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Cabarrus Magazine

'Up Front' Podcast Gets Answers on Lowder's Resignation; Recent Parent and Teacher Conduct

Mar 05, 2021 09:55AM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode 93: As the School Board Turns

If you've watched any of the Cabarrus County Board of Education meetings lately, you know they've been, well...interesting to watch. Between debating the safety protocols of returning students to schools, parent/teacher conflicts and, now, the sudden resignation of Superintendent Lowder, we had much to discuss with Board Chairwoman, Holly Grimsley. This week, we talk about all those things, plus we look at what is and is not acceptable for teachers to post online. Get your popcorn ready! This is gonna be good!


Holly Grimsley  00:00

I heard a statement I'm not sure who said this, but it just fits so well. You know, at the end of the day, if that child that leaves that classroom knows your party affiliation or how you believe in, you know, religious areas or wherever that is, you really aren’t doing your job. Your job is to teach curriculum.

 

Jason Huddle  00:17

Tensions have been high lately at cabarrus County Board of Education meetings, and even higher between teachers and parents. Today, we sit down with Board of Education Chairwoman Holly Grimsley, as we talk about these tensions, and what can be done. And she has a stark reminder for everyone involved.

 

Holly Grimsley  00:33

It is an emotional time you You said that it is it's a very volatile time. Everybody's emotions are running high. They're doing things they wouldn't ordinarily do before. You know, they're saying things they ordinarily wouldn't say. But we've all got to be very careful. You know, it's the thing that once you put it out there, you normally can't pull it back. We'll

 

Jason Huddle  00:51

also discuss the unexpected announcement of Superintendent louder his resignation this week, was how much freedom do teachers actually have to discuss parents and students online. That's all coming up right now. On up front with cabarrus magazine, presentation of Capco Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay mortgage group, Concord downtown Development Corporation, Geico, Concord Mills office, level up Realty, and new hope Worship Center. I'm your host, Jason Huddle. Hello, my friends and welcome to another edition of upfront with cabarrus magazine. We are closing out February with a little school board update today. Holly Grimsley, who chairs the cabarrus County Board of Education is going to be our guest. And we have much to discuss, if you've been watching the school board meetings online, which if you haven't, I encourage you to do that, just from a sense of community involvement, but also, quite frankly, they're quite entertaining sometimes. And, and interesting. And so I encourage you to do that. But if you have been watching, you know, they've been filled with a lot of tension, and, frankly, a little animosity. Plus this week, Superintendent louder, announced his resignation very, very suddenly. So we're going to talk to Holly about that as well as another situation that has arisen between a parent and several cabarrus County educators regarding some online behavior. We're going to get into all that right after shameless plug time. Did you know there's a place online to continue the discussions we start here on this program? It's called the upfront with Coronavirus magazine Facebook group page. Yes, I know it's a mouthful, but it is well worth it. Because if you join the Facebook group page, you'll not only get advanced access to episodes when they are available, you will also get the chance to continue conversations or start conversations on topics that we bring up here on this program. It's a great way for you to converse with other people in the community. And I encourage you please join the upfront with cabarrus magazine Facebook group page for all the latest on what's coming up on the show, as well as what's going on in the community. And don't forget, if you ever miss an episode of upfront, you can always jump on cabarrus magazine.com click on the up front with canberras magazine podcast page and listen to every episode all 93 of them that we've ever recorded. And that's today's shameless plug time. Alright kids stick around we will be back with Holly Grimsley from the cabarrus County Board of Education next, Atlantic Bay mortgage group wants you to remember three letters when you're buying a home to take away the guesswork by knowing how much you qualify for and what information will need to provide be beat the sellers expectations by closing in under 29 days on average and deed deliver the next best thing to a cash offer giving you the advantage over other potential buyers with our TBD process closing it's faster and easier than ever before call Matt dinner here at 704 to 019603 to experience the Atlantic Bay mortgage group difference today. availability of

 

Jason Huddle  04:03

credit welcome back to the program. Want to welcome back returning guests and chairwoman of the cabarrus County Board of Education. Holly Grimsley, how are you doing today?

 

Holly Grimsley  04:40

Good morning, Jason. I am good. How about you?

 

Jason Huddle  04:43

I'm doing well doing well. I wanted to pull you on today. And first of all, I appreciate you coming on the program. Thank you so much. But I wanted I wanted to pull you on the program because there's been a lot of let's just say people are popping popcorn to watch The school board meetings lately. And so I wanted to have you on to give you a chance to kind of talk through what are some of the things that the school board has been doing. I also want to touch on the fact that kindergarten through third grade students are back at school now. And so I want to talk about how that's going. And then, of course, the news that dropped this week that Dr. Louder is no longer going to be part of cabarrus County Schools. He's resigning as superintendent effective, I believe, April 1, and with the intent to retire is what I've heard. So I know that you can't really discuss personnel issues, but I'm going to ask about them anyway. How about that?

 

Holly Grimsley  05:43

Well, I assumed you probably would, and that's fine. You just made the statement. Of course, I can't really discuss personnel issues, and no one would want that no matter which position they're in. And really, basically, because details haven't been worked out or resolved. And that is exactly what took place. I know the verbiage is being questioned out there, you know, by many, but you know, our letter stated it was his resignation, with the purpose of retirement. That's a personal decision for him, you know, we don't really get to say, and it's not effective until April 1. So I guess technically, if he chose to, you know, he could ultimately change his mind of why he resigned. But ultimately, the the verbiage should be that he did submit a resignation. All right, with the purpose of retirement. He did that. So I guess I need to follow that up.

 

Jason Huddle  06:37

Okay. All right. So that's fair enough, I realized that's pretty much all you can say on that. But I have.

 

Holly Grimsley  06:45

Jason, real quick to that April, the first day. Also, you know, he was willing to allow that timeframe to work with the Deputy Superintendent Brian salts that will assume his duties during that timeframe to make a smoother transition. So you know, we appreciate Dr. ladders, you know, willingness to do that, and to make that more workable for Brian stepping in. So, you know, that timing there may have been for that purpose as well. But you know, as far as we're concerned, you know, he did submit a resignation with purpose retirement, it will be effective April 1, and that will give him a transition time with Brian. And we really appreciate that.

 

Jason Huddle  07:25

So I have to note that the tension between Dr. louder and the board during the meetings is pretty blatantly obvious. Do you think that is part of the reason why he is just stepping back?

 

Holly Grimsley  07:41

Well, you know, and I'm, I guess, literally Dr. Louder would have to answer that, you know, himself, and I don't really want to speak, you know, for him, especially, you know, I think, when a superintendent and the Board of Education, and there's always going to be areas where we don't always see things out of our, or we're not traveling down the same pathway. And it's not that you know, that that's not going to happen. And sometimes that's even a better way to get things resolved. Because all people see things differently, and how you get to the end game. But maybe, I don't know, you know, we we that is our intent, and has been and has been very plainly stated to get kids back in school. Now, we're at a parish where the governor has said, and you know, many other agencies get kids back in school, we need a plan to get kids back in school, because, you know, we feel like we're just a little bit behind the eight ball, when we've kind of moved at a slower pace to get kids back in where other districts and surrounding counties have, you know, done that just a little more effectively. So we feel like we're at, you know, just a little bit of a disadvantage here. You know, we've put k three back in Plan A, but only that was only effective February, the 16th, we will not add fourth and fifth until March the 15th. And you know, that that made good sense. And we were more than willing to work with those dates, you know, to allow staff and transitions and you know, the things that needed to take place. But now here, we've got the governor and others saying now you've got to get them all back, you know, and and we need to be at a push to make that happen.

 

Jason Huddle  09:16

Okay, so let me break this down. First of all, let me ask you this. I realize we're only a couple weeks in, since K through three went back to plan a but how is that going?

 

Holly Grimsley  09:27

It's gone? Well, you know, we will get our first real report this coming Monday night at the work session. But you know, preliminaries sound like it's doing well. The numbers are good. Social distancing was not a problem for that age group. You know, that information gets a little skewed out there. Transportation seems to be doing well. You know, so far what we're hearing is no problems and that came straight from him.

 

Jason Huddle  09:51

So I know with the the remainder of the elementary students coming back in March, I remember the last time we spoke you said the problem with that what As the social distancing, because the ratios of classes are larger in the the higher grades you go, so that was the disk. That was the difficulty. How have we overcome the social distance? Well, question,

 

Holly Grimsley  10:14

or are we we didn't? We didn't know for sure. We said it could be, it possibly could be his last report to us. And January was there was really only one class that might have some issues. And we do not know that yet, because we haven't gotten there yet.

 

Jason Huddle  10:33

When you say his report, who are you talking about?

 

Holly Grimsley  10:35

Dr. louder? I'm so sorry. Yeah, so that, you know, we haven't brought them back yet. So there's no way to really prove that that is really going to be a problem. So when until they the kids actually show up and are in that classroom. And that count takes place, because people make different decisions at the last minute they put the kids in, they take the kids out, you know, they decide to send them they decide not to so until you actually have them there. You know, it's kind of hard to say that's why, you know, the board doesn't want to hear we have a problem. And that get out to the community. Because we don't know that yet. You know, if we were all going back, and that's what we're trying to get to right now. But we don't know what all going back really means because we haven't gotten there yet. So to say it is a problem is probably not truly accurate. Could it be a problem? That's more definitive.

 

Jason Huddle  11:26

Okay. All right. That's completely fair. As we get back to all the kids coming back, will children whose either are preferring to stay all virtual, or their parents don't feel safe, and they want their kids to stay all virtual? Do they still have that option?

 

Holly Grimsley  11:45

Oh, absolutely. And that's, that's a mandate, you know it absolutely. And that's what we try to, and I'm not so sure if that message is being said loud enough. And maybe that's what we really do need to get out there a little more clearly, is that that is always going to be an option, that is always going to be an option. Because we have to do that. And and that's why we want parents to feel you know, if you just don't believe that it's a good thing to send your children back right now. You know, in the next couple of months, you know, just whatever that is for your family situation. It's okay, because that option is always going to be there.

 

Jason Huddle  12:19

Okay. All right. Good to know, we're going to cut to break in just a moment. But before I get there, I want to kind of segue into where we're going in the next segment. And that is when it comes to teachers teaching versus telling. Holly, I want to ask you a question. Because there have been a lot of stories surfacing lately, especially on social media, where teachers have basically gone on diatribes about their personal beliefs. And it seems that they're trying to I don't want to use the word indoctrinate, but I just don't have a better word. But they're trying to bring those kids over to their way of thinking. So my question to you is, where does the line of educating children, which is their mandate, and trying to indoctrinate them into their way of thinking, where's that line drawn? Because it seems to be happening more and more.

 

Holly Grimsley  13:17

Right. So, you know, simply put this, there is a line, you know, it's called the curriculum. And that is, that is what guides a teacher and what is taught in that classroom. And that's where it should stay. You know, there's issues coming about with some curriculum that's getting ready to come down. But prior to even that conversation, you know, that's an easy answer, you know, there is a curriculum, that's where it should stay, you know, teachers are supposed to be teaching English and math and science and, you know, the various, but if someone is stating their personal party affiliation, beliefs, you know, whatever that, you know, there's a lot of subjects that are being discussed right now. That is crossing the line, you know, parents, that's their job. That's their job. You know, that's not our job. If you heard a statement, I'm not even sure who said this, but it just fits so well. You know, at the end of the day, if that child that lays that classroom knows your party affiliation, or how you believe in, you know, religious areas, or wherever that is, you really aren't doing your job. You know, your job is to teach curriculum, it's not to teach your personal beliefs. And as a parent, I think we all can agree that we want our job to do any bet extra stuff at home. And that's really where it should stay

 

Jason Huddle  14:33

true. Unfortunately, the comments that I've read from some educators, has been that they don't believe that the parents are smart enough to do that. And so they have taken up that mantle on themselves.

 

Holly Grimsley  14:46

Now, that's not our job. Now our job is not to judge, parents ability skill set, you know that that's not our job, our job, our job, the teacher's job, and and I think the majority of teachers know this, and they do Babb. what's right, is that they are there to teach the curriculum, the North Carolina curriculum, those students in whatever class that is. And that's really where it should stay. And you really take a chance on a lot of different levels of tethering over into anything political, religious, because that's, that is just not our job, it really is not. And it's not their job to decide if that parent has the skill set or the ability to do anything on a personal level. You know, that's, that's not our place. You mentioned curriculum, and we really don't have time to get into it now. But

 

Jason Huddle  15:32

in reading some of the materials that my children have brought home, it's kind of obvious where the political leaning lies in the curriculum itself, which is a whole nother discussion that we don't have time for, but we can talk about that another

 

Holly Grimsley  15:47

time. That is for sure. I'm sure, Ma, you know, that's a subject that's being looked at and challenged now at different levels, as well. So that will be probably a different conversation for a different day. But for right now, you know, with math and English, you know, in science, those are easy to say, Hey, you know, that's where and actually not. And I know, there's some questions out there with math, I'm sure my emails gonna blow up with that one. But, you know, normally, you know, the guidelines are your teaching curriculum, it should stay there, let's let's lay the curriculum piece of it all for just a minute. But the personal, the politics, the religious, you know, teachers just have to be really careful that they're not overstepping their bounds of their own, their own political, you know, beliefs or positions. That's, that's just not what they're there to teach. Alright, so

 

Jason Huddle  16:31

what we're gonna do is I'm going to cut to a short break. And when we come back, I want to talk about a certain situation that has arisen within the school system, where some teachers have gone online and been venting a little bit. And we're gonna kind of go through that and talk about what policy dictates and what teachers are allowed to do online. So we'll be back right after these messages with Holly Grimsley from the cabarrus County Board of Education. Stay tuned.

 

17:01

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Jason Huddle  18:11

welcome back to the program sitting here with chairwoman of the cabarrus County Board of Education, Holly Grimsley, and she has been talking to us a little bit about how the K through three Plan A is going just a couple weeks in, and we have the upper elementary and middle middle schoolers coming up next. And pretty soon all the kids will be back in school. But I want to talk a little bit about a different subject. Let me shift gears for a little bit. And I realized that tensions have been high, whether you're a parent, a student or a teacher, the beliefs are all over the map about whether or not the kids should be in school, you know, how much they should be there, if at all that these kind of things? They differ. And it's it's not a parent versus teacher kind of thing. I mean, there's teachers that think that we should stay virtual, and also teachers that want to get back in the classroom. Same thing with parents. Right. Right. So I realized that I'm prefacing this whole segment by saying that that I realized tensions are high. And frankly, some of us have been kind of cooped up for a year and we're sick of it. And that's just made everybody more emotional. But let me get to something that's been boiling a little bit with the school board at school board meetings. And that is the case of one Kenny workman. He is a cabarrus County parent. His story is I'm not speaking for him. I'm just saying what his story is. His story is that his child's picture was posted by teachers and a private, closed, private group on Facebook. And there were some disparaging words that were commented regarding the picture. Now, he has filed 1900 grievances now say what you want about the guy. That's some dedication right there because you have to fill out 1900 grievances against different teachers, against Dr. Louder within the school system. So Holly, I realized that you probably I'm not sure how much you can really comment about this specific case. The reason why I wanted to bring you on is because the information I have received, says that the school system basically replied to Mr. wartman, by saying, since this was in a closed group, and not just out there for the whole world to see that these teachers are beyond punishment, is that accurate?

 

Holly Grimsley  20:49

Well, and you know, it, it is, again, going to be classified as a personnel issue. That would be hard. Let me let me speak to white board policy says, Yeah,

 

Jason Huddle  20:59

let's talk about policy, because that's not personnel. That's policy.

 

Holly Grimsley  21:02

Right? So policy 7335 is a policy that it can it speaks to conduct, you know, what kind of takes place, and I won't go into all of it, you know, most people can pull it up and read it for themselves. So it's the interpretation, that, I guess is that question of what happens when teachers are on school time versus their own time. There's also a code of ethics that everybody has signs, you know, when they are employed back bears, County Schools. So it's going to be about interpretation. A lot of this, you know, when you say it was placed on their personal page pages, I think a lot of what will come out is, you know, just because you put it on your personal page, doesn't mean it doesn't get shared. To be clear. I

 

Jason Huddle  21:51

didn't say personal page, I said, the closed group. So it was within a closed group page for teachers.

 

Holly Grimsley  21:59

And I don't really know, you know, I don't we're not a part of those, you know, so I don't really know. So you're telling me something? I haven't really know. I mean, I've heard a lot of how it got done, or what happened, and it's everybody's opinion, we're not a part of those. So we don't really see it for ourselves. But it's just gonna be the question basically, is, was more policy violated? Whose interpretation of that standard, even if it's a questionable, you know, their time, their off time? You know, when you're off? Do you really represent the school system? What did what did you do? Was it you know, did it violate your policy? Or was this just not acceptable?

 

Jason Huddle  22:35

Well, let me stop you there. Because there's some things in the policy and I'm reading directly from the policy, there's some things that don't seem to be open to interpretation, from my opinion, okay. Things like current employee shall be professional in all internet postings related to or referencing the school system, students and their employees. That's pretty straightforward. That doesn't mean when you're on school time,

 

Holly Grimsley  23:00

that says I'm here.

 

Jason Huddle  23:02

Right? Right. Listen to this, employees shall not post identifiable intimate images of a student or student's family without permission from the student and the student's parent or legal guardian. That's pretty straightforward. Right? employees shall not use internet postings to libel or defame the board, individual board members, students or other school employees. That's not open to interpretation. That's pretty straightforward. So the headings, and there's more I can, I can keep going. So there are certain things that don't seem to be any kind of gray area. And yet here we are saying, well, it was in a closed group. And I mean, to me, that's a little bit like saying, if a group of kids are on one side of the playground talking about another kid, and that kid can't hear it, then it's not bullying, which isn't true. I don't think anybody would agree with that. But I think it's the same kind of thing. Should we be looking at ways to more closely monitor what is being said, by school system employees, about students and parents online?

 

Holly Grimsley  24:16

Right. So you're right, those those line items definitely are very clear what the board's expectations are. Go that will be what is great, because you know, that the other side that we're hearing that's going to be stated is their federal rolls and rent, you know, guidelines that say, you know, you have to hear the freedom of speech, you have to you know, that sometimes it

 

Jason Huddle  24:42

doesn't apply to hate. And you can argue that some of these, these comments are, hey, I'm

 

Holly Grimsley  24:46

just telling you what is being said, but just and you know, I'll be honest with you, and this is going to be my personal opinion, and I you know, I feel very comfortable speaking for the board, we would always, always hope that Teachers, IT staff, whomever, you know, are out there making posts in any regard, especially when it comes to students and kids, that they are doing things that would not be, you know, as you said, disparaging to those, those kids, I mean, we just would hope they would make good choices of putting stuff out there, that number one would be just not good for kids to see that that kind of conduct has been, you know, that's taken place by teachers, or people that they're, they're supposed to be looking up to, you know, this is the people that teach them everyday that's in the classroom with them. You know, we would just hope that they, number one are not violating board policy, because that's what's what it's really all about. And then, you know, other people will get involved argue, is more policy allowed to say that, you know, so yes, we can make a board policy, but is it is it? Is it allowable, you know, are we, you know, overstepping? Or is it just because it's our policy, is there something another rule or regulation or, you know, federal guideline that says, you know, that that can be looked at differently, that will be some of the argument. But take all that out of it, you know, it is an emotional time, you, you said that it is it's a very volatile time, everybody's emotions are running high, they're doing things I wouldn't ordinarily do before, you know, they're saying things they ordinarily wouldn't say, but we've all got to be very careful, you know, it's the thing that once you put it out there, you know, I can't pull it back,

 

Jason Huddle  26:24

and put it back in the bottle.

 

Holly Grimsley  26:26

No, you cannot and, and, you know, and let's all of us adults, can take that kind of stuff, you know, especially the elected officials, the Board of Education, and, you know, we're we're used to having the, you know, the stuff that goes and surrounds those type of situations, but when you put kids in it, you know, that takes it to a different level, everybody's going to check in just a little bit differently, oh, man, you know, if it's your child, you're you're not going to be happy that your child's picture has been placed out there some way or with some possibly, you know, terrible verbiage that associated with it, no matter whether it's a board policy or not, you know, there's just there, you've got the the community checking in now of what's right, and what's wrong, whether it's violating more policy or not. So that's, you know, that's what's going on with that situation. But, you know, we, when it comes to a personnel issue, you know, they're getting upset that we're not responding, but literally, because it is a personnel issue, you know, we cannot, you know, that's that will come as a grievance, we'll have to hear it, you have the processes will have to take place, the superintendent, you know, had to be a part of that conversation as well. So, you know, it's a process, of course, now, that has to take place, but you've still got all of the community, or, you know, the majority of the ones that you listed, upset about wanting an immediate reaction. And it puts everybody just in a in, it's, like I said, before everybody goes to their corners, you know, it's really hard to pull people together and say, Hey, you know, this was, this is not acceptable, you know, or it's okay, that you do that, because you're allowed to do X. But there just comes a time when we all have got to start really making good decisions about how we address kids. I mean, it's, that's, that just steps it up.

 

Jason Huddle  28:07

I agree. And I think that we could all agree that teachers, especially in this time, need to, as you said, conduct themselves accordingly, and conduct themselves professionally, parents as well. It's not just on the teachers, it's on the parents, right.

 

Holly Grimsley  28:23

That's, that's well said, you know, when we were talking earlier, you know, when you were discussing the, you know, all the stuff that's going on with the meetings, and, you know, when you pull in the parking lot, you know, it's it's so disappointing to me to see, you know, picket lines on both sides, you know, there's so much stuff going on, you know, I was on the board from 2004, through 2012, board chair for three years and Vice Chair for a year. So, you know, I've absorbed a lot of time in this position, you know, even though I've only been back for two years this time. But, you know, I've always held true to if we work together, you know, if we all pull together, and we're not going down separate pathways, no matter where we are, you know, in those positions, we can make these things work, you know, we we get it, that teachers were put in a bad place, you know, with with stuff that was going on. And, you know, we were pushing for them to get vaccinations, you know, we've done as much as we can, on our end, that's just not a decision we could be part of, or make it be made differently at the state level, you know, the Health Alliance was pushing, you know, we got it that there were things going on, that put them in a place to make a decision about family situations. They were, you know, involved in and exposures and we did from the Board of Education point of view, we just knew that if we could all have had a better conversation to say, you know, let's discuss this before this, you know, really gets to the level that it did. I just don't think we ever got there. You know, as much as there are a lot of things that we can work with, but there are some things we have no control over. I don't think the teachers understood a lot of I think communication was not as good as it should have been. And I'm just always one that says, you know, we all have to pull through together with this, we really do. I mean, we've got to get kids back in school. That's so important. I mean, there's going to be some reports that it's going to come to us at the March meeting, there, it's going to be very, you know, it's, it's sad to me to see some of those numbers, but it's going to be very eye opening of what's going on while kids have been at home and not in school. You know, it's just, it's no matter no matter which way we go, nobody's gonna be happy with our decisions, you know, we're nobody's gonna be completely happy and we just have to make the best decision that we have. And ours number one is for always going to be what's the welfare and best for the children. But we know what our teachers are important to us. We have never wanted them to get the message that they were not important or that we we've had numerous conversations about how we keep them safe, you know, what the Health Alliance at our last meeting stated that, you know, careers County Schools is doing a phenomenal job, you know, we are doing exactly what it takes to make it the safest place, you know, that people can be you their interpretation of what that looks like or that you know, is is completely accurate is something that you know, they just have to make a personal decision themselves.

 

Jason Huddle  31:13

And I will let that be the last word Holly Grimsley, with the cabarrus County Board of Education. Thank you so much for joining us today. And give us an update on on how it's going and looking towards the future. Hopefully getting these kids back safely inside the school walls.

 

Holly Grimsley  31:28

It was my pleasure, Jason anytime.

 

Jason Huddle  31:31

All right, you guys. Stay tuned. We'll be back to close out the program in just a moment.

 

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Jason Huddle  32:18

Welcome back as we close out the program, and I don't have a lot of time. But I do just want to reiterate that we all need to be conscious of what we are putting out there online. It's really easy to be brave behind a keyboard and a computer. But it's a lot different when you see the other side and the ramifications of what you're posting. I don't care how justified you think you are. We're all humans, and we all deserve to be treated with a certain level of kindness. And I mean that no matter what occupation or position you hold, and that is what I was trying to bring to light in this episode. But as I said, I'm short on time. So I just want to thank you for listening. Tune in next week for another great episode of upfront with cabarrus magazine. were presented by KEPCO Media Group and sponsored by Atlanta Bay mortgage group, Concord downtown Development Corporation. Geico Concord Mills office level up Realty and new hope Worship Center. It is produced and hosted by yours truly Jason Huddle. Until next week, show a little kindness y'all

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