Monday, September 30, 2019

Town Hall offensive drive underway for Davidson Bonds

Davidson Town Hall
With Labor Day and Summer in the rear view mirror (despite what the daily 90 degree temps might say) and with Fall and Football now officially here, it's also time to kickoff election season.  In Davidson, with a lightly contested election for the Board and uncontested Mayoral race, the action is centering around two referendums.

The first is a required vote on the sale of Mi-Connection (aka Continuum) after an offer was announced in August.  This vote would seem to be a near certainty to pass as it would remove a long existing sore spot for the Town.

The outcome of the second referendum is arguably much less certain.

In this one, Davidson Town Hall is seeking citizen approval to issue $14 million in bonds for "public facilities".  Specifically, the Town wants to use the bulk of these bonds to refurbish the 251 South Street property to be the new Town Hall with the remainder of this money going towards upgrades to the existing Town Hall building for police and fire.

$14 million is a lot of money and certainly not guaranteed voter approval.  With that in mind Davidson Town Hall is engaging in an extensive "education" program in support of the referendum.  As indicated in the below slide from the September 9th Board meeting, citizens will likely hear the word "education" a lot since open advocacy for the bonds as part of official Town business is not allowed.

At that meeting earlier this month, Town Public Information Officer, Amanda Preston, provided an update to the Board on a communications plan to support this "education", not "advocacy", for this vote.  That full plan can be seen at this link, but here is a summary:

  1. Dozens of different distinct actions taken over multiple months. (See detailed schedule here.)
  2. Multiple avenues utilized including print, video, social media, and in person events (including the one mentioned in this press release.)
  3. Significant Town resources both in time and money committed to supporting the effort.

There is a fine line between "education" and "advocacy" when it comes to allowable activities surrounding referenda.  Comparing the significant effort put towards "educating" the public on the expensive Public Facilities bonds versus the virtually non-existent effort being put towards the arguably more important referendum on the sale of Mi-Connection makes one wonder if the Town has crossed it. 

Davidson Residents Invited to Public Facilities Open Houses (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Davidson residents will have the opportunity to vote on two town referenda on November 5, 2019, one pertaining to public facilities and one pertaining to the sale of Continuum. 

Two open houses highlighting the proposed public facilities plans will be:   

  • Thursday, October 3, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at town hall: Come take a tour of the Davidson Fire and Police Department facilities and learn about how the proposed public facilities referendum will impact them.    
  • Thursday, October 10, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at 251 South Street: Come take a tour, ask questions, and find out more about how the proposed public facilities referendum will impact this site.     

Communications Director Amanda Preston notes, “it’s critical for community members to get out and vote in this election, and we want to be able to provide several opportunities for residents to learn more about what they should expect to see on the ballot in November. With these open houses, folks from Davidson get a chance to see the spaces included in the proposed plan and better understand what the public facilities referendum means for our town.”  

Elected officials and town staff will also be available at other upcoming community events, and community members will be able to ask questions about both referenda on the ballot at the following times:  

Saturday, October 19, 8:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. at the Davidson Farmers Market: The Town of Davidson will have an information table at the market.  

Friday, October 25, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at town hall: The Town of Davidson will have an information table at the start of the Halloween March.  

More information is available at the town’s website at

Friday, September 27, 2019

Beaty Park Celebration set for Saturday, October 5 (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Community members are invited to the Beaty Park Celebration and volunteer workday on Saturday, October 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 832 Beaty Street (near the corner of Main Street and Beaty Street). The Davidson Lands Conservancy, with grant funding from the Town of Davidson, is coordinating the removal of invasive plants at the park. Volunteer efforts are needed for this event to remove invasive species and brush on the surrounding trails.

Children will enjoy planned activities  such as pumpkin painting, gaga pit, World of Wonder (WOW) scavenger hunt, and more. Attendees can participate in guided walking tours, a chainsaw art demonstration, forest bathing meditation and light refreshments. We look forward to celebrating the conservation easement which was passed by the Davidson Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, August 13, 2019.

To volunteer with the invasive plant removal, interested residents can use the SignUpGenius link HERE.

“The Park at Beaty Street Task Force, a Davidson Board of Commissioner-appointed citizen advisory board, was not only instrumental in developing a concept plan for this park land but also for ensuring it would be preserved in perpetuity,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kathryn Spatz. “We are so grateful for the task force’s efforts.”

Parking is limited so please consider walking, biking, or carpooling with a friend or neighbor.

Special thanks to the Davidson Lands Conservancy, Bartlett Tree Experts, ViZ, Harris Teeter and Native Roots for their support of this event!

For more information about this new park and event, please call the Davidson Parks and Recreation Department at 704-892-3349.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Davidson LifeLine to show documentary "Screenagers" Wednesday, October 16th at Our Town Cinema

All citizens are invited to Davidson Lifeline's documentary screening of SCREENAGERS on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Town Cinema

SCREENAGERS: Growing Up in The Digital Age is the first feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and offer parents and families proven solutions that work.

It’s been screened more than 7,000 times to two million people in more than 60 countries around the world. What started out as a personal story for one has grown into a national movement, helping millions of teens and their families navigate growing up in a world with instant access to screens.

Join Davidson LifeLine to watch SCREENAGERS and participate in a panel discussion with the following experts:

  • Psychiatrist
  • School Counselor
  • Mental Health Professional
  • An Individual with Lived Experience

Registration is required. Register at (search for ‘LifeLine’) or email with your RSVP by October 14. Each guest will receive a free promotional size popcorn. Please contact Davidson LifeLine at with questions.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

THIS THRS: 25th and Final Bethel Presbyterian BBQ

This Thursday marks the 25th annual Bethel Presbyterian BBQ.  Unfortunately for local BBQ lovers, this one will also be the last.  Over the years, aShortChronicle has been a regular consumer of the fine fare of this from this great community event.  It's a personal favorite.

The below notice was sent to aShortChronicle by Allen Cook, one of the leaders of the event over the years.

On Thursday, September 26th, Bethel Presbyterian in Cornelius invites the community to join us in celebraon of our 25th Annual Bethel BBQ, Silent Aucon, Bake Sale, and Quilt Sale.

Over the last 25 years, this annual mission event has raised over $550,000 – with every penny going outside the church to support our mission partners. This year, all proceeds will bene*t the Charlotte Rescue Mission.

As Bethel looks to the future, we believe the me is right to move toward a new type of annual mission event. As a result, this year will be our final Bethel BBQ. However, Bethel is a mission-minded church and we plan on an annual mission event connuing for many years to come. Plans for the new mission event will be unveiled in early 2020.

But for 2019, the Bethel BBQ will be a time of food and fellowship, just as it has been over the past 25 years. And Bethel wants to give a big THANK YOU to those that have helped make it such a success – our friends and neighbors across northern Mecklenburg County. You can support us by picking up lunch or dinner through our drive through. Better yet, come into Bethel’s Family Life Center for a BBQ meal and to check out the selecon of hand-made quilts and Silent Aucon items. While inside, you can also enjoy baked goods including cakes, pies, and other goodies.

Bethel Presbyterian is located at 19920 Bethel Church Rd in Cornelius. The event will be held on Thursday, September 26 serving from 11AM – 7PM. Food prices are $9 for a BBQ Plate including beans and slaw OR three sandwiches with slaw. A pound of BBQ can be purchased for $12. Cash, checks, and credit cards are accepted. Again, all proceeds will go to our mission partner, the Charlotte Rescue Mission.

THANK YOU Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville for making the Bethel BBQ a big success over the last 25 years. We hope you’ll join us in to celebrate this special event.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Never Forget

Like most people old enough to remember, I can picture exactly where I was and recollect almost every moment of September 11, 2001.  In 2015, I wrote this post about my memories from that day.

As we all take a moment to remember that solemn occasion, here are some pictures from.this morning's ceremony in Uptown.

The memorial this year was divided into sections with pictures of each person who perished that day attached to individual flags.  More than one person could be seen clearly looking for specific flags, bringing home the human cost and the personal impact this tragedy had on so many.  The sections for the first responders who lost their lives rushing to help the victims were particularly poignant.

While the vast majority of those who died that day came from the US, this was also a tragedy for the world symbolized by the display of flags from around the globe.

Never Forget

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Beaty Park Property to Close During the Removal of Invasive Plants (press release)

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Davidson Lands Conservancy, along with Town of Davidson funding, is coordinating and underwriting the professional removal of some invasive plants growing on the Beaty Park site.  Invasive species stress ecosystems by slowing the growth of a diversity of native plants optimal for wildlife.

Native Roots, an Asheville based ecological services firm, is scheduled to cut the invasive plants along and back from the main pathways September 4-5, with September 6 as a rain date. According to best practices, Jeff Stewart, owner of Native Roots and project coordinator, will chemically treat the cut stumps in order to penetrate the roots.  Cut plants will remain on site until a later date when they will be either chipped or moved off of the path corridors.

Natural Assets and Sustainability Coordinator for Davidson, Charlene Minor, says, “Having Native Roots treat the invasives at Beaty Park is a great first strike in what will be an ongoing effort to keep these plants at bay.”

Residents can volunteer to help continue the effort on October 5, 2019 by signing up here.  

Town staff will be posting signs at the park alerting residents and visitors to avoid using the trails while work is ongoing.

For more information or if you have questions, contact Charlene Minor at or 704-892-3349.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Could vs Would vs Should...Regarding Town communications on Public Facilities and Mi-Connection referendums

The "apolitical" Facebook page "Positively Davidson" recently dove headlong into the political realm by asking the below fundamentally political question.

We've always stayed apolitical on Positively Davidson, and this post isn't meant to break that streak. With the (likely) impending sale of Continuum, and the subsequent payoff of outstanding debt and the elimination of Davidson's annual $1 million subsidy, we'd like to get your opinion on what Davidson should do in the upcoming budget season.

Option 1 is to basically give the subsidy back to the citizens via a property tax reduction. Based on 12,000 citizens, this would work out to a little less than a quarter a day for each citizen. 

Option 2 would be to utilize the freed up subsidy on infrastructure projects such as sidewalks, greenways, and roundabouts, and also to invest in affordable house. Let us know your thoughts. Please only take the poll if you are a resident of Davidson. Thank you!

Below are the results.  Take them for what you will based on the small sample size of 71 responses.

The results appear overwhelmingly one-sided if you take them at face value.  However, here at aShortChronicle we think the poll presents a false choice by only providing the options it does in the way it does.  The options are clearly presented in a way to get the result received.  The impact of Option 1 is presented as minimized benefit to citizens, and the impact of Option 2 is presented as outsized.

Whether this poll is fairly worded or not though is somewhat irrelevant.  Private citizens or groups have a lot of flexibility in how they promote their positions.

The same can't be said about how the Town itself must handle communications on things - election related items specifically. Davidson's Town board had an extensive discussion on the topic of how to spend the money freed up by the pending sale of Mi-Connection at last week's Town Board meeting.

Interestingly, the options on the Board agenda didn't directly include possibility of lowering taxes as the Positively Davidson poll implied.  Instead, the Board discussed possible plans for the money and the tax impacts that might come along with various spending plans.  These plans include some of the "investing in Davidson" that the Positively Davidson poll mentions, but also includes covering costs for the public facilities (aka New Town Hall) proposal Positively Davidson left out.

Here are those options from the Board agenda:

It should be noted, neither Positively Davidson nor the initial Town Hall list mentioned eliminating the Town solid waste fee which was implemented years ago to free up money for Mi-Connection subsidies.  Frankly, that should probably be at the top of the list.

Specifically, last Tuesday's conversation was mostly around how to direct Staff in communications with citizens on the possibilities for addressing a number of Town spending priorities.  Much of the conversation was driven addressing Commissioner David Sitton' s concerns that the Board was even discussing this at all in light of the fact that the Mi-Connection/Continuum sale is not finalized yet, and therefor, the actual money available is not known.

Sitton's position was essentially that the Board was putting the cart before the horse discussing how spending any potential freed up money from a Mi-Connection sale could/would/should be communicated when voters haven't even weighed in yet.  Sitton stated repeatedly that the Town should just stick to communicating  the facts and tell citizens the new Town Hall project will cost 2 cents on the tax rate while the sale of Mi-Connection will save the Town 4 cents on the rate.  Rather than muddying the waters by commingling subjects that will be voted on separately the Town should be as succinct and clear as possible.

aShortChronicle wholeheartedly agrees with that position.

Not only should the Town always strive to be clear, it is the opinion here at aShortChronicle that commingling all these topics into a single communications plan in an election year when all Commissioners are also up for election gets seriously close to breaking the restrictions on the Town advocating for the referendums.  The NC General Statues prohibit the Town from doing that sort of advocacy.

Here is why this gets murky.

The cost of the new public facilities bonds on the ballot will be two cents, but by implying in any way the Town could or would use the savings from a Mi-Connection sale to offset these costs, it makes it look like the cost of those Bonds is really zero. That would be misleading.  What if a future Town Board uses the freed up Mi-Connection money to lower or eliminate the solid waste fee which was implemented years ago to free up money to help subsidize Mi-Connection?  (Commissioner Campbell mentioned that as a concern that exists in the community.)  The Board very well might not have enough money to cover what is mentioned in any communication if the messages are commingled.

Add to this the fact that all Commissioners are also on the ballot with these referendums, and it gets even more muddled.  As a voter, if you want to ensure whatever is communicated as a "could happen" with the Mi-Connection money, the subtle implication is that you better vote for all the current Board members as well.

To be very clear no Commissioner implied that, and it probably didn't even cross anyone's mind.  However, it is a logical conclusion.

By commingling the communications to citizens around these issues it could be seen as promoting a certain outcome for both referendums on the ballot as well as the election for the Board itself.   aShortChronicle suggests the Town look at this information from the UNC-SOG before deciding exactly what and how to communicate with citizens.

Keeping it simple, could also keep the Town out of hot water with the Board of Elections.