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Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott announces his retirement

Police Chief Wayne Scott is greeted by Porter in a conference room in police headquarters in May. “He is one of our most successful programs,” Scott said.

GREENSBORO — Police Chief Wayne Scott is leaving the Greensboro Police Department after 30 years.

Scott, 49, announced his retirement in a news conference Friday His last day will be Jan. 31, 2020.

“I have mixed emotions,” Scott said. “Most are very positive, to know that I’ve reached this point in my career.”

Scott became chief in 2015 but has been on the force since 1991, joining it at age 20.

“I have spent the majority of my life as a Greensboro police officer,” he said. “And that is what I’m most proud of. Not being chief, not ascending through the ranks, but being a police officer and serving our community.”

But Scott said now is his time to focus on family.

“Being the police chief in the city of Greensboro is a huge honor, but it also takes about 70 to 80 hours a week of my time,” he said. “I live and die with a cellphone in my hand.”

Scott said he doesn’t anticipate going far from public service, but he doesn’t yet know in what capacity.

City Councilwoman Goldie Wells said Scott deserves this break.

“I appreciate all he’s done for the city and congratulate him on his retirement,” Wells said.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan echoed Wells’ sentiment.

“Certainly, we appreciate all the good work he has done over the last couple of years, and I wish him well in his retirement,” Vaughan said.

Scott said he agreed to stay through January as the city looks for his successor.

“Greensboro is just a great place to live,” Scott said. “I think it will get a lot of attention both locally and nationally.”

Greensboro Assistant City Manager Nathaniel “Trey” Davis said city staff members are working to hire an executive search committee to find Scott’s replacement.

At least seven meetings will be held throughout the city as part of the search process, including one in each of the five City Council districts, to hear residents’ thoughts, Davis said.

That community input was lacking in Scott’s selection as chief, critics said when he replaced Ken Miller, who left to become the police chief in Greenville, S.C.

Critics also contended that not only did Scott have an advantage in the job selection process by being on the police force, it also meant he was an insider in a department that was facing allegations of racism at the time.

“We do know that this is a very important decision for our city and for our community,” Davis said. “As we narrow this down — as we look at the profile of the police chief — we want to let you know we’re confident that will be able to select a dynamic and a talented individual who will lead this agency and this city and serve you as a community.”

Vaughan said she will be looking for a proven track record of policing in the next chief.

“I can’t think of any more difficult job there is,” she said. “Policing, in general, is a very difficult job.”

Scott focused his attention Friday on his successes.

He included on that list the creation of the office of community engagement, the development of a body-camera program, the successful recruitment of new officers and the creation of community partnerships.

But he also noted that he became chief at one of the country’s most contentious times.

Scott was questioned about whether recent controversies involving the department, including the in-custody death of Marcus Smith, led to his decision.

No, it was just time, he said.

Scott’s retirement was anticipated since he became eligible earlier this year.

In a video posted on Vimeo on Thursday night, Scott told his staff that he was putting rumors about his retirement to rest by announcing an official date.

“During the time between August and January things will remain the same,” he said in the video. “I’ll still be the chief. You’ll still be part of the organization. ... We’ll still be doing what we do day-to-day.”(tncms-asset)073dc640-baaa-11e9-848c-00163ec2aa770 —(/tncms-asset)

H. Scott Hoffmann /News & Record  

Police Chief Wayne Scott announced his retirement at a news conference Friday. Scott, 49, has headed the department for four years. He has been with the department for 30 years, holding a variety of posts. He said he is most proud of “serving our community.”

Rising N.C. A&T senior Kiara Nelson is national Intern of the Year

GREENSBORO — In only one year at N.C. A&T, Kiara Nelson has worn a lot of different labels.

Midwesterner. Transfer student. Entrepreneur.

As Nelson prepares to start her senior year at A&T, she can add one more title: the nation’s top intern.

Nelson was named 2019 Intern of the Year on Thursday by WayUp, a website that helps college students and recent college graduates find internships and jobs.

“It means a lot to this small-town girl,” said the 20-year-old Nelson, who grew up in the sparsely populated southern tip of Illinois. Her high school graduation class numbered just 27. Most stayed close to home.

“It’s not only beneficial to me,” Nelson added in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s an achievement for my hometown. Leaving can have great rewards.”

Nelson left Illinois for Howard University in Washington. After two years there, she transferred to A&T, where she is majoring in journalism and mass communications with a concentration in mass media production. (Nelson said she switched schools because A&T is less expensive than Howard, even for an out-of-state student like herself.)

Nelson also runs her own business, Natural Boss Branding, a brand development and graphic design firm that works with other small businesses owned by women of color.

Nelson has held internships for three straight summers. After her first year at Howard, she interned in Los Angeles with Blavity, a website for African American millennials. The next summer, she interned at Progressive Business Media, a Greensboro communications company that serves the home furnishings and other industries.

This summer, she landed a 10-week paid internship in Mooresville at the corporate headquarters of Lowe’s, the home improvement chain.

Nelson said she was proud of herself for starting her internship search in the fall, months earlier than she had in the past. But there was one problem: between accepting and starting her internship, Lowe’s eliminated the department where she was supposed to work.

The company asked: Would she be interested in another department? Maybe online support?

“My first thought was that it’s coding, and I didn’t know how to code,” Nelson said. “But it wasn’t. They were like, ‘You’ll learn (the job) when you get here.’”

Instead of spending the summer immersed in social media and email newsletters as she had planned, Nelson tended to the website. Customer and employee concerns — wrong prices, missing pictures of merchandise, online buttons that didn’t work when a user clicked on them — came to her department. She helped figure out how to fix those problems.

“That taught me not to limit myself,” Nelson said. “I now know I can do something if I have the proper training and apply myself.”

She nominated herself this summer for the WayUp contest. She urged her friends, family and social media followers to vote for her online. She even created a “how to vote” online graphic that she thinks caught the eye of the contest judges.

A WayUp spokeswoman said a panel of judges considered several factors, including personal accomplishments and creativity in rounding up online votes. The judges also were impressed that Nelson juggled a full-time internship and her brand business while taking on side projects in other Lowe’s departments. One of those projects was designing an in-store graphic for the Lowe’s employee relief fund.

For being named national Intern of the Year, Chegg, the college textbook rental company, gave Nelson $1,000 to spend on its website.

The award gives her an impressive line to add to her resume. That’s important, as Nelson expects to graduate from A&T in May, and she is already thinking about her job search.

Nelson learned she won the contest on the final day of her Lowe’s internship. She was at lunch with her boss when she opened an email from WayUp.

“I started crying. She started crying. The whole room started screaming,” Nelson said. “Then I had to call everybody I knew.”

An interesting article in today's newspaper

Caught on tape: A former officer gets a year of probation in beating of pedestrian in Asheville. Page A3

Courtesy of Kiara Nelson  

Kiara Nelson has held internships for three straight summers. Her most recent one this summer was with Lowe’s, the home improvement chain.

Indian automaker Mahindra considering North Carolina for second U.S. plant with 2,000 jobs. Triad megasite could be in the mix, expert says.

GREENSBORO — Indian automaker Mahindra Automotive North America is evaluating sites for its second U.S. manufacturing plant and North Carolina is in the mix, the company said Friday.

And although Mahindra wouldn’t name specific sites, the Triad’s Greensboro-Randolph Megasite could make the list as it did two years ago when Toyota-Mazda was scouring the Southeast for a place to build a factory, one industry expert said.

“That megasite, which has been a bridesmaid for a number of trophy projects, is really now in the global spotlight,” site selection consultant John Boyd Jr. said Friday. “When international companies are looking to do projects, that site is in the mix.”

Mahindra spokesman Richard Ansell would only say in an email: “We are at this point looking at a couple of sites in western NC but our search could expand. SC, TX, AZ and Michigan also under consideration.”

Mahindra issued a news release Thursday that said it has signed a letter of intent with RACER Trust, a redeveloper of old industrial sites, to evaluate the former Buick City site for a new manufacturing plant in Flint, Mich.

The company said its current plant in Auburn Hills, Mich., is at capacity and it needs to expand. Mahindra makes the Roxor off-road Jeep-style vehicle at its Auburn Hills plant.

“The plant would include production of mail delivery trucks should Mahindra be awarded the USPS’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicle contract,” according to a news release from the company. “Mahindra is one of five companies short-listed for the contract award, which is expected to be announced later this year. The plant would also house production for a number of future products that have not been announced publicly. It is projected the plant will create up to 2,000 jobs over the first five years with additional jobs to follow.”

The company said its decision will be driven, in part, by the financial incentives package Michigan would offer.

North Carolina, and specifically the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, which is to the south of Greensboro in Randolph County, got bad news in January 2018 when a joint venture of Toyota and Mazda said it would locate its future plant in Alabama.

State officials said after that announcement that they were prepared to offer the company a $1.5 billion incentive package for the $1.6 billion factory prize.

State Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland said at the time that North Carolina’s incentives included state tax breaks and cash incentives plus public and private money that has been used to buy and prepare the 1,900-acre Greensboro-Randolph Megasite in Randolph County.

Boyd, of economic development consulting firm Boyd Co. in Princeton, N.J., said the megasite would be a top prospect for any automotive company looking in the Southeast.

“Economic development in 2019 is the second War Between the States,” Boyd said. “Fortunately, North Carolina, because of its low operating costs, incentives won’t necessarily play as big a role, but that remains to be seen. Funds are at the governor’s disposal so you’re not at a disadvantage with respect to incentives the way you were five or six years ago.”

If Mahindra is serious about looking at any sites outside Michigan, it should be serious about the Greensboro-Randolph site, he said. This region has good schools, a good workforce and low operating costs, he said.

Local economic recruiters plan to offer the megasite free of charge to any company that chooses it.

Brent Christensen, CEO of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and the lead local recruiter for the megasite, declined to comment when reached Friday evening.

Guilford County has little room to maneuver in legal fees case over Greensboro redistricting lawsuit

GREENSBORO — Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne says that local officials don’t have a lot of options in responding to a recent court decision requiring them to pay the winners’ legal fees in Greensboro’s 2015 redistricting lawsuit.

Even though the county did not make the law that triggered the lawsuit and the Guilford County Board of Elections did not take sides in it, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled county taxpayers must pay legal fees for a group of residents who joined the Greensboro City Council in the successful civil suit.

The tab could exceed $600,000.

Appealing that outcome to the nation’s highest court is one possibility, but getting heard there won’t be easy, Payne said.

“We can seek an appeal to the Supreme Court through a petition for certiorari,” Payne said, using legal terminology for requesting a higher court review. “However, being realistic, the chance of the Supreme Court taking up this matter on appeal is very small.”

Payne said his assessment is not necessarily because the case lacks merit or any other legal consideration, but more of a statistical reality: Due to the “overwhelming numbers of petitions” it receives, only a tiny percentage ever get their day before the high court, he said.

The county’s other options include relying on U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles to determine what payment would be reasonable or separately negotiating a settlement with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the nonprofit group that represented eight Greensboro voters who — alongside municipal government — sued to overturn the state-mandated revamping of the city’s electoral system.

Eagles presided over the federal lawsuit, found that the changes to city elections were unconstitutional and later decided against the coalition’s request to bill the county for its legal fees. It’s that decision the appeals court overturned several months ago in a ruling that became public knowledge this week.

County officials have not decided which path to take and are “reviewing all three options at this point,” Payne said.

Because it was a state law that got the county elections board in trouble, another way to possibly lessen the burden on Guilford taxpayers could involve the county’s 10-member legislative delegation trying to secure repayment from state coffers for whatever local officials eventually shell out.

“We need to discuss it with the delegation and other members of the legislature,” said state Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Whitsett. “It’s a tough situation since the city decided to sue the county. I cannot say at this point what the odds are.”

Greensboro officials picked who to sue, but they are not directly involved in the legal-fee dispute. The city waived its legal fees after winning the case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina after a February 2017 trial.

Payne said the county was in a tough spot after the suit was filed against the Board of Elections charged with carrying out the disputed municipal election law, rather than against state government that had enacted it.

The original lawsuit’s core issue was a measure championed by then-state Sen. Trudy Wade that sought to reshape the way Greensboro council members were elected.

Under the measure, the council would have been cut from nine to seven members and the mayor could vote only in breaking a tie, council member terms would have been lengthened and voting districts revised.

The county Board of Elections played no role in creating or adopting the law, but it was the target selected by Greensboro and the local residents because it had the duty of carrying out the new rules.

Payne said in an email that this put the county board in the awkward position of being the only defendant in the case, yet one who “did not, and could not defend the legislation (or for that matter oppose the legislation.)”

“The Board of Elections is to hold fair and impartial elections,” Payne said of the county board. “Taking sides in a contest over the constitutionality of an election law would make that impossible.”

Payne said the board’s only option was to take a hands-off approach while trying “to facilitate the quick conduct of the trial.”

He said officials are “clearly disappointed with the 4th Circuit’s decision.”

“However, it is now the law of the land,” Payne said, adding that Guilford officials will follow it while trying to be the best possible stewards of public resources.