Monday, June 29, 2009

KDPDC Written Statement

Copy of my written statement from the July Board Breifing held on June 24th. The statement is regarding the current status of the organization known as the Kernersville Downtown Preservation and Development Council. Currently, this organization is classified a non-profit, but annually requests money from the Town of Kernersville in order to sustain their operating budget. The amount the Town gives is $47,500 out of the general fund of the governing body and also a sum for marketing and promotions, normally in the amount of $8100 but this year $12,000. The board holds that it wants to be independent from scrutiny or oversight from the Town of Kernersville and taxpayers, yet wants to continue to receive funding without benchmarks or tracking of successes and failures. Should anyone want to see a copy of this year's Town budget, one can be made available to you in the next week or so at Town Hall for a small fee.

It would be my recommendation to shift funding currently allocated to the KDPDC to the community development department. This being a direct result of future growth opportunity, the culmination of the downtown task force recommendations and most importantly, this is the most cost effective and responsible manner in which the town can continue to fund and assist the KDPDC.

Let me clear by saying this does not dissolve the organization that has done much over the years to promote and nurture downtown when little attention was being paid to the core of our community—however, as the needs and opportunities have multiplied the funding level requests have as well, almost on a yearly basis.

The KDPDC has itself admitted that they constantly battle with appropriate funding, staffing, resources and marketing dollars-not to mention the volunteers’ hours are stretched thin not only with meetings, but with day to day operating activities such as accounting, bookkeeping, project maintenance, seminars, workshops, human resource management, insurance, technology maintenance and the list goes on and on. Many volunteers once on the board have no idea how much goes into the day to day activities and takes away from the crux of their purpose and passion—that which is downtown’s growth and sustainability.

By leaving the board intact and moving it under the town’s guidance, resources beyond our current reach can be under one roof and coupled with other town-led organizations such as the Pedestrian and Bicycle committee and Community Appearance Commission, which fit like a glove with the KDPDC and often overlap in efforts, yet stretch and sometimes divide resources.

As many of you are aware, the overwhelming majority of the task force’s work and recommendations included the town. How better to honor these commitments that the board of aldermen signed off on, than to take on the responsibility given to us and act to see them to completion. So much of what the KDPDC strives to do is already being done by the town at the expense of town staff and taxpayers.

As for the notion that this move is last minute and hasty, I have to cry “foul”. Anyone reading the minutes of last year’s budget session can see that this very board of aldermen along with the mayor acknowledged that the KDPDC needed guidance, direction and possibly oversight. I have met or talked with everyone present on multiple occasions and my plea to you for ideas on how to address this situation is no new notion. So here we are, one year later, with a strong town, a lean budget and a downtown that is poised to go to the next level, if we will allow it.

Mapping, planning, GIS, more diverse citizen involvement and greater collaboration will do nothing but strengthen the organization known as the KDPDC. Under this model, it and the downtown can thrive and taxpayers’ money will not only be used more effectively, but actually saved and we all campaigned on doing just that.

I hope that I can obtain your support. My support of downtown has been evident since day one and I thank taxpayers for making the infrastructure possible and now the taxpayers look to us to continue the momentum of their hefty investment

-Brooke Cashion

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's the Value?

Upon working on creating a new look for my website, the designer Chris Bormann, came up with the tag line of "What's the Value of a Good Agent?"

It's a great question to ponder, especially in these uncertain times. There are tons of folks out there with real estate licenses and a good number of folks who are Realtors as well. Beyond that, it can sometimes be difficult to determine value vs. savings when on the outside all things seem to look the same. But keep in mind, as the old adage goes, you truly do get what you pay for!

In the age of Internet, most folks looking to buy or sell begin their informal education of the real estate market in their area on the web. Sometimes this can give you a pretty good indicator of where your market stands, how many days homes are staying on the market and the list price vs. sell price. What those figures can't usually give you are some of the things that matter most...the condition of the home, square footage and usability, allowances or concessions that were offered, etc. Those are things that an experienced agent who shows and sells property regularly in your area can help you with.

There are so many websites out there currently to assist for sale by owners offering limited services, such as mls entry and scheduling. It is great to have your home in your local multiple listing service, but this should not, by any means, be the best your agent has to offer.

For example, is it really worth saving $5000 in commissions when your home is going to sit on the market for an additional 6 months? That's 6 months of mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, insurance and the risk of damage going unnoticed because you no longer permanently reside in the property... Depending on your situation, it may or may not be the right move to go it alone. My thought is, that that money could be better spent in your pocket rather than sitting dormant in a home that you no longer desire. Not to mention, once the buyer contacts you to transact the deal, you are now saddled with negotiations of terms, repairs, attorneys, etc. This is the perfect example of time value of money.

Now if your agent is not full-time and competent, then yes, it may be just as well for you to do this yourself...however, look for a full-time Realtor at a reputable firm to begin with...

After that make sure you are asking your agent some important questions depending on your needs:

How many transactions do you generally do in a year? How many homes have you sold in this area? Do you advertise on the Internet? Do you have your own website? Does your website feed it's information to other popular websites? How many photos and virtual tours do you have on your site? Does your site have mapping features? Do you do any print advertising? Are you involved in the community? Do you have any assistance if you are sick or on vacation? Do you communicate effectively and/or have access to cell phones, texting, computers, email? (You may be surprised as to the response!) What do your fliers and interior books look like--do you even do them? How do you track your marketing and what has been successful? What is your list to sell price ratio? How will you keep me up to date on the activity on my home? Do you have folks who can help me with staging, maintenance, etc. if needed? Do you have good relationships with other brokers at other companies? Do you sell mostly existing or new homes?

These are just a few questions to get you started when interviewing your potential suggestion is to bring three or four into your home and compare answers and then choose the most qualified agent for your needs...but keep in mind there is tremendous value in a good agent. If you have ever had one, you know...for more tidbits and testimonials, please visit my new-revamped website:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Victims of the Digital Conversion...

How you might say? How does this happen to one who has known for so long that the analog signals of yesteryear were bound for digital crossover? Even after the extension from our floundering Federal government, could we, the Cashions find ourselves without television!?

Let me start by saying that several months ago, we decided that we could do without cable service and that surviving on the basic channels that could be picked up via "rabbit ears" was just o.k. with us! As a matter of fact, last week, The Wall Street Journal published a report indicating that cutting cable was one of the best places to start when trying to save money. We were ahead of the curve...moving on....

We knew that our little color t.v in our bedroom definitely would not make the crossover because only a clothes hanger enabled it to bless us with the 11:00 news each evening before bed. We had never connected more than the living area to cable. As news reports became less and less informative, more and more negative, not to mention more and more repetitive, the habit of "dousing ourselves with despair" prior to a potential good night's rest was no longer.

Fast forward to digital countdown last week...we just KNEW that our main television would make the cut--when we replaced it several years ago, we specifically asked if it had a digital converter box--and were told yes. So as we watched Conan O'Brien and the clocked slowly inched towards midnight, we felt confident that at least one t.v would make it--"rabbit ears and cable t.v be damned" we said. A couple of digital channels would be fine, still no need for outrageous cable bills and being a slave to the mainstream media and the nonsense of unrealistic "reality" television. (I did have to admit, not being able to see Rock of Love, was going to hurt for a while.)

Midnight of "D-Day"-
Conan disappears on both sets and is replaced with a message that says something to the effect of "Channel 12 Nightlight". So for the next few minutes we watched in a trance, as the bright orange glow bathed our room and we sat, stunned ,that WE no longer had access to television programming...a little while later an infomercial from the station began to cycle through, letting us know what could have gone wrong, why we fell through the cracks, what we needed to do to make things right.

Well hear this! It's been almost a week and we are doing just fine...we've had to read (yes-real chapter books with no pictures) and we've been outside by the pool, we've played some games, ran and walked the neighborhood, gone to bed early, saved a little cash for a rainy day and most importantly, we've bought ourselves some peace of mind! The fact that we are no longer constantly bombarded with images to compare ourselves to, things that we don't need, tempting foods and cars, news that cripples you and the plethora of immorality that floods the digital signals has made for quite a nice little change and that my friends is about the only CHANGE that we can currently appreciate.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mentoring...Not So Easy...

Today should have been my final day to meet with my mentee at one of local high schools, however, she bailed on me at the last minute. We were meeting at 2:30 and the text I received at 2:20 was "I went home". When I asked why, the reply was "Because I had nothing to do" Well, that "nothing" was me. After hours spent with her throughout the year, this was the big "thank you", the "whole enchilada" the culmination of all of OUR work--the end??

Let me back up by filling you in on some details...I volunteered to be a mentor last year and my time with my student began mid to late February. The purpose of the program is to take seniors that are "at risk" of not graduating, but are "close" and to help them stay the course until they graduate in June or take some summer school courses to make up what may have been missed. All in all, the goal is to obtain a high school diploma so that the ONE MILLION dollar drain on society can be prevented early on. Yes, folks, that's the number...that a high school drop-out will cost society around ONE MILLION dollars in their lifetime! So, when asked, I thought, heck yea, I want to be a part of preventing this.

My student has no discipline problems that I am aware of, attends class fairly regularly, but the thing that surprised me most with my student and the other mentors I spoke with was the general apathy and indifference towards school. No real perception on what not graduating means in their lives and no real perception on the reality of life, for that matter. No real consequences for actions or lack thereof...For example...senior project not completed? Oh well, didn't want to do it--so they don't! Kept the cell phone, still got to go to the prom, still gets to drive the car, still gets spending money, new clothes, etc.

I don't know what I expected but I did expect it to be somewhat of a two-way street, like someone who wants to graduate with a little help and motivation from an outside party. The mentors and mentees meet once or more a week, (if the student shows up) and then every mentor I spoke with texted, emailed and/or called their mentee throughout the week. It sounds as if overall, the program is successful and who knows, even if graduation doesn't occur there is no telling what the lasting impact on the student may's possible that some snippet of information or encouragement stuck...

I have no idea as I write this whether or not my student will graduate, but I do know this---she could have! She was very smart, very capable and if all of the pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place and she had exerted a little of her own effort, this would be a win-win for everyone involved.

If you have the chance to mentor, I would recommend doing so...not only to help a student with accountability, but to get a taste of what is going on out there in the education system. Something has to give and as long as there are citizens out there willing to give of themselves, whether you full-fill the ultimate goal of graduation or not--I can say it WILL make a difference maybe in their life but definitely yours!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Arts D'Vine Event in Downtown Kernersville This Weekend...

Much like the Salute! wine festival featured in an earlier blog post, downtown Kernersville is joining the act by featuring not only local NC wineries, but also local artists and musicians. Unlike, Salute! this event is FREE and open to everyone. This unique event is a first for Kernersville and is an effort to draw residents and visitors to the downtown area who may not be familiar with what downtown Kernersville has to offer. After the recent 1.3 million dollar renovation, there will be plenty to enjoy!

The event will consist of businesses that will open their doors to local artists and wineries. Scattered throughout the event will be varying musical acts including The Chris Lane Band which seems to have a pretty decent following based on the crowd at Indigo Joe's a little over a month ago. There will be some sort of indicators on the participating businesses so make sure that you don't stay in one spot too long though the temptation will certainly be there!

My suggestion would be to arrive right at the beginning of the event, scope out some various vendors and then settle in to one of the more central locations for some music and some good 'ol fashioned people watching.

So I look forward to seeing you THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 6 from 5-8 in downtown Kernersville!