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LETTERS / Well… Here We Go Again

Dear Editor,

Well… Here we go again.

A new year and the more things change the more they stay the same. All the same players (and I’m proud to include myself on that list) at it again. Complete with one of my favorite unreasonable people Deborah Greene along with her loyal parrot Karen Carter quoted in the news speaking at the recent county commissioner hearing. Along with a new bit of chicken little writing from Mrs. Carter and others about how the terrible horrible no good very bad town of Boone is out to steal your water, steal you land,  dominate all those poor rural folks with our transplanted liberal culture, and of course reshape the county in our image. Complete with statues of Pamela Williamson and Lynn Mason on every corner! 

After of course we gold plate the sidewalk leading to the Mayor’s house.

Finally though? Oh look there’s the once every few months letter about the mismanagement of the high school property. The only thing changing is the fact we have a new parrot in the Di’cola’s as the ones sending it in. So that makes what? Four, five people who care?

Anyway normally I would give this brand of sky is falling silliness (if Boone is taking over this is the slowest or most inept takeover ever!) and the anti town/liberals/democrat nonsense cluttering HCP these days all the respect and serious consideration it deserves. Which would be somewhere between zero and none. Because as I’ve said recently to give things like “Boone is out to steal all your water!” a serious response implies the saying of something serious. And in this case? Just more nonsensical blather. The problem comes when it escapes the echo chamber, and starts being treated as serious by members of the county commission. Specifically Mr. Blust and Chairman Miller.  All the more so when they take actions that look less like an actual attempt to solve differences with Boone, and more what looks like a shameless attempt to capitalize on that anti town sentiment for political gain.
I’m referring to a few recent incidents in particular.

Mr. Blust’s allegations about the UDO changes, “I think they’re doing this to spite Phil Templeton. They’ve been doing this for years.”

Mr. Blust’s opposition to approving the watershed protection ordinance along with more allegations that, “I don’t like this situation with the water and what Boone has done. That government is out of control with the control of development.”

The recently passed resolution against the town.

WHEREAS the Republican members of the county commission threw another anti Boone temper tantrum so they could engage in political grandstanding.

But most of all Mr. Miller’s continued allegations that the UDO changes will kill the sale of the old WHS property. And the outright dishonesty surrounding that issue.

That was the first draft of this letter. Now we can add two more greatest hits. Chairman Miller’s “Invasion of the baby snatchers.” attempt to justify the DSS takeover. And Mrs. Carter’s newest letter. Which still has me scratching my head every time I read “anti human agenda” I can’t help but ask, is the insanity at a point where humanity is only reserved for those outside the city limits?


Let’s start with a bit of Blust(er) and the comments made at that meeting by Mrs. Carter and Mr. Packard.

First a little link for everyone. http://www.townofboone.net/BOONE_water_intakeEA_WM16November09.pdf

I don’t know where Mr. Packard got his figures but here is where I found mine. As for Mr. Packard’s opinion that “Based on my calculations … other options that were looked at might be more feasible, less intrusive and cost effective.”
And what facts or degrees do you base these opinions on sir? Your ongoing opposition to this project dating back to its inception? Because according to the professionals who did the real assessment, or as I’m sure some will call them Boone loyalists, you’re wrong.

More feasible? Page 11
“This section of the EA addresses the feasibility of a water supply from wells in Watauga County. This option was ruled out as a potential long-term water source because the number of wells necessary to supply the Town’s 20-year needs, and the costs associated with these wells is not feasible. Assuming that a well in Watauga County can produce an average of 25 gpm, and that wells can only be operated 12 hours per day (according to NCDENR), the Town would need over 440 wells to meet its 20-year needs.”
Less intrusive? Besides cost the other reason the Watauga River site was not considered is this right here. Page 19
“Classification of the Watauga River includes it as DWQ Trout Waters (Tr), as well as High Quality Waters (HQW), making it more environmentally sensitive. In addition, taking water from the Watauga River for use in the Town would involve an Interbasin Transfer (IBT) from the Watauga to the New River basin. Therefore, due to the costs associated with the project, the associated environmental impact / water classification and the IBT, a raw water supply on the Watauga River to meet the Town’s year 2030 demands is not feasible.

Well we still have cost-effective right?
New river intake at Brownwood.  $94,757,231
Increased well drilling. $100,283,250
Watauga river intake.  $106,883,05

I can’t help but wonder, were those the figures you saw at the meeting Mr. Blust? I invite you and anyone else to read through the link above (pages 9-25) and choose for yourselves.  Because “Figures can lie and liars can figure. When you are not giving all the stats, all the information, that really bothers me.”

And it bothers me too. As you’re either being given some very bad information, Mr. Packard is trying to twist the figures to suit his agenda, or you don’t seem to care because it fits right in with your agenda to pick a political fight with the town of Boone. Facts be damned.

Sort of like how Mrs. Carter and Mrs Palin.. ahem.. Green.. continue to claim that this is some grand plot by the town of Boone to control all the water in the county. To which I say page 7.
“Boone’s wastewater treatment plant discharges tertiary treated wastewater upstream of the US 421 bridge, which is approximately 23 river-miles upstream of the proposed intake site. Boone’s consumptive use (the amount of raw water intake vs. treated wastewater discharge) is less than one percent (i.e. for every 100 gallons of water removed from the South Fork New River’s watershed, more than 99 gallons are returned). The net loss of flow volume at or below the intake site will therefore be minimal.”

Wow, that’s some serious thievery the town has going on!

To quote Mrs. Carter’s recent letter, “Some tell me that they fear if they appear at meetings they will be ridiculed and ignored.”

To be perfectly “frank” or “confrontational” myself? We should do exactly that! Because as I’ve stated before, there’s no point in trying to use reason on people who won’t listen to it. Put that with your baseless “Boone wants to control me!” fear mongering, ignorance of anything resembling facts or reality, and your insanity that has gone past partisanship clean into Boone derangement syndrome? Great if you want to whip up the torches and pitchforks “Us vs them!” crowd. But like the recent anti town resolution? It does zero to solve any real problems.

As for you Mr. Blust?  given your other comments about how the town is out to “spite” Phil Templeton. Your comments on how Boone Is “out of control” with attempts to control development. And your vote against the watershed protection ordinance it’s pretty easy to question your own impartiality sir, and you aren’t even married to a Templeton. Which do you think stands a better chance of damaging a water resource everyone claims to care about. The hoops the town of Boone jumped through? Hoops which included exceeding at points DENR requirements to get the intake project improved. Or to turn your own words back on themselves out of control development in the watershed area? Ones lacking restrictions on the area being built upon, no increased setback requirements, and lesser requirements to build proper drainage systems.

Oh right…But things like that cost developers money don’t they? Meanwhile I invite you, Mr. Miller, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Greene, Mr Dicola, and most of all my favorite fraud Mr. Mike Williams to answer one simple question I still haven’t gotten a straight answer to once. Which is it? A genuine belief in protecting a resource like the New river and those who live in the area around it? Or just more of the same short-sighted spiteful actions trying to choke off the town of Boone, and of course the liberal menace it is to your good ol rural folks any way you can? See among other things Rep Jordan’s old kill bill. Which now we can see was just the start of the ongoing irrational hatred on display against the town. With the New River all the while just a handy pawn, or perhaps a victim of the political crossfire?

Speaking of a crossfire why don’t we bring up residents of the Seven Oaks area and Dan Soueck’s “local” bill attempting to nullify Boone’s ETJ. And who were the men behind the curtain on that? Oh look it was Jeff Templeton, Perry Yates, and Chairman Miller. http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/News/story/Soucek-bill-targets-Boones-ETJ-powers-id-008026 And had the bill passed no ETJ, no authority to regulate polluting from the concrete plant in the area, and no ability to continue the lawsuit against Delta Holdings. A company being defended by who? Chairman Miller.

But obviously no conflict of interest whatsoever.

Fast forward to now and the Seven Oaks area is still in a legal battle over the admitted pollution and code violations. And who is right there in the middle defending the concrete plant? Chairman Miller still. Calling it a “Tragedy” that a ruling went against Delta. If you want a tragedy sir (and one of the few instances where Mr. Williams and I can agree) go try to get some drinking water from the wells in the area. It amazes me to no end Mr. chairman that you think a few quickbooks documents showing they were “Operating” despite no real work being done, and the money you’re making off this case is more important than the very physical health of the Watauga county citizens you claim to represent.

All the more so when you have the gall to say things such as this when it comes to the old WHS sale and the UDO changes “killing” the deal. “We are a large property owner in the town of Boone. … If we stand by and let them detrimentally hurt us and hurt our county citizens, we’re derelict in our duty.” http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/News/story/County-opposes-Boone-ordinance-changes-id-010538

Which raises a fun question. Before Phil Templeton’s upset bid went through was it dereliction to try to push through a sale without proper review of the bid? But one that would have directly benefited clients of you and your father’s law firm? https://www.hcpress.com/news/realto-rick-miller-sees-potential-commission-fees-drop-510000-on-watauga-high-school-property-with-17m-offer.html

Or is that just another possible conflict of interest instead?

I guess in typical Republican fashion (the same way we’re also seeing on the state level now) the only citizens of the county worth caring about are the ones who keep your pockets lined? Which probably explains why you’ve been right on the front lines being little more than a shill for Phil Templeton. And putting your hypocrisy front and center too by saying things like, “I think it is destructive to the citizens of the county, whether they live in town or not, when two municipal bodies cannot listen to each other.” Even as you push through a resolution that does nothing except pick a fight with Boone. Something not all that surprising though given you’ve based your entire political career out of fighting the town. Such as the time you decided Boone Residents were fine for the ETJ positions on the BOA and planning boards because the town’s picks weren’t “Qualified” (read agreed too much with the town of Boone) But Jeff Templeton was a good choice?

Well I guess if you need a rubber stamp or wanted to show off your political cronyism…then maybe?

Maybe we could also bring up how you and Mr. Blust were for the .25 sales tax increase until your tea party backers threw a royal hissy fit? And then you apparently decided the citizens of Watauga county didn’t deserve a right to vote on it for themselves because the vote might not go the way you wanted?

Yet in this case? Once again you seem to have no clue what you’re talking about. Heck you even said so yourself! http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/News/story/Is-old-WHS-deal-dead-id-010573

“I don’t see how it’s workable, but I’m not a developer either,” Miller said.

Here let me help.

Old WHS property? Zoned B-3 as of 9-18-2012

11-13-2012? The county accepts the upset bid for the old WHS property. To quote the Democrat…
Phil Templeton provided his first clues about his goals for the 74-acre property in a letter to commissioners dated Nov. 12. In the letter, Templeton calls for attractive student apartments and commercial uses that could include:
— hotel or convention center
— major grocery chain
— movie theater
— national retailer such as Kohl’s, Stein Mart, possibly Target and smaller retail shops
— Olive Garden, Carrabba’s, Red Lobster, K&W Cafeteria, South of the Border or other restaurant
f all goes as planned, the project could provide housing for ASU students and a “large number of good-paying jobs” for local residents, Templeton said. High Country residents as well as tourists would have a wider selection of products and services and would benefit from significant tax revenues.
Again we fast forward to now, and suddenly it’s Boone’s fault! Our evil changes to the UDO are just gonna wreck everything! Except for the part where it says right in the Democrat Article, and again right above your “I Dunno!” Mr. chairman.
There is an exception to the standards for any units that are part of a mixed-used project.
Units don’t have to meet the standards if they are approved through a conditional B-3 district (general business) rezoning process and don’t include phases of construction.
If the project does require phased construction, a developer must agree to either: build the commercial portions in the first phase; build fewer than one-third of the residential units before the commercial phase; or provide financial commitments to complete the commercial portions within a set timeframe. For example, a developer might get an irrevocable letter of credit from a bank to cover 125 percent of the projected costs.
There is Not. One. Thing. In the affordable housing task force UDO changes that is stopping Phil Templeton from putting up the same mega quad bedroom student housing that’s already all over Boone. If he wants to do it there’s only two differences.
1) Much as he hates them, he will have to have a conditional use hearing with the town. But that is because he’s building in a B-3 “mixed use” Something he knew before he even bought the property in the first place.
2) He has to put up some financial assurance that he will build the mixed use part of the project. Given that his first letter stated a desire for mixed use anyway where is the issue?

And this is not an “evil spite Phil Templeton” move. Requiring assurance like this is a common practice statewide.

So the only thing that could actually kill the sale of the old WHS property? In a fashion that would put Romney to shame? It’s Phil Templeton (circa 2013) apparently being so greedy that he doesn’t want to spend the money on a mixed use part Phil Templeton (circa 2011) stated interest in building.

The only catch is he’s now fully financially obligated to build said mixed use first, only build 1/3 of the residential beforehand, or lose out on his deposit. Partly due to problems the town has had with other developers building the apartments first then never getting around to said mixed use part. So since he can’t make all the profits up front without building the rest? It appears to me he’s more interested in taking his ball, going home, and blaming a bad call that had nothing to do with the previous play on the town when the onus is fully on him. Meanwhile we have chairman Miller writing letters to the town playing along, blaming everything on Boone as well, and making political hay out of it.

Let’s not sugar coat it. Mr chairman you’ve had multiple chances to check the facts. And out of personal sentiment I gave you a chance to respond before I decided to write this letter, but your silence in that regard speaks volumes too. So unlike Mr. Blust you don’t get a pass on possible ignorance. You aren’t “misrepresenting” facts.

Chairman Miller you are willfully lying on purpose to the citizen’s of Watauga county for the express purpose of further fomenting this “Us vs Them!” mentality against the town of Boone. You are whipping up your electoral base in a shameless ploy to get yourself reelected.  And you have consistently abused your position to further your own personal gains and political career at the cost of the citizens of Watauga county. Which last time I checked Boone was part of! Your county line does not stop at our city limits! And If you want to talk about being derelict in your duties, it doesn’t get much worse than what truly is becoming a spreading case of again, Boone Derangement Syndrome. For instance have you or anyone else opposed to the water intake project stopped for even one moment to consider what no increase in supply could mean? Where then shall we get the needed water for the old WHS property regardless of what does finally get built on it? It’s laughable were it not stupid to see you claim you want to work with the town even as your default position to everything the town does is wrong, or Boone is always the “enemy” of the rest of the county. Combined with your short-sighted attempts to keep choking off the town? Talk about a classic cut the nose to spite the face that only hurts everyone in the long run. Unless of course your goal is to turn Watauga back into what some see as a “Real” Western NC culture. The good ol boy networks back in charge, maybe a backwoods “We don’t like your kind round these parts” rural culture where everyone can trace their grandfathers back three generations, women stayed in the kitchen, gays stayed in the closet, everyone was a good Christian, voted  Republican, and we didn’t have to worry about them black people getting all “uppity”

And yes I’m going there, given I’ve heard on multiple occasions some members of the “Good rural culture” referring to the President with a certain N word should I bring up politics. And during the amendment one vote I saw my sister’s anti A1 homemade sign vandalized with words unfit to print. At the same as Chairman Miller and others were putting a county approved stamp on discrimination and bigotry no less. Is that the kind of culture some of you would like to go back too once you get rid of “liberal transplants” like myself? One who by the way has lived here my entire life. So I’m sorry if I can’t trace my roots clean back to the puritanical society you think we should be. Scarlett letters… ahem… pink license stripes and all. As a certain winning political slogan said, I’d rather look “forward” then stay mired in the past.

But if we want to go there? Back in 2012 For a previous letter regarding Mrs. Greene  and Mrs. Carter’s allegations against Jane Hodges and the BOE I wrote this.

To quote “The American President” again, “This a time for serious people Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up.”  We have real problems that need solving, and real leaders to work on them. Not people who continue to throw these little temper tantrums every time a vote goes against them. Not people who continue to think governance means inciting hatred and division. And we certainly don’t need people (like in the above linked blog) that treat a Democrat-sponsored plan to allow young people easier one-stop voting and registration on college universities as a liberal plot against them.

And that’s the level your local Republicans are sinking too. Patriots in name only, who now think even the ability to vote should only belong to those who share their view. How very American of them

Sad to see it’s still true. So here’s the 2013 Edition.

We need leaders in this county who can come up with real solutions come 2014. Not political hacks pandering to the crackpot conspiracy theories about how Boone is “out to get you!” Not so-called leaders who follow what is good for them over what is good for the county as a whole. Not short-sighted fools who seem to seem to have graduated from the Nate Dicola “too many Democrats are the problem” school of thought. So let’s go ahead and think the only people who deserve a voice are the ones who voted for us. Then let’s eliminate the one place where a majority vote by Democrats still exist, and where oh so coincidentally Chairman Miller is the lone Republican. Because if we don’t “Dingo’s will snatch your babies the way they do off the mountain!” As for letting the county have oversight? Three words. New River Healthcare. Two more, money and power. Which a $5.5 million dollar budget certainly represents.

And a close second to the  disgraceful actions of our Republican’s County Commissioners? The fact that you Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Welch, and what feels like the Democratic party in general  won’t just stand up to the crazy and finally say “Enough is enough!”

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Aaron Sorkin given my tendencies to use quotes from his shows in my letters. So to keep that tradition going here’s one from season 3 of the West Wing. When Sam asks Bruno Gianelli why he wants to get down in the dirt and fight over a PAC funded Republican flyer?

My favorite part that I think sums up a lot of the recent culture clutter on HCP lately. And something I feel a few Democrats (CoughReidCough) should be made to watch every single day.

“And instead of saying well excuse me you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti education, anti choice, pro gun, leave it to beaver trip back to the 50’s! We cowered in the corner and said, please…don’t hurt me… No more.”

No more indeed. Enough with the finger-pointing. Enough with the baseless fear mongering. Enough with the lying. Enough with using government as a tool for inciting people to turn against one another based on which side of the city limits they live. And above all else enough with this idiotic Blame game using the town of Boone as the whipping boy for all your ills.

And of course as I keep drafting this there was another letter by Mr. Dicola doing exactly that, and one divorced from a fact based society as he blames the Boone chamber for crony capitalism. Pssst, Nate? Blust and Yates are for the exact same thing. So it’s not another one of Boone’s plots to tax and control the rest of the county like you think. 

Coupled with Jeff Templeton’s repulsive smugness towards the town and those he disagrees with. Along with comments where you can practically hear his sneering arrogance through the words. 

Well so much for that plan.

Granted I used to do the same thing at one point, blaming everything but myself for the problems in my life, never my fault, always someone else who did it to me. The catch? I was fifteen at the time. And you know what my parent’s told me to do? Grow the heck up already.

It’s past time a few others in Watauga county did the same thing.

Jesse Steele