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City Lake construction remains on track

HIGH POINT — Passing motorists and visitors are noticing a lot of dirt being moved and structures being torn down at High Point City Lake Park.

And that’s a good thing, city officials say.

The city’s $23.1 million renovation of the park remains on track for completion by Memorial Day 2022.

The park’s pool is getting several upgrades, including a redesign with new attractions. In addition to mechanical upgrades, it will feature a 50-meter competition pool and an adjoining splash pad outside the gym/locker room building.

The southern half of the pool will be transformed into a “zero-barrier entrance lifestyle pool” with a lazy river and stand-up water slide. The gymnasium next to the pool is being converted into a community center with an assembly room and offices, and the pool locker rooms and concession areas will be remodeled.

Assistant City Manager Greg Ferguson told the City Council Finance Committee in June that a construction package with general contractor Samet Corp. locks in a “guaranteed maximum price” to the city of $19.89 million.

Architect’s fees, asbestos-removal costs and other expenses for renovation work done or initiated so far bring the total project budget to $23.15 million.

A bond package approved by city voters in 2019 designated $9.5 million for the project. That money will be combined with $5.3 million in two-thirds bonds to be issued next year, along with an interfund loan of up to $8.3 million from the city’s landfill post-closure fund.

When bidding out the project, several items were bid as alternates and have since been removed from the project scope in order to minimize the overall project costs, according to the city.

The largest of these is a pedestrian bridge from the park across the lake to the Piedmont Environmental Center. Ferguson said the city is pursuing grant money for that component of the project.

Buffalo soldier served local needs
  • Updated

HIGH POINT — Guilford County recently recognized High Point resident Gilbert Joseph Carter, 91, as one of the Triad’s oldest living buffalo soldiers.

Carlvena Foster, vice chair of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, presented the resolution in honor of Carter, who also is her cousin. She described Carter as a living legend whose life, experiences and contributions to the country as a member of the U.S. Army, this city and community as a model citizen are appreciated and worthy of recognition.

The original buffalo soldiers were members of all-African American Army units formed after the Civil War to serve in the West. The term originated from what Native Americans called soldiers in the first all-Black regiments, which served in the West.

In September 2020, the National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers Motorcycle Club recognized Carter as a buffalo soldier.

Recognizing Carter as “the oldest living buffalo soldier in the Triad adds value to our history and continues to highlight the contributions of African Americans in the military who served in 1866 as buffalo soldiers as well as those who served through the years and those who currently courageously and proudly serve, protect and defend this country in spite of the injustices and discriminations still prevalent across the U.S.,” Foster said.

Carter expressed appreciation for the recognition.

“On behalf of all the buffalo soldiers and all the men and women who put their lives in harm’s way to make this honor possible, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Carter said. “I’m very low key about what I do, and grateful to the county to give me an honor.”

Carter’s parents, Darrow and Lessie Crushfield Carter, raised their 13 children in a house on Hoover Avenue. The family had a garden, chickens, hogs and cows on land located close to High Point’s downtown. His father also fished to help feed the family. Flour, salt and pepper are the only things Carter remembers his parents buying from the store. He does recall his parents’ work to keep their children well-fed.

“Growing up in the Depression, my mother always had something on the stove,” Carter said.

Carter recalled as a child seeing a stranger who had gotten off the train looking for food in trash. When he told his mother about the man in ragged clothes, she gave the stranger a biscuit filled with fatback and jelly. Carter recalls clearly when the man asked, “Ma’am, can I have another one of those biscuits?” then said, “I’m mighty obliged to you” as he wrapped it in newspaper and put the second biscuit into his pocket for later.

Carter attended Leonard Street Elementary School and joined Christ the King Catholic Church after it was built in 1939-40. While he was a student at William Penn High School, Carter remembers helping the five Sisters of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God who were sent by their London congregation in 1947 to start a mission in High Point. The sisters bought the George Penny house on Greensboro Road to live in and established a convalescent center known as Maryfield with about 21 patients. Maryfield developed into a 71-acre continuing care retirement community called Pennybyrn at Maryfield.

As a teenager, Carter helped the sisters and the ladies from Immaculate Heart of Mary to get the place cleaned up and ready.

“I wore a lot of hats out there,” Carter said.

He recalled the first Christmas when one of the sisters called him in and asked him to play Santa Claus for the patients.

“She made me a cotton beard and gave me a bag of goodies to give patients,” Carter said. One of the residents told him, “You don’t look like any Santa Claus I’ve ever seen.”

While a student at William Penn High School, Carter played football, basketball and boxed. N.C. A&T University offered Carter a scholarship to play football when he graduated from William Penn High School in 1951, but he had not taken college prep classes and didn’t think he was academically prepared for college.

Two years later, Carter was drafted into the Army and reported to duty in Texas. He said he spent about two years in artillery, training other soldiers to use various weapons. He returned home after his oldest brother died, and by the time Carter returned to the base, his platoon had shipped off to Korea. Carter said his nerves were shaken and he wound up hospitalized and was later discharged.

Carter returned to High Point and in 1956 married Edith Elaine Clark, a teacher in High Point City Schools who died in 2011. He still lives in the Pershing Street home where the couple raised their six children, two of whom served in the Air Force. Carter now has five grandchildren. He retired from Alma Desk.

“A lot of people call me Papa Carter,” Carter said. “People come to me looking for help.”

cingram@hpenews.com | 336-888-3534 | @HPEcinde

Redistricting hearings seek public input
  • Updated

HIGH POINT — Area voters will have two opportunities at hearings in the Piedmont to make their views known about redistricting as state legislators hold a series of input sessions across the state this month.

The North Carolina Senate and House Redistricting Committees will hold 13 public hearings during September. One hearing in the Piedmont will take place at 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, while the other will occur at 5 p.m. Sept. 16 at Alamance Community College in Graham.

Redistricting hearings will take place at sites in each of the state’s current 13 congressional districts. North Carolina will gain a 14th congressional district for the 2022 election based on population growth during the last decade as tallied by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Speakers may sign up on-site at each hearing beginning one hour prior to the start time.

Speakers may also sign up online. The online sign-up portal will close four hours prior to the start time. The online speakers portal will be available through the General Assembly’s page at www.ncleg.gov.

In addition to crafting 14 congressional districts for next year’s elections, the General Assembly will redraw 50 state Senate and 120 state House districts. The General Assembly is controlled by Republicans, and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper doesn’t have veto authority over redistricting legislation.

The General Assembly needs to have congressional and legislative districts in place later this year. Candidates can file to run in the 2022 elections Dec. 6-17 leading into the March 8 primary. The general election will take place Nov. 8, 2022.

A wild card with the redistricting schedule centers on potential legal challenges to the congressional and legislative maps. Last decade, activists arguing that previous redistricting plans constituted improper gerrymandering won legal challenges that compelled new plans to be put in place.

If the courts intervene this time, it could delay candidate filing and the primary later into 2022. The courts could also assign their own congressional and legislative maps for the 2022 election cycle to meet the current schedule or a delayed schedule determined by judges.

Redistricting carries enormous political implications for North Carolina politics through the decade, as whichever congressional and legislative maps are approved will serve through the 2030 election cycle.

pjohnson@hpenews.com | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul


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