Turnage still a hot topic

Published 7:52 pm Saturday, November 10, 2012

Although Washington’s City Council discussed the Turnage Theater during the closed-session part of its meeting Monday, it took no action following that discussion.
Earlier that day, the theater was sold at auction to Wells Fargo, NA for $442,800.
Two weeks ago, the City of Washington, sent a letter of intent to purchase the property for $150,000 in cash to buy the Turnage Theater, but the offer was not accepted before the sale. Gardner said that once market value was determined, the Turnage Theater would be put up for sale by the bank.
Gerald Seighman, a Washington resident, did discuss the Turnage Theater during the public-comments section of the council’s meeting. Seighman said he was not speaking for or against the possibility of the city buying the Turnage Theater.
“Rather, I am speaking in response to the scathing Washington Daily News editorial criticizing the lack of citizen comments during the last City Council meeting. As an attendee at the last City Council meeting, I was unable to offer an intelligent opinion about the proposed acquisition, primarily because the City Council did not provide any information necessary for me to form an opinion,” Seighman said. “For example, where would the money come from to purchase the building? What are the annual operating costs for utilities, insurance, maintenance? What group would operate the enterprise? Hopefully, not the same ones that failed to make it go the first time.”
Seighman wanted to know about the business plan for a new Turnage Theater and if that plan ensures that the taxpayers are not subsidizing “only the special-interest groups’ type of entertainment.” Seighman wondered if the city would have to raise taxes to help pay for expenses associated with operating the Turnage Theater and funding other nonprofit enterprises.
“Will the business plan provide revenue to the city to compensate for the lost city and county property taxes? If a private firm purchased it, they would pay taxes,” he said. “Will the business plan take revenue away from the existing theater in Washington, and possibly cause that business to fail?”
Mayor Archie Jennings thanked Seighman for his remarks, and the council moved on to other business.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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