Where to put the concept high school?
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Sunday, 19 October 2014 20:45

Moore County Schools LogoThere are two key questions that need to be answered about the proposed 800-student "concept" high school on Moore County Schools' Master Facilities Plan.

The first question is what to teach there. You can read about that discussion on Page 7 of the October 17 Seven Lakes Times or here.

The second question is where to put the school.

Ever since the idea of a concept high school first saw the light of day in Moore County, the assumption among many, if not most, of its advocates has been that the new school would be conveniently located next to the campus of Sandhills Community College — quite likely built on land currently owned by the college.

But that idea has some folks wondering why the new school — which is supposed to be a driving force for economic development — would be built on the opposite end of the county from Robbins and North Moore — the part of the county that most desperately needs economic development.

Why place the school that houses the district's technical career training facility so far away from those students most likely to seek vocational training rather than college admission?

 
Putting the ‘concept’ in new concept high school
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Sunday, 19 October 2014 20:51

Moore County Schools LogoThe “concept” high school on Moore County Schools’ [MCS] Master Facilities Plan has caught the im-agination of the local business community.

“If we can pull this off, we open up a new day for our kids, in terms of their competence and competitiveness — and our ability to attract companies because we have the talent here,” Partners in Progress CEO Pat Corso told the Moore County Board of Commissioner in a recent meeting.

But the concept high school is also the least well-defined project on the Board of Education’s ten-year facilities wish list.

Increasing capacity at a high school, or building a new elementary school, are ideas easy to grasp. But what’s a “concept high school?”

During the school board’s, Monday, October 6 work session, MCS administrators began to flesh out the “concept.”

Associate Superintendents Dr. Kathy Kennedy and Dr. Eric Porter, along with Career and Technical Educational Specialist Amy Garner, presented the rough draft of a proposal for the school that would divide it into four separate, career-focused academies: life and health sciences; agriculture; design and production; and hospitality and culinary arts.

Introducing the presentation, Superintendent Robert Grimesey told the Board that it was “a fluid design that is still a work in progress.”

The design aims to give students the training they need to graduate from high school with marketable skills — or credits that can be transferred to a community college or four-year university. A close partnership with Sandhills Community College — and community colleges in surrounding counties — is an integral part of the plan.

Providing high school graduates with marketable skills was a key objective that surfaced in conversations with local business leaders, as well as conversations with parents led by former superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence, Kennedy said.

Though no location has been chosen for the new school, the idea of placing it on the SCC campus has been much talked about in public discussions of the idea.

 
Boards meet on funding for school facilities plan
Written by Greg Hankins, Editor   
Sunday, 19 October 2014 20:39

Moore County Schools LogoNo high-stepping marching band or cheering crowd of onlookers celebrated the event, but it would not be an exaggeration to call the Tuesday, October 14 joint meeting of the Moore County Board of Education and Moore County Commissioners “historic.”

It was little more than a decade ago that the two boards found themselves in a funding dispute so acrimonious that the school board sued the commissioners. It has taken many years for that chill to thaw.

What brought the two boards together on October 14 was the need to build and expand school facilities — to relieve overcrowding in high schools and elementary schools, to replace aging buildings, and to develop a new magnet high school that would offer students job training or a head start on their college career.

The standard playbook for building new schools has the school board developing a master facilities plan encompassing ten years and $50 $75, or $100 million in projects; voters approving the sale of school bonds; and commissioners figuring out how to pay back the principal and interest on all that borrowed money.

“We had always just pretty much been told that a bond was our only option,” school board member Laura Lang said during the joint meeting. “No one had ever said that we can borrow cheaper than we can do a bond . . . . Nobody had ever said that before.”

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

Sunday, October 19

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

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

• St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church Golf Tournament – noon lunch, 1 pm shotgun start at Seven Lakes Country Club. Entry fee $75, includes buffet lunch and 18 holes of golf (scramble format). Many great prizes including free foursomes at The Dormie, Mid Pines, Talamore, Legacy and Seven Lakes Country Club. Entry forms are required no later than Sunday, October 12. All proceeds benefit the community and area outreach. For more details or a sign-up sheet call Pete Olson 910-255-6327 or Phil Cox 910-986-2964.

• Prancing Horse Tour Features Five Horse Farms – from 11 am to 4 pm, the horse farms will be open to visitors for self-guided tours. Proceeds benefit the Prancing Horse Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship. Hosts include Susan Gaines, Segue Farm; Robin and Paul Greenwood, Merifields; Buck and Lynn McGugan, Sapphire Farm; Charlie Plumb, CDP Stables; and Mark Weissbecker, Winter Book Farm. View the farms and watch riding demonstrations. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $20 from Sandhills Winery of Seven Lakes, Lady Bedford's Tea Parlor, Moore Equine Feed and Supply, Cold Stone Creamery, and The Wine Cellar; $25 the day of the tour at the NCSU Equine Health Center, 6045 US HWY 1, North. Children under 12, free. Pets are not permitted. Lunch available for purchase. For more information www.prancing-horse.org or call (910)246-3202.

• Fall Wildflower Hike – 3 pm, Join a Park Ranger for a hike along the trails to see wildflowers blooming in the Autumn season. Free and open to the public. Weymouth Woods, Sandhills Nature Preserve, 1024 Fort Bragg Rd. Southern Pines, (910) 692-2167.

• McDonalds Chapel Music Acoustic Circle – 4 to 6 pm, in the church’s fellowship hall. The group invites all levels of acoustic musicians to participate in a jam session of a variety of traditional folk music. Friends, family, and listeners are welcome, too. McDonalds Chapel Presbyterian Church, 1374 Foxfire Road, Aberdeen (off Linden Road right outside Pinehurst). Information, call Jill McCloy 692-5094.

• The Rooster’s Wife – 6:45 pm, doors open at 6:00 pm, in the gallery of Poplar Knight Spot. Music guest: Jay Unger and Molly Mason. Buy tickets on line, cash at the door. Rooster's Wife. 114 Knight St., Aberdeen, www.theroosterswife.org (910) 944-7502.

• 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, October 20

• Rally for Thom Tillis – 3:00-5:00 pm at Cannon Park, Pinehurst. Thom & Susan Tillis, as well as U.S. Senator John Thune, will be there. This is a family friendly event and Free.

• 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, October 21

• Fox Hollow Senior Living Brunch and Flu Shots – 10 am. For those who care, give compassion and the blessings that they give to others. Join Fox Hollow for Brunch and a complimentary flu shot.   Respond by Thursday October 16 to Elizabeth Ragsdale at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 910-695-0011 if you would like to attend. Located off Morganton Road, between Turnberry Wood and CCNC.

• Zumba Class – 10:30 to 11:30 am, free class at Seven Lakes Baptist Church, Hankins Family Life Center, 1015 Seven Lakes Drive, 673-4656.

• 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.

• Seven Lakes Kiwanis Club – lunch at 11:30, meeting begins at 12:05, Seven Lakes Country Club Restaurant. The speaker will be John Calari, FirstHealth Fitness Center.

• League of Women Voters of Moore County – Lunch 11:30 am. Guest speaker Bob Grimesey, Superintendent of Moore County Schools. Held at the Table on the Green Restaurant, 2205 Midland Drive, inside Midland Country Club. Public is invited, with a reservation, by contacting Charlotte Gallagher at 944-9611 or emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Cost for the catered luncheon is $13, inclusive. Check made payable to the League of Women Voters of Moore County, preferred method of payment.

• Moore County Board of Commissioners – 5:30 pm, at the Historic Courthouse, Carthage. Review agenda or full meeting packet.

• Women's Volleyball at Seven Lakes Baptist Church – 6 pm to 8 pm, open gym for Women's Volleyball. Connie McDermott coordinator. Seven Lakes Baptist Church, Hankins Family Life Center, 1015 Seven Lakes Drive, 910-673-4656.

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

The October 17 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:

- Moore County's Board of Commissioners and Board of Education held a joint meeting this week to discuss how best to fund building new schools and expanding existing schools.

- A major repaving project on Longleaf Drive in Seven Lakes West is expected to get underway before Halloween.

- Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. One-stop absentee voting starts on Thursday, October 23. There have been some important changes to election laws that take effect this time around.

- A proposal for upgrading the pasture fence at the Seven Lakes Stables provoked considerable debate at a board work session.

- The SLLA Board will vote, at the next open meeting, on a proposal that would allow them to vote by email on urgent matters, without convening a meeting.

- The Foxfire Village Council approved revisions to its ordinance on open burning.

- The Board of Commissioners heard an update on the economic development activities of Partners in Progress, including a proposal for a new regional sports park.

- The Board of Education got a first look at a proposed structure and educational offerings for the "concept" high school that is part of the district's Master Facilities Plan.

- Tom Leen and Jerry Daeke are vying for the seat that County Commissioner Jimmy Melton is vacating. We have interviews with the candidates.

- Chris says spending time with your kids -- while they are kids -- is one of the best investments a parent can make.

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.

 
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