Tour of Revolution Mill

The Cone brothers started Revolution Mill in the 1890s after realizing that it would be easier to process the raw materials needed to make denim and other textiles closer to where the cotton was grown.

Revolution Mill is symboloc  of Greensboro’s history as a textile capital.  Historic preservation efforts led by Self-Help of Durham and architect Eddie Belk, and helping to turn the space into a business and residential center with a style that fuses industrial and modern.

Members of Preservation Greensboro tour the space, currently under construction, on July 23.  The stripped-down condition of the space allowed those on the tour to get a closer look at some of the original features.

 

PGI offers to save historic Cascade Saloon

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With a fate that has been hanging in the balance for years, the historic Cascade Saloon on Elm street may be saved through an offer made to the City of Greensboro by Preservation Greensboro Inc.

Cascade Saloon is one of the oldest structures in downtown Greensboro, and in desperate need of stabilization. The building is currently owned by the City of Greensboro, and on July 10 members of City Council reviewed their options on what to do with the structure.

Assistant City Manager David Parrish presented the best bids received by the City to preserve or demolish the structure. The best demolition bid came back with an estimated cost of $600,000. This shocked some members of Council.

“How can the Greensboro Inn be torn down for $35,000 and this one would be so much more expensive?” said councilman Tony Wilkins.

Cascade’s Saloon proximity to the railroad tracks would complicate demolition. Permits would be needed to ensure that crews would not disrupt the railway traffic, which according to Mayor Nancy Vaughan, sees 65 trains pass through downtown every day.

A recent bid from PGI offered to take the property from the City in order to secure and preserve the building. PGI asks that the City pay them $170,000 to help subsidize the cost of stabilizing the structure.

“This is much better than the initial plan,” said councilman Zack Matheny. “The city can save money. Financially for the City this is a lot better deal than we had anticipated.”

Other members of council were skeptical.

“What if people can’t get to the Cantina and other businesses nearby while construction is going on?” said council member Sharon Hightower.

Other council members argued that the risk of disrupting local businesses was a lesser concern compared to the benefit of preserving a historic building for $430,000 less than the cost of demolishing it.

“We have to make the best decision for the city,” said council member Nancy Hoffman. “Not just one person.”

Matheny added that the City of Greensboro was not a good landlord, and that it would be better for the building to be owned by PGI anyway.

Council decided that they needed more information from PGI about the intended future of Cascade Saloon before they could make a decision about the bid.

“Because we don’t know the end use, we can’t make that decision right now,” said Mayor Vaughan.

SciQuariam Hopes to Introduce Purrfect Mate for Fishing Cat

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Stop watching cat videos and head to the Greensboro Science Center! The Greensboro SciQuarium introduced a new resident today to join Tallulah the fishing cat. Mako, a 9-month-old male fishing cat, was brought to Fishing Cat Cove in the center today.

The fishing cat is slightly larger than the average house cat, weighing between 13 and 26 pounds. Their coats are covered in black spots, similar to a leopard, and they have a stocky, muscular build. Fishing cats get their name from their hunting practices of using their paws to scoop up fish. Fishing cats have even been known to dive into the water after their aquatic prey. Fishing Cat Cove at the SciQuarium includes a small stream with running water to encourage this natural fishing behavior.

Fishing cats, native to Southeast Asia, are classified as endangered with fewer than 10,000 felines left in the wild. Habitat loss is the biggest threat to fishing cats as wetlands, the preferred environment for the cat, have been drastically reduced in Asia over the last ten years.

Mako and Tallulah will be paired together in hopes that they will produce offspring. The Greensboro SciQuarium participates in Species Survival Plans as an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

According to a press release, the center’s curator had been searching for a potential mate that would be suitable for Tullulah. Mako was recommended due to his age and genetic makeup, but “the cats are being introduced slowly.” Mako was introduced to the exhibit alone on this morning so that the cats will be able to been to recognize one another by smell.

There is a behind the scenes area of the exhibit where the cats will also be able to see each other from separate areas before making direct contact with one another. On Wednesday the cats will be introduced face-to-face for the first time, with the hopes that they will be comfortable enough with one another to be on exhibit together by the weekend.

Greensboro City Council Flustered by Bill from Higher State Powers

Council members were noticeably uncomfortable while expressing their general lack of faith in a resolution to support a student prayer and religious activities bill passed by the NC House on June 4.

The resolution was introduced by Councilman Tony Wilkins, who felt that SB 370 clarified confusion among administrators and students.

The first amendment already protects the religious freedoms of students in schools. The NC ACLU opposes the bill, which it called problematic.

“The right of students to voluntarily express and practice their faith in public schools is already well-established and protected by the First Amendment,” said Sarah Preston, ACLU-NC Policy Director. “Some of this bill’s unnecessary and confusing language could wrongly encourage public school personnel to takes sides in student-led religious activity, making students with different beliefs feel excluded or ostracized not only by their classmates, but also by their teachers and schools.”

Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter was concerned that the bill might encourage faithful students to become more aggressive in proselytizing to their public school peers.

“I believe that moments of silence allow everyone to pray; you’re not co-mingling church and state,” said Abuzuaiter. “This allows students to distribute literature. This part concerns me.”

Mayor Vaughan voiced concern that it was not the place of City Council to take a stance on the issue. Vaughan felt that the bill was under the jurisdiction of the School Board.

“I feel that this is a resolution that should come from the School Board,” Vaughan said. “We’ve had concerns over what the legislature has been doing to us by overstepping into areas of our authority, and I feel that we would be doing the same thing here to the School Board.”

“This isn’t us telling the School Board what to do, it’s the state,” said Wilkins.

Councilman Jamal Fox also agreed that it was a School Board issue, even though he expressed his agreement with the first part of the bill, which explains what students are allowed to do while at school.

Councilman Zack Matheny felt that he had to support the resolution as an advocate for free speech, but made it clear that he was unhappy about having to vote on it at all.

“I don’t like these resolutions,” said Matheny. “We bring them up and I complain about them every time. We’re talking about something where we don’t really have any say-so whatsoever.”

Councilman Mike Barber was also frustrated by presence of the bill on the supplemental agenda, and felt it was an example of the NC General Assembly’s lack of priorities.

“Here in this Council we’re doing things where the rubber meets the road,” said Barber. “I wish our state legislators spent as much time on more pertinent issues. I commend Tony for bringing this to us but this is one that I just can’t support.”

Sharon Hightower voted to support the resolution after expressing her apprehension over the consequences of the grievance process outlined in the bill.

“When I see Raleigh stepping up to something like this I’m a little leery of the reason behind it,” said Hightower. “I’m not against religion at all. I’m just afraid that supporting this with the grievance process will get people going back and forth in court.”

Matheny and Wilkins voted to pass the resolution along with Hightower, but ultimately the bill failed to pass on a vote of three to six.

Greensboro Proposes False Alarm Fee Increase

The Greensboro Fire and Police Departments currently lose about $1 million a year responding to alarms that were set off in error. During a City Council work session on May 27, members expressed concern over this waste of taxpayer dollars and proposed two solutions to help recoup some of the funds. At a work session on June 12, Council agreed on a final proposal for the fee changes.

Currently, the City charges a $50 fee for three of more false alarms at a property within a 12-month period. These charges bring in about $120,000 a year and only cover a fraction the cost required to address all the false alarms in the City.

At the May 27 work session Council members proposed enforcing higher fees. The proposal recommended that the City charge a fee of $50 starting with the second false alarm occurrence. This proposal would bring in an estimated additional $180,000 to help cover the public safety cost of addressing false alarms.

Councilman Jamal Fox proposed an even more aggressive fee system that would charge a $100 penalty beginning with the second false alarm. This proposal would increase revenue by an additional $400,000.

Council members felt that while Fox’s proposal was too severe, the revenue from the first proposed fee increase would not be sufficient.

Councilman Zack Matheny suggested a compromise between the two proposals with a $50 false alarm fee beginning with the second instance, and a $100 fee starting with the third occurrence. Council members quickly decided to adopt this Goldilocks option into the recommended budget, which is scheduled for a final vote on June 17.

The City of Greensboro defines false alarms as:

  1. Negligently activated signals that are the result of faulty or malfunctioning equipment.
  2. Signals activated to test the alarm systems that have not been approved by the Greensboro Police Department
  3. Signals that are purposely activated to summon police personnel in non-emergency
situations

Chief Ken Miller recommended that part of the ordinance should emphasize the importance of having property owners register their alarm information with the Police Department.

Winston-Salem currently fines property owners a $100 penalty for false alarms from unregistered units. Otherwise the City charges a $50 fee for the fourth and fifth false alarm occurrence within 12 months, $100 for the sixth and seventh, $250 for the eighth and ninth, and $500 after ten or more occurrences.

Economic Literacy Series Open to Greensboro Teens

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Summer is all fun and games for a teen until they realize they have no idea how to balance a checkbook. With a heated national discourse around the financial struggles of post-grads squeezed by student debt and low-income jobs, the Greensboro Public Library and Greensboro Municipal Federal Credit Union have teamed up for an Economic Literacy Summer Series.

The series consists of programs held from June 7 to August 5 designed by ReBuildUp, a company based in Greensboro that provides resources to “inspire the current and next generation of entrepreneurs about economics and business.”

The Greensboro Municipal Credit Union already provides teen-focused services such as youth accounts and resources about saving for college and credit card debt prevention. Marketing Director Holly Bent said, “We encourage financial literacy in youth. We devote a whole summer to series and events on it.”

The classes are held at a different branch of the Greensboro Public Library each week and consist of ReBuildUp’s Economy Jr. and Pitch Drill programs.

Economy Jr. similar to a choose-your-own-adventure game about balancing a budget. Players choose whether they’d like to participate as merchant trying to sell enough product to cover overhead costs, or as a consumer with a monthly paycheck that must cover bills and necessities such as groceries and child care.

Pitch Drill is fast-moving introduction to what it’s like to pitch business solutions to a team of supervisors. Both games designed for 4 to 32 people and takes about 40 minutes and to be used at schools or by Girl Scout troops or youth groups or any other youth events.

The summer series is aimed at teens who may need some guidance on how to spend their summer job paycheck.

Michael Norbury promoted the series at a booth during the Teen Summit on May 31. Norbury was displaying an Economy Jr. game for event attendees to explore.  Teens could come up to the table and quickly scan the chart to look at the average salaries and education requirements for different occupations.

The next event in the series will be at the Nussbaum Center on Saturday June 14. All events in the series are free and open to the public – young and old.

Kathi Dubel from the Economic and Business Development Support Department for the City of Greensboro said, “We could all find value in being more knowledgeable about personal finance”

Architectural Salvage to Receive Supplemental Funding for Involuntary Move

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Greensboro City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday night to authorize the City Manager to enter into a supplemental agreement to provide funding for Architectural Salvage’s imminent move.

Architectural Salvage is a program of Preservation Greensboro that collects materials from historic properties that are scheduled to be razed. Since 1993 Architectural Salvage has kept an estimated 20 tons of construction debris from being dumped into landfills. The program also allows the City to receive federal funding by keeping the City in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.

Architectural Salvage has been located at the 90-year-old, 15,800 square foot building at 300 Bellameade St since 1998.

The property was purchased by the Carroll Fund, an entity of Carroll Companies, owned by Roy Carroll. Carroll is the developer behind major projects in Greensboro that include Centerpointe on Elm St., Hayleigh Village, Innisbrook and the Shops at Brittway.

Carroll plans to demolish the building to make room for a $50 million mixed-use development project. Architectural Salvage must be out of the building by June 15.

On May 19 Preservation Greensboro sent a letter to City Manager, Jim Westmoreland, requesting that the city assist with the financial burden of the organization’s move.

The letter states, “Since ASG provides recycling of old building materials, keeps tons of construction waste from the landfills and provides a conduit for the City to use in obtaining federal grants, we are requesting the City assist ASG with its involuntary move from its current location.” Preservation Greensboro attached an estimate of $18,00 from Delancey Street Moving & Transportation.

Council briefly shared their support for the work done by Architectural Salvage before resolving to fund the organization the full $18,000. Members were impressed by the amount of material Architectural Salvage has been able to keep out of City landfills.

Councilman Zack Matheny said, “I consider this a thank you for saving the taxpayers money.”

Sharon Hightower said that Architectural Salvage had been very helpful during the restoration of Magnolia Manor outside of Greensboro. (see correction.)

Architectural Salvage will be moving away from downtown to a new location on Wendover Avenue.

IMG_0377Correction: This post has been updated to reflect the location of Magnolia Manor just outside of Greensboro in Colfax.