by Jordan Green


Tensions in Triadland

Winston-Salem city council members were feeling a little frosty towards their more populous neighbor to the east on Monday night. The rivalry between Winston- Salem and Greensboro surfaced twice during the full council meeting.

W. Mark Moore III, the council’s appointee to the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, repeated referred to the airport as “Greensboro.”

“Greensboro,” Northwest Ward Councilwoman Wanda Merschel huffed. “It is PTI.

Can you be our advocate so that when those planes land, it is not ‘Greensboro’; it is ‘PTI’? When my family flies in to visit from California, they’re always asking: ‘Why can’t we find a direct flight to Winston-Salem?’ If you could make us top of mind when it comes to marketing an airport we’re all very proud of, that would be very much appreciated.”

Moore, a pilot, said it takes “millions and millions of dollars” and an act of Congress to change the geographical designation of an international airport.

Former Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight had the bad fortune to follow Moore’s presentation a couple items down the agenda. Knight, a Coast Guard Reserve veteran and board member, was at the meeting to answer any questions from council about a $95,000 request to support the Carolina Field of Honor, a memorial to veterans at Triad Park on the Guilford-Forsyth county line.

Merschel and other council member said they were concerned that the nonprofit offered a seat to a Winston-Salem veteran when the city was approached to financially support the project. Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke, who represents the Northeast Ward, asked Knight if his commitment to represent Winston-Salem was in writing.

Knight responded that the commitment was memorialized in an e-mail. “I am the former mayor of Greensboro,” he said. “Hopefully, that carries some credibility.”

The council ended up voting 7-1 to make the contribution, with Merschel in dissent. The councilwoman said she could not support the request the request because many aging veterans would likely experience difficulty making the trip to Triad Park, which is east of Kernersville.

City Manager Lee Garrity said approval for appropriations to non-profit agencies in the middle of the budget cycle is unusual, but city policy makes an exception when the request comes from an elected official.

In other news, the council voted unanimously to approve $2.3 million in incentives over a seven-year period to global nutrition company Herbalife to up-fit the old Dell building as a manufacturing and distribution facility, adding almost 500 jobs. Deputy City Manager Derwick Paige said the facility is expected to generate $2.9 million in new tax revenue, so that the city’s investment pays for itself. Much of the funding comes from incentives money recovered from Dell, after the computer maker shut down.