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Communist County of Chatham?

By Mark Stinson
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008

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Siler City, NC - It sounds a bit off the wall but there are things that make one compare Chatham to a communist country. It's so easy especially when you see our rights being taken away from us every day. In a communist country you are told what you can do with your share of the land. You are told what you can and can't do with it. You are instructed how to do almost every aspect of daily living seen in the public eye. When the wants of the minority are controlling the rights of the majority the makings of communism are in the works.

We can't depend on a tourist trap to feed and clothe this county.

Let me explain where I get my comparison. We have a certain number of people that are transplanted here because they wanted some space. We have others that have money that wanted space too; that like the city life but want to live in the country. These people use their wealth to force the rest of us to do what they want. My point, and please read all of this before you get offended or opinionated, is based on things I see every day. This is my opinion based on my certain point of view. I am entitled to it and it's a free country. So here it is.

Bobby Smith of S&W Speed Shop in Siler City has occupied the same corner lot for almost 40 years. He has been a constant tax paying citizen and local fixture around this area. He is one of the greatest automotive minds of his time and has modified, built and driven all sorts of cars for many years. Growing up, there were those that molded my unique way of looking at things and helped me learn how things really work. Bo Poe, Bobby Smith and Noble Hinshaw are some of the most talented minds around with engines and equipment. They are part of what makes Chatham so unique.

Bobby has had to change with the times. He ran a full blown machine shop on that corner for many years but with the new auto parts stores offering these cheap remanufactured crappy engines everyone went for the low buck junk and most of our auto machine shops like his went the way of the dinosaur. He went into large equipment repair and grading to make a living He still does some machining but as a rule he is in or on a truck, tractor or dozer most of the time.

This brings me to the invasion of the jug making pot heads that want to turn Siler City into a smaller version of Chapel Hill. You see the arts incubator has grabbed a chunk of mid down town Siler City and proceeded to start transforming the town into a Chapel Hill / Carrboro clone. Bobby never in 40 years had one complaint about a vehicle sitting in his parking spots beside his shop or parts of vehicles stored in his lot behind his shop until the artsy bunch cleaned up town (as they put it) and located a pottery next to him. They have constantly whined and complained to the town forcing Bobby to move just about everything off his property to accommodate their desires to make downtown visually pleasing to them.

Recently they sent a police officer because Bobby had his truck. which he is repairing sitting in his parking spot "turned the wrong way" and they didn't like the looks of that truck so they wanted it gone. I know for a fact they have offended part of the Hispanic community in downtown Siler City already . My friend Ceasar said they didn't like any of that bunch because they are always complaining and causing trouble for the Hispanics there trying to run a business. Kenny Clark is feeling the effects of their constant complaints as well and Clapp Brothers will be next on the hit list if something isn't done to balance things out again. They have already complained about things such as shipping crates temporarily stored in Clapps lot.

I personally love arts n crafts. I enjoy learning new ways to be creative but not at anyone else's expense. If I want to see pottery I go to Jug Town where it is done the right way. I may be wrong, but in my opinion anyone can learn to make a pot. Not everyone can fix a bull dozer, build engines or repair a truck that helps members of our community make an honest living.

Siler City is dying a slow death.

You cant see it for the new stuff crammed all around it but major employers are closing or moving and all that's left are stores and restaurants. People have to make a living and jobs have to be available for them to work so they can support those stores and restaurant. We can't depend on a tourist trap to feed and clothe this county. When I grew up there was Chatham Mills, Robbins and Gant, the Kellwood Hosiery Mill, Collins and Ackman, Bolin Chair Company, Hadley Peoples and several other large employers in town that no longer exist. We have chicken processing plants in Siler City but one is closing and the other is soon to follow in 2009. An uncertain economy, along with limited water supply and difficulty dealing with the town and county government had both looking for new locations.

With this in mind, does it make sense to bully the small established businesses out just because you want to make pots? The Arts incubator could never draw the kind of money some of these business have and never will. People involved with the Arts Incubator may have millions but that money isn't being spread around the communit . I was all excited about the arts incubator coming to Siler City until I saw how it grew to push people aside and trample those that are established in the community just to add "culture" to Chatham.

I really hate to see Siler City go down hill like it has in recent years. People complained about the Mexicans in town. Well, guess what? They are leaving. No jobs! A friend of mine that's a real estate agent said she has more hispanics wanting to sell now than to buy because of lack of jobs around town. The hispanics that run businesses in town don't like to deal with the arts incubator people either or the town government. They have told me and others they feel bullied, so they keep to themselves.

I went through town to see a naked blue lady on top of a building, a half a naked man and a naked anatomically correct statue of a man on a street corner and honestly was upset. I don't want my children to see such things in what is supposed to be a public place. I find it offensive. Is it better to be offended by art or annoyed with an eyesore of machine parts that are supposed to be outside a garage anyway? Certain art belongs in a gallery, especially art that is explicit in nature not suitable for younger eyes.

When you go into downtown Siler City you see businesses that have been there for many years paying taxes and being good members of the community. Yes, they do make a mess from time to time, but provide valuable services to the entire county. I also find it discriminating that the town will bully people like Bobby Smith and Kenny Clark to clean up a fairly well organized area of parts and won't make Vernon Jessup clean up his mess. It's an environmental nightmare and when it rains you can see all the pretty multi colored toxic fluids mixing with water floating to the surface in the runoff from his property to a nearby stream. Since Vernon is inside the EAS (extended area of service) for Siler City the county can't enforce its junk yard ordinance on his property.

Siler City will not enforce its own version of the county ordinance on Vernon with several acres of junk, and I mean total crap. But they will make Bobby clean up a well organized 100 square foot lot. They will tell him what he can and can't park in his own parking spots for his business on a public street because someone stated it was an eyesore and complained. That someone was the one of people involved with the arts incubator .

There is a difference in becoming a part of a community and enhancing it with new things and forcefully taking it over and changing it to meet a certain few peoples criteria. The current town government lacks the testicular fortitude to stand on principals the city was built on.

Mayor Fitts once told me it was a daily task to keep in touch with businesses and try to get more business in town and keep those that were there going. He felt Siler City could grow gracefully and have a good balance of culture and business. The current mayor has allowed things to go astray and let certain special groups gain leverage to do just about anything they want. The folks living in the Siler City have complained about Vernon for years but no one has done a thing to make him clean up. They are next door to the mess. The artsy bunch whined and complained till it turned most of two city blocks upside down in less than six months just because it didn't look like they wanted it to.

What does that tell you? A small special interest group has more leverage in Siler City than a whole community wanting change. Siler City is dying and with business leaving Chatham in droves it's time we get what we need in this county and forget about the wants of special interest groups.

We need businesses to help the economy and tax base andto keep things livable here. We need garages with small well organized spaces to store parts, we need tractor and implement businesses, we need mills and plants to employ those people that make this place their home. I agree we need culture and art too. But it should be a part of our community; not us being a part of it's community. I believe in keeping things neat and organized. But it is a fact that you have to make a mess sometimes to be in business.

My daddy said many times "if you don't get your hands dirty, you ain't done nothing. So get to work." I am not 100 pecent content with the junkyard ordinance. I think it needs to be modified slightly, but I see its importance. The thing I'm not happy with is that it is not uniformly enforced by the cities. The county does a far better job of that. It's not fair to the county person in charge of enforcement or the rest of us if the cities wont enforce it likewise. It is discriminatory by nature of who and how it is applied and enforced by the cities.

My comparison to communism is simple. In a communist country the few make the decisions for the multitudes based on what the few think is important. That is what is happening to us here in Chatham. We are allowing a few to dictate to all what is our future and I'm tired of it. It is time we took back this county and make it home again.

I have voiced my opinion.

Goodnite, Mark.

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Communist County of Chatham?