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Controversial zoning heads to council

HIGH POINT — A Florida developer’s controversial proposal to bring a shopping center to a north High Point intersection is on Monday’s City Council agenda.

Halvorsen Development Corp. is asking the city to rezone 12 acres at the southeast corner of Skeet Club Road and Johnson Street to allow a 75,000-square-foot commercial project consisting of a grocery store, retail services and restaurants.

The Planning and Zoning Commission last month voted 9-0 to recommend denial of the case after finding that it would be out of character with the largely residential area.

Because of the advisory board’s vote, it would take a two-thirds majority of the nine-member council to approve the case.

The board determined that high-intensity retail at this location would not be supported by the city’s policies and long-range plans.

The area is designated as low-density residential on the land use map, which neighborhood opponents argue makes the proposal incompatible with the area.

Residents also cite concerns about traffic and safety and the presence of the historic Mendenhall-Blair House on the site.

The applicant’s representatives counter that the development is needed to serve significant population growth in the Johnson Street and Skeet Club Road area and that their proposal is consistent with the city’s long-range plans.

An unrelated case involving another proposed shopping center development is also on the council’s agenda for Monday.

This case involves rezoning and annexation requests for 37 acres at W. Wendover Avenue and Penny Road, where Bunker Land Group is seeking approval to develop 160,000 square feet of commercial space and 180 multifamily units.

pkimbrough@hpenews.com | 336-888-3531


News
HIGH POINT CONFIDENTIAL: Mystery shrouded 1959 slaying of elderly man

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first story in a two-part High Point Confidential series.

HIGH POINT

When 77-year-old J.M. Hoover was found dead in his home on Thanksgiving Eve, the victim of a sniper firing from close range, family and friends couldn’t believe it.

Or understand it.

Why would anyone want to kill such a gentle soul? The man had no known enemies. He was just a simple farmer who was thoughtful enough to share his bounty, often leaving fresh melons on his porch for county sheriff’s deputies to stop by and eat while making their nightly rounds. He also had donated land for a new church to be built.

And Hoover certainly wasn’t wealthy enough to be a robbery target. His small, ramshackle house on Loop Road, in the city’s Roseville community — the same house he’d lived in for 76 of his 77 years — was proof of that.

Investigators also discounted the possibility that the elderly man had been accidentally killed by a hunter’s stray bullet.

So when Hoover turned up dead, struck down by a single .22-caliber bullet fired into the back of his head — and on Thanksgiving Eve, no less — shock waves raced through the community. Who would do such a thing? And why?

The year was 1959, and the news of Joseph Mayfield Hoover’s slaying — plastered on the front page of The High Point Enterprise’s Thanksgiving Day edition — cast a dark shadow over the city as families observed the holiday. “Sniper Slays Elderly Man With 1 Shot,” the Nov. 26 headline read.

According to the article, Hoover had been shot to death the night before as he sat in his favorite chair, reading the evening newspaper. Two of his sons, Claude and Harold, found his body crumpled between the chair and a wood stove around 7 p.m. A pocket watch found in the bib pocket of Hoover’s overalls had stopped at 5:53 p.m., so investigators believed that’s when he was shot and slumped to the floor.

Only one clue suggested a possible motive for the killing: Hoover’s billfold, which he always kept in his overalls, was missing. It only contained $335 — hardly enough to kill a man for — but what other reason could there have been?

Outside the house, investigators found footprints by a maple tree near the window through which Hoover had been shot, suggesting the killer probably hid behind the tree as he fired the fatal bullet.

Bloodhounds were brought to the scene to pick up the killer’s scent, but they couldn’t track it, largely because a sprawling crowd of curious rubberneckers had trampled through Hoover’s yard, giving the dogs too many scents to choose from.

The crowd hampered the investigation in other ways, too.

“Fresh tire tracks found in a driveway a few feet from where the murderer stood when he pulled the trigger were obliterated before deputies could get the area roped off,” The Enterprise wrote.

“Dozens of persons followed deputies around the house, peering curiously over their shoulders. Crowds roamed over the ground beneath the window where the murderer stood.”

According to newspaper accounts, no witnesses had stepped forward with any promising leads, and the prospect of finding a credible witness seemed unlikely. Not only had the killer committed the crime under the cover of darkness, he also had stood in a secluded spot when he pulled the trigger.

“Though the general neighborhood of the murder is not desolate,” The Enterprise reported, “the window through which Hoover was shot is on the side of the house that faces no neighboring dwellings.”

It appeared the mystery sniper may have gotten away with murder.

And the $335.

The next day’s Enterprise, the day after Thanksgiving, reported the bleak progress report: “Officers Hit Blank Wall In Slaying.” The article mentioned two men who had been spotted in the vicinity of Hoover’s house around the time he was slain, but after being grilled by officers for several hours, they had been cleared.

Little did the public know, however, that investigators were already questioning another couple of suspects who also had been spotted near Hoover’s house around the time he was killed. And as the interrogations continued, officers believed it was just a matter of time until these particular suspects cracked.

Why were the officers so confident their new suspects could be broken?

Because they were only 15 and 16 years old.

jtomlin@hpenews.com | 336-888-3579

EDITOR’S NOTE: Part two of “The Silent Snipers” will be published in Tuesday’s High Point Enterprise.


News
Shelters seek winter help from city

HIGH POINT — With the coronavirus pandemic still limiting the number of beds they can make available, the three primary homeless shelter providers in High Point are asking the city for help this winter.

A City Council committee has recommended awarding a total of $162,850 in federal COVID relief funds to be split between Open Door Ministries, the Salvation Army and West End Ministries.

The full council will vote on the assistance Monday, which would enable the agencies to provide emergency winter sheltering while maintaining social distancing requirements and other mandates related to the pandemic.

“It’s been quite a challenge to respond appropriately and safely with COVID,” said Brian Hahne, executive director of Partners Ending Homelessness. “Most of our shelters are still operating at or below 50% capacity. However, we still have folks on our coldest nights that we need to be prepared to serve.”

Last winter, Open Door Ministries, which serves homeless men, had a partnership with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to house its transitional housing clients there instead of its shelter on N. Centennial Street to keep it from getting too crowded.

This arrangement is not available again because Open Door Ministries does not have adequate staff to manage the church location this time, said Executive Director Ryan Ross.

However, he said a similar COVID safety measure is available for the agency at a different location.

Open Door Ministries is requesting $60,398 to book several rooms at a local extended-stay hotel to house about 20 of its transitional housing clients through March.

Hotel staff would handle meals, cleaning and other day-to-day operations, which would save Open Door Ministries from having to provide these services.

The agency would devote one staffer to work with clients at the hotel on their individual needs.

“It would give them a little more freedom and start transitioning them out into housing,” said Ross.

It would also free up 35 beds at the shelter to accommodate homeless men directly off the street.

“That way, we can help them and make sure everybody’s as safe as possible,” he said. “The definition of cold weather for us is when it gets below 45 degrees. The last thing we want is guys sleeping on the street if we can get them off the street and help them out.”

The biggest challenge for West End Ministries’ winter shelter for single women isn’t a lack of space; it’s finding the money to staff it, said Executive Director Brad Bowers.

Its Leslie’s House shelter can normally accommodate 22 women, but its capacity has been limited to 14 during the pandemic.

There’s room for an additional 15 beds in another building on its campus to serve as its winter shelter.

“The goal, as with residents of Leslie’s House, is to help women who stay at the winter shelter to overcome obstacles and to move into permanent housing,” said Bowers. “At West End, we view the winter shelter as a vitally important and necessary extension of Leslie’s’ House.”

The cost to implement the winter shelter is substantial and stretches the ministry’s already-tight budget, he added.

The agency is asking for $50,472 from the city to provide round-the-clock staffing and a 40-hour-per-week case manager/coordinator. It would also cover utility costs and extra cleaning that’s required.

“We know how to take care of the homeless,” said Bowers. “We can do the work. We just need the funding.”

Antoine Dalton, director of social services for the Salvation Army Center of Hope Family Shelter in High Point, said staffing is also the main need for his agency that the money would address.

Devoting part of the shelter to winter overflow space to serve individuals for four months would cost $51,980, he said.

Because they serve families with children, their caseworkers and other staff work closely with schools and social services agencies.

This poses a challenge in finding enough manpower to monitor the individuals in the winter shelter, Dalton said.

The money would allow the Salvation Army to bring on additional staff and provide better pay and more hours in order to operate the winter shelter, he said.

pkimbrough@hpenews.com | 336-888-3531


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