Sunday, January 8, 2012
Year in Review SeMPRIUS
Daily Dispatch Photos/ASHLEY STEVEN AYSCUE
Joseph Carr, chief executive officer for Semprius, a Durham-based solar company, stands beside a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) module after the announcement in July of the company opening a manufacturing facility in Henderson.
Solar company to locate in Vance County In July, Durham solar company Semprius announced its plans to locate a manufacturing plant in Vance County. The company committed to creating 256 jobs over the next five years in exchange for $18.3 million in state and local incentives. Gov. Beverly Perdue joined company officials and local leaders to make the jobs announcement at Vance-Granville Community College. “This is a big day for Vance County, and this is a big day for North Carolina,” Perdue said. “This company is on the cutting edge in the solar energy field, and we welcome them to North Carolina, the smart grid capital of the world.”
2011 The Top Ten Stories of the Year
Semprius President and CEO Joseph Carr said most of the hires, about 200, will be for high-skilled manufacturing positions on the floor, and those are expected to be filled primarily from the local job market. “Governor Perdue entrusted us to bring quality jobs to North Carolina, and we are
going to do that,” Carr said. “We look forward to working here, and we are very proud to be in North Carolina.” The facility is slated for development at an existing building adjacent to the Triangle North business park outside Henderson. Construction work at the facility is part of an $89.7
Gov. Beverly Perdue (center) presents Semprius CEO Joseph Carr (right) with a gift during the company’s announcement as Bill Edwards, Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce president, looks on.
million capital investment in the pilot plant. Work is currently under way in the building that also houses ACS. The company has set a March 1 target date for moving into the facility. Semprius says it can build highly concentrated photovoltaic modules that combine tiny solar cells with low-cost, efficient optics to concentrate sunlight and multiply it more than 1,000 times. Its modules are intended
to make solar power generation economically viable in sunny, dry climates by obtaining higher conversion efficiency and higher energy yield. The technology was developed at the University of Illinois. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently validated 41 percent efficiency at a concentration of 1,000 suns for the small cells made by Semprius — one of the highest efficiencies recorded at this concentration, according to the NREL. The company’s solar cells are about the diameter of a dot made by a ballpoint pen. Semprius’ concentrating photovoltaic technology could be a “game-changer” for the solar energy industry, according to N.C. Solar Center engineer Tommy Cleveland.
“This is a big day for Vance County, and this is a big day for North Carolina. This company is on the cutting edge in the solar energy field, and we welcome them to North Carolina, the smart grid capital of the world.” — Gov. Beverly Perdue
The Daily Dispatch
Sunday, January 8, 2012
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The last reported murder of the year was a shooting death that took place on Vanco Mill Road Dec. 15. Lonnie Demon Yancey, 28, of 1628 Stewart Ave., Henderson, was shot several times at close range in the roadway where deputies recovered a blue 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser.
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The year 2011 started off quiet on the violent crime front, with the first reported murder occurring in March. However, by year’s end, the numbers had mounted. According to local law enforcement agencies, seven homicides occurred in 2011 — five inside Henderson city limits and two more within Vance County. Arrests are pending in two of these cases. The first homicide victim of 2011 was an Oxford man who was fatally shot at an area adjacent to the parking lot of the Budget Host Inn on N. Garnett Street. Joseph Michael Harris, 54, was shot four times, according to autopsy reports. Harris had been staying at the Budget Host Inn. An arrest has not been made in the case. The last reported murder of the year was a shooting death that took place on Vanco Mill Road Dec. 15. Lonnie Demon Yancey, 28, of 1628 Stewart Ave., Henderson, was shot several times at close range in the roadway where deputies recovered a blue 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser. A few day’s later, deputies charged Cavin Danyeil White, 30, of Henderson, with first-degree murder in the case. Other notable crime incidents included:
FBI raids result in two guilty pleas In December of 2010, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided several Henderson convenience stores — Dabney Pit Stop Inc., College Station Mart and Brothers Food Mart Inc. Subsequently, two defendants pleaded guilty in 2011 — one in February, the other in March — to specific charges out
of the larger federal case involving bogus food stamps, stolen cigarettes and the sale of Cathinone, or “Khat,” a controlled substance. In April, cases were dismissed against six named defendants from the Dec. 9 FBI raid, according to court records obtained by The Daily Dispatch. According to federal prosecutors, the Henderson defendants played various roles in the diversion of food stamp monies for their own use, the sale of stolen cigarettes and/or the sale of Cathinone. Prosecutors said the defendants and companies illegally secured purchases of EBT cards and PIN numbers in order to profit from their fraudulent redemption through balance transfer systems that the companies had been participants of. The indictment stated transactions that were tracked day-to-day in activities from mid-August through November 2010, encompassing approximately $8,600 of specifically tallied SNAP fund diversions. FBI Task Force Agent B.L. House stated in an earlier criminal complaint that a defendant received purportedly stolen tobacco products through a confidential informant. The focus of the raids was the service of search warrants at four convenience stores and a residential location by the FBI, with the assistance of the federal ATF and North Carolina state agents.
Raleigh Road assault Two defendants, Damien Elijah Trowbridge, 33, and Lashamika Monique Ragland, 21, were found guilty in Vance County District Court Aug. 25 of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury for their part in dragging Eric Loznicka from his car and beating him after he accidentally struck a pedestrian on Raleigh Road March 19. Eric Loznicka had his day in court Aug. 25, witnessing two defendants who had assaulted him March 19 receive guilty verdicts. Damien Elijah Trowbridge, 33, and Lashamika Monique Ragland, 21, were found guilty in Vance County District Court of misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury for their part in dragging Loznicka from his car and beating him after he accidentally struck a pedestrian on Raleigh Road. Another defendant pleaded guilty. “All in all, I am very pleased with the judge’s decisions,” Loznicka said.
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A third defendant of that trial proceeding, Alexis L. Mulkey, 17, pleaded guilty rather than continue trial, and she asked for Loznicka to forgive her. The exchange resulted in tears, a hug and a request by Loznicka to drop the jail time for Mulkey. “She was very remorseful, she was in tears,” Loznicka said. “Of course, she is 17, she has no prior (offenses) of any sort. In thinking about it, I have a daughter who is 17. I also believe that to be forgiven you have to forgive.” The case stems from a nighttime beating incident that occurred at the scene of an accident involving Loznicka, 42. Loznicka was driving a gray, four-door sedan that struck Reuben Wright, 18, on Raleigh Road just south of the outdoor theater. Through the trial process, Loznicka and his wife demonstrated efforts to reach out to a couple defendants who they believed were approachable, including Carlton Ragland, 22, who Loznicka testified was not among those he remembered as taking part in the attack. Loznicka said that the dismissal of charges against another defendant, Less Ragland, 27, mystified him. Less Ragland had previously agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for the dismissal of the case against him. After providing identification of several fellow defendants, Less Ragland said Loznicka misidentified him as an attacker. The judge handed down a sentence of 100 days to serve against Trowbridge, sending him back to jail for another 33 days of active time following credit for 67 days in jail. Lashamika Ragland received 65 days to serve, with no credit for time served. Loznicka said he didn’t reach out to the defendants who would not acknowledge their guilt in the attack. “They knew of their involvement, and I know what happened,” he said. “They lied about it. If they can’t be honest with themselves, I figured I would let the law hand down what it would.” Two more defendants, Lonnie Jack Hargrove, 19, and Avone Fouch, 30, pleaded guilty in the assault, with Fouch getting a 150-day active sentence to serve and Hargrove receiving 60 days suspended with eight to serve. “All in all, I am very pleased with the judge’s decisions,” Loznicka said.
Please see CRIME, page 3
The Daily Dispatch
Sunday, January 8, 2012
315 S. Garnett Street Henderson, NC
252-430-1111 After signing a purchase deal in July, Duke LifePoint now owns 80 percent of Maria Parham Medical Center. “As part of Duke LifePoint, the hospital will have access to the support it needs to better serve its community and prosper in the future,” said Duke University Health System Executive Vice President William J. Fulkerson Jr.
Duke LifePoint purchases MPMC The local medical community saw big changes in 2011. The private, non-profit Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson was purchased by a for-profit venture between LifePoint Hospitals and Duke University Health System. Duke LifePoint and MPMC signed a purchase deal for the hospital on Ruin Creek Road in July. Duke LifePoint now owns 80 percent of the hospital. The retained assets of MPMC and the proceeds from the transaction eliminated MPMC’s debt, and the remaining assets — approximately $30 million — will be used to create a locally governed, charitable foundation. Duke LifePoint has also committed to investing $45 million in capital improvements at the hospital over the next 10 years. Specific purchase details were not made public, but records filed at the Vance County Register of Deeds Of-
fice show excise taxes of $128,000 and $15,000 for real property transactions between the two entities. An excise tax of $2 per $1,000 of property value conveyed is collected by the Register of Deeds Office. Those records indicate a real property value at $71,500,000. Only the value of real property is considered when paying excise taxes. The purchase was heralded by hospital officials and local leaders as beneficial for both entities and the community. “The MPMC Board of Directors evaluated potential partnerships for a year before selecting Duke LifePoint as our partner of choice,” MPMC Board of Directors Chairman Dr. Bev Tucker said in a statement. “Throughout our due diligence process, we have grown even more enthusiastic about this collaboration.” “We are delighted about the opportunity to welcome Maria Parham Medical
Center as the first hospital in the Duke LifePoint system,” Duke University Health System Executive Vice President William J. Fulkerson Jr. said. “As part of Duke LifePoint, the hospital will have access to the support it needs to better serve its community and prosper in the future.” Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce President Bill Edwards welcomed the news as a positive development for the local economy. “A strong community hospital leads to a strong community, and Maria Parham’s partnership with Duke LifePoint has great potential to significantly strengthen Vance County,” Edwards said. “This partnership will provide our community additional tax income, a new charitable foundation and resources for physician recruitment and hospital improvements ... to enhance health and healthcare in this region.”
incident that included a blow to the head, and they released him that evening. Witnesses from the scene said that the assailant, a white male, became combative. Aiken had warned him several times to stop the attack. “He started attacking the police,” Tonyo Person, a witness to the incident, said outside the hospital entrance. “The police told him stop, stop, stop. He didn’t stop.” Sidwell said the man struck Aiken in the knee and head. “With the officer almost losing consciousness, the male continued the assaultive behavior,” Sidwell said. “The officer unholstered his department-issued sidearm and fired one round striking the male in the leg.”
According to Vance County Sheriff Peter White, deputies found Henderson lying in the home’s yard unconscious. He later died at Maria Parham Medical Center from shotgun injuries to the upper torso. Seneca Henderson, 20, of 150 Freedom Lane, Henderson, has been charged in connection to the crime. Also arrested in the case is Jatwaun Donkes Davis, 21, of 199 Belle Russell Road in Manson and Andrew M. Terry, of 113 North Woods Drive, Henderson. Seneca Henderson is the brother of Michael Henderson. The sister told 911 that there was a beating on the back door, then a smashing sound could be heard on a 911 recording. According to an arrest warrant, the suspects gained entry through the home’s back door. “They just broke in,” the sister said. “They’re coming in. I’m in my room. My brother has a gun.” When shots rang out, she added, “My brother just shot.” The dispatcher asked to speak to the brother, who said that he shot twice as an intruder came around a corner, apparently pointing a gun as he came. “I’m perfectly fine, my sister, she’s really shaken up right now,” the brother said.
FROM PAGE TWO Officer shoots mental patient in self-defense On May 31, the SBI cleared a Henderson police officer for return to active duty following a shooting incident at Maria Parham Medical Center. William “Will” Aiken shot a mental patient he was guarding after being attacked at the hospital May 11. HPD Chief Keith Sidwell said in May he was happy to see Aiken back on the beat after three weeks of administrative duty. “Officer Aiken acted appropriately, within the scope of his duties as a professional law enforcement officer,” Sidwell said. “All guidelines, rules and procedures were followed.” The patient attacked Aiken during an officer-guarded admission of involuntarily commitment to a mental health program, according to police. The patient became violent, and Aiken responded with use of a Taser, pepper spray and eventually his sidearm. Doctors treated Aiken following the
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Fatal home invasion A home invasion turned deadly for an intruder Dec. 29 after a resident fired two shots to defend himself and his sister. Michael Anthony Henderson Jr., 19, was shot and killed by a male teenager after he broke into the home at 586 S. Lynnbank Road. Two siblings, a 14-year-old boy and 17-year-old girl, were home alone during the home invasion.
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Tri-County residents saw more than their share of disasters — man-made and natural — in 2011. In February, Southern States Farm & Garden supply store in Warrenton burned in a massive fire, prompting town officials to declare a state of emergency. Portions of the town near the building were evacuated following the blaze. Schools in the area also closed following the fire. Air quality in the area was the biggest concern once the fire was extinguished. Heavy smoke hung in the air for days as debris smoldered. More than 200 firefighters battled the fire that completely destroyed the building. No one was injured in the fire, but a long-time Warrenton business was lost. Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the fire. Arson was not suspected.
Just a few weeks later, a large woods fire burned more than 2,000 acres in rural Warren County. The fire scorched brush, trees and grass along Limer Town, Chocco Springs and Parktown roads near N.C. 401. As many as 10 fire departments assisted the Forest Service in containing the blaze. Fire crews were able to save several homes from fire damage. Dry conditions and high winds prompted state officials to issue red flag warnings for outdoor fires in February. Those conditions made containing the wildfire difficult. In late August, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia rattled the Tri-County but caused no significant damage. The most powerful earthquake to strike the East Coast in 67 years shook buildings and nerves from Georgia to Maine. In Henderson, patrons were evacu-
ated from the H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library after the tremors were felt. Brian Short, director of Vance County Emergency Operations, said the 911 center fielded more than 125 calls related to the earthquake. None of those were emergency situations. Just a few days later, Hurricane Irene’s outer bands churned through Vance and Warren counties, damaging homes and destroying crops. Both counties were declared disaster areas by Gov. Beverly Perdue. More than 25 homes were destroyed and at least 100 damaged when the storm blew through the area. Thousands were without power temporarily and emergency shelters were opened in Vance and Warren counties. No significant injuries were reported. Crop damage was reportedly in the millions.
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In February, Southern States Farm & Garden supply store in Warrenton burned in a massive fire, prompting town officials to declare a state of emergency. Portions of the town near the building were evacuated following the blaze. Schools in the area also closed following the fire. Air quality in the area was the biggest concern once the fire was extinguished. Heavy smoke hung in the air for days as debris smoldered.
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The Daily Dispatch
Sunday, January 8, 2012
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COMMERCIAL SEAMING CO. INC. Hurricane Irene’s outer bands churned through Vance and Warren counties in late August, damaging homes and destroying crops. Both counties were declared disaster areas by Gov. Beverly Perdue. More than 25 homes were destroyed and at least 100 damaged when the storm blew through the area. Thousands were without power temporarily and emergency shelters were opened in Vance and Warren counties. No significant injuries were reported. Crop damage was reportedly in the millions.
Economy: highs and lows
From the sobering unemployment rates to the influx of new businesses and leadership, the Tri-County experienced its share of economic ups and downs this past year. Unemployment rates decreased in Vance, Granville and Warren counties in November, according to data released in January by the state Division of Employment Security. Despite the drop, the rates remained higher than 2010’s numbers in Vance and Warren. Vance County’s jobless rate fell to 13.1 percent from 13.5 in October. The rate means 2,520 people were without a job. The rate was 12.6 in November 2010. Granville County’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 from 9.9 in October — 2,411 people couldn’t find work. The rate was 9.9 in November 2010. In Warren County, the jobless rate fell to 12.8 from 13.2 in October. The rate represented 978 people. The rate was 12.4 in November 2010. North Carolina’s statewide unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in November. With that being said, several companies opened locations in the area, while others already established locally made moves to boost their productivity, thereby strengthening the economy. Sheetz: The registers were ringing at the new Henderson Sheetz location in late September as several dozen newly hired employees prepared for a grand opening. Sheetz has completely altered the site where the Western Sizzlin restaurant once stood on Ruin Creek Road. A brightly lit, convenience store complex with a restaurant, car wash and gas pumps now stands where the well-known steak house once was. Site work began in May, with construction progressing quickly after demolition and grading of the lot. According to prior company statements, the Henderson location will employ 35 to 40 full-and part-time positions. Save-a-lot: Henderson acquired a new competitor in the bargain food market as Save-a-Lot Food Store opened in late February to a steady stream of shoppers at its S. Beckford Drive location. Save-a-Lot fills a big void at Marketplace Shopping Center off Dabney Drive, and it will employ 20 to 25 grocery workers at full staff. Richard Palamar with Chase Development Company, which manages the shopping center for Marketplace Associates, viewed the opening of the store himself. He said it brings the shopping center up to a near full capacity of commercial tenants. “They will bring more traffic to the area, so it will help,” Palamar said. The new store boasts a full-service meat market, bakery and produce sections, but limited selections on its aisles when com-
pared with a more traditional grocery store, according to Tomlin. Save-a-Lot features many items under its own label, and Tomlin said the quality is on a par with name brands. Big Lots: Big Lots (NYSE: BIG), North America’s largest broad line closeout retailer, continued to grow this year, opening a new location at 1735 Dabney Road, Henderson, in October. The Henderson Big Lots stocks merchandise that typically sells for 20 to 40 percent less than discount stores and up to 70 percent below traditional retailers. At 22,000 square feet, customers will find thousands of products available from everyday consumables, seasonal goods, home decor, electronics, toys, and one-time closeouts. Big Lots also offers an assortment of brand-name furniture and Serta mattresses. Optimum Lighting: Employees of Henderson-based Optimum Lighting received surprising news at the beginning of the year. They were now working for The Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics thanks to a purchase deal finalized in early January. Philips announced the deal in Amsterdam, stating the acquisition of Optimum Lighting adds to its global vision to expand further as a supplier of customized, energyefficient lighting solutions. In Henderson, expectations ran high that the match would be good for the business at the company’s new facility — the former Purolator building on Facet Road. Optimum, with 70 employees, manufactures lighting fixtures targeting the growing demand for energy efficiency. It also handles design, building and engineering for customized energy-efficient lighting solutions. Vescom — a manufacturer of interior fabrics, upholstery fabrics and curtain fabrics — added $6 million and 35 jobs in the expansion of its Vance County operation on Ross Mill Road facility. Vescom America’s plans included construction of a 38,000-square-foot jacquard weaving mill at the 2289 Ross Mill Road site. The expansion in Henderson comes as a consolidation move for Vescom, with the closing of its Allentown, Pa., weaving operation. Vescom America President Joseph Berasi said the move is a step forward in matching new, state-of-the-art equipment with the best workers for greater efficiency. Berasi said development of the new facility in Henderson presents an opportunity to improve work-flow patterns and efficiencies as Vescom seeks greater modernization. Also, a 25 percent increase in looms is planned for the new facility, which will further boost capacity.
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Litvin hired as EDC director The search for a new director for the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission came to a close this past June with the hiring of Stuart Litvin. Litvin began his duties as EDC director in July. “Stuart Litvin emerged from the process as a credible and promising candidate for the position,” Vance Litvin County Manager Jerry Ayscue said. “He appears to be a strong economic development professional who has a passion for improving communities through responsible economic development.” Litvin was previously employed as president/CEO at Livingston (Louisiana) Economic Development Council for 14 months. Prior to that position, he was president and CEO for Alexandria Economic Development Partnership in Alexandria, Va., for a little more than 11 months, according to officials at the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. Early on, Litvin spent a week in July reviewing the EDC’s 2010-2014 Strategic Action Plan. “I see no sense in reinventing the wheel,” Litvin said then. “I want to get EDC members together and review the material. It is always good to see if it is in the benefit of the county to update a document like this.” For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Vance County Board of Commissioners allocated $207,025 to the EDC for its operating budget. This is up from 2010, when the EDC had an operating budget of around $110,000. During the beginning of his tenure, Litvin was learning the ins and outs of Vance County and Henderson. He said the area’s potential is greater than many people may realize. “The key to this county’s growth is the city and the county working together,” he said. “In my short time here, I can see the effort being made by both governments to move in the same direction, which is rare. I think this is a major asset to the community.”
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Long-debated county issues finally resolved
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The year 2011 will be remembered for two long-discussed issues finally being resolved by Vance County — county-wide zoning and a water rate with the city. After years, perhaps decades of discussion, county-wide zoning was established in October 2011 and took effect Nov. 1. Economic development leaders in the county held county-wide zoning as an effective tool for attracting business and industry to Vance County, but opponents argued that they didn’t want the county telling them what they could and could not do with their property. “More people spoke up (in favor of zoning) this time,” Vance County Commissioner Eddie Wright said recently, reflecting on his year as chairman of the board. “Zoning puts us in a much better light to attract business and industry. You want to make things as easy as possible for people who are creating jobs.” An effort to approve a county-wide ordinance on zoning several years ago had brought a number of local citizens to county public hearings. Signs against zoning were scattered about the county. The opposition was there again in 2011 but not nearly as strong, still with those speaking out against the measure in public hearings and a “no zoning” postcard campaign. When the question for final approval went to the board, the vote was 6-1 in favor of zoning. The zoning ordinance map divides the county into specific land use zones. The majority of the county is zoned “agricultural residential.” Several areas surrounding Kerr Lake are zoned “open space.” The zoning map also specifies how land can be used in Middleburg and Kittrell. On the water front, the Henderson City Council and the Vance County Board of Commissioners officially sealed the deal on county water rates on March 14, 2011, after a lengthy period of negotiations tied to changes in joint-funding ratios. A liaison team with members from each governmental body hammered out the water agreement after two years of negotiations.
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Finalized water system engineering plans received the nod from the Vance County commissioners sitting as the Water District Board on Dec. 19, and the board allowed construction, operations and maintenance bids to proceed this month. Vance County Manager Jerry Ayscue said that the agreements and permits are in place for all four parts of the project, beginning with Phase 1A. The water board meeting in December concluded with approval of a $27 million bond referendum voted in by county residents in May 2008. Commissioners then officially provided county approval of the bond so borrowing could commence. In the city and county’s negotiations over a water price, the USDA had taken a stand that there must be no link to joint-funding ventures between the city and the county, something the city had pushed for, according to correspondence between Henderson and Vance County officials and official minutes. The USDA is the funding agency that will enable Vance County to establish the water district and to develop its water system from points of attachment to the city water system. The agreements state that the city water system will set aside 150,000 gallons of water daily, and Henderson would sell the water at $2.90 per 1,000 gallons so the county could develop a water system, servicing Phase 1 of the county’s new water system through March 31, 2015. The two governmental boards also agreed to alter joint-funding ratios on H. Leslie Perry Library, the Economic Development Commission and the Board of Elections, shifting $100,000 in funding liability from the city to the county next year, and $140,000 yearly thereafter, until the 40-year contracts expire. Minutes from a series of closed sessions on the deal, with City Attorney John H. Zollicoffer informing the city council, included steps that city council members took to let go of their insistence that the deal bind water and joint-funding issues together. “Rural Development will not approve an agreement that is tied to another agreement that has nothing to do with
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the sale of water,” USDA Loan Specialist Thurman Murphy Jr. said in a Feb. 9 letter to Vance County Manager Jerry Ayscue. Ayscue forwarded the letter to Henderson City Manager Ray Griffin, and it reached Zollicoffer from Griffin’s office. “The council would not agree to severing the joint funding of other joint projects provisions until hearing the response from USDA, the county’s lender,” the minutes from a closed Feb. 14 meeting stated. The city’s position didn’t last much longer. A Feb. 18 draft copy of the water agreement gave the council and commissioners a look at what a USDA acceptable deal would look like. Noted in the margin of the minutes was the deleted portion that had been part of the Feb. 3 draft copy: “This water sales agreement shall become effective only upon the execution by both parties of not only this agreement, but also the execution by both parties hereto of the Joint Ventures/Projects Agreement “ On joint-funding issues, the county agreed to increase its annual appropriation to the H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library from 65 percent to 70 percent for fiscal year 2012, then to 75 percent starting the next year. As the city’s funding share declines to 25 percent, appointees on the library’s board of trustees will shift in proportion so the county holds nine seats and the city holds three. The county will also forgive the city’s required annual contribution to the EDC budget, with the city and county nevertheless retaining their current appointments on the EDC board of directors. The county has reduced the city’s funding requirement for the board of elections operating budget to 17 percent; the city maintains a 100 percent funding of municipal elections. Lastly, the county is deferring the city’s annual $32,750 city hall debt service payment for two years - due in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The changes in funding joint projects will continue for the next 40 years unless the sides agree to adjustments.
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Sunday, January 8, 2012
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Daily Dispatch file photo
Crews demolish the Beacon Light apartment complex in this file photo.
BEACON LIGHT COMES DOWN After years of frustration and legal wrangling, Henderson officials finally saw the Beacon Light apartment complex come down. The 108-unit complex on Boddie Street was demolished in June at a cost of about $399,000. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded the demo work. “This is a day we have been waiting for for years,” City Manager Ray Griffin said after the funding was in place for the demo. “This is a good day, particu-
larly for those living at the margins of this property.” “We are at a hallelujah moment right now,” Councilwoman Brenda PeaceJenkins said. “Hallelujah.” The abandoned apartment complex had been the scene of multiple fires, plus a source of unsightly overgrowth and rodent problems. HUD let city leaders know late last year that it would back the demolition with financial reimbursement as needed.
The reimbursements draw from grant funds that had been made available to property owner Sharif Abdelhalim that would have been used to renovate the structure. Abdelhalim fought the demolition process, and filed a challenge in federal court to stop the funding through the held-up renovation grant. The HUD-sponsored, low-income site dates back to 1973, but was closed in 2006 at the request of the city council.
Councilwoman dies at 65 After a lengthy battle with cancer, Henderson City Councilwoman Mary Emma Evans, 65, died in January of 2011. She was first elected to the city council in 2003.Henderson City Manager Ray Griffin called her death “truly sad.” “She certainly fought hard and well and that inspired so many people. She will be missed at city council,” he said. “We had great respect and love for each other,” Brenda Peace-Jenkins, a fellow council member and friend for more than 30 years, said. “She took opportunities to invest as much time as she could to let everyone know she loved them. These last days were encouraging times for other people.” In an interview just a week before her death, Evans told a Dispatch reporter that the city and county “mean the world to me.” She called on officials to work together to create jobs and to make funding education a priority. In March, the council selected James Carlton Kearney Sr. to fill the Ward 1 seat left vacant by Evans. “She was my councilwoman too,” Kearney said. “I am honored to step forward to fill her shoes, and I would hope to serve the people of Ward 1 and all the people of Henderson in a reasonable portion as she did.”
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City Councilwoman Mary Emma Evans talks during a city retreat in this January 2010 file photo. Evans died during 2011.
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The Daily Dispatch
Sunday, January 8, 2012
AREA SCHOOLS GET NEW LEADERSHIP Two of the area’s educational institutions saw a change in leadership in 2011. Former Vance-Granville Community College President Randy Parker announced in May he was leaving the college for a position at Guilford Technical Community College. The college’s Board of Trustees began a nation-wide search for Parker’s replacement that ended in December with the announcement that Stelfanie Williams will be the college’s next president. Williams is currently the vice president of Economic and Community Development at Central Carolina Community Col- Gregory lege in Sanford. She will be the first African-American and the first woman to be president at VGCC on a permanent basis. She is scheduled to begin at the college Feb. 1. “I am honored and delighted to serve as the next president of Vance-Granville Community College, and I thank the Board of Trustees for entrusting me with this opportunity,” Williams said in a statement. “As president, I plan to work together with faculty, staff, and administration to advance student success, economic development, and quality educational services for the community. We will engage business and political leaders, educational partners, and community members in fulfilling the mission of the college. I greatly look forward to leading the college and becoming active in the communities of Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties.” In June, the Vance County Board of Education named Ronald Gregory as superintendent of Vance County Schools.
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Stelfanie Williams was named the next president of Vance-Granville Community College in December. Gregory replaced Norman Shearin who retired earlier in the year. Gregory, who has been involved in education for 48 years, was born in Granville County, where he attended Mary Potter High School. The 69-year-old attended WinstonSalem State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary
Education. He also attended North Carolina A&T, where he received a master’s in School Administration. Gregory has been in the Vance County Schools system for 42 years, where he has been a teacher, principal, administrator, assistant superintendent and interim superintendent. He has also taught at the elementary and junior high school
levels in Warren and Wake counties. In a press release issued by VCS after Gregory’s appointment, Gregory said: “I am honored and humbled at the opportunity to serve the Vance County Schools system as superintendent. I am looking forward to moving our school system to the next level.”
“We will engage business and political leaders, educational partners, and community members in fulfilling the mission of the college.” — STELFANIE WILLIAMS, INCOMING PRESIDENT AT VANCE-GRANVILLE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
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Sergent unseats Woodlief
November elections brought a new face to the mayor’s office in Oxford with Jackie Sergent defeating longtime incumbent Al Woodlief Jr. Sergent, formerly a city commissioner, also works for the GranvilleVance District Health Department. She unSergent seated Woodlief with 930 votes to Woodlief’s 628. Sergent attributed her victory to a group of enthusiastic, engaged supporters who helped spread her message of improving Oxford and making the city more economically viable. “I am fortunate to have a broad base of support,” Sergent said. “I have to thank them for the effort they put into this day.” It was no small task to defeat Woodlief — he has a long history in Oxford government. He was first elected mayor in 2001 after serving as a commissioner for 14 years. Sergent recognized Woodlief’s service in comments after the election results came in. “I greatly appreciate the current mayor’s service to the city,” she said. “In one capacity or another, he has served the city for more than 20 years, and I want to say how much I value that service.” Three of the seven seats on the Oxford city commission were also up for grabs in November. The top vote-getters were incumbents Robert Williford Sr. and Howard G. Herring Sr. and newcomer Frank Strickland. All municipalities in the TriCounty, except Henderson, held elections in November. Elections in the city were pushed to 2012 because of electoral redistricting following the 2010 Census.
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Special section highlighting the top news stories of 2011