Category: Commentary

June 21st, 2019 by newbernpostadmin
New Bern Post welcomes letters and posts them whenever possible.

Editor:

A syndicated newspaper life-coach warns against “getting catfished.”  Every ready to learn new slang, I brought the question of what this phrase meant to a reference librarian.  She said getting catfished means that one person in an on-line communication has adopted a false identity or is being less that truthful in personal matters.  

The source of the phrase, according to the librarian, is that one party may be expecting a flounder, but, alas, pulls up a lowly, bottom-feeding catfish (who happens to be ugly as well.)  

Leaving aside for a moment the fact that flounders are also bottom-feeders and not really that handsome, given two eyes on one side of their face, I must protest.

Making catfish the subject of phrase such as this, is, well, slanderous, unfair and cruel.  

Catfish happen to be delicious, either filleted or made into a stew and by that time their appearance and what they eat is largely forgotten.  

Does no-one even think about a catfish’s feelings?  Relationships are often something to stew over but I don’t think that is the reason catfish were chosen for this slur.  I suspect catfish bigotry from that segment of the elite which may not know the difference between a hook and a sinker, but are only too willing to go to the natural world for fishy metaphors.  

John Phaup, New Bern

 

Posted in Commentary

June 20th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern received a mediocre score for family friendliness in North Carolina from WalletHub, a website that produces data-driven articles ranking various subjects in various categories.

In ranking North Carolina cities for “2019’s Best Places to Raise a Family in North Carolina,” New Bern ranked 56th out of 87 cities. The top-ranked city was Cary, while coming in at 87th was Laurinburg.

In Eastern North Carolina, Havelock — you read that right — was the highest rated city in the survey, coming in at 35th. Other Eastern NC cities were Wilmington (44th), Greenville (53rd), Jacksonville (59th), Wilson (70th), Elizabeth City (75th), Tarboro (77th), Goldsboro (81st), and Kinston (84th).

Taking just Eastern North Carolina cities into account, then, New Bern ranked fourth, just behind Greenville and ahead of Jacksonville.

The rankings took into consideration 10 metrics, of which New Bern did better than average in just three: violent-crime rate per capita, unemployment rate, and playgrounds per capita.

New Bern ranked low in several categories, including percentage of families with children under age 17, median family income, and high school graduation rate. It rated near the bottom — 72nd — in housing affordability.

New Bern appears at the top of many lists, from Top Charming Small Towns to Top Small Retirement Towns, but these are typically niche categories. Raising a family is about as fundamental to a city’s purpose as you can get, and New Bern’s ranking, indeed rankings of all Eastern North Carolina cities, should raise some red flags and help policymakers in making decisions.

The data used in these rankings is entirely publicly available, and is the same information that companies look at when determining expansion and relocations.

True, New Bern is constantly looking for ways to up its game. But take one example, the planned Martin-Marietta Park. New Bern already ranks high for playgrounds per capita (24th in the state). Martin-Marietta Park won’t move the bar one iota in rankings such as these, even if it’s a park that is physically larger than most of Craven County’s smaller cities.

The focus should be where New Bern and Craven County are average or weak — median family income, quality of school system, high school graduation rate, poverty rate, and perhaps foremost, housing affordability.

Here are specific rankings for New Bern:

Raising a Family in New Bern (1=Best; 43=Avg.; 87=Worst)

  • 64th – % of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17
  • 57th – Median Family Income (adjusted for cost of living)
  • 49th – Quality of School System
  • 52nd – High School Graduation Rate
  • 34th – Violent-Crime Rate per Capita
  • 72nd – Housing Affordability
  • 48th – % of Families Living in Poverty
  • 31st – Unemployment Rate
  • 45th – Divorce Rate
  • 24th – Playgrounds per Capita

Full report here:

Source: WalletHub

 

Posted in Achievements, Commentary, Community, Community issues, Craven County, Craven County Schools, Crime, Economy, Economy and Employment, Education, Infrastructure, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Opinion, Politics, Public safety, Retirement, State news, State politics

April 24th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Craven County commissioners will be reconsidering a short-sighted decision to end curbside recycling following backlash from citizens upset by the decision.

Commissioners made the decision on April 15 rather than double the fee due to cost increases.

This is one of those no-win situations for the board, a majority-Republican group with two newcomers (E.T. Mitchell and Denny Bucher) hesitant to raise taxes or fees because, well, they’re Republicans.

But here’s the thing: ending curbside recycling forces people to do one of three things: discard their recyclables with the regular garbage; make trips to county convenience centers to drop off their recyclables; or toss their recyclables into the woods or by the side of roads along with their other garbage because people like that suck.

For those of us who actually try to be law abiding and who care about the environment, throwing out recyclables with the regular garbage actually violates county rules that forbid recyclables from going into the landfill.

On top of that, citizens would be charged $3 for every 33 gallons of recyclables they illegally send to the landfill.

On top of that, the amount of materials going into the landfill would increase significantly, reducing the life of the landfill. You want to talk about spending taxpayer dollars? Try expanding landfills or opening new ones.

The good news is, commissioners are going to reconsider their decision.

The Board of Commissioners will hold a special called meeting Friday April 26 at 10:30 a.m. (I know! The time sucks!) in the Commissioners’ Board Room at the corner of Broad and Craven streets. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the decision made by the board on April 15 concerning the curbside recycling contract.

So here’s the other side. If county commissioners vote to continue curbside recycling, they will be accused of increasing taxes and fees by the usual group of folks who can’t see past this evening’s episode of Hannity.

The reason recycling has become an issue is because China has stopped accepting U.S. recyclables. We as a nation do a terrible job of separating our recyclables and properly preparing them, and the Chinese have decided it’s not worth the effort and expense to process it.

I know this doesn’t apply to New Bern Post readers, who statistically are better educated about such things and care about the environment. But, sad to say, you are in the minority.

If you want to make sure county commissioners do the right thing and continue curbside recycling, show up at Friday’s meeting.

Posted in Commentary, Community, Community issues, Craven County, Craven County Board of Commissioners, Environment

March 1st, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

I read an article the other day about who makes the best cheeseburger of the top three burger chains, Wendy’s, McDonald’s or Burger King.

The reviewer gave Wendy’s and McDonald’s a tie for first. However, it was an unfair contest. More on that in a second. Anyway, I repeated the test and came up with my own result.

The reviewer compared regular cheeseburgers from Wendy’s and Burger King, but the Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald’s, which gave an unfair advantage to McDonald’s. The Quarter Pounder with Cheese is one of McDonald’s premium menu items, and why the author chose it over McDonald’s regular cheeseburger, I don’t know.

Obviously, comparing apples to apples, the comparison should have included McDonald’s regular cheeseburger.

Duplicating the online article that I read, McDonald’s QPWC was the clear winner. It had more of everything, and in just the right amounts. And now that McDonald’s is preparing its premium beef patties the way its competitors are, it is no longer disadvantaged.

The Wendy’s and Burger King cheeseburgers were sorry little affairs and their beef patties were overwhelmed by the same thing, pickles. The only exception was BK’s — its charbroil flavor was the first thing I tasted, and it seemed almost artificial it was so distinct and long lasting. The flavor still lingers now, 40 minutes since I ate it.

I eat McDonald’s plain cheeseburgers all the time. I prefer Wendy’s of the top three burger chains, but I do occasionally eat at McDonald’s, and when I do I order the double cheeseburger meal.

Had I included McDonald’s regular cheeseburger instead of the QPWC, it still would have won.

As for premium burgers, I prefer Wendy’s singles or doubles, and really would prefer not to eat Big Macs and Whoppers. Also, I am fond of Sonic’s burgers and not fond of Cook-Out’s, although I don’t understand why. Cook-Out burgers have all the right things, but there is just something a little off about them.

Let me know what your favorite burgers are.

– Randy Foster, New Bern Post

Posted in Blog post, Commentary, Food, Friday free-for-all, New Bern

December 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Did you go by the new Harris Teeter since it opened on Wednesday? Odds are pretty good that you did.

In a small town like New Bern, folks here can be relied on to try something new. Remember when Cook Out opened?

On opening day, I saw city officials including Jeff Odham, in whose ward the new Harris Teeter is located, and City Manager Mark Stephens proudly roaming the vast floor space of the gleaming new store.

Coke Mann, a partner with Columbia Development Group, developer of the shopping center, was quoted in the Sun Journal crediting Odham and Mayor Dana Outlaw for their bringing the super-expanded HT to New Bern.

I saw lots of regular people combing through the almost 100,000-foot feet of shopping space, which is more than just a simple supermarket. (Some say the store actually has 105,000 square feet of floor space.)

We are not wedded to a particular grocery store. We shop at Publix most often, but not exclusively, and mainly due to its modern and wide selection coupled with its less crowded aisles.

With the opening of the new Harris Teeter, that may change.

The store replaces a 55,000-square-foot store on South Glenburnie Road, which closed the day before the new store opened.

It is claimed to be the largest Harris Teeter out of the chain’s 246 stores. Some media outlets have called it the largest in the world, but since its world is pretty much contained within Southern states, that’s a somewhat pretentious claim.

Still, it’s plenty big, and within it are sections that by themselves are impressively large.

There is a Starbucks inside the Harris Teeter, just as there was at the old location, but this one has a dining area that has to make this particular Starbucks one of the largest in the world, and that’s saying something.

Then there is the food court, contained within an area that could be a nice-size grocery store all by itself.

There is a bakery, fresh produce and meats, a deli, a sushi bar, a buffet, a burger bar, a specialty bar with changing themes, and a bar-bar. Yes, a bar … where you can get beer and wine by the glass.

As for the grocery aisles, they are so long they are subdivided, with a third row intersecting at the middle. Looking from one end toward the other, the aisles extend almost as far as the eye can see.

Filling all those aisles with merchandise must be a challenge by itself. I have not looked deeply into it, but the few places I did look showed a much-expanded variety of brands and varieties.

Staffing this store must be equally challenging. I counted six people working at the Starbucks counter, four at the burger bar, three at the beer and wine bar, and so on.

I am not sure if they staffed up for opening week or if they plan to maintain that staffing level.

Sarah, Mark and I went there on opening day and had dinner. We bought a couple of items from the grocery aisles before going home.

We returned on Saturday to find the same buzz one encounters when surrounded by hundreds of happy people. The store is large enough to accommodate a thousand customers without feeling overly crowded.

Sarah got several selections from the sushi train and described the quality as good as any restaurant in New Bern. I went for simple–a burger and fries. The way I figure it, if you can’t do a burger and fries right, then what can you do right?

And boy, did they do it right. It paired nicely with the glass of Mother Earth pale ale that I got at the bar.

While waiting for my order, I ran into four people I knew, and that’s the great thing about a venue like this. It’s a magnet that draws people together, and for more than one purpose.

Before, you would go to Harris Teeter for groceries. Maybe you might grab something from the salad bar or deli or the Starbucks counter, but there was really nothing that set it apart from any other modern grocery store.

This Harris Teeter is not just a retailer, it is a community amenity. You can literally spend the day there, enjoying a fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a couple of glasses of beer or wine later in the day before actually doing any grocery shopping.

Note: the beer and wine bar opens at 10 a.m. daily except Sundays, when it opens at 11 a.m. But who’s judging?

The parking lot is large and full but sufficient and well laid out. Other stores in the shopping center, which is called New Bern Marketplace, round out the remaining two-thirds of retail floor space at the 34-acre, 325,000-square-food retail venue.

One thing it has over Downtown New Bern: parking is not limited to two hours.

So what can you expect at the Teeter?

Greeting you as you arrive at one of the entrances is the floral counter managed by Mary Gierie-Merrell, who Mayor Outlaw has described as New Bern’s unofficial mayor.

At that same entrance, off to the right, is the Starbucks counter with its spacious and open dining area. It is equipped with tables and booths and two big-screen TVs. The window-wall is lined with a long counter with tall chairs for computer users and enough USB ports and electric sockets for every two chairs.

Beyond is the amazing food court, and to its left, the expansive grocery aisles.

One glitch was WiFi. Though it is provided, I was unable to connect to the internet using it. Another quibble is that if you want to sit at a table and plug in your device or computer to a power source, there are just two tables within range of just one wall socket, and they are right underneath a big-screen TV. That may be by design. It is understandable why a store would not want its tables taken up by people using computers all day.

The impacts of the new Harris Teeter on New Bern will be interesting to see.

It will undoubtedly cut into business of other existing grocery stores. But being so large, it will draw shoppers from outside New Bern and maybe from outside Craven County.

When the N.C. 43 connector is extended from U.S. 70 to U.S. 17 in the next few years, it will make access to New Bern Marketplace easier to reach from Pitt and Lenoir residents. It’s already the easiest retail center to reach in New Bern from Jones and Onslow counties.

As I said, this Harris Teeter is not just a store, it is a community amenity.

Fun facts

  • Harris Teeter’s previous largest stores, measuring at 80,000 square feet of store space, are located in Pinehurst and Charlotte.
  • The New Bern store is only the second location to have a juice bar.
  • It is the first to have a build-your-own burger bar.
  • It is the first to have a sushi train.

Posted in Achievements, Activities, Aldermen, Beer, Board of Aldermen, Business, Commentary, Community, Craven County, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Entertainment, Events, Food, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Opinion

April 12th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin
By JIM SCHOUT
Commentary

I seem to always be confused with the operations of this great city of ours. The Sun Journal ran an article last week announced the grand opening of the new art gallery on South Front Street. This group, now called “Community Artists Gallery and Studios” is the same one that was forced to abandon their previous location on Broad Street due to water issues.  But, isn’t this also the group the old Firemen’s Museum is being modified to accept? I recall our Board of Aldermen voted to spend $25,000 to update the city’s building on Metcalf Street to accommodate this identical group.

It appears the artists have already found an alternate place where they may actually operate as proposed when they offered to lease the old Firemen’s Museum. It was never clear to me why they offered to pay just $500 per month for the city’s space, and that figure sounded much too low to me. I recall the Mayor mentioned a more rational rate might be closer to $2,500 per month. Then, for reasons I never understood, the Board of Aldermen voted to look into a scheme where the city would take over the operation of the building and make spaces available to the artists. They would also make space available to other artists not a part of the original group on Broad Street.

So, what went wrong? The impression I got from listening to all of this was the city assumed the original CAW group would take the majority of the new spaces and extra spaces would be made available on a first-come-first-serve basis. I could be completely wrong, but it seems to me that the solid base of artists the city expected to participate has flown the coop. And, quite frankly, that doesn’t surprise me. I thought at the time all of this was evolving that the city was trying to usurp the whole idea that was the basic design of the CAW group.

Instead of renting the Firemen’s abandoned building to the CAW and allowing the group to sub-rent and manage the space as they proposed, the city decided to turn the whole idea to the city’s advantage. Now, I do not know what actually happened, but I would have been really upset if that happened to me. I would take my marbles and go elsewhere. And, that appears to be what has actually occurred.

So, the real question today is, “Are there enough total paying artists in this area to fill the available spaces on South Front street as well as the spaces in city’s building on Hancock?” If the answer is “Yes” then we have no problem. If the answer is “No” the city seriously needs to rethink this whole idea of becoming the owner/manager of an art gallery. I hope this is on the agenda for the very next BOA meeting. It is very possible we are wasting a pile of tax payer dollars to build something that is unnecessary.

The real question I would like to have answered is, “Why did the city fail to negotiate a reasonable rent and accommodate the artists?” I cannot believe the artists are renting the building on Front Street for $500 per month. But, is the rent $2,500 per month? You see, there was a correct rental amount that would have satisfied the city and the artists. But, we never got to that point because everyone went off half-cocked and failed to work this out rationally. At least, that is what I think I have witnessed. Please tell me I am wrong. Better yet, please tell me this is going to end well.

Posted in Commentary

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