There are marginal signs of economic improvement in Greensboro in an annual State of the City Report. A UNC-Greensboro professor did the study and looked at median income, teen pregnancy rates, and the kinds of jobs the city is adding, among other topics. Keith Debbage told the Triad Business Journal the city is showing signs of a fledgling recovery. The poverty rate actually dropped, but is still high compared to other peer cities, at 19.6 percent.

Triad Update

Jan 23, 2013

Duke Energy angered residents after cutting down trees in Greensboro, and Winston Salem is causing an uproar over its ban on concealed guns in certain parks. Frank Stasio discusses the triad updates with WUNC's Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii.

On Tuesday night in Greensboro the temperature is expected to drop into the teens and shelters are expecting to be at or near capacity. Four years ago there was a significant rise in the number of people seeking shelter during the winter months. Greensboro didn’t have enough beds and on many cold nights dozens of people had to sleep on floors. The city responded by opening a half dozen winter emergency shelters for frigid nights like tonight. Reverend Mike Aiken says those facilities opened December 1st and will be packed this week.

Credit Jeff Tiberii

Many residents in Greensboro are upset with Duke Energy over the company's practice of pruning, and in some cases cutting, neighborhood trees. Frustrated citizens started two Facebook groups, collected 15-hundred signatures for a petition and demanded that local leaders step in and help.

Ten Years ago sub contractors for Duke Energy made the rounds in several Greensboro neighborhoods, trimming and cutting trees that were too close to power lines. It sent residents who felt the pruning was too aggressive into an uproar. They complained to elected officials and Duke eventually heard about it, but nothing really changed. In fact nothing really happened at all. Last month crews returned to some neighborhoods for the first time in a decade.

Residents across North Carolina observe the Martin Luther King Junior holiday with calls to service and celebrations.  In Greensboro, city officials host a breakfast today ahead of other holiday events.  Greensboro human relations spokesman Robert Nunn says the breakfast helps residents remember the city was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s:

Lawmakers in Greensboro will create a new ordinance following public outcry over trees being cut down by Duke Energy.

Dozens of residents turned out to a City Council meeting this week to share their frustration over what they describe as unnecessary and aggressive tree cutting measures by Duke Energy. The utility company completely cut down about 150 trees in the last few months, prompting public response.  City Council woman Marikay Abuzuaiter:

One hundred and thirty eight people have been exonerated of capital crimes and released from death row since 1973. These tragic stories don't always get told, but two professors wanted to make sure that the voices of some exonerees were heard. Saundra Westervelt and Kimberly Cook explore the post-incarceration struggle of 18 of them in their new book “Life After Death Row: Exonerees’ Search for Community and Identity” (Rutgers University Press/2012).

In Greensboro, a day-long conference today will look at developing and improving new kinds of fuel. The Biofuels Center is bringing together a collection of small business owners, educators and environmentalists. A series of panel discussions will share ideas about forms of sustainable energy, bio fuels and the advantages to local economies. Leif Forer is manager of the Civic and Small-Scale Biofuels Center.

Leif Forer:  "The big picture goal is to get a lot of new biofuels produced in North Carolina and enrich our communities and or environment while doing so."

In Greensboro, voters could decide the fate of a proposed downtown performing arts center.

It's not clear yet if residents will in fact get to vote on a proposed $60 million downtown performing arts center. The City Council voted seven to two on Tuesday to pursue a voter bond referendum, and deny the request from a citizen task force for local government to allocate the money. Ross Harris is the project manager of GPAC, the organization working to get the venue built.

A new program in Greensboro aims to keep old mattresses from being sent to the dump.

In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the country the City is partnering with Mattress Go Round. The Greensboro company recycles old mattresses and box springs by repairing, sanitizing and rebuilding them for resale. President and Founder of the company Robert Savino says keeping the bulky mattresses out of landfills will save space and money.

Skip Alston (center) at one of his final meetings as County Commissioner
Jeff Tiberii

Tonight marks the end of a political era in Greensboro. Melvin "Skip" Alston is stepping down after 20 years as a Guilford County Commissioner. Alston has been a polarizing figure during his time on the board, clashing with conservative commissioners while rarely holding back an opinion. Alston says he's not done with politics, although where he will emerge next isn't yet clear.

Greensboro has been selected as the site of the 2015 US Figure Skating Championships. This competition came to Greensboro – and North Carolina – for the first time in 2011, following an Olympic year. In 2015 US Figure Skating’s largest event will return to the state, a year after the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Greensboro Coliseum General Manager Matt Brown.

Matt Brown: "This is a significant accomplishment for Greensboro. Many within the sport of figure skating questioned, how well figure skating championship would fare in the south. Boy, didn’t we surprise them."

Some prominent North Carolinians are joining a national campaign to "Fix the Debt". North Carolina's "Fix the Debt" campaign hopes to set a bipartisan example with former Republican governor Jim Holshouser and former Democratic governor Jim Hunt standing side-by-side.

Jim Hunt: "Everyone in Washington worthy of representing the American people must be willing to compromise."

The mayor of Greensboro is trying to avoid having his home foreclosed on while paying down his debts to the IRS.

Mayor Robbie Perkins has been in commercial real estate for 32 years. He says an industry depression combined with a split from his wife has left him in a bad financial circumstance. The IRS put a lien on his Greensboro home early this year in an effort to get him to pay some of the $86,000 he owed in federal taxes.

City inspectors in Greensboro lost track of more than 300 cases of housing and nuisance violations.

The violations ranged from overgrown lots to structures that should have been condemned. In some instances city inspectors found housing code violations, but didn’t follow up and were not held accountable by supervisors. The lost violations effect between 50 and 75 properties. Councilwoman Nancy Vaughn says a new computer system didn’t cross-check with old cases.

The Carolina Theater in Greensboro is commemorating is 85th anniversary tonight with the debut of a documentary.

The half hour film looks at the theater's 36 years of segregation, how a lack of funding almost led it to become a venue for pornographic films, and its role as an independent non-profit, today. Keith Holiday is the President and CEO of Carolina Theater. He recalled a North Carolina A&T student and later well-known Civil Rights Activist whose efforts helped to desegregate the theater in the early 1960s.

BB&T plans to bring 1,700 jobs to Greensboro in the next five years.

Triad Roundup

Oct 16, 2012

Food trucks are all the rage when considering cuisine and Greensboro wants to get in on the trend. The city is conducting a limited trial of food trucks to see how well they fare. Plus, the long-time mayor of High Point isn't seeking re-election, and five candidates are vying for the position. Host Frank Stasio gets a Triad news roundup from Greensboro Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii.

Greensboro Police will share recent accomplishments and listen to residents when a second round of community forums begins tonight.

Jeff Tiberii: Police Chief Ken Miller started these events last year with the hope of highlighting some of his department's initiatives while building better communication with local citizens. The Police Department says between 25 and 50 residents turned out to the first wave of forums. Captain Brian Cheek:

The City of Greensboro is getting a one million dollar federal grant designed to generate economic growth. The grant is part of a program aimed at encouraging innovative ideas, strategies and perspectives for long-term job growth. Greensboro will hold a competition and request ideas for ways to bolster the local economy.

O. Henry Turns 150

Sep 20, 2012

The famous writer O. Henry was born William Sidney Porter in 1862 in Greensboro, NC.  He went on to write hundreds of short stories. Last week, he would have turned 150 years old, and the US Postal Service released a commemorative stamp to celebrate this anniversary. Host Frank Stasio is joined by Linda Evans, the community historian for the Greensboro Historical Museum and Stephen Hale, a local performer who has been portraying O. Henry in plays at the museum for the past nine years.

UNC-Greensboro is breaking ground on a pedestrian underpass this morning.

The project will provide a pathway under Lee Street and a railway. It will connect the main UNC-G campus with a mixed-use village, currently under construction. When complete, Spartan Village will include 1,400 resident beds, retail space and a new student recreation center. Jorge Quintal is Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities. He says this project will increase the campus by 20-percent.

A limited number of food trucks will be allowed in part of downtown Greensboro this fall.

The Greensboro City Council voted 7 to 2 last night, in favor of a pilot program that will run during October and November. Ten supporters told the Council they believe food trucks will offer more affordable choices to students and employees downtown. No opponents of the measure spoke at the meeting.

Across the state elected officials, business leaders and job seekers continue to monitor unemployment rates, local economic growth and job opportunities. In Greensboro the Chamber of Commerce touted some good news this week, hoping to spark a little optimism. Jeff Tiberii reports there are signs of improvement, but also lingering problems in the workforce.

The city of Greensboro is spending more money to study the feasibility of building a downtown performing arts center.