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Old 02-22-2016, 12:13 PM
 
1,022 posts, read 1,005,562 times
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Long, odd story regarding the Little Willie Center.

Quote:
Staff and clients at Greenville’s Little Willie Center say they have been betrayed by city officials they trusted to ensure the safety of children served by the center after mold was discovered in a classroom building 10 months ago.

About 20 parents, children, volunteers and administrators met with The Daily Reflector on Tuesday at the Fifth Street facility to discuss the ongoing dispute with Greenville, which is expected to result in the termination of the center’s lease with the city on Feb. 29.


The center, which has provided low-cost after-school and summer programs for scores of children in west Greenville since it was founded in 1990, has not secured an alternative site but will continue to operate, Little Willie Board Chairman Marvin Arrington said.

“We’ve lost trust in the city,” Arrington said. “It’s just better that we part ways ... There is a strong probability that we may not be here in west Greenville.”

Staff and clients at the facility have asked the city to provide testing and care for at least 19 people, including many children, they say have been sickened by mold discovered in May in an upstairs room of the old St. Gabriel Catholic Church rectory building, which the city owns and leased to the Little Willie Center for $1 a year starting in 2007.

Center officials sought testing and demanded repairs during a meeting with City Attorney Dave Holec and Councilwoman Rose Glover in July. The city made repairs to the building in August and in September told center officials they could reoccupy the facility but did not provide health screenings.

Unsatisfied with repairs and the response, center officials refused to utilize the rectory and have run a downsized operation out of a smaller building that also is part of the lease. In October, they sent a 22-page resolution to the city detailing illnesses created by facility conditions and requesting millions in compensation for medical and other costs.

The document said the center was “ready to proceed to trial in this matter,” but Arrington said Tuesday that a lawsuit has not been filed and legal proceedings could be avoided if city officials would take the resolution seriously and discuss the matter.

Failure by city officials since October to satisfactorily respond has led parents who utilize the center to feel betrayed, abandoned and ignored, they said Tuesday. A half dozen mothers and grandmothers, who asked that their names be omitted because of possible litigation, were angry that District 1 Councilwoman Kandie Smith, their representative on the City Council, publicized her efforts in local media to collect water for children sickened by lead in the drinking water of Flint, Mich., but has not come to visit children “poisoned by the mold” in her own district.

“Why have we been forgotten like our kids don’t matter?” one mother said. “The first priority should be the children, the youth, and their health,” another woman said during the two-hour meeting, while eight school-aged children sat quietly nearby.

The group was equally critical of Mayor Allen Thomas, who Arrington said was supported by his mother, Little Willie founder Renee Arrington, when Thomas first ran for office in 2011.

“What we feel is really the major issue is the safety and the health concerning the children that truly, really has not been addressed like we feel that it should have been addressed since day one,” Arrington said.

Thomas on Friday reacted strongly to the center’s position, saying the city would not respond to a resolution that threatens to sue it for millions of dollars. He said the center’s families are being misguided by administrators and legal advice they have received.

“The taxpayers of Greenville are not going to be exploited in this matter,” Thomas said in a telephone interview. “Our obligation as a council is to look after this community and not allow it to be exploited. We have a fiduciary responsibility to this city to not be exploited. If you allow it where does it end?”

Smith said she responded to every communication she received from the center. She did not attend the July meeting as requested because she received one day’s notice and was out of town at the time. Glover, the District 2 councilwoman, went in her place.

Thomas said he was the first to visit the center last year when he took photos of the damage and had those photos presented to the council, later directing staff to address the situation.

“They have threatened a multi-million dollar suit through a person without a law license,” Thomas said. “These families and children need to be taken care of, not caught in the middle. These families are being taken advantage of. This is about a lease and one party not being willing to live up to that lease. It’s Marvin Arrington’s choice to exit.

“I love Ms. Arrington completely and have great respect for her, but at the end of the day I’m disappointed in the approach they’ve taken with this,” Thomas said. “You’ve got a facility basically for free for years and now you’re bringing up fears in family members and I just think it’s unfair.”

The city asked center officials if they intended to extend the lease when it expired at the end of the month. In a letter to City Attorney Holec, Arrington said the center would vacate the facility by Feb. 29. “It is finished!” Arrington wrote.

Arrington on Tuesday said that the ball is in the city’s court if it wants to resolve the situation. He said a good place to start would be an apology for its handling of the situation. That would cost them “nothing but humility,” he said.

Little Willie Center parents said Tuesday they felt they had been given “the runaround,” that they had been placed “on the back burner” and that there has been no sense of urgency, though they said they have been patient since an assessment the center funded discovered the mold 10 months ago.

The parents said they wanted a health clinic set up by the city to evaluate at least the children and a temporary facility to house the program while the city makes repairs that are satisfactory. “I don’t know how much longer our children have to suffer or what do we have to do ... to just get somebody to pay attention,” a parent said.

The lease with the city requires the center to assume a portion of the cost of any repairs or upgrades. Center officials have refused to make any payments because they maintain the city was aware of the mold prior to 2007.

The assertions are included in the 22-page resolution delivered to the city. Holec said the city rejected the resolution and referred the claims to the city’s adjuster for “further evaluation and determination.” Center officials were advised of this in a letter dated Nov. 10.

Thomas called the resolution “frivolous” and “ridiculous.”

“If we allow the city to be intimidated on something like this, where does that stop?” Thomas said. “Facts and science and contracts matter. If you don’t honor those, where are you?”

Holec also said the city consulted Pitt County Health Director John Morrow about the request for a testing. Morrow advised there is no specific medical testing that would be recommended as a result of being in the Little Willie Center based on the findings of the environmental report provided by the center. Holec said he advised center officials of Morrow’s recommendation during a discussion on Sept. 2.

Thomas said that there will be an program in place, whether it is the Little Willie Center or not, to “make sure these families have a good, safe environment and after-school program for their children to be educated and cared for.”

Renee Arrington said Tuesday she trusted the city, was told the 2007 move to the facility would be a blessing to the center, and asked parents to trust her in turn. Now that trust has been broken.

“I believed it with all my heart,” she said. “I trusted it ... What was told to me to be a blessing has turned out to be a curse to the Little Willie Center. What we have to do now, I wouldn’t wish it one anyone ... We have to rebuild this program again.”

Center staff and volunteers wanted to make it clear that the center isn’t going away. “If the devil could have had his way ... this center would have been destroyed immediately,” Renee Arrington said. “But because of the grace of God that rests on this center ... this has never been, never will be my work, it has always been the work of God ... For this cause, I gave my life. But I have never seen anybody fight against God and win.”

Arrington said the center was founded on God’s commandments. “He said ‘Take care of the children. Take care of the poor. Take care of the orphans and take care of widowers.’ That’s why our mission says ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

Parents on Tuesday said the center is not just a safe haven for our kids: “It’s a safe haven for the whole community,” one mother said. “When I got in this center ... I was working two jobs, going to school. I’ve been able to graduate, get my medical degree, go to work and I’ve been able to do that with the help of the center. You can’t find too many people and too many organizations that are truly for your children and truly for your family.”
With the recent Flint, MI issues, I hope the city did what they were supposed to with this building (I believe they did). We definitely don't want this to turn into a national story. 8 years is a long time not to know that there were mold issues.. I don't know if the folks that run the LWC assumed that the city would take care of everything, given their generous $1 a year lease, or if the city knew about this in 07 before leasing it to the LWC and assumed that the LWC would foot the bill for repairing the building, given their generous $1 a year lease. I don't know. I just hope this is taken care of soon.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:35 PM
 
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Reputation: 1406
So they have paid $9 for the facility in 9 years.

The city isn't holding them hostage, they have been and are free to leave anytime they want.
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Old 02-23-2016, 09:24 AM
 
1,022 posts, read 1,005,562 times
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The band Smashmouth will be headlining Pirate Fest this year.

Smashmouth to headline 10th annual Pirate Fest in Greenville | News - WCTI NewsChannel 12

Pretty cool!
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Old 02-23-2016, 10:08 AM
 
2,401 posts, read 3,364,833 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michealbond View Post
the band smashmouth will be headlining pirate fest this year.

smashmouth to headline 10th annual pirate fest in greenville | news - wcti newschannel 12

pretty cool!
free concert.
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Old 02-23-2016, 02:11 PM
 
9 posts, read 47,734 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michealbond View Post
The band Smashmouth will be headlining Pirate Fest this year.

Smashmouth to headline 10th annual Pirate Fest in Greenville | News - WCTI NewsChannel 12

Pretty cool!

Good luck with that. Have plenty of security on hand and don't give away free bread, just ask Fort Collins how it worked out at a 'family friendly' event:

(WARNING: R rated language by lead singer):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m001XNiwQzw

News coverage:
NSFW video: Smash Mouth singer flips out at Taste of Fort Collins

Smash Mouth lead singer freaks out in Fort Collins
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Old 02-23-2016, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Greenville, NC
1,070 posts, read 986,823 times
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I'm in the middle of that demo and don't really have a desire to go. I wasn't even aware Smashmouth was still a thing. Not trying to be a negative nancy but I'm not impressed.
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Old 02-23-2016, 05:10 PM
 
16 posts, read 14,741 times
Reputation: 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchovny View Post
Good luck with that. Have plenty of security on hand

Plenty of security for what? Cuz the guy dropped a few 4 letter words?
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Old 02-23-2016, 05:15 PM
 
Location: Danville, VA
4,669 posts, read 3,059,865 times
Reputation: 2929
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarnetAndBlack View Post
I'm in the middle of that demo and don't really have a desire to go. I wasn't even aware Smashmouth was still a thing. Not trying to be a negative nancy but I'm not impressed.
Hell, I forgot they even existed. The last time I heard anything by them was when "Allstar" played while I was watching the movie "Shrek".
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Old 02-23-2016, 07:02 PM
 
9 posts, read 47,734 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanie babies lied to us View Post
Plenty of security for what? Cuz the guy dropped a few 4 letter words?

The lead singer was calling out the people in the audience that were tossing bread on the stage. He was attempting to start fights and threatening to "kick their a$$es". The security people had to hold him back. The security people seemed to do a good job getting both the singer and the crowd under control.

Many Fort Collins folks were upset by his language because they had grown up as fans of this has-been band from the 90's and were now parents there with their small children (the event was billed as family friendly). I wasn't there and have no dog in this fight. I have never been a fan of Smashmouth, I don't live in FoCo, I was just aware of this story when it hit the news last year and thought I would pass it on to anyone who might be interested.
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:17 AM
 
1,674 posts, read 2,043,456 times
Reputation: 1074
Back to business, folks.

Here's an interesting avenue for new development, plus the Imperial site cleanup update:

City of Greenville looks to develop "business ready" buildings
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