Buice column: The road to victory

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2019

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This time, a road didn’t define the election.

But that was certainly the case in two of the previous four times when Clemmons voters went to the polls.

Everyone remembers the 2017 “Stop The Median” election, where three incumbent council members — Mary Cameron, Lanny Farmer and Mike Rogers — were swept aside.

There was no place on that ballot to vote on whether or not to have a median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road, but it sure seemed that way as newcomers — Michelle Barson, Scott Binkley and Pamela (PJ) Lofland — rode that anti-median movement, along with new Mayor John Wait, to victory.

But in some ways, that paled in comparison to 2011 when three incumbent council members were again sent home, but this time two of the three winners were write-in candidates (then-newcomer Nick Nelson, who eventually served two terms as mayor, was the only one on ballot to prevail).

Instead of a median, the issue eight years ago was opposition to the council calling for a $6 million bond referendum to let voters decide whether or not to authorize funding for improvements to — you guessed it — Lewisville-Clemmons Road.

The voters soundly defeated it and also got rid of all those on the ballot running for re-election who chose to put that item on there. John Bost, the mayor at the time, barely survived the carnage, getting 51 percent of the vote to nip Jim Hayes, the lone write-in candidate who didn’t win.

Throughout all these years while many incumbents have been kicked to the curb, the road remains an obstacle course and is constantly an accident waiting to happen. However, since the last election, the council allocated its Transportation Advisory Committee points to the Lewisville-Clemmons Road improvements project through NCDOT with the reassurance that Clemmons would be involved in the process going forward.

So that’s where things stand with a road that has heavily impacted the direction of local government with its elected officials. Now, after last week’s election, veteran council members Cameron and Rogers return to join top vote-getter Chris Wrights, who was re-elected from the current council, along with returning members Barson and Binkley — and Wait receiving a second term as mayor.

Meanwhile, Lofland, the most vocal council member opposed to the median who cast the lone dissenting vote last year against doing the project with NCDOT, will be departing.

So could this be the end of this road impacting Clemmons elections? Perhaps, but don’t bet on it for sure.

After all, right-of-way acquisition for the project is not scheduled to begin until 2023 with construction to start in 2025. Between now and then, that’s three more elections.

And if there’s an election with Lewisville-Clemmons Road involved, it seems like anything can happen.

• • • • •

Speaking of roads, I always dread driving to and through Charlotte and having to deal with the nightmare that is I-77 and that 25-mile stretch of road construction north of the city.

Now they’ve made enough progress (?) where they have what is called “Express Lanes” (basically toll roads) through “NC Quick Pass” or “Bill By Mail” now open. I went through there Saturday afternoon where road work was being done and the two “regular” lanes were a sea of red lights with traffic backed up for miles.

Then there were three of these “Express Lanes” to the left with no traffic at all. It seems like perhaps those in charge could shift some of the stalled traffic to those wide open lanes during the busiest construction times to help with traffic flow.

But then we’d be in the way of people who obviously are not using these roads — perhaps because they’re too new or drivers are confused about paying for them.

So we stay in our clogged lanes going nowhere until, I suppose they are banking on, the frustration level gets to the point where we cave in and pay tolls.

• • • • •

As a proud Appalachian State alum, I never dreamed I’d see my team beat Carolina once in a season, much less twice.

But after defeating North Carolina 34-31 in Chapel Hill on a glorious sun-splashed September afternoon, the Mountaineers completed the Carolina sweep on a chilly Saturday night in Columbia by knocking off South Carolina 20-15.

Wow. For all App State fans, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I understand the App State bookstore didn’t waste any time getting an order form out for an appropriate T-shirt to celebrate the latest special occasion: “Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Beat Both Carolinas in 2019.”

I need to get one of those.