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!
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
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.
I find it interesting that you thought my poll question was “leading”. I actually had some conversations with participants that thought I was ‘for’ the tradition simply based on the poll. As for my stance, it’s important for an elected official to have the pulse of the constituents they represent. The poll was public and shared by many. The results were mixed (actually had people I know are friends vote differently). Also saw some folks name who voted the opposite of the way I would’ve thought they would. All in all, after reviewing the results, the majority still feel it’s time for a change. And it’s not the first time naming a firetruck after someone other than a mayor has been discussed by a sitting board. I’ll be ready to discuss that Tuesday night. It will be nice however to move on to more important issues that the citizens really care about.