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GRIEVANCE HEARING SET
Board, On Split Vote, Rejects
Motion To Reinstate Benton
BY SI SAN USHER
A motion to reinstate farmer
schin>l maintenance supervisor Od
eli Benton pending further investiga
tion tailed on a 2-3 vote of the
Brunswick County Board of Educa
tion Monday night
Member Polly Ruxs said she
didn't know "how it would go"
when she made the motion just as
Chairman Donna Baxter began to
adjourn the meeting at Shallotte
Middle School, even though the per
sonnel issue had been discussed in
Member Yvonne Bright joined
Russ in voting for the motion, with
members Thurman Cause. Donna
Baxter and Bill Fairley voting
Approximately 75 people attend
ed the meeting in the school media
center, many of them in a show of
support for Benton. Only a few visi
tors were present when the board re
turned to open session just before 10
p.m. after meeting for more than two
hours behind closed doors on per
sonnel and other issues.
Immediately after the board vote,
(lien Peterson, the school board's at
torney. told reporters that since
Benton's ap|>eal was pending before
the board, i! would not be appropri
ate for the board to interfere in the
decision made by the superinten
The board plans to hear Benton's
appeal in closed session Tuesday.
Jiin. ! S. 5 y r* .i! the c?n!r!''
fice in Southport.
"This whole thing has obviously
escalated." said Russ later. "I think
maybe it was a quick decision. I was
hoping we could reinstate him and
then investigate further it that was
warranted. We need to bring closure
to this and make a decision.
"I just felt is was something I
Russ said that while she believes
the board should be united, that with
five members there are times when
they are going to disagree on how to
get something done, and that some
times those differences will be no
ticeable in public. "I've come to un
derstand that it's alright for us to do
that." she said.
On Dec. 17. just before the
schools began a two-week holiday.
Benton was notified he was being
fired, effective Jan. 3. for his alleged
role in the improper sale last July 20
of school-ow ned property to a Long
Beach restaurant owner and opera
He has since filed a grievance
against the board, say ing he \%as not
involved w ith the sale and should be
given back his job.
Benton said that when restaurant
owner Jarvis Jones, who is his
brother-in-law. inquired about buy
ing the equipment, he referred Jones
to Rebecca Brandon, child nutrition
After inspecting the equipment,
which had been removed to the
maintenance garage trom the South
port Elementary School cafeteria
during renovations. Jones contacted
Brandon and eventually bought the
items for $350.
When Jones called the mainte
nance department to see if it could
deliver the equipment. Benton said
he and his fellow supervisor, Bab
son. agreed because that was a cour
tesy extended to other purchasers.
Jones presented his receipt and a
list of items purchased and the items
were loaded for delivery. Jones
asked lor delivery not to his restau
rant. but to a restaurant supply busi
ness in Wilmington, owned by a
nephew. School officials learned lat
er that 12 of the 4b items sold to
Jones were later resold through the
business for $7.<X(H).
The initial sale violated school
system procedure, since the items
had not been declared surplus by the
school board, then advertised for
sale or auction to the public.
Benton was fired, the school sys
tem has filed suit against Jones in an
effort to recover the cafeteria equip
ment or its cash value, and Brandon,
who said she didn't know the proper
procedure for disposal of property,
County Report Card Shows
Local Students Still Laa
Here are some specific 1993 Report Card findings for Brunswick
? Compared to 33.9 percent locally, about 39.0 percent of high school
students tested statewide scored at proficiency level (the equivalent of As
and Bs on the multiple-choice sections) on core course tests in 1993.
Core courses are taken by most students and are required to graduate: al
gebra 1, biology, economic/legal/political systems and U.S. history.
? Countvwide, 38.3 pcrcent of all 1993 graduates (down from 45 per
cent in 1992) met the course requirements for admission to a member
campus of the University of North Carolina system: four units of English,
U.S. History and one other social studies; a biological science, a physical
science and one lab course; three math, including algebra 1 and 2 and
geometry, or higher.
? Within the cluster, New Bern-Craven Schools reported the highest
percentage of students attaining proficient levels on core course tests,
45.6 percent, a difference of 11.7 points.
S The achievement gap between local fcigh school students and ilicii
peers statewide was evident in advanced elective indicators in math
(combined data for geometry and algebra 2) and science (chemistry and
physics). While participation rates were similar, a much smaller percent
age of local students taking those courses scored at or above proficient
level. Participation rate was based on the number of students (based on
eighth grade enrollment) who would have been eligible to take the elec
In math the participation rale was 52.7 percent state, 50.1 percent
county. Statewide 40.4 percent of those tested scored proficient, com
pared to 29.8 percent locally. In science, participation was 27.3 percent
state, 26.2 percent county. Statewide 43.4 percent were rated proficient,
compared to 28.9 percent here.
? The average combined SAT score for Brunswick County students
tested rose to 806, the highest in five years, up from 781 last year. The
state average is 834, down from 855 last year. There was no indication of
the number of students tested each year.
? Student attendance improved, rising from 94 percent in 1992 to
95.11 percent in 1993. The statewide standard is 94.72 percent.
BThe county's already good dropout rate continues to improve, falling
from 1.82 percent to 1.75 percent. 'Hie state standards is 2.79 pcrcent.
? On the multiple-choice section of the end-of-grade reading tests for
grades 3-8, 60.9 percent of local students taking the test scored at or
above grade level, compared to 62.6 percent statewide. Within the clus
ter, Randolph County ranked highest, with 66.3 percent.
Schools Get Report Card
(Continued From Page 1-A) because our community characteris
tics are a lot more similar. That is
said, "but are nut where we want to fair because supposedly the only
be. It's not acceptable." variable that's different is the educa
However. the schix)ls maintained tional experience."
the standards required tor state ac- ,
.i l nmc 'n comparison with those svs
creditation through 1995. . ,. . ... , .. . - .
. j i . terns. (alhoun said, I don t think
I he report cam provides in?ln-:t
, . . . , . we re verv good. I here s a Pig dis
tors lor the state as a whole and : f . . ? ,
rr?*ntniM Iv-lwi-cn i?nr inniivitorv 'intl
Brunswick C ountv. and also ranks . ' . "
. . those o! the top svstems vsithin our
the local school system within its Cjuslcr
"school district cluster." These are
schools across the state that are very "That's an indication we have
similar in community characters- some work to do." he admitted
tics, such as educational level, in- frankly. "We have to get belter."
come and poverty levels, single-par- Brunswick County is clustered
ent families, and parental employ- with Cumberland, f ranklin, (iran
ment. including mothers in the labor ville. Pender. Person, Randolph,
force, based on I'M) U.S Census Rockingham and Wilson county
data. schools and Elizabeth City/Pasquo
"That's a better comparison (than tank. Franklinton City and New
with neighboring school systems) Bern-Craven schools.
Hospital Rulina Handed Down
(( ontinui'd From Pane 1-At The county wasn't exempted, hut
process for a management company, the maneuvering meant the new
The hospital authority entered in- law 's passage was delayed until July
to a 141-year lease agreement on May 2. leaving a gap in which there was
17, 19K4. with the intent that the no legislation governing the leasing
lease would he converted to 40 years of a public hospital to a for-profit
if a law limiting leases to 10 years company.
expired ... A declaratory judgment. *uch as
Unresolved since I(>X4 had Ken .. . ....... . .
, . the one souuht hy Health I rust Inc.
the question ol whether the lease . . . .. ...
. ,, . .. , . and its suhsidiarv. Hospital C orpor
hadbeen automatically extended . , K .. . '
, .. .... . . . . ation ot North ( arolina. which actu
As he old hospital legislation a||% ,he lc,lsc s, |a|es ,hc
expired on June 30 I0H4. a h.l! was ks ? ,hc >s
introduced to replace it effective
? * - C..r> v r - J. . lr
I Kmc ?w), ?? v ??? ??V ...
Itllll ?l> <1 MII.II
of Tahor City attempted to have judgment or decree, bul is different
Brunswick County exempted from in that it does not seek execution or
the new law. performance from anyone.
STAFF PHOTO BY SUSAN USHER
First Baby Of '94
Taylor Brett Hufjkin, Brunswick County's Jirst baby of the year, ar
rived at The Brunswick Hospital at 1:01 p.m. Jan. 4, weighing <V
pounds and measuring 21 inches long. Shown above with his
mother, Taylor is the son of Jane and James Buffkin of Grisset
town, and has a brother, Jordan. Taylor and his parents received
a package o f gifts provided by the hospital, its auxiliary and local
Landfill Site Proposed Near River
Alarms Neiahbors. Fishermen
(Continued From Page I-A)
lx'land, another committee member.
"I don't know where, not yet...I'm
not anywhere near ready to vote
At Tuesday's meeting. Harrelson
tried to quell some fears that the
new landfill might leak.
He said there's a "very remote
possibility" that groundwater or sur
tace waters would become contami
nated. "It's going to be contained. I
think the rules are very explicit on
Consultant Tom Austin said state
and federal regulations require thai
new landfills be lined with a materi
al similar to bed liners on pickup
trucks to prevent leaching.
Two feet of compacted clay and
one foot of gravel must be placed on
top of the liner. Also, rules require a
vertical separation of at least eight
feet between the groundwater and
"The F.PA says this design will
provide reasonable protection for
groundwater." Austin said.
But some residents said they were
"There's no assurance that you're
going to keep that pollution in the
landfill and out of our dear, dear riv
er." said Wallace Smith, a member
of Save Our Shellfish.
Smith said the fishermen's organi
zation has been working for more
than five years to clean up pollution
in the Lock wood Folly.
"We've had a few gains and a few
-.ctbacks. primarily due to govern
ment." Smith said. "We are sup
posed to leave the land in better
shape than we found il for our chil
dren and others that follow us."
Carson Price ot Supply asked
what would happen if there was a
hurricane and unusually high
groundwater levels. "You cannot
guard against an act of God." he
Also speaking at Tuesday's meet
ing was William Burney. who repre
sented approximately 25 people
from the Royal Oak community who
turned out to oppose the landfill
Varnamtown's mayor pro tem.
T unis Swain, told the committee that
the town hoard opposes the live sites
in the Bolivia/Supply area.
He said all five border tributaries
of the Lockwood Folly River, which
flows past Varnamtown. "We're not
going to stand idly by and allow you
to pollute more." he said.
While no action was taken this
week, the county can't afford to wait
too long before choosing a site.
County Hngineer Robert Tucker said
a new landfill must be operational
by Jan. I. 1WX.
"Four years away is not a lot of
time when you're dealing with a
sensitive issues like a new landfiit
site." Tucker said.
Besides building a new landfill.
Tucker said officials are looking into
other waste management alterna
tives such as using New Hanover
County's incinerator or a proposed
regional incinerator in Columbus
Even if those options are ap
proved. however. Tucker said the
county w ill still need a new landfill
as a backup.
Icy Fingers Of Arctic Mass
May Reach Area By Weekend
Temperatures are expected to temperatures to average around 30
dip below. normal o\er the next lew degrees at night to about 50 degrees
days, and In the weekend could during the daytime, with approxi
drop to some ot the coldest temper- mately one-halt inch of precipna
atures the area has lelt in at least 10 tion.
ycar*: .. . hor the period of Jan. 4-10. a
Shallotte Point meteorologist , . r ,c i ? >
. . . high ot to degrees was recorded
Jackson ( anadv saiu the area could . ' -, . . ? .
. . Jan. 7 and a low ol 23 degrees was
lie altected hv a serious outbreak ol . . , ...
- ... , recorded on Jan. 111.
arctic air by the end of the week. II
so. we could gel some of the coldest A daily average high of 55 de
weather we've had in a long lime." grees combined with a nightly aver
he said. But Jackson said Tuesday it age low of 35 degrees for a daily
was still too early to predict the average temperature of 45 degrees,
southward movement ot the mass or which is about normal, said C'anady.
how cold temperatures might drop. He recorded two-tenths of an
The short-term forecast calls lor inch of rainfall
buying or selling.
"Even if you have an incinerator
you have to have a land!ill. li s a
must." said siting committee mem
ber Major White, who served 10
years as the countv's landfill direc
L.A. Lewis of Supply said he is
opposed to building another landfill.
"It will come back to haunt you if
you bury it. I'd rather pay to have
this stuff hauled 1.000 miles than
have it buried in Brunswick
Still others suggested the county
consider building the new landfill in
the Green Swamp.
"That Green Swamp has gol a lot
of territory ain't nobody living in."
said Gene Sellers of Supply. "I
know there's some high property up
there that could be used."
Austin said putting the new land
fill in the swamp would not work for
three reasons: it would cost too
much, the soils are not suitable and
there are too many wetlands.
Concern about a new landfill near
her home. Lizzie Mitchell of Supply
said not all residents are fortunate
enough to be connected to the coun
ty water system.
She said a lot of people depend on
clean wells. "We don't want to die
from polluted drinking water."
Wilmington resident 0.B.
McLelland, a native of Bolivia, said
he hunts and fishes every year on
one of the landfill sites being con
"This land should not be de
stroyed. There are some of the old
est cypress tress in there," he said.
"You're going to destroy a piece of
property that holds an awful lot of
wildlife. Where are they going t<?
Listing Jan. 31
(Continued From Page I-A)
member that all personal property
should He listed for tax purposes b>
Jan. 31. That includes boats, farm
equipment, business pcf,suiMl |?uji
erty and single-wide trailers. Dou
ble-wide mobile homes are listed as
real estate. A 10 percent late-listing
penally will be added to the tax bills
of those who tail to return the form
Licensed motor vehicles are no
longer included in the January list
ing. Owners will receive tax infor
mation on their vehicles when the\
renew their annual registration.
Tax Supervisor Boyd Williamson
suggested that anyone who is new to
the county and did not receive a tax
listing form should call the county
In a process he described as or
derly" and in numbers he regarded
as "normal." Williamson said that
about 2.5(H) taxpayers have called to
schedule informal appeals ol their
1993 tax revaluation. He expects ,i
total of 3.000 or more to meet with
appraisers to discuss their revised
Anyone who feels their properh
has been improperly valued catl
schedule a meeting with an apprais
er who will show the owner the
evaluation forms, maps and local re
al estate data used to establish the
property's fair market value. State
law requires the county to base in
land valuations on 1(H) percent ol
fair market value.
With about a third of the informal
appeals complete, Williamson said
"onlv handful" have been dissatis
fied with the results and requested .i
hearing before the county Board ot
Equalization and Review. Fewer
board hearings are being requested
this year, "piobably because the in
crease (in valuations) was not as
great as it was eight years ago.
"We're still making appointments
for informal hearings, but it has
slowed down quite a bit." Wil
liamson said. "Anyone who has
questions about their revaluation
should try to make an appointment
within the next couple weeks so we
can close out this phase and move
on to formal hearings with the board
ol equali/.ation and review."
Anyone who has a question about
their new tax appraisal or who wants
to schedule ;'n infnrmil hearing with
an appraiser should call the revalua
tion office at (910) 253-7616. The
hearings are held at the county tax
otlice and take about 20 minutes.
Hstahlished Nov. 1. l'M)2
Published Every Thursday
At 47(1') Main Street
Shallotte. N ( 2S45l>
IN BRUNSWICK COUNTY
One Year $10.36
Six Months $5.55
One Year Si4.80
Six Months $7.90
ELSEWHERE IN U.S.A.
One Year $15.95
Six Months S8.35
Second class postage paid at
Shallotte. N.C. 28459. USPS 777
780. Postmaster, send address
P.O. Box 2558,
Shallotte, N.C. 28459-2558
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SHALLOTTE. NORTH CAROLINA 28459
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ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION RATES BY MAIL: Sr. Citizen
In Brunswick County J6.30 j5 30
N.C. Sales lax .38 .32
Postage Chargo 3 68 3 68
TOTAL 10.36 9.30
Elsewhere in North Carolina j6 30 J5.30
N.C. Sales Tax .38 .32
Postage Charge 8.18 8.18
TOTAL 14.86 13.80
Outside North Carolina j6 30 j5.30
Postage Charge 9 65 Q 65
TOTAL 15.95 14.95
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