Just about a year ago, I wrote, under the headline “Moore May Need To Hold Another Summit Session,” that broadly attended meetings would reignite countywide cooperation. I urged leadership to start right away with an eye to the U.S. Open golf tournaments. The message was a dud.
Today, Moore County continues to be a confederation of fiefdoms, complete with foot-dragging and a closed pecking order among the leadership ranks of most organizations. Cross-referenced central planning does not appear to be in our future any time soon.
During the commissioner comments section of a recent board meeting, Nick Picerno proposed a reconvening the areawide Summit meetings to discuss matters that will impact every corner of Moore County. The proposal is a great idea, but he complicated the matter by suggesting two colossal projects as objectives.
One project would be a discussion of how to fund the long-term capital needs for the public schools. Picerno also suggested a look at the feasibility of combining Partners in Progress, the Chamber of Commerce and the area Convention and Visitors Bureau into a single organization.
Picerno is ever looking to cut overhead, but his idea is too big to be treated so lightly.
The Pilot quoted Picerno as observing, “We could have all the leadership at the table.” That is the only way to tackle these issues, but there will have to be a period of discussion before mutual confidence and trust can be re-established. There is no open broad structure in place right now to debate these issues.
Regrettably, the approach is also a hallmark of the way some things happen around here. The same folks seem to populate leadership roles in our community organizations. The “old boy” structure discourages even the most tenacious newcomer from finding an active role. The end product is a mutual admiration club complete with stagnant thinking.
Specifically, the Chamber of Commerce needs to understand that all the award-winning accomplishments of the past several years are in danger of backsliding and being lost because of a personnel matter.
The situation has been created by people, and some suggestions that are being floated are tantamount to trying to push a round peg into a square hole.
Likeable Patrick Coughlin resigned his leadership position here to accept the challenge of a bigger organization in Cabarrus County. His very able No. 2 person,Linda Parsons ,was anointed in an interim capacity late last year. And now the board of Moore County Partners in Progress, our economic development organization, is suggesting a combination of their two operations.
Perhaps I should wait until the golf tournaments are in the record books, but action is critical for the local quality of life. Permanent leadership is needed now.
A Summit discussion is also clearly needed now. The Moore County schools have advanced an ambitious building program to deal with buildings that are being utilized with a student population that is well over design capacity. Discussions about priorities have exposed that there are clearly differences of opinion among the various towns. An open discussion will go a long way toward a compromised plan of action.
Two decisions would get things away from the starting line. These are simple matters that will start the process. The Chamber should elect Linda Parsons as the organization’s new president and ask her to prepare a one-year operating plan to reintroduce stability and growth and to identify a set of goals that can be attained during that period. Discussions with Partners should be terminated by the two boards until political sponsorship for any combination is established.
The second suggestion is just as simple. The commissioners should instruct their clerk to research a date, time and place for an organizational meeting of the Summit when a majority of Moore County stakeholders can attend. A date in late August would work, and participants can set up operating ground rules to ensure that the Summit is a self-sustaining process that could be a permanent part of Moore County dialog.
Walter B. Bull Jr. lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.