Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coach Carter at the Dems Fall Rally

Coach Roy Carter delivered a rip-snorter of a speech at the Watauga County Democratic Party's Fall Rally Saturday night, tearing into Virginia Foxx's voting record and vowing to "take her on," should he become the Democratic nominee for the NC-5 Congressional seat.

Thanks, Lonnie, for the photo.

Their Deeds Speak as Loudly as Their Words

Passing unnoticed in Kathleen McFadden's wrap-up article on the Boone Town Council elections was this significant passage:

"...Some of the [Citizens for Change] endorsed candidates were initially asked to sign a pledge to uphold the PAC position if they were elected, but according to PAC Chair Jeff Templeton, the PAC withdrew the request when some candidates and campaign treasurers objected...."

Let's be clear: candidates Tim Wilson, Stephen Phillips, Ethan Dodson, and Dempsey Wilcox were asked to sign loyalty oaths, swearing fealty to Team Templeton. Some evidently objected, and the pledging of allegiance to Big Money and Bully Boy tactics was suspended because reporter Kathleen McFadden began looking into it. News of these loyalty oaths leaked, McFadden began asking questions, and the demands for loyalty ceased (at least temporarily, and for outward appearances).

Be assured, if they're able to get their chums into power, Templeton will demand their absolute obeisance to his will (or a pound of flesh, if necessary). Once a bully, always a bully ... until someone stands up to the bullying. And who of that team of four do you envision standing up for anything outside the narrow set of Templeton interests?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Latest on Congressman McHenry

The story appears under this headline:

"US Congressman owned home with another man, took DC tax deduction while voting in NC"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We Gotcha Book-Marked, My Brethren!

Heads up. A new blog, "Revolution in Jesusland," reaches out to the progressive community. These dudes are speaking of solidarity -- whaaa? -- of solidarity on issues that matter, coming from "the diverse and complex world of evangelical Christianity" and offering a loaf of bread, NOT a scorpion, to us damned-to-deepest-ranks-of-hell Democratic activists.

So is this the sound of the morning of Christ's nativity, or mere whistling in the charnel house?
...there is an incredibly large and beautiful social movement exploding among evangelicals right now that stands for nearly all of the same causes and goals that secular progressives do. Those goals include: eliminating poverty, saving the environment, promoting justice and equality along racial, gender and class lines and for immigrants -- and even separation of church and state.

You had us at "eliminating poverty."

Franklin, N.C., Limiting Big-Box Stores

The rest of western North Carolina is following Boone's lead. The point is, Boone IS leading.

Franklin, the county seat of Macon County, which according to the U.S. Census had one of the fastest growth rates of any county in North Carolina, is about to impose restrictions on any proposed "big-box retailer" that wants to build anything in excess of 30,000 square feet:
These large-scale commercial developments must come before the town board for a special use permit, allowing town leaders the opportunity to impose whatever guidelines they feel are necessary to make the development compatible with the community, such as landscaped parking lots and an attractive building design.

Oh dear.

And you gotta love this paragraph:
"We have what every developer is foaming at the mouth to get a hold of," Franklin Alderman Bob Scott said. "It is not a one way street of what the developers can get out of Franklin. What we need to get out of them is what we will look like 20 or 30 years down the road. If a town board does not say, 'This is the way we want you to go,' they are going to do whatever they darn well please.' "

Alderman Bob Scott can expect to be targeted for defeat in the next election. Meanwhile, Franklin is trying to protect itself.

One last note on courage, as sometimes practiced by elected town officials: "Most developers try to bully small towns by threatening not to come unless the regulations are relaxed. It is usually a bluff, but requires town leaders to see through the process."

We can be proud of the courage Boone town officials have shown of late, despite bullying and notorious smears of their character, their vision, even their belief in education.

Of Water Shortages and Fantasy Lands

While our local PAC-MEN continue to peddle the hogwash that our water shortage is, in their words, a "myth," the drought and its accompanying water-supply problems continue to roll through the state.

Charlotte is in the process of enacting its "harshest water restrictions ever," and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has instituted mandatory water restrictions, and the city of Fayetteville is begging for stepped-up conservation. Just a few of the scores of examples we've seen.

Meanwhile, at an invitation-only PAC-MEN event for local realtors, Citizens for Cash featured a lengthy talk on how Boone had plenty of water and needed to be exporting it out of the town limits to further the development plans of those wishing to crush the Boone Town Council.

Their claim is that their candidates can "manage" Boone so much better! Well, ordinarily good management begins with at least a finger-and-thumb grip on reality.

Battleground Charlotte ... and Boone Too

North Carolina State Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek will be in Charlotte Saturday at noon, participating in a "Take Back Charlotte" neighborhood canvass for mayoral candidate Beverly Earle.

Then Meek will be on his way to Boone for the local Democrats' 5 p.m. Fall Rally at the National Guard Armory ($10 tickets, available at the door Saturday).

Ya'll come.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First We Sell Our Ads and Then We Write Our Editorials

The editorial in today's Watauga Democrat would make a fine poster for "Do as we say and not as we do."

Can't we all just be nice? asks the paper that has taken thousands of $$ in paid advertising from a powerful man who can buy his smears at the retail price.

Then we get the tsk-tsking of an editorialist, whose employer profitted from the smears, trying to imply that both sides are equally guilty.

We like that. It so reduces every struggle to a moral-equivalency mush. And, apparently, it's a dependable perch for people who want to be ABOVE politics, and self-righteous about it to boot.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hazardous Slopes & Dozing Dopes

Interesting, that it's a lone voice on the North Carolina Conservative website, calling on the state to do something about forcing sellers of mountain land to disclose known hazardous slope conditions prior to sale.

That plaint will become more resonant next month when the North Carolina Geological Survey releases its hazardous slope maps for Watauga County, which according to advance reports will show over 100 existing homes in Watauga County built on unstable sites.

The White Laurel destruction of 2004? That was nothing.

Blogs, A Threat to Civilization

Story in today's N&O about how big $$ real estate interests are heavily involved in the Raleigh city council race this year (not a huge surprise), and how a local impertinent, scummy, horrid blog has called down the wrath of developer heaven on its head for satirizing the city council candidate who's accepted thousands of developer $$ to keep her seat on the council.

Thank Gawd, we'uns up here in the mountains don't know nothing 'bout that kinda world!


If you really want to know who's responsible for building the progressive movement in Watauga County, look no further than the man pictured here ... Harvey Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte and candidate twice for U.S. Senate (against Jesse Helms both times, 1990 and 1996).

It was Gantt's candidacy in 1990 that fueled the progressive Democratic network in Watauga (and in several other N.C. counties). That network gradually coalesced into a reform movement that came into full flower by the late 1990s.

Gantt's on our mind because he was given a lifetime achievement award Saturday night in Charlotte, much deserved for what he's done in Charlotte and much noted up here for how he gave us hope and helped us organize a fighting force for the long wars.

Not Ready for Prime Time

Sen. Fred "Wake Me When It's Over" Thompson is turning out to be an even dimmer bulb than El Presidente. He obviously does better on a TV set with a script, followed by heavy editing. Trouble with campaigning for president is that so much of it is ad hoc, think on your feet, pretend you have deep knowledge of stuff you've never heard of and are too lazy to study up on.

A majority (apparently) of N.C. Republicans think they want this guy as their presidential candidate? More power to 'em.

Meanwhile, there's this lesson in how NOT to handle your coming out as a Democratic candidate. Don't know this guy who says he wants to take on Congressman Howard Coble (NC-6), but he needed some help in his campaign announcement. As in, maybe don't announce a campaign against a 12-term Republican incumbent by embracing the incumbent's issues and even going him one better with that comment about "the good Mexicans." Yikes.

Friday, September 21, 2007

James Dobson Rejects Fred Thompson

So Old Fred admits that he doesn't attend church all that often, and Mullah James Dobson delivers the stony tablets in the form of an e-mail:

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail? He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to.' And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

The Associated Press got its hands on the e-mail, but we read it here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

16 N.C. Counties Asking for Land Transfer Tax

Fast-paced growth, which is straining schools and water systems, has led 16 North Carolina counties to put a referendum for a county land transfer tax on their ballots this November. The option to levy the tax just passed the N.C. legislature and requires a local referendum.

Originally, counties had asked the state for the authority to levy a 1 percent land transfer tax, but legislators agreed to let counties levy only a 0.4 percent tax, for sellers to pay at closing.

Polk County is one of the 16. It's estimated that the tax there would raise $1 million per year, which "won't cover all our needs" (not by a long shot), said Polk County manager Ryan Whitson.

Robeson County is another of the 16. The county ranks 97th in the state for per-capita income. The county pays $10-12 million annually for Medicaid, leaving little money to fix Robeson County Community College's leaky roof, which will cost $3 million. The land transfer tax, if it passes, probably won't raise that much.

Chatham County is also on the list of 16. The county has approved more than 15,000 new homes. "Our schools will soon be severely overcrowded, and projections show we will need one to three schools a year to catch up," said a Chatham Co. commissioner. If it passes, the land transfer tax would give Chatham an estimated $3.5 million in 2009. Chatham commissioners have pledged that a majority of the money will go toward the county schools.

Big "IF" ... if any of these county referenda pass. Especially with the N.C. Realtors Association and the Home Builders Association lined up to fight the tax in all 16 of those counties. The Realtors Association spent $600,000 to fight the land transfer tax at the General Assembly last summer ... and lost. It'll probably be easier to win in those county elections (also potentially more expensive, overall), where fear tactics may prove more potent.

Franklin County commissioners voted Monday evening to stop allowing new residential developments from connecting to its water and sewer utility network because the county had reached 80 percent of capacity of its water and sewer connections. Franklin County is north of Raleigh International Airport and in the Raleigh-Cary metro area.

The commissioners' action means that new subdivisions will have to rely on wells for water and septic tanks for sewer.

Much of the problem can be traced to poor planning: "There are 5,500 empty lots within county limits that have water rights but aren't producing income for the county. Some lots have lain fallow for years, approved under ordinances that set no time limits to build. One subdivision, Olde Liberty, has tied up enough water for 1,450 three-bedroom homes for more than seven years. Of those, only 20 to 30 homes have been built ....That leaves Franklin County with only 2,500 water customers to pay the $19 million in debt the county has spent over the past several years to improve its utilities."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Issues in the Boone Town Elections of 2007

Guest blogging: Pam Williamson

Issue #1: Will the town keep or trash the Steep Slope and Viewshed ordinance compromises passed last year?

The Town Council initiated a study of building on steep slopes after public outcry over the visual pollution of the development above Wal-Mart and as a result of slope failure at the White Laurel housing development off Bamboo Road. (The day after Boone passed its steep-slope regulations, a statewide study showed that Watauga County led the state in the number of landslide events.)

The Town appointed a Steep Slope Task Force, which included 8 citizens representing varied interests residing within Boone's planning jurisdiction. The Task Force met 33 times, conducted workshops for public input, and made their final recommendations to the Town Council in July of 2006.

Prior to the enactment of the Steep Slope and View Shed compromise, there were no town regulations to prevent developments like the one above Wal-Mart. The new ordinance requires that developments built on very steep mountain slopes be certified as safe before construction. It also serves to protect and enhance the scenic beauty of Boone's steep hillsides that are visible from major corridors.

The public hearing for the recommendations brought out a large crowd, most of whom opposed the Task Force's recommendations and many of whom did not live within Boone's jurisdictional limits. Prior to the hearing, Council members had also been bombarded with e-mails (on file in town offices as part of the record), most of which were in favor of the recommendations. Councilwoman Lynne Mason authored what is now called "The Mason Compromise," which took into account the concerns and/or recommendations for improvements to the ordinances raised by citizens. This compromise produced a less restrictive version of the proposed regulations. Mason says of her compromise on her website, "The regulations do not prevent development on steep slopes nor are they meant to discourage building. Rather, the regulations are an attempt to identify geologic hazards such that they can be remediated and to encourage development that does not compromise our Viewshed."

The "Mason Compromise" was adopted in October 2006 in a 4-1 vote of the Council (Wilcox voting no). To see a comparison between what was initially proposed by the task Force and what was adopted by the Council, go here.

The "Citizens for Change" PAC opposes the Steep Slope and Viewshed Ordinances. They complain that Mason acted too fast in bringing forward her compromise and that the regulations are not reasonable. I, on the other hand, believe the Winston-Salem Journal said it best: "It would have been easy for the Boone Town Council to bow to loud and angry opposition from property owners Monday and reject measures to regulate development on steep slopes. Instead, the council voted 4-1 for regulation -- a gutsy move that was in the best interest of both the environment and business" ("A Council's Courage," October 5, 2006).

According to the town's Development Services office, since the time the ordinances were enacted through September 1st of this year, only six single-family residential projects required a geologist or geotechnical engineer before development was allowed to proceed. No projects have been denied due to the regulations.

Still have questions? Want the details? There's an easy-to-read Town of Boone brochure explaining these ordinances.

Issue #2: Will we ignore Boone's water shortage? Or will we continue to protect and conserve our town's most important natural resource?

In spite of the "Citizens for Change" assertions to the contrary, most residents of Boone are aware we have a limited supply of water with our current raw water intake source. In 2004, the town hired an independent firm to study its water resources. The firm found that Boone was already operating at up to 86% of capacity with "little reserve left."

For these reasons, the Town appointed a water committee to determine what steps the town needed to take to best allocate its remaining resources as well as to decide how to find and acquire new resources to meet projected demands through the year 2030. All of the Council members serve on this committee as well as citizens from the community and developers. I am a member of this committee; so is Phil Templeton, one of the leaders and founders of the PAC. The committee recommended that the Town pass Water Ordinance 05-01. This ordinance would grant water automatically to single-family homes but would examine high-density developments for their predicted water usage before allocating the town's remaining reserves. The committee recommended that approximately 25,000 gallons a year could prudently be allocated to new projects and that this allotment be adjusted up or down depending on actual water usage. The committee also recommended that the town not supply its limited water resources to large projects out of the town limits until a new source could be found and permits from the state obtained. Since the passage of the water ordinance, two high-density developments have been turned down for water, both unanimously by the Council. Both developments were proposed to be located out of the town limits.

The incumbents believe we must carefully manage our limited water resources until we can find and implement another water source. The PAC candidates believe the water shortage is a "myth" and that we should use the remaining limited resources to run water to projects that are outside of the town of Boone limits.

Issue #3: Will we continue to do what we can to protect Boone's neighborhood character and integrity? Or will we sacrifice our town neighborhoods to special interests?

With development pressures from all sides, Boone's neighborhoods are constantly struggling with cut-through traffic and incompatible development proposals, among other things. The Town Council has responded to those concerns by making changes to town ordinances that seek to provide buffers or discourage incompatible uses in single-family neighborhoods and to slow down truck and other traffic in these areas.

The PAC claims that the incumbents have gone too far with these regulations. Mr. Templeton, in particular, has been especially angry over the efforts of a neighborhood on VFW Drive to thwart his attempts to build a large medical facility in their neighborhood. (Mayor Clawson is a resident in this neighborhood and joined with others to fight the project.) The Boone Board of Adjustments, after hearing testimony from the neighborhood and from Mr. Templeton's attorney, denied his request, citing that, among other things, the proposed facility was not in harmony with the neighborhood and was therefore incompatible.

Issue #4: Will all those wishing to build developments in Boone have to follow the same rules? Or will certain people and entities get special exemptions?

The "Citizens for Change" PAC has made much hay about the supposed "poor working relationship" between the Town of Boone and ASU. The issue came to a head over ASU's proposed College of Education site. The history of this issue is as follows:

ASU purchased several R-3 zoned properties (multi-family residential) totalling less than one acre on East Howard Street with plans to build a new College of Education there. Unfortunately, as both ASU administrators and the town confirm, the plan as initially proposed (and since withdrawn) did not meet important town ordinances. Some of the problems, as identified in a Development Services staff report:

1. The proposed COE building was ten times the allowable square footage for building on such a small lot.

2. It failed to meet the minimum open space requirement.

3. It put a non-residential structure within 13 feet of a single family residence.

4. It did not meet the required interior property-line setback.

5. There were also water, storm water, traffic and parking concerns.

This placed the town's ability to approve the project in a bind because if a town government makes a change to its ordinances, that change has to, by law, apply community-wide. Council members were not willing to make special exceptions that would apply not only to the College of Education building itself but also to all other similar building projects in the Town's zoning jurisdiction.

Councilwoman Mason says on her web site, "I believe that it is important for those residing in this area to know that the Town will enforce its ordinances for them just as the town should do for any other area in town whether it be a single family neighborhood or a business area. This may be an area that would benefit from redevelopment, but any redevelopment should be done through a planning process with input from those directly affected."

As a result, the Town Council did not give ASU the automatic rights to build the new College of Education on the proposed site and began to suggest alternative sites for the building. ASU asked the town to pass an ordinance that would grant them the "super powers" to override their own ordinance requirements at will, but the Council refused, stating such a move would in effect eliminate all zoning in the town (at the whim of a future Council) and would frustrate residents' zoning expectations in their neighborhoods.

Students were told by ASU administration that "for some unknown reason" the town didn't support a new College of Education, when in fact the town's planning staff had made the non-conforming problems with the project very clear in its staff report, and incumbent Council members and the Mayor had lobbied the state for full funding for the project. The good news is that the College of Education issue has now resulted in the Town and ASU working on a long-range Master Plan for growth, something that, in my opinion, has been sorely needed for a long time. The incumbents believe we should work out a Master Plan for growth to address development issues before they occur. The PAC insists ASU has the right to build what it wants wherever it wants, no questions asked.

Issue #5: Will we reward the smear campaigns of the "Citizens for Change" political action committee? Or will we deny the PAC and its candidates' attempts to destroy the integrity of our town?

Phil Templeton, Jim Hastings, and David Blust formed a political action committee (a "PAC") this year in order to stop the actions of the progressive incumbent Town Council members. I attended one of the PAC meetings -- you can read about that experience ("New Light on an Old Subject") here.

After interviewing some candidates, the PAC endorsed Wilson for Mayor, and Dodson, Phillips and Wilcox for Boone Town Council. Specifically, the PAC and its candidates believe the town's elected officials should rubberstamp development projects (most especially theirs), with few or no questions asked. They would also like to overturn some of the regulatory progress made by the Council over the past few years.

The PAC, knowing that Boone is by and large a progressive community, has taken the election approach that name-calling, confusion, and misrepresentation of the facts is the best and most effective way to win its candidates. Boone residents have been treated to thousands of dollars' worth of radio spots and full-page newspaper ads claiming that Boone will not allow a Target or Best Buy (not true); that the Steep Slope and Viewshed ordinances keep single-family residences from being built on our hillsides (not true); that the town's water shortage is a "myth" (not true); and that the Town Council is not supportive of a new College of Education (not true). The PAC's general theory is a classic political one: sling enough mud and something might stick.

If Boone residents reward the PAC by electing its endorsed candidates, we can be assured that future elections will see much more of the same tactics.

For more information, including profiles of all the candidates, go here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ASU SGA Continues Disinformation Campaign

Several have forwarded to us the piece of propaganda that the Appalachian State University Student Government Association has posted on its website, "The Truth about the College of Education." The piece falls somewhat short of the truth. In fact, it continues to spout talking points that have been long debunked.

1. The SGA site claims, "The Town Council can grant Conditional District Zoning, which would change the zoning for the property to the University classification, clearing the way for construction of the building. The Town Council voted during spring break, while students were out of town and not paying attention, to cancel a scheduled public hearing on the matter, effectively prohibiting the building on the site."

THE TRUTH: The writer of that passage does not understand the rule of law under North Carolina zoning authority. A property/building project must meet certain standards and requirements to qualify for Conditional District Zoning. The proposed College of Education building that ASU submitted to TOB Development Services did not meet those standards and requirements. That failure to meet the requirements was explained in the TOB Development Services staff report (dated Feb. 8, 2007): "As proposed, this application fails to meet established UDO minimum standards and therefore fails to comply with the requirements established in the UDO for Conditional Zoning Districts."

The staff report found that the university's proposal, as submitted...

exceeded the maximum allowable floor area by over 100,000 square feet

exceeded the maximum building height by 47 feet

was deficient in required open space by over 15,000 square feet

encroached 97 feet into the required 110-ft. building setback

In addition, traffic and stormwater management were not addressed in the proposal AT ALL.

The SGA claim above deliberately misleads students, suggesting that Town Council sneaked around -- "while students were out of town" on spring break -- and voted to cancel a public hearing that dealt with the College of Education. The matter that was to come before the Town Council in the public hearing had nothing to do with the College of Education directly. Rather, the hearing was to deal with a proposal (first suggested by ASU at the Town Council's annual retreat) to amend the Conditional Zoning District process to allow the Town Council to exercise "super powers," that is, to suspend any regulations that might get in someone's way. Thank goodness, four members of the Council (Dempsey Wilcox, alone excepted) decided not to adopt these proposed super powers, since they would have totally undermined the planning process and made a dangerous precedent (special customers can get special treatment, outside the four corners of the law).

The Town Council is not responsible for scheduling the university's spring breaks, but it is responsible for upholding fair and just planning laws for everyone.

2. The SGA site claims, "Early in the fall of 2006, university officials met with the Mayor and the Town Manager to discuss purchasing the Howard Street property as well as property closer to King Street. During these meetings, no zoning concerns were mentioned by any town official and no concerns of campus encroachment on King Street were expressed."

THE TRUTH: ASU Director of Design & Construction Clyde Robbins knows very well that the proper town officials to approach about a building project is Development Services. John Spear, Director of Development Services, says that the first contact ASU made with his office about the College of Education was January 5, 2007, not the fall of 2006. Town Council members were unaware of the proposed project until they received their packets for the Winter Public Hearing (Feb. 8, 2007), which contained an application from ASU for a Conditional Zoning District for the College of Education. That application was withdrawn by ASU the day before the public hearing. Since then, there has been no further application made to develop the Howard Street property. (In other words, all this argument is about a proposal that ASU has not formally made to the town.)

Furthermore, ASU continued to buy the Howard Street property AFTER it knew that the zoning requirements could not be met for the College of Education building. The purchase of the first parcel was finalized January 17, 2007, prior to the staff report. AFTER receiving the staff report that outlined the specific problems with the project on that site, ASU finalized purchases of three more parcels on Howard St.

Although he meets regularly with university officials, the Town Manager says he has no memory of the specific meeting alleged on the SGA site, certainly no meeting when the Mayor was present and no meeting when the pros and cons of rezoning that property came up. Zoning and rezoning issues are properly addressed by the Development Services department anyway. The Town Manager does recall specific conversations with ASU about the possibility of closing Hamby Alley, but he also adds that no application to close Hamby Alley has ever been received from the university.

3. The SGA site claims, "There have been public statements claiming that the Town of Boone Development Services Report on the proposed building claims there will be an increase of 1,200 cars per day as a result of its construction. The report actually predicted that the Library Deck, which was not open when the report was written, would bring an additional 1,200 cars per day. The report provides no justification for the number, and the actual impact of the library deck has not been as large as the report stated. There is no evidence that a new College of Education will bring additional traffic to College, King, or Howard streets."

THE TRUTH: Only a professional traffic impact analysis, mandated by the town's conditional use zoning process, will answer the question of traffic impacts of a new College of Education on the Howard St. site. The town's staff report estimated increased traffic of 1,200 vehicle trips a day in that neighborhood because of a new College of Education.

4. The SGA site claims, "there has been no pressure on any surrounding property owners to sell their property."

THE TRUTH: The elderly couple, whose home will be precisely 13 feet from the proposed four-story structure, have been under considerable pressure. After an initial telephone contact from the Chancellor's office, and a follow-up letter from ASU, the elderly couple have cut off further communications from the university or its representatives. They have been in a constant state of nervous upset at the thought of a major construction project and a high-rise building taking shape so close to their home. All of this was detailed in the articles written for The Appalachian by student reporter Mike Cooper, articles that were spiked by The Appalachian editor.

5. The SGA site claims, "Is the building going to dwarf other buildings? The building will have four stories above ground and will be no taller than the nearby library (excluding the tower) or Baptist Church."

THE TRUTH: For reference, the building will be slightly taller than THE STEEPLE on First Baptist Church.

6. The SGA site claims, "How do current members of the Town Council feel about the College of Education? Rennie Brantz, Janet Pepin, Lynne Mason, and Bunk Spann voted to cancel a scheduled public hearing to discuss the matter; Mayor Loretta Clawson indicated her support for such a decision. Councilman Dempsey Wilcox was the only member to vote to hold the meeting."

THE TRUTH: As stated above, the canceled public hearing was NOT about the College of Education project but about granting the Town Council super powers to bypass zoning laws at whim. The SGA writer is clearly trying to imply that four members of the Town Council oppose a new College of Education. That is a lie. When Town Council members went to Raleigh to discuss the controversy with state legislators, they made it clear that they fully support the funding for a new building; the only problem is the location.


It seems to please some anonymous posters on this site to allege that I now hate ASU.

That's a strange habit of mind, equating criticism with spite. But it explains why evidently, in the eyes of some Americans, if you criticize Bush's war in Iraq you must want the terrorists to win.

If I criticize the actions and the attitudes of ASU's current administration, I must perforce hate ASU? Some in the local CFC PAC even allege that I hate education itself.

I spent 30 years contributing a good deal more than my mere time to making ASU nationally recognized in the field of Appalachian Studies. My contributions in that field are fairly well known. At the time of my retirement, few universities could compete with ASU in terms of quality research and dedicated classroom instruction in the history of Appalachia and its contemporary reality in the context of 20th and 21st century American progress. Comparisons are odorous (said Dogberry), but I was as hard-working and productive in those endeavors as any faculty member at ASU. When I retired, I deeded a very large collection of research files, hundreds of movies about Appalachia, and other irreplaceable materials to the Eury Appalachian Collection in the University library. I didn't do that, nor dedicate myself to strenuous and focused labor over three decades, out of hatred for the institution. I loved the place and still do.

What I hated and still hate is what happened to the Appalachian Cultural Museum. I hate a growing culture of fealty at ASU that makes it top-down-with-a-vengeance. Some faculty seem very afraid, and with good reason. Faculty morale is about as low as I've witnessed in my 38 years of local residence. I hate that censorship of a promising student reporter is now a fact of life on this college campus -- the result of either excessive zeal to curry favor with the administration by the editor of the campus newspaper or the result of direct intervention on the part of the university administration. Either way, a culture of suppression seems to be growing, and I hate that. I hate that the university administration decided to resort to behind-the-scenes pressure in Raleigh to try to "run a bill" that would subvert and override the Town of Boone's legitimate planning regulations. I hate that the administration has manipulated the Student Government Association and its leaders with half-truths and outright lies. I hate what's happened and is still happening to the place I dedicated my professional life to.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bully Boys (and Gals)

Haven't seen any press write-ups yet of Thursday night's Town Council candidate forum. Wonder if anyone will mention the outbreak of loud heckling from Team Templeton during one of Lynne Mason's turns to speak.

The incident sent us on a search for discussions of bullying. There's a lot of material available, so this isn't meant to be a comprehensive sifting of available sources ... just a sampling.

Kind of like the way this guy lays it out:
If you find yourself being bullied by someone, the first thing you should do is assess whether or not this person is insane. Insane people thrive on conflict, and there's nothing to be gained by standing up to them. (I'm using insane in the colloquial sense, to describe people with poor social skills, not to signify people with real mental illness.) If the bully is not insane, stand up to them. Scare them senseless, if at all possible. Give them an icy stare and raise your voice, if necessary. I've done this with a few co-workers over the years, and it works extremely well. If the person is insane, they will welcome your hostility and become even more obnoxious. Avoid these people entirely.... [Jonathan Young]
People are not born bullies, supposedly, but some learn at an early age that they can get away with it, and even get what they want. Once a pattern of bullying sets in, it often lasts a lifetime.

Bullying also appears to be linked to plain old garden-variety prejudice. Came across this quote from Clint Eastwood:
I'm interested in the fact that the less secure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudice.
That's something to conjure on, for a fortnight at least.

Michael Kinsley: Virginia Foxx "May Just Be Nuts"

It's all about reforming student loans, to reduce the rake-off of federal higher education subsidy money into bank coffers ... about which, Madam Foxx is against.

Michael Kinsley's column in the Washington Post is here. Must reading. (Thanks, Eva.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Double-Dippin' in Deepest Dixie

Remember Haley Barbour? He used to share cable-news face-time with the ineffable Newt back in '94 while he was Republican National Chairman ... two Southern boys just hanging out and doin' a little bragging about the Republican take-over of Congress that year.

Barbour went on to become Guv of Mississippi, and he's running for reelection this November.

His current ethical problems have not made it into any mainstream national press that we've seen. It's pretty telling that we had to go to this site to begin to get any summary (with links) to the snow-balling scandal. And it sounds like Barbour has a Democratic opponent in this election who just might be credible.

Whaaa?! In Mississippi?

Watauga County on List for Crop Loss Aid

The wonderful, soaking rain today should not mislead anyone. We've still got a drought on, and it'll take many days of such rain to catch us up. Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 85 of N.C.'s 100 counties as eligible for low-interest Emergency Disaster Loans for farmers who can't get credit elsewhere.

Coalfield Music and History

Listening to All Things Considered on September 3rd, I suddenly recognized the voice of Jack Wright, an old friend who had done so much to expand my appreciation of the mountains, its music, and its flair for the oral narrative. Jack was being interviewed about his new two-CD set, "Music of Coal."

And then, like mountain magic, he and his wife Sharon Hatfield showed up yesterday and today as guests of the Appalachian Studies Program at ASU. We managed to make his program today, which included some of the research he did for "Music of Coal," a kind of autobiographical ramble (accompanied by his own singing) through his early years in Wise County, Virginia, including both a blistering memory from the Vietnam War and a hilarious tale about playing "the boneless baby" in a traveling carnival.

These days Jack teaches in the School of Film at Ohio University. Back when we first knew him, he was a music producer and filmmaker at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Ky., which has turned out some of the most essential documentary footage ever done in Central Appalachia. He's also been an actor, both on the stage and in movies (including a bit of music-playing in Coal Miner's Daughter).

Today he talked about the early extreme conditions in coal mining, the danger and the injustices of virtual wage-slavery, that produced so much of that dark, haunting balladry and blues. He made the point that as conditions improved in coal mining, the writing of great songs by sometimes obscure and anonymous singers dropped off. He ended his presentation, however, with a thoroughly updated version of "Which Side Are You On?" sung by Natalie Merchant that lifted the small hairs on our napes. Struggle for justice does NOT go out of style.

Jack's wife Sharon Hatfield is no less accomplished as an author. Her historical unpacking of a famous 1935 murder case in Wise County, "Never Seen the Moon," has gotten rave reviews. It tells the story of Edith Maxwell, a young school teacher in Wise who returned home late one night to confront her angry, Puritanical father. After a physical tussle, her father lay dead, and Edith was charged with patricide. Her case became a battleground between the early women's rights movement and a patriarchal society that came down hard on uppity women. Her trial for murder, and then her re-trial, attracted national press, which mainly used these occasions to lambaste Virginian mountaineers as backward yokels. Hollywood grabbed Maxwell's story for a movie, "Mountain Justice," in 1937. Sharon did a reading from her book on Thursday night (which we're sorry we missed).

Two inspiring, accomplished scholars of Appalachian history! We were lucky to have them among us for a short time.

Marching Orders

The ASU student newspaper, fresh off its triumphant squelching of any news that might undermine (a) the Chancellor or (b) the SGA President publishes an editorial bemoaning the low student turn-out for the on-campus candidate forum last Monday.

Why won't students get involved?

The subtext is a little more complicated: Why won't students allow themselves to be manipulated by their SGA President into voting for the PAC-endorsed Four Horsemen (of the Apoplexy?).

The SGA President signed on with the Templeton bunch last summer, for reasons best known to himself, and perhaps made representations that he could single-handedly deliver a bloc of student votes to the local Republican machine. Now his ego is all tied up in this contest to the point that he tries to bully the College Democrats into following his orders.

The Appalachian editorial is an emotional cry that maybe everything ain't going as well as he'd planned.

Hottest Summer on Record

Few western North Carolinians realize that the world's largest archive on climate conditions is maintained in Asheville, the National Climatic Data Center, an arm of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The NCDC is reporting that the summer of 2007 was the hottest in 113 years of record-keeping in this region (these allegedly cool mountains) ... let alone the rest of the country:

"The June-August 2007 summer season ended with a long-lasting heat wave that set more than 2,000 new daily high temperature records across the southern and central U.S."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Town Council Forum (Chamber of Commerce Version)

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce likes its candidate forums smoooooth, like the surface of a covered cistern, where the water will go stagnant waiting for a natural ripple, but this particular question got asked tonight anyway, to our utter and complete astonishment:

"Have you accepted any contributions from a PAC?"

Then the four Citizens for Change PAC-endorsed candidates (Wilson, Dodson, Phillips, & Wilcox) proceeded to lie outright (okay, granted, their outright lies were technical falsehoods that no one else in the room appeared to recognize). When all four CFC-endorsed candidates said they'd received no financial support WHATSOEVER from any PAC, that was simply and demonstrably not true (we trust their financial disclosure forms filed with the Board of Elections will eventually reflect this). They ALL have their names printed on Citizens for Change campaign signs, which are stuck all over town, and that printed endorsement on glossy paper AMOUNTS TO A FINANCIAL BENEFIT TO THOSE CANDIDATES.

As does the endless endorsement of them on WATA radio by Jim Hastings.

Therefore, they have received BIG BUCKS from a PAC, and they ought to know that. Their claims that they haven't (and wouldn't, no NEVER! a thousand times no!) accept money from a PAC was the most ... depressing kind of dishonesty on their parts. We need such sapience governing our little mountain town?

Otherwise, the themes of the smooooth Chamber of Commerce candidate forum (in the stunning new main courtroom of the County Courthouse, whose warm mahogany tones immediately put you in mind of how much filthy lucre our legal tribe will be making there) was approximately this:

a. Poor, poor, pitiful ASU (this, exclusively from CFC-endorsed candidates)

b. Can't we solve the water shortage with, like, large storage tanks?

c. Everything bad that's happened, since (approximately) the cooling of the earth's crust, is the fault of three incumbents (this was particularly Dempsey Wilcox's favorite theme, who neatly managed also the trick of dissociating HIMSELF, a 12-year incumbent on the Council, from all those terribly bad decisions). He was like a debutante with no date to the prom.

As to theme "a," Kevin Freeman (who's been one of two Invisible Men in this election up until tonight) had the only line worth quoting: "I would like to work with and not against ASU, but also not be pushed by ASU." Amen, brother. We wish you had been more seen and heard prior to now.

As to "b," mayoral candidate Tim Wilson (who was still complaining, almost resentfully, that he hasn't received any money from CFC, nor any official notification of an endorsement) said that administrators at ASU had assured HIM that they were "more than willing" to share their abundant supply of water with the town.

Head-scratcher, that! ASU did nothing about signing a water-sharing agreement worked out with the Town of Boone attorney in Nov. 2006, did nothing (like, uh, sign the agreement) for almost a year, until their bad behavior in flaunting town regulations began to surface on this site and in other places. Chancellor Ken Peacock has now delivered his signature on a water interconnect agreement which we hear has been materially changed in many respects, the like of which has not yet been made public and probably won't be until this election's over. Hearing the CFC-endorsed candidates talk about how eager ASU would be to share its water with the TOB is akin to hearing optimistic reports that the VERY NEXT Mars probe is bound to find water-bearing rocks on that planet.

The "c" theme above does not require explication. We're all totally hip to the fact that Citizens for Change would have done EVERYTHING differently, so differently, in fact, that no one would recognize this place if CFC had been in charge for the last few years (and no one will recognize it in a matter of months if they get into power in this election: that goes without saying).

Eddie Haskell Award ... to Ethan Dodson, bless his heart, who's a fascinating study in stage-managed Personality Plus. He brilliantly does the best he can with his almost total unfamiliarity with town government by joking about his youth -- theatrically referring to it for laughs -- while saying a great deal of precisely nothing. (At one point he cheerily suggested that Boone might get water from Blowing Rock or Foscoe, not realizing that Blowing Rock has its own water crisis and Foscoe has no municipal supply.) Like Eddie Haskell of "Leave It to Beaver," he's all talk and smarm, a good deal more charming in his own eyes than, maybe, elsewhere. Eventually a couple of Master's theses could be written about how he came to be recruited and then endorsed by the guys who fund Citizens for Change.

O the cynicism! In both the creators and the creature.

Two Reasons to Hope

That's the man who's stepped forward to take on Madam Foxx, Coach Roy Carter, on the right, with his wife Patricia next to him, and their three children, Stacey, Todd, and Andrea.

And that's his Christmas tree farm in the background, along with a good swath of Ashe and Wilkes counties in the frame.

Coach Carter will be a featured speaker at the Democratic Fall Rally in Boone on September 29th at the National Guard Armory.

His campaign's not gonna be a game of powder-puff beanbag. He's got his eye on Foxx's record (atrocious in almost every way), and he knows her penchant for refusing to listen to constituents. His own roots as an educator and role model in Ashe, Wilkes, and Surry counties give him an automatic political base that will grow as people come to know him. He's as open and warm as Foxx is rigid and scolding. (Carter's web presence is under construction and should be up soon.)

Meanwhile, in the NC-10, a Navy hero is emerging as a Democratic challenger to Patty McHenry. Daniel Johnson, 31, was recipient of the Navy Marine Corps Medal for saving the life of a fellow crewmate following an accident on the USS Blue Ridge in 1999. In the process, Johnson lost both his legs below the knees. Though his hometown is Hickory, he's been an assistant district attorney in Wake County for three years. Apparently (and according to the Hickory Daily Record), the DCCC is involved in the recruitment push to get Johnson into the race.

Drama Queen has posted on BlueNC what conservative columnist George Will wrote about Johnson in 1999 after the heroics on the USS Blue Ridge. Johnson is going to be attractive to 10th Dist. Republicans, we think is the point, especially as McHenry has alienated many in his own party.

Ditto Foxx in the Fifth Dist. With Carter and Johnson emerging as challengers to our particularly glum status quo, we're beginning to get excited about 2008.

The Other Warner

Great news in Virginia. Ex-Gov. Mark Warner will run for John Warner's vacant Senate seat next year.

He sez, "Our country is at a crossroads. We're dealing with a mismanaged war. Our stature in the world is declining. We have no national competitiveness plan, and no thoughtful approach on energy policy that would actually create jobs, make us more secure in the world, and that deals with the threat of climate change." (AP)

Hell, we'll go ahead and count that chick before it hatches. He WILL be elected.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Heath Shuler Gets His First Republican Challenger

Carl Mumpower, an uptight Asheville city councilman, has declared he'll seek the Republican nomination to challenge NC-11 Congressman Heath Shuler.

Still no word from ex-Congressman Charlie Taylor about his plans. We bet he'll decide to stay on the porch.

Gordon Smith at Scrutiny Hooligans has some of the low-down on Mr. Mumpower.

Guerrilla Art (Boone Town Council Elections)

See this and other impertinent (great!) political posters, commenting on the local scene, here.

Done by a local artist (who wishes to remain unharassed) and forwarded to us to share with the world.

Enjoy (except for those of you who won't).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The North Carolina Conservative continues to tally up the evidence against Congressman Patrick McHenry from next door in the NC-10 and to essentially call for his resignation.

Which we assume makes the North Carolina Conservative fairly unpopular right now with the state GOP.

"Help" Ain't in Her Vocabulary

According to Under the Dome in the N&O, 10 of N.C.'s 13-member Congressional delegation signed a letter asking Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner for help in getting money for agriculture disaster areas.

Virginia Foxx didn't sign the letter. Neither did Sue Myrick nor Patty McHenry.

Rumble in the Student Union

Apparently being trashed regularly by Jim Hastings on WATA as a socialist threat to the United State Constitution finally had its consequences. Mayor Loretta Clawson came out swinging last night at Citizens for Change (CFC) as a bunch of rich guys who want to take Boone backward for the sake of lining their own pockets.

It was the ASU candidate forum, and issue Numero Uno was CFC, its negative and highly divisive campaign, and the slate of candidates it has endorsed ... some of whom evidently wanted to distance themselves from the Hastings-Templeton Gang, but that proved relatively difficult since the CFC political signs are up all over town with the names of their four candidates plainly printed.

Tim Wilson, the CFC candidate for mayor, had the hardest time admitting to CFC backing. At first he acted like he didn't know nuttin' about no PAC. I haven't received any FORMAL piece of paper saying I've been endorsed, he averred, as though the CFC yard signs aren't made of paper. He found the gumption finally to say that the CFC "isn't a pack of wolves. They're quality citizens." Uh-huh.

Stephen Phillips, another CFC candidate for Town Council, said he was "unofficially" endorsed (whatever that means), but admitted, "The CFC is running an independent campaign that's a little negative for my taste." "Negative"? Dempsey Wilcox seemed satisfied with that tone, because -- hey! -- the CFC is motivated by justifiable anger.

ASU student Ethan Dodson, bless his heart, was the only CFC candidate to actually stand up and be proud of the endorsement. He said he wouldn't reject that endorsement even with the hindsight that has now developed.

The ridiculous rumor that the mean ole progressives on Town Council, who are now the targets of CFC anger, rejected that Mecca of Mercantilism, a Target store, was finally put to rest by none other than Dempsey Wilcox who said that although representatives for Target had looked into locating in Boone, it was the lack of water outside town limits that scared them off, and that the request NEVER came before Town Council. But it was STILL somehow Town Council's fault, you know, because of the water.

Evidently I have the power to make it stop raining, Mayor Clawson remarked.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blame It On Your Brain

Blame your worst political impulses on the anterior cingulate cortex of your brain, to be more precise.

Research being published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience claims to have found substantially different brain functions in college students who are very conservative vs. college students who are very liberal. "Nature or nurture," anyone? This is evidence that our political leanings are all about brain chemistry, not who we hang out with.

The thumbnail conclusion: liberal brains tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservative brains. Ambiguity equals doubt. Some brains can't tolerate anything less than absolute certainty.

The text of the research is available on-line by subscription only, though you can read the abstract. The Los Angeles press report about the experiment is available in many newspapers today.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Censorship at ASU

The editors of the ASU campus newspaper, "The Appalachian," censored an investigative article by a student reporter about the controversy surrounding the College of Education building and then fired the young reporter who wrote it. We've obtained the article he wrote and reproduce it below in its entirety.

The article was prepared and finished by deadline on August 23rd for the August 25th edition of The Appalachian. It included a very full background on the ASU-Town of Boone disagreement and interviews with ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock, ASU Director of Design & Construction Clyde Robbins, ASU Student Government President Forrest Gilliam, ASU Board of Trustees member Jeannine Underdown-Collins, ASU professors (and Boone Area Planning Board members) Greg Reck and Tom Jamison, Boone Town Council member Lynne Mason, and (most significantly) Eris Dedmond, the woman whose household is threatened by a four-story university building 13-feet from her home.

The extensive interview with Eris Dedmond, which the student reporter used to write a separate sidebar profile of the retired ASU education professor (also printed in full below), is truly significant because no mainstream local reporter has gotten in to interview Dedmond about her situation. This is the first time the general public has been given any insight into the lives and opinions of the Dedmond family, who are demonstrably those most directly impacted by the university's plans.

The article obviously did not appear in The Appalachian on August 25th. First, the editors delayed it, telling the reporter that they wanted changes.

On August 29th, The Appalachian editors called in the reporter, told him his article would not run, and that his services were no longer needed. They claimed that unspecified people said he was acting "unprofessionally" in the interviews he conducted.

Whose ox was being gored by this journalism? Whose view of reality was so threatened that the article was censored and the reporter dismissed?

What follows:

  1. The main news article, with four proposed headlines
  2. A time-line the reporter prepared from his investigation
  3. A separate side-bar profile of Eris Dedmond

1. New education building causes concern among residents

Town and university disagree over use of property

Education building location causes dispute

Dispute among university and town over College of Education building


Intern News Reporter

In early October, elections will be held for Boone Town Council and mayor.

Therefore the next several weeks will be filled with heated debate over contentious issues such as close affordable student housing built on steep-slopes, and Appalachian State University's campus expanding into the town.

It is that expansion, and where exactly it should occur, that has put the university and surrounding community at odds in the run up to those town elections in October.

After some debate four parcels of land at the corner of College and Howard streets were sought out as the eventual home for the College of Education.

"They started looking at that site in the spring of 2006," said Chairman of the Anthropology Department Dr. Gregory G. Reck.

The first two parcels have already been sold to the university, while a third owned by Daniel Park, Robert Ball and Jack Underdown, is expected to be sold soon.

"It is my understanding that it will be sold by the end of the month," said Reck.

The university has concluded it no longer needs the fourth, which is owned by the Dedmond family, who have longstanding ties to the university including Eris A. Dedmond who taught in the education department for 23 years. So the plans call for the building to be built within feet of the Dedmond's home.

Those three parcels next to the Dedmonds are being purchased by the Appalachian State University Foundation, with the ASU Board of Trustees making some of the decisions on what land to purchase.

"The Board of Trustees has been very much involved in any acquisitions that we make," said Appalachian State University Chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock. "In this case the board members were involved in discussions over the purpose of this property."

That raises concern because Jack Underdown, part owner of the third piece, is the father of Board of Trustees member Jeannine Underdown-Collins.

"That is my father's property, and he was solely involved. I had nothing to do with it and abstained on that vote," said Board of Trustees member Jeannine Underdown-Collins.

There is some sentiment around campus that the school tried to sidestep the town completely.

"There were efforts, by an unknown individual at this school, to pass special legislation in Raleigh to essentially nullify the town zoning over that piece of property and say the town cannot do anything anyway because the university is the owner. That failed," said Leadership and Education Studies Professor Dr. Thomas Jamison. "Of course our local representatives would not support that, but that had ramifications across the entire state."

The university settled on those Howard Street parcels after discussing five locations including Justice residence hall.

"There were numerous locations we looked at. At least two or three would have been on the current campus," said Appalachian State University Chancellor Dr. Kenneth E. Peacock.

The school ruled against using those locations for logistical reasons and decided to buy more property.

"The ones discussed already on school grounds involved tearing down something such as residence halls," said Peacock.

The Dedmonds feel the university should have used their own land instead of imposing on them.

"It would have been better for the situation if they had used their own grounds instead of trying to impose on us," said Eris A. Dedmond. "We're not the problem here. We're the victims."

"This will be bad for us and for those in the education department."

The Student Government Association disagrees.

"I think it's the best site for the university, and I think it has the least impact on the town," said Student Government Association President Forrest S. Gilliam. "So I'm pretty determined, looking at the sites we have, to push for it because it's best for the students .... I live on the other side of the Presbyterian Church on that street," Gilliam said. "It's not nearly as much of an impact, but it will have an impact on me. And you put the needs of the community ahead of that."

One major problem has been that the plans for the building do not meet the required zoning criteria of that part of town.

"Listen if somebody comes to me and offers to sell me a piece of property adjacent to campus my answer is yes," said Peacock. "And I like green space, and seeing the students sitting under a tree reading or playing games out there."

The new education building will not have any green space though.

The plans call for a 120,000 square foot building that is 10 times the allowable square footage. According to the Boone Development Services staff report, the building is 15,180 square feet short of the open space requirement of 32,775 feet.

"They are dropping it on a very small footprint," Jamison said. "As a member of the faculty for 37 years my concern in general has been the location."

The proposed four-story building will also exceed the height limits by a considerable amount.

"I've been working here for 35 years and I just do not think it fits that site," said Reck. "It will be right beside the Dedmond's doorstep."

"We're still trying to litigate that and we're studying options that will be discussed with the town," ASU Director of Design and Construction Dr. Clyde D. Robbins said.

"We could set it back some from their house."

The chancellor however disagrees.

"We would have to go somewhere else," said Peacock. "We can't scale it back."

There is also concern over added traffic the building will bring: an estimated 1,200 cars a day, a lack of close parking for faculty and what would happen with Hamby Alley.

"There will obviously be some little issues with that location but in looking at where we wanted the college of education to be, in a central part of campus, that piece just caught our attention," said Peacock. "It's the right spot to me."

If the town and university had been able to come to terms sooner this whole situation might have been avoided in the first place.

"Part of the problem from the beginning when it was first proposed has been communication between the university and the town," said Jamison. "I have a feeling the university kind of presumed everything would fall in place."

The Boone Town Council will gather with university officials including Peacock on Sept. 4 to discuss zoning regulations that had been postponed.


August 2006 -- North Carolina General Assembly gives $1.8 million to finance plans for new education building

September or October 2006 -- ASU settles on Howard Street property

November 2006 -- Chancellor's chief of staff Dr. Lorin A. Baumhover calls the Dedmonds. They tell him they're not interested in selling

January 5, 2007 -- Robbins meets with Town of Boone Planning Director Dr. John Spear for first time about building. Spear advises Robbins to apply for special use permit through Board of Adjustment

January 8, 2007 -- Robbins submits application for conditional zoning to TOB

February 6, 2007 -- University withdraws petition for rezoning. Meanwhile, University begins buying 9 apartment bldgs. on the site

February 8, 2007 -- Town of Boone releases staff report detailing how proposed building will not fit zoning requirements

February 23, 2007 -- Gov. Easley's proposed state budget contains $34 for new college of education

March 2007 -- Chancellor sends letter to Dedmonds offering to buy property and give them lifetime estate. Dedmonds say they never received it

March 29, 2007 -- Robbins tells The Appalachian that he is under the impression here will be no problems putting the building on that site

March 30, 2007 -- SGA President Forrest Gilliam calls on town council to reconsider granting Conditional Use permit for College of Education. In the letter Gilliam calls the area "existing slums"

April 2007 -- Representatives from university continue to call Dedmonds, who maintain they are not interested in selling

May 2007 -- University xeroxes copy of original letter sent to Dedmonds and remails it. This one they do receive

June/July 2007 -- Town Council holds meetings with university representatives to further discuss zoning requirements

July 30, 2007 -- Appalachian gets the $34 million as an appropriation for the construction of its college of education building as a part of $20.7 billion dollar state budget for 2007-2008

August 20, 2007 -- University postpones planned meeting with town council until Sept. 4

October 9, 2007 -- Elections for town council and mayor will take place

3. Family with Appalachian heritage faces crisis

[sidebar feature]

Dedmond family set on staying


Intern News Reporter

Eris A. Dedmond, 76, taught in the College of Education at Appalachian from 1968-91, and her career spans a large part of the history of that department.

"I interviewed with Dr. Plemmons while this was still Appalachian State Teachers College, and then overnight we became a university," said Dedmond. "I first lived in Coffey Hall for two years, which was a dorm for faculty at the time. Then my husband and I rented this place for a year and bought it."

Today, Appalachian wants to build a new home for the college of education on land adjacent to the Dedmond's property.

The university contacted the couple in the fall of 2006 about buying their house, but Dedmond was adamant about not selling. Now that the university has decided to move on and build without their property she is quite upset over the effect it will have on her and her older husband who has health issues.

"We can't afford to move health-wise, and with so many memories here, it'd be like leaving it all," said Dedmond.

Many Boone residents perceive Howard Street as a Mecca for social activity. For the family that has lived at the head of table on that street for 37 years, it has a far deeper meaning.

"This is home to us and has been since 1970, and we've made it clear from the beginning that we are not interested in selling," Dedmond said.

"We've loved living here, and the students have always been nice and friendly. Our only concern had been vandalism, but that has only happened on a couple of occasions to some fencing."

For nearly four decades the Dedmonds have lived peacefully with a front row seat to witness first'hand the progress and growth that Appalachian has experienced.

What were once houses gave way to apartments, while the Dedmonds held strong in the middle with no quandaries.

"They've obviously seen a lot of changes happen in that area, before there was even zoning," Boone Town Council member Lynne Mason said.

Those changes include a brand new parking deck and library in the immediate area. While the makeup of the neighborhood continues to transform, the Dedmonds wish to remain no matter what.

The Dedmonds think a massive building will be more than just an unfriendly neighbor. It will also be breaking the existing town zoning laws.

"According to the zoning rules, the building would have to be 100 feet from our house," said Dedmond. "The water cooling tower for it will only be 13 feet from our front doorstep."

"It will overshadow their beautiful property, including that garden they have in the backyard," Mason said. "You hate to see things happen like this, to folks like that."

Since Appalachian is determined to make it the site, the Dedmonds feel the university has forced blame onto the town and its officials.

"The university has scapegoated the town council over this. The council wants the new building just like we do, but we want it in the right place," said Dedmond. "They're stalling by postponing meetings until those elections in October when they can try to get a new town council and mayor."

More than that, though, Mrs. Dedmond is concerned about the students, students she once taught, and the inadequate structure she thinks they will be stuck with if groundbreaking commences.

"If this were a good location, I'd say yes, but this is not an adequate location for the College of Education," said Dedmond. "I'm advocating a proper spot, one that it deserves."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Locally Grown Food a Booming Cottage Industry in Western N.C.

The Asheville Citizen-Times says locally grown food in the N.C. Mountains is already grossing $14.5 million a year for small farmers in 23 western counties. That figure could grow to a whopping $451.9 million if all the production / marketing / weather stars align just right.

Any Saturday visit to Boone's Farmer's Market can tell you that locally grown food is a hot item. The variety and abundance of good produce is invigorating in itself, and many -- if not most -- vendors sell out of their edibles by noon.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Roy Carter Declares Candidacy in NC-5

Press release received this a.m.:
Surrounded by family, close friends, and supporters, Roy Carter announced his candidacy for Congress during a Labor Day gathering at his home in Ashe County. A native resident of Western North Carolina and a lifelong Democrat, Carter is an educator in the Wilkes County Public School System and is the Head Coach of the North Wilkes High School football team.

In a setting that overlooked the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and neighboring Christmas Tree farms, Carter shared his motivation for entering the 5th district race.

"I am truly honored to run for Congress in this great region of North Carolina, a place I am proud to call my home. As we gather on this Labor Day, we must remember that the working families of our district deserve a true and honest representative of the people every day of the year," said Carter. "I grew up in these mountains, I have raised a family in Western North Carolina, and I know the kind of struggles that our citizens face daily."

In his remarks, Carter explained that his campaign is committed to bridging the partisan divide that has polarized the 5th district in recent years.

"In my life and in my career, I have never been too shy to step up to a challenge and stick to my principles," Carter said. "I will not sit on the sidelines at a time when our district needs an effective leader who will bring people together and find real solutions for economic prosperity, educational excellence, and healthcare reform. I am ready and willing to serve the people of our district as their personal advocate in Congress."

Roy Carter and his wife Pat have been married for 43 years and attend First Baptist Church of West Jefferson. The Carters have three children and are expecting their second grandchild. Roy Carter has served the students of Ashe, Surry, and Wilkes Counties as a teacher and football coach for the past forty years.

The fifth congressional district includes Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Davie, Surry, Stokes, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yadkin Counties as well as portions of Forsyth, Iredell, and Rockingham.

Ethnic Cleansing

Orson Scott Card is a well known sci-fi novelist who taught a semester at ASU way back when. He currently lives in Greensboro, and the essay that got our attention today (hat-tip, Craig) was published in

Like Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," Card's rhetorical rejection of "amnesty" for illegal immigration is pushed to its logical conclusion. He's simply playing off the "deport 'em first, and let God sort 'em out" political posturing of the Republican brain-trust in N.C., politicians like Reps. Foxx, Myrick, McHenry, et al.

Get those cattle cars hosed down! And we're gonna need every available school bus too!

McHenry Purging His Enemies?

Donnie Young of Hickory was replaced several days ago as leader of the N.C. chapter of the Christian Coalition. Young is fairly notorious in these parts for openly criticizing Rep. Patrick McHenry.

On July 28, 2004, Donnie Young - former Chairman of the Burke County Republican Party, filed a complaint with the North Carolina State Board of Elections regarding the illegal activity being conducted. In his letter, he mentions that “five or more young people” have been registered at McHenry’s address. Young provided the NCSBOE with creditable information that confirmed that Michael Aaron Lay was a resident of Tennessee. NC Conservative

And incidentally, Michael Aaron Lay pleaded guilty to voter fraud.

See another Donnie Young post about McHenry here, but the complete file on McHenry is at Pat Go Bye-Bye, where Drama Queen is all over his associations. It was Drama Queen who first posted the cigar photo of McHenry (on the left, with a pal), and wisely commented, "There are no words."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tim Wilson's Vision For Boone

Amazing what arrives in our in-box, of a Friday night.

Karl Rove ... Back Home

Has a mythical beast turned up in Texas?

--Headline, Raleigh N&O, 1 Sept. 2007

Sen. Craig Is Going; Coy Privette Is Staying

I'm not resigning from the Cabarrus County Commission, says Rev. Coy Privette.

After all, I'm not gay.

Left on 49, the Cabarrus County blog, is organizing a citizens protest outside the commissioners' meeting on Sept. 17th.

If nothing else, Rev. Privette fully intends to entertain us for the foreseeable future. For free.