Dome: McCrory uses fire to highlight sorry state of NC buildings

FROM STAFF REPORTSJanuary 15, 2013 

Gov. Pat McCrory showed reporters the site of an electrical fire in the Administration Building on Monday, using it illustrate how badly the property had deteriorated.

“This building could have been destroyed and we could have had a loss of life,” McCrory said. “That is how broken the system is right now. And this is one of the better buildings we have right now in state government.’’

“Before we build any new buildings, we have to take care of some of the existing buildings and make sure they are safe for employees and make sure they have sufficient security for information systems, and make sure these long-term maintenance problems are fixed or it is going to cost the taxpayers even more money,’’ McCrory said.

The fire broke out Friday afternoon on the first floor of the Administration Building, and was extinguished by a Capitol Police officer, after the alarm was sounded. The employees, some of the new McCrory administration appointees, spent two hours outside the building Friday.

The fire started in a small room, described as little more than a closet, that had been converted into a server room, that lacked proper ventilation, according to Chris Estes, head of information systems. An electronic device overheated and started to burn some wires.

“You have a building that wasn’t really designed for today’s technology and so it’s been adapted,” Estes said.

The building, constructed in the 1960s, houses many of the offices of the governor’s staff, a secondary office for the governor, the budget office, and the staff of the Department of Administration. The state has deferred maintenance on many state and university buildings during the recent economic downturn.

Dem hopefuls face off

The two leading candidates for the N.C. Democratic Party chairmanship will face off at a forum Wednesday in Chapel Hill.

Former state Sen. Eric Mansfield and Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller will lay out their plans to revive the crippled state party, burdened by controversial Chairman David Parker and big losses in the November election. At the town hall, Democratic activists can ask questions. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at Extraordinary Ventures, 200 S. Elliott Road. It is free and open to the public.

Mansfield recently debuted a new website that lays out his vision, what he identifies as the four Ms: mobilize, message, mending and money.

Holshouser recovering

Former Gov. Jim Holshouser is home recovering from a bout with pneumonia. “He’s fine,’’ said George Little, his longtime friend.

Holshouser, 78, North Carolina’s first 20th century Republican governor (1973-77) missed the inauguration of the state’s first 21st century GOP governor – Pat McCrory – on Saturday because of his illness.

He spent one night in the hospital out of precaution but was released Friday, Little said. But the Southern Pines attorney was advised not to attend the inauguration while he recovered from his illness.

Holshouser was honored in a reception on Dec. 13 at the University of North Carolina School of Government, where a professorship was named in his honor. Supporters raised more than $333,000 for the endowed chair along with $167,000 of state matching funds.

The event attracted former Governors Jim Martin and Jim Hunt as well as many longtime friends and supporters of Holshouser.

Staff writers Rob Christensen and John Frank

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