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NEWS - Carolina Weekly Newspapers

NEWS - Carolina Weekly Newspapers

NEWS - Carolina Weekly

Vol. 7, No. 37The invasion of the fire ants? — See story, Page 3THE HERALDLOCAL NEWS FOR HUNTERSVILLE, CORNELIUS AND POINTS NEARBYSeptember 12, 2008 Worth at least 50¢Jeter likes heat,so he created hisvery own kitchenWhen he was just a wee tyke, Charlie Jeter went to apolitical dinner at the White House and thought it waspretty neat.Next week, the fence-riding Huntersville town boardmember will spend some time in a political kitchen largelyof his own making. Truth is, Jeter thinks that’s prettyneat, too.Jeter is the swing vote on the biggest decision the townboard here has made in years:building or not building the $18million Town Center/DiscoveryPlace Kids museum project inthe old downtown area. Becausehe is torn about the issue, andbecause he yearns to reallyrepresent his constituents, Jeterhas taken the unusual step ofTuckerMitchellscheduling a one-man, “townhall-style” meeting to discuss theissue. Citizens, and anyone whoisn’t one of Jeter’s commissioncolleagues, are invited to attend the Sept. 18 gabfest thatfigures to be the most unique political event of the year.Jeter deliberately uninvited his fellow commissioners, becauseif any two of them showed up alongside him it wouldconstitute a quorum and would turn an informal “EveningWith Charlie” into another official meeting.“And I don’t want that,” Jeter said this week, “because Ithink too often at our regular meetings we kind of talk tothe audience, and don’t talk with them. This is really supposedto be a chance for me to listen.”Given Jeter’s joy of jawing — during the interview forthis column, the first question produced a 12-minute answer— that will be a challenge. But Jeter says he’s up forit, which he may mean literally. The event is scheduled tostart at 6 p.m. Jeter says he’ll stay ’til midnight “if that’swhat people want.” That’s probably not what they want,but when venturing into the unknown, one never knowsfor sure. What is known is that Jeter’s been heading for amoment like this for a long time.Man in the middleCharlie Jeter’s father (also named Charlie, like Jeter’sown son) is an engineer and a well-known South Carolinapolitico who worked for years in state government andlater earned an appointment to the EnvironmentalProtection Agency during the Reagan administration.Legendary political figures such as Sen. Strom Thurmondand Gov. Carroll Campbell were considered family friends.Politics was standard discussion fare. It should come as nosurprise that the local Charlie Jeter says he “was bittenby the political bug at an early age.”A lot of people in politics say that, but it’s easy to spot theones who really are. They’re the ones, like Jeter, whoSee Mitchell/page 18A house dividedThere are a few places where Huntersvillemay seem a bit behind the times,but none more so than in the time-wornpages of its antiquated town charter.Huntersville was incorporated in1873 and the original town charter wascrafted in 1885. That’s the only officialcharter Huntersville has ever had, and,save for a few amendments, it’s the onethe town has now. Legally, the fact thatthe old charter limits the town’s limitsto less than one square mile or gives themayor the authority to arrest people reallydoesn’t matter. Other laws have longsince overridden or rendered moot theold charter’s stricture.But a charter does spell outsome important town policy,and Huntersville town commissionerBrian Sisson thinksit’s high time the charter wasdragged in the 21st century.At the very least, he’d like tosee it advance to the 20th.To that end, he’s drafteda municipal charter thatcould go into effect in 2011,and bring with it some signif-icantchanges for the town.While much of what Sisson’sproposed charter does is simply reiterateexisting town policies and responsibilities,he didn’t shy away frommaking a few changes on the politicalIntimidating. Confrontational. Rigid. Abully.Not the most flattering terms to usewhen describing anyone, let alone theprincipal of a local elementary schoolwho just last month welcomed about 725students to his school.But those are thewords on the lips ofmore than a few teachers,staff members andparents when describingtheir experienceswith Barry Burfordsince he arrived atCornelius Elementaryin August 2005. Theysay his demeanor toward some staff isabrupt and dismissive; toward parents,Sisson pushing update to town charterRewrite of 19th centurydocument would addpartisan elections, endmayoral arrests.BY HEATHER SOMERVILLESee Charter/page 10Conflict over the behaviorof principal Barry Burfordhas caused an uproarat Cornelius Elementary.BY LORI HELMSBurfordSee Cornelius/page 12COURTESY TOWN OF HUNTERSVILLEThe Town of Huntersville seal.

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