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A Tanger Center architect goes out of business, council asked to hire former employee of Rosser International

GREENSBORO — The architect of record for the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts went out of business in June, city officials say, and the city plans to hire the person who was handling the firm’s work for the $84.7 million project.

Rosser International, based in Atlanta, was one of several architecture firms that had roles on the major downtown project. But, according to a resolution considered Tuesday by the Greensboro City Council, the firm went out of business on June 25 and laid off all of its employees.

One of those employees was Amanda Hodgins, the lead architect at Rosser for the project.

Hodgins now works for TVS North Carolina and City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to approve a contract with TVS for $140,000 so Hodgins can continue the project.

The TVS website says the firm is based in Atlanta and has a broad portfolio of major design projects.

Greensboro Coliseum Director Matt Brown, who is overseeing the project, wrote in an email that the members of the team of companies handling work for the Tanger Center “were able to ensure there were no disruptions in the continuity of the project.”

He said that the city did not lose any plans or design documents for the center when Rosser closed.

Brown wrote further that “the City intends to file a claim against (Rosser’s) professional liability insurance. The amount of the claim is to be determined.”

Brown said that the design contract has sufficient funding available to cover the contract with TVS.

“Rosser’s closing has not had any impact on the construction of the Tanger Center and the venue remains on schedule to open in March, 2020,” Brown added.

Rosser has been tight-lipped about its situation. Rosser posted on its website in the spring that it was planning a move to a different office on May 15. No other information was posted about changes at the firm and emails sent to firm officials were returned unopened.

Other than the resolution and comments from Brown, only news reports add details to the Rosser story.

One report from the Venues Now website says that Rosser closed on June 25. The website features a photo of the Tanger Center and quotes two sources close to the company about its closure. No one from the company would confirm to the site that it had closed.

“Fred Krenson, who as a senior vice president was among the top executives at Rosser before retiring in 2017 after 38 years at the firm, confirmed the information,” Venues Now reported. “Krenson said he was recently in contact with Rosser officials who told him the company would cease operations.”

In addition to its work on the Tanger Center, Rosser has designed stadiums and other major projects around the country.

A report on the Noozhawk website in Santa Barbara, Calif., reported in July that Rosser abruptly quit its work designing the Santa Barbara County Jail.

“The county ... has filed a civil lawsuit in Superior Court for breach of contract, alleging that Rosser International Inc. has caused project delays and increased costs,” the site reported.

“Rosser International notified the county on June 13 that it was ‘going out of business’ and ‘effective immediately will no longer be providing services’ for the jail project,” the report added.

Construction on the Tanger Center at North Elm and Bellemeade streets began in 2017.

Greeensboro Children's Museum marks 20th anniversary with time capsuleMuseum marks anniversary with time capsule

As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the Greensboro Children’s Museum sealed a time capsule on Tuesday. The museum collected items from Greensboro businesses and residents, including photos and mementos to be sealed for the next 50 years.

H. Scott Hoffmann/News & Record 

Noah Laforest leans over for a closer look as he and his sister, Iris, assist Ilyasah Shabazz in the placement and sealing of a time capsule celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Greensboro Children’s Museum’s during a dedication ceremony Tuesday in Greensboro. The museum collected items from Greensboro businesses and residents, including photos and mementos, to be sealed for the next 50 years. The time capsule is expected be opened sometime in 2069. Shabazz is a museum staff member.

N.C. NAACP president: State's voter ID law isn't about 'safeguarding' elections

GREENSBORO —The president of the state NAACP says North Carolina’s “recycled discriminatory photo ID requirement” against minorities appears to be working.

On Tuesday, surrounded by NAACP chapter presidents from around the state, the Rev. T. Anthony Spearman said the civil rights organization has heard from minorities who say they are afraid they won’t be able to vote under a retooled voter identification requirement scheduled to go into effect in 2020.

Proponents of the new law say it will help prevent voter fraud.

Opponents contend that it’s a ploy by Republican legislators to discriminate against minorities.

“The same legislature that committed the most widespread unconstitutional racial gerrymander in modern-day history,” Spearman said, is responsible for the voter ID law

Officials with the State Board of Elections have said that no one will be turned away from the polls or told they can’t vote if they don’t have a photo ID.

Still, voter ID laws have historically suppressed and disenfranchised minority voters, particularly African Americans who were born during the Jim Crow era and may not have received birth certificates.

In North Carolina, the question of whether such a law is necessary has been hotly debated for years on the floor of the General Assembly and in the courts, with neither Democrats or Republicans ceding ground.

In 2013, the General Assembly passed a photo ID law that contained a number of restrictions on voting.

In 2016, that law was struck down by a federal court as unconstitutional for the “surgical precision” in which African-Americans were targeted.

In late 2018, voters approved a constitutional amendment that was more expansive, requiring that some sort of photo identification be presented in order to cast a ballot. The amendment allows for many different types of identification, such as a driver’s license, a valid U.S. passport, a student ID from an approved school, a tribal-enrollment card, to list a few.

The law was passed despite Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. However, a group of voters sued.

In late July, a three-judge panel didn’t completely dismiss the lawsuit but ruled that the voter ID law could go into effect next year.

Tuesday’s news conference was a reminder that there’s still opposition to the new law even as the 2020 presidential election looms and North Carolina finds itself once again in the role of a battleground state.

Spearman said the new law will be ineffectual against voter fraud.

“It has nothing to do with the reliability of voting machines, safeguarding voter data or protections against foreign interference,” he said.

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H. Scott Hoffmann /News & Record  

Iris and Noah Laforest screw on the top of a time capsule celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Greensboro Children's Museum during a dedication in Greensboro, N.C., on Aug. 17, 2019. The time capsule will be opened in 50 years, sometime in 2069.

Woody Marshall/News & Record  

T. Anthony Spearman with the N.C. NAACP speaks at a press conference at the state offices in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

Woody Marshall/News & Record  

T. Anthony Spearman with the N.C. NAACP speaks at a news conference at the state offices in Greensboro on Tuesday.

Immigration bill focusing on sheriffs heading to governor

RALEIGH — North Carolina Republicans gave final legislative approval on Tuesday to a measure directing all sheriffs to comply with requests by federal immigration agents to hold inmates they believe are in the country unlawfully.

The measure responds to a handful of dissenting sheriffs — black Democrats elected last year. They have been refusing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the detainers it issues in connection with those believed to be in the country illegally.

The detainers, asking an inmate be held for 48 hours, aren’t arrest warrants, so sheriffs currently can ignore them. But GOP legislators point out recent cases in Mecklenburg County, where violent suspects who were subjects of detainers had been released.

The sheriffs “are putting partisan policies ahead of public safety,” said bill sponsor Rep. Destin Hall, a Caldwell County Republican, during floor debate. “The citizens of this state deserve public safety. If these sheriffs won’t give it to them, we will through this bill.”

But the House’s party-line 62-53 vote to accept Senate changes to the bill signals that a likely veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could ultimately block its enactment. Well over 100 national and North Carolina groups also on Tuesday urged a veto from Cooper, who two months ago called the same legislation now going to his desk unconstitutional. Republicans would need help from several Democrats to override any veto.

“We already have laws on the books that allow us to put in jail dangerous people regardless of immigration status. And I fear this legislation is going to be used for political purposes to try and divide us,” Cooper told reporters earlier Tuesday. He added that the sheriffs “were elected by people and they’re doing things that they believe people want them to do to keep their communities safe.”

The legislation requires the sheriff take a detainer subject to a judge or magistrate, who would issue any order to hold the inmate.

The bill also would require sheriffs to check the records of anyone jailed for an alleged criminal offense — not just those accused of serious crimes as current law requires — to see if they are sought by federal immigrant agents.

Sheriffs who don’t comply would be removed from office — a possibility that angered some Democrats who say the sheriffs are constitutional officers who ran on ending voluntary cooperation with ICE.

Critics of the measure say the directives will make members of immigrant communities fearful in urban areas of coming forward to report crimes to authorities for fear of deportation. The bill also could lead to costly litigation by people who alleged their due process rights were violated by being held on the detainers, even after meeting other release terms.

“This is unnecessary. It is draconian and will affect and rip apart families across this state,” said Rep. Marcia Morey, a Durham County Democrat and former District Court judge. “To pass this bill is going to result in many lawsuits that are going to be paid by the taxpayers in their community.”

But Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, said the measure properly strikes a balance between protecting a person’s assumption of innocence and ensuring the public is protected.

“There comes a time when even someone who is politically elected should be able to put aside politics and do what is right for the public safety,” Moore said.

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, representing all sheriffs, initially opposed an initial House version of the measure but later backed the bill when language was changed in the Senate.

Despite Cooper’s criticisms of the bill, immigrant and civil rights advocates worried aloud what would happen if the bill became law and pleaded for him to intervene.

“It’s important that our state’s highest elected official take a stand for the rights of North Carolina communities and against this extreme anti-immigrant political agenda,” Martha Hernandez, community organizer with the local group Comite de Accion Popular, said in a release.