Elissa Yount: Standards

Many years ago when I was a senior at UNC, the basketball team was headed to the national finals in California to play UCLA.

Rusty Clark from Fayetteville, who was the tallest guy I had ever seen, was a player on the team and was in one of my classes. I will never forget him speaking to the professor and telling him that he would not be present in class the next week to turn in his paper. The professor asked why, and Rusty said he was going to be in California. The professor asked why again, and Rusty said he was going to play basketball. Then the professor told him he did not care why he was playing basketball in California, but his paper was still due in Chapel Hill the next week.

I tell this story to show what the standards were at the university at that time. Basketball was great, but the standard was that your college work came first. This standard set by the university was embraced by Dean Smith, and things ran smoothly. Having standards and following standards makes it better for us all. The university might need to remember this lesson today.

What standards are needed in our county? The idea that if you own land that you can do whatever you want on that land regardless of how it impacts your neighbor is an antiquated idea and not a standard that progressive communities hold. The rights of the general public for livability, standards that include both health and safety and a reasonable expectation of peace in your home should not be impugned by a few. What is best for all should be the standard.

We are fortunate that in Vance County we have people of integrity and intelligence such as John Price who are willing to go to bat for standards that they feel will benefit the good of all. Hopefully, a compromise will be found regarding the gun range that will rise a standard such that livability issues will not be compromised. Surely there must be a way for both the gun range and livability in this community.

The NAACP was seeking a higher standard for the community oversight of the Henderson Police Department. When presented with the facts and the laws that would impact such a decision, and when presented with the statistical evidence that showed the perceived problem was not significant in our city, Horace Bullock, the head of the local NAACP, wisely backed off the issue.

I dare say that we all want the same standards of police protection and police intervention. I dare say that we all want crime to continue to decline. Chief of Police Keith Sidwell has set high standards for his force, and he insists on these standards. It is good that after the facts are aired and the standards reviewed, all of us can continue to expect high standards of conduct from our police.

There is a standard in our municipal city code that spells out the responsibility of the city clerk and the city manager. These standards protect the integrity of the business of the city. The council hires both the clerk and the manager, and each position provides a fail-safe for the other. Consequently, it is a lowering of standards when these jobs are merged. It is a poor business practice for the manager hire the city clerk or to have the clerk report to him. It is a lowering of standards to have the manager control the minutes of the meetings. It is a poor business practice for the manager to control the city’s seal, the city contracts, and all the official business correspondence of the city. This is not to say that there is anything nefarious happening, but we need to maintain the highest business standards and practices in our city, and it is the responsibility of the council to see that this is accomplished.

The Royster Lecturer this week, Dr. Sam Adams, says that it is our responsibility to work for the good of all in Henderson. One way to do this is to keep your standards high. It might take a little effort, but good will comes from it, and we need all the good we can get.