Category: New Bern business and commerce

January 10th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

A plan that includes enforced two-hour parking in Downtown New Bern cleared a hurdle on Tuesday.

Following a public hearing during which a committee’s recommendations went largely unchanged, the board asked its staff to prepare an ordinance and bring it back for a vote at the board’s first meeting in February.

A committee met over several months in 2017 to come up with ways to solve a perceived problem with downtown parking, with any decisions on the committee’s recommendations put off until the Board of Aldermen’s first meeting in January to enable new aldermen to weigh in on the issue.

Alderman Sabrina Bengel, whose ward includes all of downtown New Bern, led the discussion. While she had some concerns about how much the city ought to charge for leased spaces, she agreed with most of the recommendations.

They include enforced two-hour parking; an increase in parking fines from $5 to $25, doubling to $50 if not paid within 30 days; and improved directional signage directing motorists to city lots on Hancock Street, South Front Street and at the Farmers’ Market.

Notable what the plans do not include is paid street side parking or a push for a parking structure.

Bengel estimated that there are 200 parking spaces downtown that go unused. “We don’t have a parking problem, we have a walking problem,” she said, describing people unwilling to walk an extra block or two to take advantage of areas where there is a surplus of available parking.

Alderman Jeffrey Odham expressed concerns about picking and choosing pieces of the committee’s recommendations, which he said were intended to look at the problem of downtown parking holistically.

He said his big concern is picking and choosing from the committee recommendations just to get the ball rolling, but creating a bigger parking problem six months down the road.

Previous coverage

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

January 7th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

American Prospect, a non-profit website specializing in non-profit, independent journalism, has posted an article that is highly critical of GateHouse Media and explains much of what is going on at many of its properties, including the New Bern Sun Journal.

The headline states:

Saving the Free Press From Private Equity

Navigating the digital transition is a huge challenge for newspapers. Absentee ownership by private equity predators makes it all but impossible.

 

It’s a long read, but it does a good job describing the toxic nature of private equity enterprises taking over local newspapers and running them into the ground. Here’s one example cited in the article that sounds disturbingly familiar to those who have been observing what has been happening at the Sun Journal:

The Bastrop Daily Enterprise, in the northeast corner of Louisiana, was founded in 1904, part of a small family-owned chain. The newspaper did a thriving business, with 30 employees and $1.5 million in annual revenues. “We served our communities, won awards for our reporting, and made good money for the owner,” says a former staffer who asked that we not use her name. Then the Enterprise was bought by GateHouse Media, the newsroom was gutted, and all operations were centralized by the new corporate owners.

“Now they’ve got maybe eight people,” says this former employee. “They’re lucky if they’re doing $600,000 gross. I remember what these papers used to be. It’s unrecognizable.” Few citizens of Bastrop, however, know the reasons behind the wasting of the Enterprise because no one has reported on it.

The long-form article does not mention the Sun Journal specifically, but does include the Fayetteville Observer, a formerly family-owned newspaper that has undergone significant staff reductions since it was acquired by GateHouse in 2016.

In North Carolina, The Fayetteville Observer, founded in 1816, had been owned by the McMurray family since the 1920s and is the oldest North Carolina paper continually publishing. Fayetteville is hard by Fort Bragg. The paper has a daily circulation of about 62,000 across ten counties, and had been profitable and well managed. But family members, getting older, decided it was time to sell. Charles Broadwell, whose grandmother had been board chair, was the last family member running the paper. He engaged newspaper brokers to find a buyer. GateHouse, the biggest of the private equity players, took over the paper in 2016, making deep cuts in the newsroom and the business office, and moving the copy desk to their regional center. They raised the subscription price for a shabbier product. “It was like walking around at my own funeral,” Broadwell says.

There is hope, according to the article:
While newspapers will never be the money machines that they were in the glory days, they may yet endure as core institutions of American democracy.
However, against this bleak trend, being repeated at hundreds of papers nationwide, there is actually some good news. In some cities, private equity owners are selling newspapers back to local owners who are not looking for windfall gains but are committed to reinvesting in the newsroom and figuring out digital publishing. In other places, like Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Boston, a category of new local owners whom we might call benign billionaires are devising new business models to allow papers to at least break even, while they give talented editors the freedom and resources to rebuild the newsroom and advance digital. While newspapers will never be the money machines that they were in the glory days, they may yet endure as core institutions of American democracy.

 

Again, the full article is here.

I have contacted Regional Publisher Mike Distelhorst and Regional Editor Pam Sander for their comments about the American Prospect article. I will post their replies if and once I receive them.

 

In the interests of full disclosure, you should know that I was the executive editor at the Sun Journal until October 2017, when I resigned for personal and professional reasons.

Once I discovered that at least one Sun Journal telemarketer was misrepresenting the circumstances of my departure from the company, I posted my resignation letter along with a memo  I wrote just prior to my resignation. A short time later, GateHouse Media sent me a cease and desist demand, which I present here in its entirety:

December 14, 2017

Mr. Randy Foster
Email: randy.foster@newbempost.com
Re: Your Legal Obligation to GateHouse Media, LLC

Dear Mr. Foster:
I am General Counsel of GateHouse Media, Inc. (“GateHouse”). GateHouse Media is the ultimate parent of the publisher of the New Bern Sun Journal (“New Bern”). I write to remind you of your continuing legal obligations to GateHouse under State and Federal law.

While you were employed by GateHouse, you were given access to unique, confidential, and proprietary business information including information regarding management options for potential layoffs. It has come to our attention that you are publishing such information on your personal blog – http://newbempost.com/myside. Under State and Federal law, the use of such confidential and proprietary information in this manner is prohibited. Further, State and Federal law dictate that you not disclose such confidential and proprietary information to anyone, or use such information for your own benefit or the benefit of others.

To the extent that you are using such information, we request that you immediately cease and desist from such use. Should GateHouse discover that this practice is continuing we will seek an injunction against and damages from all appropriate parties for such misuse.

We certainly trust and expect that you will fully comply with your obligations to GateHouse under State and Federal law, and that no legal action by GateHouse to protect its rights will be necessary. This letter sets forth our position on the matters contained herein and should not be deemed to restrict, prejudice, waive or limit any of our rights or remedies under contract, at law or in equity.

Very Truly Yours,
Polly Granfield Sack
Sr. Vice President, Secretary And General Counsel

I responded that I complied with their demand and took the memos offline, but made a cease and desist demand of my own:

Dear Mrs. Sack:
I am sole owner and operator of the local news website, NewBernPost.com, and a former GateHouse Media employee. I have complied with your cease and desist request in your Dec. 14 letter to me. I removed the article from public access on the evening of Dec. 14, along with social media links to the referenced. It will remain offline while I discuss the matter with my lawyer.

Meanwhile, I am requesting that GateHouse Media and Coastal ENC Group, their officers and representatives, cease and desist from misrepresenting the reason for my resignation from GateHouse Media, and cease and desist from disseminating private personnel records and information about me in violation of state and federal laws and your own company policy.
I expect a timely reply in which you explain steps that will be taking to satisfy my requests. Should I discover that this practice is continuing, I will seek an injunction against and damages from all appropriate parties for such misuse.

I certainly trust and expect that you will fully comply with your obligations to me under state and federal law and GateHouse Media policies, and that no legal action by me to protect my rights will be necessary. This letter sets forth my position on the matters contained herein and should not be deemed to restrict, prejudice, waive or limit any of my rights or remedies under contract, at law or in equity.

Very Truly Yours,
Randy Foster

Posted in New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, News Media

January 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

First off, the obvious

Things are getting back to normal now that the holidays are behind us.

Just kidding. With snow and ice blanketing the region, it’s like having an extra week off for the Christmas break. Schools have been closed since Wednesday. So much of New Bern was shut down on Thursday, it nearly felt like Christmas Day.

Though we were well supplied with food, cabin fever drove us from the house and we thank the folks at Sonic and Piggly Wiggly for braving the weather and serving our needs. Other businesses were open, too … these are just the two we happened to visit.

There was enough snow that sledders had more than enough for two full days of sledding on the U.S. 70/Country Club Road interchange, with more sledding days likely through the weekend.

And Tyson makes two

Craven County Commissioner Steve Tyson announced on his Facebook wall that he will not be seeking reelection this year. Scott Dacey is also not running for county commissioner, instead seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Walter Jones.

Beneath a picture of a torch being passed, Tyson said this on his Facebook wall:

I want to thank the citizens of Craven County for allowing me the privilege of serving as one of their County Commissioners for the past eleven years. It has been a wonderful experience and I feel like we, meaning the County Board and the 650 County employees, staff and department heads that work for the County, have accomplished quite a lot during my tenure. I have enjoyed working with all of the other Commissioners despite at times not always in agreement with them on all issues. When we disagreed on one issue we moved on to the next issue without remorse.

It is with some sadness that I am announcing that I will not seek reelection next year. I will have served 12 years when I finish my current term and It is time to pass the torch. The County is well managed and in excellent financial condition.

I utilized my 35 years of business experience and exercised a businesslike approach in my decision-making for the County government and I would hope my successor will also take that approach.

When my term is up I will forever remain a cheerleader and advocate for the city and County in which I was born and love.

Again, thanks for your past support, and may 2018 be a blessed year to all.

Tyson will undoubtedly remain busy. He is a Realtor, owns an inn, hosts a weekly TV program, is an amateur historian. Am I missing anything? I feel as though I am missing a lot.

 

Things get rolling

The first Board of Aldermen meeting of the new year, and the first full meeting of the newly constituted board, is on Tuesday, and its agenda is just packed with interesting stuff. Packed!

Highlights include:

Public hearing on recommendations from the Master Parking Plan Advisory Committee. At least one alderman, Sabrina Bengel, has expressed reservations about at least a portion of the recommendations. Fun fact: a member of the committee, downtown New Bern businessman Buddy Bengel, is her son.

Discussion of potential lease of the old Firemen’s Museum building at 408 Hancock St. It’s an interesting series of twists. The previous board sped (synonym for “bum’s rush”) the Firemen’s Museum’s departure from the building ostensibly to sell the property during a period which the city sought to shed surplus properties. But in the end the city could not sell the building. A group of local artists, meanwhile, approached the board hoping to lease the building. Now it looks like the building could be taken over by Parks & Recreation.

Consider adopting a policy for naming city fire trucks. The city started doing this in 1879, but Mayor Dana Outlaw expressed doubt whether that long tradition is actually a policy.

Consider a resolution leading to reducing First Street from four lanes to two (“Road Diet”). The latest trend among transportation boffins is not to add lanes to accommodate more city traffic, but to reduce lanes. It makes surface streets safer, they say.

Speaking of fire trucks

Alderman Jeffrey Odham had a poll on his Facebook page that ended Friday. Here is the question (more of a leading statement, really) and the results:

New Bern has a long tradition of putting the sitting Mayor’s name on fire trucks purchased while they are in office. Most are aware of the controversy surrounding this tradition due to the issues of the former Mayor. Evidently there are two Aldermen that feel we should issue a resolution supporting this tradition. Some of the ideas that hat (sic) have been discussed are a Fireman of the Year from within the NBFD, honor fallen firefighters, name them after non-profits throughout the community, etc.

27%Keep the tradition

73%Do something different

171 Votes

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to vote in the poll in order to see the results. I was among the 27 percent who voted to keep the tradition.

Pat Schaible phoned home

In response to my commentary, Why New Bern’s ward system is necessary, a sitting alderman and a former alderman weighed in.

The two focused on a particular passage in the commentary:

So what did (former alderman E.T.) Mitchell accomplish during her year as an alderman?

She worked on goals set out for her by the mayor and other members of the board (which means, mainly, Ward 6 Alderman Jeffrey Odham).

On its face that sounds great, but it put her in a sort of unique position on the board: no other alderman or the mayor had their agenda set for them by other members of the board.

While Ward 3 may have been represented, it was the only ward during that year whose alderman’s main purpose was accomplishing tasks set out for her by aldermen from other wards.

Alderman Jeffrey Odham took issue, leading to the following exchange between him and me:

Odham: Randy, I’m curious as to what you mean when you say that Alderman Mitchell worked on goals laid out for her by the mayor and other board members, mainly me. What do you mean by that exactly and where do you get that idea

Me: She said so in her final comments on the board.

Odham: 

Interesting. I’ll have to go back and watch ch because I don’t recall those comments. Thanks for bringing it to light. Although I don’t remember setting out any specific goals and objectives for Alderman Mitchell. She came in with her own agenda for Ward 3 based on things her and Alderman Schaible had discussed (flashing lights at Taberna, widening of Old Airport Road, etc.)

Former alderman Pat Schaible chimed in, as well. She was the alderman who resigned and who was replaced by Mitchell. Schaible wrote:

Alderman Odham is correct in that I had lengthly conversations with Alderman Mitchell about the concerns of Ward 3 (including the flashing lights at Taberna and the widening of Airport Road). In fact, I gave Alderman Mitchell my entire file cabinet with everything fully documented.

Comments and Tips for Friday free-for-all

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Craven County Board of Commissioners, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, New Bern Fire Department

December 24th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin

A little late getting this out; I was a couple of days early last week, so it all balances out.

Canterbury Road Christmas balls.

We made it out to Canterbury Road in Trent Woods Christmas Eve evening to catch a view of the Canterbury Balls — probably the best neighborhood-wide Christmas display in New Bern.

Video

Publix was handing out boxes and boxes of fresh baked goods to last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve.

On our way back home, we stopped at Publix to satisfy a sweet tooth craving. By about 6:15 p.m., with about 45 minutes before closing for Christmas, Publix staff was handing out surplus bakery items, which would have otherwise been discarded. Our purchase of a frozen chocolate pie, two pints of ice cream, and two pieces of candy, came to $16 and some change.

The rest, pictured at left, including the chantilly cake, came at no extra charge.

Merry Christmas to everyone who worked on Sunday, Christmas Eve, and who are working Christmas Eve.

Posted in New Bern, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

December 21st, 2017 by newbernpostadmin
3rd Rock Brewing Company has something planned for the back side of this Pollock Street location in New Bern. Google Street View image

 

Jay Mazzone, owner of 3rd Rock Brewing Company in Trenton, Jones County, said his new venture in downtown New Bern will be a 30-tap tap room offering weekend live entertainment. It will be called the Rock Room.

He expects it to open in February, and it will seat 50 to 100 people with entertainment offerings rotating between live comedy, dueling pianos, local performers and a headline performer.

The address is 117B Pollock St., behind Carolina Creations. It will include a patio area that will be constructed.

 




Mazzone plans to open another tap room in Tampa, Fla., and a third tap room at a location to be announced.

This is a new thing for 3rd Rock Brewing, said Mazzone, a former Army pilot who lives in New Bern. The brewery has been focused on brewing and distributing its own lines of beer, which is sold at locations from New Jersey to Florida.

The Rock Room will preserve the 19th century flavor of the building, he said. With regularly scheduled events, the Rock Room will provide a consistent venue for live entertainment in Downtown New Bern.

Posted in New Bern, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

December 20th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin
3rd Rock Brewing Company has something planned for back side of this Pollock Street location in New Bern. Google Street View image

Recent business improvements reviewed by City Hall include:

Site plan review of 3rd Rock Brewing Company located at 317 B Pollock St. Behind Carolina Creations, across the street from Christ Church. 3rd Rock Brewing Company is located in Trenton in Jones County. Documents do no indicate the nature of the business planned for Pollock Street. A source says 3rd Rock Brewing Company has a taproom kind of situation going on in the back of the building that opens to a rear patio. Update



Site plan review of Italian Restaurant at 3946 Dr. MLK Jr Boulevard. A new, unnamed restaurant near New Bern High School.

Site plan review of Craven Glass Company located at 2613 Trent Road. Improvements to existing business.

Posted in New Bern, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

December 11th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
DECEMBER 12, 2017 – 7:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

1.   Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw.  Pledge of Allegiance.

2.   Roll Call.
Consent Agenda
3.   Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the regular meeting on November 28, 2017 are provided for review and approval.
********************
4.   Consider Adopting a Resolution to Initiate the Upset Bid Process for 508 Third Avenue.
(Ward 2) An offer in the amount of $2,500.00 has been received from Tonyah L. Dillahunt for the purchase of 508 Third Avenue.  The property is owned solely by the City of New Bern, having been acquired in 2011 as part of a CDBG program to realign Third Avenue.  The offer represents approximately 62.50% of the tax value, which is $4,000.00.  If the offer is accepted, it will be advertised as required by law to initiate the upset bid process.  If no other bids are received and the property is sold for the initial offer, the City will receive approximately $2,300.00 after paying advertising costs estimated at $200.00.  A memo from Brenda Blanco, City Clerk, is provided along with a copy of the offer, map of the property, and tax card. (See Backup)
5.   Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Sale of 1221 Main Street.
(Ward 1) The Board adopted a resolution on October 17, 2017 to initiate the upset bid process for 1221 Main Street after receiving an offer of $1,000.00 from Lovay Wallace Singleton.  The offer represents 25% of the tax value, which is $4,000.00.  The vacant lot was acquired by the City and Craven County in June 2013 through tax foreclosure.
The offer was advertised as required by law, but no other bids were received.  The City will receive $340.10 from the proceeds of the sale, and the County will receive $659.90.  The City will be reimbursed the cost of advertising the offer.   A memo from Ms. Blanco is attached along with the Offer to Purchase, a copy of the tax card, and maps of the property. (See Backup)
6.   Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Sale of Property on Main Street Identified as Tax Parcel ID 8-013-198.
(Ward 1) The Board adopted a resolution on October 17, 2017 to initiate the upset bid process for property on Main Street (PID 8-013-198) after receiving an offer of $1,000.00 from Lovay Wallace Singleton.  The offer represents 25% of the tax value, which is $4,000.00.  The vacant lot was acquired by the City and Craven County in June 2013 through tax foreclosure.
The offer was advertised as required by law, but no other bids were received.  The City will receive $340.10 from the proceeds of the sale, and the County will receive $659.90.  The City will be reimbursed the cost of advertising the offer.   A memo from Ms. Blanco is attached along with the Offer to Purchase, a copy of the tax card, and maps of the property. (See Backup)
7.   Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving an Updated Purchasing Policy.
On March 28, 2017, the Board adopted a resolution approving a Purchasing Policy.  Two changes are proposed to align the policy with current state statutes.  Those changes increase the City Manager’s authority from $30,000.00 to $50,000.00 under the Mini-Brooks Act for architectural, engineering or surveying contracts or Construction Manager at-risk services.  A memo from J. R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, is attached. (See Backup)
8.   Appointment(s).
Carol Becton’s seat on the New Bern-Craven County Public Library Board of Trustees expired on December 1, 2017.  Ms. Becton has expressed a desire to continue to serve in this capacity.  You are asked to either reappoint Ms. Becton or make a new appointment. The appointee will serve a six-year term. (See Backup)
9.   Miscellaneous.
This provides an opportunity for the Board to make any departing remarks to their fellow Board members, City Staff, and constituents.
10. Sine Die Adjournment.

~~~~~

Memo to:     Mayor and Board of Aldermen
From:           Mark A. Stephens, City Manager
Date:            December 6, 2017
Re:               December 12, 2017 Agenda Explanations – AMENDED

1.   Administration of Oath of Office to Mayor.
The oath of office will be administered to the Mayor. (See Backup)

2.   Administration of Oath of Office to Aldermen.
The oath of office will be administered to each Alderman. (See Backup)

3.   Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw.  Pledge of Allegiance.
4.   Roll Call.
5.   Comments by Board Members Followed by Brief Reception.
This is an opportunity for the Board to make initial remarks to their fellow Board members, City Staff, and constituents.  At the conclusion of the comments, a motion is needed to recess for a brief reception.

6.   Appointment of Mayor Pro Tempore and Administration of Oath.
The Board will appoint a Mayor Pro Tem to perform mayoral duties in the absence of the Mayor. (See Backup)

7.   Request and Petition of Citizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens.  This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views.  We value all citizen input.

Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period.  At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium.  Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member.  Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.

In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation.  If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

8.   Presentation by New Bern Historical Society on Ghostwalk 2017.
Joe Hunt, President, and Mickey Miller, Executive Director of New Bern Historical Society, will report on the success of Ghostwalk 2017.  They will also share additional information from the Historical Society. (See Backup)

9.   Consider Approving the 2018 Board of Aldermen Meeting Roster.
Each year, the Board approves an annual meeting roster.  The City Charter provides for regular meetings to be held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month.  Additionally, work sessions are held bimonthly January on the 3rd Tuesday beginning in January.  Regular meetings currently begin at 7 p.m. and work sessions at 6 p.m.

The meeting dates are identified on the attached roster.  Two rosters are provided: one designates regular meetings will start at 7 p.m., and the other designates regular meetings will begin at 6 p.m.  The Board is asked to approve one of these rosters based on the desired meeting time. (See Backup)

10. Discussion of Potential Lease of 408 Hancock Street.
(Ward 1) Community Artist Will, Inc., a local nonprofit, has expressed a desire to lease the Old Firemen’s Museum located at 408 Hancock Street.  The nonprofit sells art, offers classes, etc.  The most recent terms discussed include a 5-year lease at a rate of $500.00 month with the lessee maintaining the interior of the building and the City maintaining the exterior and HVAC system.  It has also been suggested a public component be included that would provide for the nonprofit to work with Craven Arts Council to promote and educate the arts to school-age children, provide programming and space for the City’s Parks and Recreation summer youth program, and promote the building as a community arts center.

NC General Statute §160A-272 requires a 30-day notice be provided on any leases for a term greater than one year.  If the Board is amenable to the lease, a notice can be published and approval of the lease considered at the January 23, 2018 meeting. A memo from Krissy Culler, Assistant City Manager, is attached. (See Backup)

11. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Modification Agreement with Green Park Terrace, LLC.
(Ward 2) Green Park Terrace, LLC (known as Autumn Chase Apartments since 1998) is a 34-unit apartment complex that provides affordable housing for senior citizens.  On November 7, 1996, Green Park executed a Construction and Permanent Loan Promissory Note payable to the City of New Bern in the amount of $100,000.  On June 30, 1997, Green Park executed an additional Construction and Permanent Loan Promissory Note payable to the City of New Bern in the amount of $30,000.  Both notes were secured by Deeds of Trust and provided for balloon payments of the outstanding principal and any accrued, unpaid interest on November 7, 2017.  The balloon payments have not been made, and Green Park has requested an extension of time until December 31, 2018 to make these payments.  Green Park has indicated an extension will enable them to work toward consolidating debt, refinancing and redeveloping the property.  Attached for your review is a copy of the latest correspondence requesting this extension. (See Backup)

12. Consider Adopting a Resolution in Support of the Equal Rights Amendment.
An Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was proposed in 1972.  To add the amendment to the constitution, ratification was needed by 38 states prior to 1982.  The proposed resolution calls on NC to ratify the ERA amendment and for Congress to remove the time limit for ratification and pass the ERA upon the affirmative vote of 38 states. (See Backup)

13. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Proceed with an Application for the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Project Grant for BikeSafe NC Program.
The Police Department has applied for a grant from the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program and has been approved for a $5,000.00 grant from the 2017/2018 BikeSafe NC Program for traffic safety.  The funds will be used to procure equipment, obtain training related to the BikeSafe NC Program, and pay for travel expenses.  The Board is asked to authorize staff to proceed with the next step   in the grant application.  A memo from Chief Toussaint Summers is attached. (See Backup)

14. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving Revisions to the Water and Sewer Design Standards.
The City of New Bern Water and Design Standards provide a comprehensive guideline for developers, builders, and engineers who desire to extend, connect to, or otherwise alter the City’s existing water and/or sewer infrastructure.  The design standards were originally issued in 2007.  As state regulations, construction practices, and material standards evolve over time, this document has been evaluated and revised to keep current and consistent with the changes.  The latest revision was in January 2015.

Staff has recently reviewed the standards and found several minor technical and grammatical changes that need to be made.  A group of stakeholders consisting of developers, home builders, utility contractors, and engineers reviewed the draft changes and provided feedback, which was incorporated in to the final draft of revisions.  A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached along with a red-lined version of the document that reflects the changes being made. (See Backup) (Red-Lined Version 1,2,3)

15. Appointment(s).
The Board of Aldermen makes an annual appointment to the Eastern Carolina Council.  The Council has requested an appointment be made for 2018. (See Backup)

16. Attorney’s Report.
17. City Manager’s Report.
18. New Business.
19. Closed Session.
20. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

December 6th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin

Belk, the North Carolina-based retailer that relies so much on holiday receipts to meet investor expectations, got into some hot water over its decision to ban Salvation Army bell ringers, so much so that it has reversed course and decided bell ringers are welcome, after all.

Here’s the Tweet that Belk sent out on Dec. 2:

Merry Christmas! The picture Belk included in its Tweet that it had restored bell-ringing privileges to its stores.

Christmas truly is the giving season and we’d like to welcome Salvation Army bell ringers to all 294 Belk stores. Merry Christmas! 

Happy ending to a story that started badly for the retailer, which has a store at New Bern Mall.

Belk was once a family-owned chain, but no more. It is now owned by Sycamore Partners, which also owns Staples, Dollar Express, Coldwater Creek, Talbots and a bunch of other things.

Steve Tyson, a New Bern real estate agent, Cable TV show host, amateur historian, and county commissioner, was among the first to squawk about the bell ban on Dec. 1.

“I was very disappointed to hear today that the new manager at the New Bern Belk store will not allow the Salvation Army to have their bell ringers there this year. The Salvation Army raises about 1/3 of their funds through the bell ringing campaign,” Tyson said on his Facebook page.

“Good news is that J.C. Penney is allowing the Salvation Army at their store so shop at J.C.Penney and you will see my smiling face doing the ring-a-ding. If this info is disappointing to you please share and shop at J.C. Penney.”

Tyson’s post got some traction. Since he posted it on Saturday morning, his post was liked or wowed or sadded by 117 people, had 128 shares and 51 comments, not counting the comments others made to comments.

Later Saturday, Tyson posted this update:

“The manager of the NB Belk store called me and said that the decision not to allow the Salvation Army to ring bells at Belk was a corporate decision, not hers. I believe her and we had a good conversation. There are some stores that had committed to the Salvation Army prior to the corporate decision and that is why they are ringing bells at the store in Morehead. Belk was once a family run store. They were recently bought out by a large private equity firm called Sycamore Partners firm based out of New York. I personally believe, but have no proof ,the decision was made because the Salvation army is a Christian based organization. Their decision will cost the Salvation Army, a great charity, in excess of $1,000,000. I bet it will cost Belk more than that.”

Tyson and his Facebook followers weren’t the only ones complaining about the Belk ban on bell ringers.

“Hundreds of Wilsonians — and thousands of shoppers throughout the Southeast — expressed their outrage with Belk after news that charitable contributions would be taken at the register as part of a Home for the Holidays campaign with Habitat for Humanity in lieu of the Salvation Army’s red kettles being placed outside the stores,” the Wilson Times reported.

“‘As you know, Belk decided to focus our giving this holiday season with our Home for the Holidays campaign, and during the process of making that commitment stronger, we mistakenly left out the Salvation Army at some stores,” said Belk public relations manager Tyler Hampton in a statement Monday and reported in the Wilson Times. “But we have fixed that. We have had a long relationship with the Salvation Army, and they are absolutely welcome at all of our 294 stores

“And they will certainly be a part of our community commitment moving forward.”

 

 

Posted in Craven County Board of Commissioners, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

December 5th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern is profiled in the January/February 2018 issue, available nationwide on Dec. 12. The article describes New Bern as a “low-cost haven.”

New Bern has been selected as a top retirement destination by Where to Retire, the only magazine in America geared toward helping people with retirement relocation decisions.

New Bern is profiled in the January/February 2018 issue, available nationwide on Dec. 12, the magazine announced in a news release today.

New Bern gets promo’d on the magazine cover, left, under the headline, “Low-Cost Havens.” Where to Retire Editor Annette Fuller said New Bern possesses qualities important to today’s retirees.

“Say hello to North Carolina’s stunning Inner Banks — the lesser-known cousin to the state’s Outer Banks. The star city is New Bern, at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers. For a small city, it has an abundance of arts offerings, including downtown galleries and the Carolina Chamber Music Festival. Colonists settled here, and downtown still has many 18th century buildings. The best New Bern trivia? Pepsi was invented here in 1890s by a drugstore owner,” Fuller said.

Each year, 700,000 Americans relocate to new towns to retire. Generally, relocating retirees are healthier, better educated and more affluent than those who choose to not relocate, the magazine said in its news release. They bring significant economic benefits to their new states and hometowns.

Nationally, two dozen states and hundreds of towns seek to attract retirees as a source of economic development.

Where to Retire, now in its 26th year of print, is published six times a year. The magazine covers the best retirement regions, towns and master-planned communities, and recently released its 10th biennial list naming the 50 best master-planned communities in the U.S.

It has a national circulation of 200,000 and is sold on various newsstands and at Barnes & Noble bookstores.

Posted in New Bern, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

November 30th, 2017 by newbernpostadmin

Counting down the days before a largely new Board of Alderman convenes in mid-December, the 2017-vintage board met on Tuesday for a routine meeting in which most agenda items received no discussion and everything passed unanimously.

Mayor Dana Outlaw was absent from the meeting while he attended a funeral. (Sorry for your loss, Mayor Outlaw.) Had he been at the aldermen meeting, he could have been counted on for at least one or two no votes, as is his custom.

Meanwhile, Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Odham presided over the meeting and kept things tame and orderly, with minimal shenanigans and tomfoolery while the boss was away. The meeting lasted less than an hour.

Items 3 and 4, consent agenda. Besides approval of minutes, it also allows closure of part of Trent Boulevard, most of Broad Street and most of Craven Street for a Christmas parade between 1-6 p.m. on Dec. 2.

Passed unanimously.

Item 5 – Update on Grassroots Leadership Academy.

Presentation. No vote. I’ll be working on a separate story.

Item 6 – Resolution dedicating Martin Marietta Park.

Taylor motion, Blackiston second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 7 – Install more street lights on Goldsboro Street and at the intersection of Queen and Roundtree streets.

Mitchell motion, Taylor second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 8 – Memorandum of understanding with Craven Community College for a police simulator

Kinsey motion, Mitchell second, vote 6-0 with one absent. Light discussion. (I’ll be working on a story at some point, assuming they let me try out their simulator).

Item 9 – Agreement for Phase III of Township 7 sewer improvements due to a snag: the project conflicts with another project at Coastal Carolina Regional Airport.

Mitchell motion, Kinsey second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 10 – More on Township 7 sewer project, increasing the budget from $400,000 to $450,000 to pay added costs described in Item 9.

Mitchell motion, Kinsey second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 11 – Union State Train Depot increasing expense to replace doors and windows, after project hit a snag, from $187,500 to $218,000. Zero impact on city budget.

Blackiston motion, Taylor second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 12 – Closes out 2012 Community Development Block Grant NC Catalyst Grant for work done at City Market – Workforce Development Training Center.

Taylor motion, Mitchell second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 13 – Project for the city to spend $260,000 (plus $540,000 from N.C. DOT and $54,843 in Block Grant money left over from Item 12) to spruce up First Street around City Market. This project calls for reducing First Street from four to two lanes with a center turn lane (a scheme believed to calm traffic and enhance safety), plus add bike lanes and sidewalks.

Taylor motion, Kinsey second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 14 – Authorization to add $5,503 in additional expenses to the $170,000 budget to build Alexander Thalmann Field at Lawson Creek Park. The football/soccer/multipurpose field includes bleachers on both sides and a small public restroom. It honors New Bern Police Officer Alexander Thalmann, who was killed in the line of duty in March 2014. 

Kinsey motion, White second, vote 6-0 with one absent. No discussion.

Item 15 – Budget adjustments: Authorization to spend $60,000 for four emergency electric generators for four city buildings to replace aging generators already at those locations. Also pays for $78,475 for lighting upgrades at Craven Terrace, offset by revenue from renters there. Also authorizes expenditures described in items 10, 13 and 14. 

Mitchell motion, Kinsey second, vote 6-0 with one absent. Question about how many generators (four, with the old generators sold as surplus).

Item 16 – Adjust capital purchase budget from $1.2 million to pay for generators described in item 15.

Taylor motion, Kinsey second, vote 6-0 with one absent.

Item 17 – Turns out the city didn’t have any rules about fire lanes — where to establish them and where to put them, and what they would look like. This fixes that.

Mitchell motion, Kinsey second, vote 6-0. No discussion.

 

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern business and commerce Tagged with:

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