The people, moments, places and things that shaped the Triad in 2014
1. Maya Angelou
The world lost a literary giant, who happened to call Winston-Salem home, in 2014. Maya Angelou was a natural, whether acting as Oprah Winfrey’s mentor or sharing wisdom with Dave Chappelle, teaching at Wake Forest University or lending her voice to the struggle to free Darryl Hunt.
Hearing Angelou on “The Diane Rehm Show” a couple years ago, you could almost imagine the poet-scholar and radio host as sisters, considering their shared warmth, humor and wise co-counsel.
While national luminaries like Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton lauded the great woman at her memorial service, her impact on local artists, scholars and activists was no less profound. Take it from Greensboro singer-songwriter Laila Nur, who said of Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise”: “What’s impressive about it is the audacity to be free. The audacity to be so black, so woman, to come up from so much struggle to proclaim your freedom and your inability to be broken down anymore after you’ve found that liberation.”
2. Andy Zimmerman
If we had to pick a person of the year for Greensboro, it would have to be Andy Zimmerman. The man bought and renovated the buildings that now house the Forge makerspace and Gibb’s Hundred Brewing — two notable places in their own right — as well as a building by Deep Roots Market that will house a second Crafted restaurant and another new brewery. As if that wasn’t enough, Zimmerman has plans for the former Gate City Motors building by the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Oh yeah, and he recently announced a deal with Raleigh HQ to bring a co-working space to the stretch of buildings he owns on West Lewis Street. While he couldn’t do it alone, Zimmerman has done more than any one other individual to reshape downtown Greensboro in the last year, and given his plans that we already know about, 2015 will be a big year, too.
3. Bill Bencini
It would be hard to think of a political leader in the Triad who experienced a more momentous year. Bill Bencini went from serving as the chairman of the Guilford County Commission to mayor of High Point. A Republican with ties to the furniture industry, he captured the support of a restless cohort of revitalization supporters and moved into the vacuum as his former political adversary Becky Smothers retired from public service and first-term mayor Bernita Sims resigned before pleading guilty to a felony worthless check charge.
Supporters who celebrated Bencini’s win at the JH Adams Inn in the Uptowne section of High Point on election night were ecstatic, and one cried out: “Time to get it started.”
Bencini’s response was indicative of the difficult balancing act he can expect in a politically divided city.
“It will be a miracle if we can get it started,” he said.
4. Marcus Brandon
Almost inverse to Bill Bencini’s political ascent, Marcus Brandon watched his political fortunes diminish over the course of the year. Brandon elected to give up his seat in the state House to run for Congress, but lost to political heavyweight Alma Adams. Then, when his ally Bernita Sims decided she would not seek reelection as mayor of High Point, Brandon entered the race. His candidacy never gained traction, however, and an embarrassing profanity-laden tirade against the president-elect of a local realtors association later surfaced.
“You guys totally f***ed me,” Brandon wrote in a Facebook message to High Point Regional Realtors Association President-elect Cam Cridlebaugh. “You guys are a bunch of spineless bastards and you are Exhibit A of what’s wrong with this city.”
This is typical of private conversations between lawmakers and interest groups seeking to leverage money and influence for political advantage and there’s no need to worry about the realtors’ tender ears. But the messaging doesn’t align with the wholesome fare that is typically served up to voters.
5. John Bryan
What began back in the 1990s as a squat on the forgotten downtown Winston-Salem fringe has 15 years later become a bizarre empire of sorts, incorporating Krankies, Camino Bakery, Single Brothers, all of the West End Mill Works, Hoots Flea Market and even an art gallery in New England into the same family tree. At its trunk is John Bryan, whose vision — and disrespect for authority — caught the eye of Winston-Salem power brokers, and they gave him a seat at the table. This year, the Winston-Salem City Council approved a bridge loan of $200,000 against his $1.4 million investment in the mill works, and his name is being thrown around in connection with the restoration of the Cascade Saloon in Greensboro.
6. Ken Miller
Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller retired this year, leaving Anita Holder as the interim chief. He landed a sweet deal in Greenville, SC, too.
7. Jan Van Dyke
Dance project artistic director Jan Van Dyke announced she will donate $1 million for the creation of a new performance space at the Greensboro Cultural Center.
8. Aaron McCorkle
102 JAMZ DJ Brian “B-Daht” McLaughlin attacked a Winston-Salem State University student who dressed in drag, Aaron McCorkle, who was running for Mr. Winston-Salem State University. McCorkle didn’t win and B-Daht apologized, but the real story here is McCorkle’s strength and resilience.
9. Madelyn Greco and Scott Fray
The Triad artists who comprise Living Brush bodypainting won their fourth and fifth world titles this year at the International World Bodypainting Festival in Austria.
10. Marty Kotis
Love him, hate him or get on his payroll — you can’t help but recognize that developer Marty Kotis is making good on his promise to transform the Battleground area with a string of restaurants including the Marshall Free House, the Pig Pounder Brewery, which both opened this year, and his recent acquisition of the Carousel Luxury Cinemas, which he’s vowed to maintain as an independent movie house. He also spent a chunk on an insert for this week’s paper, which makes the whole thing kind of awkward.
11. Jeri Rowe
If Jeri Rowe didn’t make you cry at least once during his storied tenure as a metro columnist at the News & Record, then you are dead inside. Rowe, who was also the former editor of Nicole Crews and Brian Clarey at Triad Style, left the N&R in October to become the senior writer at High Point University.
12. Mark Walker
Preacher-turned-Congressman Mark Walker is easily one of the most important figures of 2014, forcing fellow Republican Phil Berger Jr. into a runoff election before clobbering Democrat Laura Fjeld in the general election this fall. A Greensborian with tea-party ties, he replaces Howard Coble to represent the 6th Congressional District in Washington.
13. Jay Pierce
The venerable chef Jay Pierce, long a staple at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro, announced this year that he would be relocating to Charlotte. The beloved tastemaker will be missed.
14. Paul Norcross
Paul Norcross was a politically connected charter-school advocate from High Point who found a role as a political operative in the nascent conservative Berger political machine. Norcross threw in with Phil Berger Jr., a candidate for Congress and the son of powerful state Senate leader Phil Berger Sr. The Guilford County Republican Party launched an internal investigation of Norcross after funds raised for a Howard Coble tribute dinner that were expected to benefit the local party appeared to instead cover rent for a campaign office used by Berger and other questionable expenses. Berger Jr. ended up losing the race. Once in a while, the machine is defeated.
15. Stephen Hyers
After almost 25 years at the Greensboro CityArts Drama Center, Artistic Director Stephen Hyers died in October of brain cancer.
16. Greg Demko
One of the last acts of the previous High Point City Council was to hire Greg Demko as the new city manager. Demko previously served as assistant city manager in Monroe, a small city east of Charlotte. He starts his new job on Jan. 12 at a salary of $170,000. So far, so good.
17. Lacy Ward
Executive Director Lacy Ward seemed the perfect candidate to assuage fears about the International Civil Rights Center & Museum’s executive board, particularly the influence of museum founders Skip Alston and Earl Jones, who has stepped down from the position to allow Ward to come on. But just six months in, as he was poised to make sweeping changes to the board and its balance of power, Ward was dismissed from the position. The exact reason for his departure is unclear, but either way, the city needs a good civil rights center more than ever.
18. Becky Smothers and Judy Mendenhall
Part of a major transition of political leadership in High Point, two long-time elected leaders said goodbye. Becky Smothers and Judy Mendenhall have both served as mayor at various times over the past three decades. Smothers was elected at large and Mendenhall in Ward 3 during the last term. Smothers chose to retire, and Mendenhall was defeated by a political upstart named Alyce Hill. We will watch her service with close interest.
19. Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry, the popular MSNBC host and professor, waded into a simmering controversy at Wake Forest University by condemning the actions of students who anonymously protested racism on campus by chalking the quad. Harris-Perry called the chalking “an act of cowardice.”
20. Brad Newton and Frank Slate Brooks
The couple known as FrankenBrad became the first same-sex couple in Guilford County to legally tie the knot.
21. Bernita Sims
Bernita Sims has the distinction of being the first African-American mayor of High Point. Sadly, her first term was cut short when she resigned this year before pleading guilty to felony worthless check charges.
22. Liz Seymour
Liz Seymour retired as executive director of the Interactive Resource Center in Greensboro in June, only months after penning an insightful reported essay on panhandling for Triad City Beat. It has to be considered something of an irony that Seymour — a professional writer who has had a byline in the New York Times among other outlets — and the Interactive Resource Center became the subjects of an investigative report by the News & Record. Seymour fired back in a Fresh Eyes piece for Triad City Beat, asserting that allegations made against Assistant Director Will Howard were not true, and that she had diligently investigated them, contrary to characterizations of her in the story as remote and burnt out.
23. Andrés Duany
The last time renowned urban planner Andrés Duany visited High Point was in May, but he remains a prophet of the city’s challenges, love him or hate him. One of his key points was that High Point will have a hard time competing with Greensboro and Winston-Salem in creating a “main street” experience. So he proposed four ideas that are more radical: using shipping containers as retail kiosks, creating a maker’s campus in the shell of Oak Hollow Mall, creating a “pink code” of relaxed regulations and developing the Pit as an urban playground. Those ideas have received virtually no hearing. Instead, the most anodyne of his proposals — “dieting” Main Street — set off a firestorm of controversy.
“There’s this one thing that I need you to understand because it’s the bumper sticker that’s defining the entire [project], which is the road dieting of North Main Street,” he said. “I need you to understand both how easy it would be to do it, and how trivial it is. Because it’s both easy and trivial, and yet it’s consuming all the oxygen in the room.”
24. Fred Chappell
Greensboro writer Fred Chappell published a 72-page book of poetry about cats in August, and anticipates that his fantasy book A Shadow of Light will be published in 2015, but his greatest legacy may be the legions of students at UNCG who learned their craft under his tutelage. He appeared on Triad City Beat’s cover as part of the summer reading issue.
25. Mary Haglund
The proprietor of Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem had always given various discounts to her patrons, a tradition going back to Mary’s of Course. But when a Facebook user made a post about a discount she received for praying, the national media attempted to turn the gracefully aging punk rocker into an icon of the religious right. It was the subject of a TCB editorial and, also noteworthy, a segment on “The Daily Show.”
26. Stephen White
The tragic and gruesome murder of Stephen White, a gay man who was beaten and set on fire at the Battleground Inn in Greensboro, horrified the city and broader gay communities.
27. Alma Adams
President Obama’s appointment of Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency set off a scramble for the coveted prize of the 12th Congressional District seat among black politicians from the Piedmont Triad to Charlotte. Alma Adams, a state lawmaker from Greensboro, bested several contenders including state Rep. Marcus Brandon. Adams also won a special election in November, so that she could be immediately seated. She brought her prodigious hat collection and passion for working people to Washington.
28. The other Glenn Miller
A ghost from the 1979 Greensboro Massacre came back to haunt the nation in April, when a man named Glenn Miller fired shots at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City. Miller was a known entity in our state: He was in the Nazi faction that opened fire against protesters in 1979, founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1980 and was sued in 1984 by the Southern Poverty Law Center for intimidating a black prison guard, the same year he ran for governor as a Democrat.
29. The unsung heroes
We would be remiss not to pause to acknowledge all of the countless people, toiling behind the scenes both as volunteers and underpaid workers, who actually make our cities run. Behind all the big-name projects and well-known leaders or bosses, there are hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes in the Triad who move us from one day to the next.
30. Union Station
Winston-Salem voters approved a $139 million bond, which includes funds to renovate Union Station, a transportation facility that the city seized through eminent domain. A feasibility study by Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects is complete and renovations should begin in 2015. For the time being, most of the space will likely be occupied by the Winston-Salem Transportation Department to fulfill the public-purpose requirements of the building. The last infusion of federal funding for commuter rail from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has long been spent, so it will be a long time before passenger train service is restored to Winston-Salem.
“When we first started down this road there was a strong interest and a plan to do high-speed rail,” Assistant City Manager Greg Turner said. “Until that pendulum swings back, we will be patient.”
31. 300-block of South Elm
Announcements that 1618 and the folks behind Josephine’s would each be opening a classy restaurant on the long-blighted 300-block of South Elm Street in downtown Greensboro marks significant progress in the city’s downtown. Let’s hope 2015 brings businesses to the other vacant storefronts on the critical block. This was also the year that Grass Fed and its other strange spinoff businesses opened on the same stretch, only to close after going through several identity crises.
32. Kilby Hotel
The historic Kilby Hotel was once considered the linchpin of revitalization on Washington Street in High Point. The traditional center of black business, the three-block business district currently hosts a nightclub, art gallery, theater and soul-food restaurant. With the Kilby as its centerpiece, leaders ranging from Patrick Harman to Earl Jones have envisioned a resurgent entertainment district similar to Beale Street in Memphis.
Last year, the city of High Point ordered the demolition of the teetering brick structure, and in the early months of the year, the owners were scrambling to find investors to save the building. One day in mid-June, the building came down through the force of gravity in a torrent of bricks and debris, sending firefighters, news crews and other bystanders fleeing.
33. Downtown Greenway
The most visible progress on Greensboro’s Downtown Greenway came in the form of a new gazebo cornerstone on Smith Street, but word of arrangements to take over the rail line to make way for the western leg of the greenway this year indicates tremendous progress. Plus, a plethora of businesses are flocking to the planned greenway’s flanks.
34. Electric Pyramid
As Krankies expanded, a new artist space called Electric Pyramid opened on the northern side of downtown Winston-Salem and is filled with some of the city’s favorite and most promising young artists.
35. The Crown
The Crown, an elegant mid-sized venue on the third floor of the Carolina Theatre, may have opened officially the previous year, but in 2014 it came into its own with a good, strong run of shows. An Amplifier ’zine release party featuring Black Santa and parties hosted by Dance From Above come to mind as highlights. Add to that list concerts by Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Wahyas and T0W3RS.
36. Black Mountain Chocolate
Everyone’s favorite topic of conversation, at least for a while, was the opening of Black Mountain Chocolate’s small factory on Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem this year. After touring the facility, we can see why.
37. Heritage House
Deplorable living conditions and an even more toxic ownership structure brought the Greensboro affordable-housing building to the attention of the city. Its condemnation displaced hundreds of people.
38. Wake Forest Innovation Quarter
The Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, the linchpin of redevelopment on the eastern flank of downtown Winston-Salem, continued an impressive expansion in 2014. Among notable developments was the arrival of Inmar as the campus’ largest tenant, work on the new Bailey Park and announcements about Wake Forest University’s doctoral medicine program and a $750 million mixed-use park south of Third Street.
39. JC Price School
The historic JC Price School in Greensboro’s Warnersville neighborhood was torn down this year, and we consider it to be a tremendous loss to the community.
40. West End Mill Works
With the opening of several new businesses in the complex, including Sutler’s Spirit distillery, the West End Mill Works has become what may be the premier incubator of cool — on several different levels — in the Triad.
41. LeBauer Park
Right next to the cultural center, LeBauer Park broke ground this year on what is currently Festival Park in downtown Greensboro. The park will include a variety of features, including a Janet Echelman sculpture.
42. The Pit
The recessed remainder of a collapsed parking garage was discovered as an urban playground during urban planner Andrés Duany’s visit to High Point in 2013. The city took action to restrict access to the Pit in 2014 after social entrepreneur Ryan Saunders held an unauthorized party there. But many local leaders such as architects Peter Freeman and John Kennett remain committed to activating the site.
43. Cascade Saloon
The city of Greensboro worked out a deal to hand over the former Cascade Saloon building downtown to Preservation Greensboro. We’ve been assured that work is actively happening behind the scenes on this and that there may be some sort of announcement soon, but it’s been months since anything concrete has come out.
44. House of Blues-ish
In July, Greensboro nightclub owner and restaurateur Rocco Scarfone announced that his Elm Street club would utilize the same booking agency as the House of Blues chain. Shows by Dave Chappelle, .38 Special and Edwin McCain followed.
45. The Railyard
The Railyard in Greensboro sprang to life in 2014, with the opening of the Spice Cantina and a flourishing monthly City Market that combined music, food and retail.
46. Boston’s House of Jazz & Blues
The House that Michael Boston built started on Edgeworth Street in the facility now occupied by Local House Bar. Then the music club graduated to a downtown location that previously housed Solaris. But the wrecking ball came calling to make way for Tanger Performing Arts Center. The loss of one of the few black-owned businesses in downtown is a bitter pill to swallow, but it goes down easier considering that Boston’s has taken up residency in the more spacious room that was once Warehouse 29. Just as in the old venues, singer Vanessa Ferguson holds court, making jams for grown folks.
47. A/perture and Geeksboro
These two, the former in Winston-Salem and the latter in Greensboro, ruled our Screen section. While A/perture is a more traditional art-house cinema, Geeksboro operates in a similar spirit, combining a coffeehouse with movies. Taking a craft approach, they prove that businesses based on creative programming, collaboration and a localism can succeed.
48. Gay marriage
It’s not Triad specific, but the state’s ban on gay marriage being struck down had a significant impact on many Triad couples and families and was a step in the right direction.
Protesters in Greensboro repeatedly took over streets, blocking intersections or lanes of traffic in the wake of grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Mike Brown cases. The tactic is uncommon in the city, but its revival and regular usage towards the end of the year suggests a shift in the local movement. There was even a traffic disruption in Winston-Salem, and actions continued in Greensboro as recently as a Dec. 23 march in Fisher Park.
50. UNCG walkouts
Students, faculty and staff held numerous walkouts at UNCG this year protesting against a host of issues they say shows the school’s warped priorities. They even interrupted a board meeting. All of that happened before the well-publicized case of the UNCG 3 this year, a saga that continues to play out.
51. Free the UNCG 3
Speaking of which, UNCG staff photographers David Wilson and Chris English, along with their supervisor Lyda Carpen, were charged with felonies, handcuffed and taken downtown amid what appeared to be a power struggle in the University Relations Department. Amid the controversy, UNCG Chancellor Linda Brady resigned — without mention of the incident — and charges against the three were dropped in October.
52. High Point murals
The High Point Mural Project kicked off this year, beginning with a large cardinal painted by Winston-Salem artist Kendall Doub. The group already has at least one other piece to its name in town, on Washington Street, and we’re eager to see what 2015 will hold for the initiative.
53. Dixie Carroll
Let’s stick these two items together: Roy Carroll tore down the Dixie apartment building to make way for a hotel and luxury condos downtown Greensboro this year. That act may be more symbolic than any other of what is happening in the city’s core.
54. Guns, race and downtown
An after-hours gunfight on a downtown Greensboro street may or may not have had anything to do with the Lotus Lounge and its primarily black clientele. But it gave opportunity for downtown reformers to try and cleanse the street — one on which current Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann owns property — and its environs. The klieg lights went up almost overnight.
55. Tree war
Residents, especially in Greensboro’s Westerwood neighborhood, continued a war with Duke Energy over tree-trimming practices that began well before 2014.
56. Ballot referenda
A Guilford County ballot referendum seeking a 1/4-cent sales tax increase to fund schools failed while five bond referendum items for a variety of improvements in Winston-Salem passed.
Co-working arrived on the Triad scene in a big way this year. With the opening of Flywheel in Winston-Salem and Collab in Greensboro, as well as the Forge makerspace and plans for Greensboro HQ, it appears to be an idea whose time has come (though places such as Studioboro had already put the concept into practice locally).
58. High Point University women’s basketball
In 2013, the High Point University Panthers won the most conference games in their history and played in the National Invitation tournament, thanks in large part to the leadership of Head Coach DeUnna Hendrix. They haven’t won every game this year, but even their losses make them look good. Consider that they played from behind only to lose to NC State by four points. The team’s moxie paid off when they came back from a 12-point deficit to beat the College of William and Mary.
59. Election Night in Dem HQ
Things got real quiet real fast on Election Night at the Greensboro Coliseum, where Kay Hagan planned to celebrate her first re-election campaign in the US Senate, and Democratic candidate Laura Fjeld hoped against hope to pick off enough votes from rival Mark Walker to win Howard Coble’s old seat in the 6th US Congressional District.
Fjeld may have been done for even before her boots touched Guilford County soil, but Hagan went into the evening with a solid, if not unshakable, lead that began to dissolve as Alma Adams acknowledged her own landslide victory against Vince Coakley for the 12th US Congressional District seat, vacated by Mel Watt when he was tapped to run Fannie Mae.
Hagan’s Senate race against Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis was — at $113 million, $81 million of it spent by groups outside the candidates’ control — the most expensive in US history, according to opensecrets.org. It was noteworthy for the bizarre series of attack ads from both camps, the inclusion of Libertarian spoiler candidate Sean Haugh, a former pizza-delivery driver, and that Tillis’ win contributed to the Republican takeover of the majority in the Senate.
60. Phuzz Phest
Entering its fourth year, Phuzz Phest gained steam as a solid and affordable contender in North Carolina’s indie music festival pantheon. The festival and its sister record label received a nick when one of its artists was unceremoniously dumped following allegations of assault against women. But that should hardly overshadow the festival’s triumphs. Exhibit A was the euphoric reception for T0W3RS in the courtyard at Single Brothers, along with a joyously unhinged set by garage rockers the Tills at Krankies. Both acts eventually signed to Phuzz Records, and released acclaimed records. Ex-Cult, Loamlands, White Fence, Mount Moriah, Boogarins, the bo-stevens, No Age, Jessica Lea Mayfield and Miss Eaves also turned in memorable sets.
61. Forsyth election meltdown
The Forsyth County Board of Elections’ meltdown on election night was a microcosm of the 2000 Bush v. Gore fiasco. And remember that Florida 2000 was basically an extraordinarily close election multiplied by mishaps at dozens of local elections boards across the state and then compounded by decisions from the Florida secretary of state and US Supreme Court. In Forsyth County this year, a batch of curbside early-voting ballots was misplaced until the day after the election, and two precincts were partially counted and then double counted before they sorted out the mess. A review of Chain of Custody forms for voting precincts revealed more problems, with record keeping by chief judges proving to be virtually useless given the magnitude of errors and sloppiness. And in one case, a chief judge allowed upwards of dozen people to vote twice — errors that could not be undone.
62. Cycling events
Winston-Salem and High Point both hosted major cycling events, respectively the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic and the High Point Cycling Classic. At least in the case of Winston-Salem, the event is on deck for 2015, in late May.
63. Heavy Rebel Weekender
The set by Bloodshot Bill, a rock and roller from Montreal, was a highlight of the annual Heavy Rebel Weekender this year, with Josh Johnson of the Wahyas pounding the skins and Slim Perkins of the Tremors slapping the strings on bull fiddle.
64. First Fashion Week
The Triad’s first Fashion Week took over the Elm Street Center in Greensboro in September, produced by Giovanni Ramadani and Witneigh Davis, with fashions from local and national designers.
65. Eastern Music Festival
Here’s how Brian Clarey describes the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra, featuring first violinist Jeffery Multer, in action: “Multer opens, eliciting a beautiful string of notes from his instrument, and then there is the orchestra humming behind him: low strings and muted horns. The piece slowly comes to life, like a kind of magic, and the army marches us through the piece. We move across the swells and valleys of the strings, appreciate the significance of the woodwinds, rise and fall with the nuanced tension and release of the movements. It’s hard to believe that all of this organized noise is real, completely analog, devoid of amplification and yet still filling Guilford College’s Dana Auditorium all the way up to the chandeliers.”
Winston-Salem and Greensboro have both held TEDx events, and the first one was launched in High Point in 2014. It’s definitely a thing.
67. Local beer
Two Greensboro breweries, Gibb’s Hundred and Pig Pounder, opened in 2014, significantly expanding the Triad’s local beer scene. And construction at Preyer Brewing — which was announced this year, too — is well underway. In Winston-Salem, Hoots and Small Batch both celebrated one-year anniversaries this fall.
As of the June 30 deadline, 518 people had filed claims for compensation to address damages from North Carolina’s eugenics program. Thousands of poor black and white North Carolinians were forcibly sterilized against their will from 1947 through 1974. Winston-Salem played a special role, with industrialist James G. Hanes and the Winston-Salem Journal promoting the program in the late 1940s. The Journal exposed the atrocities more than 50 years later. State lawmakers Larry Womble and Earline Parmon also led the fight for reparations.
69. Devaluation of downtown High Point
There’s a lively debate about whether High Point is on a growth trajectory or not, but Triad City Beat’s investigation of the overall valuation of downtown, which is dominated by furniture showrooms, answered one part of the question conclusively. The aggregate valuation of downtown High Point dropped from $764.1 million in 2009 — before the full effect of the recession was felt — to $629.2 million in 2014. During the same period, Greensboro and Winston-Salem’s downtowns experienced robust growth.
70. Mobile market
Long-held plans for a mobile farmers market came to fruition this year with a test project in the fall. The goal of the mobile market is to address food insecurity by bringing produce to food deserts.
71. Unsolved homicides
Beginning with the murder of Cranston Hargrove, who was shot by two unidentified gunman in front of his house on the north side of the city, Winston-Salem endured a nearly unbroken string of unsolved homicides beginning in late October 2013 and continuing into April 2014. Ten out of 11 victims were black men. With 14 deaths for 2014 as of press time, Winston-Salem has one of the lowest overall homicide rates of major cities in the state, but the families of almost a dozen men still seek closure in their loved ones’ deaths.
72. No skate park
We were told this summer than plans for a skate park in Greensboro are finally moving forward. Since that article ran in early July, we haven’t heard one peep about it. Meanwhile a temporary one went up in Winston-Salem, but is now gone.
73. Police body-cams
Controversy about whether Greensboro police should release footage from officer-worn body cameras catalyzed a city-led forum on the public-records issue. While Greensboro says it is looking into the issue, there has been no public progress and public pressure has somewhat dissipated. Winston-Salem, meanwhile, is in the process of putting the cameras on patrol officers and is resisting the proposal that a third party control when the cameras are turned on or off rather than the officer involved.
74. Street-dieting controversy
The “dieting” of North Main Street was the primary initiative that came out of a visit to High Point by renowned urban planner Andrés Duany. Predictably, the High Point City Council voted the idea down, but it remained part of the campaign debate during municipal elections — primarily as an issue used against pro-revitalization candidates. A campaign mailer by a shadowy group calling itself the Citizens’ Coalition to Save Our Main Street charged that the initiative would divert traffic into residential neighborhoods, devastate local business, cause gridlock and require “a massive bond package.” Even though a new mayor with urbanist leanings was elected, it’s doubtful that the new council will pursue street-dieting, considering the controversy attached.
75. White fraternity parties
Kappa Alpha Order, a traditionally white fraternity, canceled an annual hip-hop party that had long raised concerns about the caricaturing of African Americans, but the fallout of the episode — including hateful social-media message directed at a black student who filed a complaint — opened a Pandora’s box of issues on campus. Racial diversity, excessive alcohol consumption and sexual assault all came up for discussion. Meanwhile, as the new semester began, the administration began implementing a program to replace campus police with student event staff to address complaints about excessive policing of black fraternity parties.
76. Trader Joe says no to GSO
While Winston-Salem has been up to its elbows in whole-bean, fair-trade coffee and cookie butter for a couple years now, Greensboro’s Charlie Brown has had the Trader Joe’s football swiped away at the last minute by Lucy, played in this analogy by the chorus of neighborhood folk who went against the rezoning and also, apparently, have a problem with dark-chocolate and salt encrusted almonds. High Pointers have also caught the fever with a Facebook campaign underway to lure the retailer to the Palladium.
Poor Andrew Robson and Adrian “Thunderdrum” Byington. Local musicians like Bruce Piephoff have to contend with an occasional critical review, but these young musicians working hard to develop a repertoire and hone their chops had practically the whole staff and residency of the Nissen Building in downtown Winston-Salem breathing fire at them for disrupting their rest. Whatever their musical abilities, they can claim to be the impetus of new busking rules for the city that are currently in the drafting stages.
78. School vouchers
The issue of school vouchers — er, “Opportunity Vouchers” — has roiled education leaders in the Triad. Reps. Ed Hanes Jr. and Marcus Brandon, Democrats from Winston-Salem and High Point, respectively, support them. The Guilford County School Board joined a lawsuit this year opposing them. Judge Robert Hobgood struck down legislation passed by the General Assembly to provide funding for school vouchers as unconstitutional.
Tobacco use may be in decline, but it remains a significant industry in the Triad. This year Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American acquired Lorillard, a company with a significant presence in Greensboro, and promptly sold off some of its assets while expanding its workforce in Tobaccoville to ramp up production of e-cigs. At least two members of the Triad City Beat editorial team retain a significant relationship to the leaf: Managing Editor Jordan Green worked in tobacco as a teenager, and Editor in Chief Brian Clarey still smokes.
80. Voter suppression
Opponents of a massive overhaul of state voting law by Republican lawmakers lost a significant battle when US District Judge Thomas Schroeder declined to put a stay on the elimination of same-day registration and voting and a contraction of the early-voting period. Forsyth County voters waited up to three-and-a-half hours in the rain this fall to vote on the last day of early voting, which favored Democratic candidates. It’s hard to say whether a sizeable enough number of voters were deterred to make a difference, but it’s possible that the new restrictions cost Kathie Fansler the election to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board.
81. Historic tax credits
If one factor can be credited with the renaissance of the downtowns of North Carolina cities, it’s probably historic-preservation tax credits. They helped finance the rehabilitation of landmarks like BioTech Place and the Nissen Building in Winston-Salem, and the International Civil Rights Center & Museum and the Cone Export Building in Greensboro. Gov. Pat McCrory highlighted his support for the revitalization tool with a public appearance in front of Pickett Cotton Mill — now BuzziSpace — in High Point. But the Republican majority in the General Assembly was determined to eliminate the tax credits to antagonize Democratic constituencies in the cities. And they did.
82. Affordable housing
The African-American members of Winston-Salem City Council have been vocal proponents of ensuring that the downtown boom doesn’t push out poor people. They backed their words with action when they pushed through a city loan to Goler Community Development Corp. to develop affordable housing in the northeast quadrant of downtown.
83. Community radio
The Federal Communications Commission granted a construction permit for a new, low-power FM radio station in Greensboro, paving the way for a community-run outlet in the northeastern part of the city.
84. Sex slavery
North Carolina is a crucial transit point for drugs and sex trafficking, and the Triad cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem are no exception. Federal court documents revealed a sophisticated trafficking ring that lured women from Central America to North Carolina on the pretext that they would be paid to clean houses, only to discover that they were forced to work as prostitutes. Participants in the sex-slavery ring received prison sentences ranging from 18 months to three years.
85. Economic development?
Despite a robust economy in downtown Greensboro, the city council’s economic development committee is in shambles, though they’d prefer to describe it as on hold. Things at the Greensboro Partnership aren’t much better, and uncertainty abounds about Downtown Greensboro Inc. and other entities charged with fostering economic development in the city. So what does that say about the role of government and nonprofit initiatives to boost economic development?
86. Not hazing at High Point University
A lawsuit against High Point University President Nido Qubein’s son Michael, the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and another student over the death of fraternity pledge Robert Tipton Jr. was dismissed in August. The younger Qubein was pledgemaster of the fraternity at the time of Tipton’s death, which the coroner ruled as an overdose of prescription drugs. No criminal charges were filed.
87. Trial by judge
North Carolina voters in 2014 approved by about 6 points a referendum that allows criminal defendants to waive a trial by jury and take it to the judge, something allowed in all 49 other states. If there is a sinister motive behind this legislation, we can’t figure out what it is.
88. 0 for Ebola
Though our collective fears were pumped up considerably in the early part of the year, not a single case of an Ebola virus infection was reported or treated in the state of North Carolina.
89. The politics of poetry
In July, Gov. Pat McCrory chose little-known poet Valerie Macon to be the state’s poet laureate, raising the ire of the entire North Carolina poetry community, which turned out to be a formidable bunch. Macon stepped down shortly after her credentials were questioned. And in a testament to short attention spans, on Dec. 22 McCrory named a new poet laureate, the ably credentialed Shelby Stephenson. Too bad no one cares anymore.
90. Pay to play
In June, Jeff Gauger, editor and publisher of the N&R, announced a partnership between his newspaper and ArtsGreensboro, a nonprofit that raises money to support and distribute to various arts groups around the city. He said, without irony or shame, that the N&R would publish 70 ArtsGreensboro-based stories in 2014 for the modest sum of $15,000 — not a lot of money to violate one of the tenets of our profession.
91. Downtown Greensboro Inc.
The economic development and booster organization has struggled this year, pulling off a strategic board retreat to retool itself but still coming under fire for not moving quickly enough. A lauded marketing campaign and recent changes to the board also marked this year for DGI, but its future remains uncertain.
92. Triad Stage
The year bridged the venerable theater’s 13th and 14th seasons, which included expansion of the program to the Hanesbrands Theatre in Winston-Salem, debuting the program with a reprise of Brother Wolf from singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett and Artistic Director Preston Lane. A memorable run of Carson McCullers’ A Member of the Wedding, a small-cast performance of My Fair Lady and a rendition of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps gave weight to the performances at the Pyrle Theatre in Greensboro.
93. City Project
Once the standard-bearer of new urbanism and revitalization in High Point, a vote by city council to reassign Executive Director Wendy Fuscoe to other duties, the city-sanctioned nonprofit found itself largely sidelined. Anger at the decision prompted supporters to channel their energies into electoral politics, with some success, and debate about revitalization has continued apace.
94. Stone Brewing
Though Greensboro did not ultimately land Stone Brewing, one of the country’s largest craft beer makers, the efforts to woo Stone involved considerable public buy-in and attention this year. A collaborative effort between several area organizations, including a promotional video shot by the folks at Pace Communications, came together to put forward an enticing offer. As far as we know, a primary reason Stone Brewing ultimately chose Richmond, Va. as its East Coast home base was the extensive state incentives involved. While this one wasn’t a win for Greensboro, the fact that the Gate City made such a valiant effort and made it so far in the competition means it wasn’t a loss, either.
95. ‘5’ Royales
The ‘5’ Royales have long been credited as architects of rock and roll, even though the Winston-Salem group’s legendary guitar player Lowman Pauling died in obscurity in New York City in the early 1970s. They will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. You can quote Jordan Green on this: “When I first heard the ‘5’ Royales… I felt I had discovered the Rosetta stone of pop music: an obscure, gritty ’50s R&B cut called ‘The Slummer the Slum’ that provided the missing link to contextualize the entire span of pop music from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Jay Z.”
96. Madcap Cottage
The gents from Madcap Cottage, who are veterans of the International Home Furnishings Market, made quite an impression this year by opening a design lab and retail space on Church Avenue. Their relocation from Brooklyn to High Point is a rare endorsement of the Third City’s assets, but some natives are already lashing out at Madcap partner Jason Oliver Nixon for having the audacity to propose change.
97. Renaissance Community Co-op
A community initiative to bring a grocery store to the historically marginalized northeast side of Greensboro chugged along this year, and recently announced that it is hiring a general manager.
98. Daddy Issues
The Greensboro punk-pop quartet Daddy Issues formed just as the calendar turned last year, attracting buzz because of its unique gender makeup and the genuine feminine aggression in its live set. From the house-show circuit to the corner at New York Pizza on Tate Street they built a fan base, moved to bigger stages and started booking out-of-town gigs. They even appeared on WUNC’s The State of Things. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a studio album in 2015.
Elsewhere, probably the Triad’s most unusual arts space, received a significant grant to create art interventions in four public spaces in downtown Greensboro. This is also the final year that Elsewhere will have to close for the winter, assuming all work to fix it up goes well.
100. Triad City Beat
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