Questions for Rocky Mount City Council

I’m trying really hard to keep on the sunny side of my Rocky Mount life (see my last entry). I’d intended to post cheerful book reviews today of what I’ve recently read.

But my thoughts about Where the Crawdads Sing and The Perfect Nanny will just have to wait. I feel compelled to talk about what’s going on with our city government–and what isn’t.

According to an article in Friday’s Rocky Mount Telegram (February 8, 2019), there’s trouble brewing about downtown sites for hotels. It seems Carlton House developers are waiting on a $55,000 grant to support renovations. In order for developers to receive the money, city officials have to complete paperwork.

Carlton House

The old Carlton House waits for grant money

When our controversial Community and Business Development Director Landis Faulcon was asked why Carlton House developers had not received the grant money, her response was, “I’m not in the loop.”

Dr. Faulcon.jpg

Dr. Landis Faulcon

Are you kidding me? This woman is being paid $120,000 a year. Of course, maybe it is hard to be in the loop when you live in Virginia Beach instead of the community where you are supposed to be in charge of COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.

Okay, to make me even crazier, the  Telegram reports that while there’s a delay in the development money for the Carlton House project, “city administrators have furiously been putting together a deal for a hotel at the Event Center. ”

Speculation is the hotel location will be the site of the St. John A.M.E. Zion Church, which sits right on the Event Center parking lot–believe me, I went down there and looked.

I took the picture below sitting in the parking lot of the Event Center.

AME and parking lot

St. John A.M.E. Zion

To be honest, I wouldn’t mind staying in a quaint hotel that was once a historic church. I mean, look at those stained glass windows. Of course, I have no idea whether the church will be renovated or torn down and a Holiday Inn built there.

The problem is the perception of favoritism. Why is the City holding up one developer and lobbying for another?

The most bizarre aspect of the Event Center to me is what I call Andre’s Church, situated smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot of the Event Center, as it has been since Day One. Owned by the family of Councilman Andre Knight, the official name of this structure is the Holy Hope Heritage Center.

AME with signs

Holy Hope Heritage Center

Would somebody from City Council please explain to me why this structure is sitting where parking spaces would logically be expected? And here are some other questions I have:

Who’s  conducting that independent study of our City Manager, Ms. Rochelle Small -Toney? When will those results be made public? If there was no lawsuit (according to the Mayor), then why was John Jesso paid $40,000? Why do City Council members not recuse themselves when votes are taken on issues that could be seen as a conflict of interest?

I could go on and on–why in the name of common sense was Rochelle Small-Toney hired in the first place?–but I feel myself slipping into despair.

It’s really hard to stay on the sunny side with so many questions and a city council that won’t come up with answers.

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18 Responses to Questions for Rocky Mount City Council

  1. Debbie Haggerty says:

    You are so right on target. Thank you, Patsy. I just hope you get some honest answers. Seems no one else has been able to!

    Like

  2. Suzanne Parham says:

    A burning question many of us have is whether the former director of Parks, Kelvin Yarnell, has any kind of warnings or discipline write-ups that would warrant his demotion and replacement.

    Like

    • patsypridgen says:

      A very good question. He came a year or so ago to speak to my garden club and seemed very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about plans the city had (at that time) to capitalize on our river front. I’ve heard only good things about him.

      Like

  3. Kyle Ratkovec says:

    My wife and I lived in Rocky Mount for almost four years while I was assigned there by the Army. Our plan is to move back after I retire in three years, but with all the negative things that are happening with the City Manager, we are actually looking at moving to another community. We are entertaining the idea of moving to Wilson, Zebulon, or Knightdale. It makes us sad to see what is happening to Rocky Mount and our friends that still remain there. The city manager needs to go! Along with most of the city council!

    Like

  4. Fran Glover says:

    Thank you, Patsy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marsha Holloman says:

    Thank you Patsy for using your forum for these questions which we as concerned citizens would like to have answers to.

    Like

  6. JanePope says:

    It was quite shocking to read Fridays article….with more shenanigans revealed! Thank you for keeping this in the news!

    Like

  7. Becky Parks says:

    Thanks Patsy!

    Like

  8. Lee Weeks says:

    Thank you Patsy for all that you are doing!!! I have lived in Rocky Mount my entire life and never dreamed our City government could become so corrupt!! Why they let Andre Knight get away with what he does and do NOTHING is beyond me!!! Are they afraid of him??

    Like

  9. Kathy Sunderman says:

    I am so happy you are using your journalistic platform to publicly ask what we all want answers to and more. And why are non-profits misusing grant money and paying spouses for services? Come on, follow the money. I look forward to reading what you post!!

    Like

  10. Mary Ruth Anderson says:

    You address the same questions my husband and I had when we read the article concerning the money waiting for a signature to go to the renovators of the Carlton house. Thank you for keeping these issues in the public eye.

    Like

  11. Beth Joseph says:

    Thank you so much Patsy for using your journalism expertise to enlighten our community. Every day there is one more issue brought to light. Today, February 10, 2019, there is an article about a downtown establishment with direct connections to city councilmen. The problems are becoming more consistent. Thank you for helping the community keep up with this. Our city needs the prayers of all the people!!!!!

    Like

  12. Nancy Berry says:

    Thank you Patsy!

    Like

  13. May B Howell says:

    Thank you and the Telegram for digging out and exposing the problems. I am not a resident within the city limits, but support the businesses with our dollars. What does it take to get the state auditors along with the State Department of human resources to come to Rocky Mount. I know several present and past employees that could and should file suite with the Department of Human Resources because they have been discriminated against.
    Keep up the good writing and holding the council accountable. One more thought…all council meetings should be video taped and immediately accessible to the public.
    Why

    Like

  14. Neill Nelson says:

    Thank you Patsy!

    Like

  15. Janet Hanaway says:

    The church where the parking lot needs to be will result in Andre becoming a very rich man

    Like

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