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Half of 301 Forward funding pays group's chairman




The Wilson City Council put its support behind 301 Forward when it formed in 2013 and eventually provided the group with $39,000 in funding of which more than half goes to the chairman for a stipend.

Willie Williams, the city’s retired police chief, receives a $2,000 per month, or $24,000 a year, stipend as the head of 301 Forward, which has a membership of 28 people. The group formed as an outgrowth of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce in February 2013 as a public-private partnership, with support from city staff, in an effort to improve U.S. 301, area neighborhoods and east Wilson.

"I think we’ve been successful with a lot, but it’s going to take time and years and money to get upgrades on U.S. 301,” Williams said. "We are beginning to see some growth over there. I don’t know if our activities had anything to do with it, but we’re seeing some movement right now.”

When the council decided to support 301 Forward with a portion of its discretionary funds in July, Williams’ stipend was not publicly discussed. About $11,000 has been used for meeting expenses, supplies, advertising and other miscellaneous costs, Williams said. The group has about $4,000 left from the city’s allocation.

"I work part time,” said Williams, who spends time talking with residents and U.S. 301 property owners, coordinates small and large meetings, including the Choice Neighborhood Initiative, speaks before community groups and is a member of several related boards, including the Wilson Downtown Development Corp., Wilson Downtown Properties and the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House.

"I’m supposed to work 16 hours a week, but I don’t work less than 25 hours. I do a lot of things with people who live on 301 and discuss problems.”

It isn’t unusual for the city’s discretionary funding to be used for salaries. In 2008, when the council decided to provide the Preservation of Wilson with funding, it was known from the start that the money would help pay the salary of the director, said Councilwoman Gwen Burton.

"That was clear going in,” Burton said. "It was full disclosure upfront.”

The council has continued to provide the Preservation of Wilson with $50,000 each year from its discretionary fund because of its success in preserving some of the city’s historic properties, Burton said. Discretionary funds, which come from a portion of Wilson Energy late fees, have also supported other groups, including the Whirligig Festival and Wilson 20|20.

Burton said she didn’t know that Williams is receiving a stipend.

"No, I did not know that,” she said. "I haven’t heard this before or read it before.”

Burton isn’t opposed to Williams receiving payment for his work in trying to improve the U.S. 301 corridor because it’s an area of the city that needs significant improvements, she said.

"I’m not against it going toward a stipend,” Burton said. "The needs are great and people have been working on it a long time.”

Burton was concerned when the announcement of 301 Forward came before the council, in 2013, because it came with a council decision to disband its Highway 301 Advisory Committee. Burton voted against the group’s dissolution and called it a firing because committee members weren’t pre-warned of the pending decision.

"It was a painful thing they did,” Burton said.

Members of the Highway 301 Advisory committee were upset and taken off-guard by the decision. They also called it a firing and said city officials didn’t appreciate their work to improve the corridor. Their concerns led Mayor Bruce Rose to write a letter addressing the concerns. It was published in The Wilson Times.

The council usually makes its discretionary funding decisions after the city budget is adopted. Williams said 301 Forward is requesting the same amount for the upcoming fiscal year.

rochelle@wilsontimes.com | 265-7818
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Frankly I think that's abslluteoy good stuff. said...

Frankly I think that's abslluteoy good stuff.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 8:59 PM
Rodriguez Perkins said...

To said:
one of three ain't bad!

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 9:47 PM
said...

Hey Twindad:
I think I will start "going around and talking to people about how we can make things better". Is that "getting involved"?
Yes
Maybe you and I can get together this Saturday and organize a trash pick-up on Highway 301.
You don't need me, just do it.
We are making sure our displeasure is being heard
You're just bellyaching. Talk is cheap. Get involved. Your two ideas are great. Get busy.
I wonder if your name is Willie Williams, Gwen Burton, Bruce Rose
It is not
Maybe you're their campaign manager
I am not
You sure sound like you're okay with the money that they are wasting.
I am not
I will look for you on Saturday. :-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 9:10 AM
Astute Observer said...

To Twindad:
Nice attempt at a red herring!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 11:00 PM
twindad said...

Student of History, when something is being done wrong and unethically, the answer or solution is not simply to "get involved". If you were truly a student of history, you would know that. It is wrong for $24,000 out of a $39,000 funding (more than 61.5%) to go to only one person whose job description, by his own admission, is to "go around and talk to people about how we can make things better". It is unethical that very, very few people knew this individual was receiving this stipend and that filling this position was not done openly and competitively and was basically handed to a member of the Wilson Good Ol' Boy Club.
And, your solution to this fiasco is to "get involved"?! That's great. I think I will start "going around and talking to people about how we can make things better". Is that "getting involved"? Maybe you and I can get together this Saturday and organize a trash pick-up on Highway 301. Or, we can set up a tent and wave at everybody that drives by. I am sure "getting involved" that way will make a big difference and fix this unfair and unethical mess.
Those of us who are fed up with and offering harsh criticism of this situation ARE "getting involved". We are making sure our displeasure is being heard -- which is more than you're doing! All you're doing is saying, "Stop looking back and calm down. Don't criticize unless you are doing something. Let these people continue to do wrong and unethical things."
I wonder if your name is Willie Williams, Gwen Burton, Bruce Rose or maybe you're their campaign manager -- because you sure sound like you're okay with the money that they are wasting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM
Student of History said...

Like I said - stop looking back. Forget whether or not the job was advertised. Make a proposal on how YOU can do a better job and add more value. Forget what happened, you can't change that. Get involved, the taxpayers are waiting.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 1:15 PM Gwen Burton said...

is a lifelong taker and about as worthless as Willie Williams is. if she shows up for work at OIC as little as she shows up for council meetings, she is way overpaid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 10:24 AM To Student of History said...

There was no advertising of the job. It was done, as most of Willie's deals are, behind closed doors. When the money runs dry he will declare that he has all he can do for the Hwy 301 project and move on to his next con job.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 9:14 AM Student of History said...

Hey guys,
Stop looking backward. Don't thing Willie is worth the $24K he is being paid for part time work? Apply for the job. Show what YOU would do that would be a better value. I am sure the taxpayers would be appreciative of some with a plan rather than only bellyaching.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 7:49 AM The Teacher said...

Today class we're going to read a story. It's called Willie Williams rides The Cash COW....
Me Don't wanna eat moooo chicken, Gimme mooo money...cha ching,ching, ring-a-ling he said as he skipped down Nash St.over to the Mayor's office.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 5:44 AM when are you imbeciles said...

ever going to get tired of shooting yourselves in the foot and send this longtime bunch of parasitic leeches , you call elected officials and all their friends,family, cronies and big donors packing ?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 10:24 PM Willie Impersonator voice said...

The Chief want to know why some citizen are challenging the Chief. Your tiny $24,000 is nothing compared to what the City spends on Chief's health insurance and retirement payments. Oh, and the Chief almost forgot to thank all you citizens for the wonderful salary while Chief was on contract after his retirement. Gravy Train, cha ching$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM twindad said...

Willie Williams said it is going to take a LOT OF TIME to get the 301 problem fixed, but to KEEP THE STIPEND COMING during all this time.
Gwen Burton said she DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING about a stipend, but that shouldn't be an issue because she DOESN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING.
Our Wilson community is in GREAT HANDS.

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 2:08 PM Clean House said...

It's time to clean house on the Wilson City Council. This 301 deal shows just how corrupt our "leaders" are.

Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 2:33 PM Hey City of Wilson said...

I don't like you adding $42 to my fees this upcoming year so you can fund programs that are largely ineffective and lucrative to a just a few persons.

Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 3:14 AM jmo said...

It's way past time for Bruce Rose to retire from being mayor. This incident shows town council doesn't have a grasp on what's really happening in Wilson. Term limits are needed so new blood can govern this city.

Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 7:06 PM SMDH said...

When the council decided to support 301 Forward with a portion of its discretionary funds in July, Williams’ stipend was not publicly discussed. About $11,000 has been used for meeting expenses, supplies, advertising and other miscellaneous costs, Williams said. The group has about $4,000 left from the city’s allocation.
In July 2013, the city decided to fund this Hwy 301 project just after the mayor decided to disband the 301 Task Force. Gave the old group no funds to operate with and got upset when they tried to make things better and do good for towards their community. Now a man who doesn't even live in east Wilson, had nothing to do with being on the Advisory committee ever before, never showed an interest in Hwy 301 gets $24,000, just like that... for doing what all the folks who ever sat on that task force or advisory committee did for free and/or were forced to do for free for the betterment of their community. Heck does Willie William even have the green book???


Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 6:52 AM wow said...

Bruce Rose killed the 301 Advisory Committee and the city council members went along with it. There is a video of that and it shows the community exactly what the city's intentions were. The folk that sat on the advisiory committee were active residents with a vested interest along 301 and the surrounding area. When they asked the city for help they ignored them and told them it wasn't any the money in the budget that's true. But they also told them they had no business setting up meetings talking to the business people and trying to find ways to make the corridor better. Now a year down the road Willie Williams is getting paid to do what those other folk did for free and the question is why? Who made that decision. And who said ok? Was it the mayor, was it the city council, was it Rodger Lentz who liked to argue with Doris Jones all the time because she wanted to see improvement before she died.It's not but corruption everywhere you look in Wilson NC. I really thought this community was better than that. Guess not so much.

Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 6:41 AM The corruption continues said...

I don't know Willie Williams, wasn't around when he was the chief of police. What I do know is he does not live on the east side of Wilson and he has no real reason to come on that side of town except when its time for a photo opt. So that's still not benefitting the residents or the corridor unless on occasion he comes over and spends a few dollars at Parkers just to say he's spending money on that side.

Saturday, June 21, 2014 at 6:33 AM Shocking said...

Wiilie doing something under the table for self profit. Shocking!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 9:36 AM Slick Willie said...

Willie Williams has made a ton of money pulling the wool over the City's eyes. He doesn't give a crap about Hwy 301 or anything else. Willie Williams looks out for Willie Williams. A true snake he is!

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 8:23 AM Michael said...

Really? Seriously??? 24000 a year and we get, "I don't know if our activities had anything to do with it"!! While 24000 is a very tiny amount when compared to what the city spends in a year this clearly shows how stupid people are when they are spending other people's money. What a waste! Shame on you all...

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 7:09 AM YOYO said...

Slick Willie is at it again!

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 4:19 AM Howard said...

Gwen Burton never said a word to the 301 Advisory Committee the council sunset know about any discretionary funds available. Why now? God gonna still get all y'all for what you did.

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 9:23 PM The Truth said...

The Wilson City Council is a joke!

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 5:29 PM Hate to say it said...

I see 301 getting worse before better. the movement west has just started. May take several years to see a change. Getting property owners to clean up may be the best you can do.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 4:45 PM @BTJ said...

Well the new people voted into office are no better. We can't vote for better people when there are no "better" people running for the jobs. God help us if we voted in some of the alternatives! That would have been a big old mess. I'm not opposed to things like the Whirligig Park which was mostly private funds...Parks are a different beast than business. Parks are not there to make a profit and add value to owners/shareholders like a business. No matter if 301 was spotless with brand new buildings on every corner, if they can't make the most value for money spent, they are not going to locate there; which is evident by what has happened to date.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 2:47 PM said...

The taxpayers are being fleeced once again and the city council is letting it happen. $24,000. for that job is ridiculous!

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 2:38 PM BTJ said...

With the tens of millions of visitors coming after the whirligig park is completed there should be plenty of money to throw away on 301. Maybe Donald Trump will build a Trump Tower out by the old Burger King building. Keep voting the same old ones in election after election Citizens and you will continue to get the same old results.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM BTJ said...

All these complaints yet come election time the same useless ones get voted back in term after term. So who's to blame. Wish I could work 25 hrs
a week and make $24,000.00.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 1:50 PM Curtis said...

I would like to earn $2,000.00 a month for approx 64 hours of lLABOR.......Don'T sweat too much Mr Williams.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM Joe said...

If Mr. Williams really wants 301 to grow and look better, then why take so much of the allotted money. Sounds like an easy retirement plan to me!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 9:35 AM said...

"but we’re seeing some movement right now.” Like what? All businesses that had any real value moved and did so for a reason. Yet we'll spend time and money trying to fix something that can't be fixed and doesn’t need to be fixed. When are people going to learn that business moves where they can make a profit, not where government wants them to locate or how “pretty” something is. Mall was a prime example in just how much influence our local government DID NOT have. Clean up 301, yes! That should be a goal of common sense but not with funding a committee. Writing was on the wall when they put I95 in how many years ago? Then people started the trend of moving further and further west in Wilson toward I95 and 264 along with business, but no excuse for the junky looking 301 that has resulted. That’s just a poor personal accountability and reflection on those who own the properties in that area.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 8:24 AM jamatar said...

a steep stipend ...taxpayers you are being had on all sides

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 6:55 AM Jella Ree said...

Well, this is another outrage.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 6:46 AM
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