GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Commissioners considered a wide range of funding needs during a more-than-two-hour budget work session Monday afternoon.
Board members heard about needs for more school nurses and for professional firefighters to make up for the dwindling volunteers in fire districts of unincorporated areas, among other issues.
Vice chair Carlvena Foster recommended the board approve $400,000 to continue to provide remote-learning programs during the summer to help low-income parents get child care. In August, the board approved spending at least $500,000 from its $93.7 million federal coronavirus relief funding for that program. Foster, executive director of the Carl Chavis YMCA in High Point, said it made a difference.
“I would very much like for the board to consider using the county funds that we rolled over and provide $400,000 to continue to be able to serve these parents so that they can continue to work, and help businesses to stay open,” Foster said.
Board member James Upchurch said he wanted more research to find out what Guilford County Schools’ summer funding would allow and whether there are other potential funding sources.
Chairman Skip Alston said he thought the board was not ready to take a vote related to the budget, which County Manager Michael Halford expects to present at the board’s May 20 regular meeting. The public can comment at the board’s June 3 meeting.
Halford reported all department budget requests have been submitted and his manager meetings are nearing completion. He said the county received Guilford Technical Community College’s budget request and the GCS superintendent’s recommended budget, which amount to a more than $33.7 million increase. GCS seeks an extra $25 million in operational funding, an increase of more than 11%, and $10 million more in capital funding from the county for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
With nearly 240 vacant positions, attracting and retaining employees is one of the major needs the county faces, along with infrastructure repair and maintenance, Halford said.
The next step for a proposed $300 million school bond issue is slated for May with a review by the Local Government Commission to establish a bond schedule, with the intention to sell the bonds in September, Finance Director Derrick Bennett said.
Board members have a goal of adopting a budget at their June 17 meeting.
Public Health Director Iulia Vann provided additional information about the need for more school nurses in answer to board members’ earlier questions. She presented data from the 2018-19 school year to illustrate the demand for services before the pandemic caused a disruption in in-person classes. During that school year:
• 37,657 students came to a school nurse
• There were 56,568 unduplicated school nurse encounters with students
• School nurses audited 11,153 medications and screened 23,547 students’ vision, referring 2,241 of them for follow up.
About 92% of students who saw a nurse were sent back to class, Vann said.
She also presented data from 2017-19 that showed a total of 2,706 EMS calls made because a student or staff member had a medical condition. School nurses made those EMS calls 207 times, while about 1,500 calls were made without a school nurse on site, Vann said.
When asked whether some of these 911 calls could have been handled by a school nurse, Vann said some of them could have been handled by a registered nurse at the school, but the county does not have the capacity to staff all schools.
Board member Alan Perdue said the board needs more analysis to know how many of the calls would have required EMS anyway.
Board member Carolyn Coleman asked whether a Certified Nursing Assistant would be sufficient, rather than providing an RN at a higher salary range. Vann explained medical situations a CNA can handle but noted most have to be delegated by an RN or nurse supervisor.
There are 43 school nurse and three nurse assistant positions, Vann said. Because there are currently nine vacancies, 31 school nurses are spread between 124 schools in the district. Vann is requesting that the county add 23 nurses for three years at a cost of about $2.3 million.
Alston suggested there may be state or federal money available to help put more nurses in schools. “We might not have to eat that whole pie ourselves,” Alston said.
Last year, Guilford County received more than $93 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding. The county will get about $104 million more from two allocations through the new federal coronavirus relief and stimulus package.
Board member Mary Beth Murphy asked the county staff to determine the cost of raising the hourly salaries of part-time employees to $15 an hour or equal to full-time staff in the same position.
“I hope we can find a way to include that in our budget to show we are investing in our people,” Murphy said.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second story in a two-part High Point Confidential series. Part one of “Con on the Run” was published Sunday and can be found online at hpenews.com.
The letter was dated July 27, 1960, the same day High Point convict Walter Kincaid was killed by a prison guard as he tried to escape from an inmate road crew.
At least, that was the story the guard, James A. Caulder Jr., told prison officials after he shot Kincaid alongside N.C. 86 in Hillsborough. The guard had shouted at Kincaid repeatedly and warned him not to flee, he said, but when the inmate kept running, Caulder leveled his shotgun and fired. Kincaid, only 22 years old, dropped and died within minutes.
The letter, however, told a vastly different story. Handwritten on N.C. Prison Department stationery, it was sent from Hillsborough’s Orange County Prison Camp and addressed to Pauline Kincaid, Walter’s mother, who lived in High Point.
As stunning as the young man’s death must’ve been to his family, the words written by LeRoy J. Emory — one of Kincaid’s fellow convicts at the prison camp — were even more difficult to swallow.
After offering his condolences to the grieving mother, Emory wrote: “Your son Walter died for no cause whatsoever! It was the most uncalled for thing I have ever heard of. He was not trying or tempting (sic) to try an escape. I was within two (2) feet of him when he was shot. He lost his life for a plum. He and I both were picking plums from the same bush alongside the road.”
Emory wasn’t done.
“It’s true, I am a convict and am guilty of the crime I was sent here for,” he continued. “If I have any rights left and can find anyone who will believe me, I will be more than glad to testify on behalf of your son.”
More than 60 years after Emory wrote those words, they still resonate loudly for the family of Walter Kincaid. Descendants still have the letter — or at least a copy of it — and they likely will pass it along to the next generation.
The letter is significant, they say, because it represents something they believe was never heard in 1960 — or was simply ignored — in the wake of Kincaid’s death:
By the time Emory penned his letter, he surely had already heard the prison guard’s version of what happened, and it motivated him to write to Kincaid’s family and tell them the guard was lying.
Emory also secured the signatures of the seven other convicts who were out on N.C. 86 that morning when Kincaid was killed. Each inmate signed his name to this statement: “We will testify to the truth as God shall be our witness to the murder of Walter Kincaid, whom was killed 11:40 (approx.) on the 27th day of July 1960.”
The letter was so important to Emory that he apparently didn’t follow the prison camp’s normal letter-writing protocol, for fear his whistle-blowing might be censored or destroyed altogether. And the consequences could’ve been disastrous if the letter had somehow fallen into Caulder’s hands.
“This letter is being mailed illegally,” Emory told Kincaid’s mother. “If you receive this, please drop me a post card signed ‘Sis’ so I’ll know that you did get it.”
Kincaid’s mother received the letter, and it compelled her and other family members to push for the prison guard’s arrest. Even after the coroner’s jury ruled in Caulder’s favor, and the Orange County grand jury twice refused to indict him — without even calling Kincaid’s fellow inmates to testify — the family hired a private attorney.
Finally, in December 1961 — some 17 months after Kincaid’s death — the case received a preliminary hearing in the courts, and three of the inmates were allowed to testify, including LeRoy Emory. In addition to corroborating the version told in Emory’s letter, the inmates described Caulder as a man the prisoners feared.
“They said they had heard stories of Caulder pulling his gun, threatening and firing near prisoners for minor infractions,” The High Point Enterprise reported. “They said his reputation among the inmates was bad, and they said he appeared to be afraid of the prisoners.”
Despite their compelling testimony, the charges against Caulder were ultimately dropped, and Walter Kincaid’s family never attained the justice they were seeking for their loved one.
So what happened?
Maybe nobody believed the convicts because, well, they were convicts.
Maybe Caulder was exonerated simply because he wore a badge and was given the benefit of the doubt.
Or maybe Walter Kincaid really was trying to escape when Caulder gunned him down, and justice was served.
But when you read LeRoy Emory’s letter, which was signed by all eight inmates who witnessed Kincaid’s death — and when you realize the risk they took by signing that letter and agreeing to testify against the hated prison guard — you can’t help but wonder whether Caulder wasn’t the real con on the run, rather than Kincaid.
And if that was the case, there’s never been a more expensive plum than the one that cost Walter Kincaid his life.
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HIGH POINT — Peters Development of High Point is in the final stages of designing a 108-unit apartment complex that’s expected to break ground this summer.
Peters Village will be built next to the Bethany Medical Center campus on Skeet Club Road near Eastchester Drive.
The three-story community will consist of four buildings with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 795 square feet to 1,260 square feet, said Dan Hill, director of real estate for Peters Development.
“Guilford County is experiencing strong demand for new apartments at a reasonable price point, so Peters Village fills an important void by providing a high-quality apartment product at competitive rental rates,” Hill said.
The company is touting the amenities of each apartment, including “an open concept floor plan, large closets, expansive windows, large balcony, luxury wood inspired flooring, modern kitchens with stainless steel appliances and LED lighting throughout.”
Located off White’s Mill Road and Peters Court, the Peters Village site encompasses 4.5 acres and will include open space, a playground area, a pool and other community amenities, Hill said.
Dr. Lenny Peters, founder and CEO of Peters Development, said, “Through thoughtful design and use of high-end finishes, Peters Development hopes to make a lasting contribution to a growing area of High Point by providing residents with an affordable, yet luxurious place to call home.”
Peters is also founder and CEO of Bethany Medical Center, which operates four buildings on its adjacent 8-acre campus.
General contractor Fourth Elm Construction of Kernersville will build the apartments, with CJMW Architecture of Winston-Salem handling the architecture and interior design, in collaboration with Peters Development.
The company announced that the first units for Peters Village will be available for occupancy in the summer of 2022.