Friday, October 26, 2007

Law Officers Appreciation Banquet
American Legion Post - Edenton

"To protect and serve" is one of the most famous references to law enforcement, and few citizens are unaware of how necessary these men and women are to our safety and protection.

One of the most active American Legion posts in North Carolina is the Edenton, Edward G. Bond Post 40. Tonight they held their 37th Annual Appreciation Banquet for Law Enforcement Officers in the Inner Banks Region to recognize these special people who provide our safety and protection, often risking their lives in the process. Attendees included both Law Enforcement and local public officials. Francis Pugh, Virgil Williams and Peter Rascoe (shown below) were early arrivals for the event.

The event started with a social hour so members of Law Enforcement could meet old friends and swap stories. Leaders of the American Legion from the both the local Post and the State of North Carolina organization were present to greet them. Jack Gibson, one of the sponsors of this event, talks with North Carolina Commander, Richard Neville, and Adjutant of Post 40, E.C. Toppin (shown below).

Peter Rascoe was very helpful introducing me to some of the county dignitaries present. Here Peter greets May Bass, Chowan County Animal Control, and Orville Mason, Chowan County Facilities Manager (shown below).

The Sheriff of Bertie County, Greg Atkins, introduced me to the Sheriff of Chowan County, Dwayne Goodwin (shown below).

Among many law enforcement members from our region, I met Craig Friedman (shown below), Administrator for Bertie-Martin Regional Jail. Attendees this year included more than a dozen Sheriffs from as far away as Edgecomb and Currituck counties.

As the social hour drew to a close, everyone moved into the banquet area for the meal and formal dinner event.

Dignitaries on the podium included (shown below from left), Robin Prendergraft, Director of the NC State Bureau of Investigation, keynote speaker for the evening, Brenda Toppin, retired from the Edenton Police Department, Pat Staab, wife of Post Commander Ken Staab (shown next), master of ceremonies for the event, Alice and Dr. Jimmy Jarrell, Post Chaplain.

Ken Stabb (shown below) called the event to order and welcomed every who had come.

Reverend Jimmy Jarrell, Post 40 Chaplain (shown below), next led the event with the invocation and blessing of the food.

A special welcome was provided by North Carolina Commander, Richard Neville (shown below).

E.C. Toppin (shown below), Adjutant for the Edward G. Bond American Legion Post, introduced the many honored guests who were there to pay their respects to the law enforcement community.

E.C. had one special presentation to make, as he surprised his wife of 33 years, Brenda (shown below), with her wedding anniversary card and flowers. He made note of the fact that the last time he missed this annual event was when he unintentionally scheduled his wedding on the same night it was held, 33 years ago.

Introduction of Law Enforcement personnel was conducted by Chowan County Sheriff Dwayne Goodwin (shown below).

Paul Williams, of the Chowan-Edenton Optimist Club (shown below) made the very special presentation of the Award for "Outstanding Service to Youth".

This years winner was Ricky Winebarger, (shown below) accepting his plaque.

A touching symbol of the importance of this award was provided when Ricky's entire family (shown below) entered the room and stood to one side to surprise him as the recognition was bestowed.

Ricky (shown below) was very surprised and quite moved, and took a few moments to thank a number of people.

Next, Brenda Toppin, came up to introduce the keynote speaker.

Robin Prendergraft, Director of the NC State Bureau of Investigation was tonight's keynote speaker and honored guest (shown below). Robin shared a special story about her early youth and the importance her mother placed on appreciating how Police officers were her friends and how she could depend on them if she was ever in trouble. This lesson made a strong impression on Robin and was a leading reason that she went in to the law, becoming an attorney. For a while she served as District Attorney for Durham, NC, a position that has unfortunately become infamous due to the actions of a recent Durham D.A., Mike Nifong.

Mark Rich, from NC Wildlife (shown below), had the distinction of making the presentation of the "Officer of the Year Award", the highlight of this annual dinner event.

This year's recipient was William Carroll "Buddy" Bunch.

Buddy was surprised and delighted. He shared a little of his personal story, which included explaining why he had entered Law Enforcement so late in life. It is more of an avocation than vocation, as he has had several successful businesses that met his obligations to his family first.

Buddy's name will be engraved on this special plaque which hangs in the American Legion Post to Honor all of the recipients of this prestigious award, going back to 1972.

The event was closed by the benediction from Reverend Jimmy Jarrell.

It was a great night, and more people should join the following sponsors in coming out to pay their respects to the great men and women who keep us safe and provide such a special service for our society.

Johnny Evans, "LTD"
Eden House Graphics, Inc.
Waff Contracting, Inc.
Albemarle Motor Co., Inc.
Albemarle Sportfishing Boats, Inc.
Edenton Motors, Inc.
Southern Bank & Trust Co.
BB&T Banking
Farm Bureau Insurance
Dixie Auto Parts
Golden Corral
Edenton Construction Co., Inc.
Westover General Store & Deli
State Farm Insurance
East Coast Equipment, Co.
James D. Elliott, Jr. Agency
Waste Industries
Byrum Hardware
Sykes & Company, PA
Cherry Welding & Repair Service
Colony Tire Corp.
Miller Funeral Home
Edenton Tractor & Implement Co., Inc.
Va. Fork Produce
Valhalla Produce
Jimbo's Jumbos, Inc.
Pepsi Cola
Sherri's Sign Shop
Carolina Classic Boats, Inc.
Vaughan's Fine Jewelry & Gifts
Nixon Family Restaurant, Inc.
REMAX - John Dowd Real Estate
Hayes Real Estate, Inc.
Regulator Marine, Inc.
Joe Lee Co., Inc.
Evans Funerals & Cremations
Gateway Bank
Vogedes Insurance Agency, Inc.
City Beverage Company
The Chowan Herald
Noble Brothers Cabinets & Millwork
LeBleu of The Albemarle
HTM Concepts, Inc.
Chowan Animal Hospital
Town of Edenton
Chowan Hospital
Chowan County

We thank these patrons for their support and request you consider thanking them with your business at some time in the near future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gates County Attends OLF Hearing

Yesterday the State of North Carolina OLF Study Group held a meeting in the Floyd Robinson Auditorium of the Mickey Burnim Fine Arts Center at Elizabeth City State University. The local group Citizens Against OLF was the organizer of a caravan of Gates County and adjacent county citizens who wished to attend this meeting to explain their opposition to building an OLF in Gates or Camden Counties. Two locations in each of these two counties had been suggested for the Navy re-evaluation of OLF locations after Washington County was rejected.

I joined the caravan for two reasons.

First, after doing some research I have joined many in believing that spending any money to build an OLF is a waste. Governor Timothy Kaine (D) and Senator John Warner (R) from Virginia have offered an existing facility southwest of Petersburg, Fort Pickett, that is nearly perfect for the Navy's purpose. It is 120 miles from Oceana, the base which is the only real reason an OLF is needed. The Navy's claimed "preferred" new location is 90 miles away in Washington County. The 30 mile difference at the 600 MPH these jets Cruise at is less than 5 minutes. It is therefore obviously convenient enough to serve as the backup to Fentress, the current OLF. The Navy claims that Fentress will stay and the new OLF is needed to expand operations, but that simply strengthens the arguments in favor of Fort Pickett.

Second I did not want the groups like NO-OLF to claim (as they previously have) that opposition to the OLF is a Democrat position and that Republicans support the OLF. I have talked with a number of fellow Republicans and for the reasons stated above wanted everyone to know that opposition was bipartisan.

The Gatesville group gathered at noon in the driveway of the old elementary school in Sunbury. As the caravan left, I counted 18 cars, and though a little tough to count with everyone moving around, I counted about 65 people in the cars.

Arriving at Elizabeth City State University one portion of the caravan turned in at the wrong driveway. We could not get to the parking lot we needed from that entrance and so we had to circle back to get to the parking lot.

We were early. Then we found out that we could not enter the auditorium as there was a bomb threat. The threat, received about 10:15 AM, prompted the Elizabeth City Police Department to search the building. The city fire department was also on standby. A friend from my church was a part of the caravan group so we went and grabbed a quick bite to fill the time until we could get in.

When we got back the people had formed a line to enter the auditorium, but they were still not letting people in. The crowd had grown and well over 100 people were waiting to get in. We joined the line. A couple of times someone came to the door and shouted out something about the delay, but the wind was strong and they had no loudspeaker, so few could hear what was said.

Finally we were allowed to enter the auditorium. The panel of people from the State of North Carolina OLF Study Group were already in place on the podium. As they were introduced, the names included (from left in photo) Jane Preyer (back to camera), Marion Deerhaae, Paul Spruill, John Crumpler, Bill Owens, William Wainwright, Sid Eagles, Bill Ross, Admiral David Anderson (U.S. Navy - not on the committee), David Peoples, Peter Daniels, Troy Pate and Ed Jones (arrived late and not in picture).

The first two people who spoke were a representative of Marc Basnight's office (whose name I missed) and David Brown (shown below), County Commissioner from Gates County. In reality, these two said everything that was said the rest of the meeting, however there were about 70 people who spoke after they did, each supporting one point of opposition or another. One thing that few people did besides Marc Basnight's representative was insult the Navy and ridicule the process they were following. I was glad that most people were respectful. I wonder why Basnight thought insulting our military was the right thing to do?

The essence of the most repeated arguments were as follows:

1. Our area is historically peaceful and we should not have an OLF here.
2. Our animals, birds and plants will all die off or leave if the OLF is built here.
3. The noise will be awful and we will all have to move or be miserable.
4. Our family has owned a farm for generations and we should not have to sell.
5. Property values will be devastated if the OLF is located here.
6. Businesses will move out if the OLF is located here.
7. This is Viriginia's problem, let them solve it.

David Brown was the first person to point out that the Governor of Virginia, a Democrat and the senior Senator from Virginia, a Republican, have offered a site that already exists at Fort Pickett, saving huge amounts of tax dollars and avoiding years of wasted time, animosity and controversy trying to build a facility. Since their proposed site is an EXISTING facility, it would seem logical that the Navy should have to explain why any NEW facility is even needed before they waste time picking what is the best location for a new site.

Like most bureaucracies though, the Navy seems determined to proceed with the process they started. They reject any option that makes more sense unless it is compatible with their original goal to build a new site.
Fort Pickett is not a new site, so the Navy is not interested. That was the clear impression the Admiral gave, but then he was so vague you could not be sure of anything.

By the time the public presentations started, there were around 300 people in the auditorium. It was a really long meeting, and a second session was planned for the evening. When the first meeting ended, there were only about 150 people left in the auditorium (shown below), but the lobby was still packed. After talking with a few of the people in the lobby, they turned out to be people who were staying for the second evening session, which promised to be equally filled with opposition. No one spoke in favor of an OLF for any of the six sites in North Carolina.

Many people complained about the failure of the Navy to communicate anything about their process. The process is secretive and leaves even pro military people frustrated with the way things are being handled.

One proposal that a couple of people alluded to is the Marc Basnight proposal to put the OLF on a floating platform in the middle of Pamlico Sound. This too did not seem to get any positive response from Admiral Anderson from the Navy. Other than sharing his belief that a win-win solution could be found based on pretty vague ideas that Admiral Anderson would not provide details on, Navy participation in this event was not helpful to the cause of selling any of the six sites in North Carolina.

This is the map (below) showing the six sites that are being considered in North Carolina.

Click on the map to bring up a large version.

The one final issue that does need clarification is the relationship between the Navy's process and the group that held this meeting. The State of North Carolina OLF Study Group is an advisory panel set up by Governor Mike Easley to suggest what position he should take with the Navy. It is not an official part of the Navy evaluation process. This meeting was held to gather public input for the Governor only. The Navy will hold its own meetings later.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Locals Urged To Attend OLF Meeting

by Cal Bryant - October 17th, 2007 - Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

ELIZABETH CITY - The battle to keep the Navy from building an Outlying Landing Field (OLF) at one of two proposed sites in Gates County now shifts towards Elizabeth City.

There, on October 23, the North Carolina OLF Study Group will conduct a public hearing at Elizabeth City State University in the Floyd Robinson Auditorium of the Mickey Burnim Fine Arts Center. The hearing is scheduled from 3-5 p.m. with an hour recess and then continuing from 6-8 p.m.

Local officials with Citizens Against OLF are strongly encouraging Gates County residents to attend the Oct. 23 meeting.

“The Citizens Against OLF group needs 500 citizens from our county to be on site when the Governor's OLF Study Group arrives in Elizabeth City on Tuesday, October 23,” said Laura Dickerson.

Dickerson added that individuals and groups are encouraged to be ready to leave at 12:30 p.m from the old Sunbury School.

We are at war. As a result I believe that this issue deserves participation and attention. However I find it interesting that neither side of the activists in this issue will answer questions that I have, so I have had to dig out the answers on my own.

My earliest reaction was noted in my comments below the 9/28/2007 article by Conservative writer Bob Steinburg (which you can find if you scroll down, or click here). Bob is opposed to the OLF being in Northeastern North Carolina. I poked some fun at Bob for some of his exaggerations and for aligning himself with some people who are provably anti-war and anti-military. Bob is not anti-military. I have talked with Bob enough to be comfortable with that. However those exaggerations and alignment with people who I see as enemies of our freedom concerned me some then and I felt it important to point them out. That does not mean I think we that we should build an OLF here in the Inner Banks.

Bob already had come to the conclusion that an existing military field (Fort Pickett, 50 miles Southwest of Petersburg, VA) was the best solution that he saw. After research I am impressed with Bob's arguments and concur. Bob is one of the few people who has looked at the options and even asked the question, "Where should the OLF go?" Too many people simply say, "I don't care, No OLF and certainly not here!" That last attitude is not something I am comfortable with.

I have come to share Bob's opinion for what I believe are strong reasons.

When the base closings of the last 20 years took place, the military assured us that they had looked intently at all these facilities and that there was no military need for any of them. It turns out that a half dozen military air fields were closed in the North Carolina and Virginia areas. If the military was wrong, why will they not at least look at using these existing facilities before buying land and building something new. Are they afraid they will be accused of making a mistake? Isn't that argument proved by their claiming they need an OLF at all?

Fort Pickett is the closest existing airfield to Oceana while not being close to any population center. It is about the same distance from Oceana as the area the Navy claim they favor, Washington County, NC. The Navy wants 25,000 acres around any new field so they do not have to worry about population encroachment. At Fort Pickett an area 10 miles wide by 20 miles long, over 45,0000 acres is already publicly owned. No farmers have to have their livelihood disrupted to acquire this land. We don't have to spend years acquiring the land and risking the courts failing to properly compensate people. Doesn't that out way going anywhere new? Isn't NO taxpayer dollars a much better deal? Isn't 45,000 acres better than 25,000 acres?

Pocohontas State Park is 50 miles from the existing Fort Pickett. That is much better than Merchants Millpond State Park and the Dismal Swamp State Natural Area which are within 10 miles of the locations in Gates County now being looked at. In fact because of the concentration of natural areas and parks in Northeastern North Carolina, it is impossible to find an area for a new OLF that is as far from any state park or natural area as the existing Fort Pickett. Shouldn't any new facility be a significant improvement in this regard over Fort Pickett? As long as it serves the Navy's purpose shouldn't they care about not interfering with nature or the environment?

I have stopped being concerned about finding a place for the OLF. There is no argument that has been advanced that is not satisfied by Fort Pickett. I have become an advocate of asking, "why should we allow the Navy to even look at new facilities unless they can explain why an existing facility like Fort Pickett is not a good answer?" "Why not Fort Pickett?"

When the opposition was led primarily by people who were anti-military, there might have been some argument that the NO OLF group was wrong for the wrong reasons. Now it is becoming clear that people like Fred Smith, a conservative candidate for Governor; Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, conservative Senators; and Joe McLaughlin, conservative candidate for U.S. Congress have reached the conclusion that a new facility is not the way to go. The Navy needs to stop looking for new sites, especially new sites with serious environmental concerns . . . until they can explain "Why not Fort Pickett, or some other existing facility?"

I don't believe they can.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Conservative’s Viewpoint
An Early Peek At The Governor’s Race

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

The citizens of North Carolina will be electing a new governor in November of ’08 and most of the candidates are beginning to sharpen their talking points as they attempt to develop a message that will resonate with the voters. The Democrats have had a virtual lock on the governorship since post - Civil War Reconstruction and would thus appear to have a distinct advantage in holding onto the executive reigns for another term. Campaigns can be very revealing and we may be getting our first glimpse of what to expect of each if elected governor.

Two term Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue is the Democratic front runner. She is striving to be the first woman to be elected governor in North Carolina’s history. A native of Virginia, she represented Craven County in the N.C. House and Senate, rising to chair the powerful state Appropriations Committee. She is a member of the party faithful and under her administration North Carolinians should expect little change from the leadership of incumbent Governor Easley. Perdue’s political past indicates she is not likely to rock the boat and would be inclined to continue to support Easley’s policies. She recently appointed as her chief of staff Don Hobart, a former member of the state Department of Commerce who has been referred to as the “commerce king of incentives.” This appointment would seem to indicate that corporate incentive programs like the Goodyear/Firestone give away will continue in her administration

North Carolina State Treasurer Richard Moore is challenging Perdue for the Democratic nomination. Moore has been state treasurer for seven years and as part of his job, oversees North Carolina’s $75 billion pension fund. Of all of the candidates running for governor, Moore and Perdue are in favor of continuing the recent annual practice of transferring $170 million from the state’s Highway Trust fund to the General Operating fund. They both acknowledge that transportation needs more money but not at the expense of reducing the general fund, which could negatively impact money appropriated for other areas like education. Provisions to cover the shortfall would be needed, Moore says. Richard Moore and Beverly Perdue have no real ideological differences. Moore is a former federal prosecutor who is being packaged as a new type of Democrat and not a product of the old party establishment. He currently trails Perdue in the polls 29-39, while 32 percent of Democratic voters remain undecided.

Perdue’s campaign reports its contributions are coming from sources within the state. She claims that Moore is raising some of the monies for his campaign from individuals outside of North Carolina - from financial contacts he has established while administering the state’s pension fund. Moore has questioned Perdue’s resume, in particular her claims to have once been a teacher. This primary could get very nasty.

While Perdue and Moore go after one another, the three announced Republican candidates are carefully watching and planning their own strategies. All three Republican candidates oppose the continued raiding of the Highway Trust fund.

Bob Orr is a conservative who is a former State Supreme Court associate justice. He is a bull-dog advocate for small business and is opposed to state corporate incentive packages. He believes in less regulation, a free market and getting government out of the corporate arena and back into the business of governing. Orr believes government should not decide which businesses need to be financially propped up. Nor does he believe that the state has any business subsidizing individual private corporations.

Fred Smith is a state senator from Smithfield who is marketing himself as a CEO, which he is, running for the CEO of the state. Smith has written a book “A Little Extra Effort,” which describes growing up in an orphanage to become an entrepreneur, owning businesses in the state that employ in excess of 600 people. This book describes his life, warts and all, and how he has dealt with and overcome adversity. Smith is establishing himself as the candidate for governor with executive experience and a strong moral compass. Smith would propose the state issue $2 billion worth of bonds to improve our transportation system, leaving the $170 million currently being transferred out of the Highway Trust fund there to pay for the bonds. All this with no increase in taxes, Smith says.

Bill Graham, no relation to evangelist Billy Graham, has been leading the polls for months. This 47-year old founder of the board of directors of the Community Bank of Rowan, and partner in the law firm of Wallace and Graham of Salisbury, jumped into the spotlight last year when he successfully mobilized 75,000 citizens to oppose an increase in the state gasoline tax, saving state taxpayers an estimated $159 million this year. Graham has been struggling to find a message that will be as effective. He is strongly in favor of immigration reform in North Carolina.

With so many difficult issues facing our state we need an individual who can lead. From lowering taxes to controlling spending, from improving education to cleaning up corruption, from immigration reform to improving the state’s transportation system, changes are needed to make North Carolina state government more efficient. It’s not too early for all of us to start paying attention.

This is going to be the most interesting Governor's race in the history of the State of North Carolina. With the growth of socialism rampantly out of control in our Democrat dominated legislature, nothing but the election of a fiscally responsible, free enterprise oriented Governor has the chance to avoid the coming economic disaster. Nation after nation and state after state have discovered that the road to socialism cannot be sustained. It ultimately leads to a situation where bureacrats tell everyone how they will live and how they will spend their money. It has long been known as tyranny.

Europe is currently in a revolution against the excessive oppression that socialist bureaucrats have fostered in their countries. It would be a shame if at the very moment Europe is fighting to throw off the yoke of socialism, North Carolina should keep going down that road without expecting the same consequences they have suffered.

Only one quibble with Bob's comment about who is leading the Republican polls. In the last two weeks Senator Fred Smith has gained significant momentum in the Governor's race, even getting recognized by one of the leading Democrat Party web sites, BlueNC spoke of Fred's surge as being the first serious movement of any candidate since the announcements by the major players earlier in the year and it has left him in a vitrual tie with Graham.

Some of that movement is attributable to the enthusiastic endorsement of Senator Smith by Lee Greenwood, a man some call America's number one patriot. Greenwood is famous for his song, God Bless the USA.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al-Pam Club Meets In Edenton

Dr. Troy Kickler, professor of history at NCSU and director of the North Carolina History Project was the featured speaker at last night's AL-PAM REPUBLICAN CLUB meeting at the Fancy That Cafe in Edenton.

The crowd (shown above) was excellent as this growing organization continues to attract a large number of new members and guests at each event.

The program included a great dinner. The Al-Pam Club always finds the best local restaurants in each city they go to.

Chris East (shown above), President of the Al-Pam Club, was the master of ceremonies, and introduced the various programs. One of the speakers was Bob Steinburg (shown below), Chairman of the Chowan County Republican Party, and columnist for the "Conservative Viewpoint" in many local papers.

Next was the keynote speaker, Dr. Troy Kickler (shown below). His topic was the Edenton Tea Party [including its historical significance]. He provided some interesting information about the 51 ladies who signed the famous document that gained so much notoriety in its day. It was indicative of the growing willingness of Americans to stand up for themselves and demand liberty. It is easy today to forget what a risk these women took.

There was an excellent question and answer session with Dr. Kickler after the speech. One of the more interesting conversations was about trying to categorize the attitude that the Tea Party exhibited. Everyone had their own word. All recognized that these people were not meek or tolerant of infringements on their liberty.

If you have an interest in knowing more about the Al-Pam Club, you can contact President Chris East by phone at (252) 746-2818 or by email at

If you would like to contact Dr. Troy Kickler, you can phone him at (919) 828-3876 or email him at

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Conservative’s Viewpoint
This Isn’t Your Father’s Vocational School

Article by Bob Steinburg - Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

A high school counselor calls a student into his office and informs him that his grades aren’t cutting it. He is recommending a vocational school for job training. Not necessarily a bad thing, but to his folks it may be a huge disappointment. Most parents want what’s best for their children and to provide them with opportunities they may not have had.

The mind-set in the ’60s, which prevails today, is if someone doesn’t go to college he or she will be forever destined to a job doing hard manual labor. But is that a bad thing? A welder can earn up to $16 an hour with one-to-four year’s experience, an electrician up to $18 an hour, a landscaper $11.75 an hour. In time he or she may end up owning their own business where earnings could increase dramatically.

Not everyone needs to go to college to become a success. Somewhere that mind-set has become ingrained and because of it we may be doing our children, communities and nation a real disservice.

One reason that North Carolina schools are failing – particularly in parts of eastern North Carolina – is because schools and parents do not recognize that there are other alternatives to a university education. While there is little deviation in the course work all students take, there are different levels, including honors classes. But one shoe does not fit all. We must provide our students with choices in education and training based on individual abilities, talents and expectations.

What use to be known as vocational high schools are now called technology high schools. There are nine in North Carolina – none of them in the eastern part of the state. These schools offer training in a number of different disciplines, including the graphic arts, networking, computer engineering technology and cosmetology. Most of these career education centers serve several high schools in an area; nobody is turned away. Part of the day is spent at a traditional school, and part at the technical school.

Maggie Thomas, a native of Bethel, North Carolina, outside of Greenville, is principal of the Career Education Center in Buncombe County. She is proud of her students’ achievements. Some get jobs immediately upon graduation. Others, who choose to continue their education, are given an opportunity to use the skills learned at the technical school while earning money for college. These schools, she said, often provide an added incentive to stay in school for those considering dropping out. That’s important because the drop-out rate for parts of eastern North Carolina is as high as 32 percent.

In September 2006, Dr. Linda Pressley, originally from Halifax County, supervised the opening of a stand-alone school in Union County called the Central Academy of Technology and Art. It has taken a different approach to technical high schooling. As a magnet school, everything is offered under one roof. Courses of study include engineering, teacher prep, transportation, information systems, medical science, nursing, and performing arts, which include dance and theatre arts. A bio-tech class is for those considering becoming physicians. This year the demand to enroll in the school was so great that there was a lottery for admission. Not everyone is accepted who applies. Students considered for admission must be at or above grade level. Most of these children will go on to college.

Gaston County has the Highland School of Technology offering three academies.
Both of these schools work with advisory committees comprised of business leaders from the community, teachers and administrators within each school. They integrate and evaluate curriculum on a regular basis, insuring relevance of subject matter related to the on-going and ever - changing requirements of those careers, making adjustments when necessary.

With all of the talk of failing schools in North Carolina, it appears there are solutions. It is going to take community effort to start planning for these changes that are clearly needed to prepare our children for the challenges of the future and the competitiveness of the global market.

These are not your father’s vocational schools; they represent models for success to help reform education in the Tar Heel state and to help meet the expectations we have for our greatest resource – our children.

The death of vocational schools had another aspect to it. Educators have focused on the liberal concept that everyone must get the same education. THE SAME. Vocational schools did have opposition since liberal educators viewed the vocational school as not providing "equality" to "college" students.

Hard labor was not the key issue either. Technology had changed all jobs into "skilled" jobs that require knowledge and not strength.

However vocational schools did not support curriculum such as "tolerance", a favorite course of liberal educators. That helped to end their popularity with educrats. Vocational schools had to teach an ability that could be measured. "Tolerance" of course is not an ability, it is attitude. It is a whole lot easier for a lazy teacher to teach an attitude than an ability because the measure of an attitude is the perception of the teacher. The teacher can just say "you are wealthy and Christian and white and my perception is you are intolerant. I can't prove it, but you flunk anyway."

The teacher doesn't even have to know how to teach. They simply need the ability to express an opinion. Everyone has an opinion. So vocational schools had to go away since they were about topics that could be measured.

Our future is dependent on recognition that jobs of the future will not be unskilled jobs. The jobs that will exist will require technical knowledge at a high level. There is no longer room for people who drop out of school, or get a "liberal" education. There is even less and less room for people who have college degrees about esoteric subjects like (the favorite college course title joke of my day) "underwater basket weaving". We desperately need our vocational schools back.

As in so many other ways, our schools are failing . . . both our children and our society. Two generations of school's failing has not changed the attitude of educrats though. It is never their fault. Why worry when you have tenure. When you cannot be fired you can NOT CARE what parents and children think. Like "tolerance" it is all just an opinion. Tenured educrats don't care about your opinion! Why should they. Their tenure means you are powerless.