Category: Community

February 12th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Request will be made at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting

New Bern community members and non-local activists will urge the New Bern Board of Aldermen to “Ban the Box” for hiring city employees at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“Ban the Box” is a hiring practice that encourages employers to identify potential hires with the best skills and experience and delay asking applicants about their criminal records until after a conditional offer is made.

Durham and Carrboro are among cities in North Carolina that have already adopted this “fair chance” hiring practice.

Ban the Box is a movement started in the early 2000s by All of Us or None, a national organization created and led by individuals directly impacted by incarceration and the criminal legal system.

People who have been involved in the criminal justice system often face collateral consequences, difficulties people face in finding housing, education, and employment because of a criminal record.  

Trouble finding employment is one of the most common collateral consequences that people face upon release. Those who have a record and disclose it on their initial job application are 50 percent less likely to receive a callback than their peers without a record.

Ban the Box programs do not prevent employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record, but rather calls for employers to remove the initial question about criminal records from job applications (“the box”) and delay any related questions until after a conditional offer is made. This process ensures the best person is being hired for the job and also allows the employer to continue to make decisions about the relevancy of the record to the job.

What: Public comments on ‘Ban the Box’ at New Bern Board of Alderman meeting

When: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.

Where: City Hall Courtroom, 300 Pollock St., New Bern

Who: New Bern community members and representatives from All of Us or None – NC and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice Clean Slate Project

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Community, Community issues, Crime, Economy, Economy and Employment, Housing, Mayor, New Bern

January 30th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

The Craven Community College Foundation is accepting nominations for the 9th Annual Community Fabric Awards, an event that awards individual, educational and business leadership in the community. The deadline to nominate is 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21.

The Community Fabric Awards were created by the Craven CC Foundation to celebrate and showcase excellence in leadership as demonstrated by outstanding initiative, impact of service and the inspiration of others.

Previous individual recipients include J. Troy Smith, Jr., Dr. Jim Congleton, Linda Staunch, New Bern Alderman Sabrina Bengel, Nelson Bell McDaniel, Maj. Gen. Tom Braaten USMC (Ret.), David L. Ward, Jr. and Robert L. “Bob” Mattocks. Business recipients include Trent Cadillac Buick GMC, Century 21 Zaytoun-Raines, The UPS Store, A Dog’s Dream, Mitchell Hardware, Moen, CarolinaEast Health System and Minges Bottling Group, Inc.-Pepsi. Previous educators to receive the award include Jorge Benitez, David Wang, Dr. Shelly Hines-Brooks, Jessica Cofield, Jeffrey Brown, Jessica Saxon, Donald Carpenetti and Dr. Bruce Waugh.

Funds raised through event sponsorships and tickets are used to support the Craven CC Foundation’s programs, as well as equipment, facilities and emerging initiatives of the college. To date, the Community Fabric Awards have netted more than $350,000 in support of the Foundation’s mission.

Submission forms for all three categories are available online at www.cravencc.edu/cfa.

After all submissions are in, the three award recipients will be selected by a confidential and independent committees. This year’s awards luncheon will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.

For additional information about the Community Fabric Awards, contact Tanya Roberts at 252638-7351 or robertst@cravencc.edu.

The Craven Community College Foundation has supported the vision of higher education for the residents of Craven County and beyond for more than 40 years. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides financial support to students through scholarships and funding for programs, equipment, new and emerging initiatives, facilities and other priorities on the New Bern and Havelock campuses.A

Craven Community College is part of the North Carolina Community College System. With campuses in New Bern and Havelock-Cherry Point, Craven CC serves about 3,200 curriculum students and more than 10,000 continuing education students each year. The college offers a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, as well as college transfer courses, career and occupational offerings, partnerships with four-year universities, specialized workforce training options, developmental studies and basic skills classes. The Lifetime Learning Center and Adult Enrichment Program offer lifelong learning opportunities. Craven Early College High School programs are available on both campuses. Craven CC is also home to Public Radio East, one of the few community colleges nationally with this distinction. For more information about the college, visit www.cravencc.edu

Posted in Community, Community Fabric Awards, Community issues, Craven Community College

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

December 7th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern was selected as one of the nation’s top retirement destinations and one of its best small retirement towns by WhereToRetire.com in its sixth edition of “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire,” a guidebook of the country’s most appealing retirement towns.

WhereToRetire.com spent 11 months researching more than 800 cities. The chosen cities vary in size, climate, amenities and lifestyle, and each falls into one of 10 categories that focuses on the city’s defining feature, such as beaches, mountains, low costs, four seasons and appealing downtowns. Each city profile combines extensive research, local knowledge and in-depth interviews with retirees who made the move.

New Bern is a certified retirement community. The Certified Retirement Community designation means a city has completed a comprehensive evaluation process with requirements outlined by the North Carolina General Assembly.  Certified Retirement Communities are recognized for providing the amenities, services and opportunities retirees need to enjoy active and productive lives.

New Bern was recognized in April 2015 as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Towns in North Carolina,” and one of the “Top 10 Coastal Towns Where You Can Afford to Retire.”

Founded in 1710, New Bern it is the second oldest city in the state. It was the last colonial capital of North Carolina and its first state capital. “The City is a grand mix of carefully restored and maintained historical homes with old growth trees, a historic downtown, and contemporary houses ranging from condos to mansions, many with riverfront locations,” according to the website, Visit New Bern.

“New Bern’s character is palpable, and the people you meet are as vibrant as their surroundings. In addition to its beauty, New Bern is well-situated at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers, and only 35 miles from the Crystal Coast. The Atlantic Ocean is accessible by boat from New Bern, and New Bern’s rivers and creeks make a perfect playground for sailing, yachting, kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and fishing. New Bern has direct access to rivers and beaches without the high costs associated with beachfront living.”

Eight North Carolina cities were selected as top retirement destinations in “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire.” Other North Carolina towns are Boone/Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Durham, Hendersonville, Sylva, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. 

North Carolina had the second highest number of towns on the list, behind only Florida. In addition, Winston-Salem was among the Best Four-Season Towns; Charlotte and Durham were among the Best Low-Cost Towns; and Boone/Blowing Rock, Hendersonville and Sylva were among the Best Mountain Towns.

For more information on visiting or relocating to New Bern go to www.VisitNewBern.com or www.visitnewbern.com/retire-new-bern/ Questions may be directed to marketingdirector@visitnewbern.com

Posted in Business, Community, Craven County, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Education, Entertainment, History, Housing, New Bern, Retirement

October 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The original plan for Craven Thirty included a large, robust area for commercial and light industrial development.

Remember back in  2012, all the buzz about Craven Thirty? All that sweet, sweet new retail space, a multiplex theater, and new neighborhoods? You probably also remember how last year Craven Thirty morphed into West Craven, with less focus on business and more focus on residential.

Now, more than a year later, West Craven has emerged into the public eye again. Its developer, Weyerhaeuser NR Company, is asking for the city to enter into a development agreement. It is on the Board of Aldermen’s agenda for next Tuesday, when the board is expected to set a date for a public hearing.

And this latest version of West Craven looks a lot like the original Craven Thirty, but with even more commercial space.

Zoning codes are: C-3 commercial, R-6 residential, I-2 light industrial, A-5F agriculture district.

The city entered into a development agreement with Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Development Company in September 2010 for what was to become Craven Thirty. The city annexed the 550-acres Craven Thirty property in December 2012.

A ribbon cutting was conducted by then-Gov. Bev Perdue, and construction was announced to begin in spring 2013. Some streets were put in, along with other infrastructure, but nothing else was built during he intervening six years. Blame the economy.

The revised and renamed project would include just under 250 acres for residential development, just under 250 acres of commercial development, just over 47 acres for light industrial, and just over 27 acres of agriculture forestry district with low-density residential uses.

The plan calls for a total of 1,500 residential units phased in over 15 years, 500,000 square feet of non-residential space, a 150-room hotel sometime during the first five years, and 10 acres for a private school, also during the first five years.

The agreement establishes the development phasing sequences for the project, establishes a Master Development Plan and development review process that can accommodate the timing, phasing and flexibility of the project, coordinates the construction and design of infrastructure that will serve the project and the community at large, confirms the dedication and/or provision of public amenities by the developer, and provides assurances to the developer that it may proceed with the project in accordance with the approved original zoning and the terms of this agreement without encountering future changes in ordinances, regulations, technical standards or policies that would affect its ability to develop the relevant parcels under the approved zoning and the terms hereof.

The project will include small neighborhoods, a walkable village area, and connections to open space that will “support and reinforce the City of New Bern as an attractive place to live, work and recreate.” The size and scale of the project requires a long-term commitment of both public and private resources and requires careful integration between the programming of public capital facilities, the phasing of development and the development review and approval process.

The West Craven site is well suited for access from all parts of New Bern, or it will be. It is located at the intersection of U.S. 70 and the N.C. 43 connector. There are plans to extend the N.C. 43 connector from where it now ends just west of U.S. 70, all the way through to U.S. 17.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Business, Community, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

September 27th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Learn How to Build Gingerbread House Class Oct. 19

Getting back to normal is the priority for New Bern following Hurricane Florence.  The New Bern Historical Society’s Gingerbread House Contest is moving forward with just that in mind. Florence means there will be some adjustments; it means plan B, which in this case means Bring People Downtown. The imaginative gingerbread creations drew many to downtown windows last year and the Society is hoping for even more this year as merchants work hard to re-open.

Executive Director Mickey Miller said, “We invite everyone to enter the contest.  Your creative baking and building will produce the wonderful pieces that will draw folks to the contest downtown. If you are among those who were blessed with less damage, please consider using your kitchen for this project.”

You may enter as individuals or teams in three categories:  Youth, Adult and Professional.  There will be prizes at each level and two additional prizes.  One is the People’s Choice, voted on by the public.  The other is the Nancy Chiles Heritage Award for the creation that best represents the theme “Historic New Bern Christmas.” This in memory of long-time Board member and avid Gingerbread supporter, Nancy Chiles.  The first 50 who enter will receive a hand-crafted pottery ornament made by the Potters of New Bern Art & Wellness Center.

If you are interested in building a gingerbread house, but are unsure of your skills, you are in luck.  The Society will be presenting a “Building a Gingerbread House” class on Friday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at Craven Community College.  It will leave you with all the skills and information you need to build your own creation.  Registration fee is $10 which will go to support the Gingerbread prizes.

All the information and details for the class and the contest are available at www.NewBernHistorical.org/gingerbread or by calling 252-638-8558. The deadline to enter the contest is November 5.  Further information is available on Facebook in the Gingerbread New Bern group.

The mission of the New Bern Historical Society is to celebrate and promote New Bern and its heritage through events and education.  Offices are located in the historic Attmore Oliver House at 511 Broad St. in New Bern.  For more information, call 252-638-8558 or go www.NewBernHistorical.org or www.facebook.com/NewBernHistoricalSociety.

Posted in Community, History, New Bern

August 27th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Aerial photo provided by the City of New Bern shows Martin Marietta Park in the foreground.

The City of New Bern will receive $475,000 to begin Phase I of Martin Marietta Park located on S. Glenburnie Road.  This funding will help kick off creation of the city’s largest ever park.

The Governor’s Office released a list of 27 parks and recreation projects across the state that will receive funding through the NC Parks & Recreation Trust Fund, including Martin Marietta Park.   

New Bern Parks & Recreation staff applied for the NC PARTF grant in May and learned last week that the City would be awarded funding.  The money will be used to install a children’s playground, boat launch, fishing pier, picnic shelter, park benches, multi-purpose trails, nature trail, and nature observation deck. 

The funds will also be used to create gravel parking lots, improve road conditions throughout the park, and purchase appropriate park signage.  General site preparation and supportive utility work are included in the grant funding. 

“This is a big step toward the development of Martin Marietta Park,” Foster Hughes, director of Parks & Recreation for the City of New Bern, said in a prepared statement.  “This park is a valuable asset to the City and this grant will help us enhance residents and visitors ability to enjoy recreational amenities across nearly 900 acres of land and lakes.”  The City anticipates construction will begin in January 2019.

Last September, Martin Marietta donated approximately 55 acres along South Glenburnie Road to the City of New Bern with the recommendation that the land be used to create a regional park.  The additional acreage completed a contiguous stretch of land totaling 888 acres owned by the City of New Bern.   

In the spring of 2018, the City invited public comment on proposed amenities residents would like to see inside the park.  Those surveys and comments were collected and analyzed by independent consultant McGill & Associates, which assisted the City in creating a master plan for the park. 

In April, the Board of Aldermen approved moving forward with the master plan which includes walking, running and cycling paths and trails, an outdoor performance area, open space for recreation and environmental stewardship, water activities and adventure activities.

Posted in Board of Aldermen, Community, New Bern, Parks and Recreation

July 24th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The city inched forward in a process that could lead to an 80-unit apartment complex off Carolina Avenue that would house some Trent Court residents to enable the New Bern Housing Authority to begin razing and replacing buildings in Trent Court.

The Housing Authority has offered $200,000 for an 8-acre parcel off Carolina Avenue, which is off Trent Road.

The Carolina Avenue property sought for purchase by the New Bern Housing Authority is shown boxed in yellow. The Pembroke Community is above and to the right of the lake shown in this aerial view.

Aldermen voted 6-1 to have the parcel appraised, a non-committal way of keeping the concept alive without actually approving it. Baby steps … baby steps.

The motion was made by Ward 6 Alderman Jeffrey Odham and seconded by Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Aster. What’s interesting about that is its break from tradition. Often a motion is made by the alderman in whose ward a project is located.

Carolina Avenue is in Alderwoman Jameesha Harris’s Ward 2, but Harris has opposed the proposed property sale and building project, echoing strong opposition from residents of the nearby Pembroke neighborhood.

Pembroke residents have opposed the idea of Trent Court residents moving near their community, fearing that doing so would bring Trent Court problems to Pembroke.

The Carolina Avenue is near Pembroke, although there is no direct access between the two locations.

Housing Authority Executive Director Martin Blaney, left, and Housing Authority Board Member Joseph Anderson speak to the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday. Randy Foster/Post

Housing Authority Executive Director Martin Blaney in a previous interview with the Post said there had been a lengthy search for a property suitable for a 80-unit apartment complex that would qualify for low income tax credits. The credits are awarded competitively, once a year. Higher scores go to projects that are close to shopping, far from microwave transmitters and railroad tracks, as well as several other factors.

The project must also fit the Housing Authority’s budget.

A search of the New Bern area turned up no suitable leads until it stumbled across the Carolina Avenue property, which is owned by the city. It scored highly on all the requirements, so Blaney approached the city to inquire about a sale.

That’s where Harris entered the picture, along with residents of the Pembroke Community. Following several community meetings in Pembroke, representatives appeared before the Board of Aldermen during the early July meeting to oppose the Carolina Avenue project.

Harris has been outspoken about the proposal, previously calling it “gentrification. Although she opposed even an appraisal of the property, she was less vigorous in her opposition during Tuesday’s meeting.

But if anyone was waiting for her to make any motion that would move the process forward, they were in for a long wait. That’s when Odham stepped in, making the motion for the appraisal.

The plan to raze and replace Trent Court is part of a larger Greater Five Points Transformation Plan that was released in 2016. Recommendations in the plan have already been implemented in the Craven Terrace neighborhood, which is also a Housing Authority project.

Many of Trent Court’s pre- and post-World War II buildings are located in a Lawson Creek flood zone. No more money will be put into repairing the buildings the next time flooding occurs, thus the Housing Authority is under the gun to move forward with the plan.

The plan calls for replacing dilapidated buildings and replacing them with townhouse-style apartments catering to mixed income levels. Areas directly in the flood zone would be turned into parkland and open space.

A representative of the development company that won the contract to rebuild Trent Court listens to Tuesday’s discussion about Carolina Avenue. Randy Foster/Post

Posted in Board of Aldermen, Community, Housing, New Bern

May 7th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The New Bern Preservation Foundation is seeking nominations for its first annual “Historic Preservation Design Awards.

Nominations are being solicited for projects and people in the community who have contributed to Historic Preservation efforts within the City of New Bern or Craven County.

Do you know someone who should be recognized for their involvement in historic preservation efforts, or are you aware of a project that deserves recognition?

Submit your nominations by 5 p.m. June 29. For nomination information, details, and any other questions, visit the NBPF’s website or call the Foundation at 252-633-6448.

Posted in Community

April 15th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

City Laundry, New Bern’s quirky foodie/coffee/wine/beer/live entertainment venue on Pollock Street, is closing on April 30, according to a Facebook post.

Here is the post:

“It has been a wonderful ride, but we will close our doors on April 30th. We want to invite everyone to come say goodbye at any of our upcoming events (we have event pages for all of them). You can call us or message us here for a reservation to any of our last events. 252-876-7007. New Bern has been great to us, we thank you all for your support!”

Here is a link to the Facebook event.

Posted in Business, Community, Economy and Employment

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