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= vwaxvwial LIV
Volume 123 « issue 52 Wednesday, December 28, 2011 ¢ 75¢
~~ Harris Funeral Home
re Operated. Since 1947
A Family Tradition of Dignity;
Service & Understanding.
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Kins Mountain, NC a
z= ELIZABETH STEWART
Cleveland County Schools: is taking cor-
rective action in its maintenance department,
including a recovery of missing equipment
and money, Supt. Dr. Bruce Boyles and
, Board of Education Chairman Dr. John C.
Hamrick have informed State Auditor Beth
A. Wood following a 17-page investigative
report on an alleged misuse of funds.
~The investigation into the Maintenance
department revealed that some county school
employees used the school system's credit
cards to spend thousands of local tax dollars
on clothing and equipment for personal use
- contributing to a State Bureau of Investiga-
tion probe into alléged misconduct.
The investigation into the maintenance
department revealed employees used pro-
curement (credit) purchasing cards to buy
more than $2,500 of unauthorized purchases,
including pickup truck tires, food for internal
meetings, a digital camera, flowers to fami-
lies of deceased employees and clothing.
Some of the allegations of misuse of
funds go back to 2007.
The school system has recovered all of
the money except $300, according to the
audit and that money is to be returned by the
employee, an administrative assistant,
through a payment plan, Boyles said. Ac-
cording to the state report, the administrative
assistant, not named in the audit report, made
the purchases with the authorization of her
boss, Cleveland County Schools Mainte-
nance Director Tony Wray.
In his letter tothe state audit office,
Boyles said that corrective action has been
taken in the maintenance department, includ-
ing recovering missing equipment identified
in the state's investigation.
Boyles said the system has received
$3,774.67 in repayment for nearly all of the
purchases and has a repayment plan with an
employee in place to receive another $300,
as a result of improper personal expendi-
tures. Equipment has been returned, he said,
that was purchased without proper authori-
zation and items that were or may have been
used for personal reasons have been returned
tc, the school district (such as a bucket truck,
tyactor, bed cover and tool boxes).
Boyles said that departmental purchasing
‘cards will be discontinued beginning with the
; school year 2012-2013 and have already
been discontinued in the maintenance depart-
ment, where cards were revoked and col-
See AUDIT, 3A
City looking at
City bonds will be paid in full during budget year 2011-
2012 and with the city's A-1 credit rating it's the right time,
says Mayor Rick Murphrey, to be proactive and look at ways
to fund water system improvements that could bring a price
tag of nearly $32 million. The projects could take about three
years to finish.
Joel Wood, consulting engineer, made the recommenda-
tions and gave cdst figures for major water system upgrades
to city council at a recent work session. The board favored
Option 2 as presented by the engineer.
The mayor and board members agreed that with low in-
terest rates it's time to take a serious look at financing ad
moving ahead on four major water system improvements
projects. The Council reiterated it's not eyeing raising taxes
to pay for the estimated costs.
Timetable for the improvements to start is late 2013, the
first big project is the 36-inch water line into town from Moss
Lake with antestimated price tag of $15,877,000, The mayor
said that two phases of that project have been completed.
"We've been wanting to get this done for years and now is
the time," said the mayor.
See UPGRADES, 7A
Light of the season gs
Hundreds came out to view the 6,000 luminaries at
Mountain Rest Cemetery Christmas Eve. See more photos
on Page 4B
Oh, and Santa, if you don’t mind...
Ton 10 stories of 2011
Around the world in 2011, people
witnessed the death of a terrorist, the
fall of a regime, the ousting of a dicta-
tor, weather-spawned desolation in the
form of flood, famine, earthquakes,
torandoes and typhoons, a royal wed-
ding and riots, nearly everywhere. But
here in Kings Mountain we had our
own struggles and our own victories.
this year: the schools, county and city
faced budget shortfalls; six men raced
for one seat on city council; developer
Mike Brown took on city hall and the
county; Disney moved to Kings
Mountain with its new data center;
downtown has seen some changes;
tremors were felt in KM; new lines
were drawn for voting wards after a
surge in population; thousands battling
.hunger survived a change in food
stamp issuance dates with the help of
others; the city paused to remember
9/11: and, Chemetall Foote was one of
the first in the state to buy the car that
is powered by their lithium technol-
At'the beginning of the year, with
the state facing a predicted $3.7 billion
gap between its financial reserves and
obligations, Cleveland County
Schools, county and municipal leaders
nervously looked to state leaders wait-
ing for the axe to fall. !
Schools cringed at the threat of an
$8.5 million loss in funding from the
state, $4 million in federal stimulus
funds and a possible tight squeeze
from local resources. Leaders braced
for larger class sizes and a staggering
loss of teachers, assistants and courses.
County and city officials crossed
their fingers in hopes that state leaders
wouldn’t balance the budget against
industry recruitment or in ways that
would hutt job.growth.
By April, though, the state’s pro-
jected budget gap had shrunk to $2.4
billion. County leaders were battling
the idea of giving up its surplus — a
Winning candidates, Keith Miller, at-large, and Rick Murphrey, mayor, shake
hands after learning the election results.
savings account the Local Govern-
ment Commission requires counties to
But the axe feil on capital hill with-
out too much bloodshed, or so it.
seemed, The county’s tax rate of 72
cents per $100 property valuation re-
mained without an increase. The city
passed a $34.7 million budget that car-
ried no increase to citizens in tax, util-
ity or service rates and no increase in
pay to employees via merit or cost of
A restricted highway fund in the
state coerced the school system to pass
on an enrollment fee ($38) for the first
time to students wanting to take dri-
ver’s education, but every teaching po-
sition for the 2011-12 school year was
funded. Painful cuts did seep into the
school’s budget; however, which in-
cluded a 46 percent cut in instructional
supplies, 81 percent cut in textbooks,
5 percent (4 positions) cut in instruc-
tional support, increased class sizes in
grades 1-3 and no raises for employ-
Six men vie for
one seat on council
After former police chief and eight-
photo by ELLIS NOELL
year Kings Mountain Councilman
Houston Corn announced that he
would not be filing for reelection, the
+ race for his At-large seat quickly mor-
phed into a six-man sprint to the finish
Former councilmen Keith Miller
and Jerry Mullinax raced off against
civic advocate Butch Pearson, busi-
nessman Bobby Horne, political new-
comer Brian Cloninger, and city
planning board member Curtis Press-
ley. All but two (Pearson and Mulli-
nax) of the candidates participated in
“a publicized forum at Cleveland Com-
munity College on Oct. 10.
All six At-large candidates stepped
to the mic at Bynum’s Chapel on Oct.
17 to reach voters at a Cleveland
County NAACP forum. Although
championing different issues from
downtown development to fiscal con-
servity, all seemed to agree that unem-
ployment was the number one issue
facing Kings Mountain.
A run-in with the law after an al-
leged littering incident in which 15
pounds of nails were thrown from a
truck window into a parking lot
seemed to tarnish the political image
of Cloninger, running for improve-
ments to the city’s recycling program.
Miller, who served on the city’s
See TOP 10, 7A
KM Auctions raises
loads of toys for Christmas
Kings Mountain Auctions, with the
help of a generous public and dealers,
collected two truck loads full of new
toys and treats for the Kings Mountain
Police Department's Christmas toy
drive. On Friday night, Santa, accom-
panied by Mayor Rick Murphrey and
KM Police Capt. Jerry Tessneer came
to collect the toys. Volunteers helped
load the back of a city truck with
enough goodies to require two trips.
Jason Falls, owner of Kings Mountain
_ Auctions, said that they had raised
more than $2,800 in the past few
months for local charities and non-
Mayor Rick Murphrey tries to lift a
rather heavy bag stuffed with toys for
KMPD's Christmas toy drive.
Photo by ELLIS NOELL
Alissa Mull at St. Matthews Daycare shares her Christmas wishes with Santa on a recent
visit from Santa's Firetruck LERE3S: Samay visited several daycares on Friday, Dec. 16.
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