Sen. Lowe honors Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke for service

Sen. Paul Lowe presents Mayor Tempore Vivian Burke with a plaque during the City Council meeting on Monday, June 17.

Sen. Lowe honors Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke for service
June 20
09:03 2019

Amendment that would allow the discharge of rifles to control deer population sent back for discussion

During the City Council meeting earlier this week, Sen. Paul Lowe presented Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke with a plaque honoring her decades of service to the City Council and the citizens of Winston-Salem.

A native of Charlotte, Burke first won her seat to represent the Northeast Ward on the Board of Alderman, which is now known as the City Council, in 1977. She was one of the first two African American women elected to the board. Throughout her 42 years of service on the City Council, Burke has fought for the African American community and pushed to have more African Americans in positions of power. As the longtime chair of the Public Safety committee, Burke helped bring about change within the Winston-Salem Police Department, including the development of the Citizens’ Police Review Board. She is also credited for starting the Outstanding Women Leaders award.

Before getting into politics, Burke served as a guidance counselor at Atkins High School and several other schools in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County district. While standing in the city chamber on Monday evening, Sen. Lowe, who represents District 32, said when he looked at Burkes’ tenure on the City Council, he felt he had to do something.

“I graduated from high school in 1977. That’s a long time and when I look at the work she has done, I felt I had to do something,” said Sen. Lowe. “What you all do for this community and what you do to make things better for the citizens of this community is a wonderful thing and to think we have someone in our midst who has done it for over 40 years is amazing.

“I just wanted to say thank you to her for her friendship and the things I have learned from her.”

In other business, an amendment that would allow state and federal wildlife officers to discharge rifles for the purpose of eliminating deer within the boundaries of Smith Reynolds Airport was sent back to the Public Safety Committee for further discussion.

The ordinance currently in place allows wildlife officers to use shotguns, but not rifles. According to wildlife biologist James Capps, shotguns are best used for hunting birds not deer. He also mentioned that his team has conducted similar operations with rifles to remove deer from other airports across the state.

When the item came up for discussion, Councilman James Taylor said he didn’t feel comfortable voting for the amendment without having a discussion with residents who live in the vicinity of the airport. Taylor, who is the publisher of The Chronicle, abstained from voting on the item during the committee meeting earlier this month.

“I would like to have seen an opportunity to have more public input on this issue, especially from the community surrounding the airport,” continued Taylor. “I understand the need to curtail the deer population. I think it makes sense to protect the residents who are using the planes and the equipment at the airport, but I think we have to do it at the same time protecting the community.

“They can already shoot shotguns there, but I think when you add rifles and suppressors without notifying the community, that gives cause for concern. I don’t think it’s a bad proposal, but I think absent the community input, it’s hard for me to support this item.”

Burke, who represents the Northeast Ward where the airport is located, said from her understanding, residents were notified of the change. According to City Manager Lee Garrity, airport officials have said they plan to notify residents the weekend before they do any deer harvesting.

After hearing the plan of action, Councilmember Denise “D.D.” Adams said she agreed with Taylor. She said telling residents a few days before wildlife experts are scheduled to arrive wasn’t enough.

“You can’t just tell people the weekend before you’re going to shoot rifles. I agree with Councilmember Taylor that we need to pull this back and make sure that everybody in the community around that airport understands what is getting ready to happen and why.”

Following discussion on the item, Burke made the motion to send the item back to the Public Safety Committee for more discussion. The item is expected to be discussed at the next committee meeting scheduled for Monday, July 8.

The City Council also approved several ordinances pertaining to the 2019-2020 budget including a tax levy ordinance, project budget ordinance, and the Capital Plan for fiscal years 2019-2020 through 2024-2025.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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