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Council taps woman as new manager
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HIGH POINT — The City Council on Monday selected Tasha Logan Ford as High Point’s next city manager.

In a unanimous vote, the council approved the terms of a letter of intent and directed city legal staff to prepare a contract with Logan Ford, currently an assistant city manager for Winston-Salem.

She’ll begin the job July 19, subject to contract approval by the council.

“I am excited to be joining the city of High Point team,” Logan Ford said in a press release. “High Point is poised for growth, the community leaders understand the value of collaborative partnerships, and the City Council’s carefully focused strategic plan provides a clear vision. I welcome the opportunity to work with the Council, staff and community to help continue to move the city forward.”

Logan Ford will replace Greg Demko, who resigned in May 2020. She is the first female and first African American selected to serve as city manager.

She was chosen from a field of 47 applicants after a national search led by consultant The Mercer Group.

“On behalf of our City Council, I congratulate Ms. Logan Ford on her selection after a rigorous search process,” Mayor Jay Wagner said in the release. “We considered many well-qualified candidates and deliberated carefully, but we found the best-qualified candidate close to home. Tasha Logan Ford is an experienced manager who is highly respected among her peers, with a strong educational background. Her years of experience as an assistant city manager in three other cities have prepared her to do an excellent job for our citizens.”

Logan Ford has been with Winston-Salem since 2018.

She worked for a community development credit union in Durham early in her career before moving to municipal government.

She worked for Goldsboro from 2004 to 2013 as an administrative assistant, assistant city manager and interim city manager. She then served as assistant city manager in Rocky Mount from 2013 to 2018.

“Our group did not take long to come to unanimity,” said Councilman Cyril Jefferson. “I think it was clear-cut — best experience in (diversity, equity and inclusion) strategy implementation, downtown development. All that I think is going to go very far.”

Logan Ford earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies at UNC-Greensboro and a master of public administration degree from N.C. State University. She achieved credentialed manager designation through the International City/County Management Association and is a past president of the NC City/County Management Association.

Logan Ford and her husband live in Winston-Salem with their son, but they will move to High Point later this year, the release stated.

Also Monday, interim City Manager Randy McCaslin unveiled his proposed 2021-22 budget, which would restore most of the coronavirus pandemic-related funding cuts adopted last year.

The budget holds the property tax rate steady at 64.75 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The only proposed fee or rate increase is the annual motor vehicle fee, which would go from $20 to $30 to increase funding for street resurfacing from $2.5 million to $3.2 million.

Residential electric rates would decrease 10%.

The budget would restore one full-time and 10 part-time positions for the High Point Museum, as well as 3% merit pay raises for city employees.

A targeted city hiring freeze would be lifted and about $337,000 in “outside agency” funding for local nonprofits that was eliminated last year would be restored.

Officials said the impact of the pandemic on the city’s finances has not been as bad as initially feared, with sales tax collections up about 8% and property tax revenue outperforming projections.

In addition, the city expects to get $23.42 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to help replace lost revenue and pay for pandemic-related expenses.

pkimbrough@hpenews.com | 336-888-3531

'Black America's attorney general' seems to be everywhere
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In less than a decade, Ben Crump has become the voice for the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd — Black people whose deaths sparked a movement.

He has won multimillion-dollar settlements in police brutality cases. He’s pushed cities to ban no-knock warrants. He has told a congressional committee that reform is needed because “it’s become painfully obvious we have two systems of justice; one for white Americans and one for Black Americans.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton calls him “Black America’s attorney general.”

“He’s a real believer in what he’s doing. He has taken the attacks. He has taken the cases that others wouldn’t take,” Sharpton said, adding, “People can go to him. The reason I trust him is because he has never misled me. Good or bad, he’ll tell me the truth about a client.”

These days, he seems to be everywhere — including High Point, where he is representing Tenicka Shannon, whose teenage son, Frederick Cox Jr., was shot to death by a Davidson County Sheriff’s Office deputy after a memorial service at Living Water Baptist Church on Brentwood Street in November.

In April, he joined with George Floyd’s family in celebrating the conviction of ex-officer Derek Chauvin. Then he was among the mourners at the funeral for Daunte Wright, who was shot during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis in the week leading up to Chauvin’s verdict.

After Wright’s funeral, he was back in Florida to call for a federal investigation of a deputy who fatally shot two Black teenagers. And he began this past week demanding that police in North Carolina be more transparent after deputies fatally shot a Black man outside of his house in Elizabeth City.

Critics see him as an opportunist who never fails to show up amid another tragedy. But those who know Crump say he’s been fighting for fairness long before his name was in headlines.

“Where there’s injustice, that’s where he wants to be,” said Ronald Haley, a Louisiana attorney who’s among a wide network of lawyers Crump works with on lawsuits. “He understands he’s needed everywhere, but he also understands he can’t be everywhere.”

Crump, 51, is a tireless worker who mixes Southern charm, a talent for attracting media attention to his cases and a firm belief that racism afflicts the nation, and the courts are the place to take it on.

He has an uncanny way of making his clients feel like kin, they say.

“He has never missed a Thanksgiving to check in on me, he calls on Christmas,” said Allisa Findley, who first met Crump three days after her brother, Botham Jean, was fatally shot in his apartment by a white Dallas police officer who mistook the Black man’s apartment for her own.

“Even the little things, he makes time for it, when there are no cameras rolling,” she said. “He does feel like family. I consider Ben family.”

Terrence Floyd, the 42-year-old brother of George Floyd, said Crump’s attention and care for his family over the last year has bonded them beyond the attorney-client relationship.

“It feels like it’s more family-based than business,” he said. “After a while, I went from calling him ‘Mr. Crump’ to calling him ‘Unc,’ like he was one of my uncles.”

Crump keeps up a dizzying schedule that takes him all over, but he makes sure he’s home for Sunday services at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife and their 8-year-old daughter, Brooklyn; he also helped raise two cousins and became their legal guardian.

“I look at my daughter,” Crump said, “I look in her eyes, and then I look in the eyes of my nieces and nephews, and my little cousins — all these little Black and brown children. You see so much hope, so much optimism in their eyes. We’ve got to give them a better world.”

He added: “What I’m trying to do, as much as I can, even sometimes single-handedly, is increase the value of Black life.”

Crump’s path to becoming a lawyer and advocate began while growing up in Lumberton in southeastern North Carolina, where he was the oldest of nine siblings and step-siblings.

In his book “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People,” he described learning in elementary school that a white classmate’s weekly allowance was as much as what his mother made in a week working two jobs at a shoe factory and a hotel laundry.

“I wanted to understand why people on the white side of the tracks had it so good and Black people on our side of the tracks had it so bad,” he wrote.

He often recounts how he learned about the world by reading the newspaper to his grandmother and how his mother taught him the story of famed civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall, who became his hero.

“He has always gravitated toward leadership and being the answer to injustice,” said Sean Pittman, an attorney who has been his friend for 30 years, since they met at Florida State University. There, Crump was president of the Black Student Union and led protests to bring attention to how the school recruited and treated Black students.

But his rise from personal injury attorney to a voice of Black America began in 2013 when he represented the family of Trayvon Martin, a teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida. He then took on the case for the family of Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by a white officer near St. Louis.

Crump organized marches and brought media attention to both of their deaths — each happening during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

He has gone on to win financial settlements in about 200 police brutality cases. In March, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to settle a civil lawsuit from George Floyd’s family, which Crump said is the largest pretrial civil rights lawsuit settlement ever.

“I keep hoping and believing, if we can make them pay multimillions of dollars every time they shoot a Black person in the back, that there will be less Black people shot in the back,” Crump said.

His higher profile has brought more scrutiny and turned him into a frequent target. Conservative author Candace Owens in April accused Crump of trying to profit from police shootings and encouraging violent protests.

“Keeping racial issues alive has become a business in America,” she told Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham. “It’s Al Sharpton yesterday, Jesse Jackson tomorrow, Ben Crump today.”

It doesn’t really bother Crump: “You can’t care what the enemies of equality think of you,” he said. “It would be the height of arrogance to think that everybody is going to love you. It’s not a popularity contest.”

It’s fitting that he is now mentioned among the giants of civil rights, said John Bowman, who has known him since Michael Brown’s killing and is now president of the St. Louis County NAACP.

“I can’t get in his head and say he charted out this course, and said, ‘I’m going to be the next strongest voice for injustice,’ ” Bowman said. “I do know that when the call was made, he didn’t shy away or step back from it.”

But Crump says he eventually would like to step back from it all.

“I literally pray for the day when I can close down the police brutality division of my law firm,” he said, “because I am so tired of seeing Black people killed by the police unjustifiably. I’d like to tell my staff that we no longer have to fight in the courts, or be counselors to so many grieving mothers and fathers.”

Motorist dies in late-night crash
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HIGH POINT — A man died late Sunday in a wreck in northwest High Point.

Gwon Yong Hwan, 70, of High Point was driving a 2014 Honda Accord, pulling onto the 3500 block of Johnson Street from the Korean American Presbyterian Church of Greater Greensboro near the intersection with Oakview Drive just before 11:55 p.m. Hwan pulled into the path of a newer model Chevrolet Camaro and was hit, the High Point Police Department said.

Hwan was taken to a local hospital for treatment and later died from injuries.

The Camaro’s driver wasn’t injured, police Lt. Matt Truitt told The High Point Enterprise.

There were no other passengers in either car.

Currently, impairment isn’t suspected of being a factor, and police say the investigation is ongoing.

DRIVE High Point awards tourism grants
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HIGH POINT — The DRIVE High Point Foundation has announced 10 nonprofit recipients of its Destination Development Grants for 2021.

The area nonprofits will receive $160,480 for projects that complement High Point’s 10-year strategic destination plan for tourism. In addition, the foundation earmarked $47,000 for outstanding projects committed in 2020, according to Grants Administrator Melody Burnett.

“Last year was most unusual as the pandemic derailed some of the planned projects that were awarded,” Burnett said. “We still want to honor those commitments as organizers update their planning strategies. Those projects include funding for two public art projects and a Latino Festival in downtown.”

Organizations receiving funding in 2021 include:

• American Furniture Hall of Fame — Furniture Hall of Fame Museum ($25,000)

• Bienenstock Furniture Library — The Furniture Designers’ Summit ($9,950)

• Friends of John Coltrane — 10th annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival ($20,000)

• High Point Baseball Inc. — Field Equipment for Truist Point ($9,880)

• High Point by Design — Destination Design Strategy ($25,000)

• High Point Discovered — High Point Discovered Magazine ($20,000)

• High Point Museum — Grammy Museum Traveling Coltrane Exhibit ($18,250)

• International Society of Furniture Designers — Innovation + Design Competition ($7,500)

• The Mind Group — Home Grown Music Series and Podcast ($7,500)

• Yalik’s African American Art & Cultural Movement — High Point’s African American Heritage Trail ($17,400)

The grants program is aimed at efforts developing High Point as a year-round visitor destination or increasing tourism through overnight stays or frequent visitation.