Mostly cloudy with daytime showers likely, especially early
HI: 72 LOW: 49
FROM THE CAROLINA JOURNAL
The law, requiring voters to present a state-authorized photo identification document at the polls, went into effect for the first time in Tuesday’s primary elections. Critics have condemned the requirement as a misguided policy that would lead to voter suppression, and railed against changes in early voting times as designs to diminish minority and Democratic votes.
State officials rebut those contentions with Tuesday’s turnout results and early voting numbers.
“More voters participated in Tuesday’s election than in any prior primary. Early voting was also a huge success, surpassing 2008 and 2012,” said Josh Lawson, the elections board’s general counsel. A total of 2.3 million voters cast primary ballots, which was 35.3 percent of registered voters.
“With more than 2,700 precincts across the state, data we have so far indicates our efforts surrounding voter ID were successful,” Lawson said, while acknowledging that there were some issues requiring issuance of provisional ballots.
“Current data also indicates that two-thirds of those who voted provisional ballots did so for reasons unrelated to photo ID,” Lawson said. That included a number of voters attempting to vote for candidates in several parties, and casting ballots in a party primary for which they were not registered, he said.
While some voters did have to wait longer than usual at some sites, Lawson said he could not determine whether that was caused by many people flooding the polls at specific times or shortly before the voting places closed.
Complete data, including how many provisional ballots were issued and for what reasons, should be available by Tuesday after precincts complete their tabulation, Lawson said. The process takes longer in some areas because information is recorded on paper and still is being documented.
Lawson said there is no objective way to compare North Carolina’s new voter ID requirement to the behavior in other states that have made a similar change. State requirements differ, so it would be difficult to establish a uniform measurement, he said.
The Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, issued a news release Wednesday acknowledging that early turnout surpassed recent records, but saying voters had fewer days to cast a ballot because a 2013 election reform law reduced the early voting period from 17 days to 10.
A March 2 press release from the elections board stated that a record number of early voting sites would be available, and the election law encouraged local election boards to have those sites open longer hours.
The organization blamed congested polling sites that caused some voters in Wake County, Durham, and Winston-Salem to wait hours in line Tuesday on the shortened voting period.
“We are seeing in North Carolina the exact type of electoral chaos that happens when politicians manipulate the voting system for their own gain,” said the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “The right to vote should be constitutional, not confusing.”
The Advancement Project represents the NC NAACP and individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit to overturn the election reforms. That lawsuit, pending in federal court, challenges other elements of the law in addition to the voter ID provision.
Those include eliminating same-day registration, banning the counting of ballots cast out of precinct, and cutting a program allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to register before they are eligible to vote.
“The confusion faced by voters attempting to cast a ballot — in large part due to misinformation from poll workers — is exactly why we call this a monster voter suppression law: It affects each step of the voting process, making it harder and more confusing along the way,” said Penda Hair of the Advancement Project.
Bob Hall, executive director of the progressive organization Democracy NC, also criticized the new law, citing information collected by 700 volunteers in key precincts in 40 counties.
He issued a news release claiming that poll workers at sites across the state seemed to lack training, were overworked, and enforced the voter ID law in a disparate manner. Some voters were refused a provisional ballot when problems surfaced, he said, predicting worse issues in the general election.
“The complaints documented during the primary show the senseless bureaucratic burden of the new ID requirement, as well as the urgent need for greater investment in poll-worker training, equipment and a modernized election system,” Hall said.
Lawson pushed back against those claims.
“For three years, the State Board has educated and assisted voters to prepare the state for voter ID. That effort was funded at about $1 million a year, and included mailings to every household, poll worker training, television ads, and targeted assistance to voters,” Lawson said.
“While we are carefully reviewing ways to shorten wait times, we are proud of the work counties did to ensure voters’ voices were heard at the polls,” and will continue seeking ways to improve the process during the June 7 congressional primary election and the Nov. 8 general election, Lawson said.
Literally thousands of tulips are all set to open uip and welcome the Sringtime in the planters arre up and down Main Street in Hendersonville!
The annual TULIP EXTRAVAGANZA GETS UNDERWAY APRIL 1
The event runs April 1-30, which includes the week of Passover this year. Downtown merchants are hoping residents will bring their out-of-town guests for a month of colorful shopping and dining.
Businesses will also have unique ways to welcome the crowds and spring.
“Many businesses will have tulip-themed displays in their windows as well as offering their spring specials,” said Narnia Studios owner Barbara Hughes, who, as a florist, created the celebration and subsequent tulip photo contest.
Resident can enter their best tulip photos in the contest at Narnia Studios. Photos must be taken in downtown Hendersonville and the deadline to enter is April 25.
The winners will be announced April 30.
Hughes has been in love with flowers for as long as she can remember. She is still surrounded by flowers, as 8,000-10,000 tulips bloom in the planters on Main Street when spring arrives.
“Our special tax district for Main Street pays master gardeners Scott Johnson and Bruce Lowe to create beautiful landscaping in the planters along the sidewalks,” she said.
“The bulbs we planted in the fall should be in full bloom the second and third week of April,” Johnson added. “Lots of tulip leaves are already poking through the flower beds.”
Hughes said the flowers inspired her to hold the annual Tulip Extravaganza and the photo contest. She has been organizing the photo contest for fourteen years now — one for every Tulip Extravaganza.
“Downtown Hendersonville is such a treasure to Western North Carolina,” she said. “We anticipate as many visitors as tulips.”
For more information about the Tulip Extravaganza, call Hughes at 828-697-6393
Still to come...a connction to Berkley Park
...After months of work, a Hendersonville greenway now connects two parks.
A bridge for pedestrians and cyclists was installed last week over Britton Creek.
The Oklawaha Greenway project is a one-and-a-half-mile expansion that now connects Patton Park to Berkeley Mills Park with this new bridge.
People are already taking advantage of what's finished.
"If they're going to take advantage of it and we hope they do, just to be cautious if they see construction equipment or anything going on just to take care and maybe not approach too closely," said Brendan Shanahan, civil engineer.
Once work is done in June, the greenway will stretch three-and-a-half miles, from Jackson Park to Berkeley Park.
The Hendersonville Police Department and Chief Herbert Blake would like to invite citizens of Hendersonville and surrounding communities to attend an informational and educational presentation concerning incidents of mass violence, specifically active shooting acts of violence. With the continued increase in these types of incidents Chief Herbert Blake would like to extend the expertise and knowledge of our supervisors and our officers within our police department to enlighten the community to the response, alleviation, and recovery efforts to these types of events.
The Hendersonville Police Department has scheduled two presentation sessions for this important topic on two different days for the convenience of the public. The presentations will be held at the Hendersonville City Operation Center located at 305 Williams Street, Hendersonville, North Carolina. The sessions will be held on March 21, 2016 and March 23, 2016, at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm respectively. The presentations will include modern trends in this type of disaster, statistical data on events, law enforcement response, and strategies that the public can take to diminish the impact of the event if they find themselves as victims. There will also be a short question and answer period with the law enforcement professionals who are in attendance following the presentation.
There is no need to make reservations for the programs but those who have questions about the presentation or topics should contact Lieutenant Chris Leroy or Officer Rob Underwood at the Hendersonville Police Pepartment at 828-697-3031.
The good news is…the core structure of the 66 thousand square foot building is in good shape. That includes the thick concrete floors, thick walls and concrete columns. And that part of the facility would require only minor work.
The report the commissioners saw on Wednesday was compiled by the Vannoy Construction Company and architect Clark Nexsen sees the Hendersonvile High project as the most expensive one facing the county….with possible costs ranging from about $50 million to about $57 million.
Commissioners took no action on the issue Wednesday….and County Commission Chairman Tommy Thompson said what is needed now is “a thoughtful, deliberate process” moving forward with whatever is done with the school….and the county is basically looking at five options for the school’s future.
Commissioner Bill Lapsley said the county should consider re-habilitating the school. Commissioner Charlie Messer said “We’ve got to get everybody to the same table to come up with a plan”. And Commissioner Mike Edney asked about the schools 885 seat auditorium, which has become a main point of concern for students and alumni.
There has been no indication as to when the commissioners will be making final decision on the school issues.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman 03/16/16 4pm
Sheriff Charles McDonald of Henderson County graduated on March 11, 2016 from the Sheriffs’ Leadership Institute. This training was sponsored by the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and partially funded through a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission. Twenty-seven sheriffs from across the state received their diplomas at a ceremony held at the William and Ida Center at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Sheriffs’ Leadership Institute consisted of four one-week training programs conducted over a period of two years. This Institute is a national model and provides leadership and technical training, specifically designed for sheriffs, like no other training in the United States.
The NC Sheriff’s Leadership Institute Class of 2016 honored Sheriff McDonald by selecting himto speak at their graduation ceremony. Sheriff McDonald spoke on the history of the Office of Sheriff and the noble cause sheriffs undertake. He encouraged sheriffs from across the state to pursue truth and challenge the status quo when necessary. In his charge Sheriff McDonald said, “Our ability to continue to be a viable force to keep the peace, to defend our constitution, and to uphold our God given liberties rests on our ability to educate and lead our community and to have the trust of those whom we serve.”
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association Headquarters is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Edmond W. Caldwell, Jr. serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel.