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)
Five of six candidates seeking to replace the late Walter B. Jones in Congress appeared at a forum on Monday evening. Contributed photo
The Craven County Democratic Party hosted a forum on Monday night for the Democratic candidates running in the N.C. 3rd Congressional District special election.
Five of the six candidates for the Democratic nomination to finish the term of Walter Jones, Jr. were in attendance, discussing their plans on a broad range of issues including health care, the economy, protecting our eastern North Carolina shoreline, voting rights, and providing constituent services to the whole of the district.
Over 180 people were in attendance at the forum, which was held at Word of God Christian Center on Neuse Boulevard, and over 500 people also watched part or all of the forum streamed on Facebook Live.
Nelson McDaniel, left, moderated the forum. Contributed photo
The forum was moderated by long-time New Bern resident Nelson McDaniel, and timekeeping was managed by Brian Leonard. The MC for the evening was Charles Dudley, 1st Vice Chair of the Craven County Democratic Party, and Bishop Holly Raby of Word of God Christian Center oﬀered an opening benediction and closing remarks.
“Tonight’s forum showed just how fortunate we are in the 3rd district to have such exceptional Democratic candidates,” Dudley said. “At tonight’s forum, the Democratic candidates put forward practical ideas to work together and make Eastern North Carolina a better place to live, work, and play.”
Dudley said, “When we compare that to the lack of ideas coming from the 17 candidates running in the other party, it’s clear that any of these five Democratic candidates we heard tonight would be a better representative for Eastern North Carolina than one of them. We’re ready and eager to work hard and get out the vote for whichever of these fine candidates ends up being the Democratic nominee in the special election.”
The Democratic primary is open to all registered Democratic and unaﬃliated voters, and unregistered voters can register and vote at one-stop early voting. One-stop early voting for the April primary starts on Wednesday, April 10, at the Craven County Board of Elections. It will be available every weekday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. until Friday, April 26, except for Friday, April 19 when one-stop early voting will be closed. Election Day for the Democratic primary is April 30.
Gov. Roy Cooper today announced new election dates to fill the seat in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, which has been vacant since Congressman Walter Jones, Jr. passed away earlier this month.
“People in eastern North Carolina need a voice in Congress,” Gov. Cooper said. “We’re moving ahead so they can choose their new representative quickly.”
Gov. Cooper issued a writ of election and proclamation directing that a special general election to elect a representative to serve out the remainder of the current two-year term for the Third Congressional District be held on July 9, 2019.
Candidates seeking to fill the seat should file notices of candidacy with the State Board of Elections between March 4 and March 8, 2019. To nominate candidates, a special primary election will be held on April 30, 2019. Absentee voting for the special primary election will begin on March 15, 2019.
The special general election would take place July 9, 2019, unless a primary runoff is required. If a primary runoff occurs on July 9, the special general election would then be held on September 10, 2019.
Absentee voting for the July 9 election will begin on May 24, 2019. If the September 10 election date is needed, absentee voting will start on July 26, 2019.
Federal and state laws require the governor to schedule election dates to fill the vacant seat in the Third Congressional District. The State Board of Elections is responsible for scheduling a new election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District.
State Rep. Michael Speciale is seeking to fill the late Walter Jones’ unexpired seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Other candidates who have announced plans to run include Phillip Shepard and Philip Law. Michele Nix, vice-chairman of the NCGOP, is also reportedly preparing to announce her candidacy.
“After much encouragement and prayer, Michael Speciale of Craven County has decided to run for the U.S. House seat for District 3. This seat was left vacant by the untimely passing of Walter B. Jones,” Jones said in a news release.
Jones died Feb. 10 and his funeral was held Feb. 14. N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper must declare a vacancy on the congressional seat to exist and set a date for a special election to fill the remainder of Jones’ two-year term.
Speciale said he is known for standing up for what he believes is right for the people of his district. However, he has also said he does not represent people in his district with whom he disagrees. More on Speciale here, here, and here.
During his time at the state House of Representatives,
Speciale has backed legislation banning gay marriage, arming school teachers, and restoring North Carolina’s ability to leave the country.
According to Wikipedia, during a debate for an Anti-Puppy Mill Bill, which was a central focus for the First Lady of North Carolina, Ann McCrory’s legislative interests, Speciale stated: “Exercise on a daily basis – if I kick him across the floor, is that daily exercise? ‘Euthanasia performed humanely’ – so I should choose the ax or the baseball bat?”
Speciale said in his news release that he believes in God, country, family, the free market, personal responsibility and smaller government.
“He is unapologetic for what he believes and has made media headlines for standing strong for those positions. He is a strong constitutional conservative who remains true to those values that have made America great,” he said in his release.
Speciale is in his fourth term as the representative for the North Carolina House District 3 seat, which covers a large portion of Craven County.
He previously represented Beaufort and Pamlico Counties as well.
Speciale is Chairman of the Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, Vice-Chairman of State and Local Government, and a member of the Transportation, Elections & Ethics Law, Appropriations and Appropriations Justice, and Public Safety committees.
Speciale is the founder and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.
Speciale is a retired Marine and a member of Freedom Baptist Church in Havelock.
He was twice elected as the Craven County Republican Party Chairman, is a former chairman of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA), as well as a graduate Fellow of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership (NCIOPL).
He is a graduate of Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) at Craven Community College, and he has an Associate in Applied Sciences in Business Management/Operations Management.
Speciale is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA).
He and his wife Hazel live in the New Bern area and have been married nearly 45 years. They have two children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“Feb 10, 2019 Greenville, NC – After faithfully representing the people of Eastern North Carolina in Congress and the state legislature for over 34 years, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) passed away this afternoon in Greenville, North Carolina. He was 76.
“Congressman Jones was a man of the people. With a kind heart and the courage of his convictions, he dedicated his life to serving his Savior and to standing up for Americans who needed a voice. He was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice.
“Congressman Jones will long be remembered for his honesty, faith and integrity. He was never afraid to take a principled stand. He was known for his independence, and widely admired across the political spectrum. Some may not have agreed with him, but all recognized that he did what he thought was right.
Gov. Roy Cooper directed $25 million from the North Carolina Education Lottery Fund on Tuesday to speed repairs to K-12 public schools damaged by Hurricane Florence.
“Students need to get back to learning and educators need to get back to teaching, but many school districts can’t afford the repairs schools need,” Cooper said. “The lives of thousands of students, teachers and families are on hold and they need our help to recover.”
While many schools have reopened since Hurricane Florence struck last month, seven North Carolina school systems remain closed, keeping more than 130 schools out of operation and nearly 90,000 students out of class.
Just four of Craven County’s 23 public schools were open for class on Monday. Three schools in Jones County will have to be entirely rebuilt.
Several affected school districts have depleted most of their contingency funds and need immediate financial assistance to repair roofs, flooring and electrical wiring, eradicate mold and mildew and replace furniture to get schools reopened.
The emergency funds will be administered by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Priority will be given to district and charter schools in Brunswick, Craven, Duplin, Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Robeson counties that have immediate repair needs and are not currently in operation.
Some of the repairs should be reimbursable by federal disaster recovery funds. Transferring the money now gives schools quicker help and allows them to retain contractors to speed repairs.
President Donald J. Trump visited MCAS Cherry Point to meet with state officials, military leaders, and disaster relief agency representatives to discuss the aftermath created by Hurricane Florence and the road ahead, Sept. 19.
President Trump visited Craven County this morning, landing at Marine Air Station Cherry Point and then taking a motorcade on U.S. 70 into New Bern, where he toured areas damaged by Hurricane Florence and met with volunteers, victims, and officials.
Trump held a news conference at Cherry Point that included cabinet officials and local government dignitaries including Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, Gov. Roy Cooper, and New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw. Also there was Linda McMahon, a New Bern native who is now administrator of the Small Business Administration.
From there, Trump’s motorcade made its way through storm-stricken Havelock and north to New Bern, taking the Pembroke offramp for the first New Bern destination, Temple Baptist Church, where a large contingent of relief workers were staged.
After meeting with volunteers in the church parking lot, Trump and his entourage continued the motorcade to other parts of New Bern.
Trump’s motorcade entering the Ghent neighborhood en route to Temple Baptist Church
Trump at Temple Baptist Church, meeting with volunteers
NC Civitas | The state budget for FY 2018-19 contains nearly 170 line items totaling $30 million that are highly inappropriate or outright pork.
Appropriations directing funding to local pet projects include items such as walking trails, playgrounds, county fairs and highway signs. Moreover, dozens of nonprofit organizations receive direct appropriations in the budget. Make no mistake, these nonprofits perform admirable work. However, it is highly inappropriate – and unfair favoritism – to single out nonprofits for specific appropriations of state tax dollars, instead of having them go through the appropriate grant process.
There is little doubt that a large percentage, if not all, of these earmarks represent legislators trying to “bring home the bacon” to their districts in an election year. State taxpayers should not be forced to finance explicitly local projects.
Note that the items identified in this article include only adjustments made to the second year of the biennial budget passed last year. There no doubt are many more such earmarks that will be doled out this year that were previously included in last year’s budget.
Legislative leaders have rightly been criticized for the closed-door, non-transparent process used in crafting the budget. It is plausible to believe that these 166 line items were the result of political horse-trading behind closed doors, which left virtually no time for objections from legislators before the House and Senate voted.
Such a significant number of earmarks, while not adding up to a major percentage of the budget in dollar terms, raises legitimate concerns about political patronage in which representatives direct state funds to local projects in exchange for political support.
Below is the list of these items Civitas has identified:
Republican’s school safety plan makes some temporary changes, while giving lawmakers time to assess what else might be needed.
Education NC | Republican lawmakers announced at a press conference last month $35 million in school safety grants that made their way into the revised 2018-19 budget.
The one-time money is meant to temporarily address school safety needs while the state gathers more information on what districts and schools require to protect students.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step,” said Rep. David Lewis (R-Dunn). “I think this is an ongoing process.”
The school safety plan stems from work performed by a committee on school safety that came into existence following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and met regularly prior to the short session.
Governor Roy Cooper has his own school safety plan in his budget proposal. It amounts to a total of $130 million, including $65 million for making buildings safer and $40 million for additional personnel. Legislative Democrats also floated a similar plan yesterday.
But Republican lawmakers say it is too soon to know exactly how much money is needed. Part of the ongoing process going forward will be getting reports from districts sent to the state Department of Public Instruction so that legislators can understand what schools require. Rep. Linda Johnson (R-Kannapolis) said additional recurring money needs to be added to the budget in the future.
“Because the issue came up at the time that it came up, and the amount of effort that had to go into it, this is not the end, this is just the beginning,” she said.
The Republicans’ plan also includes between $30 and $90 million in new federal funding for student health, but that will not come until the second year because North Carolina needs a Medicaid State Plan Amendment before it can start collecting the funds. Essentially, the money will come from reimbursements from Medicaid for services the state is already providing.