance. If you support a certain candidate, then get people interested in what that candidate is all about. I do not pretend to be a neutral bystander. I am an advocate. If you want people to have more than a half a clue about what is going on around here, then you are going to have to get them to come here. And I welcome others who have a different opinion to start their own blog. We can't be anything other than better off.

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of September 17, 2013

I began recording the City Council late last year, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. Beside each agenda item, you will see the minute:second. Now you can click on that minute link and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

 Agenda about the City Council meeting of September 17, 2013

Special Presentations
A. Business Well Crafted Award to First Security Company, Inc. – Presented by David Gissy
from the Business Development Committee (3:35) - Presented to Joab Cotton

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
Cliff Moone speaks about U.S. Constitution Day (10:45)

Consent Agenda (14:15)

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Library’s Presentation of Summer Reading Program Highlights (14:30) - Presented by Carol Dennis (Librarian at Ridgeview) and Lisa Neal (Librarian at Patrick Beaver). This is part of youth services and the goal is to get children to want to read. Inspiring long long learning and a lifelong love of reading.

The goal is to fight the summer slump. Children can lose reading achievement when the go back to school after summer break. Children most vulnerable are children in poverty and children of color. There is an incentive program that awards prizes. Over 3,000 children attended. Chikldren could receive up to 5 books. The program lasted 10 weeks. There were 130 separate programs of various varieties. The cost of this program is incorporated into the Library's annual budget.

The Hound: By all accounts the program was a success.

2. Legal Department’s Update Regarding the HUD Housing Discrimination Complaints, re: Billy Sudderth et. al. vs City of Hickory (35:45)

 ( Hound Pre-meeting comment) - Nothing stands out in this agenda. The Departmental Report involving Bill Sudderth vs Hickory Inc. will be a one sided report in which the City Staff attorney will say that HUD inquiries are baseless. Nothing to see here move along type of report.

Hound's Post Meeting assessment - My assessment was as simple and succinct as possible and yet was spot on.

General Comments by the City Council (52:10)
*** Alder Patton was at the renovation of the Hickory Community Theater and accepted a keep from the organization.
*** Alder Fox made copmments about revitalization and Hickory being a happening town.
*** Alderman Guess made spoke about people attending the Neighborhood College program.

Friday, September 27, 2013

10 Questions with Crystal Killian - Candidate Ward 4 2013 Hickory City Council Election

Crystal Killian is a Candidate in the upcoming 4th Ward City Council race. First she will face an October 8th primary against incumbent Hank Guess and challenger Anetia Wright. If she succeeds in being one of the top two vote getters, then she will move on to the November 5th at large election. The questions posed to her are available for all candidates to answer. I have agreed to post them without critique and there will be no critical comments allowed in this article. There will be a "Candidates" Hickory Municipal Elections tab to the Right of this article. It will show anything related top these candidates as we move forward in this process.

1) Can you give us some background and a history of yourself? (Where were you born? What is your educational background? Why did you come to or stay in Hickory? Tell us about your professional accomplishments.)

I was born in Hickory NC and I have always lived in Hickory despite the constant urge to move to the coast. I am a Registered Nurse for Catawba County Home Health. I am certified in Medical-Surgical Nursing, since 2009. I am working on a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing with plans to obtain my Master’s in Physician Assistant.

2)Tell us about the accomplishments you are proudest of achieving in your life? Something besides having a family or raising children. We all recognize that those are common goals that we all aspire to. What’s the most exciting thing you saw/did/experienced/were a part of in your personal life? In your professional life?

My proudest accomplishment is raising a respectful, bright, and intelligent son in today’s world. I know that you state in the question, something besides raising a child, but as a single mother of an African American Son in 2013, when so many of them are being killed over appearances and gestures, the fact that I have gotten him this far is nothing short of a miracle.

3) If I were to ask people that know you to describe you what would they say?

They would say I am a hard worker who goes for what she wants! They would also say I am very intelligent, knowing random medical information is a gift.

4) How much bearing do the opinions of the people around you have on your decisions?

They do not have any bearing on my decisions. I have to live this life and they have to live theirs. If they want to come and live my life for a day, they are more than welcomed. Then and only then, will I allow their “assumptions” to influence me.

5) Can you tell us of a professional mistake that you have made that may have had an impact on who you are today? Does it still bother you? Can you share with us how you came to grips with that error

I don’t feel that I have made any professional mistakes. They felt like mistakes then, but as everything has evolved, they were the best for me. I worked at CVMC for 10 years. When I decided to leave it was a hard decision and I also thought after I left, I should’ve stayed there. But 4 years later, it was the best decision that I have ever made.

6) If you were given enough money to tackle one project (think nearly unlimited) that you felt was important to the Hickory Area, what would that issue be?

Nearly Unlimited: I would set up educational workshops in every neighborhood first and foremost. These workshops would train people, close to home, to perform needed jobs and acquire new skills.

7) Let’s say there is no money available for the foreseeable future. What one project (priority) would you push as part of your agenda that can be done with little or no money

Neighborhood Farmers Markets!!! Allowing the citizens to use benefits: SNAP and WIC Vouchers, to purchase fresh fruits and Vegetables.

8) What is your overall philosophy of the development of this area? Where would you like to see us in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

I feel that the development of this area is stagnant!! In 5-20 years I would like to see the larger “big box buildings” revitalized and businesses moving into them offering employment. I would also like to see all areas of Hickory looking healthy, no matter which way you enter the City Limits, there’s growth and liveliness everywhere, be it 127S or 321S or 127N or 321N.

9) If you could define your Personal Legacy what would you like it to be? What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for my kindness and caring personality. Never turning a blind eye to those in need and always giving to those who are in need. I don’t have a lot to give, but what I have I gladly share with all.

10) How do you define Leadership?

I define leadership as someone who is able to make the hard decisions, realizing that some will be affected in a negative way. Leadership consists of a willingness to listen and respect others opinions, and having the knowledge to act responsibly in the best interest of all involved.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hickory Inc. deleted videos now uploaded

All of the City Council meetings that Hickory Inc. deletes have now been reloaded onto my Youtube page. They are public domain and there is no reason that the city should be deleting these other than the fact that they don't want you to be able to reference them. This goes back to the openness and transparency issue frequently discusses by the challengers during this campaign.

Hickory Inc. City Council Video Recording Archive

Everyone also wants to see these meetings made available on Charter's Government Channel that Charter subscribers pay for. This is a public access channel that does not belong to the government. It belongs to the people. They have used it for governmental advertising and propaganda.  It is time that they use it for what it is intended for. As a tool to give the people better access to their local government.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Joe Brannock - Candidate Resume - Hickory City Council Ward 5

The Candidate's Heart

Today I received a phone call from a citizen interested in my campaign. He was an older fellow – a 75-year old retiree who arrived in Hickory along the same time I did (though obviously by different means). His request of me was simply this – email me a letter/resume summing up your campaign. Eas
y enough. We then went on to talk for another 45 minutes. By the end of our conversation I had won him (and his wife) over. I still sent the email and offer it below for everyone else to read as well.

Mr. -----

My apologies for the delay in getting this information to you. I do want to thank you for your phone call and your interest in my campaign.

Graduated from App. State University. Majored in Political Science

Political career:
I began working for Rep. Cass Ballenger in the Fall of ’01. I stayed with Ballenger’s office until Feb. ’04. I then began working on Rep. Richard Burr’s campaign for Senate (I was essentially traded in the off-season for some printer paper, toner, and a yet-to-be-named quantity of Post-it notes). I became Sen. Burr’s Western Regional Director in Jan. ’05, and headed up the Senator’s Asheville office. I was responsible for a 20-county region.

I left the Senator’s office in Dec. ’06 and took on a role in a small business my brother had started here locally. I’m still active in the operations of that business with my focus being on marketing and account management.

In the Fall of 2011, I registered with the Catawba County School system and became a certified substitute teacher. I’ve always been interested in, and very much enjoy, public service and being able to interact with the public in a positive way. Since I was no longer in professional politics, I felt that getting involved in education through substitute teaching would give me the opportunity to give back and hopefully be a positive influence in some of the kids’ lives.

Out of all the things that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience – whether through my time in the political realm or the private business sector – the most rewarding thing I’ve done with my life so far has been getting involved in the education system.

As far as my community involvement: I’ve served on the City’s Airport Taskforce (I am a private pilot) and on the City’s Rental Property Taskforce (in the past I have owned rental property). I work with the City’s Parks & Rec. Dept. as a sports official (baseball, football, volleyball). Along with others, I helped form the CEG. We successfully managed the petition drive and became the chairman of the CEG Ward Referendum Committee last year.

And that brings us to my decision to run for City Council. I believe the experience I gained working with Congressman Ballenger and Senator Burr gives me a truly unique perspective on how government should work. Being involved With a small, family-owned business I understand the concerns and needs of our local small-business community. And from my time in the school system over the past two years I’m becoming intimately knowledgable of the societal issues that the community at-large is facing.

By no means do I claim to have all the answers to Hickory’s problem. My first priority would be to simply open up the lines of communication and get people to acknowledge the problems we do have. Like I said on the phone, I grew up very comfortably, in NW Hickory (Lakeland Park). I never had to worry about crime or poverty. However, those are two very real issues that our fellow citizens deal with daily in other areas of our city. The ones that are affected most by those issues can’t fix the problem alone. And sadly, those of us that aren’t directly affected by those issues won’t acknowledge that we have those types of problems. We need leaders that realize a problem for one part of our city is a problem for all our city. In short, we’re all in this together.

I apologize for rambling. I do love this city and the people. I just want to do my part to make it better than it is now.

I’ll leave you with this quote. Sen. Burr was fond of it and I picked it up along the way as it sums up my feeling toward public service. It’s a quote from President George H. W. Bush (41). He said, “We are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We must not only hope to leave our kids better cars and bigger bank accounts. We must give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, his town better than he found it.”

Thanks again for your interest, and please feel free to call or email me any time. I do appreciate your support in this election.

All the Best,

Joe Brannock

Time to catch up - 9/25/2013

This post is for you who may be late to the party. I officially brought the Hickory Hound to the public five years ago this month. It has ebbed and flowed, but continuously built momentum over that time. Although this blog has had a loyal following over that span, the last year has greatly expanded the numbers of those who come here frequently.

There are some links and articles that I would like to point to that will help you catch up with where we are today. You will see that although I don't get everything right, there is a history of pointing the community to the trends that we are currently facing today. I don't get this all from on high. I get this from reading, researching, having conversations with a diverse group of people and then attemting to put the puzzle together in an understandable fashion to present to the public.

So, for those of you who don't have a full background of what this site is all about, here you go.

The following is an annual round of where we have stood at the given point in time:
The State of Hickory, North Carolina 2009
The State of Hickory - January 2010
The State Of Hickory 2011
The State Of Hickory 2012
The State of Hickory 2013

Two series of articles that studied Hickory Problems and Solutions:
(The first two have been in the upper right hand corner for 4 years):
Hickory - The Fixing Hickory Series
Hickory - Time to put the Puzzle together
References to where we are today - 9/13/2012

Take your time, but I hope you will go and read these. I encourage you to bookmark this and just read one of these per day. You will understand what all of this is about if you do so. And if you have questions or comments feel free to send them to me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Crystal Killian - Candidate Hickory City Council Ward 4 - Press Release

The following press release was sent to the Charlotte Observer and myself last night. Ms. Killian had planned on putting a press release in the Hickory Daily Record at some point in time. Candidates had originally been informed that they could have one press release in the HDR either during the primary or the at-large race, but the HDR changed that decision and Ms. Killian was informed on September 6th that she had until the end of the 8th to submit the press release. She had to work that weekend, which made that impossible, so she isn't going to have a press release in the Hickory Daily Record. I am happy to afford her the opportunity here that our local paper will not.

Ms. Crystal Killian has announced her candidacy for Hickory City Council Ward 4.  Ms. Killian is a lifelong Hickory resident who was educated in the Hickory City School System.  She is a college graduate, and despite having several degrees and certifications in different fields, she feels that education should never cease.  With this in mind, she is a full time student currently enrolled at Catawba Valley Community College, with plans to continue, and obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and her Masters degree in Physician Assistant. 
Increasing educational opportunities is a vital aspect of her campaign.  She feels that all children should be afforded the best education possible and hopes to engage Hickory City Council and the Hickory City School Board to see that every child has the brightest future and opportunity to succeed. 
Crystal is employed as a Home Health Nurse at Catawba County Home Health, and witnesses the depravity in healthcare and nutrition in the lower socioeconomic areas of Hickory.  One aspect of her platform is lessening the urban food deserts in the city.  She hopes to work in conjunction with Department of Social Services Food Stamp Program/SNAP, and the WIC program to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to the areas of Hickory that are lacking this basic need.  She hopes to mirror the current farmers market that is held each Thursday at the Catawba County Health Department.  Increasing the nutritional state of not only adults, but the future, that is our children.  She hopes to do this by planning and implementing smaller farmers markets in neighborhoods that would benefit most, enabling them to use their food program benefits to purchase nutritious foods.  She would also like to see an expansion in the summer food programs that are currently sponsored by local churches, and provide them with City funding to continue this much needed program.  This program seeks to provide children with breakfast and lunch during the summer months, when they are not in school.  Increasing physical activity by increasing the operational hours of the recreation centers, which are tax-payer funded, is also another goal.  The benefits and importance of physical activity and healthier lifestyles of children are seen in all forms of media and literature. 
Crystal also feels that diversity is lacking on the current Hickory City Council.  Whether it is someone with a disability, someone of a different racial or socioeconomic background, or sexual preference, everyone who is a citizen of Hickory should be represented on council.  She feels that the current makeup of council is more reflective of a person’s financial status, and not a clear representation of the citizens in which they serve.  As a member of the Hickory City Community Relations Council since 2012, which strives to promote diversity in Hickory, she promotes and embraces diversity in all aspects of her life.
She is a single mother of one child, Joshua Killian, who is a student at Hickory High School.  

Payola Well Crafted - The Backwards Coalition - Part 2 - Submitted by Common Sense

Another evening and another e-mail from this person who has said that they frequently view the Hound. As I have stated before, they have said they personally know the Mayor and Council. They stated they could not post this information with their name for fear of reprisal. As with the information posted yesterday, I have verified that the contributions to these candidates by these people are accurate. This is an individual commenters opinion. It doesn't necessarily reflect my own opinion. I do feel that the information presented is relevant. You are responsible for coming to your own conclusions.

Submitted by Common Sense

... So in tallying up the campaign contributions for the candidates to-date, the familiarity of the names of those contributors was interesting. Let's think. Where have we seen this kind of "free speech" before and at these levels?

Allow me to take you back in time, not so very long ago. If you'll recall, during last year's Ward Referendum a group which called themselves the No Steps Backwards Coalition ("It's Important!") formed to ensure that Hickory maintain it's lily white united front. I say "lily white" but that's not completely fair. You see, these people are as equally proud of the green in their wallets as the shade of their skin - too far? Forgive me then.

At any rate, I present to you an amended list of contributors - same candidates, same names. Only this time I present for your amusement No Steps Backwards Coalition contributions too.

***NSBC contributions in red***

Mayor Rudy Wright: (gave $500 page 6, disbursed $517.01 to A Sign Co page 15 - net gain of $17.01)
Benny Yount - $500 ($1000 page 10 - owner of Paramount Auto Group)
Sue Redmond - $200 "Best Attempt" ($100 "Best Attempt" page 3)
Mike Johnson - $750 ($1000 page 12)
D. E. Eidson - $500
William Pitts - $100
Don Norwood - $500 ($400 page 10)

Hank Guess:
David Eidson - $500
Mike Johnson -$500 ($1000 page 12)
Don Norwood - $250 ($400 page 10)
Chip Fotheringham $100
Dean Proctor - $250 ($200 page 7)
Nancy Willingham - $200
Jeff Cline - $200 ($750 page 4)
Sue Redmond - $200 Retired ($100 page 3)

David Zagaroli:

William Pitts $100
Don Norwood $500 ($400 page 10)
Barbara Garlitz $300
Sue Redmond $200 VP Operations @ TCS Designs ($100 "Best Attempt" page 3)
Coke Gunter $500

So there you have it. Draw your own conclusions. Who REALLY has the ear of your elected officials? Do you have the $$$ to play? How much are you willing to contribute so that you too can serve on an advisory committee? Folks, I understand most of us don't have the disposable income that these campaign contributors have. I know I don't. But folks, we all have a vote - and an obligation to make sure that vote counts.

I would ask each of you to truly research ALL the candidates. Read about them. Visit their websites, Facebook pages, email them, call them. Don't let the lack of disposable income stop you from participating. You may not be able to write that $1,000-check or even the $20-check, but please reach out to those running to change Hickory for the better. A simple email could easily do wonders for a candidates morale. It's time to give the Good Guys a chance

Mayoral Candidates:
Ernie Masche - Phone: 828-855-1911 - email:
Website: - (facebook page) - twitter:
10 Questions w/ Hickory Hound

Jody Inglefield - Phone: 828-459-6530 - email:
Website: -
10 Questions w/Hickory Hound - Platform for 21st Century Hickory

Jeff Brittain - Phone: 828-270-9005 -  email: 
Website: - (facebook page) -  
twitter: @brittainformayor - 10 Questions w/Hickory Hound

Candace Harold - Phone: 828-409-7242 - Website: - (facebook page)

Terry Revels - Phone: 828-322-8472

Ward 5:
Joe Brannock - Phone: 828-455-3789 - Website: - (facebook page)

Mike Robbins - Phone: 828-312-4393

Ward 4:
Anetia Wright - Phone: 828-238-0306  (facebook page) - 10 Questions w/ Hickory Hound
Crystal Killian - Phone: 828-228-5326 - e-mail:  Video of Crystal

Breaking news - What I will show you next is pretty shocking. Remember how the Backwards Coalition was saying the Citizens for Equity in Government was ACORN during the referendum? Well wait til you see what I've got on the person that was behind all of that. It will bring all of this into razor sharp focus. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Payola Well Crafted - Submitted by Common Sense

This evening I received another anonymous e-mail from a person who has said that they are a frequent viewer of the Hound and they said they personally know the Mayor and Council. They stated they could not post this information with their name for fear of reprisal. I have verified that the contributions to these candidates by these people are accurate. 

Submitted by Common Sense

With Election Day drawing closer I've found myself wondering what's the going rate for an elected official. Here's what I found while doing some comparison shopping.

***All of the following info is available to the public at the Board of Elections

I'm sure this is only the tip of the iceberg so to speak. These are only the reported contributions. There's no telling how many anonymous contributions have been made to the Hickory United PAC.

Mayor Rudy Wright:
Benny Yount - $500
Sue Redmond - $200 "Best Attempt"
Mike Johnson - $750
D. E. Eidson - $500
William Pitts - $100
Don Norwood - $500

Hank Guess:
David Eidson - $500
Mike Johnson -$500
Don Norwood - $250
Chip Fotheringham $100
Dean Proctor - $250
Nancy Willingham - $200
Jeff Cline - $200
Sue Redmond - $200 Retired

David Zagaroli:
William Pitts $100
Don Norwood $500
Barbara Garlitz $300
Sue Redmond $200 VP Operations @ TCS Designs
Coke Gunter $500

Apparently, Don Norwood has a lot to lose should the status quo change. So what does $1250 get Mr. Norwood? Most recently it secured him a slot on the Rental Property Taskforce. The Mayor appointed Mr. Norwood to that position to protect his own rental property interests. Heaven forbid that the Council form an advisory committee/panel without ensuring that the "fix" was in.

Mike Johnson plopped down $1,250 too (Wright - $750, Guess - $500). Mike Johnson was also appointed to the Inspiring Spaces Committee. At the recent forums, I have seen/heard the Mayor participate in that have been reported on here by The Hound, any time the Mayor has opened his mouth it seems that I'm listening to an infomercial for Inspiring Spaces. The only thing the Mayor lacks is a bad British accent; although his sales pitch so far is just about as flimsy as those on-air snake oil salesmen. Sidebar - Hank and Rudy both purchased their cars from Mike Johnson Toyota.

Jeff Cline and Nancy Willingham both gave $200 each to Hank Guess, but not to any other candidates so far. One must ask why is this? Please allow me to offer up this possible explanation - though neither Cline nor Willingham would ever own up to this - how could they? Mr. Cline and Mrs. Willingham both worked very hard against last year's Ward Referendum. Mr. Cline's dad and Mrs. Willingham's dad were both at the heart of the racist decision that led Hickory away from Hickory's original Ward electoral system to today's less representative at-large system. Mrs. Willingham (and husband) have been known to still use - well let's just say less-than-sensitive language - when referring to African-Americans and that community. Any chance that this led to them only contributing to the candidate that has two African-American challengers?

Lastly, there's the minor eyebrow-raising issue of Sue Redmond. The Mayor has her job title/employer listed as "Best Attempt" meaning that he didn't know what to put. Hank Guess has Mrs. Redmond's info listed as "Retired". And finally, David Zagaroli listed Mrs. Redmond's info as "VP Operations at TCS Designs". Now either Mrs. Redmond herself has trouble deciding what her employment status is, or these candidates are, let's just say sloppy, in their record keeping abilities.

So there it is so far. Draw the same conclusions or not - it's completely your call. However, remember that just as you're entitled to your opinion, I'm entitled to mine.

Rudy Wright's 35 day report 
Hank Guess's 35 day report
David Zagaroli's 35 day report