Opinion

Our Town

“Kernersville’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18”
Early summer is the season of weddings, graduations, and, for local governments, adopting the town budget for the upcoming fiscal year. While the aspirations for the community are reflected in the budget, it is also a practical roadmap of the town’s operations and the services that will be available to citizens.
The draft budget for July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 is available for citizen review on the Town of Kernersville website, www.toknc.com, at the Paddison Memorial Library and at town hall in the town clerk’s office. The budget of the Town of Kernersville is a balanced budget, and as required by state law, is adopted by June 30th of each year.
The Board of Aldermen will have a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, June 6th at 7 p.m. at Kernersville’s Municipal Building, 134 East Mountain Street. The meeting will include a presentation on the budget, and an opportunity for citizen comments.
In Kernersville, the Board of Aldermen sets policy, and the town manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the town and the implementation of that policy. The budget document under consideration is one of the important ways of implementing policy. As an example of policy, consider our town’s public safety goals. In Kernersville, we want police officers or firefighters to be on the scene, on average, within 4 minutes of the time that the 911 call is received. To accomplish this goal, the department must have enough staff and vehicles, and the proper equipment to quickly respond to the emergency. So to implement this policy, there must be funds budgeted for the personnel and equipment to achieve this important goal.
To advance our public safety goals, the town manager’s recommended budget includes funding to improve reliability of equipment. In the police department, the budget calls for replacing eight police vehicles, used by patrol officers and detectives. The average age of these vehicles between 8 and 9 years old, the average mileage is 110,000, and reliability and future repair costs are a concern. In the fire department, the budget calls for a replacement vehicle for a battalion chief, who serves as the director of operations at the scene of an active fire, as well as replacements for the AED units that are carried on fire engines for medical response. In addition, two thermal imaging cameras, which allow firefighters to detect the presence of fire between walls and in attics, are included in the proposed budget.
To help with winter weather response, the public services department uses a salt brine solution. The proposed budget includes a new salt brine mixer. The current mixer is more than ten years old and has become inefficient, taking 24 hours to mix the brine needed for Kernersville streets. The new mixer will prepare the same amount of brine in 8 hours. Also included in the proposed budget are three new salt brine spray systems. This new equipment should allow for Kernersville’s streets to be treated more quickly with brine in advance of winter weather.
A top priority of our town is to continue to maintain a strong financial reputation. The recommendations in the proposed budget further the goal of a strong financial foundation for Kernersville, maintaining a healthy fund balance, continuing our town’s ability to meet long-term obligations, and maintaining a low debt service ratio.
By staying involved and being informed, you can make your voice heard as to the priorities of our town. As always, the Kernersville Board of Aldermen welcomes citizen involvement towards the goal of keeping Kernersville a great place to live and work.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville, and writes a weekly column for the News.

Longworth at Large

“Can a Child Be President?”
My Dad was active in the Republican Party for most of his life, and counted Richard Nixon among his friends. When I was born in 1954, then Vice President Nixon sent Dad a hand written note, congratulating him on, “bringing another Republican into the world.” Ten years later Dad took me to meet Mr. Nixon. I told the famed politician that I had been his 1960 campaign manager at Moore elementary school, and that, thanks to me, he defeated JFK in our straw vote.
Nixon grinned, then placed his finger on my chin and said, “One day YOU’LL be President.” I never did become President. Nixon had lied. No big shock there.
Twenty-three years later, though, he made a similar promise to a young entrepreneur named Donald Trump. In that instance, Nixon’s prediction came true. I’m not bitter that Trump made it to the White House instead of me, but I am a bit confused about why.
As a politically astute ten year old, I knew that I was not qualified to be President because I was just a child. I was also pretty sure that you had to be an adult to get elected President. Yet Trump ended up in the White House by acting like a child, and now he’s governing in the same way. His behavior must send a confusing message to today’s children, many of who get punished for name calling, acting out, or for being rude, petulant and nasty. But it’s not just kids. A lot of adults are also confused by how a grown man can act and speak childishly, yet still be rewarded with the most powerful job in the world.
Last month Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist for the New York Times suggested that, based on his behavior, President Trump could be removed from office under the 25th Amendment, which elevates the Vice President if the President is “incapacitated.” The columnist bases his opinion on a broad interpretation of the Amendment, by including mental or emotional incapacitation as a justification for removal. The fact is, talk of Trump’s instability has been escalating lately, and with good reason.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump displayed narcissistic and childish behavior that was unprecedented in American Presidential politics. He mocked a disabled reporter. He suggested that a female debate moderator was mean to him because she was on her menstrual cycle. He called United States Senators childish names like “Lying Ted” and “Little Marco”, and referred to his opponent, a former Secretary of State, as “Crooked Hillary.” And when Sen. Elizabeth Warren was critical of his policies, he called her “Pocahontas”, and still does. Since taking office his tweet storms have also been childish. He accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping him. He questioned the ability of a judge just for having an Hispanic last name. And he declared that the news media is the enemy of the people, giving political cover to men like Congressman Greg Gianforte who recently body slammed a reporter for asking a question about the healthcare bill.
In addition to displaying childish anger, Trump also has a child’s level of understanding for nearly every facet of government. And, just like the little boy bursting to tell a secret, Trump has, on at least two occasions, spilled classified information to our adversaries, first by revealing Middle East intel to the Russians, and more recently telling Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte where our nuclear subs were located.
President Trump also has trouble telling the truth. Last month he told a reporter that Trump University had an “A” rating from the BBB, when in fact it had a “D” rating. Those kinds of statements go hand in hand with another childish trait. Little boys love to brag, and Trump is no exception. He talks about having the smartest Cabinet ever, the best people on staff, and the biggest crowd in the history of inaugurations. He also once said, “I know more about ISIS than the Generals.”
Beyond bragging, his unscripted remarks in general demonstrate definable immaturity. A recent report from the healthcare website STAT, revealed that Trump’s language and cognitive abilities are at 3rd and 4th grade levels. The report also looked at data from the Flesch-Kincaid grade level test which documented Trump’s frequent use of derogatory words, like “Idiots” and “losers”. His ability to read scripted texts aloud is also child-like. Just watch when he tries to read from notes or a prompter, and he struggles to properly speak or emphasize even the simplest words. Trump also lacks an ability to memorize and assimilate basic facts. For example, every time he emerges from a private meeting into a photo op session, he has to rely on note cards when summarizing what he just heard only moments before.
It is important to note that the STAT study observed a sharp decline in Trump’s cognition over the years, saying that in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, he “demonstrated
a more polished style of speech and extensive vocabulary.” Back then he also didn’t lash out with cruel insults at people he didn’t like, nor did he seem paranoid about everyone and everything. And that brings us back to whether our President is mentally, clinically, or emotionally incapacitated.
Last year I wrote a column about Narcissistic Personality Disorder as defined by the Mayo Clinic. According to that definition, Donald Trump displays every major symptom of NPD. Former FOX News chief Roger Ailes, a Trump supporter, told the National Review that Trump just needs to “grow up.” But that’s easier said than done, and may not be possible, especially if Trump’s capacities keep declining. Meanwhile, Congressman Ted Lieu has proposed legislation which would require a psychiatrist to be attached to the White House, and free to monitor the mental health of the President. It’s probably a good idea.
Clearly Donald Trump has a problem, and so do we. The man who currently occupies the Oval Office and who has control of our nuclear arsenal:
angers easily, is petulant and cruel, is insensitive, is detached from facts and reality, is paranoid, narcissistic, and has diminishing cognitive skills. In other words, he is a man-child whose only qualifications for being President are that he’s over the age of 35, and he’s an American citizen.
Richard Nixon could not have known back in 1987 that Donald Trump would turn out this way, but in 2016, 63 million voters knew and didn’t seem to care. Nixon can be forgiven for his oversight. The 63 million voters cannot.
Jim Longworth is host of “Triad Today” which airs Saturdays at 7:30am on abc45 (cable 7) and Sundays at 11am on MY48 (cable ch. 15) www.triadtoday.com.

Our Town

“Summer Fun in Kernersville”
With sunny, warm weather and the last few weeks of school in sight, it is a great time for children and families to make plans to get outside and enjoy the beginning of summer in Kernersville.
For splashing good fun, consider visiting the Kernersville Community Pool and Water Park, located at the Kernersville Family YMCA, at 1113 W. Mountain Street. The facility features an indoor pool, outdoor pool, and water park. The outdoor pools are opening for the summer swim season this weekend. Call the YMCA at 336-996-2231 for more information about the pool, including hours and admission prices, and visit kvparks.com for information about special summer events on Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
Another great outdoor activity in Kernersville is the Music at Twilight concert series, organized by the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce. Located in the courtyard outside town hall, the first concert of the season will be held this Thursday, May 25th from 6 pm to 8 pm. Music will be by The Junction Trio, and this month the concert is in honor of veterans. Admission is free.
A very popular family activity in Kernersville is the free Movie in the Park series. Having grown from just a few lawn chairs and blankets scattered around Harmon Park, the park is now filled with families and activity, including popular food trucks. The next Movie in the Park will be shown on Friday, June 16, and it is Sing.
Kernersville has several parks that are great places to walk, picnic, or enjoy a playground. To beat the heat, spend some time at Fourth of July Park. One of Kernersville’s most beloved parks, Fourth of July Park, is located at 702 West Mountain Street. In addition to walking trails, a playground, and picnic areas, the park features tennis courts, basketball, and a skate park. The Vivian F. Bennett Dog Park, located at Fourth of July Park, is very popular among Kernersville residents. With separate areas for large dogs and small dogs, it is a great place to let your dog run and get some exercise, and to play.
Other popular Kernersville parks with playgrounds are Harmon Park, located downtown, Civitan Park, at 309 Nelson Street, Kernersville Lake Park, located at 6408 Old Valley School Road, and the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Park, at 788 Beeson Road.
Triad Park is another fun place to visit. Located at 9625 East Mountain Street, this facility is a partnership with Forsyth County and Guilford County. Triad Park features walking trails, several playgrounds, athletic fields, and many picnic areas. It is a great place to take a walk or ride a bike.
For experienced bicyclists, the Town of Kernersville has a mountain bike park, located at 567 Smith Edwards Road. On land that originally was slated to be a landfill, volunteers with the Kernersville Cycling Club partnered with the Town of Kernersville to create a challenging mountain bike park.
For active recreation, there are many opportunities organized by Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department. Softball, self-defense and Zumba are some of the offerings. Photography, acrylic painting and Heartsaver CPR are also available. Complete information about upcoming sports leagues, special events and classes are available online at kvparks.com or in the printed Leisure Guide, available at town hall.
With many family-friendly activities and opportunities to learn something new, there are many ways to have fun in Kernersville this summer. So enjoy, and celebrate summer in our town.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville and writes a weekly column for the News.

Longworth at Large

“Let’s Make EVERYTHING Illegal”
Last week, a group of community leaders from Forsyth County came together for a roundtable session with State Attorney General Josh Stein to discuss the problem of opioid deaths. The meeting was triggered by the release of a report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which showed a rise in opioid deaths throughout much of the Piedmont, between the years 2005 and 2015. During that time, deaths resulting from opioid overdoses rose from 13 to 53 in Forsyth, and from 27 to 47 in Guilford.
Meanwhile, Governor Cooper announced he was, “committed to combating opioid abuse”, and that includes passing HB 243. Known as “The STOP Act”, the bill will put new restrictions on doctors who prescribe and dispense opioid drugs, and will also limit public supply. The North Carolina Hospital Association must believe HB 243 will pass, because it just recommended that all emergency departments start using non-opioids to treat pain.
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because when he was Attorney General, Roy Cooper waged war on decongestants, saying that criminals were extracting ingredients in Sudafed and using them in the manufacture of meth. Cooper’s grandstanding has resulted in innocent citizens being treated like terrorists every time we try to purchase meds for a sinus headache.
Just as with the war on decongestants, the war on opioids is an example of what I like to call cosmetic or deflection politics. It makes for good headlines and generates lots of goodwill, but it mainly serves to deflect public attention away from the fact that our elected officials aren’t doing much of anything to address more widespread problems. Childhood hunger, unchecked healthcare premiums, corporate pollution, and the flow of illegal drugs into our State, are all complex problems that are not easily solved, and sometimes never addressed. On the other hand, a war on legal pain killers can be superficially waged by quickly enacting a few laws and guidelines, so that the public believes something has been accomplished.
The sad truth is that restricting or prohibiting the use of legal pain killers will do nothing to prevent either access or abuse. The 18th Amendment should have taught us that. When alcohol was banned during Prohibition, the flow of spirits never abated, it just flowed under the radar at speakeasies and in back alleys. Likewise today, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and meth are all illegal, yet Americans are still using and abusing them in record numbers.
Is it tragic that some people die from abusing pain killers? Absolutely. Should we step up our efforts to educate the public about the dangers of such abuse? Absolutely. But you can’t legislate abuse any more than you can legislate morals. Passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not end racism, and passage of new restrictions on legal pain killers will not end opioid abuse. If we ignore that fact, then we might as well ban all products or substances which can cause death when misused. One example is caffeine.
Last week while Stein and Cooper were grandstanding, a 16 year old South Carolina boy died after drinking too much caffeine. In the course of two hours, the youth had consumed a large Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald’s, and an energy drink. The combination caused him to have a fatal heart attack. The incident was unfortunate, but the young man chose to drink large quantities of caffeine, and we are not our brother’s keeper. Still, I suppose Mr. Stein’s solution would be to make all soft drinks and coffee illegal.
Or how about legislation to address dangerous food? Each year, over 200 people die from food allergies each year. Perhaps, then, Mr. Cooper will put restrictions on the use of peanuts, milk, and shellfish.
And let’s not forget demon rum. According to the CDC, approximately 90,000 people die each year because of alcohol. Some of those deaths are from binge drinking, and some from liver damage. But many alcohol related deaths are the result of a drunk driving incident. If the Governor wants to wage war on something, why not start by making cars and whiskey illegal?
Or perhaps we should begin our Prohibition with handguns. According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, each year nearly 20,000 people commit suicide with a gun. That compares to 11,000 people who are killed by others with a gun. In other words, people take their own life with a gun more often than they get murdered with a gun. No problem, we’ll just make all guns illegal.
And how about passing a law to protect us from eating donuts? Each year over 75,000 people die from diabetes, and many more than that are killed by heart attack and stroke due to clogged arteries. Abusing donuts, therefore, can lead to an early death. So can using tobacco products. Each year over 200,000 people die from COPD alone, a disease caused by smoking. But alas, I haven’t heard any Forsyth County officials declare war on Winston cigarettes or Krispy Kreme donuts. I wonder why that is?
The fact is that selective prohibition is inconsistent, hypocritical, and rarely successful. The war on illegal drugs has failed, so why should we expect a different outcome from a war on legal drugs? Just make something hard to get, and watch how fast consumers will still manage to get it anyway. Again, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allocate funds for prevention, education, and treatment. It just means we have to stop kidding ourselves by waging politically cosmetic wars that only serve to punish innocent people who legitimately need or want the product that is being restricted. Otherwise, let’s just go ahead and make EVERYTHING illegal. I miss my donuts already.
Jim Longworth is host of “Triad Today” which airs Saturdays at 7:30am on abc45 (cable 7) and Sundays at 11am on MY48 (cable ch. 15) www.triadtoday.com.

Our Town

“Working Together for a Safer Community”
Throughout the year, the Kernersville Police Department works hard to improve safety in our town. This week, May 14th – May 21st, our town is recognizing Law Enforcement Officers Week, joining with communities across our state and nation in recognizing our law enforcement officers, past and present, and expressing appreciation for their efforts and dedication to keeping our community safe.
One of the ways our community fights crime is by citizens stepping up and reporting suspicious activity, and Kernersville residents are encouraged to call the police department if they notice anything of concern. Citizens are the eyes and ears of the police department and alert citizens can help prevent crime and keep our community safe.
Neighborhood watch programs are strong in Kernersville, and the Kernersville Police Department works with citizens who do not currently have a neighborhood watch program and would like to establish the program in their neighborhood. Officer Blake Jones, the crime prevention coordinator, works directly with citizens on these and other crime prevention efforts. Officer Jones can be reached at 336-996-2294.
This week, the Kernersville Police Department is offering “Coffee with a Cop”, a free event, on Wednesday, May 17th from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Wired Café, at 126 S. Main Street in downtown Kernersville. This is an informal opportunity to meet law enforcement in our community, ask questions, and learn more about the Kernersville Police Department.
Another event that allows citizens to learn more about law enforcement in our community is National Night Out, held in August of each year. In neighborhoods and at the Kernersville Police Department, citizens can talk with police officers, see the equipment that our police department deploys, and learn more about local efforts to combat crime.
Throughout the year, at community events like Spring Folly, Earth Day, and the Honeybee Festival, the police department reaches out to the community. Postings on the official Town of Kernersville Facebook page, including press releases about crimes and upcoming safety programs, encourages the community to connect with the police department.
Efforts to fight crime and enhance public safety include working cooperatively with other law enforcement agencies, including coordinated efforts between local law enforcement agencies to address DWI accidents in Forsyth County. Since 2010, Kernersville has participated in the DWI taskforce, a targeted enforcement effort that has been very successful in reducing the number of alcohol and drug related injuries and fatalities on our streets and highways, and which has become a model for law enforcement efforts in our state.
Another important effort is the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. A cooperative effort of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and the Kernersville Police Department, the SRO program allows law enforcement to be involved in our schools. Officers get to know the students, and the students know and trust the officers. Building these relationships provides a positive role model for students. The partnership between the school and law enforcement also helps deter crime, and can be important in investigating crime.
Throughout the year, working cooperatively with other enforcement agencies, the school system, and our citizens, the Kernersville Police Department continues to be proactive in enhancing public safety, and keeping Kernersville a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville and writes a weekly column for the News.

“Town Halls Have Become Town Hollers”

Longworth at Large

It seems like hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear about another town hall meeting gone wild. City Councilmen are shouted at over zoning laws. County Commissioners are shouted at over budget cuts. School Boards are shouted at over lack of classroom discipline. And Congressmen are shouted at over just about everything. Civil discourse between voters and elected officials is a thing of the past because most folks can’t check their emotions at the door. It is a sad state of affairs, and one that has been building to a boil over the last few years.

Certainly our nation has experienced raucous public meetings before, some of which date back to colonial days when we protested English controls. But, over time, we learned how to embrace a sense of decorum, even in the face of political upheaval. In other words, we knew how to act in public. With the dawn of television, our approach for how to hold civil discussions and meetings was formed by watching the likes of Jack Paar, David Frost, Tom Snyder, and William F. Buckley. These hosts conducted their programs with humor and respect. They asked intelligent questions and expected to receive thoughtful, intelligent answers in return, with neither party shouting over the other. Unfortunately, that era was replaced by the age of Jerry Springer, which then spawned the age of Reality TV (where Donald Trump once thrived). The lynchpin of those two more recent eras was dysfunction and disrespect. They lowered the bar of decency for viewers, and gave us a whole new template for how to communicate.

Perhaps I wouldn’t care so much how people treat each other on exploitive television programs, but now, legitimate news programs have sunk to their same level. Today’s news anchors and cable hosts routinely interrupt, talk over, and chastise their own guests, and encourage their panel of experts to do the same with each other. The result is that the audience can’t hear what anyone is saying. Moreover, when we emulate that same kind of bad behavior at town halls, the media then enables, encourages, and rewards us by televising and streaming our actions for all to see. Let’s face it. Flying off the handle has become the new norm.

The modern era of dysfunctional town halls began in 2009 when conservative Tea Party groups lambasted their Congressional representatives during meetings about Obamacare. Things got so bad that Rep. Brian Baird cancelled his town hall meetings because he was receiving death threats. That same year, violence broke out at town hall meetings in Florida, Colorado, Missouri, and Michigan. Now, 2017 is shaping up to be a repeat of eight years ago. Republicans put forth a horrendous healthcare package, not once but twice, and in the second incarnation, they all but eliminated coverage for pre existing conditions, while
allowing insurance companies to charge older people five times the premium rate as everyone else. The audacity and insensitivity of Republican Congressmen in shaping their healthcare bill, set in motion a series of town hall meetings across the country in which constituents acted like angry villagers seeking to destroy Frankenstein’s monster. Voters shouted down their elected officials at every venue, and in some cases, violence erupted, such as during a recent town hall in Utah. Finally, GOP Conference Chair Cathy Rodgers called her troops together for a sit-down with a former Sheriff, who, according to Politico.com, advised the Congressmen on how to protect themselves during volatile town hall situations. Other Representatives didn’t need the security briefing, though. That’s because some decided to hold their meetings via teleconference, while others cancelled their events altogether.

Rep. Mark Walker (NC-6th) told me, “I love to have dialogue. I love to talk about the issues. I want to have a chance to share my beliefs, and then listen to those who may have an opposing view. But if you’re not even able to share, it makes things very difficult in these town hall formats.”

The thing is, we have the right to disagree with public policy and public policy makers, and we have the right to vote them out of office every two years. But yelling, screaming, interrupting, and making threats at a town hall meeting accomplishes nothing. Jerry Springer, Reality TV, and caustic news anchors have made it acceptable to be disrespectful, but by following their example, we’re not just the angry villagers anymore. We’ve also become the monster.

Our Town

Recognizing Kernersville’s Public Services and Engineering Departments

Last weekend, many Kernersville residents and visitors to our community enjoyed the festivities of Spring Folly, a favorite downtown event. While hundreds of barbeque sandwiches, turkey legs, and funnel cakes were enjoyed over the course of the weekend festival, there was very little trash on the ground, and the trash and recycling containers never seemed filled to overflowing. Throughout the event, Public Services employees worked hard to maintain the Kernersville Spring Folly as one of the cleanest festivals in the Southeast.
In Kernersville and elsewhere, for special events and throughout the year, Public Services and Engineering employees work to make everyday life run smoothly, even when bad weather or unexpected events intervene. They build and maintain our roads, collect trash and recycling, and protect the environment. To recognize these important functions in our community, our town will celebrate Public Services and Engineering Week, in conjunction with National Public Works Week, during the week of May 21st- 27th.
In addition to road construction, and repair and maintenance of 200 lane miles of roadway and 54 miles of sidewalk, Kernersville’s Public Services and Engineering departments are responsible for stormwater management, trash collection, recycling, yard waste and white goods collection, transportation planning, engineering, surveying, fleet maintenance, and geographic information systems (GIS) data management. These functions touch the lives of every resident.
Sanitation, one of the most important services, works hard to keep up with the needs of our growing town. Public Services division collects trash, yard waste and recycling from 6,545 households each week. When a severe summer or winter storm hits, Public Services employees come in after hours or on weekends to clear the streets of fallen trees, debris, and other hazards.
Mechanics in the Public Services garage maintain the entire Town of Kernersville motorized fleet, a total of more than 300 pieces of equipment, helping out all town departments.
Kernersville’s Earth Day event, which this year included an Art for Earth contest for local students, exhibits, and displays by vendors with information about eco-friendly services, was organized by the stormwater division of the public services department.
While Earth Day is celebrated once a year, Engineering and Public Services employees work throughout the year to protect our environment. Kernersville is located at the start of three major river basins, the Yadkin, Roanoke, and Cape Fear, and an important town function is to comply with the stormwater regulations for these river basins. Engineers review development plans proposed by developers to this end.
Public Services sweeps our curb and gutter streets, on a regular basis. This “clean up” improves the town’s appearance, and helps to keep leaves, grass clippings, and trash from washing down our storm sewers. This is important, because in the operation of a storm drain, unlike the sanitary sewer, there is no treatment or processing. Debris and pollutants flushed into the storm sewer go directly to creeks and rivers, so street sweeping reduces pollutants and protects water quality.
Kernersville’s recycling program has grown significantly over recent years. Last year, Kernersville collected more than 1,686 tons of household recycling. In addition to curbside household recycling, 828 tons of cardboard, 40 tons of metal, and 10.5 tons of electronics were collected for recycling.
The positive impact on our town of the services provided by the public services and engineering departments is far reaching. While our town benefits from their work throughout the year, it’s fitting this month, in recognition of Public Services Week, to say “thank you” to the people who devote their professional time and energy to public services and engineering, making our town a better and safer place to live, every day.
Dawn Morgan is the Mayor of Kernersville and writes a weekly column for the News.

Longworth at Large

“The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift”

Increasingly, national holidays seem to be more about buying candy, jewelry, cards, and turkey, than they are about honoring the spirit of the holiday itself. Mention Memorial Day, and most people will only talk about their trip to the beach. Mention Christmas, and Jesus takes a back seat to Santa. Mention Mother’s Day, and the floral industry starts to salivate. Speaking of which, the internet has been inundated lately with advertisements for this Sunday’s big holiday. Not only are we encouraged to buy presents, we’re even coerced into thinking that by doing so, we can elevate our status within the family. I cite as an example, the company who promises that their product is “The Mother’s Day gift to make you the favorite child.” It’s enough to make Anna Jarvis spin in her grave.

Jarvis, a native of West Virginia, was widely credited with having created Mother’s Day. Her mother (also named Anna) had opposed the Civil War, during which time she cared for wounded soldiers from both armies. In honor of her Mom who passed away in 1905, Anna launched a campaign to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. Then, while Congress dragged its feet, Anna staged a Mother’s Day celebration of her own in 1910. A year later, every State in the Union recognized Moms on a special day, and in 1914, President Wilson officially declared the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

It didn’t take long for merchants to capitalize on and profit from what was supposed to have been a loving and solemn day of tribute. By the early 1920’s, Hallmark was churning out Mother’s Day cards, while confectioners and nurseries were making a killing from sales of candy and flowers respectively. Ms. Jarvis did everything she could to curtail the commercialization of Mother’s Day, including litigation and boycotts, but to no avail. Now, as a result, Mother’s Day isn’t so much a holiday as it is a cottage industry.

Don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with giving your Mom a gift on Mother’s Day. When I was a kid, I made special gifts for her in school, like the wooden decoupage jewelry box, which she pretended was the finest such repository ever crafted. Later, as an adult living far from home, I routinely had roses delivered to her house for Mother’s Day, but I should have done more. Mom passed away in 2014, and I still miss her very much. I also carry a tremendous amount of guilt for failing to give her the one gift that would have meant more to her than all the flowers in the world. The gift she deserved was having the family together on Mother’s Day, but I lived in a different city and was consumed with work, so I sent flowers instead of myself. Those are visits I can never get back.

The other day I read an ad whose headline was, “Give Mom the perfect Mother’s Day gift”. The advertiser was offering a spa day, or a dinner for two. I can’t recall which. But what I do know is that it took me six decades to realize what the perfect Mother’s Day gift really is. It’s not the money you spend on Mom that matters, it’s the time you spend with Mom that matters. This Sunday, don’t just have flowers delivered to your Mother. Deliver yourself too.