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PGV remains busy even without AA

Pitt-Greenville Airport’s executive director said while continued suspension of American Airlines service has reduced revenues, no local layoffs are planned for airport personnel and improvements are underway at the facility.

Earlier this week it was announced that American Airlines service, which was scheduled to resume Dec. 1, will remain suspended until Jan. 4.

While Thanksgiving weekend saw the largest amount of air travel since mid-March, when most states issues stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19, travel has been significantly reduced, said Kim W. “Bill” Hopper, Pitt-Greenville Airport’s executive director.

Less travel and the end of the federal payroll protection program funding in the fall, which required airlines to continue service and keep people on the payroll, are why service wasn’t restored as was hoped in November.

Hopper said after American alerted him to the suspension extension, he went to the airline’s website and saw bookings out of Greenville were available starting in January.

Commercial airline service and associated needs such as parking, make up about a third of the airport’s budget, Hopper said.

The delay has an impact on revenues, Hopper said, “but we are doing what we can to continue the operation and be ready for American when they decide to resume service.”

The airport is taking care of its roadways and parking lots and working on the airfield. It’s also doing work inside the terminal such as making improvements to the baggage handling system.

Because of that work, and careful budget management, Hopper said staff layoffs aren’t necessary.

“I would much rather have the airline here, but we are trying to do some things that not having that activity here makes getting things done easier,” Hopper said.

The airport also continues servicing sports charters, corporate flights and other airport activity, he said.

Holiday events

Thursday’s reverse parade in Ayden is among many events set to ring in the season while taking pandemic precautions. Here are more events coming up:

Sugar Plum Pop-Up

Greenville Museum of Art, 802 S. Evans St., will host Sugar Plum Pop-Up from 5-8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature a variety of locally made artworks, crafts and other items for sale. Face coverings are required, and no more than 25 people will be permitted inside the museum. For more information, visit gmoa.org or call 758-1946.

Greenville parade

The 2020 Greenville Jaycees Christmas Parade, “A Christmas to Remember,” will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday along First Street and Reade Circle downtown. Parade entries will remain stationary, and patrons will drive by to view them. Visit www.greenvillejaycees.com.

Greenville Gives

The City of Greenville and Uptown Greenville will host Greenville Gives from 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Five Points Plaza, Evans and Fifth streets. The event will include a holiday market and a chance to make donations to local nonprofit organizations. Donations of the following items are requested: nonperishable foods, paper towels, toilet tissue, dental hygiene items, bath essentials, socks and toys. Precautions will be in place. Call 329-4567.

Homes tour

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s 19th annual Christmas Homes Tour, a virtual event, will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. The tour will include a one-hour virtual tour of four homes decorated for Christmas. Featured homes include Greenville homes of Caroline and Tom Luvender and Cindy Mills and Manny Zervos; the Fountain home of Tracey and Henry Smith; and the Washington, N.C. home of Catherine and Charles Young. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit Community Crossroads Center, the city’s homeless shelter. Visit stpaulsepiscopal.com. Call 752-3482 for more information.

Christmas Town

Christmas Town in Ayden will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. The event will include Santa’s village on West Avenue in front of the stage. Santa will be available for socially distanced photos from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5-7 p.m. Snow machines, letters to Santa and other activities will be available. Downtown businesses will have sales and giveaways. A tree lighting ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Town Hall. Free cookies and hot chocolate will be served. Visit facebook.com/townofayden.

At Home With Santa

Emerge Gallery & Art Center, 404 Evans St., will host “At Home With Santa” from 1-5:30 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 12. The Zoom event will feature a 10-minute videoconferencing call designed to allow children to talk with Santa while remaining at home. Participants also will receive a letter from Santa and an ornament. Tickets are $30 for one child and $10 for additional children participating on the same call. Registration is limited, and reservations are required. Visit emergegallery.com or email paula@emergegallery.com.

Step into Christmas

The Pitt County Council on Aging will hold its Step Into Christmas Holiday Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday outside of the Pitt County Senior Center, 4551 County Home Road. Call Cyndi at 752-1717, Ext 205, or email her at cshimer@pittcoa.com for information.

Winterfest Weekend

Local artisans, potters and craftsmen will be featured during Winterfest Weekend on Saturday and Sunday at The Barn at Nooherooka in Snow Hill. Nooherooka Natural will also hold its annual Holiday Meat Sale at the General Store on the farm. A $5 entry fee includes a raffle ticket for a chance to win a Nooherooka Holiday Meat Box ($150 value). Masks required, temp checks performed at entry, limited shoppers at one time, sanitizing station provided. Call 714-2650 for ticket information and vendor registration. The Barn at Nooherooka is at 2029 Mewborn Church Road in Snow Hill.

Christmas at Hope

Historic Hope Foundation, 132 Hope House Road, Windsor, will be open for tours of the newly interpreted Hope mansion decorated for Christmas from Dec. 5-11. Tours are 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. for $6 per person. Schedule a tour by calling 794-3140 or email christmas@hopeplantation.org. Tour numbers are limited to eight people because of the pandemic so contact us soon! Face masks are required. Regular tours are available Dec. 12-19, and virtual tours are available starting Dec. 6 at hopeplantation.org or through a link on their Facebook page (facebook.com/hopeplantation).

Light at The Refuge

The Refuge, 1380 Lower Field Road, Ayden, will host Light at The Refuge through Dec. 23. The drive-through tour will feature lights on the Christian camp property, where restored houses have been decorated to reflect the biblical Christmas story. Hours are 6-9 p.m. today and Saturday, Dec. 10-12, Dec. 17-19 and Dec. 21-23. There is no admission charge, but donations will be accepted. Call 746-4766 or visit ncrefuge.org.

Wonderland of Lights

Hoggard Christmas Wonderland of Lights, 101 Dalton Drive, Windsor, will be open for the season through Jan. 1. The Christmas display features 500,000 lights, handmade silhouettes, figurines and inflated Christmas decorations. Times are 5-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted. Visit facebook.com/hoggardchristmaswonderlandoflights.

Festival of Trees

The Family Support Network of Eastern N.C. will host the 25th annual Festival of Trees from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Dec. 23 at the Greenville Convention Center, 303 S.W. Greenville Blvd. The free event features a variety of holiday-themed trees, sponsored by individuals, businesses and church and civic organizations.

Choral concert

Greenville Choral Society’s Concert Choir will present “The Many Moods of Christmas” in an online, digital concert, premiering at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday on the society’s Facebook page, facebook.com/greenvillechoralsociety. The concert will feature a suite of Christmas favorites arranged by Robert Shaw and Robert Russell Bennett, along with selections from the choir’s 2019 performance of Handel’s Messiah. Following the online premiere, the concert will continue to be available indefinitely on the Facebook page and on GCS’s website, greenvillechoralsociety.com. The concert is available for viewing free.

Mistletoe River Roving

The North Carolina Estuarium, 223 E. Water St., Washington, N.C., will host it annual Mistletoe River Roving excursions from noon-1:30 p.m. Dec. 9-11. Join in the hunt for natural mistletoe along the shores of the Tar-Pamlico River. Children must be at least 6 to ride. Registration required. Call 948-0000.

Story Time With Santa

The Family Support Network of Eastern N.C. will host Story Time With Santa from 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 12 at the Greenville Convention Center, 303 S.W. Greenville Blvd. There is no admission charge, but reservations are required. Email director@fsnenc.org or visit FSN’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Fsn-of-Eastern-NC-636713650167854.

Christmas festival

Homeplace of Ayden, 3815 Emma Cannon Road, Ayden, a nonprofit, faith-based gathering place for senior adults, will host an outdoor Christmas family affair festival from 5-9 p.m. Dec. 12. The event will feature music, food vendors, a country store, a fire pit for s’mores and pictures with Santa. Visit homeplaceofayden.com. Call 258-2235.

Winterville parade

The town’s Christmas parade will begin at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 along Division Street at Winterville Recreation Park. A “reverse” or drive-through parade, it will feature parked entries that visitors can view as they drive past in their cars. Visit wintervillenc.com or call 756-1487.

Dashiell holidays

Emerge Gallery and Arts Center’s African-American Music Series will host an online presentation of the Dashiell Family Holiday Special at 7 p.m. Dec. 18. The Facebook Live event can be viewed at facebook.com/PittCountyArtsCouncil.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s The City of Greenville and the Greenville Jaycees are scheduled to host the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration from 9 p.m. to midnight Dec. 31 at the Town Common, 105 E. First St. Proceeds will benefit a local charity. Visit nye.greenvillenc.gov for details.

Contact Bobby Burns at baburns@reflector.com and 329.9572.

Butterfield appointed the senior caucus position

An eastern North Carolina congressman has been appointed senior chief deputy whip of the House Democratic Caucus.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District will step into his new role when the 117th session of Congress convenes on Jan. 3.

“I am particularly humbled to assume the role previously held by the late Representative John Lewis who served in this distinguished position for many years,” Butterfield said. “I appreciate the confidence of my friend and mentor, Congressman Jim Clyburn, who appointed me to this leadership role.”

Chief deputy whips work with other whips to secure accurate counts of where Democratic caucus members stand on issues and bills in the U.S. House of Representatives. They also help answer questions about legislation.

“I have known G.K. for many more years than either of us care to admit and have been honored to have him as a chief deputy whip since 2007,” said House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn of South Carolina. “Both of us were longtime friends and colleagues of the late John Lewis, and I am honored that G.K. will fill John’s role as Senior Chief Deputy Whip.

“I look forward to collaborating with him in the 117th Congress to move the Democratic agenda forward on behalf of the American people,” Clyburn said.

Butterfield was first elected to Congress in 2004 during a special election to fill the unexpired term of Frank Ballance, who stepped down from the seat. He was elected to his first full term later that year.

He was appointed a chief deputy whip in 2007. He also served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2015-17.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that will create good paying jobs and help the American economy build back better from the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Butterfield said. “I will support the Biden Administration’s legislative agenda as we work together to provide economic security to America’s families.”

ECU furloughs some administrators for 10 days

East Carolina University announced on Thursday that 23 senior administrative leaders will be placed on furlough for 10 days.

The decision will affect the chancellor, the chief of staff, vice chancellors, deans and directors of the university’s two libraries.

Their furlough days will be taken between before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The net savings from the furloughs will be $250,000, the university said in a news release.

The furloughs will be rotated so there will be officers in charge at all of the offices, Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said.

“For example, when I happen to be off or on vacation or out of town it is typically the provost who is the officer in charge, so we’ll make sure these are sequenced in a manner that all officers are covered with the appropriate authorities,” Mitchelson said.

The administrators will have considerable freedom in choosing their furlough days aside from the rotational scheme ensuring officers in charge, Mitchelson said.

“For example, I plan to take one day per pay period through January, February, March, April and May and I think that’s the manner in which I will be doing mine,” he said. “They have freedom to cluster them or to spread them out in a manner that fits the family situation best.”

Mitchelson said the university continues to be conservative in its expenditure of money from all sources, including funding from the state.

This is the university’s third round of furloughs in the current fiscal year, which have saved about $4 million. The savings will cover a large portion of the university’s shortfalls, he said.

“It provides some flexibility to be nimble as we respond to both the uncertainty of budgets but also the reality that there’s a shortfall in many of our funding streams,” Mitchelson said.

He said the university is dealing with the possibility of a reversion for the current fiscal year, so officials’ approach is to make sure they are being keeping an eye on spending building in flexibility.

“There are no current additional plans for furloughs, but we will stay nimble and we will respond in any fashion that we need to to make sure that we can pay our bills,” Mitchelson said. “I’m hopeful, I mean I really am.”

Mitchelson said there were two elements involved in the decision for more furloughs. One was the shortfall in revenues campuswide, which the furloughs will, in part, allow the university to address. The second element was leadership. He said almost 260 of his colleagues were experiencing some form of furlough, whether it was part-time or full-time.

“So for us as leaders, I do feel very strongly that we need to pony up ourselves to make sure that everybody understands this burden that we are experiencing is, in fact, shared,” Mitchelson said.

Mitchelson is expecting close to 2,000 students to be living on campus in the spring semester.

“Things are looking pretty positive; we’re just creating some of the flexibility that we might need in the coming weeks,” he said.