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Have A Safe
1 994 And Happy
Making Room To Crow
A deal between Shallotte and a paper
company could give the town a place to
expand its sewer system. Page 12-A
: 1 / i
i t po
M' iri(3 SONS BOOK BINDERY
P.O. BOX 162
SPR I NGPORT MI
Thirty- Second Year, Number 9
The Year in Business
The closing of Pelican Manufacturing, the
Shallotte area's largest manufacturer, leads
local business news for 1993. Page 8-C
1 J f Ml B1UNSWK > 61 AC ON
Shallotte, North Carolina, Thursday, December 30, 1993 50c Per Copy 36 Pages, 3 Sections, Plus Inserts
T-JVi wmr ? ' ???
A Sea Of Gifts
STAFF PHOTO BY LYNN CABISON
Some of the / 16 Brunswick County families served by the Volunteer and Information Center Christmas Tree of Hope project line up to re
ceive their food and gift baskets as volunteers locate the appropriate packages. The giveaway, which took place last week in the county
maintenance garage at Bolivia, went off "unbelievably smoothly," according to VIC Executive Director Pete Barnette. Although an ac
counting had not been completed as of Tuesday, Barnette said hundreds of Brunswick County individuals and groups contributed money,
gifts and time valued "in the multiple thousands. "
'I WAS NOT INVOLVED IN SALE.' BENTON CLAIMS
Supervisor Is Fired Over Equipment Transfer
BY SUSAN USHER
What began as a follow-up on a $350 check
with no supporting paperwork has mushroomed
into the firing of a maintenance supervisor, inves
tigation into allegations of misappropriation of
school property by Brunswick County Schools
employees, and efforts to better control that prop
Odell Benton, who was fired effective Jan. 3,
said Tuesday he has filed a grievance against the
Brunswick County Board of Education, was fired
unjustly and wants his job back.
Earlier this month, the Brunswick County
Board of Education filed a civil suit against Long
Beach restaurateur Jarvis Jones, seeking at least
$10,000 or the return of cafeteria equipment im
properly sold to him on <uly 20 by Rebecca
Brandon, director of child m. -ition.
Citing their alleged roles in that transaction.
Superintendent Ralph Johnston has since fired
Benton, effective Jan. 3, and reprimanded
"They said they fired me because of involve
ment in the illegal sale of property, which was not
true. I was not involved in the sale." said Benton,
who has worked in the maintenance department
15 years, two months.
"They fired me because I'm brother-in-law to
Jarvis Jones. The only role I had was in the main
tenance department delivering the equipment,
which has been departmental procedure ever
since I've worked there."
School system officials indicated this week that
the sale and allegations raised since then by a for
mer temporary employee point to a need for
greater control of the more than $70 million in
fixed assets owned by the schools.
To that end, also as of Jan. 3, Johnston has
hired that former employee, Pam Dean of
Boiling Spring Lakes, to begin tracking down the
school systems' fixed assets ? items such as furni
'ture and equipment ? and documenting what
items are where, and what items have been pur
chased but cannot be located.
"1 don't think it's over by a long shot," said
Donna Baxter, school board chairman. "It's not
just the maintenance department; it's all across
the county. There are no policies and no one has
ever said 'you can't do this.'"
The incident, as pieced together in interviews
with school system officials, happened something
like this: On July 20, Brandon sold 46 pieces of
used cafeteria equipment to Long Beach restau
rant owner Jarvis Jones. Brandon wrote Jones a
receipt and turned his $350 check over to the fi
The equipment was later delivered to Jones by
school system employees using vehicles owned
by the school system.
Superintendent Ralph Johnston began an inter
nal investigation of the sale when the finance staff
couldn't find paperwork authorizing disposal of
the equipment. State law provides that the school
board declare property as surplus before it is sold
Baxter said soon afterward Brandon questioned
the speed with which the transaction took place
and prepared a written report for Johnston.
After his investigation Johnston concluded
Brandon erred from lack of information, having
never been told about the disposal policy.
At that time Baxter told The Brunswick Beacon
the school system planned to begin doing a better
job of informing all employees of school system
School board member Thurman Cause said he
is one of two board members who would have
preferred a different penalty. "If she (Brandon)
didn't know (the policy), she should have known
it. They (Brandon and Benton) should have been
treated the same."
It was in mid-October that the internal investi
gation took a different turn. School board member
(See EQUIPMENT, Page 2-A)
BOARD LIKELY TO PASS ORDINANCE
BY ERIC C ARLSON
The Brunswick County Com
missioners would he "derelict in
their duties" if they failed to protect
the public from the potential danger
of blasting for limestone between a
nuclear power plant and the nation's
largest ammunition terminal. Chair
man Don Warren said Tuesday.
Warren and the other commis
sioners were informed Monday that
the commander of Military Ocean
Terminal Sunny Point (MOTSU) be
lieves Martin Marietta Aggregates'
proposed rock quarry could pose the
threat of "sympathetic detonations"
to "explosive laden vehicles" pass
ing near the mine site.
Which is one of the reasons
Warren said he planned to vote in fa
vor of an ordinance aimed at pro
hibiting the mine. The law was ex
pected to pass a first reading at a
special meeting of the commission
ers scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday
(Dec. 24>). If so. it could be given fi
nal approval at the board's regular
meeting Jan. 4.
Warren said he believes Martin
Marietta officials are sincere in their
threat to sue the county for at least
$2 million if the ordinance is passed.
But he doubts that the company
would win such a suit, given mount
ing evidence that the mining opera
tion could endanger the "health,
safety and welfare" of Brunswick
"We need to do what we can to
protect the citizens," Warren said.
"This mine has been deemed a
threat to the environment and to the
lives of people in Brunswick
County ? not to mention the eco
nomic impact it could cause if
CP&L loses its license" to operate
the Brunswick Nuclear Plant.
"When commissioners, who have
police powers, see a threat and don't
try to react, they are derelict in their
duties if they don't do it."
After three drafts, the final word
ing of the law had not been finalized
Tuesday afternoon. Warren said.
County Attorney Michael Ramos
has consulted with the N.C. Institute
of Government to assure that the or
dinance is "targeted carefully to
comply with general statutes," he
New county ordinances must ei
ther pass a single unanimous vote of
the commissioners or two majority
votes. Warren said he thinks a ma
jority of the board will support an
ordinance to ban mining with explo
sives within five miles of MOTSU
and the Brunswick Nuclear Plant.
An earlier law aimed at stopping
the mine passed a first reading by a
4-to- 1 vote of the hoard, with Com
missioner Jerry Jones dissenting.
The ordinance was tabled after sev
eral representatives of the construc
tion industry complained that it
could stop them from extracting
gravel and other building materials
from borrow pits and other small
mining operations. The new law will
be aimed at alleviating those fears.
Jones said Tuesday that he
planned to vote against the new anti
mining law for the same reason he
opposed the earlier one: First, be
cause he feels state regulators will
address the necessary safety issues.
And second, because the county is
likely to get into an expensive legal
battle if the commissioners prohibit
Martin Marietta from using their
1 ,000-acre tract for the purpose they
bought it for.
"Personally, 1 don't think it
should be there," Jones said. "I think
there are a lot of legitimate concerns
about blasting and water and the
economic aspect. If it were my deci
sion to make. I'd probably deny the
"But I'm also concerned about the
potential for lawsuits. Maybe it
would he upheld in court. But what
if it couldn't be? Look who's going
to he liable." Jones said. "I wonder
if our insurance will cover us if we
do something that we know will
bring a lawsuit. I feel we should let
the state permit process take care of
In a letter to Warren last week,
Martin Marietta President Stephen
Zelnak claimed the company had
"vested rights" in their property,
which was purchased and improved
while the county's proposed zoning
law indicated that the area could be
used for mining. He warned that the
company was "perfectly prepared to
(See MOTSU, Page 2-A)
Inside. . .
r Birthdays 2B
Business News 7-NC
Church News. 3B
Crime Report NA
r Court Docket 9C
Golf I IB
People In The News 2B
INTEREST HIGH /N SHERIFF'S RACE
Filing Begins Monday
For Primary Elections
?v. ' :BY SUSAN USHER
Filing opens at noon Monday, Jan. 3. and continues until noon Feb. 7
for candidates for the May 3 primary elections for local, state and feder
al political offices.
This election season will be different in Brunswick County.
Fjjcst, all five seats on both the Brunswick County Board of Com
missioners and Board of Education are open, with winners to receive
two-year terms instead of staggered, four-year terms.
Second, all candidates for local office will come under campaign
disclosure reporting rules that in previous years only applied to multiple
county offices here, said Supervisor Lynda Britt of the Brunswick
County Board of Elections.
Brunswick County should have come under the disclosure rules in
the 1992 election, following release of 1990 U.S. Census figures that put
the county's population over the 50,000 mark, State Board of Elections
Deputy Director Yvonne Southerland said in recent telephone interview.
However, the state board didn't mandate it until several months ago
v when reviewing possible irregularities in the Long Beach municipal
"They had apparently just overlooked us," said Britt.
The change means more paperwork for Britt's office and for candi
v! (See ELECTIONS, Page 2-A)
Year Stormy For County Government
BY ERIC CARLSON
A bungled budget, allegations of personnel pol
itics and pressure from opponents of a proposed
limestone mine near Southport made 1993 a
stormy year for the Brunswick County
Commissioners, who face an election season that
will see all five of their seats up for grabs.
Public demands on the new board began almost
immediately last January as a group of parents
filled the commissioners chambers to ask for help
in repairing muddy subdivision roads that were
rendered impassible to schix>l busses by weeks of
bad weather. The board agreed to a one-time
grading of the affected roadways.
At the same meeting. Democrats voted to direct
County Manager/Attorney David Clegg to "re
frain from filling non-essential positions" until
the new commissioners had a chance to "get a
look at the size and structure of county govern
In one of several legal actions against the pre
vious board of commissioners, former Clerk to
the Board Regina Alexander filed a federal dis
crimination lawsuit alleging that she was fired be
cause of her race and political affiliation. The suit
is still pending.
Clegg was besieged with complaints from
county department heads who wanted to fill va
cant positions, hut were unable to do so because
of the commissioners' hiring freeze. Health
Director Michael Rhodes
said the action had created "a
| very serious situation" in his
f ) \WD M I department. Social Services
1 ? Director Jamie Orrock
warned that the county could
face fines, lawsuits and appli
cations delays if vacant posi
tions were not filled.
The county manager contended that ? under the
commissioners' edict ? he could not hire anyone
until it was determined that the position was "es
sential." In early March, six weeks after the
board's action, Clegg finally agreed to fill some
job vacancies "that directly affect human ser
vices," including 1 1 positions in the health and
social services departments.
Zoning Workshops Begin
With the long-awaited county zoning ordinance
slated for a July 1 effective date, the commission
ers scheduled a series of workshops in March to
explain the law's provisions to rural landowners.
There were loud protests that zoning controls
were nut necessary in undeveloped agricultural
areas. Many asked that lands north of U.S. 17 be
exempted from the law.
Commissioners got their first official look at
architects drawings for new Brunswick County
Library branches at Yaupon Beach and Leland
and expansions to the Shallotte and Southport li
braries. Creation of the four-branch system was
authorized in June, 1992, with an appropriation of
$1.5 million. The new buildings are expected to
open in the spring, with renovations scheduled for
completion next fall.
The county's Utilities Operations Board voted
unanimously to recommend that the commission
ers fund a water system improvement project that
would extend service to 3,7(M) potential water
customers in the Shell Point, Boones Neck, Gray
Bridge Road and Seashore Road areas. Utilities
director Jerry Webb said the extension would
nearly double the customer base of the water sys
The commissioners agreed to add Sunset
Harbor and portions of the Mt. Misery Road area
to the capital improvements project, which was
approved by the with funding allocated from a re
fund of money that (he county loaned to the
Ljower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority.
After serving several Brunswick County ad
(See BUDGET, ZONING, Page 2-A)