The Winston-Salem City Council vote on a new name for the Dixie Classic Fair could be an epic cliffhanger Monday night, and could even result in Mayor Allen Joines having to break the rare council tie.
The city council’s general-government committee voted 3-1 this week to endorse the name Carolina Classic. The one council member voting against that name wants the name to be Piedmont Classic, as do two other council members who aren’t members of that committee.
With council members who have taken a stand tied at 3-3, the situation puts Council Members Vivian Burke and James Taylor in the catbird seat Monday. If Burke and Taylor go different ways on the name, the decision could rest on Joines.
The three did not tip their hands going into the weekend.
“Either name would be alright as far as I’m concerned,” said Burke, who represents Northeast Ward. “I just want peace and harmony, and if we can just move on from this and have an outstanding fair, the city will be pleased.”
Burke and Taylor said they are planning to talk to people in their wards to sample the feeling before making a decision.
“I’ve actually been on the phone with a few of my constituents,” said Taylor, who represents the Southeast Ward. “Whatever it is, hopefully it will be in the best interest of all the people. It’s a game-day decision.”
And what will Joines do if it comes down to him?
“I’m going to break the tie,” the mayor responded, adding a laugh as he declined to be pinned down. “I like both names. Each one has their own benefits.”
After a lot of heated debate among citizens over whether the word Dixie was or was not a symbol of slavery or segregation, the city council voted Aug. 19 to change the name of the fair but left it up in the air what the new name would be.
On the general-government committee this week, the Carolina Classic name was favored by North Ward Council Member D.D. Adams, Southwest Ward Council Member Dan Besse and West Ward Council Member Robert Clark.
The dissenting vote was cast by East Ward Council Member Annette Scippio, who said after the meeting that she likes Piedmont Classic.
South Ward Council Member John Larson and Northwest Ward Council Member Jeff MacIntosh said they favored the name Piedmont Classic as well, although they didn’t get votes this week since they don’t sit on the general-government committee.
At issue, basically, is whether the Carolina Classic name is too broad. Twin City Classic had already been rejected as too narrow because of the fair’s regional reach.
Advocates of the Carolina Classic name say it would pull together two historic names local fairs have borne over time: The Carolina Fair was the last name of the fair that most black residents attended until it went out of business with integration at the Dixie Classic Fair.
But MacIntosh and Larson have been pointing out that Carolina covers the length and breadth of the state, not to mention the whole state of South Carolina as well. They were also noting in committee that people may think of Chapel Hill when they think of Carolina. Or even Columbia, S.C., home of the University of South Carolina.
It’s also been mentioned that the Greensboro fair is called the Central Carolina Fair. Some people have asked if that could be confusing?
“It is much less well-known than the one based in Winston-Salem,” Besse said. “I think the fact that we use a name like Carolina Classic will insulate us from any of that.”
Adams said the fair here draws from many mountain counties that are certainly not in the Piedmont.
“It could go down to the wire,” Adams said. “The other two council members are playing their cards close to the chest.”
Under council rules, a split vote in committee automatically puts an issue up for debate during Monday’s 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall. Items that pass unanimously in committee are put on what is called the consent agenda and often pass without debate or discussion.
A decision on the name is needed by November, when fair planning for the 2020 edition is due to start.
In related news, Dixie Classic Fair officials said attendance at the fair this year was 292,321, up slightly over the five-year average.
With the Dixie Classic name going away, though, people snapped up merchandise featuring the Dixie Classic logo, said Siobhan Olson, speaking for the fair.
People bought everything from ball caps and sweaters to Mason jars and cookbooks, moving 4,022 pieces of merchandise and racking up almost $47,000 in sales.
That’s a 1,200% increase over 2018, Olson said.
Kathleen Garber, who chairs the city’s Fair Planning Committee, pointed out that her committee had recommended that the city hire a consultant to pick the best new name. In the end, council members elected to save money by choosing the name themselves.
Garber said that while some people believe the name Carolina might cause confusion, “we would have the existing Classic name in there that would kind of differentiate us.”
Garber said she doesn’t feel strongly either way on the two sugested names.
“Piedmont would avoid some of the confusion,” she said. “It kind of speaks to us being a regional fair but not the state fair.”
A city panel recently recommended the sale of land to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools near Fairview Park for a new Ashley elementary school but getting to a completed bricks and mortar building could take some time.
Following the Finance Committee of the Winston-Salem City Council’s unanimous vote to sell the land, the full city council is expected to vote on the sale of 18 lots of surplus property for $207,076 at its meeting on Monday.
“There are still some steps in the process to go,” said Walker, WSFCS’s assistant superintendent of operations.
Katie Sonnen-Lee, the vice president of Action4Equity, formerly called the Action4Ashley Coalition, understands that.
“This is one step down a long road,” Sonnen-Lee said.
The Action4Ashley Coalition started in 2017 as a group of concerned citizens and organizations advocating for students, teachers and staff at Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies, which is off Bowen Boulevard in eastern Winston-Salem. The group changed its name in the fall of 2018. Since then, the group has expanded its focus and is now a multiracial coalition advocating for equity for students in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
“We focus on three main areas: academic achievement, access to high quality instruction, and safe healthy school environments,” said Sonnen-Lee.
Action4Equity is hopeful that a resolution to sell the land will be passed by the city council on Monday.
Sonnen-Lee said that securing the land is an important step in the planning process, saying that WS/FCS officials can’t plan for such things as grading the land, connecting a sewer system or getting electricity to the building if they don’t know what lot they will work on.
“This is an important part so that they can move forward with planning,” she said. “Of course, when planning happens, we will work hard to get community members at the planning meetings that the school system has with the community so that the parents can really advocate for what they want to see in the new school.”
Ashley Academy has been in the spotlight for some time because of concerns over indoor air quality at the school.
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board decided last year to put in a new HVAC system as a temporary solution at the existing school.
The cost was more than $1.5 million in total that also covered repairs to the roof, ceiling and other areas in the building.
In August 2018, the Action4Ashley Coalition filed a complaint against Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and the school board with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, claiming inaction and neglect in regard to concerns about mold and indoor air-quality at Ashley Academy for Global and Cultural Studies.
“Specifically, complainants seek remedies for the district’s inadequate and discriminatory response to the long-term and persistent complaints from parents and school staff that mold, water leaks, excessive moisture and poor indoor air quality at Ashley Academy are impacting the health, safety, and education of students and teachers,” the complaint reads.
It concludes by stating that the school system’s “inadequate and sluggish response to the Ashley crisis cannot be explained by any reason other than intentional racial discrimination,” violating Title IV of the federal Civil Rights Act.
The group asked for a new school as soon as possible.
The Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation in December 2018.
The tracts of land are vacant that the city would sell to the schools. The city bought the tracts more than 10 years ago, and in 2005 decided to sell them to the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, which placed a deposit on the properties but never followed through with the purchase. The plan is for the city to now rescind the HAWS’ agreement and return HAWS’ bid deposit of $5,800.
In addition to the city land, the school district would acquire about 2½ acres from HAWS and 1½ acres from individual property owners.
Overall, the purchases should total 10 to 12 acres and there are between eight and 10 different owners.
“Right now, all of them are optioned under contract,” Walker said referring to the properties.
Voters in 2016 approved a $350 million bond package that includes money for design work for the new Ashley Academy but no money to purchase land and build the school.
Walker said that if the city council approves the sale of the land to the school system, then the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education will have to find and approve a source of money to pay for the land.
Next, the school board would need to get approval from the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to purchase the land.
“Right now, what we’re trying to do is just secure the property,” Walker said.
He said that the 2016 bond money to design the school would not be available until around the 2023-24 school year.
Although the process will be stretched out over time, Walker said, he believes the favorable recommendation by the Winston-Salem Council’s Finance Committee “will allow the community to feel like the board has heard their request and that they have done something and tried to move forward by purchasing this land as a location for a future school, whenever that may be.”
Action4Equity hopes that things will move as quickly as possible.
“Every day that students stay in that school is another day that they are inhaling mold, and we know the effects of that is really detrimental to their health and their learning,” Sonnen-Lee said.
The group likes that the possible site for the new school is about six blocks from the existing Ashley Academy.
“We’re advocating on what the community and the parents want and we heard over and over again from the community that they wanted to make sure that the new Ashley school stayed in the same neighborhood to serve the same children,” said Sonnen-Lee.
Ashley advocates have pointed to how the district handled problems at Hanes/Lowrance middle school. The schools were closed in February 2015 after pressure from parents concerned about toxic chemicals in the groundwater beneath the schools’ joint campus. In that case, the board voted in February to close the school and the students were moved in March.
School officials say Ashley is safe.
Walker said that from a facility perspective, the existing Ashley school “is a solid building that functions well.”
“It’s well lit,” Walker said. “It’s cleaned well. It has good air quality.”
Some people have questioned the need for a new Ashley school and voiced concerns that recently proposed development in the area could cause gentrification.
For example, HAWS is hoping to win a $30 million grant for redevelopment in the nearby area of Cleveland Avenue Homes, a public housing project.
Kellie Easton, president of Action4Equity, said that Ashley Academy needs a new location because the existing building is behind a creek.
“There will always be these high levels of moisture,” Easton said.
She said that Ashley is not the only school with such issues, but she said, “When you look at the schools that are being built on the peripheral in the white communities, you don’t have those types of problems.”
In regards to development in the area, Easton said that current development plans are designed to serve the community and are community lead.
“She believes that people have learned from the past.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as easy to flip this one by without having the community and advocates for the community at the table to ensure that this is a school for black and brown children,” Easton said.
Still, she said that there is a possibility that the new Ashley could become an integrated school at some point.
“Our job, regardless, is to ensure that that school serves the demographic that it serves right now,” she said. “What that means for us is that they live in that area, that the school is in their zone.”
She added that for people to live in that area there needs to be amenities to serve the families, including affordable housing.
The Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity has been at the forefront of the request for a new Ashley and started working with Action4Equity when it was Action4Ashley, said the Rev. Tembila Covington, president of the Ministers’ Conference.
“That is around bringing about an environment that is conducive for successful outcomes for the students and also for their well-being,” said Covington. “The bottom line is that it’s about bringing about some equitable education for our students who have been basically challenged with environmental issues prior to that.”
She said although the school has been revamped there are still concerns that its environment could cause health issues.
She said that the Ministers’ Conference would like to see the construction of the new Ashley take place sooner rather than later.
“I think that in moving forward toward the selling of the land is a positive note,” Covington said. “But we still stand by our mission, which is to be a voice to the marginalized and disenfranchised and certainly those that are not receiving an equitable education. We stand with all those who are concerned with the environmental issues and are concerned with any lack of resources that are provided to the students at Ashley elementary.”
She said that HAWS and Urban Strategies Inc., a consultant, met recently with faith-based leaders to provide details about plans to redevelopment the area of Cleveland Avenue Homes.
“Now, we have a better understanding,” Covington said. “It’s going to enable the community members that are there to remain, and we feel confident that that is the goal of the work there, to provide as well a facelift and some improvements.”
A 17-year-old is dead after a shooting Thursday night in the Waughtown neighborhood, according to the Winston-Salem Police Department.
Investigators say the same gun used to kill Jumil Robertson, a high school senior, was used minutes earlier in a separate crime.
Officers went to the 1700 block of Argonne Boulevard about 10:30 p.m. after receiving a call about gunshots being fired in the area, police said.
Officers found Robertson, who had an apparent gunshot wound, on the side of the street. Police didn’t specify the wound site.
Members of the Winston-Salem Fire Department and Forsyth County EMS attempted life-saving measures before pronouncing Robertson dead at the scene.
Robertson was a senior at Glenn High School, according to Brent Campbell, a spokesman for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Grief counselors were made available for students at Glenn, Campbell said.
“Any time there is a student death, we ask parents to check in with their children and to be aware they may be experiencing feelings of grief or sadness,” he said.
Police determined that the gun used to kill Robertson was also used in a shooting in the 2200 block of South Broad Street around 10:15 p.m.
Several shots were fired into a house on South Broad while people were inside. No one in the house was reported injured, police said.
The shooter or shooters fled both scenes in a vehicle, but the make and model is unknown, police said. There is no suspect in custody.
Beyond the same gun being used in both shootings, police have been unable to establish any connection between the residents of the house on South Broad and Jumil Robertson.
Robertson is the 20th person killed in Winston-Salem in 2019, compared with 21 during the same period of time in 2018, according to the police department.
Investigators want to interview anyone who was present at either shooting, police said.
Authorities ask anyone with information about this shooting to contact the Winston-Salem Police Department at 336-773-7700, or CrimeStoppers at 336-727-2800.
A vigil for Robertson is scheduled to be held at 8 p.m. today at the site of his shooting in the city’s southeast section.
A Winston-Salem doctor, Anne Litton White, will pay a $1,000 fine to resolve a more than two-year investigation into her practice by the N.C. Medical Board.
The board of directors approved the fine Thursday in a consent order signed by White on Oct. 9.
White has been the operator of Carolina Laser and Cosmetic Center since 2004.
The fine, and a requirement for White to continue to comply with an August 2018 consent order, represent a settlement that averted another hearing Thursday into her professional conduct. The fine must be paid by Nov. 16.
It is the fifth time White has been subject to a Medical Board notice of charges and allegations; the others occurring in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2017. The latest potential hearing was continued three times from the initial Oct. 18, 2018, date.
Her license has been suspended for a combined 110 days since 2004, the last times from May 7-16, 2018, and from July 16-26, 2018. Her practice has been operational since the second suspension ended.
“The settlement resolves all outstanding and pending charges against Dr. White,” said Brian Blankenship, the board’s deputy general counsel.
“The General Statutes do not list a specific amount for a fine. It’s part of the negotiated settlement.”
The second hearing was expected to center on three allegations against White’s practice: having 40 containers of expired medication and solutions that were more than 10 years old; having an unlicensed physician assist White with a procedure; and a patient who wanted a tattoo removed filing a complaint that he or she had been burned because the setting on a laser was alleged to have been set too high.
Instead, the consent order focused on two different claims.
In December 2017, White declined to provide a refund to a client who requested cancelling a previously scheduled procedure. The client cited being given advice by another medical provider related to a pre-existing medical condition.
White negotiated a refund in July 2018, leading to the dismissal of the December 2017 complaint.
The second complaint came in July 2018 related to unspecified services a client received in February 2018.
“The facts are that she has an active (medical) license and she has been compliant with the August 2018 consent order,” Blankenship said.
The father-son attorney team of Dan Blue II and Dan Blue III, which represent White, could not be immediately reached for comment on the settlement.
The May 2018 notice of allegations listed charges and allegations, among them that White reused syringes and dermatological products on multiple patients. Those actions would violate state medical standards.
White also was accused of giving her approval to keep, for months and in non-biohazard settings, small plastic bags of human fat and blood that had been drawn during liposuction procedures. Employees complained of a sickening smell as the residue decomposed over time.
The board took emergency action against White in May 2018, ordering an indefinite license suspension and set a June 2018 hearing.
However, White’s attorneys were able to gain May 16 a temporary restraining order against the board’s ruling from a Wake County Superior Court judge.
In June 2018, the board determined that White acted with unprofessional conduct in not meeting acceptable standards for medical care at her practice.
The board, however, did not determine that she acted with “immoral and dishonorable conduct” with her practices and procedures during a period from June 2014 to February 2018.
The board ruled at that time to give White an indefinite suspension.
However, the suspension was stayed outside a 20-day active sentence that covered May 7-16, 2018, and July 16-26, 2018.
The board did not assess a fine in June 2018, but it put White on probation for three years and required her to pay for professional monitoring of her practice for three years.
Jean Brinkley, the medical board’s communications specialist, said the monitoring requirement, which focuses on how White’s practice handles injections and liposuction procedures, “is not inexpensive and is a sign of the steps the board is taking to protect the public.”
Blue II said in June 2018 that White chose to comply with the decision and that the 20-day active suspension was acceptable in that the board recognized White’s efforts to resolve the concerns the board had expressed.
Among previous charges raised against White was that she marketed herself as a board-certified dermatologist when she wasn’t, and that she used medications that at the time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hadn’t approved.