Program Report: David Beischer – Croasdaile

GeorgeB2Boy, you know you’re getting old when you find yourself listening to presentations about the history of something and you knew some of the people involved.

Rob Everett introduced David Beischer, the genial 4th generation developer of the upscale Croasdaile neighborhood just north of I-85 and Hillsborough Road. Mr. Beischer brought with him a slide show of pictures, plats and maps illustrating the history of the development.

Croasdaile was originally a dairy farm owned by John Sprunt Hill who was not only a benefactor to UNC but also the founder of Central Carolina Bank. When I came to Durham in 1984, his son George Watts Hill was still the Chairman of the Bank. He was active primarily with locating and building branches. As the marketing director, I got to ride along with him as he scouted locations in his old black Cadillac. I’m not a good passenger anyway, but this duty provided some of the most terrifying moments of my life as we rumbled along with only occasional attention to other traffic. Ron Perkins who now works with Seth Jernigan at Real Estate Associates was often cowering in the back seat while I was in the front gripping the dashboard. Mr. Hill’s sister, Frances Fox, the original developer of Croasdaile and David’s grandmother, was also on the bank board at the time along with his brother-in-law Peter DeBose. Many of the bank events where held at Croasdaile Country Club, not surprisingly.

Two things struck me about this presentation that I thought were as revealing as the presentation itself. The first was the fact that sometimes we forget that Durham was a pretty decent place to live even before Bill Kalkhof and Reyn Bowman got the revitalization of Downtown in gear and dragged the town’s image into reality. While David was discussing the next phase of the development he joked about how this was possible because things like DPAC had made it more difficult for Raleigh real estate agents to grab the physicians and faculty coming to Duke and steer them away from Durham. We can laugh about it now but it was a real problem just a few years ago. I recognized this as a local real estate agent myself and began a blog on Durham luxury real estate in an attempt to both promote Durham and break into that market. I was not successful at the latter and stopped posting a couple of years ago when the upscale market here died altogether with the recession. But there is still a pretty good recap of the history of Croasdaile that I wrote for the site with many of the details that David shared at this link: http://durhamluxre.com/search-luxury-neighborhoods/croasdaile/

The second impression came unsolicited from the audience in the form of an endorsement for the quality of life in Croasdaile from Ellen Reckhow, a long time resident and a request from Hutch Johnson for David to talk some about the Fox Family Foundation, which David now manages as well as the development company. Sherry DeVries chimed in with gratitude for their support of the Arts Council. Somewhat sheepishly, David shared that 80% of the Foundation’s grants, which he said were purposefully not focused, go to Durham institutions. All this underscores in a different way the impact his family continues to have on Durham.

My most memorable Croasdaile moment had nothing to do with real estate, David’s family, CCB or the Croasdaile Country Club. Back during my public relations career, an associate, who had been invited, dragged me along to the 70th birthday party of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder at his home in Croasdaile. My associate told me later that Jimmy had cornered him and asked him who the hell I was and what the hell I was doing there. I don’t know what kind of story he told about me but both Jimmy and his family were as cordial as they could be and, I’ve got to tell you, they sure knew how to throw a party.

Upcoming Rotary Program Schedule

MAY 20, 2013 DAVE BEISCHER,

Cows To Condos: The History of Croasdaile Farm

Introduction: Rob Everett

MAY 27, 2013 NO MEETING!!!

In Observance of The Memorial Day Holiday

JUNE 03, 2013            DR. BILL INGRAM, PRESIDENT

Durham Technical Community College

NOTE! OffSite Meeting @ Durham Technical Community College

1637 East Lawson Street

                        Durham, North Carolina 27703

                        919/536-7200

                        www.DurhamTech.edu

Introduction: TBD

Program Report: County Manager Mike Ruffin

MikeRuffinWebLong time County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow introduced County Manager, Mike Ruffin who is now in his 13th year on the job. The program was advertised to be about the newly opened Durham County Courthouse Building but Mike instead conducted a little seminar in county budget economics, apparently in preparation for a property tax increase that he will be requesting for the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. As he put it, he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do.

After the meeting Mike was kind enough to give me his notes so I wouldn’t have to trust my not-so-good ears with the numbers that he shared. But the most impressive number that he shared then had nothing to do with his presentation. If, like me, you hadn’t seen Mike for a while until recently, you might have gotten that feeling that he looked familiar but you weren’t sure why. Like his approach to governing, this is a man who took the bull by the horns and lost well over 100 lbs to get to fighting weight for this budget session.

The General Fund Budget is expected to be over $348.4 M with a projected $203.4 M coming from the property tax, almost $58 M coming from the sales tax and $15.3 M coming from various service charges. Among the points Mike made is that tax revenues are growing much more slowly then they did just a few years ago while the demand for services had continued to grow at a steady pace because of the sluggish economy.  In fact, he made it clear that he has yet to see much evidence of an economic boom that he sees Brian Williams report on the evening news every night. Nevertheless, he noted, the County is in the best financial position in its history.

A good part of the presentation was about what he sees as the budget stressors: school funding, human services funding, and debt managemen
t. The debt management is largely the result of over a billion dollars of capital improvements completed over the last ten year period, including the new courthouse complex at $119M and the soon to be completed Human Services Building, which will come in at over $90M.

Perhaps the most interesting observation that he shared had to do with school funding. In a ten county comparison of “peer” counties in North Carolina, Durham is substantially higher at $3165 per student than any other county. He noted that if we could reduce that cost to the weighted average of those other counties we would need almost $40M less in tax revenues. Obviously that argues for careful planning and tight controls in the school system. But there is another factor too.

Mike may have been being kind when he noted that our education and social services costs were high because as a community we valued those things. Another hypothesis comes from the advertising advice for septic tank owners “pay me now or pay me later.” We’re now living in “later.” As we as a club get more involved in literacy programs it is clear that not only do we have a lot of poor people in Durham but some of the shortcuts of the past are now coming back to haunt us. Recall the story of Chris Williams from the Durham Literacy Center being “socially” promoted grade to grade without learning to read. We know that over 40% of our students struggle with literacy and there is only so much the schools can do without money, and strong community support. It is unlikely that anyone who has been tutoring over at YE Smith believes that the efforts there to create an elementary school model for Durham isn’t money well spent.

There was a question too about the need for the new courthouse complex. That too, may be part of the price for these same shortcuts. Let’s hope that this handsome building will facilitate more positive change.  We’ll also continue to need great leadership from Commissioners such as Ellen and managers such as Mike. Let’s hope the rumors of Mike’s retirement are just that…rumors.

Upcoming Rotary Program Schedule

Additional information may be found on the website calendar if submitted by the program committee.

MAY 13, 2013 MIKE RUFFIN, Durham County Manager

New Durham County Courthouse

Introduction: Ellen Reckhow

MAY 20, 2013 DAVE BEISCHER,

Cows To Condos: The History of Croasdaile Farm

Introduction: Rob Everett

MAY 27, 2013 NO MEETING!!!

In Observance of The Memorial Day Holiday

JUNE 03, 2013            DR. BILL INGRAM, PRESIDENT

Durham Technical Institute

NOTE! OffSite Meeting @ Durham Technical Institute

1637 East Lawson Street

                        Durham, North Carolina 27703

                        919/536-7200

                        www.DurhamTech.edu

Introduction: TBD

Sharon Lassiter

Executive Secretary

Durham Rotary Club

Rotary Minute: Ernie Mills and Ernie Mills, Jr.

ErnieMillsErnieJrWe departed from our usual Rotary Minute format to let Ernie Mills Jr. introduce his dad, the Reverend Ernie Mills, who then provided the program in their brand new facility at the corner of Alston and Main in East Durham.

Both “Preacher” Ernie and his wife Gail were were exposed to addiction early. The Reverend Mills was born in very humble circumstances in rural Pitt County. His father was described a hard working family man who nonetheless was a victim of his addiction and died at the age or 40. Gail’s step-father fell in a different place along the spectrum of addiction and was both alcoholic and abusive. They found each other and their mission in “hatred for the addiction but love of the addict” in the church where they met.

They started their mission in Winston-Salem but Ernie decided to move to Durham…not because he was invited but because he saw the need. The facilities of the rescue mission including three thrift stores speak to their success. So does the Honorary Paul Harris Fellowship conferred on Ernie Sr. as well as two honorary doctorates and the recognition of Governor McClory. But the real testament to their success were the numerous graduates of the Rescue Mission’s Victory program for the addicted and the homeless  that helped the Mills family host the club at this successful offsite meeting.

A history of the Durham Rescue Mission was distributed at the meeting. Titled A Step of Faith it also chronicles the origins of this incredible family and its meaning to Durham.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

Program Report: The Reverend Ernie Mills and the Durham Rescue Mission

ErnieMillsWebThe story of the Durham Rescue Mission is one of incredible vision, dedicated work, and whose bedrock is the redeeming power of Christian faith.  Founded in 1974 by Dr. Ernie Mills and his wife Gail, the Mission has grown from a shelter for 12 homeless out-of-work men trapped by their addictions to an operation that houses 372 men, women and children.  The men’s facility is located at the main campus which, in addition to administrative services, houses an impressive array of support facilities: GED room for high school diploma tutoring, computer room with reference materials for job hunting, counseling center, TV room for socializing.  If our lunch was any indication, the residents eat healthy and hearty meals.  The dormitories were impeccable—beds made up to the most exacting standards, no clothes or other personal items strewn on the floor.  Each resident has assigned duties that rotate regularly.   The handsome church at the front of the main campus stands as a welcome beacon of hope for the needy.  Club member Ernie Mills, Jr’s introductory remarks gave us insight into the background of the Mills’ conviction that their ministry should be among the homeless and the addicted.

Opened in 1993, a program for women with small children is located at the Good Samaritan Inn off I-85.  For the most part, these women have battled addictions; many have suffered abuse, or find themselves with no marketable income producing skills.  An attractive playground provides wholesome activity for the children, and childcare provides the women with the freedom to engage in vocational education, and receive spiritual guidance to help overcome their addictions.

The Rescue Mission has grown into the largest program of its kind in the Triangle and houses more than 50% of Durham’s homeless population.   “We always keep one bed open for that one person desperately seeking help,” they said.

Perhaps the most dynamic activity of the Rescue Mission is its Victory Program.  This is a twelve month three-stage program, grounded in Bible study, that not only continues to provide safe shelter and to assist men and women to break free of their addictions, but also to gain the knowledge and skills to enter or re-enter the workforce.  It appeared that a resident currently in the program or is a recent graduate was seated at most of our luncheon tables.  My table was fortunate to have Charles, an affable, bright and very forthcoming product of the Victory Program.  Trained in culinary arts, Charles had worked in several restaurants before his addictions gained the upper hand.  He is currently looking for a job and exudes confidence that he will soon be employed and contribute to society.  Another inspiring story involved Rebekah and Mike who had a nice home , an electrical business, a stable income until their lives unraveled because of drugs.  First, Rebekah came to the Mission seeking help.  Inspired by her success, Mike joined her at the Mission, turned himself around and they are now back together as a couple.

The Mission is proud of the fact that it has not relied on taxpayer dollars to finance its operations.  Funding initially came from individual and corporate contributions, but the recent economic downturn severely stressed its finances.  A result was the opening of Thrift Stores to generate income and, equally important, to create jobs for the unemployed and to provide opportunities for community volunteers to become involved in the Rescue Mission’s ministry.  The 70 Mission employees in the three stores not only earn some income but they build a resumé to present to prospective employers.  The Thrift Store on Chapel Hill Boulevard is the largest such store in the Triangle.  “If your clothing is no longer becoming to you, let it come to us.”  In fact, the Mission reckons that it has saved taxpayers something on the order of nearly $12 million—every homeless person on the street costs the community $10,000.GailMillsWeb

There are numerous ways Triangle citizens can support the Durham Rescue Mission.  Contributions, of course, help, but the Mission relies on volunteers to serve meals and tutor residents, work in Thrift Stores, donate clothes and other items to the Thrift Stores, participate in one of the community events (festive dinners at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Back to School), serve as a liaison between the Mission and your church, donate (or better yet, buy) a car.  For a more detailed look at the programs and activities of the Durham Rescue Mission and opportunities to volunteer, visit its web-page (http://www.durhamrescuemission.org).

The success of the Durham Rescue Mission has not gone unnoticed.  Our club bestowed a Paul Harris fellow on Ernie and, recently, Governor Pat McCrory appointed Mills to the Interagency Coordinating Council for Homeless.

 

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg