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Archive for September, 2008

Speaking of Mayberry, the Andy Griffith Museum had its big groundbreaking during the weekend, with or without the ground (it was moved inside because of the rain). There were cheers, tears and plenty of uplifting sentiments, some coming from Andy Griffith himself via a letter.

Yet one week earlier, there was a moment of awkward silence that theoretically could have thrown the whole thing apart.

The $650,000 museum is slated to go next to the Andy Griffith Playhouse on land owned by the city. Therefore the city has to sign off on its construction. Since there are no city funds being committed (it’s $300,000 form the state, $150,000 from the county and $100,000 from a foundation) the matter was placed on the consent agenda, which is typically approved without any discussion. But Commissioners requested that it be pulled off for a separate debate. And when Mayor Jack Loftis asked for a motion to approve the project, he was met with silence.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to greenlight the project after Loftis prodded a bit. But first came questions about whether it would generate city costs down the road because of parking and maintenance needs. Groundbreaking or not, this museum still has a lot of steps to go through before actual construction begins, and the council’s hesitancy indicates some of those steps could become hurdles.

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Mayberry out west

Just got back in from vacation, so I missed out on all the Mayberry Days hoopla. But there was no escaping Mayberry talk. Of the 30-40 people I met during the trip not hailing from North Carolina, none knew where Mount Airy was located. Some could barely even recognize Winston-Salem’s location. But a fair chunk placed me once Andy Griffith entered the conversation, whether or not they were fans of the show. I’m guessing anyone from here who travels gets stuck with that identifier during small talk. Or are there alternative responses for when someone from Texas, Chicago, Oregon, Japan, etc. asks “where are you from?”

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The Surry Early College High School of Design has a problem with a name — and it’s not the mouthful that it goes by.

In the broad scheme of things, this problem ranks somewhere at the bottom of the priority scale, but it’s still kind of fun to ponder solutions.

Here’s the trouble: this year, the third year for the school, the highest level students are juniors, just as they would be at any other high school. Things are going to get tricky for them next year, though.

The Early College (as we’ll call it to save both space and ink) is a novel concept in which its students attend for five years at the Dobson campus, at the end of which they will graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. In essence, these students will be cramming six years worth of education into five.

Back to this year’s current  juniors. What will they be called next year? The natural thing would be “seniors.” But this isn’t a “natural” school.

If they are to be called seniors in their fourth year, what’s that make them in the fifth? They certainly aren’t freshmen (or “freshwomen,” if there even is such a word), because freshmen don’t graduate from community college. And they couldn’t be sophomores without having undergone all the pain and ridicule that the upper classes heap upon the frosh.

So if they’re not seniors, are they “sub-seniors”? Or maybe they are seniors in the fourth year and then become “super-seniors” in the fifth.

Think this is a tough one? We aren’t even addressing the issue of whether or not these students should go through a graduation exercise after their fourth year.

So do you have a suggestion for a name for the fourth- and fifth-year students at the Early College? Post a response to our blog here.

The ones we’ve suggested so far are all we can come up with. Perhaps because we’re having a senior moment.

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It’s the equation those puzzling over a controversial rezoning request have to sort through as they decide whether Mount Airy’s vision plan is out-of-date and thus not appropriate for use in evaluating whether 401 S. Renfro St. be approved for business use.

The vision plan, a guiding document that comprehensively gathers data on the city, says that corridor is fine for mixed use. Those opposed to the rezoning, however, point out that most of its information dates back to the late 1990s. Does that make it irrelavent? Has there been significant changes in the city in the past decade that change the scope of Mount Airy’s outlook on planning and growth?

I was still a high schooler in Asheville in the late 1990s, but can recognize there’s been numerous changes to the city itself. Not sure if they’re to the extent that planning and policy decisions should be guided by a different sort of principles. But that’s why the vision plan is due for an update. What comes out of the updating process (which will take place even if the rezoning request is settled Thursday) does impact everyone who lives in the area, whether or not you have a stake in the current controversy.

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Last week the Mount Airy City Council quickly approved a new ordinance banning all registered sex offenders from city parks, a copy of which can be read here.

It’s not exactly breaking new ground. Everyone from Marion to Greensboro to Gastonia to Charlotte has passed or seriously considered this ban following the dismissal of a suit on a near identical ordinance in Woodfin. No one doubts the importance of keeping children protected from child predators, the question is whether this is just a symbolic gesture or will have any tangible impact on public safety. Who enforces the policy for one thing? Will it really stop a convicted sex offender from entering the park? Will it give a false sense of security to parents?

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We’ve reported both on the unveiling of plans to renovate the Spencer’s Mill complex (outlined on the arial photograph above) and on some of the steps needed before this project becomes more than just ideas on paper.

No one’s setting dates for construction to start anytime soon, but there are fairly detailed conceptual plans to peruse regarding developer The Landmark Group’s assessment of each of the 22 buildings. I’ve scanned a few for those curious. Check this link for an overview of where the 22 buildings are located, this link for more detail on the convention center part, or this link for a breakdown of square footage.

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