The most recent county-wide tax reappraisal was relatively non-controversial. Compared to the uproar that occurred in 2013, the 2017 reappraisal has been well received. Overall, the county’s home values increased. About 70 percent of homes in Forsyth County increased in value and 30 percent of homes decreased in value. But the 2017 tax reappraisal was more bad news for East Winston.
Winston-Salem, N.C. is proud of its history-its 18th and 19th-century history that is. Winston’s is also extremely proud of its transition from a tobacco and textile manufacturing town, to its reincarnation as the so-called, “City of Arts and Innovation.” There’s a feeling in Winston that the past is in the past, but the past is always present. You just have to know where to look for it. Winston’s history is intertwined with R.J. Reynolds’ Tobacco, like the city’s name itself. For many decades Winston-Salem was the Camel City.
Monday’s marathon city council meeting was eventful. In a little under 3 hours, the Winston-Salem City Council passed its $482.4 million 2017-2018 budget by the thinnest of margins, 4-3 (Council Member Adams was absent). The highlights of the budget include; a marginal tax increase and higher pay for police and firefighters as well as other city employees. Winston pays its police and fire department and other government workers less than comparable cities in North Carolina. It had no choice but to pay its workers more or continue to pay the high cost of training workers only to see them take jobs in the neighboring cities of Greensboro, High Point, and Kernersville.
Recently, Michael Hewlett, the Winston-Salem Journal’s legal reporter wrote an excellent article on Kalvin Michael Smith. Smith endured over 20 years behind bars for a 1995 violent assault and robbery that he didn’t commit. Smith was released last November from the Forsyth Correctional Center on Cherry Street when the Forsyth County D.A.’s Office agreed that Smith had served enough time for the crime he was wrongfully convicted of. Though Smith is out of jail he is struggling (as anyone in his position would be) to put his life back together.20 years is a long to time to have stolen from you. It might be a long road to recovery for Kalvin Michael Smith, it’s important for the community to continue to stand with Kalvin and help him reintegrate back into Winston-Salem, Forsyth County.
Back in May 2012, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought the Winston-Salem Journal and a host of other small and medium-sized papers from Media General. Five years ago there was optimism that Warren Buffett would reinvigorate the Journal. Sadly, five years later, we now know better. Buffett hasn’t invested in our local paper, it’s just another asset to him. Sunday’s Winston-Salem Journal had an excellent cover story on Kalvin Michael Smith.
This article was originally posted on February 9, 2014, on winstonwatchman.org. It’s the story of a petty criminal and a massive, disproportionate mobilization of local police to bring him into custody.
Just before midnight on Sunday, February 2, as the good folks of Northwest North Carolina were in bed asleep in preparation for the work week ahead, the King City Police Department confronted Christopher Jenkins at the Waffle House in King. What happened next lead to a redneck standoff that would last for 29 hours at a cheap motel on University Parkway and briefly capture the imagination of the city of Winston. It was a little surreal to see how quickly a simple police matter can escalate into a standoff. The real story was not the redneck and his supposed “hostage” little brother in a motel room, but the overwhelming show of force on the part of the Winston-Salem Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.
Today is World No Tobacco Day. All around the globe health advocates are mobilizing to educate people about the dangers of tobacco. This might seem like an old song to many. But the dangers of tobacco need repeating. Tobacco consumption, in the form of chewing tobacco, cigarettes, e-cigarettes or any of the other nicotine-addicting products Big Tobacco peddles is bad news.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported Sunday that Dr. Krishauna Hines-Gaither has been relieved of her duties as Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness at Salem College. Dr. Hines-Gaither may still remain at Salem as assistant professor of Spanish. Salem Sits, a blog ran by Salem students first reported Dr. Hines-Gaither’s removal from her position as Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness on Thursday, just before the Memorial Day Weekend began. Clearly, Salem College’s administration chose to remove Dr. Hines-Gaither at a time that would draw the least amount of public scrutiny. Here’s The Journal’s excerpt of the letter that Salem College President Lorraine Sterritt released explaining her actions:
“The events of the past year have demonstrated that Salem needs to dedicate more resources to diversity and inclusiveness,” Sterritt wrote.
Thursday was a long day for Minerva Cisneros, a Mexican mother of two in Winston-Salem. Minerva and her supporters in the Sanctuary City Coalition Winston-Salem spent the day in Charlotte, meeting with officials at Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE has given Minerva until June 30 to return to her native Mexico. After returning from Charlotte, over a dozen Sanctuary City activists squeezed into Minerva’s small, but warmly decorated modular home on the outskirts of South Winston to discuss what to do next. With just over 30 days before her deportation order takes effect, there’s no time to waste.
Sometimes you find wisdom in an unexpected place, such as The Less Desirables podcast. The Less Desirables normally discusses craft beer and pop culture. But the May 1o, 2017 Less Desirables podcast features an hour-long interview with local legal advocate Kerri Singler. It’s a must listen. It’s an illuminating oral history of Winston’s ongoing opioid crisis.