Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Vote Yes for the Bonds

CMS Bonds On November 5th, voters in Mecklenburg County will consider approving $290 million for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and $210 million for Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC).  In Cornelius, voters there will also decide $20.4 million for transportation, parks and recreation, and town center bonds.

In addition to the County and Cornelius bonds, a political issue shaping this election which has gripped our community and region over the last several months is how do we fund the widening of I-77?  The current DOT plan would use HOT or toll lanes in partnership with a private company (P3 Partnership).  While details are still being worked out, even those in local and state government wrestle with the notion of tolls.

Attending our local candidate forums, it is abundantly clear many elected and business leaders are torn between a practical reality –  the need to widen our most critical transportation artery as soon as possible and  declining revenues to fund those improvements.  While we can debate whether there are adequate funds to create General Purpose Lanes instead of High Occupancy Toll lanes, there can be no question that our past elected state and transportation leaders did a poor job of forecasting the future.

There are no fingers of blame here. Remember, those same leaders were elected by their constituents.  So in essence, we have only ourselves to blame.  In a very real sense, we are left with few alternatives as we pay dearly for not having planned adequately in the past for our current and future infrastructure needs.

On November 5th, we have an opportunity to invest in the future when voters go to the polls.  The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce encourages our citizens to invest in public education and our community college system. A successful economy requires a skilled workforce capable of operating and managing industries and businesses where we exercise a competitive advantage over other regions and states.  Our public education and community college system is the foundation of our economic development efforts.

Cornelius citizens will have an additional opportunity to shape their future as they consider bonds which will make road improvements, sidewalk enhancements, finance improvements to town parks, and redevelop the town center.

The recent toll debate has led to much second guessing and a look back on what we might have done differently.   I am reminded of a quote from Victor Hugo in Les Miserables,”Nothing is more imminent than the impossible . . . what we must always foresee is the unforeseen.”

Let’s all hope looking back from the days ahead, we don’t regret the community and region we could have been simply because we didn’t take time to be informed and take advantage of our right to vote on election day.   Make an investment in our community and region and Vote Yes for the Bonds!    

Bill Russell

Bill Russell is the president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with approximately 1,000 business members in the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and greater Lake Norman region. For more information on the Bonds visit

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to saddle up

Bill Russell – Junior and Senior

This past weekend, I went horseback riding with my father through some of the trails and woods behind our family farm. It was a hot and humid July Sunday afternoon, so the shade was a  welcome relief. I’m not the horseman my dad is and I’m always leery of the tree branches as our horses step gingerly over fallen logs and soft ground.

While dad usually rides his Tennessee Walker Traveler, I ride Duke, a gorgeous young quarter horse.  We occasionally get some degree of separation between us as dad seems to, and I say this hesitantly, know where he is going but I most certainly do not.

Then as we exit into a clearing Duke loves to take off into a lope to catch up.  So, I’ve learned to always be ever ready for the unexpected when sitting atop Duke.  On the few occasions I have remarked why we also seem to venture off familiar ground and make new trails? Dad responds, “you never want to cover the same ground twice do you?”

A few days ago, new Charlotte Mecklenburg School Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison addressed a sold out luncheon of nearly 100 Chamber members and elected officials as he outlined his plan for our public school system.  Heath is a dynamic speaker and he connected well with his audience.

 Addressing our lake crowd, he reminded us all that ships are safest in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for and he and the board intend on meeting our challenges and embracing unbridled opportunities with new strategies.  CMS will utilize technology to advance education.  While expensive, and requiring a significant investment, the results will pay off.

When someone asked me recently what I thought were the most striking differences between Dr. Morrison and his predecessor Dr. Gorman.  I remarked, “While both are great speakers and the consummate professional, Dr. Gorman also appeared as if he had all the answers.  He exuded a calculated confidence.  No doubt Heath is a confident man too who has been successful in education.  However, his responses to questions seem to be more genuine and he strikes me as a person who may have a bit more humility.  He may not have all the answers, but together, we’ll seek them out.”

Jack Salzman, Ericka Ellis Stewart, Dr. Heath Morrison, Rhonda Lennon, and Bill Russell at PowerLuncheon

For our Chamber to be successful, your business and all of our members must be successful.  We too have invested heavily in our technology this year, creating a website designed to interface with search engines to give our members better exposure.

We are initiating new programs and we intend to venture onto unfamiliar trails as we look to provide you real time training, through the Internet, at times and on topics that best serve you and your business. 

We can all feel the economy moving as we make announcements of new jobs to the region, home sales rising, and retailers hearing registers ring.  While we are still far from where we want to be, our ship has left the harbor and there is wind in our sails.

Riding the trails with my dad is always an experience.  Each step of the horse is met with mild trepidation as Duke tests his footing.  I have to be ever ready for the occasional branch or the close run against the tree.  Not to mention, holding on tight when Duke dashes into the open or down the hill through the stream – but what a ride!

Leadership is about getting your people from where they are – to where they have not been.  For those willing to get involved, we’re headed where we have not been.  Whether you are an equestrian or you love the water – I invite you to saddle up and get on board!

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment