This week we have a special edition of NC SPIN featuring four Mayors from North Carolina. They include:
Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh
Mayor Bill Bell, Durham
Mayor Jill Swain, Huntersville
Mayor B.J. Murphy, Kinston
This week we have a special edition of NC SPIN featuring four Mayors from North Carolina. They include:
Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh
Mayor Bill Bell, Durham
Mayor Jill Swain, Huntersville
Mayor B.J. Murphy, Kinston
Greenville City Council 2013-03-07 QuadEast Resolution
Wayne Brock, chief Scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America, center, takes a photo with attendees of the BSA luncheon Tuesday at the Woodmen Community Center. Brock, who grew up in Deep Run, was named the Distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Caswell District of the East Carolina Council of the BSA.
Janet S. Carter / The Free Press
One of Lenoir County’s own has not only risen to the top of one of America’s favorite national organizations, he was honored with a prestigious award Tuesday.
Wayne Brock, chief Scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America since September, was honored as the Distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Caswell District of the East Carolina Council of the BSA at the Woodmen Community Center.
To some, Brock, who grew up in Deep Run, is a member of the Lenoir County family.
Ford Coley, Caswell District chairman, considers him as a “local son” who has come back home to be recognized for his “journey in life.”
“It’s a recognition of an individual who has been unselfish in pretty much everything he or she has done,” he said, “and in this particular case, of course, Wayne Brock has been totally committed to the Scouting organization.”
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said he is excited Brock chose to come back to Kinston to give back to the community in which he grew up.
“The city is glowing today,” he said, “because we’ve got one of own sons here that has made it to the big stage.”
Brock, 64, has been involved in Scouting for 56 years, including more than 41 years employed by the Boy Scouts.
His father, a highway patrolman in Pamlico County, had seen enough of young people with the proverbial idle hands and who were frequently in trouble with the law to know he needed to keep his two sons busy and out of trouble.
“So one day when I turned 8,” Brock said, “he literally just took me across the street to Mrs. Woodard’s house — who was a den leader — to join the Cub Scouts. He didn’t ask me. He just took me across the street, which I’m very thankful that he did because that started me on this journey today.”
That journey continued when his family moved to Lenoir County when he was in the sixth grade and he joined the Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster Jack Everette. He worked on Camp Charles, owned by the East Carolina Council, and later earned the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Arrow Distinguished Award.
Ray Franks, Scout executive of the East Carolina Council, said Brock taught him how to swim, and the two of them were members of the Council back in 1975 when it moved from Wilson to Kinston.
“We’re very proud of Wayne,” Franks said, “and the leadership he’s provided to the Boy Scouts of America, nationally.”
A graduate of South Lenoir High School, he earned a degree in music from East Carolina University. He began his career in Scouting through the urgings of his brother-in-law, a Boy Scout employee.
“I know what it did for me personally,” he said about Scouting. “… I taught school for a year, but then I decided to go to work for the Boy Scouts because I just knew the benefit that it had for young people.”
Those benefits start with a strong dose of leadership. Starting around age 12, boys are selected to head up patrols of six to eight younger boys. They are responsible for such tasks as planning menus, overseeing camp setup and making sure their patrol members carry out their duties, Brock said.
“You really learn leadership by doing it,” he said. “And Scouting’s a safe environment for you to fail. And that’s important, too. Sometimes you learn as much from your failures as you do your successes.”
It seems to have worked for Brock, who continues living the lessons he’s learned and later taught.
“I just always just try to do the best job I can do,” he said, “and, hopefully, if I did the best job I could do, people would recognize that and they would want your talents.”
That recognition has taken him up the ranks through many packs, troops, posts and now to the top. However, according to the national Boy Scout bylaws, the chief executive must retire at the age of 65. Brock is 64 now.
“So our board made a one-time waiver to that rule so that I could serve until age 67,” he said. “So that’ll be in 2015.”
Brock, now based in Irving, Texas, has made significant contributions through the years to the BSA. One was a program he developed in the classroom that increased the percentage of children joining the Scouts. He was also successful in fundraising efforts.
Those two areas, programming and finances, are vital considerations when selecting the Citizen of the Year candidate, John Leighton, Caswell District Friend of Scouting chairman, said.
“I think (Brock’s) extremely qualified — 41 years in Scouting,” Leighton said.
The Caswell District, which includes Lenoir and Greene counties, raised about $36,000 during Tuesday’s event, bringing the total funds raised to about $67,000 towards its $90,000 goal this year, he said.
Brock has been married to Kinston native Ernestine for 45 years. The two dated through high school and have a grown son who was a Boy Scout, like his father. Ernestine Brock said it’s an honor and “icing on the cake” for her husband to receive the Citizen of the Year award.
“I attribute Boy Scouts and his parents to the man he is today,” she said, “which is a wonderful father, wonderful husband and a fantastic leader.”
Margaret Fisher can be reached at 252-559-1082 orMargaret.Fisher@Kinston.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kinston.com.
By Wesley Brown
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, March 2
A $300 million, 100-mile Interstate loop proposal to connect airports, medical centers, industry and college campuses in eastern North Carolina was recognized by state legislators last week as a way to promote regional growth.
Developed by Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas, the highway system is being branded as the foundation of “Quad East,” a cooperative network of communities united to give the coastal plain a competitive economic advantage, much like the alliances formed in the Piedmont Triad, Research Triangle and Charlotte Metro areas.
The Greenville City Council plans to take the lead on Thursday by passing a resolution in support of the measure, with the hope that municipalities and boards of commissioners in Pitt, Greene, Lenoir, Wilson, Nash and Wayne counties will follow in March and April.
The step is being called transformational, as representatives from across the region, some of whom have already pledged their support, plan to watch at City Hall as the council signs the resolution.
“Everybody stands to benefit,” Thomas said of the movement in a telephone interview last week. “The enthusiasm about working together as a region is a very significant step and connecting transportation corridors is the key building block to making economic opportunity a reality.”
Thomas said every step involved in developing the initiative is going to take a combined effort, a requirement state Sen. Louis Pate said has been “pretty well received” by his fellow delegates, whose districts cover Pitt County.
Pate hosted the mayor, City Manager Barbara Lipscomb and city attorney Dave Holec in his Raleigh office on Feb. 20 to discuss Greenville’s 2013 legislative initiatives.
The meeting lasted more than an hour, with area senator Don Davis and N.C. representatives Susan Martin, Brian Brown and Jean Farmer-Butterfield attending to help seek new revenue sources for the city, support the state Department of Transportation’s equity formula and continue funding for regional economic development, as requested by council.
Pate said the Quad East concept was introduced by Thomas and the group had a “good exchange” about the details of the plan, which includes an estimated $75 million in federal upgrades to N.C. 11 and U.S. highways 70 and 264 and the use of Kinston’s Harvey Parkway and Interstate 795 in Goldsboro to connect East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center with the Global Trans-Park and Seymour Johnson Air Force.
“We were pleased to see Greenville was at the forefront of the pack and excited to hear they are making some cooperative plans with other communities in the area,” Pate said.
The mayor sent a thank you letter to each of the legislators two days later, expressing appreciation on behalf of the City Council for the representative’s willingness to discuss and consider all initiatives, which he felt would “enhance the ability of the city to meet its citizens needs.”
Lipscomb said this week in council economic development subcommittee meetings she felt the conversation had lots of promise.
“Over time, hopefully we will see more regional cooperation and the development of initiatives that will move us all together toward significant economic growth,” Lipscomb said.
Pate agreed with the manager’s assessment.
“I think that (highway infrastructure) is one of the things that has held us back economically,” the senator said. “We should be providing the infrastructure that is necessary so that business can develop.”
Pitt County and Greenville leaders are not the only ones who are supporting the concept.
District engineers with the state Department of Transportation have given positive feedback. Plus, Ayden Mayor Steve Tripp, Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy and Lenoir County Commissioner J. Mac Daughety have committed as “major players,” Thomas said.
“The Quad East concept of bringing the Interstate through Pitt and Lenoir counties and connecting it to existing Interstates in Wilson and Wayne counties could be the single-most effective way of growing eastern North Carolina in the next 20 to 30 years,” Murphy said.
Murphy, who attended a follow-up meeting in Greenville last week on the measure, said the only thing on which he is waiting feedback before the Kinston City Council adopts a resolution in full support of the idea is North Carolina Senate Bill 127.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Harry Brown, R-Jacksonville, would establish seven administrative districts across North Carolina, in which regional offices of the state departments of transportation and environment and natural resources would be consolidated to create a one-stop source for citizens and businesses needing assistance.
“I am in full support as long as it does not interfere with the bill,” Murphy said of Quad East.
“The concept is fantastic,” Murphy said. “The idea of finally getting an Interstate shield from the N.C. Global Trans-Park in Kinston to East Carolina University and Vidant Health in Greenville; to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro and the Wilson County Agricultural Center would be a major benefit to the region.”
Interstate 795 is already in full swing. The Goldsboro Bypass on U.S. 70 connecting La Grange to Wayne County is under construction. Kinston’s Harvey Parkway is halfway complete. And the Southwestern Bypass, a $226 million state-funded highway between Greenville and Ayden, is on the drawing board and could be accelerated.
“It is very real to think this project could be completed in the next 10 to 15 years,” Murphy said.
There are some weeks where I struggle to come up with a good idea for a column. But then there are those weeks where I could seriously write a column every day.
Last week would fall into the latter category. There was literally a big news story breaking every single day — so, dear reader, please allow me to take a few minutes of your precious Sunday and share my opinion on a few things that filled your Kinston Daily Free Press last week.
B.J. MURPHY’S DECISION NOT TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION : The most surprising news to hit Kinston in 2013 came Tuesday morning when Kinston’s young mayor, B.J. Murphy, announced he was not going to run for re-election in November.
To many — myself included — it was a foregone conclusion the 32-year-old, considered an up-and-comer by statewide Republicans, would run for the office he initially won in an upset in 2009.
However, citing familial obligations and potentially preparing for a future race for another office, Murphy decided against running for mayor this year.
Like everyone else, I was surprised. One thing I’ve discovered about the young mayor is he’s not afraid of a fight — and November was shaping up to be a slobberknocker between him and whoever the local Democratic Party was going to send against him. I know there was a part of him that was relishing the opportunity to prove 2009 wasn’t a fluke.
Now, it won’t happen, which leads to the next logical question: who is going to run for mayor? Names I’ve heard bandied about include current city councilman, Joe Tyson — although he told me unequivocally he is not interested in the position. Although he said the thing about running for another term on the council the last time around and ultimately ran again, I believe him. Tyson is one of the smartest men in this town and he knows he has more power on the council than he does as the mayor.
Danny Rice is another potential candidate; the energetic sparkplug behind the successful Woodmen Community Center coming to Kinston is universally admired. He’s retired and has a genuine love and affection for this community and would be a formidable candidate.
I’ve heard Kinston City Councilman Robby Swinson’s name bandied about as a potential candidate, too; but with his own young family, a successful business to run and health issues (he’s still recovering from a heart attack in late 2012), I doubt he’ll run for mayor — although he’s a virtual lock if he decides to run for his council seat again.
Other names out there in the ether include retired Kinston Department of Public Safety Director Greg Smith, Lenoir-Greene United Way Director June Cummings, former councilman Jimmy Cousins and Platinum Club owner Tharol Branch. All would be solid candidates for the position.
Regardless of who is the next mayor of Kinston, Murphy has earned respect for the job he’s done — turning a position that was almost entirely ceremonial into a true advocate for Kinston and its people. I’m interested to see what happens in the next chapter of his political career.
Murphy joined Jon Dawson and I on last week’s Free Press Radio Show to discuss his decision, his future and his thoughts on potential successors, among many other topics. You can listen to the show by going to Kinston.com, scrolling down to the Web Exclusives tab and then clicking on the link.
Which leads us to …
BOARD OF ELECTIONS SEEKS TO OUST DANA KING : One of the subjects we discussed with Murphy on The Free Press Radio Show was the Lenoir County Board of Elections attempt to oust its director, Dana King. On our show, Murphy was adamant that he thought the move was a vendetta against King.
Of the current three-person board of Chairman Sharon Kanter, Secretary Oscar Herring and Kim Allison, Murphy said, “(The current board has) had it out for (King) since Day 1.”
I’ve read the 106-page petition the board sent to N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett … and it’s pretty damning, if the allegations included in it are true. You can view the petition online here: co.lenoir.nc.us/documents/BOE01222013-Redacted.pdf.
I know this much — since assuming the managing editor role of The Free Press in June 2008, I’ve dealt with King and her office on dozens of occasions. She has always — and I mean ALWAYS — been readily accessible to me, my reporters and my photographers.
We’ve surprised her at the last minute on multiple occasions with story and photo requests of her and her workers and she’s complied 100 percent. When I or a reporter has needed to talk to her about a story, if she doesn’t answer the phone immediately, she calls back as soon as possible.
Dana King has always been a consummate professional in her dealings with The Free Press.
After Murphy’s story appeared online at Kinston.com, I — along with Jon Dawson and Christina Alphin (Murphy’s secretary) received an email from Kanter. In it (which you can view at my blog at bhanks.encblogs.com/?p=8115), Kanter (along with Herring and Allison) take issue with Murphy’s stance on our show.
Among other items, the letter to Murphy states, “The rumors are wrong. Contrary to their — and your — stated perception, this Board has not been ‘out to get’ the Elections Director, from ‘Day 1’ or at any time since then.”
After receiving the email, I forwarded it to Free Press Publisher and Editor Patrick Holmes (my boss and “the buck stops here” guy at your paper) and asked him if we could run it as a letter to the editor. He said we couldn’t since we don’t run letters to the editor addressed to a third party (in this case, to Murphy). However, I was instructed that if Kanter rewrote the letter and addressed it to the editor, we would consider it for publication in The Free Press.
I decided to run the email in its entirety on my blog; the letter was from a public board to a mayor and nowhere in the letter did it say “Top Secret,” “For Your Eyes Only,” “Off the Record” or the like.
Additionally, the email was sent to a managing editor of a newspaper and a columnist (Dawson), along with Alphin.
Not long after I posted the letter on my blog, I received a scathing email from Kanter — who I’ve never personally met, to the best of my knowledge — in which she questioned my “journalistic training and/or integrity,” among other blasts.
We had a couple of heated email exchanges back and forth, but the crux of the situation is this common sense note: If you send an email or letter to a reporter, editor, photographer or columnist of a newspaper, you are granting implicit permission to publish the content of that email or letter in the newspaper or online UNLESS you clearly state you don’t want it published.
When Kanter emailed me the original letter to Murphy, there were no conditions placed on that letter. It was a letter to the mayor and sent to Murphy’s secretary, to me and to Dawson. Later, she decided she didn’t want it for public viewing and when I refused to pull it from my blog, that’s when she began to question my training and/or integrity.
This brings us back to the original issue — the BOE’s attempt to remove King as director. As stated above, I’ve never had an iota of concern with her performance; she’s literally bent over backwards to accommodate your Free Press and your Constitutional right to know what is going on with her department in the pages of your local newspaper.
I’ve peripherally known Herring for a long time and found him to be a man of high character. I became acquainted with Allison a little bit last year when she ran unsuccessfully for the county clerk’s office and, like Herring, found her to be of high character.
But for a person who doesn’t personally know me — Kanter — to question my character (she accused me in her final email exchange that I’m attempting to “advance my political cred”) is, for lack of a better word, ridiculous.
Dana King might lose her job and if she does, it’s a serious loss for our county. But after initial contact with one of the people trying to fire her, it makes King’s case for staying on the job that much stronger to me.
GRAHAM ATTEMPTING TO TAX FROM RALEIGH : In 2008 and 2012, the voters of Lenoir County clearly stated they do not want a 1/4-cent sales tax, the last time in an overwhelming 2-to-1 vote.
Evidently, freshman N.C. Rep. George Graham, the longtime Democratic Lenoir County Commission chairman didn’t get that message. He proposed a bill Thursday giving the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners the ability to put that 1/4-cent sales tax in place without a public vote — if the commissioners decide to do so.
Some factors are in play here, though; first, with a Republican super-majority in the House, I have more of a chance of becoming America’s Next Top Model than this bill does of even getting out of committee.
Secondly, the county commissioners are not dumb enough to enact this power if it is given to them. When every single precinct in Lenoir County rejected it last year, that should have been a clear enough signal to Graham or anyone that citizens here don’t want it.
In the interest of full disclosure, I really didn’t have a problem with the proposed 1/4-cent sales tax — there is no fairer tax than one in which everyone who purchases goods has to pay the same thing. Without the money that tax would have generated, property taxes are probably going to go up and no one wants that.
But it’s a little shady to go against the will of your electorate and propose a tax bill they overwhelmingly rejected. Let’s hope Graham’s next bill proposal is one his electorate supports.
Bryan C. Hanks is the managing editor of The Free Press and his column appears in this space every Sunday. You can reach him at 252-559-1074 or at Bryan.Hanks@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at BCHanks.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent Podcast with Kinston Free Press’ Bryan Hanks and Jon Dawson:
Begin at 31:30
“Why in the world in the public school system do we focus so much on engineering and mathematics, like calculus, when most of the people aren’t going to go in to biometric fields and aerospace fields. Now there is a market, don’t get me wrong. We need to offer those classes. But we should be drilling into our students how to manage a checkbook. How to manage a debit card. How to manage a credit card.
“Why in the world would we only leave that up to the parents is beyond me, because we obviously as a culture, which is obvious with the debate in DC now with the federal deficit, we can’t even manage our own personal finances. So, how in the world would you expect some politicians in DC to do that for you?
“Why we put so much emphasis on that type of academia is beyond me. We should be drilling our students how to focus on a checkbook.”
On this week’s edition of The Free Press Radio Show, Bryan Hanks and Jon Dawson are joined by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, who talks about a variety of subjects, including his decision not to run for reelection, who he thinks might run to replace him, his future in politics and his opinion about the Lenoir County Board of Elections Director situation. Bryan and Jon also discuss area politics, the post office and introduce this week’s iPod Shuffle.
Click HERE to listen to the show.
Click HERE to read some of the Q&A.
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy kicks off Kinston’s 250th anniversary celebration with a speech last year. Earlier this week, Murphy announced he would not be running for re-election in November.
Zach Frailey / The Free Press
By Bryan Hanks, Managing Editor
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 21:33 PM.
On Thursday, Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy joined Free Press Managing Editor Bryan Hanks and Columnist Jon Dawson on The Free Press Radio Show to discuss a variety of topics following Murphy’s announcement earlier this week that he wouldn’t be running for re-election.
Following are some of Murphy’s responses to questions from Hanks and Dawson; go to Kinston.com for the complete interview.
The Free Press: How tough was the decision not to run for re-election?
B.J. Murphy: In terms of ranking life decisions, it was probably in my top 3. … Everything you do today has an impact on your life, not just tomorrow, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now. I’ve always taken life at that — it’s not just what I do today, it’s how the decisions today, no matter how big or small, they impact you exponentially throughout the years. …
I understand the likelihood that I’ll run for mayor again is diminished considerably because of this decision. It doesn’t mean I won’t consider running for mayor again but the likelihood has diminished because of the decision.
TFP: If you had decided to run (for re-election), would you have won?
BJM: Absolutely — and for a number of reasons. It would be my third time on the ballot and name recognition on a ballot is important. You’ve got to remember, there are only 4,000 to 5,000 voters in Kinston that vote in every election and that would be the third time they’d see my name on the ballot.
Another (reason) is the incumbency. Obviously, in some political years, being the incumbent is not good but historically speaking, an incumbent has a tremendous advantage. … The third reason is because of nonpartisan elections; that was going to play to my benefit this year. …
One thing I haven’t really talked about a lot and I probably won’t go into a lot of detail but one of the biggest things people have said me as a Republican that goes against me is the support in the black community. I’ll be honest, I have a lot more support in the black community than people either realize or would like to admit.
TFP: Why is that?
BJM: Because I grew up here. I was public school-educated; I went to Northwest (Elementary), Bynum (Elementary), Rochelle (Middle) and Kinston High School, LCC and East Carolina. My entire life was public school education. I was cross country, track and field and I played football for three years. I know a lot of the black community although I’m white.
It’s like I’ve explained to a lot of folks: my father’s generation, they went through integration so you could understand how that generation might have some racial tension issues. … But the thing I’ve mentioned when I’ve talked to people about race relations is my generation doesn’t have that same problem. We just don’t. … I grew up playing sports with black friends and white friends; that’s all we knew.
I grew up in a white home, but in a working class family. My mother was a retail merchant and my father was a bread man and it was a blue collar family. We just survived and we made it happen. … I lost my birth mother when I was 4. There’s a lot of things I can identify with the black community. … I’m a Republican but I have a lot more support there than people realize. …
Hands down, I would’ve won. But it’s all speculation now.
TFP: What is your opinion on the dust-up with the Lenoir County Board of Election’s dust-up with its director, Dana King?
BJM: I think the entire board needs to change. I don’t know how soon the board changes after the governor’s race, but the fact is you have a Republican governor, so you should have two Republican board members now. …
(The current board has) had it out for her since Day 1. The Democratic Party didn’t even tell the two former members they weren’t going to be gone. They replaced them with two new people. I like them; don’t get me wrong and it’s nothing personal. … Eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.
TFP: What is your advice for the next mayor of Kinston?
BJM: Continue to increase street resurfacing money and continue to engage people via social media. I think it’s real important and I think it’s going to become the norm in politics.
TFP: What is your future, politically?
BJM: It’s not the last election I’ll ever be involved in. I’m very confident I will run for another office one day. I live in three districts on the state and national level that would be favorable towards a candidacy like mine.
I have a good political base. Obviously, I’ve shown I can govern a community that is a majority minority town, a majority Democratic town and do it with class and getting things accomplished. I think there’s a good track record of working, quote-unquote, across the aisle, although I’ve always argued there’s not that partisanship on the local level or hyper-local level, at least.
No, I’m not done with politics. And no, I’m not announcing for any candidacy and no, I haven’t even considered a run for an office next year when those guys run in 2014. I really haven’t given it a thought.
My thought has always been, up until this decision, “How can I set myself up for a future race?” The best way thing I knew to do now was focus as much time and energy on my business. …
My political story is always going to precede me. I just need to become more successful in business now and add that chapter to my life and then see where we go in the future.
Want to hear more from this Q&A with Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy? Go to Kinston.com and click on The Free Press Radio Show for the complete interview.