This is What I Like about the South

Feeling the need for an Independence week end getaway we decided to take ourselves down to Kinston and visit Kings BBQ Restaurant.
Kings BBQ Restaurant feeds Eastern NC barbecue lovers locally and nationwide, serving 8,000 pounds of pork, 6,000 pounds of chicken, and 1,500 pounds of collard greens a week! So it is obviously well recommended.
My initial curiosity was sparked by a clip as part of a NC tourist promotion and the YouTube extract is worth watching.
I had the pulled pork (which is why we went) and as a side dish I had the collard greens which are cooked with bacon. Together with the fried okra and freshly cooked chips we couldn’t manage a dessert – so we brought the pecan pie home with us. And yes, being well brought up and skilled in these matters I would never put ketchup on NC barbecue pork.
Kinston has a population of 21,000. The area is very agricultural – where else would you see highway billboards extolling the virtues of pesticides and fertilizers? The farmland is characterized by tobacco which is an indicator of poor soil. Kinson was badly affected by Hurricane Matthew last October
 as the restaurant marker shows.
It was a good trip and a very nice meal – plain homestyle Southern cooking at its best. The restaurant was pleasantly full but not crowded and our waitress Tina bustled around like the true professional she is.
Is it on the list for a revisit – yes it is!

Dragon Arts

Wales is renowned for its artistic genes. Artists and bards spring up everywhere. After all Aberystwyth boasts my son in law as a sculptor in residence.
Last month the Ceredigion coast experienced some late spring gales and among other detritus a tree washed up on the beach.
If as Michaelangelo  said “Every block of stone has a statue inside it.” then every piece of wood harbours an artistic expression that wishes to
emerge like the butterfly from the cocoon.
So it was with no surprise that one morning we discovered that the tree trunk had been transformed into a dragon complete with (dead) 
spider crabs for eyes.
As can be seen, my grandson is a true native of Wales and shows no fear of dragons!

 

Wags4Tags

There is always plenty of doom and gloom wherever you look. Sometimes the morning news makes valiant efforts to stress the nice things about the day – such as spring blossoms but often the focus is on pollen and the associated allergies (welcome to my world). On the other hand there are many people making significant and beneficial changes to people’s lives. I came across one such person at the Triangle BABCNC Tra’Li Networking Social where I met Vivienne Carosso who is a key member of the Wags4Tags team. Basically Wags4tags unites psychologically and emotionally impaired Veterans across North Carolina with trained Companion, Emotional Support Dogs rescued from kill shelters so the two can heal in unconditional love, trust and loyalty. They are coming up to their 50th pairing so all credit to their President and Founder Ronnie Sadoski Trained animal companionship can help Veterans in their readjustment to civilian life by easing their symptoms and providing assistance, unconditional love, trust and loyalty.   There are many ways to support this enterprise. It takes up to $2,000 per dog to prepare it for his/her new Veteran-owner. This includes, but is not limited to rescue/adoption fees, and cost to spay/neuter, vaccinate, treat for heartworms, take care of other medical issues (such as eye infections, flea infections), micro chip, feed, foster/train, certify. None of these costs are passed on to the Veteran. The contact for Wags4tags is WAGS4TAGSNC@gmail.com Wags4Tags is entirely volunteer-based, and all donations stay in North Carolina. 98% of all donations go directly to rescuing, vetting, training, and matching a dog to his or her new Veteran, including any and all supplies the Veteran will need.

Clearly, we are doing something right!

Last Friday (3rd March) Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane delivered the annual State-of-the-City address.
Key front-end points for residents and potential residents were:
Raleigh continues to be recognized nationally and internationally. Some of Raleigh’s accolades from the past year include:
#3 Best Large City to Live In
#2 Best City for Young Entrepreneurs
#6 Best-Performing Large City in 2016 : Miliken Institute
#2 Area with the Highest Number of Tech Jobs-
NY Times Forbes Magazine has ranked Raleigh:
#2 Hottest Spot for Tech Jobs
#3 Best Place for Business
#3 Best City for Young Professionals
#4 Best City for Mid-Career Professionals in 2016
#4 Easiest City to Find a Job #5 City of the Future
#9 in the Top Ten Cities Americans are Moving to Right Now
#9 Best City for Jobs.
And just last month, U.S. News & World Report named Raleigh the #4 Best Place to Live.
The population continues to grow by about 2.3% annually. We had some big announcements by businesses of new locations or expansions. Citrix is adding 400 jobs; Optum 200; WalkMe 100; and Ateb announced an investment of $3 million with the number of jobs still to be announced. All together in 2016 we saw a 4.3% increase in employment numbers.
Last year, 138 permits were issued for new commercial and industrial development; this was valued at over $800 million dollars. We continue to proactively position ourselves as a city of the future. The recent additions to our market of high speed gigabit fiber offer our residents more options in high speed internet service than New York City or San Francisco.
The city is working to provide more opportunities to make sure that Raleigh’s success is enjoyed by everyone that lives here.
Raleigh has always been and will always be an open, welcoming community to everyone that comes here.
The address can be seen YouTube: Mayor’s State of the City address
As the Mayor said “Clearly, we are doing something right!”

Competency Deficits

 

On Monday I attended the City of Raleigh’s Board of Adjustment which has jurisdiction on appeals for variances, special exceptions and interpretations in the zoning regulations The occasion was the appeal against planning processes and permissions with regard to 5211 Coronado Drive. (See http://www.raleighnc.gov/government/content/BoardsCommissions/Articles/BoardofAdjustmentCases.html for full details).
But before the case could be explained, the developer’s attorney moved a motion to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the Board did not have the jurisdiction to decide upon the issue at hand and that the appeal to the Board should be dismissed.
oak-treeThere were other grounds for the dismissal, but before they could be properly articulated and discussed, the case was dismissed on the grounds that the Board did not have the competence to rule on the case.
Where to next? We were directed to the Wake County Superior Court. Whether we go there depends on Tom Parker, the advice he receives and the funding he needs.
But overall it is bad news that the City has allowed an inappropriate development which was against its own rules and declines to make matters good for the community which it serves.

Ignorant, Naïve or just Plain Wilful

coronado-dr-5211-20170212-bMy neighbour Tom Parker is tackling the City Board of Adjustment tomorrow (Monday) at 1 p.m. regarding the  construction of two houses on what was 5211 Coronado Drive.
The sub division ordnance has not been followed and the purpose of the meeting is to protest and deny the City of Raleigh the opportunity to legitimise their actions in permitting this development.
This is not just a Coronado Drive matter.
It affects us all in North Hills as developers destroy our environment in the pursuit of unwarranted profits.
The hearing takes place at 1 p.m. at 222 West Hargett Street, Raleigh in Room 201.
The Raleigh Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial body which acts on appeals for variances, special exceptions and interpretations in the zoning regulations. The meeting with the Board is important because City Planners are paid by us (tax payers), are governed by our elected officials and they are meant to serve us.
The designation of Raleigh being the seventh most attractive city to live in the U.S. will not be sustainable if we become a developer’s paradise where rules are flouted and not enforced.
Our City Representative (who does not sit on the Board of Adjustment) is Dickie Thompson. His email is: dickie.thompson@raleighnc.gov
See you there tomorrow.
http://www.raleighnc.gov/government/content/BoardsCommissions/Articles/BoardofAdjustment.html

Communities Thrive on Trees

oak-treeYou would think that this is a statement of the blindingly obvious. But when you see the lot clearing that takes place when developers prepare land for building – then you do wonder where their brains are.
Trees reduce stress by filtering unwanted noise and replacing it with bird song and rustling leaves. Domestic abuse, including child abuse, is lower in homes near trees.
So why clear the land of trees?
We can all see that it is easier to lay out plot lines and install drainage if the land is clear. Yet one of the key things that makes our urban environment attractive is trees. Whether they be oaks, ash, London planes or even the sycamore they soften the impact of urban living.
Trees remove harmful gases, such as nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and  ozone. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina trees remove 17.5 million pounds  of air pollutants each year.
Trees capture sediment  and toxins that lower water quality, which reduces the  need for costly storm water control measures,
Urban trees reduce the “heat island effect,” cooling  our cities by as much as 9ºF. One tree can cool as much as five air conditioners running  20 hours a day.
There are some conscientious developers in North Hills, Raleigh. They can be identified by their instinctive retention of the arboreal character of their lots. Others exemplify the slash and burn mindset of the 18th and 19th centuries when North American pioneers such as Daniel Boone cleared land in the Appalachian Mountains.
In the industrialized regions of
Europe and North America, the practice was abandoned with the introduction of market agriculture and land ownership. Land tenure systems  help focus on long-term improvement and discouraged practices associated with slash-and-burn agriculture.
Community responsibility does not begin and end with voting every couple of years. If the price of liberty requires continual vigilance, so does ensuring our environment does not deteriorate beyond recall.