Town is Steered in a New Direction - Confidence "on the Move" by the Weekly Staff
Feb 11th, 2011 - as published in Scottsville Weekly, Issue No.39
In May of 2010, the Town Council voted to recognize Jim Norwood as the Economic Development Director of theChamber of Commerce. Although it's not a government position, it is a designated individual that people are encouraged to trust and talk to because he is there to help their businesses and the town. Mr. Norwood stated that this mission was to "revitalize" the spirit of Scottsville, in order for our community to prosper, and urged "consolidating our thoughts and actions" through his office.
The previous month, Mr.Norwood had collaborated with members of the Town and the Chamber in exploring potential ideas for Scottsville's reuse of the vacant Hyosung Facility. He then crafted a statement of these intentions and sent them in an E-mail letter to Randy Marcus, who is Chief of Staff for the Office of the Lt. Governor, & Chief Jobs Creation Office. Unwittingly, Mr. Norwood committed a stylistic faux pas and switched the CAPS LOCK on for the STATEMENT, followed by exactly 457 words in all capital letters. Is this for real? Everybody who uses E-mail and the internet knows that you do not write someone in all caps. (seen at: http://scottsvilleweekly.com/jimemail.html)
One Town Councillor even wrote to the Chamber's President Brian LaFontaine, asking him, "Why is Jim Norwood writing letters to state government leaders and using ALL CAPS? Isn't that for weather emergencies and email shouting matches?" to which Brian responded, "Yes, need to review "email etiquette" with Jim. I think he mistankenly uses caps for emphasis not realizing that in the email culture it suggests anger, shouting, etc." Later, when the Town Council had a meeting with Jim and the subject was brought up, he just didn't seem to get it at all.
In that letter to the Lt.Gov's office, he said, "We have begun to process of developing a Economic Development Plan for Scottsville and it's estimated to be ready in 30/45 days." Quite possibly, this plan included his playing the role of helpful advocate to businesses around town. When Mr. Norwood approached 330 Valley Street restaurant owner John Keaton and asked him if he needed any help, John said that he did. Jim actually had a group of people with a variety of business experiences lined up (Cynthia Bruce, Ron Lauziere, and Linda LaFontaine), who were ready to come in as a team to help John get organized. Jim closely examined 330's books, taking about 3 weeks to analyze a year's worth of receipts and materials that Mr.Keaton entrusted him with, to identify areas of profitablility and loss. And then Jim made John an offer.
When this reporter asked John, "What was the offer that he made to you?"...John replied, "He asked not to buy my business, but to lease my business, for 10% of what sales came in....So, if he made $30 thousand in sales for that month, he would give me $3,000." It was not a fair offer, considering John's mortgage was 5.5 grand per month. There was no deal struck here. John never heard back from Jim again, although Stephan Hawranke- who holds John's mortgage- did (and the message was probably in ALL CAPS:). Seems Jim wanted Stephan to notify him if John ever couldn't meet his monthy obligation...
Online one night, John ran across Nathan Blessings from Country Blessings on Facebook Chat. From their chat, John learned that earlier, Jim had also approached Nathan and attempted to lease his business, but that Jim had only offered him 5%. Let's say this story has some similarities to the scenario with 330. And the group, remember the group? They weren't involved in helping Nathan out either; in fact, the group really didn't know what Jim was doing. Everyone is kinda fending for themselves nowadays.
Working his way up Valley Street, he approached a third restaurant- Pee Wee's Pit BBQ - in the late spring/early summer of last year. Owner Suzette Olyer said, "The first time he came in....he announced that he was buying a hot dog cart for his daughter and wanted to know if Pee Wee's would facilitate her business because the Health Department requires that they be tied in with a commercial kitchen somewhere. "Suzette said no the first few times, but "he kept coming back and kept coming back....and I eventually relented." The arrangement was a mutually beneficial one for those couple of months. When an essential piece of equipment, the ice machine, gave out and the Oylers didn't have the bucks to get it fixed, Jim offered to pay the $445 repair bill. Afterall, the hot dog biz needed ice every day, too. As fall approached, he never asked to see her books and help her out in that way.
With the approach of colder weather, Mr. Norwood asked Suzette if the girls could sell their hots dogs inside of her restaurant, but she said no. Finally, he came out with it and said he wanted to buy her business and hire her to run it. Again, she declined, thinking, "You could hire me, take my secrets, then let me go!" Not a smart move to see this set-up to someone else when she had a franchise business beyond her eatery.
Then he asked her who her landlord was. "So like a dummy I told him and they knew each other; they were buddies from way back, when he owned Jimmy on the James. "When September arrived and it was time for her to renew her lease, both men tried to convince her that splitting the lease with someone else was the only way to go. She remained steadfast in her wish to be a solo concern; then the landloard declined to renew her lease, and sent her a letter giving her the date when she had to vacate.
On the day Suzette started getting her things out of the building (around 1pm), they decided to give their tables to Camp Watermakes and take their ice machine and cash register along with them. "When we told Mr. Norwood we were taking the ice machine, he said "No, your'e not." We went back and forth. He's the one that instigated a shouting match, not me. He'll shout over you to shut you up."
Because interior staining was going on, both of the front doors were opened wide for ventilation. The first thing that Jim threw out the entrance was the blackboard. Then he threw out Suzette's cash register and, "KLUNK! It made a lot of noise!" (Now, was that very helpful, or necessary?) They had to reach some type of agreement. The offer to fix the machine didn't include the right to own the machine at all. They had to reach some type of agreement because the yelling wasn't working, so Jim decided that he wanted his part back from out of the machine. Suzette gave him until five that day to get the man back in to take out that part. He called the repairman five times in an hour and the repairman refused to come there to take that part out, not his style to undo good work. The Oylers took their ice machine and that was that.
In retrospect, Suzette says, "When he came in intially, it was on friendly terms, until....I realized he really wasn't motivated for the town, but his own self-interests." Norwood is said to be behind some community classes coming into town this Spring to help the public learn new stuff. Let's hope that one of these classes is Anger Management 101.
If you are a business that needs help and wants to know more about it, you will not find the information on the Chamber website; there is nothing on the site that promotes or shows any information about the Economic Development Committee or the Director, nothing at all except for an email address.
Mr. Norwood has been administrator of the EDO for nearly a year........we are still hoping to see the fruits of "those projects that will enhance our quality of living in Scottsville," let alone a "rivitalized spirit that will permeate throughout the county and state."
It was after this letter was written, that Mr.Nowood resigned from his position as the Economic Development Director of the Scottsville Community Chamber of Commerce. It's not hard to see why, afterall, this letter most definitely enhances his problem with anger, and is full of hate propaganda. Calling for a boycott of anyone's business is not the aim of the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Williams has done plenty of service for this town, including his two years on Town Council and the few years he did service for the Chamber of Commerce.
Whoah Jim, this letter was filled with so much bogus infromation, one has to wonder why you made up such a goofy story.?
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