Budget-buster bids causing sticker shock

Published 8:34 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

“A million here, a million there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”

The late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen spoke those words about the federal budget long ago. It might also apply this week to the new Davie County High School construction project.

Supposed to cost $54 million, bids unsealed last week were considerably higher. The lowest construction bid was $59 million. That doesn’t include a list of extras and the cost of outfitting the school. County commissioner Mark Jones predicted a final cost of $67 million.

“There are way too many questions right now,” he said.

Uncharacteristically, the board voted 3-2 on Monday to plow ahead, starting the process to borrow $54.3 million and sorting out the details later.

Jones and commissioner Dan Barrett voted in vain to delay. As Barrett has noted, doing this process right is important to the success of any future school bond projects. Their integrity is on the line. If the commissioners and school board can’t live within their means, voters won’t be fooled next time.

There were sure to be bumps in the road to building the school. The construction bids are a major setback.

Similar to buying a new car, this school can be built without some of the pricey options. Will the school board give up leather seats for cloth and toss the four-wheel drive and heated seats?

Taxpayers might rightly be concerned that they are getting more than they bargained for.

• • • • •

Yellow dandelions were the most populous wildflower decorating the graves in God’s Acre on Sunday morning. Normally, I frown at dandelions. On Easter Sunday, they seemed very appropriate and pretty as they bloomed among the tombstones.

My geraniums placed on relatives’ graves were slightly nipped by the cold Saturday night. Temperatures dipped to 36 degrees, cold enough to damage delicate flowers.

Otherwise, it was a beautiful Easter morning. We civilized Macedonia Moravians do our sunrise service at 11 a.m., leaving the milking time hours for the official sunrise service to the Old Salem folks. By then, temperatures had warmed for us, the sun was out and light jackets were enough.

Flowers — especially those brought on Sunday morning — were beautiful.

I mixed geraniums with an artificial arrangement this year. In years past, I would have considered that heresy. I’ve mellowed about such things.

Speaking of heresy, I see that First Baptist Church of Winston-Salem has named a woman as its senior pastor.  There was a time churches subscribed to the Paulian doctrine that women should be quiet in church. No longer. Women tend to be the worker bees in most congregation. Let them preach, too.

I changed my mind about women pastors when I heard Shirley Cottle speak for the first time 25 years ago. She was good. I’m still a firm believer that preachers should be happy since they are spreading “Good News.” Shirley is happy.

In God’s Acre on Friday, my little granddaughters from Virginia dutifully and enthusiastically scrubbed their grandmother’s grave at the Macedonia cemetery. They also scrubbed their great-grandfather’s grave and their great-great grandparents and great-great-great grandparents and assorted great-great uncles and aunts … and some others just because they hadn’t grown tired.

I gave them my own version of “Roots,” stories from the past generations. They seemed most intrigued by my Uncle Kermit, killed at age 2 when he was kicked in the head by my grandfather’s plow horse. And their faces frowned at the story about Kermit’s sister, “Little Edith,” who died at nine days old.

That section of the cemetery is filled with children, and the granddaughters had trouble with the term “failure to thrive.” I had trouble too. My Cayden insisted that one of our flowers go on Little Edith’s grave.

– Dwight Sparks