Mostly cloudy with scattered daytime showers
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In their meeting this week, Henderson County commissioners, in a split three to two vote, rejected---for now---commissioner Bill Lapsley’s proposal to roll back the county’s recent five cent property tax increase by three cents. Lapsley’s argument for the rollback is largely based on the hope that voters will approve the quarter cent sales tax increase that will be on voter’s ballots in November that would raise about two point five million dollars in revenue for the county. He points out it will be hard to convince voters to support that quarter cent sales tax…on top of the nickel increase in property taxes earlier this year, A majority of commissioners want to look at Lapsley’s proposed rollback more closely before committing to it. That nickel property tax increase approved earlier this year, by the way…will raise over six and a half million dollars more in county revenue.
Commissioners have approved, also in a split vote, building that new thirteen million dollar emergency services complex on the Asheville Highway on the site of the old BalfourSchool. Commissioner Lapsley voted against it…he said he favors the new complex but thinks the thirteen million is too much to spend on it. The old school will be bulldozed and construction will start at the end of the school year in June 2017.
And commissioners are considering a requirement that all solid waste collected in the county be taken to the county’s transfer station…which would mean that local trash haulers would not longer have the option of taking their loads outside the county. Thjis could mean an increase in rates for some garbage customers. As Commissioner Michael Edney pointed out, the proposal “…creates a flow of money to go with the trash” which would help the county pay for a number of solid waste expenses including maintenance of the old landfill. Commissioners will hold a public hearing on that on August 17th.
After hearing from a very outspoken public in opposition to the re-settlement of foreign refugees into Hendersonville and Henderson County, the county commissioners Wednesday morning took a unanimous and strong stand against such foreign refugee re-settlement into our community. The re-settlement issue was added to the agenda for the commissioner's Wednesday morning meeting by Commissioner Grady Hawkins, who pointed out there are serious security concerns with such refugees. Hawkins added that even the Arab countried in the Middle East will not accept such refugees.
In addition to security concerns, Hawkins told the other commissioners that these refugees will not assimilate into our American society, but will attempt to change our very way of life.
The whole issue of foreign refugees being re-settled into our community came up a while back when Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk informed city council members that Saint James Episcopal Church was exploring the possibility of helping re-locate such refugees into our community. That possible re-location was brought to the public's attention by city council member Ron Stephens who opposed such re-location. Stephens told WHKP News there was not enough support among city council members at their last meeting to pass a resolution similar to the county's that opposes such re-settlement.
The county commissioners heard from a very vocal public Wednesday morning that opposes the re-settlement of refugees here, and Commissioners Hawkins introduced a very details resolution against re-settlment here and against the whole re-settlement program currently underway by the federal government.
County Commissioner Charlie Messer not only agreed with the resolution, but ammended it order for it to be sent to the state association of county commissioners so commissioners in all of Noprth Carolina's 100 counties could "sign on" to it and express their opposition to refugee re-settlement in their communities.
The couny commissioners unanimously agreed and the resolution was adopted to the applause of citizens who attended Wednesday morning's meeting.
A recent on-line survey on WHKP's web site show that nine out of twn respondents opposed the re-settlement of refugees here.
Meanwhile, Saint James Church says re-settlment into our community is not likely anytime soon due to Hendersonville's distance from the nearest re-settlement center which is in Nashville, Tennessee. A spookesman for the church did tell the Times-News however that the church would be attempting to help get such a center located closer to the Asheville-Hendersonville area...which of course would facilitate the re-location here of the refugees.
In an e-mail from a spokesman for the re-settlement center in Nashville, WHKP News was told the center has no knowledge of any plans to locate a center in western North Carolina and we were referred to the U.S. State Department.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman 07/20/16 Updated 2:30pm
Nine out of ten people responding to a WHKP web site survey believe Hendersonville city council and the Henderson County commissioners should pass resolutions opposing the re-settlement of foreign refugees into Henderson County.
WHKP published the survey four days ago following a station editorial expressing our opposition to such re-settlement into our community and agreeing with concerns expressed by city council member Ron Stephens. Stephens indicated there was not enough support among council members at last week’s city council meeting to move forward with such a resolution. Henderson County commissioners have the re-settlement issue on their agenda for discussion at their meeting this Wednesday morning.
The issue of refugees, possibly from trouble spots in the Middle East, being re-settled into Henderson County came up a while back when it was revealed that St. James Episcopal Church was looking into possibly supporting refugees being brought here. The church says it’s not likely to happen because the nearest “re-settlement center” is in Nashville, Tennessee, but a spokesman for the church said they would be working to have a “re-settlement center” located closer to western North Carolina…which would make it possible for refugees to be re-located here.
(Survey results: 40 participants; 92.5% favor resolutions opposing re-settlement; 7.5% oppose such resolutions)
Andrew Bates is Communications Direcor for the "Hillary for America" campaign organization in North Carolina...and he sent out a press release Tuesday quoting Henderson County native and former North Carolina Supreme Coiurt Justice Bob Orr as saying of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump..."He's someone who would be a danger to America."
WRAL in Raleigh released the following story on Tuesday, with the referenes to Judge Orr highlightd in yellow, which was distributed by Bates and the "Hillary for America" organization:
Before speeches began night at the Republican National Convention, some political drama played out on the convention floor as a rules vote didn’t go the right way for delegates hoping to vote against presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The incident showed the division in the GOP, but as leaders insisted they can unite the party, at least one North Carolina delegate said he can’t support Trump.
When the rules chaos erupted, North Carolina delegates were caught in the middle.
“I felt it was out of place and should not have been. I think Donald Trump has proven that he has gotten the nomination,” said state Rep. Pat Hurley, R-Randolph.
Most in the delegation want to unite and move forward for Trump, but some still protested the roll call shutdown from the podium.
“I cannot vote for Trump, either for the nomination or in November,” said delegate and former North Carolina Supreme Court justice Bob Orr. “I think he’s singularly unqualified to lead this country.”
Orr, who supports Ohio Gov. John Kasich, wasn’t even on the floor for the rules fight, but his mind was already made up against Trump. He cites what he calls irresponsible talk about everyone from judges to lawmakers for reinforcing the decision.
“He’s someone who would be a danger to the country,” Orr said.
“In a perfect world, as chairman of the party, I would love to have 100 percent support for the nominee, Donald Trump. I know that’s not going to happen,” said Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.
Hayes said he will continue to try to unite the party while Orr said he’s not sure who he will vote for in November, of if he will even vote at all.
Roll call is set fornight as Trump’s name will be read into nomination.
As WHKP News reported earlier this week, two alternate delegates to the GOP convention in Cleveland are from Henderson County. And both Glenn Elgleram and Jane Bilello are not attending the convention in Cleveland and both are pledged to Senator Ted Crus. Ms. Bilella said of Trump's appearance at the convention..."I'm no going to see the Trump carnage." Engleram, who is the Henderson County Republican Executive Committee chairman says he feels like he can do the most good staying here in Henderson County and working for the whole GOP ticket.
Judge Orr, who now lives in Burnsville, began his c areer as an ad salesman for WHKP Radio. He later became an attorney and served as an assoviate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Orr was also an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of North Carlina eight years ago.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman 07/19/16 Updated 5pm
The High Cost Of Secrecy
\A WHKP Station Editorial
July 18 2016
There is every indication that Henderson County emergency officials are moving ahead with taking from you and all of us in the general public a long-standing fundamental cornerstone of freedom…and that is access to public information broadcast over the air waves. And after the last City Council meeting, the City of Hendersonville appears to have signed on to this as well.
The “encryption” of all police, sheriff’s, fire department, Rescue Squad, and Emergency Medical Service radio transmissions is now, without any public hearings or citizen input and obviously without any expression of concern or opposition from our local elected commissioners and city council members, a done deal. Encryption has already begun, and local scanners are going silent.
North Carolina law says very clearly and simply: “communication between or among employees of public law enforcement agencies that are broadcast over the public airwaves” are public record. In other words, it’s public property, not to be denied to the public by any local government or government official.
We’re told now by the county attorney and others that this is true, but the public is not entitled to these transmissions in “real time”, not as it happens. We’ve been at the meeting on this, where as far as we can tell, if you, as a tax-paying member of the general public, want what was said in a specific transmission, you’d have to request a transcript. There’s no telling what all that would involve, how long it would take, and there is no guarantee at all that what you’d get is REALLY what was transmitted. This claim that you are not entitled to it in “real time”, frankly, is “lawyer talk”, to borrow a better description from the late Carl Sandburg, it’s “gobbledegook”…and we don’t see it in the law anywhere.
Folks, what your local governments are doing here is nothing more than an “end run” around the public’s right to know, to clearly and legally defined PUBLIC INFORNATION.
We were first told the reason for all this encrypted secrecy is to protect the victim’s identity and right to privacy. Now, according to an article in the Times-News, the argument seems to be that encryption will keep law enforcement officers from being vulnerable to the “bad guys” who are monitoring their transmissions. But we have not seen, nor have we been given, any examples where a victim’s identity or right to privacy has been violated or a local officer endangered by open, legal radio communications
As far as we can tell, the actual dollar cost to the taxpayers of all this secrecy, for far, is $1.7 million. Plus another $126,000 for city police and fire department to “join up”. And the article in the paper adds to that a “maintenance” cost of $10,000…which in the future will be “divved up” among the departments, i.e. the taxpayers.
But the dollar amount is miniscule when compared to the loss of the public’s right to public information, transmitted over public airwaves, and communicated by public employees, who are paid with the taxpayer’s money.
The severity of the secrecy that’s coming with all this encrypted radio traffic is secondary, we believe, to the secret way this whole thing developed, in our own community, literally right under our own noses. Maybe we in the media weren’t paying close enough attention. Maybe the public doesn’t care. Maybe in this day and age of terrorism and mass murders, we’ve all become so terrified that we’re willing to give up freedom for the sake of protection and security. In any case, we believe the only ones who benefit from secrecy, including secret radio transmissions over the public airwaves…in clear violation of state law and public policy…are those with something to hide.
As we said in an earlier editorial, this “train may well have already left the station”…and some local officials will claim that it’s too late and too costly to turn back now. But folks…if we let this stand, if we give in to this loss of this one aspect of our freedom, we’ll all be left a little less free…and waiting for the next shoe to drop on the liberty that 25,000 patriots gave their lives for in 1776 and that millions more have died for since then. The loss of freedom always starts somewhere, and it usually starts quietly, even secretly, and sometimes with good intentions. But when it’s gone, it’s gone.
We urge you to let your elected officials know…if you’re concerned about these secret, encrypted radio transmissions that you pay for, and under the law are entitled to…in “real time”. They are the only ones who can stop it, if they will.
This has been a WHKP station editorial. As always, we invite your comments…on our comments.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman
Based on need, a positive attitude and sports participation, the scholarship and a golf tournament fundraiser to support it were announced Thursday in a news conference at the Hendersonville Country Club.
The first charity golf tournament in many years at the Country Club, the tournament will be held Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. The committee putting on the event is also selling sponsorships from $250 for a hole sponsorship to a $10,000 platinum. The tournament fee is $150 per player and $600 per team.
Marvin, 60, suffers from ALS and has made inspirational talks at Mud Creek Baptist Church. He played in the NFL for 10 seasons. As the starting right guard for the Raiders he won two Super Bowl Championships and played in 120 games, starting 108 of them.
To donate make checks payable to Henderson County Education Foundation (designated for Mickey Marvin Scholarship Fund) and send to Mickey Marvin Scholarship Fund, 677 Spartanburg Highway, No. 65, Hendersonville, NC 28792.
With construction of that new massive multi-million dollar Health Science Center on Sixth Avenue West next to Pardee Hospital nearing completion, local officials will be dealing with a number of traffic, pedestrian and parking issues in that area, particularly in the adjoining residential neighborhood, around the near-by three schools, and on the multi-lane Highway 64.
Hendersonville city council recently got an update from Kimley-Horn consultants out of Charlotte, and they’ve made some suggestions concerning the Highway 64 intersection with North Oak Street. In fact, the consultants have presented the city with six possible designs for that intersection…including a round-about.
Pardee Hospital will be designating several hundred parking spaces close by for the new facility. But parking will likely continue to be a challenge in that small area with the hospital, doctor’s offices, schools, the YMCA and the new Health Science Center. And along with parking, pedestrian traffic will be a challenge as well.
As Wingate University moves into the new center, with Blue Ridge Community College soon to follow, the city, the new center, and the hospital will be dealing with these issues and making decisions.
And still to come is the new cancer center which will be in the ground floor of the new Health Science Center.
Hendersonville city council Thursday night approved spending about $126 thousand to equip city police and fire departments with new digitally encrypted radio equipment…which will enable the city to join other law enforcement, fire and emergency services in the county IN making their radio transmissions unavailable to the public on scanners. The news media will be allowed to pay for a small hand-held receiver for some transmissions…but the public will no longer have access to what has long been established as “public information” in real time. It’s also being reported that city and county departments will be unable to scan each other’s transmissions with the new encryption.
It won’t be until October of next year that the Hendersonville Post Office will be moving out of its current Fifth Avenue West location. U.S. Postal Service official Richard Hancock brought city council and the public up to date Thursday night on plans to find a smaller pre-existing six thousand square foot facility, maybe in a strip mall, with about 40 parking spaces as close as possible to the current post office. The current post office facility was purchased late this spring by the First Baptist Church for about a million dollars and will become a parking lot for the church. That puts to rest rumors the post office property might ultimately be the location for a new downtown hotel and/or parking deck.
And on the subject of a possible downtown hotel…a spokesman for the UNC School of Government gave city council an update Thursday night on a nine to twelve month study currently underway into the feasibility of a downtown hotel somewhere in town. A final report will be given to city council at some future date.
And city council Thursday night agreed to buy the Etowah Sewer System for a million dollars and spend another half million repairing and upgrading the system that serves the Etowah areas. City Manager John Connet says the purchase will help the city expand its “regional footprint” on the west side of the county…but it was pointed out the city has no plans or desire to annex the Etowah area. Etowah residential water customers now pay a base rate of $26.33 per month. If the city’s purchase of the system is approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, they’ll pay a $9.45 base rate plus $6.93 for every one thousand gallons of water used, or about $10.00 per month less than they're paying now.
County residents are invited to help shape the future of the Henderson County Public Library System by completing our brief survey, now available online at www.henderson.lib.nc.us. This survey is designed to provide both library users and non-users alike the opportunity to share ideas and opinions on topics such as programming, locations, and services. Survey results will assist the library system in shaping our current services and making better plans for the future.
Residents who are unable to complete the survey online may obtain a printed copy at any of the branch library locations throughout the county. The survey will be available until July 31st. For more information, visit the library website at www.henderson.lib.nc.us or contact Sara McGough at 828-697-4725.