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Let’s go back and have another look at what transpired after the events of 2006 when Shelby City Manager Rick Howell decided to cut the budget by reducing the Fire and Police personnel. Not enough money, he claims. yet, in the same meeting, Howell finds $40,000 to pay for a Center City Master Plan. And all that master plan turned out to be, was a parroting of ideas by this company, after hearing this “task force” who had big ideas, large dreams, and a longing for other people’s money…and a friend in high places. For $40,000, this company came up with the idea that what The City of Shelby needed was:

Mr. Muldrow presented the Four Strategies for City Center Shelby:

  • Connecting Uptown to the Market: Branding
  • Catalyst Projects: A Regional Destination
  • A Spectacular Setting: Physical Strategy
  • United for Success: Organizational Strategy

Of course, in this strategy, it was determined that the old courthouse square was to be the central spot that would bring throngs of people into Cleveland County. And Destination Cleveland County was just the group to pull this off. And it was also stated that the restoration of the old Rogers Theater as a performing arts showcase would be invaluable. The Rogers would become The Don Gibson Theatre, and along with the Earl Scruggs Center, all would be well in Cleveland County. Aha, but that wasn’t quite the first plan. The name of the Earl Scruggs Center/old courthouse would change a few times before it actually became the Earl Scruggs Center.

  • Open the North Carolina Music Heritage Center in the Courthouse
  • Assemble property for Equestrian/Multi-Use Center
  • Pursue discussions with the railroad about future use of railroad right of-way
  • Renovate the Rogers Theatre as a performing arts hall
  • Complete mixed-use infill development on Courthouse Square
  • Consider incentive package for Uptown housing/neighborhood
  • investment i.e. non-profit community land trust, marketing to
  • the greater region, site assembly

It is just amazing how attentive Arnett Muldrow was to exactly what this task force wanted.

Mr. Muldrow recommended the following long-term steps for 2010-2015:

  • Complete renovation for Equestrian/Multi-Use Center
  • Complete renovation of historic mill as residential project
  • Develop plans for Court Square Northeast District

Why you would think they were aware of the old Doran Mill property and this new brewery in the future. Maybe the task force did. After all, there are some questionable doings regarding some business partners. When you think about spending $40,000 for some sound advice for the future, you would hope that the results would not be so “cookie-cutter like”. So much cronyism has been hidden in plain sight, but yet, not a peep about it from the local meeting. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard reports that Howell tells the media what they will print, and that’s exactly what they do. That’s what intimidation and bullying tend to do. If the people on the council who were elected by the people would actually vote the will of the people, things would be different. Even when former police chief Tandy Carter resigned, Rick Howell refused input from the citizens of Cleveland County. The Shelby Star reported on June 22, 2008, in a story by reporter David Allen, that Howell would let a few citizens give their two cents worth, but he would decide and he’d keep everything away from the public until he decided who he would hire. He stuck to his word and kept the search for a new chief out of the public’s eye.