Gaston County Courthouse

Gaston Co. to consider sales tax increase for schools

The Gaston County commissioners are planning to discuss a request by the County Schools to add a 1/4 cent sales tax to help build and maintain the school system.

This will be an interesting discussion because the residents just approved a $175 million bond referendum last November, and the schools have a multi-million dollar shortfall from the previous bond funds.

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The “no-tax-but-will-fund-silly-projects” county board of commissioners will be televised tonight for your entertainment. Of course, it will be on the non-consent portion of the agenda after the consent agenda approves over $1.7 million of money including additional “donations” to DSS.

Consultant not sold on Gastonia’s plans for downtown convention center, hotel

Aren’t we surprised?

Gastonia’s super-secret-deal $16,000 contract consultant backs off his own report. Could it be that Atlantic Hospitality Advisors are worried about the possible business connection back to “Big Plan” Palenick?

We have to give a lot of credit to councilman Kirlin for wanting to explore this issue in more detail.

david-kirlin.jpg (Gastonia City Councilman, Dave Kirlin)

Tonight’s Gastonia City Council meeting will be televised (Gaston County Access Channel 16 on the TW cable). We hope Mr. Palenick wears some makeup.

The consultant’s fees for this market study don’t appear to be too well-earned. Most of the data looks to be lifted from several earlier studies of the Gaston County area and accessible data from both the Economic Development Commission and the Census Bureau. So, taxpayers footed the bill to tell the Gastonia City Council what they already knew?

You can read some of the fiction yourselves right here:

gastonia-market-analysis.pdf  

The report is a 2mb file and might take a bit to download. Pretty hefty you must admit for $16,000.

Mr. Palenick’s “revised” plan that will be discussed at tonight’s meeting:

strategic-development-plan-revised-02-11-2008.pdf

Parking fees not as big a windfall as Gaston commissioners thought

Are we surprised by this?

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It’s ok to be optimistic — keep spinning away. We are all for user fees, parking at a distance lot helps the Gaston Healthcare Commission and contributes to a healthier community.

Maybe the rate is too low?

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Feds have an interest in locating immigrant detention facility here

Well, ok, so it is official now. The Sheriff of Gaston County likes the idea.

Let’s see:

Paysour Mountain ? Lots of land available – Dallas and Cherryville have big time support at the Federal and State levels ( ie, Patrick McHenry, US-NC 10th; state senator David Hoyle), definitely non-partisan.  Cherryville is such an open and welcoming community to begin with…

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The Equestrian Center property? Isn’t it under contract already?

Across the street from the proposed relocation of the Salvation Army Shelter and Old Boys Club?  palenick-project-downtown-gastonia.pdf

Yeah, that would rejuvenate Highland and the North side of Gastonia and certainly help out the Big League Dreams for Sims Park. It would really help the congestion at the 321/85 interchange.

Next to or near the Dole Plant? Bessemer City deserves job growth … hey, anything is better than nothing – there are a lot of vacant textile plants that could be torn down and the land reused.

On the old Firestone property site or In the old Firestone? Hmm, we just wonder…

Yeah, and it will be built with FEDERAL dollars, not local dollars !

And, it will benefit the community by CREATING more jobs – is that why the public safety services in the Gaston area have a hard time filling the current positions?

On JOB CREATION, it will demand more Sheriff’s deputies, more County Police, more Gastonia PD vehicles, and more Assistant DA’s. Is that what they mean by MORE JOB CREATION?

The above positions ARE locally funded – and given the Homeland Security disarray, no federal funds would be “found” to support the “support services” of such a facility.

So, a FEW local contractors will benefit during construction. Local government will have to be EXPANDED, and property owners who have investments (RE: Rental Units Available) will also benefit. Did we list all the special interests yet? 

The Gaston Chamber must be licking their lips. The Feds would HAVE to watch Gaston County NOW – 1,500 beds is larger than the LA facility (which is closer to the border than Gastonia).

Families who have a federal detainee (yes, that is what they are called – no different than a detainee at Gitmo) would move to Gaston to be near their loved ones. We are sure the local hospital will be thrilled about the needed extra services — oh, yeah, that is county funding too. Not to mention the need for more desks in the schools.

Yes, there is a deep and lasting impact…

June Vandalism Rampage Nets Sentence for Two

The two young men who were arrested for vandalizing 76 cars and homes last summer, were sentenced on Friday.

Christopher Allen Bostwick, 19, of Belmont and Timothy Michael Pressley, 18, of Cramerton were sentenced to 200 hours of community service and required to pay restitution of $12,000.

Jail time was avoided by both men, many of the homeowners and/or insurance companies wanted to be reimbursed for the damages. The reasoning was that if the men were jailed, they would not be able to pay back the damages.

The judge threatened both offenders that if they were caught in as much as a moving violation, they would be sent to jail.

Guess that wraps up the justice in their destructive silliness…

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Jury Duty

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Scams have been in the news lately. With the holidays about to roll up on us,  fraudulent activity also picks up speed.

Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to phone-related scams involving Medicare plans at this time of year. November 15- December 31 is the open enrollment/changeover time if people wish to change their drug prescription plans.

However, one scam that everyone 18 and older should be aware of is the Jury Duty telephone scam.

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The court systems do not call you to “verify” anything. NEVER give out personal information over the telephone.

If they want you –they send a sheriff’s deputy with a warrant to pick you up.  

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Courthouse Parking Fees begin November 12

Let’s see, at every property revaluation, let’s lower the tax rate by 3 or 4 cents, and tap into the reserve funds to balance the county budget.

Then, we can justify fee-for-service where only those who use the service have to pay the fee.

It is simple, democratic, and fair for all who would be using the service, right?

Well in this case the newly instituted parking fees for “close in” parking near the courthouse in Gastonia have a few detractors who don’t like the idea of walking or being inconvenienced by a few extra feet.

In the case of attorneys who frequent the courthouse, we are sure that they have already figured a way to incorporate their “inconvenience” into their fee structures. So, who really loses and who really wins in this instance?

Did the county consider the parking “spread” in their plans when the new courthouse was built? They considered future use of the courthouse — by building an additional floor for future use. But where to put all the cars that people drive to get to the shiny edifice? Well, let’s plan for a parking deck — and figure out how to pay for it sometime later.

As our attention turns from municipal elections to county-related issues this might be one question to ask candidates and incumbents for any office. As with all OPM (other people’s money) questions, what are your plans to manage future costs and maintenance?

We feel that the $80-100,000 per year fee generation is a bit overly optimistic on county staffers budget estimates, and who is to say that this particular designation for offsets will hold past any election rhetoric?

As for us poor people who occasionally need to go to the court house, the one-block walk or the cross-over from the Main Avenue free parking side of town is not that big of a deal, even for the in-and-out errands.