) nT Fr ER Ser APT
VOL. 106 NO. 43
Gene White retiring
KMHS girls volleyball
team wins SWC title
Thursday, October 27, 1994
Kings Mountain, NC 28(
Ok | % $i
City officials admit billing erro...
City manager refuses to release info
City Manager Chuck Nance refused Tuesday
to release results to the press of an in-house audit
into possible electrical billing errors.
He said that the information would be made
public when City Attorney Mickey Corry re-
searched it and differentiated between what is a
legal matter and what is public information.
Some Council members and city staff dodged
reporters after the City Council meeting but not
before a confrontation ensued between the mayor
and an out- of- own reporter who was refused on
the floor of the meeting the answers to clarifica-
tions he wanted to hear from Utlities Director
Maney, who commented from the in-house au-
dit report after being questioned by
Councilwoman Norma Bridges, left the meeting
before it adjourned.
Three Council members, Jim Guyton, Bridges
and Dean Spears said after the meetiing they saw
no reason for the press not to get the answers and
that the reporters should get copies of the consul-
Bridges said she was told by the city manager
there may be some errors in the consultant's re-
port and that he would share that information
with the press later.
City Council will hold a special meeting
November 8 at the suggestion of City Attorney
Mickey Corry to hear the results of the audit and
to determine what steps, if any, should be taken.
Nance said Tuesday that it is clearly the city's
fault in most of the irregularities but that the at-
torney needed to study the entire issue further due
to legal matters which could come from it.
The two city officials who
head the two city departments
they are auditing for possible
billing irregularities acknowl-
edged at Tuesday night's City
Council meeting that errors ex-
Finance Director Maxine
Parsons and Utility Director
Jimmy Maney said they are
working to correct the errors,
some of which go back two
"We can't blame all of this on
yesterday's situation,” said
After Mayor Scott Neisler
opened the discussion, City
Manager Chuck Nance sug-
gested that the board take City
Attorney Mickey Corry's rec-
ommendation to set a special
it in the bud
"The buck stops with the su-
pervisors," says Mayor Scott
He was responding to ques-
tions about the city's in-house
audit into the City Utility
our job as
cials to hit
* this situation
head on and “
ing the solu-
. said, saying
hay that rumors
NEISLER were flying
this week that city officials
were trying to sweep the prob-
lem under the carpet.
"T asked that this problem be
aired in open session and placed
on the agenda for Tuesday
night's meeting," said the
Mayor. (The item was removed
by the city manager, said the
mayor, on recommendation of
the eity attorney. Tuesday, the
mayor put the item back on the
-agenda, moving it from other
business to the top of the agen-
"We always have to sacrifice
something when we don't have
enough staff," said Neisler, de-
fending possible billing errors.
"One person can't handle it
"The management study is
correct that there are not
enough people to handle the
billing," he said.
Monday, the mayor estimat-
ed that the city may have to pay
back some $215,000 to cus-
tomers who have been over-
charged while attempting to
collect some $240,000 from
customers undercharged for
electricity. (Tuesday night
Maney reported those figures as
$143,028.56 in overbillings and
$113, 264.27 in under billings).
See Mayor, 8-A
Residents of the Hillway,/Hilltop communities off Lake Montonia Road celebrate a ''drug-free commu-
nity." From left around a bingo table are Courtney Thompson, Ebony Leach, Ontario Leach, Gregory
McNeill, and Furman Thompson. Standing are Calistra Cureton, left, and Sabrina McNeill.
Hilltop winning drug war
By ELIZABETH STEWART
of THE HERALD STAFF
The big celebration scene Saturday afternoon
was something that longtime Hilltop Community
residents never dreamed they'd live long enough
A war on drugs by residents of two neighbor-
hoods off Lake Montonia Road, in cooperation
with Cleveland and Gaston Police Departments
and Kings Mountain Police Department, was won
through Community Watch and over 50 arrests of
"We've taken our neighborhoods back," said
Robert Curry, President of Hillway/Hilltop
Community Watch as 90-100 children and adults
gathered under yellow circus-type tents to play
bingo, fry fish and have a good time.
The local and area law enforcement teams were
presented with appreciation plaques.
Longtime residents Pauline Love and Erma
Lou Borders said that life was much different
now for the six homes located in the once drug-
infested Hilltop Community.
"It's so quiet now and we don't hear the sound
Kings Mountain People |
Blindness is a blessing for KM's Gene Harris
of guns and aren't afraid to step out our doors,"
Borders said that she never could turn on the
light at night because she was afraid and she al-
ways stayed close to the telephone.
The all-out effort against drugs started last
March, according to Sgt. Jeff Icenhour of the
Gaston County Police, supervisor of the K-9 Unit
and a 16-year veteran of the police force.
"We started with street drug interdiction and
made arrests and then involved other areas of
county government, such as health agencies and
solid waste management, and organized a
Community Watch with the help of other law en-
"When we got rid of the dealers we got rid of
the users," according to Sgt. Mark Simpson of the
Kings Mountain Police Department.
Icenhour said that police are on a first name ba-
sis with the residents of the two communities.
"The change is as different as day and night,"
said Valerie Beam who said the area was cleaned
See Hilltop, 8-A
By ELIZABETH STEWART
of The Herald Staff
When he walks the trails
Gene Harris, 64, sees the au-
tumn leaves and the changing
colors of fall through the eyes
Trauma from a head injury
in a truck accident three years
ago damaged the optic nerve in
He is praying for a miracle
that God will restore his sight
but he is thankful for life.
"I can make out shadows but
I depend on my wife Wilma and
our grandsons when I go for
walks in the woods and yard,"
Wilma Harris, who admitted-
ly never liked to drive a car,
recently chauffeured her hus-
band to the Outer Banks of
North Carolina for the Lions of
North Carolina Visually
Impaired Persons Fishing
"We all learn to make adjust-
ments," said Harris, who con-
siders his blindness-one of life's
challenges instead of an impair-
And Harris said new friends
like Lion Joe Harris of Shelby
and his sister, Mary, longtime
friends like Arthur Sprouse and
Mitch Norris, neighbors on
Phifer Circle and Family
Living Church ot God help him
April 3, 1991 is a day that the
Kings Mountain trucker will
Harris and a friend usually
rode to work together but on
that morning Harris was alone
in his small Mazda truck on I-
85 North near the Sam Wilson
Road about 8:30 a.m. Enroute
to work at Spartan Express, he
had stopped for breakfast in
"I was just driving along and
suddenly a plastic bag hit the
windshield and the truck
swerved," said Harris. He
learned much later that his truck
meeting November 8 to discuss
the problems after all the infor-
mation was in hand.
But Commissioner Norma
Bridges persisted with questions
to Parsons and Maney over ob-
jection of Councilman Phil
Hager who said the board
should proceed with agenda
"We can't solve the problems
tonight," he said.
Maney used a copy of a re-
port of an audit of meters and
billing by a consultant who
worked with him and Parsons
on an internal audit of the two
departments they head.
Maney gave copies of the re-
port to Nance after the city utili-
ties meeting Monday night and
later to members of the full
Council but not to the press.
Responding to questions,
At least eight accounts of
electric customers were audited.
The City of Kings Mountain
underbilled electric customers
$143,028.56 and overbilled cus-
tomers $113,264.27 for electric-
ity during the period from
January 1992 through August
No residential power users
are included in the group audit-
ed, only some industry and
business which have demand
Maney explained that errors
could have occurred if a service
order did not come in from the
See Billing, 9-A
Guyton: Rec salary
higher than discussed
The hiring of the new Parks
& Recreation Director at a
salary higher than commission-
ers had reportedly discussed in
a recent closed session was
questioned by Councilman Jim
Guyton Tuesday night.
may as well
have all dis-
salary would f...
be $25,000," 7"
said Guyton ~~ GUYTON
at City Council's regular meet-
City Manager Chuck Nance
said he thought he had the au-
thority to hire and fire and he
hired the best person for the job
in the person of Bessemer City
resident Karen Langston-Byers.
Nance said the two top con-
tenders for the $33,000 a year
job already made more than the
starting salary Guyton had men-
Byers, who reports to work
with the City of Kings
Mountain November 1, had
been Recreation Program
Coordinator for Gaston County
Parks & Recreation Department
since April 13.
Her annual salary was $20,
Guyton said that commission-
ers in a closed session that
Nance did not attend had agreed
that the position of Parks &
Recreation Director would not
be on the same pay scale as the
Chief of Police.
"Discussing personnel mat-
ters in closed session don't
mean a thing," he charged.
Nance said that no action was
taken by the board after the
closed session last month and
he was not aware that a salary
had been proposed.
See Guyton, 9-A
was struck by another vehicle.
The Harris truck flipped over.
Rescuers used the Jaws of Life
to remove Harris from his flat-
"The doctors told us he would
never survive but God answered
prayer and Gene is living
proof," said Mrs. Harris.
Visitors to the Harris home
never guess that the friendly,
confident man who greets you
on the front porch has any prob-
lems. He uses his cane to walk
outdoors but he knows every
inch of his house.
"lI wash dishes and Wilma
prepares my lunch before she
leaves for work at Mauney
. City Manager Chuck Nance
Adding to the City of Kings
Mountain's utility problems this
week was the resignation of the
head meter reader
Kenny Bell of Grover, who
has worked for the city 10
igned M :
g ty comes a
a bad time but I didn't plan it
this way," he said. "The oppor-
tunity for advancement came
and I took it." :
Bell gave his resignation fo
Monday and will work a two
Bell had only praise for
Utility Director Jimmy Maney,
his supervisor. :
"Meter reading is no picnic,"
said Bell, who said complaints
from some commissioners
about the job he was trying to
do was the reason he started
looking for another job.
"If the commissioners would
leave us alone and let us do our
job and if there wasn't so much
turnover in the billing depart-
ment at City Hall I think we
could all these problems I just
heard about straightened out,"
Bell says some commission-
ers say meter readers aren't
reading the meters.
Bell said he was unaware of
the city's current audit into pos-
sible billing irregularities of
"That isn't the reason I'm
leaving," he said.
"These are human errors
they're talking about, not com-
Bell says he turns in all his
paper work to City Hall on a
See Bell, 9-A
Hosiery," said Harris, who has
telephone buddies who keep in
touch with him constantly.
Harris plans to stay in touch
with new friends he met during
the recent Lions Club outing in
At first skeptical about mak-
ing the long trip to Nags Head.
Gene said he's glad that his wife
twisted his arm. In addition to
showing Wilma how to put
squids on a hook and fish from
a pier. he and 300 other visitors
were treated royally by Lions
from six host clubs to a fish fry,
barbecue. banquet and the 11th
See Harris, 9-A