Moore County LogoRedistricting.

If you read the Raleigh papers, it’s a word you’re likely to see a lot of this Summer. The results of the 2010 US Census are in, and the US Constitution makes it the responsibility of each state to make sure its Congressional districts are roughly equal in size.

Politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, have, of course, found this an irresistible opportunity to craft Congressional districts with an eye to making sure their party dominates the state’s delegation to Washington.

Closer to home, there’s no requirement that Moore County’s Commissioner Districts be revised based on the new Census, but the League of Women Voters of Moore County [LWVMC] is urging the Board of Commissioners to take action, because the districts are seriously unbalanced.

In an April 5 letter to the Board, LWVMC President Jo Nicholas told the Board that the 2010 Census reveals a “substantial inequity of population among the districts,” and asked to present a League report on the issue later in the Summer, once the county budget debate is off the Commissioner table.

Read more: League asks county to redraw voting lines

Foxfire LogoAfter presenting a brief primer on the budget process and overview of anticipated revenue and expenditures next year, Foxfire Village Finance Director Leslie Frusco invited questions and feedback from residents on Tuesday, April 26, during the first of two budget workshops scheduled specifically for the purpose of gathering public comment.

The second citizens workshop will be held Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 pm at Foxfire Village Town Hall.

“We are here to hear your concerns,” Frusco said. “We want to hear what you think should be the plans for the village. We’re looking for your input.”

Read more: Foxfire Citizens Mull Over Budget Options

SLWLA LogoIn an effort to improve communications within the community, Secretary Jane Sessler has initiated weekly “E-Blasts,” email messages from the Association about Board work sessions or other matters of importance to the community. In order to receive the “E-Blasts,” members must be registered at the Seven Lake’s West website.

Sessler announced the new communications tool during the Tuesday, April 26 evening work session of the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Board of Directors.

Sessler said she is still trying to work out some glitches with the “E-Blasts” — such as more than one email going to one home. As of April 25, anyone who is not receiving weekly “E-Blasts” is not registered on the website and is encouraged to register.

Another way to improve communication is for members to post comments or concerns in the Member Comments-Message Board section of the website. “We are listening” and really trying to make this a “two way street,” Sessler said.

During the member comment period, Joel Martin said he is encouraged by the website changes, but would like even more information to be provided, such as a CAS report, the minutes from sub-committees, and financial statements. Martin also asked that a generic compliance letter be published on the website, so that residents would have some idea of what they look like.

Read more: E-Blasts Aim to Boost West Side Communications

Moore County LogoMoore County Schools [MCS] Superintendent, Dr. Susan Purser, came to the Board of Commissioners' Tuesday, April 19 meeting requesting an additional $3.1 million in funding after “extreme measures” by the School Board to find the money without asking the County for additional help.

Overall, the MCS has had to scramble to deal with a projected $12.1 million revenue to expense gap in its Fiscal Year 2011-2012 budget after losing $5.2 million in federal stimulus funding and facing a combination of revenue cuts and pass-through expenses from the state that total $6.9 million.

Dr. Purser said she and her staff have, “dug painfully deep,” to find $5 million in reductions: eliminating approximately 100 positions, closing one school, dropping a range of programs, and retiring twenty school buses.

Since 2008, MCS has lost some fifty positions -- something that School Board Chair Laura Lang said is causing a “domino effect.” If jobs are cut at central office. Lang told the Commissioners, it puts more work on the teacher’s plate.

To meet the budget challenge, the School Board plans to dip into their fund balance for an additional $4 million, closing $9 million of the $12.1 million funding gap. Using half of the $8 million fund balance in the coming year makes some Board members nervous, Lang told the Commissioners, noting that the fund balance will have to be replenished from funds that don’t exist.

Read more: Schools Ask County for Additional $3.1 Million

SLWLA LogoAfter listening to feedback from the community and engaging in spirited debate, the Buoy and Boating Rules Revision Committee decided to withdraw its recommendation for rules changes that would have eliminated a transition zone between the No Wake Zone and the Ski Area, Director Adam Wimberly reported during the Tuesday, April 12, Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Board Work Session.

A motion to discard the rules revisions already provisionally accepted by the previous Board was approved unanimously by the new slate of Directors, meeting in their first formal Work Session since the March Annual Meeting elections.

At this point only the buoys will be repositioned on the Lake; and, as they have done in the past, the Lake and Dam Committee will continue to be responsible for moving the buoys as they see fit. President Mick Herdrich said those in the community who came to the Board in a “professional manner” were very effective in pleading their case.

Speaking during the member comment period Jim Ballew said “a big problem of people complaining or misunderstanding” the proposed Lake Auman rules changes was because they didn’t have access to accurate information. Secretary Jane Sessler assured Ballew that the information had been readily available for months.

This year, like last year, when Westside residents pick up their boat tickets, they will have to read and sign off on the Lake Auman rules and regulations.

Read more: Board Decides Against Changing Lake Auman Rules

MCS LogoWith a projected cuts in state and local funding for next year now reaching $12.1 million dollars, the Moore County Board of Education on Monday night, April 11, decided to dig deeper into its fund balance, while asking the Board of Commissioners for $3.1 million in additional local funding.

If approved, county taxpayers’ contribution to the $90.2 million budget proposed for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 would jump from $26.1 million to $29.2 million.

Funding for Moore County Schools [MCS] has been a moving target as information continues to filter down from Raleigh. State government provides the lion’s share of MCS funding.

State budget cutters, facing their own revenue shortfalls, have continued to whittle away at funding for local school systems, including Moore County’s. A FY 2011-2012 Budget that anticipated a $8.2 million revenue shortfall when first presented to the Board of Education a few weeks ago now includes a $12.1 shortfall, including the loss of $5.2 million in federal stimulus funding; a $5.4 million cut in state funding; and approximately $1.5 million in additional new “pass through” costs from the state.

Read more: School Board Will Seek More County Support

SLLA LogoUsing broad brush strokes, the newly seated Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] Board of Directors sketched out a plan to improve communication with residents during their Monday, April 11 Work Session.

Under development is a new monthly town hall-style gathering — in addition to the regularly scheduled two standard meetings — that will feature a set agenda, but reserve ample time specifically for public comment and discussion. In addition, the Board approved a return to an evening schedule for Work Sessions, tentatively planned for 7:00 pm on the Monday night ten days prior to the Open Meeting. These sessions will also include expanded opportunities for interaction from non-Board members.

“We have huge things that we are going to be dealing with," SLLA President Bob Darr said. "Many of those items will need input from and backing from the community. If we intend to move forward, we have to establish a new system and a set of tools to do that job.”

Public address during Open Meetings will continue using a set of standards gleaned from county-level meetings that restricts speakers to three minutes at the podium.

But taking a much different tack for input at Work Sessions, the Board tossed aside a policy that required residents to sign up three days in advance to address the Board. Instead, those wishing to speak or ask a question may simply raise their hand during Board discussion and wait to be recognized — though Darr cautioned that such input should be "on subject" and appropriate.

In addition, he encouraged his fellow Board members to be more open in their responses to such input, either by defending or supporting their actions and decisions.

Looking beyond face-to-face interaction, the Board also agreed that additional written information should be available. One suggestion that seemed to gain traction was a community newsletter that could be printed alongside the Interlake or downloaded from email alerts.

“It’s important, and I want the community to know that we are hearing their concerns and we are going to respond,” Darr said.

Read more: SLLA Board Plans for More Public Input

Moore County LogoThe Seven Lakes Aeromodelers can, for now, continue to fly their remote-controlled planes on a tract of land near West End on NC Highway 73, Planning Director Joey Raczkowski told The Times after the Tuesday, April 7 meeting of the Moore County Planning Board.

But the Planning Department will make another stab at defining "outdoor recreation" in the Zoning Ordinance, in order to ensure recreational activities are appropriate to the zoning district in which they occur.

Planners discovered they needed a definition for “outdoor recreation” when property owners Andy and Elizabeth Blackwell of Raleigh, who own a ten-acre lot zoned Residential Agricultural RA-5 on Highway 73 near its intersection with Beulah Hill Church Road, filed a complaint about the noise level the Seven Lakes Aeromodelers Club was producing on an adjacent sixty-acre tract they lease and use to fly their radio-controlled model airplanes.

The Club’s President, Bill Sherman, represented the organization at the hearing and said they have not received noise complaints from any other neighbors. The Club also questioned if noise truly is the issue, since the Blackwells do not live on the undeveloped ten-acre tract they own.

Read more: Aeromodelers Still Flying, Planning Board Tables Outdoor Recreation Issue

MCS LogoAcademy Heights Elementary School will likely close next year -- that is, the building itself. But its year-round kindergarten through fifth grade program could live on at Pinehurst and West Pine Elementaries.

During a meeting with parents and supporters of Academy Heights on Thursday, April 7, Moore County Schools [MCS] Superintendent Dr. Susan Purser outlined a modified recommendation that she will present to the Board of Education that, if approved, would allow the year-round program to continue by splitting the student population between Pinehurst Elementary and West Pine Elementary.

Previously, Purser had suggested Academy Heights students could join the year-round programs in Southern Pines schools.

As now proposed, kindergarten through second grade year round students would be educated at Pinehurst Elementary, with third through fifth graders placed at West Pine Elementary. In addition, both facilities would continue to accommodate students enrolled in the traditional K-5 program.

Purser did not provide specific financial information on how much money would be saved by closing the facility while continuing to maintain the program.

Read more: Academy Heights Program May Live on In Pinehurst

Moore County LogoThe US Department of Agriculture [USDA] has given Moore County “specific marching orders,” Public Works Director Dennis Brobst reported during the Board of Commissioners Tuesday, April 5 regular meeting, with the first job being to establish boundary areas for the North West Moore Water District [NWMWD].

Brobst was reporting on a series of recent meetings between the USDA and the County about the NWMWD, which could borrow up to $16 million from the federal agency, based on a successful bond referendum in 2004.

Since the referendum passed, the Water District has been trying to attract enough potential water customers to be viable, but too few sign-ups has left the project at a standstill. One solution that could expand the customer base is to incorporate Seven Lakes into the District -- which also has the virtue of providing Seven Lakes with more water, from a second source. The area currently receives almost all of its water through a single water main that runs up NC Highway 211 from Pinehurst.

Although the Board of Commissioners on its own authority could incorporate Seven Lakes into the District, Chairman Nick Picerno has promised that it will not be incorporated into the NWMWD without a vote by its residents. The Town of Robbins is also not currently included in the NWMWD, but could join it through a resolution approved by the town council.

Read more: Commissioners Hear Options on Seven Lakes Water

In Memory Of

  • Jane Scales Facey

     of Foxfire Village died on Tuesday, April 19 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. A private...

  • Nancy P. Neilson

    formerly of Seven Lakes, died on Monday,  April 18. Nancy and her husband, Roger, retired from...

  • John E. Letter

    95, of Seven Lakes, died Monday, March 21, at his home, surrounded by family and friends. A...

  • Marilyn Rose Kemble Bearden

     84, formerly of Seven Lakes, died on March 8 in Greenville, SC. The family will receive friends on...

  • Vonadora Baker Stackhouse

    96, died on Wednesday, March 2, her wedding anniversary, at her home in Seven Lakes West. Services were...

  • James R. Nichols

    (Jim) of Seven Lakes died at his home on Monday, February 22.  A Celebration of his life will be...

  • Timothy William Bouchelle

    49, of West End died on Friday, February 19, 2016 at his residence.  A visitation will be held from...

  • John P. Carpenter

    75, of Seven Lakes North died Saturday, February 13 at FirstHealth Hospice House in Pinehurst. A...

  • Michael Jerome Loney

    87 of Seven Lakes West died Tuesday, February 9 at First Health Moore Regional Hospital in...

  • Glenda Mae (Marks) Tucker

    64 of Seven Lakes passed on Sunday February 7 at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro.  A...

  • Dr. William Harrell Johnson

    92 years old, of Seven Lakes West, died on Tuesday, February 2, at home.  A memorial service was...