The Week Ahead
Written by Greg Hankins   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 09:05

Sunday, September 28

• Rosary at Our Lady of the Americas Church – 8:00 am, 298 Market Rd. Biscoe, 974-3051.

• WEUMC Centennial Celebration – special worship services at 8:30 am and 11:00 am. The community is invited to come and worship with West End United Methodist Church as they celebrate their 100th Anniversary.

• St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church – 9:30 am, Holy Communion. 1145 Seven Lakes Drive. 673-3838.

• Home and Garden & Lifestyle Expo – 12 pm to 5 pm, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, at the Southern Pines Country Club and Elks Lodge, Southern Pines. Expo is a premiere event in a new tradition of providing innovative ideas about changing homes, offices, gardens and personal lifestyles. Exhibitors will be showing the newest and best ideas in dealing with the issues of building, home improvements, kitchen and bath updates, outdoor living, interior décor and lifestyle improvements. Family event. Admission $5 adults, free for children under 16. Proceeds benefit local non-profit organizations, youth scholarships and humanitarian aid programs.

• West End United Methodist Church Explorers – 5 pm – 6:30 pm, for children grades K-5. A time of learning, crafts and activities before eating dinner with the youth from 6 – 6:30 pm. Children’s ministry, explore God’s Word through scripture, crafts, games. West End United Methodist Church, 4015 NC Highway 73, West End, 673-1371.

• West End United Methodist Church Youth Group – 6 – 7:30 pm in the Youth Room at the church. Youth Ministry led by Mandy Allen, open to all youth in 6th – 12th grades. Enjoy fellowship, study and a meal. West End United Methodist Church, 4015 NC Highway 73, West End, 673-1371.

Monday, September 29

• Weight Watchers Meeting – 5 pm to 6 pm, at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, 1145 Seven Lakes Drive, Seven Lakes. Group leader Armecia Medlock.

Tuesday, September 30

• Healing Service – 11 am, St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church. 1145 Seven Lakes Dr., Seven Lakes. Intercessory prayers for the sick & troubled, those in harms way, traveling, bereaved or deceased. Reverend Carol Burgess. All are welcome.

• Women's Volleyball at Seven Lakes Baptist Church – 6 pm to 8 pm, open gym for Women's Volleyball. Connie McDermott coordinator. Participants are requested to familiarize themselves with the basic skills of volleyball, so they can come ready to play. Seven Lakes Baptist Church, Hankins Family Life Center, 1015 Seven Lakes Drive, 910-673-4656.

September 19 Times Ready to Download
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 17:00

The September 19 edition of The Seven Lakes Times is now available for download in pdf format. You can download a high-quality PDF here, or, if you have a slower internet connection, download a smaller PDF here.

Highlights of this 32-page edition include:

- Foxfire Village has annexed several additional lots in the Grande Pines subdivision, but the council is wary of taking in lots that lack the infrastructure needed to provide water from the village system.

- Safety concerns in a recent Seven Lakes West town hall focused on speeding.

- A suggestion that the SLLA increase the allowed boat lengths on Lake Sequoia got a thorough hearing but no support in a recent board work session.

- The new Moore County Schools [MCS] budget includes the raises for teachers negotiated in the state budget process, but also contains cuts in a number of areas.

- MCS wants to get rid of the former Academy Heights School. Taylortown can't afford it. The county doesn't want to pay for it twice. But the STARS Charter School might like to use it for a high school.

- MCS and Moore County's Commissioners are working together to find a way to meet the school district's facilities needs without raising taxes.

- The county's property revaluation process is cranking up, with the publication of the "schedule of values" -- criteria that will be used to put a value on individual properties. Citizen input is invited at a public hearing on October 7.

- Three area churches teamed up to fill West End Presbyterian's Crawford Center with volunteers, who in turn filled more than 60,000 packets with nutritious meals for distribution to hungry people worldwide.

- The Seven Lakes Prescription Shoppe has added a new compounding lab, providing medications tailor-made for individual patients.

- David Wilson wants to put a commercial solar farm on land in the Foxfire ETJ -- the latest step in caring for his family's land.

- Chris ponders how it is, exactly, that we are supposed to love our enemies.

Download the high-quality PDF edition (or, if you have a slower internet connection download a lower-quality pdf edition) and read it all this morning, pick up a copy at locations all over Seven Lakes this afternoon, or check your mailbox tomorrow.

Jon Sedlak Appointed to Foxfire Council
Written by Ellen Marcus, Times Reporter   
Saturday, 05 July 2014 10:54

Foxfire Logo

The Foxfire Village Council has appointed Jon Sedlak to serve out the unexpired term of Councilman George Erickson. Erickson, who served as mayor for the past nine years, resigned effective July 1, because he is moving to Florida, for at least part of the year.

Sedlak will replace Erickson as a member of the council, but not, necessarily, as mayor. The council will need to elect a mayor from among its members at a future meeting.

Sedlak served as the village's Water Superintendent for six years. His appointment came at the conclusion of a Thursday, July 3 special meeting, during which council members interviewed both Sedlak and Helen Kirk, the only other applicant for Erickson's seat.

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Durham presided over the meeting, with council members Mick McCue, Leslie Frusco, and Vic Koos present.

Helen Kirk and John Sedlak 

If at First You Don’t Succeed

The two candidates were interviewed individually, and each candidate sat in on the other’s interview. They were also invited to stay afterward and observe the council's deliberations.

“You are welcome to stay,” Durham said. “It goes without saying, thanks to the both of you for applying and your interest. Getting volunteers these days is difficult, and we appreciate both of you. In a year and a half, there are likely to be a couple of openings, so you can reapply.”

The next regular municipal elections will be held in November 2015, when the terms of seat occupied by Durham and, now, Sedlak, will expire.

“It’s an open meeting,” McCue added, but neither Sedlak nor Kirk chose to stay.

“We don’t have any closed meetings around here,” Frusco noted.

Shelter searching for dog from Seven Lakes West
Written by Greg Hankins   
Monday, 23 June 2014 21:08

AlmaThe Moore County Animal Shelter is asking for help locating a dog that scaled the shelter fence to escape — and may be headed home to Seven Lakes West.

On Sunday morning, Alma, a six to seven year old Australian Shepherd Mix, climbed over a fence topped with barbed wire, and then climbed over the gate at entrance to the shelter parking lot. Volunteers and staff ran after her down the driveway to NC Highway 15/501, and then searched for her, to no avail.

Alma was turned over to the shelter when her owner, a resident of Seven Lakes West, died.

The shelter staff report that she was despondent and clearly grieving for the loss of her owner.

Because her home was in Seven Lakes West, Animal Center staff believe she could be headed back in the direction of Seven Lakes.

If you find a dog fitting Alma's description, contact The Animal Center at 910-947-2858. They were hoping to place her with a foster family.

Citizens Ask Commissioners to Make Education Top Priority
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Thursday, 05 June 2014 08:04

Moore County LogoThe annual public hearing on Moore County's budget is seldom a pleasant experience, for either the folks speaking or the commissioners listening.

Funding for public schools is generally the focus — which is not surprising, given that funding for education makes up forty-two percent of the county's general fund budget.

It's not uncommon for speakers to insinuate — when they don't come right out and say it — that the Moore County Board of Commissioners are underfunding education and playing fast and loose with the future of Moore County's children.

But, this year, it was different.

The dozen speakers who took turns at the microphone during the Tuesday, June 3 hearing on County Manager Wayne Vest's proposed FY2015 budget spent as much time thanking the commissioners for their continued support of the schools — and their recent advocacy for school funding in Raleigh — as they did pressing the case for additional school funding.

NC Senate Budget Would Cost Moore County Schools $2.7 Million
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 10:52

MCS LogoUnder pressure from their constituents to increase the salaries of North Carolina's school teachers, which currently rank near the bottom nationally, the Republican leadership in Raleigh has pledged to come up with raises for teachers in FY2015. Both Governor Pat McCrory and the NC Senate have produced budgets that do just that.

But the devil is always in the details, as Mike Griffin, Moore County Schools Director of Budget, explained to the Board of Education during their Monday, June 2 meeting.

"Any time there are initiatives funded in a budget, you always want to know where they are getting the funding to do that," Griffin told the Board.

Senate budget cuts MCS by $2.7 million

The budget approved by the NC Senate just after midnight on Saturday, May 31, could cost Moore County $2.7 million, Griffin said. That's more than the increase in local funding the school district sought from the county for FY2015. The district's total budget for FY2015 is $106 million; that includes anticipated state funding of $64 million, a total that does not include the Senate's newly-proposed cuts.

The Senate budget would save money primarily by doing away with teaching assistants in second and third grade classrooms. That would eliminate 65 teacher assistants in Moore County and cost the district $1.9 million in funding, Griffin said. In addition, 6.5 classroom teaching positions would be lost, increasing class sizes in grades two and three.

The Senate budget would completely defund MCS' drivers education program, a $230,000 cut that would likely shift the cost of driver training onto individual families.

Griffin pointed out that state funding for drivers ed had been cut from $280,000 to $230,000 in this year's budget, resulting in a $55 charge for each family taking advantage of the program. The elimination of state funding would raise the cost to $250 per student, Griffin said, or drivers ed "would become totally privatized."

Additional cuts in the Senate budget include $257,000 from the transportation budget and $45,000 to the central office.

"This is a dramatic, dramatic impact on our budget, if this goes forward," Griffin said.

The Senate's budget uses those cuts to provide an average eleven percent increase in teacher's pay, though that raise is contingent upon teachers agreeing to give up tenure.

No County Tax Increase Planned
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Saturday, 24 May 2014 06:10

Moore County LogoThere’s no tax increase in the FY2015 budget that Moore County Manager Wayne Vest proposed to the Board of Commissioners during their Tuesday, May 20 regular meeting.

If ultimately approved, the budget would hold the property tax rate at 46.5 cents per hundred dollars of valuation, where it has been since FY2010. On top of that, County property owners would continue to pay two cents per hundred for the county's Advanced Life Support levy, which funds Moore County EMS.

Fire district tax rates, which range from a low of four cents in Seven Lakes to a high of eleven cents in the Cranes Creek district, will also remain unchanged, with one exception. West End Fire and Rescue is seeking a one cent increase, from 5.9 cents to 6.9 cents, to pay for new equipment.

The total proposed budget, net of internal transfers between the various county funds, is $120.8 million, up $943,315 from last year's initial budget.

The county budget is made up of a number of funds, some of which do not depend on tax dollars to operate — for example, public utilities, which derives its revenue from the rates customers pay for water and sewer service.

Taxes go primarily to support the general fund, budgeted at $89.9 million, a $1.9 million increase over last year's budget. General fund expenditures include core government services like schools and law enforcement.

Commissioners praise manager, budget team

The commissioners were generous in their praise of Vest and the budget team.

"In the last six budgets," Commissioner Picerno said, "the property taxes in our county, paid buy our taxpayers, has either been reduced or maintained. This was no small feat. Many in America still say that this was one of the most difficult, and economic terms, that our country has ever faced."

Commissioner Jimmy Melton said that Vest's budget was "the best budget that I have seen in my time on the board."

Commissioners Move Toward Creating Fire Commission
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Saturday, 24 May 2014 06:01

Moore County LogoMoore County Commissioners Nick Picerno and Otis Ritter have been assigned the task of further refining a proposal for a new Fire Commission to oversee the county's fire, rescue and EMS organizations.

Public Safety Director Bryan Phillips presented the proposal, developed by the Public Safety Department in consultation with the Fire Chiefs Association, during the Board of Commissioners Tuesday, May 20 regular meeting. If enacted, it would create a commissioner-appointed board to replace the Emergency Services Advisory Committee [ESAC], which was disbanded earlier this year.

A recent comprehensive study conducted by the consulting firm VFIS recommended the creation of a fire commission as a step toward standardizing and unifying the county's fire and EMS services.

The role of the panel, as Phillips detailed it, is primarily to review and make recommendations to the commissioners in areas affecting fire, rescue, and EMS, including operating and capital budgets, volunteer retention and recruitment, fire protection system improvements, operational regulations and guidelines, and training standards.

Phillips proposed a commission with nine voting members, one alternate, and four non-voting members drawn from the Public Safety staff.

Five citizen members would be drawn from each of the county's commissioner districts, while four fire service members would be drawn from each of four fire service regions. The President of the Moore County Firefighter's Association would serve as an ex officio member, but also as an alternate if one of the fire service representatives is unable to attend a meeting.

The Public Safety Director, Fire Marshal, and E-911 manager would serve as non-voting members.

Phillips said the commission would help achieve some of the recommendations from the VFIS study, including:

• Standardization across districts, which helps improve interoperability and efficiency;

• Long range planning for equipment, apparatus and personnel; and

• A simplified budgeting process.

Time Running Out for Pine Forest Development
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Saturday, 24 May 2014 05:55

Moore County LogoTime is short for the developer of of a 1652-acre Planned Unit Development that, if built, would stretch from West End to Pinewild and from NC Highway 211 to NC Highway 73.

The zoning permit for Pine Forest — a proposed development that was to include 700 homes, 300 hotel rooms, two-golf courses, and a shopping village — is set to expire on September 6, thirty-six months after it was approved by the Moore County Board of Commissioners.

Planning Director Debra Ensminger provide the commissioners with an update on the project during their May 20 meeting.

"Along with the rezoning," Ensminger said, "a board order was executed that listed ordinance standards and additional conditions that must be followed during the development process. And I stand before you tonight to share that nothing of that order has been completed. We are just where we were on September 6, 2011, today, May 20, 2014.

"Some requirements have to be executed by September 6, 2014, or that permit goes away," Chairman Larry Caddell reiterated.

"There are a number of things that are in front of the developer between now and September," County Manager Vest explained.

Top Swimmers Take A Spin 'Round Lake Echo Saturday
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:46

Swimmer in Echo

Members of the Sandhill Sandsharks Swim Team will be swimming in Seven Lakes North's Lake Echo on Saturday, May 24 from 7:30 am to 10:00 am.

Among the swimmers expected at Saturday's swim are Olympian Alex Meyer and world champions Ashley Twichell and Chloe Sutton.

It's the second day of the team's annual Shark-A-Thon, which raises money for training equipment, awards, a banquet, and pool rental. The team will be swimming at the O'Neal Pool on Friday, May 23 from 4:15 pm to 7:30 pm.

Saturday's swim at Echo also serves as practice for the NC Open Water Swim Championships, which will be held at Lake Echo on June 6 & 7.

Folks who would like to support the team can make a flat donation or donate based on the distance covered by a particular swimmer.

For more information, visit the Sandsharks website.

'Welcome Center' Getting a Facelift
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 13:31

Welcome Center

The 30-year-old Seven Lakes Welcome Center is getting a facelift.

A crew was at work on Tuesday using a crane to remove the high steep-pitched roof from the building on Lakeway Drive at the entrance to Seven Lakes West, with trusses standing by for a new, lower-pitched top covering.

Building owner James Kirkpatrick told The Times that he plans to brick the exterior, updating the building's appearance.

MOR Group, one of the successor companies to original Seven Lakes developer Longleaf Inc., had the structure built as a sales office in 1984. It has been used by a succession of developers and Realtors in the years since.

Kirkpatrick has plans for a two-story professional office building on the cleared lot beside the former Welcome Center. That project has received a special non-residential intensity allowance from the county and a sedimentation and erosion control permit from the state, which allowed for the clearing of the tract.

But, according to the county Planning Department, the project awaits approvals of a septic or wastewater plan before it can move forward. An initial plan to use two residential lots on the opposite side of Lakeway Drive for septic fields ran afoul of Seven Lakes West Landowners Association rules and Westside covenants.

Kirkpatrick's company owns Seven Lakes Plaza Shopping Center, as well as a large inventory of lots within Seven Lakes West.

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