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SUNDAY OPENING GAME: Miracle League begins second season. 1B April 11, 2010 126th year No. 101 IGNITING EMPLOYMENT: Triad job fair set for Tuesday. 1B High Point, N.C. MAJOR DRAMA: Third round of The Masters packs punch. 1D 50 Cents Daily $1.25 Sundays Former city leader dies at 53 WHO’S NEWS – Dr. Edward J. Robinson Jr. was reappointed as clinical professor in the Department of Medicine, School of Medicine by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Robinson is medical director for Guilford County Department of Public Health. BY VICKI KNOPFLER ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER through the maze of the federal government.â€? While federal aid is at a premium, it’s questionable whether cities really need lobbyists to make their case for WINSTON-SALEM – The Rev. Ronald B. Wilkins, when officiating weddings, often surprised the bride, groom and congregation by singing “The Lord’s Prayerâ€? in a clear, ringing baritone so moving it drew tears from many. Wilkins The act was typical of Wilkins, a minister and city councilman from 19972008, who died Friday night at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center following years of declining health. He was not afraid to break from tradition to touch lives. “He was truly a man of the people and one of my favorite people,â€? said local attorney Bobby McCroskey, who, with his wife Lorie, was one of those surprised, moved couples in 1993. Regardless of his official role, Wilkins, who would have turned 54 Saturday, left his mark as a friend and advocate for many. “Ron served in public office for all the right reasons,â€? said Tom Terrell, an attorney and Wilkins’ friend for 35 years. “He was a champion for citizens without a champion in government, and he lived with them and walked down the same streets.â€? “I think I can speak for the many people who knew Ron and admired him,â€? said High Point Mayor Becky Smothers. “We have lost a good friend.â€? Wilkins was pastor of East Grimes Avenue Baptist Church, a non-paying position, and was employed by the city. He gave up the city job to represent Ward 2 on City Council, and he had little money. High Point historian Glenn Chavis said he and Wilkins often disagreed politically, but Chavis credits Wilkins for championing issues such as housing and fair treatment by landlords for low-income people and affordable, widespread public transportation. “You have to experience something in order to appreciate being able to use it,â€? Chavis said. “If you don’t have a car, if you live 4 miles from a grocery store, Ron understood those things. When he spoke, you could just tell he could fully understand what it’s like not to have a bus token.â€? Realtor and friend Ed Price remembers Wilkins similarly. “I don’t know many people that would give up a good paying job to become a public servant,â€? Price said. “I don’t know many people who put public service above money. “But I’ll tell you one thing, he’s redone the bus system in heaven; I guarantee you.â€? In a January 1986 story in The High Point Enterprise, Wilkins said, “At my funeral I want my epitaph to read, ‘Nothing deterred him on a mission from God.’ â€? POLITICAL, 2A | 888-3601 SONNY HEDGECOCK | HPE Mendenhall Transportation Terminal covers Commerce Avenue in front of International Home Furnishing Center, providing shelter for many marketgoers and Hi tran users. LOBBY: A 5-letter word that often gets 4-letter word connotation Before you read... ---- In 2004, the city hired The Ferguson Group, a Washington, D.C., lobbying group, to look after High Point’s interests at the Capitol. While the move was unsettling for some at first, city officials now can point to huge dividends they say would not have been possible without that extra voice on Capitol Hill. This three-part series looks at Washington lobbying as a new trend for city governments, the need for such lobbyists, and the realized and potential rewards. BY PAT KIMBROUGH ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER HIGH POINT – When High Point first considered hiring a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist, City Councilman Chris Whitley was skeptical. He didn’t like the idea of the city being associated with the lobbyist trade and some of the controversial aspects of beltway politics, such as pork-barrel spending projects. So when the city enlisted The Ferguson Group in 2004 to help bring in untapped federal dol- lars, he was watching closely to see how the firm performed. “Of course, I’m not a big fan of earmarks and I hope they go away,â€? said Whitley, a council LOBBYING since 1992 ON THE HILL member and the current mayor pro tem. A new “When we first approach hired them, we did to city a six-month congovernment tract. They jumped â– â– â–  right into the ball game and started laying out what they were going to do. Quite frankly, I would say with The Ferguson Group, we’ve been fairly well successful in receiving federal dollars.â€? Whitley isn’t alone among city leaders in this view. Last month, the City Council (minus absent members Latimer Alexander and Mike Pugh) voted unanimously to renew the city’s contract with The Ferguson Group for one year at a cost of $120,000. City officials say the $673,000 High Point has paid the firm since it was retained in 2004 has been money well spent, bringing in millions of federal dollars to the city. “I am a very clear and strong believer in the need for High Point to have a Washington lobbyist. They are a necessary part today of managing a city,â€? said City Manager Strib Boynton. “The truly important policy and financial decisions affecting High Point are really made in Washington and/or Raleigh, as much as one may like to think they are made here.â€? Boynton recently updated the council on what The Ferguson Group has produced, claiming that, for every dollar of city money paid to the firm, High Point has seen $44 in federal authorizations, appropriations and grants, for a total of about $29.5 million in federal funding. Among the major projects Boynton attributed, in part, to the lobbyists’ efforts: The Interstate 74/ U.S. 311 Bypass, the Airport Area Roadway, the Furniture Market Transportation Terminal and a lead-based paint control grant. “The transportation terminal is a classic example of that. Without their help, I don’t think that would ever have come about,â€? Whitley said. “Right now, in a tight budget, anything is a big expense. But when you consider what they’ve done for us, I think it’s well worth the money.â€? | 888-3531 It’s a new political ball game BY PAT KIMBROUGH ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER SERIES BREAKOUTS HIGH POINT – Why do cities need federal lobbyists when their congressional representatives have staffers who are employed to help them get the most for the areas they represent? Those who favor the arrangement argue that the game has changed, and High Point had to adapt to the times to access untapped federal dollars. They say congressional staffers simply don’t have the resources to comb through the federal budget and find grants and other funding sources for a – TODAY: City sees benefits from hiring D.C. lobbyist MONDAY: Keeping ahead of the legislative curve SONNY HEDGECOCK | HPE Traffic is funneled into one lane as U.S. 311 Bypass ends at Business Interstate 85. Work is under way that will extend the bypass to the Cedar Square area. city to the extent that a municipal lobbyist can. “There are some citizens, I think, that see an issue like this and wonder why we can’t rely on the congressional staffs of the local delegation,â€? said City Councilman John Faircloth. “It’s much more complex than that. This is a situation where someone needs to be there to guide us TUESDAY: Ambitious agenda INSIDE – ADOPTEES: Ex-Army photographer reunites with Vietnamese orphans. 1E OBITUARIES – Donnie Black, 70 Raeford Brinkley, 91 Laureen Gilchrist, 41 Clayton Jones, 42 Fredrick Jones, 67 James Lewis, 81 James Pyrtle, 69 Opal Sumner, 87 Betty White Ronald Wilkins, 53 Obituaries, 2B WEATHER – Plenty of sun High 73, Low 50 8D INDEX ADVICE 2-3E, 6E ARTS | ETC. 3-4F BUSINESS 1-2C CLASSIFIED 3-8C CROSSWORD 2F FOCUS 1-2F HOROSCOPE 2E LIFE&STYLE 1-6E LOCAL 2A, 1B LOTTERY 2A MILESTONES 5E MOVIES 8A NATION 6-8A, 6F NOTABLES 8A OBITUARIES 2B OPINION 6-7B RELIGION 5B SPORTS 1-7D STATE 2-3A, 2-4B, 8B TV 5F TRAVEL 4E WEATHER 8D WORLD 4-5A INFO Circulation Classified Newsroom Newsroom fax 888-3511 888-3555 888-3527 888-3644 YOUR COMMUNITY. YOUR NEWSPAPER.                                    534139


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