Bond Busters: Bond goes to voters

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The mega-bond is heading to the May ballot, thanks to your County Commissioners. But there were some surprises last night at the County Board meeting.

Eastern Guilford H.S., which is massively rebuilding its campus, will get its own separate place on the ballot. Commissioners voted to split off EGHS from the half-a-billion bond package and gave then their own spot, $45 million worth, making the rest of the bond package $412 million.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. This was a request from Commissioner Steve Arnold (R). High Point Enterprise excerpt:

Republican Commissioner Steve Arnold of High Point offered the idea to fund the Eastern construction separately and to cut the remainder of the list.
“We have a commitment for Eastern,” Arnold said. “It is unfair and unwise to tie the other proj­ects to it.”

As for the other projects, lots of wrangling took place last night, and both lame duck Supt. Terry Grier (who, by the way, may find out today if he’s going to San Diego or not) and GCS Board Chair Alan Duncan looked visibly uncomfortable and weak in asking commissioners for the ballot question).

News & Record excerpt:

Now, supporters of the school bond referendum must convince voters that Guilford County needs $412 million for new classrooms and renovations — but those advocates won’t have the supporting argument that some of that money will go to rebuild Eastern.

What doesn’t change, though, is that school supporters will have a big job to sell the bonds to the public.

“I will talk to a lot of people,” said Margaret Arbukle, director of the Guilford Education Alliance. “If there are signs, I will have one in my yard.”

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Probably the biggest surprise came from Commissioner Skip Alston (D). He was one of the biggest cheerleaders of the schools last night and and ironic champion of the taxpayers.

Despite the cat-calls from Grier asking Alston not to “sell the citizens short,” Alston made a failed substitute motion to knock off half of the main bond (to $295 million–a somewhat better figure, but still high), expressing his displeasure of the amount of money, along with teachers buying supplies out of their own pocketbooks, the high suspension rates and not enough textbooks for our children.

HPE excerpt:

Democratic Commissioner Skip Alston failed to win support to reduce the package to $295 million.
“We have to tighten our belts,” Alston said. “This is a tax burden that people will have to pay year after year.”


Getting back to Arnold’s move to separate EGHS from the ballot (Doug Clark is blogging about this today at the N&R)… I, too, want to see a new school, fully-funded, for the EGHS family. As such, I never thought it was a good idea at all to tie EGHS to a bond.

Arnold’s move was both maverick and smart and bold. Will I vote for it? I could vote for an EGHS standalone bond, and vote no on everything else. It still does not stop my displeasure for this entire package.

But like everyone said last night, it is now up to the voters. It is up to you.

Vote smart.

E.C. 🙂


Candidate Huey featured in HP Enterprise article 1/18/08

 Kudos to Katisha Hayes for the excellent coverage in today’s High Point Enterprise…


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**Early candidate emerges for school board seat**



The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. GUILFORD COUNTY – A word-of mouth campaign that began more than a year ago is starting to pay off for an early candidate for the school board. Erik Huey began in December of 2006 campaigning for one of the at-large seats up for grabs on the Guilford County Board of Education.

The early exposure has enabled this “one-man band” to stave off the competition and pick up a faction of supporters all across the county.

  “From my family to friends to total strangers I meet when I’m out and about and wearing my campaign button, everyone is asking about the campaign and what they can do to help,” said Huey, who has created a Web site and daily blog as part of the election race. The site has logged 22,000 visits and more than 100 readers view his blogs each day.

Safer schools, a new teacher whistle-blower policy and better handling of school system finances are top priorities in his platform. “This is a system that bleeds money,” he said.

A former journalist and teacher, Huey, 36, says it’s time for the “established political machine” to hand over the “reins” so there can be new voices and new leadership in the county. “I think if that happens, you will see a lot of change occur at the grass-roots level. Not only in our schools, but our city and county governments,” Huey said.

He officially will file for the at-large seat (District 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 seats also are up for grabs) when the filing period begins in February. He hopes to step into a position long served by veteran board member Dot Kearns. It is not clear whether Kearns will run for another term.

“In full respect to Dot, she has served the people and citizens of Guilford County for a number of years and she served the community with the highest esteem … but it’s time for new blood to show leadership in Guilford County,” said Huey, who wrote for a number of publications, including The High Point Enterprise and the Triad Business News, before entering the teaching profession in 2005. The Chicago native moved to North Carolina in 2000. He currently resides in north Jamestown with his wife, Jennifer, and their 7-year old daughter, Alexandra.


E.C. 🙂

Education is the key to jobs; Jobs are the key to Guilford’s sustainability

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I don’t have to tell you that this area is in an economic flux, and it’s been widely reported here already.

But it still stings when there’s another report of a plant closing or cutbacks or layoffs in various industries all over our area.

When more than 90 people apply for one writing job at a particular college’s PR department, that says something. (I was one of those 90 people)

When 150 people apply for one office job at a local school, that says something. (I’m not proud, I was one of those 150)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. People in this area need jobs, me included.

So far, this year, I’ve been subbing about 2 days a week in Randolph County, but all-in-all, I’ve been in the local job market since the late summer. The campaign keeps me busy, but I still need to work (if you’re hiring or know of anyone hiring out there, e-mail me).

Many people in Guilford County and in the larger Piedmont Triad region hold the same dilemma.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I don’t have to tell you that this area failed to diversify its economy, and that was the fault of our elected leaders to do just that. That too has been widely reported, ad nauseum. But education is the key for our young people to get good jobs, especially strong vocational education (which I wholeheartedly support). And good paying jobs are the key to Guilford’s vitality.

E.C. 🙂