Previously on the Rewind, we took a peek at what was happening in Raleigh during the week of March 9, 1965.
Today, we’ll take a look at the week of March 16, 1985. As both this feature and the Bard Brawl this year drew inspiration from Back to the Future, it’s only appropriate to look back on 1985 from 2015; much in the same way the first film looked back on 1955 from 1985.
So what was happening in Raleigh thirty years ago? Well, there were no reports of missing plutonium or Libyan terrorist groups, but the big story was almost as exciting: a cab company was allegedly overcharging the school district on a contract they had.
Headlines on the subject included “Wake to Hire Private Firm for Cab Inquiry,” “Schools Failed to Follow Own Rules For Monitoring Cabs” and “Contract Rides for Magnet Pupils Questioned.” The company was said to overcharged the district thousands of dollars during 1983-1984 school year.
The first article laid out the basic charges against the cab company: they overcharged a private school for mileage, improperly transported public school students in county-owned vans, and did not adequately maintain some vehicles. In 1984, the company was paid $228,221 by the county for transportation services.
However, some of the issues that came about may have been a result, in part, due to a lack of supervision from the schools affected. A second article noted that monthly reports about safety of vehicles as well as weekly mileage reports were supposed to be submitted to the schools, but these reports were apparently not being received. The schools also failed to secure signed contracts in a timely fashion.
The overpriced cabs overlapped with another transportation issue: taxiing kids to magnet schools. On March 21, The Raleigh Times wrote the following:
Since 1981, wake school officials have been paying taxicab companies — and some parents — to transport academically gifted and bilingual-education children to magnet schools in Raleigh, school records show.
State laws permitted the practice. However, a state official noted that “These laws were not designed to support a magnet-school program,” but rather, to provide transportation for handicapped students.
While this investigation was underway, two brothers were duking it out in court over use of land that had been in their family for more than two centuries. B. Robert Williamson wanted to rezone 400 acres in southeast Wake to build a 682-home subdivision.
The rezoning was denied, after B. Robert’s older brother, Bailey P., spoke in opposition. Wrote the Raleigh Times:
“This is not the Civil War,” Bailey Williamson told the planning board. “I didn’t bring my gun and I hope he didn’t bring his.”
Bailey himself owned 450 acres adjacent to B. Robert’s property, and said he would be OK with the development if it was under the existing zoning, which required minimum 30,000 square foot lots for homes, instead of the proposed 20,000.
When commissioners voted against the rezoning, they said it was contrary to a county policy against dense development in rural areas.
Wrote the Raleigh Times:
Following the decision, Bailey Williamson said being against his brother wasn’t easy. “It’s not always pleasant to oppose your brother, someone you’ve been close to all your life,” Bailey Williamson said. “We’re still close. I hope nothing has changed. I had no animosity toward him. It’s just a business deal to him.
Asked about his brother’s opposition, Robert Williamson said “To my knowledge, I’m the only one in the family still speaking to him, and it’s getting hard.”
The following headlines are all taken from issues of the Raleigh Times dating between March 16 and March 22 1985.
Court Rules No Limit on PAC Funds
Cheap Labor Backfires on Textile Industry
Falls Lake Project Rejected by Board
Dangerous Pottery Being Sold in U.S.
Jail Officials Say Man Caused His Own Industries
Vandals Whip Together “Egg McMess”
Small German Style Brewery Planned for Raleigh (The Raleigh Brewing Company)
CIA Wants Leaks Made Crime
Employers Advise: Don’t Bring Mom Along, Don’t Tap Dance
Residents Oppose Creedmoor Road Rezoning Requests
Twelve Fined in Phone Fraud
Bungling Bandits: Inept modern-day bank robbers plagued by mistakes, miscalculations
Data Show More Wake Teachers Leaving Classroom
Rezoning Draws No Opposition