There are better options than an event center to improve the city

19 Comments | Leave a Comment

It has been said, “It only takes four votes,” implying the new downtown center is going to be constructed regardless of any opposition to the facility. There is some small hope that reason and common sense can prevail if a rational case can be made for a better use of the money.

To review recent reports and rankings that have been published only serves to remind us we are no longer an All-American city.

That fact suggests it is essential we look for ways to 1) Break the poverty cycle which pervades in our city; 2) Prepare our jobless for a better opportunity to find meaningful employment; 3) Actively seek new industry to our area; and 4) Reduce the superficial need for gangs.

To complain without offering at least some viable solution is simply a waste of energy on everyone’s part. So please accept these suggestions in the manner in which they are intended.

First, to break the poverty cycle demands a better educated populace. Let’s spend the money to increase the local supplemental pay for teachers. Nothing says we have to wait for the state to raise salaries. Wake and Mecklenburg counties have a very high supplemental payment and can draw the best qualified teachers.

Pay an additional supplement to teachers who will go to the lowest-performing schools to teach. And ask the churches to mentor low-performing students.

Let’s provide scholarships to students to attend N.C. Wesleyan College as long as they achieve a C-plus average, and if they don’t, they have to pay the scholarship money back.

This worked very well for the Teaching Fellows program and the Hope Scholarship program. Offer the same type of education program to parents and job training at the community colleges.

As for job creation, purchase the land at the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 64. Create a new interchange, and you are almost guaranteed to recoup your money and actually create a higher tax base.

That will certainly create new jobs.

When Home Depot came to Rocky Mount, the manager told me he had more than 6,000 job applicants to apply for the 126 positions available. He could not fill half of those openings because the applicants could not pass the drug test or the educational requirements.

Let’s put two or three new police precincts in the heaviest crime and drug areas. Offer subsidized housing to police officers to live in those areas. And put more than one police officer living in those areas so they can protect themselves. And a higher pay for police officers and firefighters would help.

To me $45 million to $50 million could be spent in a much more meaningful manner than a civic center in a section of town that long ago died and withered on the vine. I know of no city that has lost its downtown infrastructure that has been revived to its former glory.

At least the suggestions above offer a return on the investment. At least they will help some of our citizens become more active and contributors to society. At least they will be more palatable to the taxpayers who are going to have to pay the bill for a city government bent on creating a money-eating monster.


Rocky Mount


Enough already

OK as far as I can tell, Andre Knight owns property in Rocky Mount, but does not live here. Curmilus Dancy, Mr. Knight's mouth piece, lives outside of Rocky Mount as well. We should remember this when dealing with them on forums and in person.

Wrong answer!

Rocky Mount Mayor Pro-tem not only own property but lives in ROCKY MOUNT NC. Deal with me at the forum? Why would anyone need to deal with me, I am not on the City Council nor a City Staff person so what is your ignant point?

answer replied

First, it is ignorant, not ignant.You merely show your ignorance by using a miss-spelling. Secondly sir, this is the forum I speak of.You seem to troll here looking for an opportunity to spout your small world view. I am merely stating that while you look for a chance to voice your rhetoric in the local arena, you yourself, do not live here. your dog, if it is in this fight, is negligible at best. As for Mr. Knight, I know he owns several pieces or property in the area. For the record. this isn't a Nash problem, this isn't an Edgecombe problem, not a white problem, or a black problem, this is a city problem, and a very bad idea. If we are one hour east of an arena, one hour west of an arena, and have a sterling reputation for getting robbed or violently assaulted in a much smaller population center than either, why would anyone choose to come to this arena over one in Raleigh or Greenville?

It is IGNANT! Heard Steve Harvey say

it and I loved it. I knew it would give folks like you something to talk about and it also let me know you and others are reading what I write. Spell check works on my computer however I can choose to write and say words as I please. I don't need and opportunity to spout anything, I have been voicing my opinions since the late 80's so I ain't the one. I don't have to live in Rocky Mount, hell I work, have family and friends and associates in Rocky Mount however this is America and I can voice my opinion about anything I want to. I know the problem so I ain't the one you better talk to those who don't know.


Again put everything on the Nash side. All of those options mentioned are misleading because that is not what the city council does. The county Commissioners is where the school system get their funding. There are entities set up for recruiting jobs. I hate it when so-called intelligent folks intentionally misleads folks when it comes to the role of the city council. But what is most sad is folks who read these comments think these folks are right.


Mr. Arnold, Mr. Boddie and Mr. Pngrimball have all presented viable options for the leaders of City of Rocky Mount to an event center. The question becomes will they be at the meeting on April 21, 2014 at which time they can present their vision for Rocky Mount… … … The second question is will the members of the members of the Rocky Mount City Council allow enough time for these individuals to present their vision. To the council members you must allow the same amount of time to each unplanned presenter and you have allowed to your planned presenters. If a planned presenter gets 20 minutes then each unplanned presenter must be allowed the same 20 minutes. The meeting must be allowed to be in session until all presenters have had an opportunity to present their vision and options… … … The decision on an event center and where to place it cannot be made on a racial divide. Over the past decade or more an appearance and perception of a racial divide has been reinforced within the City of Rocky Mount and the surrounding community. The reinforced perception of a racial divide has been driven by the four black (Blackwell, Knight, Watkins, and Wiggins) members of Rocky Mount City Council, the local and state organizations of the NAACP, plus the outside agitators; who are not citizens of the City of Rocky Mount. All; the four black members of the Rocky Mount City Council, the NAACP, and outside agitators, seen to see everything said as code for something else rather than taking things at face value as it has been said. With almost everything that has been said means exactly what has been said with no hidden code!!! Hidden codes are the fabrications of the mind by the individuals making the claims about hidden codes!!! ... ... It is time that the four black members of the Rocky Mount City Council, the NAACP, and the outside agitators removed their blinders so that they can see visions in something other than a black versus white setting. It is time that these groups eliminated their tunnel vision approach to the problems that face Rocky Mount. Rocky Mount is a multi-culture city and the city leaders must act to support all cultures not just the black culture… … …


I wished I had the money and power of Mr.Arnold, Mr.Boddie, Mr.Pngrimball and their friends because if I did I would not ask the city council JACK SCHITT.

Opportunity, Opportunity, Opportunity…..........

Mr. Lasko/Cunningham, why aren’t you as wealthy as Mr. Arnold, Mr. Boddie, and Mr. Pngrimball??? Odds are that rather than create wealth and jobs as Mr. Arnold, Mr. Boddie, and Mr. Pngrimball have done, I suspect that you have chosen to be dependent on those who create wealth for a job!!! The United States is the land of opportunity each and every one of us has an opportunity to become wealthy and create jobs for our friends and neighbors. It depends on the decisions that we make and nothing else. Each of us have chooses our fate and our future by the decisions that we have made since birth, yes since birth!!! We are what we are today because that is what we have chosen to be; a wealth creator, dependent on the support of wealth creators for a job, dependent on the taxpayer, or dependent on handouts from others or the government; where do you stand in that line Mr. Lasko???...... Mr. Lasko, since I believe that you are dependent on a wealth creator for a job I wonder just how much of an economic contributor you are to their operations. If your efforts in their business is not giving a return on investment of 3 times or more of the cost of your salary/wages plus benefits then you are a drag on that business. Everyone who is dependent on a wealth creator for a job should be striving to generate enough return to cover 3 time their cost to the business so that the business can make a profit but what is more important is so the business can grow and expand. Sometime I will get into the drag on businesses caused by labor unions and labor laws but that is another discussion for another day………. Mr. Arnold, Mr. Boddie, and Mr. Pngrimball are not asking for anything from the city council but they are offering their advice based on years of experience and the wisdom gained from that experience. Mr. Arnold, Mr. Boddie, and Mr. Pngrimball are asking the city council to act wisely when spending your, theirs, and the other citizens of Rocky Mount’s tax monies. With all the evidence that has been presented to this point, spending your tax monies on an event center in the downtown area is not in the best interest of the citizens of Rocky Mount for a number of reasons; economics, access, facilities, crime, etc......

Mr. Yurma

Before you start to label me you should know who you're talking about so that you don't delude yourself and others. BTW my "wealth creator" just so happened to be GOD!!!!!! SO PUT UP OR SHUT UP, STAND UP OR SIT DOWN, DO SOMETHING OR GET OUT THE WAY if you desire our ALL AMERICAN CITY to regain it's title. Thank you Sir.

As a property tax payer in Rocky Mount....

I have a feeling that is akin to what those poor souls must have felt on the Titanic. I know the "Titanic" I'm on is moving full speed ahead into an area infested with icebergs. I have the sinking feeling (pun intended) that the captain and first officers of my "ship" are either not aware of those icebergs or are so hell bent on sitting a new speed record (in our instance a shiny new event center with all of the bells and whistles)that they don't care about the potential consequences. The trouble with my "Titanic" is there are few "life boats" available to get me off the ship once it strikes one of those icebergs. In my instance, that "life boat" is the ability to sell my home at a reasonable price and paddle away from my "Titanic" as rapidly as I can before it sinks. And, to make matters worse, what few "life boats" are available will have "holes" punched into them by the imposition of higher property taxes. Rocky Mount used to be referred to as "The City on the Rise." In a sense, that slogan still holds some water if it is applied to property taxes.

An economic developer's perspective

Rather than scholarships to Wesleyan, a workforce training program should be established that is similar to readySC in South Carolina. This statewide program offers job tax credits to employers for creating jobs, and is structured so that the employer works with the technical college in an area to develop a curriculum tailored to meet their needs. Not all jobs require a college education. A program of this nature would not only help to position the area to be more competitive in attracting companies (particularly manufacturing companies) to the area by cutting a significant start-up cost, but would also create a trained workforce and better position the people of rocky mount for getting skilled jobs. A new interchange at 64-95 would also be a great start. Between rocky mount's strategic location on the I-95 corridor and the existing rail infrastructure, Rocky Mount really is a logistical dream. This is something the city should do a better job of marketing. Beyond this, it is absolutely possible for the downtown to be revived. I have seen it happen in Columbia, SC. However, a civic center is not the answer. A partnership between business owners and local government that works to put businesses back in the buildings and improve the external appearance would be much more effective. My real question is what exactly is Carolinas Gateway Partnership doing to help advance efforts at more sustainable economic growth...


We have to do this ourselves, it's called "THE BUILDING TRADE CENTER" We have the plan to create and implement exactly what you suggested we don't have the economic developers, if we don't it will not get done. To answer your question in reference to the "Gateway", NOTHING. My real question is how do we develop this center and why do we need permission to build sustainable economic growth for our city when those charged to do so can't ?


So we just throw the rules out the window that govern the city councils voting policies because YOU "taxpaying people" want an referendum. If this is what it takes to bring your tax dollars back to Edgecombe county to help fix the mess you left then so be it. You "taxpaying people" should be ashamed of yourselves you know why you "taxpaying people" made Edgecombe Rmt. a dumping ground years ago. My question to you "taxpaying people" What are you so afraid of it's not higher taxes so what is it? This has nothing to do with the city council, Edgecombe county, down town, crime, black or white but everything to do with (WEST OF 301 NASH.)

Us Taxpaying people

Yes, us taxpaying people don't want our tax dollars spent on a civic center regardless of where it is built. The idiotic thing about your comments is it is not about the west side or the east side, it s about an idiotic investment that will show nothing but loses for at leat 10 years. However, speaking about the west side or the east side, maybe if you un-taxpaying people took care of your property and your crime you wouldn't be it the "mess" you claim you are in. I use the phrase un-payimng taxpayer because your reference refers or insinuates thay you don't pay taxes! We did not create your mess by ourselves because you had a lot to do with it. Rose built on your side of town and instesd of being appreciative. you picket and demonstrate. Why would any company want to invest money where they are not appreciated. The statement made by you is by far the best illustration I have heard or see that reflects the problems this city has. I am sure if you don't get your way, Barber and Knight will be demonstrating or picketing. Maybe Knigjht would stay home on "Civic Center Monday" rather the go tho Raleigh and picket on "moral Monday". Yes, you are probably right, you control the council, so regardless of the money spent in this city, as long as it goes to you, you will be satisfied because spending someone else money, with no interest as to whether it is a wise or stupid investment, as long as it is on the east side you want it built! What an idiotic comment!


I was referring to Mr. Gene Arnolds statement, "We taxpaying people" read it for yourself. I'm going to go out on a limb and attempt to ask a dumb question. Just you "taxpaying people" tax dollars will be used to fund this center? WE PAY TAXES ALSO. As a matter of fact we pay higher taxes and higher utilities and we are "underserved"


The church can't even mentor their own members. Putting police in high crime areas to live? where are these high crime areas? I live in what you people call high crime areas and every one on my street are home owners and we talk and know each other (Arlington street) you people that label us don't have a clue as to what our problems are and you don't have an answer for our problems, As a matter of fact you people are the number one problem because you're the people that tucked your tails between your legs and hauled butt west and left all this junk behind years ago as black people began to move into your community, the communities that your parents build became rental properties and has been going down hill since then so don't sit so high on your self righteousness telling us what we need to do, appointing people (James Gillard who's going to bolt west also and the church) to save us when they can't get along and fighting with each other. The best thing for you people to do is sit down, shut up and get out the way when it comes to what we need to do for our communities. The only reason you are standing is because someone has stepped on your toe. We've been fighting crime in our communities for years and you did nothing to help then and you do nothing to help now. We have posted what we're doing in our communities to fight crime and creating jobs and none of you offered to help or even wanted to know. As long as the police hunt down our youth and round them up as cattle and lock them up you are happy, that's not addressing crime. If you want to fight city hall then fight city hall but leave us out don't use us as door mats when you don't know us. Johnny Cunningham The Re Group1 22-266-3858

Event Center

What do your comments - as profane and insulting as they are - have to do with the Event Center?

Mr. Arnold has expressed options for a better solution to what the City Council is doing. It's an opinion backed with logical options. They are not the only options but at least he's offering solutions and not bitchin' at people and blaming others for what he sees is a mess to clean up.

RE: the city council and how the vote goes - they are spending OUR MONEY - YOURS, TOO! Why shouldn't we get a say in that? Trusting 7 people with $45 million without holding them accountable BEFORE a mistake happens is plain stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.

And, as far as "East Side" - You complain about the White Flight - but maybe the Crime Plight is of your own making? Clean your own home of sins before casting hate outward. Drugs & crime on the east side of RM are not the ONLY place where drugs and crime occur. There are just as many police calls to the Harris Teeter area as there are to Arlington Street. So you're not that special really. What you are is a whiner blaming others - just like Knight and his gang of idiots. You think we OWE YOU?

We don't OWE YOU SQUAT!!!

What we SHOULD be doing is working together - stop this dumb bickering about whose fault and who owes who - and realize that Rocky Mount is Rocky Mount. No east - no west - no north - no south. The tracks are the ties that BIND us together. Stop pulling us apart with angry assumptions and what YOU demand be done FOR you.

A) Do it yourself first. B) When you care about your own neighborhood first and can get that straight the rest of us WILL take notice. C) Take pride in RM - not blame and surely don't think you are entitled to anything. D) Reach out and work with - not angrily slap the hands that offer. Telling others to SHUT UP and GET OUTTA THE WAY is about as ignorant and indignant of any SOB that ever was.

You may not LIKE what someone offers but that is the benefit of advice and volunteerism. It's optional. I ain't got to do squat. But I'd like to. You act all indignant and I surely ain't going to do squat for ya. And you can continue to live in hell and bitch about it waiting for the sky to open and rain down someone else's money like magic. Hold your breathe. Go ahead.

So how about changing your tune? How about opening your mind and heart to others who want to help? Or does that threaten your base? Because if the "East Side" suddenly got better - what would you do with yourself? What sheep would follow you then? Baa! Baa! Baa!

And therein - lies the problem. You don't WANT it to get better. You just want to gripe and be the center of attention - scream RACE when it's not going your way and cry FEED ME - YOU OWE ME forever. And as long as that is the case this city will never unite.


Mr.Boddie Thank you for your assimilating opinion, My name is Johnny Cunningham 252-266-3858 c/o THE BUILDING TRADE CENTER / THE RE GROUP1 I'm my own man NOT!!! "Knight and his gang of idiots" (including the church) Truth of the matter is that when you come into your own there's nothing else you will be judged for that will matter other than where God send you. It's all about serving the poor why else are they here and us? So when you get ready to serve know this because you surely don't know me, my hands has been on the plow over 20 years and I ain't looked or looking back. We do owe the children (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 ect. years old) that have been caught up in our foolishness (adults) a safer and better city. If we remember this then maybe our city will unite if not then the only thing that matters is where we end up.

Well said.

Thank you Mr. Arnold. As a former member of the NC General Assembly and a well respected businessman from Rocky Mount your words hit the nail on the head. Not just saying "I don't like it", but backing it up with alternatives and rational options of what to better do with $45 million of OUR (taxpayers) money for this city.

We ALL want Rocky Mount to be the best. It is not about keeping Edgecombe down or being against a personal agenda. No one wants RM to fail or for downtown to fail. It's about being the best Rocky Mount it can be. And the current path that the city council is on is NOT the best path in many of our opinions. And as the taxpaying peoples - our opinions absolutely do count!

There should be a referendum! Let the people vote!

Add comment

Login or register to post comments