Folks, some feedback to Robert A says that sometimes his articles are too long and complicated. That sometimes too much information is provided. “OK” says Robert A, “this will be short-er, but YOU are not going to like YOUR Cleveland County School Board wasting another Million Dollars plus due to mismanagement in the Child Nutrition Department when better alternatives are available NOW. Better alternatives than wasting food and losing money when good food could be served and the whole lunchroom operation could be MAKING money instead of losing money. This all came to a head at the September 12, 2022 School Board meeting. But, don’t believe Robert A, go the Meeting Video and watch for yourself.
Just a little history has to be told first. Just a little as it has been told before. Just in pieces. Robert A likes to tell people that don’t believe, I TOLD YOU SO!!!
For years the Child Nutrition (Lunchroom) part of Cleveland County Schools has been suspect for mismanagement, if not downright criminal corruption. Remember the P-Card scandal about 10 years ago. The CCS Child Nutritionist was in the middle of that. Robert A says of all the thousands of P-Card receipts he looked at under Freedom of Information Act and NC Public Records requests, the Child Nutrition people with the cards had the most receipts and the most suspicious receipts. Thousands upon thousands of dollars for chewing gum, candy, energy drinks, crackers by the case and other such things that a “real” child nutritionist would never ever serve to children at school. Even two charges for Health Spa “Massages at the Ritzy and very expensive Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC showed up on as CCS P-Card charges on the Child Nutritionist’s P-Card. It goes on and on. Nothing was ever done about it at CCS. Nothing but cover-up at the top. And the TOP CCS folks had their un-fair share of suspicious P-Card charges.
And, things went from bad to worse.
To save money (supposedly) the lunch menu went from on-site preparation to plastic wrapped and plastic tasting food trucked in to CCS schools. The hungry kids wouldn’t eat it and the cafeteria trashcans were full of the food wrappers AND the food that was wrapped. The kids wouldn’t eat it. And Parents complained to the only school board member that would answer the phone. Dr. Danny Blanton. Then, Dr. Blanton visited the schools to see for himself and cane to the next School Board meeting and told the other school board members and the Superintendent. And, nobody would do anything.
Then, since no real food preparation and cooking was done at the school lunchrooms, the Child Nutritionist, with school board approval, declared the School’s pots and pans and ovens, and slicers and grinders and ovens and whatever else, all expensive and commercial grade, as surplus and sold the equipment off for pennies on the dollar. Often, pennies on the tens and hundreds of dollars. Several times Robert A himself asked CCS Superintendent Stephen Fisher where the CCS “stuff” that was to be sold at auction “as is” was located so he could bid on some stuff. Superintendent Fisher, to this very moment has refused to provide that simple information to Robert A. Gossip has reached Robert A’s ears that lots of that stuff ended up in the possession of the CCSS Nutritionist for use in her party place.
Nevertheless, and no matter where the CCS owned food preparation equipment has ended up, CCS at this very instant, is allegedly DOES NOT have the equipment to cook even one meal to feed hungry children food that is fit to eat. This is a problem and has been brought up many times by Danny Blanton and others.
Now, School Board Candidate Ronnie Grigg, has showed himself to be a man of action, Dr. Ronnie Grigg listened and took action. As a Citizen, mind you, as a citizen who believes that problems should be identified and the solved as soon as possible. Dr. Grigg researched and found that the Greenville County Schools in South Carolina had an outstanding child nutrition program. So, Dr. Grigg gave them a call. An appointment was made to go see what they were doing right only about 80 miles south of Cleveland County.
Dr. Grigg as well as Dr. Danny Blanton invited every other CCS School Board member, every School Board Candidates as well as Superintendent Stephen Fisher to go along on this information gathering trip to Greeneville County Schools. This trip was recently taken and the only school Board member that went along was Dr. Danny Blanton. The only School Board candidate that went along was Dr. Ronnie Grigg. Interested citizens Brandon Bridges, Marge Hooper, and a few others interested citizens in the community who stepped up to go along on this trip.
Then, Monday, September 12, 2022 Brandon Bridges and Dr. Ronnie Grigg made their report to the Full School Board the only way that was allowed, Under Citizens Recognition at the School Board Meeting that is required by STATE Law. School Board Chairman Robert “Luke” Queen and Superintendent Stephen Fisher who are in charge of the School Board Meeting Agenda, as well as the rest of the CCS School Board would NOT allow anyone on the Meeting Agenda to speak about this “Field Trip” to another School District as a learning experience. Although several other minor items were added to the meeting agenda.
Brandon Bridges was the first speaker in the Citizen’s Recognition part of the agenda-that is required by State Law. Mr. Bridges was completely and totally impressed by what he learned at the Greeneville County School District. Dr. Ronnie Grigg spoke next and was also completely and totally impressed as well.
Robert A says, folks YOU are urged to pull up the School Board Meeting Video for September 12, 2022 and see and hear for yourself what Citizens Brandon Bridges and School Board Candidate Dr. Ronnie Grigg had to say to the Cleveland County School Board. Even more important is for YOU, all you, citizens and voters of Cleveland County to hear the lively discussion and pointed questions asked by the other school board members-THAT NEVER HAPPENED. Not a peep from any other School Board Member and other School Board candidates. Or, Superintendent Stephen Fisher. No questions, no comments, Nothing!! NADA!!!
It is like the other School Board members, the other school board candidates as well as the CCS Staff-ALL, except for Dr. Danny Blanton and Dr. Ronnie Grigg- don’t give a damn about the school children in Cleveland County.
But folks, HANG ON to your hat and be sure to take your blood pressure medication. YOU ain’t heard nothing yet.
Just seconds after the Citizens Recognition is over, The Financial Committee Report was given by CCS School Board C0-Cnairman Joel Shores. Robert A was struck hard by the coincidence. The Foolishly and gigantically stupid School Board (Except for Danny Blanton (and soon to be joined on the School Board by Ronnie Grigg), who had just seconds before been told in glowing terms about a resolution to the food issue at CCS Schools without giving a damn, were NOW told that the CCS Lunchrooms costs would be increased by over a million dollars this and in coming years because of increase in labor costs and a 70% increase in food costs (Food that the kids won’t eat). And, again, and still, the School Board didn’t give a damn. Not a care in the world about another $Million being wasted for Cleveland County Schools. And Not a peep about where this extra Million dollars, totally to be wasted, was coming from.
Of course, this extra Million$ was coming from the taxpayers, but from where? What fund?
Then, I remembered this past Monday’s Commissioner Meeting. The Tax and spend, no, spend then tax, Commissioners with Chairman, Kevin “Tax and Spend” Gordon had placed an item in the Meeting Agenda, under the “Consent Agenda” section that had concerned Robert A.
Consent Agenda Items are all supposed to be simple, small and just formality items that are lumped together and all voted on together with one simple vote to approve them all with little to no discussion or questions. Which had happened just like that at the Commissioners September 6, 2022 meeting.
What had concerned Robert A was that the Commissioners, under Kevin Gordon as Chairman, have begun slipping larger and larger and more complex items into the Consent Agenda sections of Commissioner’s Meetings, failing to provide any explanatory information for the public to see and then voting on all of the items together without any discussion and approving them all with one vote. A NOT so clever way to hide things from the public. At this September 6th, 2022 Commissioner’s Meeting, one of the items was a “Budget Amendment” regarding Cleveland County Schools. Robert A just smelled a rat when he saw that item on the commissioner’s meeting agenda. All this was prior to the commissioner’s meeting. Something was amiss and Robert A would have to keep his eyes and ears open to put together this puzzle. And Robert A did just that.
At the September 6, 2022 Commissioner’s Meeting Robert A was sitting there in the front row paying good attention to all that was said and all that was done. The Consent Agenda is close to the first thing on the agenda and there it was. The CCS Budget amendment. And it was well over $1.5 Million. And supposedly related to increased salaries and supplements for CCS personnel. There were no details and no discussions from any commissioner.
Later I went back and checked and there was some information that the Commissioners had attached to the agenda AFTER the MEETING that was NOT there before the meeting. Another “sign” that all the Commissioners were up to something. Something likely corrupt. Something obviously secret that the Commissioners did NOT want the people to know about.
So, Robert A digs a little more and puts more two plus twos together and gets five. The $1.5 Million is coming from property tax money set aside for School Construction, yet the Commissioners are spending it on something else besides school Construction. There was a short and vague and misleading statement that the money was coming from “Capital Funds and going to Teacher supplements. Everything but School construction.
That should put the nail in the coffin for the Sales Tax Increase Referendum on the 2022 Election Ballot. The commissioners say they want that extra sales tax money for school construction, yet they are spending property tax money intended for school construction on something besides school construction. Robert A says AGAIN, Vote AGAINST the sales tax increase on Election Day.
Folks, that is the Good News!!! Perhaps you should take just a bit more of your Blood Pressure Medication before you read MORE about the Food issues at CCS that the School Board, Commissioners AND Especially Commissioner Chairman Kevin Gordan doesn’t want YOU to hear about.
Remember the Citizen’s Recognition part of the September 12, 2022 School Board Meeting. Speakers are only allowed exactly 3:00 minutes to address the school board. Which is NEVER enough to tell the whole story. Especially about the complex food issue at CCS.
Well, Robert A does some more digging into the trip by Dr. Danny Blanton, Dr. Ronnie Grigg, Brandon Bridges, Marge Hooper and a few others citizens, ALL Heroes, took down to the Greeneville County SC Schools regarding their meals and overall child nutrition food program and the accounting. There was much more to tell than a measly 3:00 minutes will allow. So, Robert A is about to tell everybody and right now what YOU will NOT find on the CCS School Board video.
First, take it into account that the Greeneville County School District is larger than the CCS School District. But, instead of losing more than a Million$ like CCS is doing on their inferior child nutrition program, Greenville County Schools last year MADE a $5 Million profit on their child nutrition program. Enough to fully pay all child nutrition personnel wages, food supply (from local agricultural sources), and all other expenses and have money left over to go into operating the classroom funding. All because they were willing to do things that were right and things that were in the best interest of the children instead of the Money Wasters. Folks, go back and read this paragraph all over again. Things CAN and WILL be done better when the RIGHT PEOPLE are elected to the School Board and Commissioners too. Instead of the Kevin Gordons, the Robert “Luke” Queens and all the other Rogue Republicans who appear to be willing to allow a Democrat win an election that a Republican, A conservative Republican, that refuses to kiss the asses of the Rogue Republicans.
And, things in Cleveland County get better. The Greeneville County School District is willing to provide Cleveland County Schools with all their menus, recipes, accounting methods and anything else regarding their child nutrition programs, equipment needs, etc. The Greeneville County Schools are even willing to show CCS how to get and use Federal Grants to purchase new food preparation equipment to replace the equipment that the CCS School Board led by Luke Queen allowed to be sold as surplus for only pennies on the DOLLAR.
Folks, Dr. Ronnie Grigg and Dr. Danny Blanton have hit a HOME RUN here. They have discovered that WASTING MONEY does NOT have to be THE way of life at Cleveland County Schools. That is one of the biggest reasons that I recommend all sensible voters in Cleveland County vote for Danny Blanton and Ronnie Grigg ONLY for the School Board. Be sure to attend the September 22, 2022 FREE BBQ dinner at Shelby City Park at 6:00 PM hosted by Dr. Danny Blanton. There will be enough BBQ to feed 250 people so get there early. And bring a generous campaign donation to Danny Blanton as well as Dr. Ronnie Grigg, whose campaign plans I am not aware of-YET. These are the kinds of people we want on the School Board, And Commissioner’s too. Vote OUT the nitwits and bring in people that have the capacity to think for themselves and look for better and less costly ways of doing things. In the 2022 Elections as well as the 2024 Elections. And beyond.
Also, folks, Don’t forget to attend the first ever truly independent School Board Candidates Forum in Cleveland County. It is Thursday, September 27, 2022 at the Stamey Event center in Fallston. It starts a 7:00 PM but the doors open at 6:00 PM. This is a must do event if you are interested in education in Cleveland County.
Hey, Folks, perhaps Robert A will run for Commissioner in 2024 as some people are urging him to do. Robert A is giving this serious consideration and has already figured out ways to resolve many of the problems at CCS and other places. One thing should be well known though. Robert A believes in fair play, treating all citizens with the respect that they deserve. As well as identifying and fixing the many problems that are holding Cleveland County back from the prosperity that is available under the “Right” kind of leadership.
Folks, there is more to say about all these things. And MORE. But it is time to close this article and begin several other articles. There is lots to change about the corrupt way Cleveland County operates. Stay Tuned, YOU ain’t heard nothing yet.