Residents in the Ghent neighborhood are begging for help from City Hall to do something about cars using residential streets as cut-throughs, raising the question, why wouldn’t City Hall help?
Could it be that City Hall doesn’t want to be seen as responsive when residents ask for help? That’s actually been an argument (“We don’t want to help you because then we’d have to help everyone”).
Could it be that City Hall thinks that throttling back on Ghent cut-through traffic will only push the problem elsewhere? (That actually happened recently when through-traffic was blocked and cars — temporarily — used nearby streets as a detour until they found that First Street is faster).
The real reason is something else, a mile away and an apparently unrelated issue — Farmers Market.
Farmers Market sits on a piece of prime real estate valued at $471,880, according to the county tax office. But that tax value figure belies its true value.
Located on railroad frontage and fixed between the N.C. History Center and Downtown Proper, this 1.2 acre parcel has been occupied by New Bern Farmers Market since 1984 (note: typo corrected from 1994).
The property was acquired by the Redevelopment Commission and then sold to the city for $10 in 1978. The enclosure on the property was purpose-built for the Farmers Market.
Farmers Market was originally seen by City Hall as an asset that attracted people downtown during a time when Downtown New Bern was getting back on its feet following years of decline.
The waterfront along the Trent River, once teeming with industry, had become derelict, nothing like what it is now today, and Farmers Market was one of the first improvements that helped downtown revitalization.
The city charged Farmers Market $1 a year to use the property, but when Dana Outlaw became mayor, something changed.
Outlaw, the son of a former New Bern city manager, started ridding City Hall of what he perceived as surplus properties.
He also ended city contributions to non-profits that had been helping the city in numerous ways, such as Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, which was primarily responsible for downtown’s turnaround, and New Bern Firemen’s Museum, which was in a city-owned building and also charged $1 rent.
The city sold the Dunn Building kitty-corner from City Hall and moved offices around to other city-owned buildings, including a former elementary school on First Street between Spencer Avenue and Trent Boulevard.
City Hall owns other properties — numerous houses that it foreclosed on when cash-strapped owners were unable to afford repairs and then the demolition costs when the city bulldozed the houses, and a large parcel of wetlands between the Pembroke Community, U.S Highway 70, Carolina Avenue, and Trent Road that it is selling part of to the New Bern Housing Authority to build low-income apartments.
City success in the real estate business is hit and miss. The houses in its inventory earn nickels on the dollar when sold compared to the cost the city incurs in legal fees, demolition, and marketing.
It has been having trouble selling the old Firemen’s Museum on Hancock Street, and when a group of artists offered to rent it from the city, the city stole the idea but then failed at starting its own artist studio.
That wasn’t the first time City Hall tried to muscle in on the success of local non-profits.
Which brings us to the old Power Plant between First Street, Rhem Street, and Park Avenue.
After years of industrial use, the 3.8 acre parcel is an environmental nightmare beneath a thin layer of asphalt. No one in their right mind would ever buy such a property, given the high clean-up costs, although the county tax office values it at $339,720.
Stuck with surplus property that it could never sell, leaders at City Hall came up with an idea that they thought would kill two birds with one stone.
They would move, voluntarily or otherwise, Farmers Market from its attractive property downtown to the Power Plant property, once the city completed various improvements to accommodate Farmers Market needs.
The First Street property is a turd, but they would make it a shiny turd.
Unsurprisingly, members of the New Bern Farmers Market and downtown businesses and visitors resisted the idea. The timing wasall in the Farmers Market’s favor.
Even if City Hall evicted the Farmers Market at the end of its lease, the Farmers Market had a one-year extension option that, if it exercised the option, would have them being evicted the month before municipal elections in 2017.
The city backed down and granted another 5-year lease, but this time increased the rent to $500 a year (ed. note: corrected from per month).
Meanwhile, City Hall hunkered down. It claimed that instead of there being a farmers market-style City Market, it would partner with Craven Community College to hold courses at the newly branded VOLT Center.
But secretly, some city leaders held on to the idea of a farmers market, seeking grants and other funding using a technique called fraud. At least one grant application withheld key information, not the least of which was the implication that New Bern didn’t have a farmers market and City Market would fill that void.
Chemical contaminants and misleading grant applications aside, City Hall faced other obstacles in creating a new farmers market to put the existing one out of business.
The old electric generation plant, located between Country Club Road/First Street, Park Avenue, and Rhem Street, has access issues.
First, Country Club Road/First Street was butt ugly.
In fixing that problem (you may have guessed already, the city got someone else to foot the cost, namely N.C. Department of Transportation, aka state taxpayers), street engineers employed a concept called “Road Diet,” which is the latest thing at street engineer cocktail parties.
They took the street, a four-lane monstrosity with occasional sidewalks and plenty of eyesores, and spiffed it up, turning it into a two-lane street (with center turn lane), bike lanes, and sidewalks on both sides.
That led to another problem. N.C. DOT said it would do the work, but resisted the idea of there being an entrance to City Market off First Street. It would be too close to freeway onramps and offramps, they said.
That forced City Hall to figure out a different way for hundreds of visitors to get to their future farmers market, which left one choice: Rhem Street.
Rhem Street is one block long and located within a commercially zoned district, although there are just as many houses on Rhem Street as there are businesses.
The two main ways to get to Rhem Street are from Country Club Road, and from (drum roll) Second Street.
See what they did there?
To put New Bern Farmers Market out of business, City Hall has to keep Second Street open to commercial traffic, even though Second Street, just two and one-half blocks long, is located entirely in a residential district.
Connecting the dots, it leads directly back to the property on which New Bern Farmers Market is now located.
For some reason, forces inside City Hall want New Bern Farmers Market off the property on South Front Street really, really badly, either by moving it to another location, or by putting it out of business.
The question is, who wants that downtown Farmers Market property so badly that they have City Hall in their back pocket, fighting fiercely to get it done?
The answer is reached the old fashioned way: Follow the money.
Ever since Jeffrey Odham, then a candidate for Ward 6 alderman, ran on a campaign of running city hall like a business, I was apprehensive.
Once he took office, I started to see exactly what he meant.
He wasn’t talking about a business that puts customer satisfaction first. He was talking about the American concept of business efficiency — low cost, high profit, declining customer service, cut-throat competitiveness, and poor responsiveness to customer needs and wants.
There are numerous examples that bear this out.
There’s the example of City Hall pushing the Firemen’s Museum out of its old location on Middle Street into the old fire station on Broad Street. This was part of a push by the Board of Aldermen to get rid of surplus properties, even if the property is being used for the betterment of the community.
Once the Firemen’s Museum finished moving, the old building sat vacant. Despite some initial interest from buyers, the city was simply unable to sell the building.
Then a group of artists who had been forced out of their previous studio approached the city about renting the old museum property.
That brings us to another example, one of cut-throat competitiveness.
The artists wanted to rent the building for the non-profit rate (usually $1 a month or a year) or if not that, as low as possible, and in turn would provide numerous services and amenities to the community.
Something similar is happening with New Bern Farmers Market. The city tried to force it from its city-owned location on South Front Street to the old electric generation plant off First Street. City strong-arm tactics to get its way failed but only due to the proximity of municipal elections, which would occur at precisely the same time City Hall would be evicting the Farmers Market. Rather than face the wrath of angry voters, city leaders extended the Farmers Market lease for five years but increased the rent from $1 a month to $500 (the only example of the city charging a non-profit anything other than token rent).
City Hall plays the long game, however. If it can’t get New Bern Farmers Market to move, it plans to start its own, fraudulently going after government grants to help pave the way, with the ultimate goal of putting New Bern Farmers Market out of business so it can sell the property on which it operates.
Let’s also not forget the draconian utility deposits the city imposes on people having a hard enough time as it is keeping up with high utility costs.
Let’s not forget the place where you pay your electric bill. Until complaints came to light, they locked their doors 15 minutes before closing time and even closed their public restrooms.
The pettiness just keeps on coming.
These are not the only examples of City Hall being “run like a business,” they are just some examples.
Except where the law requires public participation, City Hall treats city residents (those without wealth, at least) as annoyances. City officials treat citizens disdainfully and ignore their requests whenever the law allows it.
Paradoxically, city workers continue to provide high levels of customer service despite what their management forces on them. Utility workers, police patrolmen, firefighters, desk clerks, street workers and more, they all get the job done.
My belief is that a city should not be run like a business, but should be run like a cooperative.
Citizens are stakeholders, not customers. The money they pay for their rents and mortgages, along with taxes they pay for goods and services, fund an organization that provides for the safety and well-being of these stakeholders.
They are represented by a board of directors, which in this case is the Board of Aldermen. It is each board member’s responsibility to interpret and represent the needs and wants of their constituency to the city executives that carry out those tasks.
But that’s not how it has been working.
Instead, ambitious city officials have been launching a series of vanity projects that will look good on their resumes and that they can point to with pride when it comes time for asking for raises.
Meanwhile, New Bern becomes less and less affordable, with some of the worst housing affordability rates in the state. That should worry everyone.
If entry-level workers can’t afford to live here, New Bern won’t have the entry-level workforce that is the foundation of New Bern’s commerce and tourism.
It takes a community to be a community, but go ahead, Alderman Odham and the rest who stand behind him, keep running the city like a business, searching for profits, and discouraging “undesirables” from living here.
City Hall may play the long game, but it doesn’t play the sustainable game.
Here is your opportunity to be a part of a world premiere event telling one of New Bern’s most compelling stories, the Stanly-Spaight Duel.
Auditions for Honour, The Musical with book and lyrics by Bill Hand and music by Simon Spalding will be held July 10 at 6 p.m. and July 13 at 10 a.m. at Craven Community College at Orringer Auditorium.
Participants will be asked to present a one-minute monologue of their choice and to read from the script. They will also be asked to sing one of two songs. The songs and more details are found at www.Facebook.com/HonourTheMusical
Performance dates are Jan. 23-26 and Jan. 31-Feb 2, 2020. .
Honour, The Musical first tells the story of the 1802 duel between Richard Dobbs Spaight and John Stanly and, second, that of one of Spaight’s slaves, Sarah Rice, who was the mother of a child by John Stanly and who, one day, would gain her freedom and become an important part of New Bern history.
This project is presented through a partnership of the New Bern Historical Society and Craven Community College supported with Title Sponsorship of CarolinaEast Health System and Silver Sponsorship of the law firms of Stubbs & Perdue, and Oliver & Cheek.
Historical Society Historical Society Executive Director Mickey Miller said, “We are thrilled to partner with this dynamic group to present this world premiere of Honour, The Musical, a unique New Bern story. The mission of the New Bern Historical Society is to celebrate and promote New Bern and its heritage through events and education, and Honour fits our mission perfectly.”
Bill Hand is a local writer, historian and journalist who is also known for his weekly history column in the New Bern Sun Journal. He has also written the scripts and directed the Cedar Grove Cemetery Ghosts for the Historical Society’s annual Ghostwalk. Audiences will also remember his dinner theatre presentations from Athens of the South company, as well as his portrayal of Mark Twain and appearances in local theatre productions.
The music of Honour is the work of musician, historian, author and performer Simon Spalding. Simon has been a musician for 50-plus years performing with groups throughout the United States and in several European countries. His solo performances have taken him to a total of 12 European countries, and he has composed, arranged and performed music for dozens of commercial recordings and films. He also served for five years as Living History Programs Manager at Tryon Palace.
The mission of the New Bern Historical Society is to celebrate and promote New Bern and its heritage through events and education.
Some of the more than 220 people who have been helped by Habitat for Humanity pose during a celebration at the N.C. History Center in New Bern on Saturday evening.
Habitat for Humanity Craven County is celebrating its 30th anniversary helping families build and own homes.
A reception was held at the N.C. History Center on Saturday to commemorate the milestone.
Habitat for Humanity works with families, volunteers, donors, corporations, and the community to build affordable homes. They work to transform neighborhoods through revitalization, education, innovative development, partnerships, through long term relationships with families and the community.
Habitat for Humanity Craven County got its start in 1989. It has built 66 homes starting with its first in 1991, providing decent homes for 105 adults and more than 120 children. Of those, 16 have fully paid off their mortgages.
Habitat for Humanity started construction on five new homes in 2019.
In addition, 41 homes have been built in other countries around the world through local tithes made to Habitat for Humanity International.
“Since 1989, Habitat for Humanity of Craven County has been helping families achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families,” the organization said on its website.
Following the devastating damages in Craven County from Hurricane Florence in September 2018, Habitat for Humanity of Craven County established a Critical Repairs Program to assist Habitat and non-Habitat homeowners with the repairs necessary so they can to return to a safe and healthy home. We are also pleased to partner with Purple Heart Homes to work on repairs for veterans’ homes.
Habitat for Humanity operates ReStore at 930 Pollock St.
The ReStore sells new and used household items, appliances, furnishings, building materials, and home improvement items to the public. All materials are donated by local retail businesses, building contractors, suppliers and individuals, and are made available for sale to the public at 50% to 90% below retail prices. Proceeds from ReStore go to the building of new homes and the operating costs of Habitat for Humanity of Craven County.
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)
On June 19, 2019, Eastern North Carolinians will celebrate JUNETEENTH with the launch of The African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern.
June 19 is JUNETEENTH, the national celebration of the emancipation of formerly enslaved peoples. The AAHCC launch is June 19 from 6-8 p.m. at 408 Hancock St. in New Bern.
Rick Fisher, newly elected Board President said, “JUNETEENTH was chosen because of its significance to African Americans throughout the country. Launching on JUNETEENTH in New Bern demonstrates our organization’s commitment to presenting the historical impact and progression of African American heritage and culture in Eastern North Carolina.”
The African American Heritage & Cultural Center (AAHCC) launch on JUNETEENTH is one event among many planned that week throughout New Bern.
“Our leadership looks forward to all the events and encourages families throughout the region to come to New Bern for the JUNETEENTH celebrations,” Fisher said.
“We are planning an evening of fellowship, good traditional food, music, and art”, said Board Vice-President Ann Herndon. “I’m honored to be on the founding Board of Directors and look forward to AAHCC’s first public event.”
Details and tickets for the event are available on EventBrite. The program begins at 6 p.m. and registrants are encouraged to park in the nearby free parking lot and arrive by 5:45.
AAHCC is strategic group of community leaders, elected officials and nonprofit organization leaders that gathered early in 2018 to discuss the continuing need to increase the visibility of the heritage of eastern North Carolina’s African American community.
Beyond the recorded history of the region that is included in traditional educational environments exists an important legacy of remarkable and determined individuals who contributed to the development of this region. As 2018 discussion continued, these early AAHCC leaders determined to established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which would collaborate with existing nonprofits, organizations and groups to secure resources to present a broad spectrum of the African American Experience.
Future AAHCC programs will include developing an oral history library with universal access, and presenting creative performances, seminars and lectures, exhibitions of artwork including murals, artifacts and personal collections, along with music, food and live art events.
ADDITIONAL JUNETEENTH EVENTS IN NEW BERN
AAHCC’s June 19 launch is one of many JUNETEENTH events throughout New Bern:
• Friday, June 14 at 5-8 p.m. JUNETEENTH Opening Reception featuring a month- long exhibit of eight local African American artists at Craven Arts Council, Bank of the Arts, 317 Middle Street
• Monday June 17 at 7 p.m. Juneteenth Week Kickoff with Charles Tendell Podcast
• Tuesday June 18, Community Service/Health Day Health and Mental Health Free Screenings at the OMEGA Center. Watch for publication of registration details
• JUNETEENTH Wednesday June 19 at 6-8 p.m. AAHCC Public Lunch – register on EventBrite.
• Thursday June 20 at 7 p.m. Tryon Palace African American Lecture, NC History Center
• Friday June 21 at 7 p.m. “Celebration of Cultures” hosted by Y.U.P. Annual Rooftop Social, 401 Middle Street. Registration required.
• Saturday June 22, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. DufFest Presents Juneteenth hosted by GDRC, Stanley White Field
• Saturday, June 22, HBCA DAY at Omega Center. Watch for publication of registration details
• Sunday June 23 is Community Freedom and Fellowship Day at Local Churches and Union Point Park Recreation. Watch for publication of details
• Sunday June 23 Gospel Concert being planned at OMEGA Center. Watch for publication of details
The African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in New Bern North Carolina and serving communities throughout Eastern North Carolina. Contact information: Post Office Box 1354, NBNC 28563-1354 or TheCenterofNewBern@gmail.com.
In early 2019, AAHCC became a nonprofit organization and elected is founding Board of Directors and Officers.
Officers are Rick Fisher – President
Ann Herndon – Vice-President
Kathy Adolph – Secretary
Jim Copland – Treasurer
Board Directors – Carol Bonner Becton, Maria Cho, and Tahira Coble Copland.
AAHCC is staffed by Executive Director Carrie Gallagher.
National Travel and Tourism Week 2019, the 36th annual celebration of the contributions and accomplishments of the U.S. travel industry, will take place on May 5-11.
This year’s theme is “Travel Matters,” a recognition of the innumerable ways in which travel enriches lives and strengthens communities. Each day of NTTW will spotlight a different example of why travel matters to America.
For New Bern and Craven County, travel and tourism are so vital that “Travel Matters” are not mere words.
“They are the economic engine for the city, the county, the state – the entire country,” said Sabrina Bengel, chairman of the Craven County Tourism Development Authority. “That’s true whether you are traveling to a campground or a 5-star resort.”
Tourism creates jobs that keeps local economies humming, and brings in sales taxes that pay for vital government services.
“‘Travel Matters’ is quite accurate,” said Tarshi P. McCoy, executive director of the New Bern-Craven County Convention & Visitor Center. “Tourism has an enormous effect on New Bern and Craven County and continues to grow each year.”
True, New Bern has been in recovery mode since Hurricane Florence struck in September 2018. Damage to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New Bern-Riverfront indefinitely reduced available downtown hotel rooms by 171 and left the city without its only full-service hotel.
Paradoxically, occupancy tax revenues actually increased to record levels since Hurricane Florence, Bengel said.
That’s one of those “silver lining” situations, as construction workers, insurance adjusters, government officials and others descended on New Bern in response to Hurricane Florence.
That surge is expected to subside by the last quarter of the year, about the same time that New Bern Riverfront Convention Center is scheduled to reopen fresh from repairs.
New Bern’s tourism industry continues to market the city’s unique and historic ambience, and there has been an uptick in business for the city’s Bed & Breakfasts. Pollock Street in downtown alone has six B&Bs offering around 43 rooms, all an easy walk from the Convention Center and other downtown attractions.
Having a major hotel and a convention center simultaneously out of commission affects the city’s ability to attract larger conventions, but the city has adjusted its strategies in order to focus on its many other strengths.
While the city may find it harder to attract large-scale conventions, its ambience and unparalleled services still suit smaller meetings and events.
“We can’t have full conventions but we can accommodate boards of directors,” Bengel said.
Case in point: PepsiCo continues to hold its annual meetings in New Bern, where Pepsi was invented.
Tarshi P. McCoy has been creative in addressing recent challenges while continuing to focus on New Bern’s entrenched strengths, Bengel said.
“The New Bern-Craven County Convention and Visitors Bureau works closely with the hospitality partners to ensure that we promote our amenities and educate travelers on everything the area has to offer,” McCoy said.
Downtown New Bern may have 171 fewer hotel rooms, but two other downtown hotels, Courtyard by Marriott New Bern and Bridgepoint Hotel and Marina, are open, and Havelock, a short drive away on U.S. Highway 70, offers 300-350 additional rooms, Bengel said.
Those amenities, coupled with value-added services including shuttle services, keep Craven County in the tourism game.
That’s not all. Downtown New Bern features a growing and vibrant arts and theatre community and a thriving night life. The area’s ambience is well suited for weddings and events, which by nature of their advanced planning provide stability for inn, venue, and restaurant bookings.
What is National Travel and Tourism Week?
Established in 1983 by President Reagan, National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) is the annual salute to travel in America.
During the first full week in May, communities nationwide unite around a common theme to showcase travel’s contributions to the economy and American jobs.
This year, the travel industry is coming together to celebrate why “Travel Matters,” spotlighting a different way travel matters each day to American jobs, economic growth and personal well-being.
SUNDAY: Travel matters to the economy.
Travel generated $2.5 trillion for the U.S. economy in 2018 across all U.S. industries. Here in New Bern, the travel industry generated $142.10 million to the local economy in 2017.
MONDAY: Travel matters to new experiences.
From our national parks to our diverse cities and our scenic small towns, travel is uniquely made in America. Our attractions, restaurants, shops, theme parks, music venues and more—and the people who make them possible—are the best in the world and showcase what makes America great.
TUESDAY: Travel matters to our jobs.
Travel supported 15.7 million U.S. jobs in 2018—that’s one in 10 American jobs, making travel the seventh largest employer in the private sector. Here in New Bern, the travel industry supports According to “Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties 2017,” prepared for Visit North Carolina by the U.S. Travel Association, the travel and tourism industry directly employed more than 1,170 people in Craven County. Total payroll generated by the tourism industry in Craven County was $29.06 million in 2017. State tax revenue in Craven County totaled $7.79 million through state sales and excise taxes, as well as income taxes. Local taxes generated from sales and property tax revenue from travel-generated and travel-supported businesses totaled $3.13 million..
WEDNESDAY: Travel matters to keeping America connected.
Within the next five years, Labor Day-like traffic will plague U.S. highways on a daily basis and within the next six years, our nation’s top 30 airports will experience Thanksgiving-like passenger volumes on a weekly basis.
Approximately 80 million inbound travelers visited America last year, about half of whom came from overseas. Spending by these visitors supports 1.2 million American jobs.
THURSDAY: Travel matters to health.
Americans are increasingly realizing the value of their vacation time, taking an average of 17.2 days of vacation each year. Yet less than half of that time is used to travel—despite its clear benefits for health.
Those who take all or most of their vacation time to travel report higher rates of happiness with physical health and well-being compared to those who don’t travel as much.
FRIDAY: Travel matters to hometown pride.
Over half of all leisure travel in the U.S. is to visit family and friends, making residents a community’s best tourism ambassador.
The intersection of sports—a key driver of hometown pride—and travel is unmistakable: in 2017, more than 150 million individuals attended sporting events last year across the five major sports teams.
SATURDAY: Travel matters to families.
Travel helps families connect, creating everlasting memories and develop a lifelong bond. When surveyed, most children (61%) say the best way to spend quality time with parents is on vacation. At their core, adults know this: 62 percent of adults say that their earliest, most vivid memories are of family vacations taken between the ages of five and 10.
The Craven County Board of Commissioners reversed its April 15 decision to decline renewal of the curbside recycling program in Craven County at its specially called meeting held on April 26.
The curbside recycling program in Craven County will continue, though residents will see modifications. The Craven County Board of Commissioners voted to renew the curbside recycling contract with Waste Industries for the next five years to provide a monthly curbside pickup of recyclables in a 95-gallon rolling container.
The current curbside recycling program will continue as is until Craven County and Waste Industries are able to implement the program changes. Residents will see a recycling fee increase on their annual tax bill and that fee will be determined during the Craven County Board of Commissioner’s annual budget process. The fee is expected to be between $56 and $60 per household per year. More details regarding the changes to Craven County’s curbside recycling program will be announced at a later date.
The Special Meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners was held in response to citizen demand for the continuation of curbside recycling services after the initial decision was communicated.
“The Board of Commissioners wants to be responsive. I am so glad so many in the community support environmentally friendly policies,” E.T. Mitchell, Craven County Commissioner, said in a prepared statement.
Craven County’s curbside recycling program accepts aluminum cans, newspapers with inserts, clear/green/brown glass, #1 PETE clear plastic, #2 HDPE natural plastic, rigid plastic bottles with the neck smaller than the body of the container (except motor oil and pesticide containers), corrugated cardboard cut down to no larger than 2’ x 3’ and steel/tin cans.
Craven County offers a host of trash and recycling programs including electronics recycling, paint exchange and scrap metal recycling. For additional information on Craven County’s trash and recycling services please contact Craven County Solid Waste and Recycling at 252-636-6659 or visit www.cravencountync.gov.
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.
A local couple is taking over The UPS Store franchise in New Bern from longtime franchisees Pat Drake and Mack Paul, who are retiring after nearly 25 years in business.
Jim and Middleton Hinckley of New Bern will take over management of the store around the end of April. An Open House will be held at the store at 1822 S. Glenburnie Road, New Bern, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, celebrating the new owners as well as the retirement of the previous owners.
The New Bern store has 1,200 square feet of floor space and employs three full-time and two part-time workers, in addition to the owners.
Jim and Middleton Hinckley discovered The UPS Store franchise was available while looking for opportunities to operate their own small business.
“UPS Stores are franchised with local ownership,” Jim Hinckley said. “It’s a great small business model and I think local ownership is a valuable business attribute.”
The UPS Store locations offer domestic and international shipping, packaging, printing, mailbox services, postal services, drop-off shredding, moving supplies and other small-business services.
Jim Middleton has been spending April preparing for the transition, including two weeks at a training store in Florence, S.C., and two weeks at the corporate headquarters in San Diego, Calif.
“Pat and Mack run a great business,” he said. “We have a great staff in the store so we are excited about that and look forward to getting to know them. The UPS Store offers a lot of services so we’ll be looking for opportunities to grow.”
The Hinckleys have been in New Bern for seven years. They have three children, Brent age 13, Middy age 12, and Marshall age 8.
Jim Hinckley’s background is in car sales, while Middleton Hinckley has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University before starting a family.
“It’s a unique and wonderful town,” Middleton Hinckley said. “For us, The UPS Store is a great way to further our ties to New Bern and contribute to the community.”
Pat Drake moved to New Bern in 1994 from Long Island, N.Y., and opened the New Bern Mail Boxes Etc. franchise in September 1994 (Mail Boxes Etc. became The UPS Store starting in 2002).
She met Mack Paul a month later as a customer. He was a journalist working for the Pamlico News. They married in 1997 and Paul started working at the store in October 1997.
Pat Drake and Mack Paul are known for excellent customer service as well as community service. They were recipients of a Community Fabric Award from the Craven Community College Foundation in 2016, are active in the Tryon Civitan Club, and have helped collect food and diapers for Religious Community Services and the Salvation Army.
With that in mind, they were not interested in selling their franchise to someone who would simply run the business.
“We didn’t want to sell to just anyone,” said Mack Paul. “We wanted someone who would continue our tradition of being active in the community—and they fit the bill.”
“Following Pat and Mack is somewhat daunting,” Middleton Hinckley said. “They not only run a great business, but they are also involved in the community in so many positive ways. We bump into their work and contributions in the area everywhere we turn. We plan to continue our own involvement in the New Bern community as well as many of the contributions Pat and Mack are making through The UPS Store.”
“Pat and Mack have earned their tremendous reputation in the community,” Paul Hinckley said. “Every single person I talk to comments on their tremendous customer service and philanthropy. Community involvement is near and dear to my heart, so I’m looking forward to the challenge of maintaining their example.”
Pat Drake and Mack Paul will remain in the area and continue to make repairs to their home, which was damaged by Hurricane Florence.
“Someone asked if I was quitting the Tryon Civitan Club,” Mack Paul said. “Why would I do that?”
“We’re not moving away. This is still home,” Pat Drake said.