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Playing With House Money

Playing with house money – Pt 4
Have an alleyway. It’s on me! (4 of 10)

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A former City of Shelby official, who moved on several years ago, made the remark about The City of Pleasant Living. He stated:

“The City of Shelby has a ceiling. And this ceiling has a name. The name is Rick Howell.”

As evidenced in various economic development deals during his tenure, Howell has decided that it’s okay for him to choose winners and losers. Thing is, that’s not his job. Remember when he had the Raper-Roark fountain shut down because he claimed it was an extra expense, even though he admitted he could not give a dollar amount on the cost of operating the fountain? He had the fountain shut down during the winter so that it would not freeze. That is fine and dandy, except it wasn’t his call to make. When spring arrived, he made a decision that it costs too much to turn it back on. Again, it wasn’t his call to make. Complaints were made. Pictures were taken and shared. Videos were recorded and shared. Howell had allowed the fountain to become an eyesore in uptown Shelby. It was dirty and nasty, and the water had turned green. The benches there were dirty and had been neglected. After a few days of fuss, Howell had the fountain back in operation. Sorry, that’s not quite true.

Howell didn’t actually have the authority to shut it down or turn it on. That was the job of the City Council. As a local news source wrote at the time, Howell was overstepping his bounds. And with this brewery, and with the old Rogers Theater, and with the old Farmers Market, he has done so time and time and time again. And no one has bothered to call his hand.

Remember when Rick Howell chose to ignore the Fire Department and the City Police, in order to spend money on other things? At the City Council meeting on June 19, 2006, seventeen citizens spoke, including Assistant District Attorney Rick Shaffer, opposing cuts in the Police and Fire Departments, and urging City Council to consider other options. The proposed budget passed 5-1 and indeed city jobs were cut, including the Fire Department, which cut three positions, dismissed one employee six months short of her retirement, and also left one fire station short a person.

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However, at the same City Council meeting, the Council voted to spend $40,000 with Arnett Muldrow and Associates in Greenville, South Carolina to prepare a Center City, Master Plan.

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And with the money that Howell claimed they didn’t have to pay Fire and Police personnel, look what he found for a project that wasn’t even ready as of yet. Why, Mr. Howell is a one-man benevolent society with OPM. (Other Peoples’ Money)

Remember when Rick Howell, and his Advance Shelby, Inc gave the Farmers Market away? You know, he was said, at least by a reporter from the Star at that time, to be, “the mind behind Advance Shelby.” How did all that work out? Here is a screencap below:

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Now, let’s go back to the old Farmers Market and Advance Shelby. On April 8, 2008, online edition of the Shelby Star, reporter David Allen wrote, in regards to City Manager Rick Howell:

Advance Shelby was formed not only to work with Integrity Development LLC on the Farmers Market redevelopment, Howell said, but also act as a catalyst in future projects, working with developers to address “blighted” properties and areas citywide.

A board of directors was announced, or at least the plans were made to seat those people, but the truth is, the old Farmers Market was signed away to this Integrity Development group, and they went to the bank, borrowed more than $300,000 on the building, and that was that. First National Bank came in and took the building back and took ownership of the building.

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According to the Shelby Star, on April 12, 2010 :

A letter from First National Bank to buyers’ company, Farmers Market LLC, cites failure to make payments and states, “Because of the default…either pay the unpaid outstanding balance…or surrender the collateral within 10 days.” As of the March 25 letter, they owed $366,365.89 in principal, interest and late fees, and additional $50 each day after the 25th. Carl Adams, in the collection department of First National Bank, said he could not specify how many payments had been missed. “Because of the rights of the privacy act, we can’t give out that information,” Adams said. Cleveland County values the property at 200 W. Warren St., Shelby, at $361,576, about $5,000 less than the balance. Attempts to reach the buyers, Doug Burns and Cheryl Burns of Tega Cay, S.C., and their representatives have been unsuccessful. Attorney J. Mark Heavner, named as trustee for the buyers, is on leave from his law firm, Mullen, Holland and Cooper of Gastonia. A call Friday to his replacement, attorney Jane Painter, was not returned Friday. Farmer’s Market LLC purchased the property in September 2008 from Advance Shelby Unlimited, a nonprofit economic development organization set up by the Shelby City Council for city-based projects. All former tenants had vacated the building by December 2008.

Even though Rick Howell has been attempting to pick winners and losers, he’s completely left himself off the list. How can he pick anything, when his so-called “catalyst project” was such a failure, and yielded not one thin dime for the City of Shelby and the taxpayers? Actually, the taxpayers lost a building due to the incompetence of Howell and his Advance Shelby Unlimited friends.

“The county as well, will benefit.” But just because the deeds have
transferred hands doesn’t mean the developer can run freely without
supervision. “The city’s role is to monitor the situation,” Howell said.
“The developer has things they’re expected to do,” which are outlined in
a memorandum of understanding signed in May. (written by David Allen,
Star reporter)

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