'Up Front' Begins Two-Week Series to Introduce Newly Elected Local Officials To PublicNov 18, 2020 03:52PM ● By Jason Huddle
The Midterm Elections: Meet the Candidates
Cabarrus County has elected four new people to office this year, one to the Cabarrus County Commission and the other three to the Cabarrus Board of Education. This week, we sit down with two of this people to learn more about who they are and what we can expect from their first terms in office. Our guests this week include Cabarrus County Commissioner-Elect, Barbara Strang and New Cabarrus County School Board member, Tim Furr. Plus, we have an exciting update on our Morgan Wetherbee story!
Cabarrus County has four newly elected officials in their respective offices. Today, we speak to two of them about their concerns as they head into their terms. And why they decided to run for office. You said the commission needed fresh eyes just in general for the county. What's your fresh eyes see his priority for this commission?
Barbara Strang 00:19
I think we need to look a little bit closer into budgeting classes. You know, we need to utilize that money. A little bit wiser I think
Jason Huddle 00:26
plus, we'll discuss some changes. One of them says he needs to make as soon as he gets an office.
Tim Furr 00:31
I know when they done a survey, over 70% of the parents wanted the kids to go back to school.
Jason Huddle 00:36
Now we talked about this a few weeks ago, we had some current members of the board. One of them indicated that 70% came from just the fact that people needed their kids to get back in school because they needed to go to work, not necessarily that they felt their kids would be safe at school. Do you agree with that?
Tim Furr 00:55
So I've talked to thousands of parents, and I promise you that that was not the reason their kids need school.
Jason Huddle 01:04
Today we welcome onto the program, Cabarrus County Commissioners elected Barbara Strang and newly elected Cabarrus County Board of Education member Tim Furr, as they discuss their plans for their upcoming terms, in part one of our two week series on meeting our newly elected officials. That's right now on up front with Canberra Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group. Cabarrus Eye Center, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Geico Concord Mills Office, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center, and Walk Cabarrus. I'm your host, Jason Huddle. Hello, my friends and welcome to Episode 83 of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. Congratulations, we have made it through another election. Well, sort of. I know there's still a lot of things going on on the national scale. But we're not going to talk about that this is a local show. We're going to talk about our elections in cabarrus. County and you the people have elected four new officers to respective terms in the cabarrus County Board of Education and the Cabarrus County Commission. Over the next two weeks, we're going to be interviewing all four of those people. This week. As I mentioned in the intro, we are talking to the newly elected board of education member timber as well as the new county commissioner Barbara string, they have some interesting ideas about what their terms are going to look like and why they even decided to run. I think there's a lot of questions as to the actions of their respective previous entities and some things they might want to correct moving forward. So it's going to be some very interesting conversations that we're going to get into but not before we do a little shameless plug time. I have a couple of things to talk about during shameless plug time. First, I want to again go back two weeks ago we did the story of Morgan Weatherby and her terrible accident and her family's battle to defy the odds and get this girl home and have her recover. And the recovery fund that has been set up on GoFundMe. And I mentioned last week in the shameless plug time that they have had almost $6,000 in donations, since that episode aired, which I'm super thrilled about. Very proud of you guys, the listeners. And I did hear from Melinda Hill who was on the program with us, and she is Morgan's amp and she let me know that the event at punches diner raised over $4,000 for her recovery fund and they've also had an anonymous donor that is offered to match any donations up to $10,000 as they prepare for Morgan's release from the hospital on November 18. So that's very exciting news and we were thrilled for Morgan and her family. Our prayers and thoughts continued to be with her. If you want to donate to that fund, go back and listen to that episode. If you didn't catch it yet over 1500 of you have already but go ahead and listen to that episode and then in the show notes, we have a link that will take you directly to Morgan's recovery funds. So make sure you check that out make a donation if you can or share it on Facebook, make sure that this family gets all the help it needs. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that we are into November the November issue is out on stands and online. And it is called a season of joy. I am determined to make this holiday season a season of joy. And that starts right here at home with cabarrus magazine. We have some great stories. There's a feature on some actual events that you can go attend physically that are taking place this month and into next month. There's also a shopping guide that you can use to check off your shopping list for the holidays, but also support local businesses. And then of course everybody likes to cook we are in the south and Everybody likes to cook at the holidays, and make sweet treats and we have some wonderful, wonderful desserts for you to make that are some of our favorites here at the magazine. And we're passing those on to you. So those are the three featured articles as well as of course news and other things that you get out of Cabarrus Magazine, check that out, pick one up around one of our 250 locations county wide. Or you can check it out online at comparison magazine calm if you're not sure where to pick up the magazine, go to compares magazine calm and click on the where to find us tab and there'll be a Google map that pops up you can find the location near you. And that is today's shameless plug time. Alright, stay tuned on the other side of this break, we will get to know Tim Furr a little better, as he tells us his plans for his term on the Cabarrus County Board of Education. That's coming up in one minute.
Welcome back to the program. We are talking this week with our newly elected officials. And I have with me on the line Tim for he has just been elected to the cabarrus. County Board of Education First of all, Mr. Furth thank you for being on our show. And congratulations on your election.
Tim Furr 07:34
Thank you very much appreciate the opportunity.
Jason Huddle 07:37
So tell us a little bit about why you decided to run in the first place?
Tim Furr 07:41
Well, as you know, I've been on the board. This has been my third time, I was on it for four years. And I take two years off and not run again. And so that's kind of been my approach. And from the beginning about, I guess last October, you know, I resigned the last time because I had some health issues. I'm feeling great. had a lot of people in the community was urging me to, I felt like it to give it another shot. And I felt like I wanted to finish something I have started in 2014. And so I thought I brought something to the table, being a former football coach and back in high school baseball coach, and being involved with kids from Little League all the way through high school for like 30 years, I seem to relate to them quite well. And this is just another opportunity to I felt like I could help
this situation with the COVID shut down and subsequent back and forth in starting in July. And then again in September with the board did that further reinforce your desire to get onto the board? Well,
Tim Furr 08:45
absolutely. I mean, I'm a firm believer in and from from talking to parents. And that's one of the things that I think parents really appreciated in my my other two terms. When I was on the board, I'm one of the ones that I try to listen, I think the parents voice needs to be heard. You know, their children are, you know, there's their pride and joy. They're not going to put them in harm's way. And I think in this situation would have been better served to listen to parents. I know when they done a survey, over 70% of the parents wanted the kids to go back to school. So I felt like that that's what needs to be done. We need to honor the parents wishes.
Now we talked about this a few weeks ago, we had some current members of the board. We had Cindy furtenbach Carolyn carpenter, Holly Grimsley, and they indicated or at least I should say one of them indicated that 70% came from just the fact that people needed their kids to get back in school because they needed to go to work, not necessarily that they felt their kids would be safe at school. Do you agree with that?
Tim Furr 09:54
Not really, you know, one thing about the early voting process which you know, started a thing was October 15, which lasted over two weeks. And I was at early voting that arena every day. I was there from eight o'clock in the morning to most of time I closed it down at 730. So I talked to thousands of parents. And I'll promise you that that was not the reason their kids need school. They need the teachers, they need to be in that environment. They need a structure. And yes, parents need to go back to work. I firmly believe that but I don't think that was the primary reason. And I'm serious. I talked to thousands Not, not not, you know, a couple hundred. I was there every single day. And that was the message. And I think if you look at the outcome of the vote, and when you had two incomes that voted no, to go to school, think divorces was heard during the election?
Yeah, so that was gonna be my next thing is, if you had been on the board, when these votes came up, I assume from the way you sound, you might have flipped that and we would have gone back to school sooner.
Tim Furr 11:06
Absolutely. And there's gonna be issues that I mean, I'm not. I got two grandkids, I got one in cabarrus County Schools, and I have to in Union County Schools, and they have been going for days a week, but they had a, an outbreak, and they had to stay at home and do virtual school for two weeks. And now they're back in school. I mean, I understand there's gonna be some hiccups. And there's gonna be situations where we go to school, maybe for six weeks, and then we have to have some cases. And we shut it down for a couple of weeks. But I believe firmly believe that we have to do that we can't wait to there's zero cases, there are kids that never go to school. So I think we have to go ahead and start,
how soon do you feel like children will be able to go back to school now, of course, as we're sitting here talking, Governor Cooper, I was just on TV talking about North Carolina is going up in cases, he actually wants to take gatherings back down from 25 to 10. Indoor gatherings. So now, everything seems to be sort of up in the air again, as far as what schools will or won't be able to do. But assuming that he doesn't change anything regarding schools, how soon do you want the children to be back in school five days a week? Well, personally,
Tim Furr 12:20
we get sworn in the first week in December, I would hope to have it on the agenda, the second meeting of December. And I would hope that we go back to school in January unless governor Cooper shuts us down.
So let's talk about something beyond COVID for a second, because it's not going to last forever. At some point, we're going to find our normal again. So what do you feel are your priorities for this term on the board of education?
Tim Furr 12:48
Well, I know right, right off the right off in January, we'll start with a new middle school out in the Roberta section of cabarrus. County, we'll have to do some redistricting on middle schools, which is always a out of all my two terms on the school board, that's the toughest thing to do is send kids to different schools. And that's pretty much going to happen fairly quick, which is a it's a it's a good problem. I guess that means, you know, people have desire to move into into this county. So to me, that's a reflection on a lot of things in schools being one of them. But you know, I would like at some point, I want a technical school, a technical school, we put a lot of influence on college, college is very important. But I saw some statistics back in the summer, where it was said that one out of every five kids in cabarrus County that go home to college graduate from college. So to me, you know, what are we doing for the other group, we need to put more emphasis on that higher percentage of kids that they need to be when they graduate and at least have a good idea on what they would like to do in life. And we need to do a better job in the school system, preparing them for what's what lies ahead. I think maybe we I know in other states, especially up north, they have a lot of these schools, we may need to take a field trip to get an understanding of what they what they are doing. Right. But I think it's time that cabarrus County
has something like that. Definitely a need for more trade jobs. There are trade jobs out there that are not able to be filled because we don't have skilled workers. So for sure, that's a that's an interesting idea. Let me ask you real quick in the last couple of minutes that we have. I know one of the concerns that I've heard in the county are the cost of these schools. I think the newest High School cost around $72 million to build. And so I think people are starting to ask Wait a minute, why do we need $72 million to build one school? Is there a way that we can maybe build a couple Schools for $72 million?
Tim Furr 15:02
Well, you know, I have a different philosophy on schools, I stated one of my terms, that may have been the first one in 2008, when we were starting to build schools, I would like to build would have built bigger schools and build less schools. But, you know, when you talk to educators, they'll tell you like they the ideal learning environment is like 1500, and high school 1000, and middle 800 and Elementary. And I get that that's ideal. But you know, we're living in an age where you look at cabarrus County budget, a lot of is going to cabarrus County Schools, which means a lot of things are getting left out. So I would have liked to build bigger schools, build less schools, what's going to happen, eventually, what you're kind of saying that now, we're gonna have a hospital on every corner. And at some point in time, our growth is going to cease. And I think, you know, maybe 20 years from now, a lot of these schools are going to be 75% full. So I agree with that perspective. But also understand where the educators are coming from, which you won't hear many school board members say that but
well, I will let that be the last word, Tim, for newly elected member of the board of education for cabarrus County. Thank you so much for spending a little bit of time with us today. Let us get to know you again.
Tim Furr 16:22
Thank you very much.
Jason Huddle 16:23
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Jason Huddle 17:43
welcome back to the program. We are joined now by cabarrus. County Commissioner elect Barbara string. Thank you so much, Miss Strang for joining us today.
Barbara Strang 17:54
Thank you for having me.
Jason Huddle 17:56
So Barbara, let us Can I call you Barbara, is
that okay? Yeah, absolutely. Okay, good.
Jason Huddle 18:01
Can you tell us a little bit about First of all, why you decided to run for county commission in the first place? What inspired you that, that you thought, you know, what I need to step into this role?
Barbara Strang 18:12
I've been involved with the community on different aspects, you know, ever since I've moved here, 20 some odd years ago, different areas, and I kind of saw the need where we could use a little bit of change, maybe a little bit of some new new set of eyes on some things. You know, I've talked to so many people in cabarrus County, that have like concerns about growth concerns about, you know, the infrastructure and things like that. And, you know, knowing that I've worked with the D o. t and some of these city council members, and some of these projects, I thought this would be a good global overall position. Okay,
Jason Huddle 18:48
and tell us a little bit about what you you said, You needed fresh eyes, or the commission needed fresh eyes? What do your fresh eyes see as priority? We'll get into COVID in a second, but just in general, for the county? What's your fresh eyes see his priority for this commission?
Barbara Strang 19:07
Well, I think we need to look a little bit closer at the budgeting process, some of those things can be, you know, we need to utilize that money a little bit wiser. I think, in my opinion, you know, we've spent a lot of money on schools, and we will continue to do that. But there are alternative plans and building just a brand new school. Ideally, I'd like to see where we could maybe expand on an existing school that isn't as old do some renovations. That's a cost cutting measure that, you know, plays well into the taxpayers pockets, because of course, everybody's very concerned about the two tax increases, as well as the reassessments on everything that all kind of hit at the same time. So that really frustrated a lot of people. So, you know, the schools, I know some of the needs for the sheriff's department. We have a brand new courthouse coming into, you know, being built currently. And definitely we need to that no doubt about it. We knew the courthouse desperately but we're going to need to look at funding because we're gonna have to staff that was sheriff's with, you know, deputies and just various different things, you're going to need to make that manageable and make sure that you know that serves the needs of our public.
So interesting. You brought up schools because I was just speaking in the previous segment with new board of education member, Tim first brought up the idea of instead of building all these schools, and I pointed out that the the newest High School cost $72 million, which is an incredible amount of money for one school, instead of building all these new schools that house a smaller amount of students maybe to look at just building some bigger schools, and not having so many in the county, what do you think about that
Barbara Strang 20:44
idea, building bigger schools, it has its pros and cons, you know, you got to look at staffing issues, we also are going to need to take into account in light of COVID what our ADM is for our students, because a lot of families have moved their kids into homeschool environments and will permanently keep them there, as well as some of the, you know, private schools charter schools, and will likely keep them there. So before we make any big decisions on big schools, little schools, you know, we really need to focus on what's our population, look, what are we anticipating in the future? You know, those are big things, because the county's budget, more than 50% of that goes to our schools, you know, and that's just not just building schools, that's maintaining them, the buses, things like that, that we have to make sure we we can afford. So the bigger schools in some areas might be reasonable. You know, some of these areas are smaller, kind of tight knit groups similar to Beverly Hills, I guess you could say where they like the smaller community schools, the students don't feel like they get lost in the shuffle as much, you know, and those are the schools are mentioning where we could potentially if there's enough property already owned by the county, we could add an additional wing on for say, eighth grade, seventh grade, or whatever the need might be. It still keeps it a smaller community school within that neighborhood or within that area, and it's a lot better cost effective and staffing is going to be a little bit easier, in my opinion.
Jason Huddle 22:07
Okay, fair enough answer. Let's let's talk about the huge pandemic elephant in the room COVID. How do you feel like the county has handled the pandemic so far?
Barbara Strang 22:21
I think they've, you know, heated to the governor's orders and mandates and things like that pretty well. The only thing that I would personally have done differently is I would have been a little bit more outspoken with the public to let them know what the county is doing what we're doing to try and help our small businesses, what can we do as a county, you know, early on, they were given the daily numbers, and then that kind of just filled out a little bit in bringing some things into light, where people were like, We don't know where to go get vaccines, we don't know where the food pantries are in town that are servicing people, you know, because a lot of people lost their jobs. And, you know, we really need to look at that. That's one thing I would have done differently, I bet it would have been more, I guess, present or made some type of statement on the county website, hey, if you need a vaccine, this is where you can go if you need to get tested, you know, if you need food, this is these are the providers that are helping
just this past week, the governor announced not really going back into a phase two situation, but he did Institute where home gatherings or personal gatherings had to go from 25 to 10. Again, so it sounds like he's getting a little bit more strict. I know some of the media is reporting that we're we're getting ready to go through another phase. And so it's going to get worse again before it gets better again. And I'm not gonna I'm not gonna argue the numbers. And I feel like the numbers can be manipulated either way. But where do you feel like the counties should draw the line in enforcing some of these mandates that that can hurt businesses and hurt our local economy as well?
Barbara Strang 23:54
Yeah, that's a big concern for everybody, small businesses, big businesses and county as well. You know, we have to maintain, you know, we still have to run, we still have to go to work, we still have to keep our services open to the best of our ability. And there is a big concern where we're now limited to 10 people in it for in home gatherings. And I had several calls yesterday from some people in the restaurant industry here in town that are small, family owned businesses. And they're like, we really need to find out is this going to affect us because now you know, they're all it was roughly 50% capacity, right? They're gonna trim them down to where it's not feasible to them to even open
Jason Huddle 24:34
sure now is sure going back to take out delivery and that's it if they can,
Barbara Strang 24:38
right so there's a lot of concern there there's a lot of concern you know, we just opened up you know, the courthouses back in in session more or less some of the county buildings are now open and now we're we're gonna have to shut those down and in our citizens are going to have to make those wise choices on their own exactly, but what's essential, what's not essential? You know, what, what do we have to do? A lot of our employees, you know, in county and court wide, wide, you can't really work at home as much, we're really going to have to look, what do we do to ensure here in the county, we can still take care of our citizens to the best of our ability, as well as make sure that they're getting everything they need.
Jason Huddle 25:17
I think some of the business owners and those that work for small businesses would argue that if it puts food on their table, it's essential to them. And
Barbara Strang 25:25
it's, you know, it is essential to them, and it really puts them in a bind, where if they're going to be limited to say, 25 people, you know, indoor gatherings and homes is 10. But if they're gonna be limited to 25 people, you have eight staff members in there, they can't service that many people, and then they in less, they just run a drive thru or, in some cases, they don't really have that ability where there might be located, you know, so it really, it's gonna be a big issue, you know, for a lot of places, whether it's the food industry, or some of these other industries that, you know, still haven't reopened. You know, there's a couple in downtown that have an open yet,
Jason Huddle 26:05
in the last minute that I have with you, Barbara, if we're sitting here four years from now talking, what do you hope to have accomplished?
Barbara Strang 26:12
You know, in four years, I hope to accomplish, you know, a little more transparency within the county government, more accessibility to our citizens. Citizens always struggle with getting some answers, you know, and we want to make sure that we can get those answers to them in a timely manner, you know, as well as the cost cutting things and really work with the d. o. t, and some of these road projects and how to preserve homes of people that are, you know, right there on a particular d o. t. thoroughfare, that they're going to be, you know, widening and things like that and try and, you know, preserve cabarrus County in the best way it can, in light of the growth that we're getting. I mean, that's inevitable, but we have to preserve what we have here as well.
Jason Huddle 26:51
If I could just put in a special request. No more property tax reassessments for while getting killed here.
Yeah, exactly. There. Maybe
Barbara Strang 27:01
consensus across the board. Yeah.
Jason Huddle 27:04
Yeah, for sure. Barbara, string Commissioner elect for the cabarrus County Commission. Thank you so much for being on the program today and sharing with us a little bit more about what we can expect from your first term.
Barbara Strang 27:17
Yeah, I appreciate it. And thank you for having me.
Jason Huddle 27:19
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Once more, I'd like to thank Tim for and Barbara Strang for being on the show today, I really appreciate the opportunity to get to know them. I'm excited that we have some fresh blood on our board of education and the county commission. I think anytime you get fresh blood into an entity, like a board of education or county commission, especially in times like these where we kind of need a fresh perspective, I think it's always a positive to get that and try new ways to accomplish our mutual goals. Next week, we will continue our effort to get to know our newly elected officials by having on with us, Denise ad COC and Keyshia sandage, two more new members of the Board of Education. And I'm looking forward to my conversations with him as well Keyshia sandage. Very interesting. Her getting elected. I think this is definitely a positive she is African American. And it gives a fresh perspective that I was just talking about from a diverse standpoint. So I'm anxious to talk to her about that. And let her talk about her motives and why she even ran for the school board in the first place. But that conversation will have to wait till next week. And until then you have been listening to up front with Canberra, smash magazine. It is hosted and produced by yours truly Jason Huddle and is a presentation of cavco Media Group. It is also sponsored by Atlanta pay mortgage group canberras Eye Center, Concord downtown Development Corporation, Geico, Concord Mills office level up Realty, new hope Worship Center and welcome Barris please remember to support those that support us. Until next week. Better get on that holiday shopping list.
Episode 83: Meet Your Newly Elected Officials (Pt.1)