North Carolina Press Association
"Vol. 107 No. 50
Thursday, December 14, 1995
Keeping Christmas customs
important to KM Jamily =
Kings Mountain, N.C. * 28086 * 50¢
KM cited for noncompliance of gas rules
The changing of the guard at City Hall Tuesday was
marked by a split vote of the new Council in its choice
of a mayor pro tem.
Ward I Councilman Phil Hager was elected 4-3 over
Councilwoman Norma Bridges.
Councilman Dean Spears nominated Hager and new
Councilman Jerry Mullinax nominated Bridges.
Mullinax said it was traditional in Kings Mountain
for the top votegetter to be honored as mayor pro tem
but Spears said that in the present form of government
that the at-large candidate would always be the top
votegetter and the ward member would never get a
shot at it.
"Some of us talked about this before the meeting
and agreed that we can't go by tradition," said Spears.
Spears and Hager joined Councilmen Rick
Murphrey and Ralph Grindstaff in voting for Hager.
Hager edges Bridges 4-3 for Mayor pro-tem
Councilman Jerry White joined Bridges and Mullinax
in voting for Bridges.
In other actions of a long meeting, the board was
unanimous, welcoming Mullinax as the new member
of the board and bidding farewell to outgoing Ward II
Councilman Jim Guyton.
Guyton was presented a gold watch and a plaque by
the mayor and then shook hands with all board mem-
bers. It was an emotional moment for Guyton, who
thanked his supporters and pledged to continue his ac-
tivity and interest in city government by attending all
He said he prided himself by always responding to
calls by his constituents within 48 hours and in mak-
ing himself available to everyone, not only the resi-
dents of his ward.
See Hager, 12-A
you can talk
It's official. You can speak for
three minutes at City Council
meetings without being on the
City Council took the action
Tuesday night on a motion by
Councilman Dean Spears who stip-
ulated that Mayor Scott Neisler, the
presiding officer, "control the
meeting," and time the speakers.
The mayor concurred, saying
that if speakers. want more than
jected that if Shoals speak to a
specific issue they may not get im-
mediate answers at the meeting
because Council may need to study
The North Carolina Utilities
Commission has cited the City of
Kings Mountain for eight instances
of noncompliance in the operation
of its natural gas system and is
blaming a majority of the problems
on the Jack of personnel.
The city has 30 days to respond.
"I am concerned that if actions
are not taken soon that the city may
face itself with a Show Cause
Order similar to 15 years ago," said
James D: Anderson, Director of the
Pipeline Safety Section, in a letter
to Mayor Scott Neisler December
Anderson commended Utility
Director Jimmy Maney and John
Clemmer for managing the system
by transporting gas and providing
Councilwoman Norma Bridges, new Council member Jerry Mullinax, Councilman and new Mayor Pro
Tem Phil Hager and Mayor Scott Neisler, left to right, take the oath of office during swearing-in cere-
monies Tuesday night at City Hall.
Some KM test scores improve
Test scores of students at Parker
Street School made a slight differ-
ence on the system-wide results on
the 1995 Student Performance
Summary, the state report card.
"It's still worthwhile to continue
the alternative school," said new
board chairman Ronnie Hawkins.
Director of Testing Jean Thrift
agreed, saying that some of the stu-
dents refused to take the end of
course tests and the difference in
test scores is about two points at
one grade level at the Middle
KMDS has $1 million fund balance
Thrift reviewed results from the
state report card for the system and
the individual schools at Monday's
Board of Education meeting and
said the system shows progress in
the second year of its Performance
Based Accountability Plan.
Writing scores of students in
grades 4, 6 and 8 are up from last
year but still below the state scores.
Thrift said reading students in
grades 3-8 were improved and
math scores are up at Kings
Mountain Middle School due to re-
Wall plaques which list the 44
names of former chairmen and
members of the Kings Mountain
Board of Education from 1906-
1993 have been unveiled in the
Board Room of the Kings
Mountain District Schools and
were hung Tuesday.
Mrs. George Houser, chairman
of the project which was initiated
Plaque to honor chairmen
by families of former board mem-
bers, said she was quite proud of
the work of the committee.
The listing begins with the name
of W. L. Plonk, first chairman, in
1906 and ends with the name of
Priscilla Mauney who served from
1988-1993. Additional plaques will
be engraved with the names of cur-
rent board members.
At Kings Mountain High School
on the six required state CORE
courses the Kings Mountain statis-
tics rank just below state figures.
Scores of Science students on
multiple choice tests were 2 higher
than the state.
Kings Mountain High has tripled
the number of students taking
physics this year, she said. The re-
port by Thrift represented a mix
bag of numbers but she said that
Kings Mountain ranks third in
math and fourth in reading among
the 10 other schools of similar size
Kings Mountain District Schools
ended fiscal year 1994-95 with a
fund balance of over $1 million.
This represents 24 percent of ex-
penditures for the year, according
to report of Vince Quinn of the au-
diting firm of Dixon & Odum, to
the Kings Mountain Board of
Education Monday night. H e
termed the fund balance "adequate"
and said the annual audit was clean
and revealed no major problems
with the finance department's han-
dling of the school year's $21.6
in a North Carolina cluster group.
This means that Kings Mountain
has moved from eighth to fifth
place in state standings. North
Carolina requires testing of 95 per-
cent of students at end of grades.
Board member Billy Houze asked
if school administrators can project
when Kings Mountain will make
gains on state test scores.
Supt. Dr. Bob McRae, Thrift and
Dr. Jane King agreed that Kings
Mountain Schools have lofty goals
See Test, 11-A
"The problems we found were
immaterial, however we had to list
them," he said.
Quinn was referring to the com-
pliance section of the lengthy doc-
uments in which all state and fed-
eral projects receiving state and
financial assistance were audited
by testing one or more.
There were no incidents of non-
compliance, he said.
The audit examined the records
of 25 certified teachers paid from
the State Public School Fund and
See Audit, 11-A
Kings Mountain People
service to the citizens but said the
problem is lack of operating per-
sonnel to safely operate the natural
Maney, in a memorandum to the
mayor and City Council December
11, asked for at least two more
people and funding for equipment
and contract labor.
He said the the inspector's con-
cerns can be addressed by hiring
more people, contracting the repair
of the Class II leaks reported in the
1994 and 1995 leak surveys, con-
tracting the replacement of 50
valves now and budgeting for the
replacement of the remainder in
budget years ahead, contract re-
placement of mains and services
that do not meet compliance and
update cathodic protection.
"Our equipment is worn out and
we need to purchase trucks, a
trencher, air compressors and a
computer and plotter that will run
the Autocad mapping," he said.
Maney said that in the last two
years over $3 million has been
transferred out of the gas and elec-
tric fund and probably more than
$10 million over the past three or
four more years without any mon-
ey being appropriated.
"Zero money was budgeted for
capital outlay requests in the 1994-
95 budget," he said.
"We must maintain the goose
that lays the golden eggs, the gas
See State, 12-A
City and Transco
to settle due bill
The City of Kings Mountain
| may soon settle with its gas sup-
plier a historic imbalance that goes
back about 10 years but it will ei-
ther have to take the natural gas or
a reduction of about half the cash
city officials says it's owed.
Utilities Director Jimmy Maney,
just back from Atlanta for a confer-
ence with officials of Williams
which now owns
He said the suppliers have en-
tered into a "good faith negotiation:
to reach a final reconciliation with
Kings Mountain or 153,000 mcfs
once valued at $300,000 and now
valued at $107,933. Maney said
that receipt points had been recon-
ciled to 107,933 units and the dol-
lar value became less.
"The least you can expect is
$1.60 per unit and the most $1.75,"
he told the board.
City Council Tuesday authorized
City Manager Gary Hicks and
Maney to settle the matter speedily
but Councilman Ralph Grindstaff
asked the city attorney to also con-
fer with representatives of both
Transco and the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission concern-
ing the language of the paper work.
"Stall some more if you have
to," said Grindstaff.
But Maney said if the city waits
to make the settlement they it
could lose out and her cautioned
that the city is locked in on firm
"The city can't take that much
gas on a short period," said Maney.
"This is the first time since 1993
that we have been offered a settle-
ment and we don't need to gamble
and wait," he said.
"It's a no win situation but I feel
like a bird in the hand is worth two
in the bush," said Councilman Phil
"We had better take the money
while we can."
Maney said Kings Mountain is
one of few cities that Transco
"It's the other way around, larger
cities owe Transco," he said.
on next bill
The next gas bill you receive
will have an extra bite.
Residents’ bills will jump by
6. 2 percent because of higher
average user of 115 Subic feet of
The increased cost of firm trans-
portation will include:
A 4.9 percent increase to small
A 4.7 increase to public housing.
A 1.6 percent increase to large |=
Those users not on a fixed rate,
including interruptible customers,
won't see an increase but City of f=
Kings Mountain Utility Director
Jimmy Maney said that a portion
of the industrial rate has a built-in
But Maney warned that Kings |:
Mountain residents could see a dra- |:
matic change in rates across the
boards from a rate study being pre-
pared by gas consultants and ex-
pected to be ready for City Council
consideration in about 60-90 days.
Maney said that citizens could
see a reduction in the rate if the
Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission turns down
Corporation's request for the fixed
gas tariff of 17.8 percent increase it
has been charging suppliers like
City Councit unanimously voted
to pass on the increased costs
Tuesday night after tabling the
matter since October.
Mayor Scott Neisler recom-
mended that the city pass on to
customers the fixed rate and insti-
tute a flex rate, meaning that when
costs go up to the city that they
must be passed on immediately to
percent increase tof
Thomasson KM lawyer 42 years
Spt | Dr Bob McRae holds a plaque which lists the names of 44 for-
mer Board of Education members and chairmen as Mrs. George
Houser, chairman of the committee which coordinated the project, and
Board Chairman Ronnie Hawkins, right, look on.
The Dean of Cleveland County lawyers, George B.
Thomasson, has been practicing law in his hometown
of Kings Mountain for 42 years.
The former solicitor and judge of Kings Mountain
Recorders's Court has seen changes not only in his
hometown but in the legal profession and never looks
back at a time when he passed the bar in the nation's
capitol in’ 1952 and toyed with the idea of beginning
his practice in the big city.
Thomasson became the judge on the bench of Kings
Mountain Recorders Court in 1962 when Jack White
was elected to the North Carolina Senate. He had for-
merly served as solicitor and recalled that every
Monday at the old City Hall (now the Police
Department) a complete docket of misdemeanor cases
was cleared in three hours time.
"Of course we sent our felony cases on to the county
seat but our docket was never clogged like the court
system is today," he said.
Thomasson said he is approached by people every-
day he sentenced to 30 days or costs for various of-
fenses and they remind him of the time they stood be-
After all these years he has forgotten most of the in-
cidents but he does remember the vagrants who came
before his bench and begged for 30 days in jail so they
could get three good meals a day and a place to sleep.
"Sadly, we still have the homeless," he says.
Because his roots were deep in Kings Mountain
George opened his first and only law practice in
Ordinance Research for the US Government at Duke
University after finishing Duke Law School in 1951.
See Thomasson, 10-A
after working with the Office of
GEORGE B. THOMASSON _