Asheville City Council passes Civic Center renaming deal with U.S. Cellular

At their Nov. 22 meeting, Asheville City Council members voted 6-1 to approve a $1.3 million deal that gives U.S. Cellular naming rights to the Asheville Civic Center in an attempt to help renovate the aging facility. But other companies or organizations that want to counter-bid have a chance to do so — up till Dec. 31. During public comment on the matter, many speakers took issue with the deal, asserting it gives a corporate face to a unique piece of infrastructure with little return.

At the end of a nearly six-hour meeting, Asheville Council members discussed the proposed deal and took comments from the public. Former Mayor Lou Bissette urged Council members to accept the deal, citing long-needed improvements for the 1970s-era facility. Residents like Amelia Spangler called the Asheville Civic Center “the soul of this community” and objected to putting U.S. Cellular’s name on it.

Sam Powers, the Civic Center director and Asheville Economic Development Center director, noted the many improvements the center needs, and assured Council members and the public that the search for corporate sponsorship has been under way for several years. Civic Center board chair Sam Burke said the deal with U.S. Cellular has been vetted for about a year.

Some Council members, like Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Brownie Newman, tied to the deal to an effort to avoid raising property taxes and said the city’s hands were tied.

For her part, Mayor Terry Bellamy apologized for the process not being as open as the public would have liked, and noted that meeting minutes regarding the deal were open to the public.

Council member Cecil Bothwell voted against the U.S. Cellular deal.

In other actions, Asheville City Council members:

• Recognized City Attorney Bob Oast’s 15 years of service.

• Voted unanimously to switch from contracting out to private firms to city staffing for parking security.

• Heard a presentation about the Wilma Dykeman Riverway Plan, which Karen Cragnolin — director of local nonprofit Riverlink — says focuses on recreation, arts and crafts, and wellness

• Heard a report from Charles Worley, chairman for the Asheville Alcohol and Beverage Control board; earlier this year, former CEO Curtis Canty resigned, after allegations of inappropriately accepting gifts; more recently, the Asheville ABC has named an interim general manager — former Asheville Public Works Director Mark Combs.

• Heard a report about city finances (they’re good, although property and sales-tax revenues are “slow”), and noted that unemployment rates in the city — about 7.7 percent — are lower than in much of the state.

• Voted unanimously to close an unopened alleyway between Nebraska Street and Nevada Avenue in West Asheville; neighbors, landowners and developers have been embroiled in a contentious debate about the “paper alley,” as some term a roadway that exists only on the books.

• In closed session, took legal advice on the Biltmore Lake annexation, which state legislators overturned earlier this year, but made no announcements about any actions the city might take.

On “Aventine,” a proposed 312-unit apartment complex on Long Shoals Road, voted 4-3 to approve it. Council members Gordon Smith, Cecil Bothwell and Brownie Newman objected, noting such concerns as the lack of affordable-housing units in the complex. Split votes require a second reading in gain final approval.

• Postponed action on a proposal to raise commercial water rates.

Twitter-based coverage of the meeting follows:


 

 

• 5:01 p.m. Meeting’s on

• No proclamations scheduled, but Mayor Terry Bellamy recognizing City Atty Bob Oast’s 15 years of service

• Consent agenda, Bellamy asks for separate vote on new recycling containers

• Council mem Gordon Smith wants separate vote on security contract for parking garages

• Discussing new state laws that allow concealed carry in city parks, city has to modify ordinance to prohibit on other city property

• Consent agenda (minus recycling bins and parking garage security) passes unanimously

• Smith wants to study bringing parking security in-house, says won’t cost much more, provide better wages

• Motion to study bringing parking security in-house passes unanimously

• New, recycling bins pass unanimously. Bellamy didn’t support bins, but does support getting grant for them

• Review of city audit. Auditors noticed one reporting weakness, but staff corrected

• Admin Director Lauren Bradley: City performed very well during a difficult year. Bradley: “We’re ending the year essentially breaking even”

• Bellamy: What can we do to improve bond rating? Bradley: consider retiree benfits, discontinue retiree health insurance.

Presentation on Wilma Dykeman Riverway plan

• Karen Cragnolin of Riverlink: Plan focuses on recreation, arts and crafts, wellness. Cragnolin: 14 artist-owned bldgs in River Arts District, gentrification doesn’t have to be problem it is elsewhere. Cragnolin showing old photos of movie screens on river: “this is what we want to bring back.” Cragnolin: Asheville hosting international river management conference next April

• Former Mayor Charles Worley, chair of Avl ABC Board presenting report.

• Worley: No members of board named in allegations, want to emphasize quick response. Quickly responded to allegations of corruption by gen mgr. All those activities took place outside day-day operations At board meeting held soon after report, gen mgr resigned. Earlier this year, before report, adopted gift, purchase poilcies to address these concerns

• Worley introducing interim Gen Mgr Mark Combs, former public works director for city. Worley: We’ve weathered increase in state excise tax, new ABC systems opening to north. “3 months ago we ran into a bad situation. We dealt with it.” Moving on. Struggled in my mind to find out what we could have done to prevent. Can’t monitor all employees all the time.

• Bothwell: Report listed ABC board as committing offenses, employees as accepting gifts. How do you explain?

• Worley: Counts mentioned not charges, observations. If you read report, no charges against specific members. Allegations against ABC board members not substantiated.

• Bothwell: Reason I didn’t meet with you [Worley] to discuss matter was because I wanted to bring it up in public

• Worley: Served two full terms, not up for another. Enjoyed it (except for a few portions recently).

• Council mem Jan Davis: Think Worley’s done a good job, had more problems before his tenure.

Public Safety Committee report, Bothwell bringing up #occupyasheville arrest for fliers, based on mistaken read of law

• Bothwell: Charges dropped. Want close look at #occupyasheville surveillance as we go forward in next Council term

• Bellamy mentions that Bothwell will be next Public Safety Comm chair

• Jeff Richardson, asst city mgr: Staff will discuss media, surveillance at next Public Safety Comm mtg #occupyasheville

• Davis: Looking at enlarging riverfront zoning in Planning/Econ Dev committee

• Bellamy: “Some great news where our community is on unemployment rates” Trend moving in right direction

• Richardson: Looking at city unemployment between 7-7.7%, better than US overall

• First quarter financial report. Property and sales tax on target w estimates, but still slow

• City still seeing reduced revenue from development services, projecting slightly underbudget

• Report: Higher vacancy rate than expected, so less salary expenditure, energy costs going down due to saving measures

• Onto public hearings. Bellamy acknowledging Council mem-elects Marc Hunt and Chris Pelly in attendance

Considering closing unopened alleyway between Nebraska St, Nevada Ave.

• Request came up when some neighbors wanted alleyway closed, another wanted to build drive

• Greenways commission voted against closure, but because of land use concerns, not for future use as greenway

• Julia Schaeffer: Never used as a pathway or road. Until this summer, filled with wilderness. Our neighborhood “desecrated” by new neighbor, who tore trees down, got violent when we protested. Neighbor wants us to lose enjoyment so he can have a second driveway.

• Robert Deustch, atty rep Jay Fiono, neighbor Schaeffer mentioned: Not about Fiono, about statute, currently legislation. Deustch: This is a “personal angst” between Schaeffer and Fiono. Not in city’s interest to contradict own committees, will affect pending litigation. This is personal matter

• Jason Peltz, atty for Schaeffer: 11 of 13 adjacent owners wish to have alleyway closed. No affect on litigation. Peltz: Wouldn’t be depriving Fiono of any rights whatsoever. Citizens want this alley closed.

• Randy Thompson, builder: We need access to right-of-ways to promote in-fill development, needs to be preserved for public

• Brian Lee: Property owner in area, had no idea anything back there until this summer, even survey didn’t reference it.

• Lee: Fiono did this without discussing anything with me, opposed to alley being open

• Geri Moore: Schaeffer’s backyard joins mind, wonderful until this past summer. What’s left of wilderness “looks like warzone”

• Moore: When confronted “he started cursing and screaming and waving a chainsaw, things went downhill from there”

• Steve Brewer: Have no involvement in any of the personal issues, but support closing the alley.

• Trey Gross: Support closing alleyway permanently.

• Russell Bakers: I advocate in-fill development, in space we’re talking about, room for 1-2 units. But in order to support more housing, need another roadway.

• Timothy Sadler: Natural beauty brought me to Asheville, not something we get a second chance at. Disgraceful to hear what’s going on here.

• Rep of Green Bldg Council: Support leaving this open to promote in-fill development. Green Building rep was Matt Siegel, supports keeping all alleyways open to promote in-fill.

• Dewitt Hearst: This alleyway has never been open until Fiono started bulldozing the area.

• Michael Silverman: Didn’t sign petition, felt it was becoming too emotional of an issue. Both sides wish they’d done things differently, valid arguments on both. Support leaving alleyway open.

• Jay Fiono: Feel like I need to offer my apologies for disrupting neighborhood, “public relations nightmare.” My understanding I just needed to work this out w city staff, should have initiated discussion w neighbors.

• Fiono gets extension from Council, asking to have delay to work out solution w neighbors, “meeting of the minds”

• Amelia Spangler: Neighborhood one of the most important things we can have, sounds like these ppl have a neighborhood

• Newman: Many of these “paper alleys” throughout city. In many locations, neighborhoods grown up around.

• Vice Mayor Brownie Newman: Is a street through this area in public’s interest? Very clear strongly against public interest

• Newman: Pretty clear people accustomed to environment. Appreciate in-fill, but not worth cost in this area

• Council mem Esther Manheimer: Understand how personal property disputes can get.

• Manheimer: Will still be legal question even if city closes alleyway, but we can’t resolve that. Support closing alleyway

Council passes W. Avl alleyway closure unanimously. 20 min break for closed session.

Closed session discussing Biltmore Lake annexation lawsuit, other legal matters.

• Still have water rate, 312-unit apt complex and renaming the Civic Ctr after US Cellular on the agenda

• This is the last meeting for Asheville City Council member Bill Russell and Vice Mayor Brownie Newman.

Council’s back. Considering allowing use of existing structure on Woodlawn Ave for bed and breakfast.

• Staff endorsing approval of allowance as good way to preserve older building.

Council approves Woodlawn Ave. Bed and breakfast unanimously

Next up: Electrolux facility expansion in Airport Rd. area.

Council approves Electrolux expansion unanimously

Next up, consideration the Aventine, 312-unit apt complex on Long Shoals Rd.

• Staff indicate no inclusion of affordable housing in project

• Louis Bissette, atty representing Aventine (and fmr mayor): This is under max density, doing project according to city rules

• Bissette: All units will rent below max for workforce housing. E.g. 1 bedroom in Aventine starts at $825. Need in Asheville is for workforce housing in surrounding areas. Aventine will have EnergyStar features. Developer has own contracting firm, but will bid out locally, not bring in workers from Georgia.

• Paul Zurich, Biltmore Farms CEO: Need more workforce housing in S. Asheville. “We need housing.” Fortunate we have ready-to-build project in this area.

• Timothy Sadler: Impressed by green bldg aspects Aventine has included, like to see preference for local workforce.

• Russell: Glad to see this project in South Asheville. Certainly a need in that area. Makes motion to approve.

• Aventine’s engineer: Will provide components of EnergyStar, but not go through actual certification process due to cost

• Smith wondering if developer open to making some units affordable.

• Developer rep: Love to say yes, not sure we can do that with financing we have. Hinders feasibility

• Developer rep questioning city’s ability to impose affordable housing requirements, says it will “torpedo the project”

• Newman wants to know if developers would voluntarily join Asheville. “That would happen in every other NC city”

• Newman: Due to state water/annexation restrictions, “city can’t grow” actually reduces sales tax share from county

• Bissette: Other projects that came into city got incentives. I’ll have to ask

• Developer rep: They’re open to that, outside of approving this project

• Smith: Appreciate some changes in energy features being made. Can’t support due to lack of affordability, stormwater

Aventine passes 4-3. Bothwell, Smith, Newman against. Will require 2nd reading Dec. 13 w new council members

• Russell: These aren’t city residents, we’re just adding rules for people.

• Smith: Open to supporting if concerns addressed

Next up: special water rate for large local manufacturers.

• Currently large manufacturers pay 45% of residential rate. Plan to close that gap over 5 yrs, increases costs significantly

• Staff looking for guidance about how to deal w cuts, may spread over longer time.

• Newman: Commercial rates will have to go up over time, but manufacturers uniquely vulnerable

• Bothwell: We have a unqiue resource. “The mountanis squeeze the clouds… We have a gold mine here”

• Newman: Open to a more gradual approach.

• Bothwell: Should squeeze to encourage consumption, will leave more water for breweries. Citizens subsidizing biz. Businesses getting a free ride here for many years.

• Bellamy: Just jumping up rates doesn’t make a lot of sense.

• Smith: Want to further consider. If we’re not moving on larger manufacturers, need to look at small-med biz, residents

• Davis: Bulk of manufacturers understood we need increases, but don’t want to cost jobs. 10-yrs instead of 5.

• Russell: We’ve been talking about this for awhile. Makes motion for splitting rate raise over 10 yrs

• Bothwell: If we split rate raise like this, will have to increase it on residents.

• Russell: We can do this without raising residential rates.

• City Mgr Gary Jackson: Best to do this w ordinance/public notice. Don’t have that yet. Think we have suff direction

Bellamy wants to delay three agenda items until another meeting, due to late hour, big Civic Center items coming

• Street closing behind courthouse, contract w first transit, post-employment benefits delayed to Dec. 13

Now up at Asheville City Council; renaming Civic Center US Cellular Center.

• Sam Powers, director of econ dev, civic center: This is an engine of economic development

• Powers showing slides, renovating Civic Center a strategic goal for years

• Powers: SoCon tournament left in 1996 due to deteriorating center conditions. Reports in 96-98, 00, 01, 03. 05-06 Civic Center task force, 08 resolution for Performing Arts Center, 09 contacted about SoCon. 10 city gets SoCon, city gets $2 mil from TDA, $1 mil from county. US Cellular expresses interest

• Powers comparing to other venues in Kentucky, Charlotte, Winnipeg says potential $1.35 mil over 8 yrs competitive

• Deal for naming rights is $810,000 over 5 years, $1.35 mil if extended to 8 yrs. $ used to support upgrades.

• Newman: Heartening, regardless of views, to see this kind of interest, feeling about Civic Center

• US Cellular gets naming rights, signs on I-240, Haywood, product displays, event space.

• Newman: A lot of people talking down about this facility when I came on Council. Rolled up our sleeves to save it. No consensus in community on this issue. Personally believe naming rights legit part of overall financial strategy. Legit effort to solicit other partners for naming rights in recent years. Need a process where get best possible proposal.

• Newman makes motion to accept US Cellular deal, but withhold til Dec. 31 to allow other groups to bid

• Davis seconds Newman’s motion

• Newman: If no credible proposal comes fwd by Dec. 31, this deal goes into effect. If proposal comes fwd, we consider

• Bothwell: A great deal of comments about not selling naming rights at all. Very diff time now. Seeing support for Occupy, need to reduce corporate influence in gov. This is central to our city.

• Smith: Still get “a little teary-eyed” about Asheville Smoke leaving. “Go Smoke.”

• Manheimer: For years, heard ppl want to tear center down. More than pile of rocks, it’s an economic engine. Did graduate in Civic Center, could still smell elephants on platform. Concern about omission in information, that Asheville citizens pay for subsidy to Civic Center. When you sit up here, feel great burden of 2 things: provide services and don’t raise taxes. Say to ppl against selling naming rights: do you want to raise prop taxes? Can understand concern about lack of bidding process, but “we just didn’t have any suitors” until US Cell showed up.

• Manheimer supporting Newman’s motion, but doesn’t think upset bid will happen

• Davis: Thinks more support for this deal out there than e-mails indicate Building is being rehabbed. Renovations will allow more local use, building not decrepit anymore. Not been ppl stepping fwd.

• Bothwell thanking Powers and Davis, appreciates achievements, efforts

• Davis: Understand feeling “this was done in a backroom” but need these extra dollars

• Bothwell: Could add $1 to parking there, could add ticket fee, US Cellular Ctr “looks just like Atlanta/Charlotte.” Not just talking about partnership, “we’re talking about Asheville.”

• Sadler: This is city “selling out.” “Absolutely disgraced, sickened, appalled” naming Civic Center US Cellular Center, glad place still has city’s name. Delay this conversation until another City Council.

• Paul VanHeden: Not about US Cellular, no better or worse than most large corps, want to “ride coattails” of public infrastructure. Allowing US Cell to place name over public infrastructure damaging, shifts from public to corp state. This doesn’t address need for renovation $, need to get public involved, can’t do that with corp name. “Names are a source of power,” US Cellular essentially getting premium adspace for cheap. 8 yrs is a “darn long time” Don’t care if other cities do. “It’s crass, it’s beneath us.” Comparing deal to tattooing daughter’s head w logo for college money. “This is Pandora’s box.” Renaming “bad for community, bad for Civic Center, bad for business.” Renaming “bad for community, bad for Civic Center, bad for business”

• Civic Ctr Commission Chair Mike Burke: Generated profit last fiscal year, but nothing compared to costs. We know it needs a lot of money, don’t know where it’s coming from. SoCon best thing to happen in awhile. Civic Center improvements for SoCon mean more draw for future events. Vetted US Cellular deal for 1 year. No cost to city’s taxpayers here. Renovations give us a peek at what we might be able to so. What does delaying this say to “people from Chicago”? pointing to US Cellular reps.

• Next speaker: “Slippery slope… Disappointed Asheville isn’t putting up more of a fight”

• Amelia Spangler: A “huge cost to city,” civic center “soul of this community” object to US Cellular’s name on this

• Matthew Burd: Civic Ctr made $ for the first time last year. Asheville is growing. Losing city’s own advertising. You’re losing people seeing “Asheville Civic Center” on news, biz that brings. Losing taxpayer support.

• Timothy Ballard: Born and raised here, want people to take pride in Asheville. This deserves civic debate. Postpone

• Jim Aycock: Council needs to make minutes of closed sessions on this deal public.

• Bissette: Moved here in 1974, when Civic Center opened, for many years only reason anyone would come downtown. Need to support this deal.

• Civic Ctr board member: No one’s going to leave Asheville because we renamed the center, need to get over ourselves

• Andrew Anderson: It’s not a lot of $. In this time, bringing in a corporate name is cheap. More and more ppl hearing of Asheville. Don’t appreciate the fear around raising taxes. It’s just not that much money

Public comment over.

• Smith: Asheville has unique restrictions on water, hotel occupancy tax. If legislators in Raleigh allowed us to have avg occupancy tax, would have $ for this. Call them and ask for that.

• Newman: Not slippery slope, civic center is unique. In many ways commercial facility.

• Bothwell: Losing value of public repeating Asheville’s name when Civic Center renamed US Cellular Center

• Newman: With state limitations on revenue “we really do have our hands tied.” “Long-term fiscal dynamics very serious”

• Bellamy: “Unfortunately, can’t take credit for this deal.” Closed session minutes are available. Owe apology not as public as ppl would’ve liked. State’s trying to take water system and airport. We need public’s help on that, wants to add #ncga link to city website. Never seen this level of excitement about Civic Center, hope it leads to engagement with legislators. Name of civic center doesn’t change soul of this community. “Look forward to keeping Asheville Asheville, whatever that is” via events, etc.

Council passes Asheville Civic Center to US Cellular Center (with delay for other bids) 6-1 Bothwell against

• Council taking a break.

• Always glad to see vigorous discussion/comments on during Council meetings : -) #opengov

• Only a few items left. This is good. My battery’s getting a bit low #longmeetingiswellyouknow

• Council’s back. Considering votes on budget amendments, contracts for some of the Civic Center renovations

Council passes Civic Center contract, budget amendments unanimously

Council considering amendment to grants for Avl Green Opportunities

Asheville GO grant change approved 6-1 Russell against

Next up: considering application for Buncombe TDA grants for Civic Center renovations

Council approves applying for grant unanimously

• Other possible future grant projects inc greenways, downtown recycling

• Bothwell against reappointing ABC Board member Jim Ellis, says not personal, feels all members should resign.

• Bellamy wonders if Council members should resign for mistakes by staff. Feels Bothwell’s standard not realistic

• Davis: Bothwell persists in talking badly about ABC board members, but they don’t look at individual receipts

• Sorry, hit Twitter limit. Back now

• Matthew Burd of #occupyasheville: general assembly unanimously rejected request from city staff, Smith for elected reps. Prefer consensus process to elected reps at #occupyasheville, afraid reps would be subject to APD arrest, harm. If Council wants response, can bring to GA. Smith: Was asking for designated liaison

• Council’s in public comment now.

• Bellamy asks for parting words from Russell, Newman. Russell: “Don’t raise taxes.”

• 11:25 p.m. Meeting adjourned.

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18 thoughts on “Asheville City Council passes Civic Center renaming deal with U.S. Cellular

  1. Barry Summers

    soulless.

    Thanks to Cecil for an impassioned pitch for sanity.

  2. mat catastrophe

    How exactly did they pass the deal to give US Cellular naming rights to the Civic Center *and* leave it open to another bid by the end of the year? On the odd chance that someone in town trips over a bag full of money, won’t US Cellular just sue to retain the rights which Council has given them?

    Sounds like Council is just trying to placate the public on an otherwise rotten deal.

  3. zulu

    Delaying the Civic Center discussion and vote until the end of what they knew would be a verrrrrry long meeting indicates that Council did not really want or value public input. They were just going through the motions, hoping energy and interest would wane as the night wore on.

    It’s a done, behind-closed doors deal and the “compromise” that they came up is just a ruse. They’re betting that we’ll all forget about it over the holidays, Dec 31 will come and go and -voila- “US Cellular Center”!

  4. M. Jamison

    And how does council sell public property – which naming rights essentially are – without an appropriate public bidding process?
    Do the council’s actions comply with state statute for the sale of public property?

  5. ashevillain7

    This deal makes me sorry that I ever voted for Bellamy, Smith, Manheimer and Newman….and makes me sad that I ever patronized Davis’ business.

    You all were supposed to do right by us. What a shame.

  6. Barry Summers

    When they come back to us for money or votes, we’ll remember which of them sold Asheville down the river, and which one stood up for us…

  7. Billy

    Really Asheville? How short sighted and pathetic. This move highlights lack of leadership, vision, or sense of civic duty and pride by our very own local officials. This is beyond disappointing and rises to the level of disgusting. How can Asheville claim to be anything other than a pathetic little town with no sidewalks or bike lanes, an anemic public transportation system, and a wild west/anything goes development plan?

  8. JMAC

    Which “ONE” is correct, disappointed with the council’s performance on this decision.

    “State’s trying to take water system and airport. We need public’s help on that”

    Maybe Mrs Bellamy could sell those to US Cellular

  9. Dionysis

    Personally, I am quite surprised that some Council members supported this cheap sell-out. I expected Cecil Bothwell to stand firm against it, but also at least one or two others. And the thief-in-the-night way this was done is nothing to be proud of.

    I’d still like to know if the Civic Center staff will be required to wear their spiffy new U.S. Cellular shirts, lapel pins and sandwich boards as part of the sell-out, and if they will be pseudo-City employees (that’s where taxpayers pay their salary but the employees act as de facto corporate representatives).

  10. D. Dial

    So residents tax money has paid for water system and airport…and residents tax money paid for the Civic Center. I see no difference here…takeover residents investment in water, airport and Civic Center. What is the difference between the State or US Cellular? Either the City Council betrays us via US Cellular, or the state does.

    Mayor, you cannot have this both ways, either it’s a “take over” or it’s not. You and the Council Members who voted “FOR” this , have betrayed that taxpayers.

  11. D. Dial

    So residents tax money has paid for water system and airport…and residents tax money paid for the Civic Center. I see no difference here…takeover residents investment in water, airport and Civic Center. What is the difference between the State or US Cellular? Either the City Council betrays us via US Cellular, or the state does.

    Mayor, you cannot have this both ways, either it’s a “take over” or it’s not. You and the Council Members who voted “FOR” this , have betrayed that taxpayers.

  12. little sister

    Corporate ‘branding’ of public assets is not only morally reprehensible in these times of rampant corporate malfeasance, but it’s potentially a dangerous affiliation.

    Consider the implications down the road, should a US Cellular executive be accused of being involved in a scandal, or more realistically, the company facilitating the warrantless wiretapping of US citizens. What then?

    And then there’s always Enron Field and Tiger Woods’ Cliffs…..

    Think again, City Council. The risks outweigh the benefits.

    • Barry Summers

      Consider the implications down the road, should a US Cellular executive be accused of being involved in a scandal, or more realistically, the company facilitating the warrantless wiretapping of US citizens.

      True. Also consider that once you open the naming-rights bottle, who knows what other company will sidle up with a check & an arm around your shoulder? One of the examples cited by City staff, the ‘Ford Center’ in Oklahoma, is now actually called the ‘Chesapeake Energy Center’. Chesapeake Energy is perhaps the biggest fracker in America. If your tap water catches on fire, if your previously-rich water system is suddenly in drought conditions, if your region is experiencing previously-unheard of seismic activity, chances are you have Chesapeake Energy to thank. That’s the sort of ‘partner’ one town ended up with, after they started taking checks from strangers.

  13. D. Dial

    Good point Little Sister, but our local leadership is quite good at sweeping unpleasantness under the rug. And local media does not lift the rug….for some reason.

  14. D. Dial

    According to ACT Jan Davis said regarding the delay in finalizing the name change.

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