Resolution for library location remains undecided; more citizens asked for input before final plot is chosen

Resolution for library location remains undecided

More citizens asked for input before final plot is chosen

by Andie Diemer

September 3, 2008

After years of waiting, to be or not to be is no longer the question. Elon Mayor Jerry Tolley and the town board have already been given the green light on constructing the first public library in the Town of Elon, but just one problem troubles them: Where to start digging?

The city lobbied for a library 12 years ago but did not get approved, said Judy Cobb, director of Alamance County public libraries, said. The decision to construct now follows the approval of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners to build a new public library branch to serve western Alamance County.

Beth Schmidt Park and Comer Field, better known as Firehouse Field. Photos by David Wells.
The town board has narrowed down the location of Elon’s first library to two locations: Beth Schmidt Park and Comer Field, better known as Firehouse Field. Photos by David Wells.

Although this decision was made over a year ago, Aldermen Mark Greene said the planning process has been intense and has required a lot of community input.

“There’s been some feedback, but not widespread,” Greene said at a Sept. 2 Elon Town Hall meeting.

After careful research and feedback, the debate has been narrowed down to two potential locations: Beth Schmidt Park on Cook Road and Comer Field, better known as Firehouse Field, across from the fire station on Williamson Avenue.

The building program is funded by a planning grant from the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services in conjunction with the State Library of North Carolina, according to the Town of Elon’s Web site.

Alderman Davis Montgomery said a portion of the grant was set toward hiring Phillip Barton, a leading consultant for planning libraries in North Carolina.

In February residents were invited to two gatherings, directed by Barton, to discuss the final touches of the project such as potential locations and uses for the library. They were also encouraged to offer any additional input.

“We’re blessed with having the problem of having two excellent sites for this library,” Montgomery said. “We really, as best as we could, tried to look at all the various angles.”

The Board of Alderman postponed voting on the issue indefinitely.
The Board of Alderman postponed voting on the issue indefinitely.

Sheri James, an Elon resident and member of the appearance commission for Elon, said she is concerned about the university location. She said the roads are already experiencing excess traffic and she doesn’t want to concentrate everything downtown, especially since the town is growing more toward the north.

Also, the park would provide a quieter, more serene atmosphere, she said. But she just wants it done right.

“Apparently the citizens of Elon are going to be paying for a lot of stuff pretty soon,” James said. “I really want a library, but I don’t want to pay extra taxes.”

While a $500,000 private donation has already been made, the only other money set aside for the library is about $80,000 for books, according to Cobb.

The construction plans to ring up to about $200 a square foot, resulting in roughly a $3 million investment by the community. Though the burden of the price tag for the physical building would come from the citizens of Elon regardless of location, the cost of staffing and running the library would fall on the county.

Montgomery said his team researched recently built libraries around the area before looking into the possibilities and weighing the pros and cons of the two final sites.

The board and residents discussed parking situations, proximity to streets, design and architecture, pathways, traffic congestion, how it would fit in with the community and safety concerns for each plot of land.

“[Planned development in Comer Field] would have activity that would allow for a more vibrant downtown: restaurants, ice cream shops, drugstores,” Ken Mullen, Elon representative and assistant vice president for business and finance, said. “We thought a library would be an excellent addition to that. It would bring a lot of people to the area.”

This includes a range of citizens, from Boy Scout troops to Elon University students to seniors from Twin Lakes.

Montgomery said from the 50 or so e-mails he has received with citizen input, an overwhelming amount of citizens are in favor of the park location. He was hoping to hear from more people.

“I think people like the vision of the park and library side by side and the synergy that it ties together,” Montgomery said. “I would have liked to hear more about people talking about the park location. It would be interesting to do a town survey on that location.”

Alderman Ron Klepcyk expressed concern that widening the space by the park in order to construct the building would place the road closer to the playground and community center, which poses a safety issue.

“I think we need to have other conversations with Department of Transportation about those issues to guarantee safety,” Klepcyk said. “That’s really critical in this planning process.”

They also took the land-use plan of the town into consideration.

While Comer Field currently belongs to Elon University, Mullen said the school is eager to share the property.

Similar to the situation with the current fire station northeast of campus on Powerline Road, the university would “loan” the property to the Town of Elon, with a restriction on the deed or a written contract that states in the occasion of the library no longer existing the land would be returned to the university.

The library is also being built with expansion in mind, whether it’s up or out, Montgomery said.

The 13-acre university area, which has already been appraised, would need to be configured for a water and sewer system first, Mullen said. But he also said the university is very close, if not completely ready, to being the planning process.

“If you come to us and take us up on the offer, we’re ready to pretty much go,” he said. “You know how the university works. We’d put 100 percent of our efforts behind that and go as quickly as we could.”

He said when the planning for the field is complete it would take about two years from the time ground is broken to the time the ribbon is cut.

Mullen said regardless of the library being constructed or not, the university plans to develop the land soon.

Since the meeting was an agenda session no vote was taken. Tolley moved to pass putting the issue on the Sept. 9 agenda to be voted for. He wanted to allow time for more research.

“I don’t think that we feel we have all the information we need to make that decision,” Trolley said. “But we really enjoyed everybody’s input.”

Greene suggested sending out a survey with the pros and cons of each location attached to get a better idea of the citizens’ stances.

Cobb thinks the Beth Schmidt Park location will come out on top, but in her mind it’s all about just getting the library built.

“It was denied in the ‘90s,” Cobb said. “Folks have waited a long time for this library.”

Higher requirements for Dean’s List status

by Andie Diemer

Sept. 3, 2008

Those students who normally take home a Dean’s List status may need to work a little harder now to achieve that same standard every semester.

Last year the Academic Standing Committee altered the criteria for being named to the Dean’s List, which recognizes and encourages excellence in academic work. The change, which was applauded by Elon faculty, is set to go into affect starting this semester, according to Registrar Mark Albertson.

The list normally encompasses those students who had no grade below a B– and had a GPA of at least 3.4 in a minimum of 12 semester hours. The university has changed the standards to stay the same as far as receiving no grade below a B– in at least 12 semester hours, but have required students to have a 3.5 GPA.

“The Academic Standing Committee and faculty decided it was time to raise our honors distinction, since we felt that an honor should be an honor,” Albertson said. “We don’t change many rules or regulations that often.”

To be honored on the Dean's List students now have to a GPA of 3.5 with no grade below a B- while enrolled in at least 12 semester hours. Graphic by Miriam Williamson.
To be honored on the Dean’s List students now have to have at least a 3.5 GPA with no grade below a B- while enrolled in 12 semester hours. Graphic by Miriam Williamson.

The change follows 19 years of not altering the criteria to receive the distinction and the steady increase of a stronger student body.

The administration also felt it was necessary to raise the standard since the criteria for graduating Cum Laude was raised to a 3.5 GPA in 2003.

Albertson said this was an important transition since conceivably a person could make the Dean’s List every semester of their time at Elon, but still not be able to graduate with honors.

Last spring 39 percent of full time, undergraduate students made either the Dean’s or President’s List. Had the new regulation been instated then, only 33 percent of students would have qualified.

“We just felt we needed to raise it so getting on lists would carry some distinction to qualify,” Albertson said. “You want it to have a luster.”

After reviewing the policies in place at other peer institutions across the nation the administration knew a change was necessary since in a few years it was possible for about half of the student body to be qualifying for either the Dean’s or the President’s list.

While only about five percent of students would have been affected by the change last semester, Albertson is hoping the new standard will push more students to strive for it.

The change was voted for unanimously at a faculty meeting and no one spoke out against it, including the two students on the Academic Standing Committee, he said.

However, no changes have been made to achieving President’s List status, which requires no grade below an A– in a minimum of 12 semester hours.
Albertson said the percentage of students that fall within that honor has not been growing.

Classes passed on a Pass/Fail basis or classes with grades of “S,” “WD” or “W” are not included in Dean’s List or President’s List eligibility.

Elon resident charged with peeping Tom allegation; not linked to last year’s string of exposure incidents

Jason Lee Dunn, an Elon resident, was arrested and charged with a peeping Tom incident in Myrtle Beach. He allegedly took a photograph of a boy underneath a bathroom stall at a mall.
Jason Lee Dunn, an Elon resident, was arrested and charged with a peeping Tom incident in Myrtle Beach. He allegedly took a photograph of a boy underneath a bathroom stall at a mall.

Elon resident charged with peeping Tom allegation

Not linked to last year’s string of exposure incidents

by Andie Diemer

Sept. 3

An Elon resident charged with a peeping Tom incident July 19 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is not considered a link to any previous indecent exposure or peeping Tom cases around Elon.

Director of Campus Safety and Police Chuck Gantos said Jason Lee Dunn, 29, of West Haggard Avenue, does not fit any of the descriptions or patterns of behavior from the complaints filed around campus last spring.

Dunn was arrested and charged after the father of a 12-year-old boy said he saw the suspect take a picture of his son underneath a bathroom stall at a shopping mall, according to a Horry County police report.

The boy’s father, Jon Cockerham, who had taken both of his sons into the bathroom, confronted Dunn. After Dunn denied taking the pictures, Cockerham followed him into the parking lot and called the police, according to the report.

Police confiscated Dunn’s phone, where they found a photograph of the boy in the stall.

Dunn, a first time offender, was released on $5,000 bail from J. Reuben Long Detention Center July 21, the Times-News reported.

Since the incident took place outside of Elon’s jurisdiction, Elon police are not investigating Dunn, but are assisting by providing or following up on possible leads, Gantos said.

“He was charged with taking pictures of an adolescent male, which doesn’t fit the profile of the individual that was doing indecent exposure in front of females,” Gantos said. “I don’t think that links it.”

Gantos said campus security forwarded a few leads to the local police department, where they are still being pursued.

Last spring semester, several cases were reported of a man who approached women and exposed himself or masturbated.

No more indecent exposure instances have been reported at Elon, Gantos said. He credits the publicity about the effort to find those responsible for ending the string the exposures.

“He probably either quit for a while or went somewhere else, which is not usually uncommon for someone of this character,” he said. “But I think the thing we need to be concerned about is that he’ll eventually come back, so we need to find out who he his and get him off the streets.”

Gantos said there are about 150 registered sex offenders that currently live in Alamance County, and that it is important to remember to be careful.

“These people are not just in Alamance County or North Carolina,” Gantos said. “It’s nationwide. You always have to be cautious and use good judgment and good common sense.”

Two students robbed in home invasion

Oak Hill Apartments are located just east of Elon University’s campus.

by Andie Diemer
Aug. 25, 2008

Two students reported an armed robbery at their Oak Hill Apartment at around 3:30 a.m. Friday.

According to an e-mail sent to students by Dean of Students Smith Jackson Friday morning, two black males and one white male entered the student’s unlocked apartment on East Haggard Avenue.

After waking the students, the robbers took the student’s money, Xbox and cell phones. While the students were not harmed, they noticed that one of the intruders had a handgun.

The intruders fled in an unknown vehicle.

Campus Police are currently collaborating with the Town of Elon Police to find the robbers.

Chuck Gantos, director of campus safety and police, said Campus Police passed a lead onto the Elon Police not long after the incident occurred. Elon Police are currently following up on that lead, along with several others.

“Students need to stay vigilant, as far as their awareness of their surroundings,” he said. “A crime can happen anywhere. You need to understand that and always think one is going to happen so you can go over in your mind what you would do so you’re somewhat prepared if something does happen.”

jacksonIf you have any information about this incident, please contact the Town of Elon Police at (336) 584-1301 during the day or (336) 570-6777 after hours.