Larry, Nick and Jimmy: Commissioners Made History on Jail
The Pilot’s annual tradition of picking a Newsmaker is now in its 14th year.
Past designees include N.C. Rep. Richard Morgan for 1997; U.S. Sen. John Edwards for 1998; former Pinehurst Inc. President Patrick Corso for 1999; Michael Holden, former chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners, for 2000; Kelly Miller, CEO of Pine Needles and Mid Pines, for 2001; Charles Frock, CEO of FirstHealth of the Carolinas, for 2002; Dr. Patrick Russo, former superintendent of the Moore County school system, for 2003; lawyer and school board member Bruce Cunningham for 2004; Beth Kocher, chairwoman of the second U.S. Open at Pinehurst, for 2005; and N.C. Rep. (now former Rep.) Joe Boylan for 2006.
In 2007 as this year, we departed a bit from tradition, selecting a group of Newsmakers instead of a single individual. That year, we picked “the Gadflies,” four private individuals who were vociferously involved in the many controversies that had convulsed the county and its communities. They were Greg Zywocinski, of Southern Pines, Ralph Redmond and Doug Middaugh, of Pinehurst, and Elton Turner, of Vass.
The choice for 2008 was Pinecrest High School football coach Chris Metzger, and the 2009 Newsmaker was Justin Garner, the Carthage police officer who put an end to the Pinelake nursing home rampage by shooting alleged gunman Robert Kenneth Stewart.
Detractors say they vote in lockstep. Others call them the “Gang of Three.”
But Moore County Commis-sioners Larry Caddell, Jimmy Melton and Nick Picerno are puzzled when referred to as a collective political powerhouse. They prefer to think of themselves as separate individuals who differ as often as they agree.
The three do have much in common. All are natives of Moore County, and all have experience in finance, budgeting and payrolls, and they say that experience has made them practical and conservative. All are active in church and community.
What enmeshed Caddell, Melton and Picerno in controversy during the past year — and resulted in their designation by The Pilot as its collective Newsmakers of 2010 — was the way they stuck together in a series of 3-2 votes supporting a downtown Carthage site for a controversial new public safety-detention center and the issuance of limited obligation bonds to pay for it.
Voting against the $32 million construction project were Commissioners Tim Lea and Cindy Morgan, who responded to multiple issues raised by people opposing the location, the size of the jail and the payment method.
Opposition to the detention center project was most obvious in two venues: public comment periods held at commissioners’ meetings and in comments by readers on The Pilot’s website, thepilot.com, and in letters to the editor.
Website comments by those unidentified critics were often pungent, even vitriolic at times, and laced with personal attacks. The attacks were especially fierce in comments about Caddell and Picerno, who have a business relationship with Southern Software, the firm that has donated significant hunks of software to the county for use in law enforcement.
Picerno, who founded Southern Software, is no longer a stockholder, but Caddell continues as CEO.
Controversy surrounding the public safety-detention center has subsided with the bond issuance and the onset of construction work, but The Pilot wanted to find out what makes these three men tick.
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