There’s a popular saying that no matter how thin the pancake, it always has two sides, which is a colorful variant of there are two sides to every story. This statement is so true regarding the article “The Parish House” by Elizabeth Blevins, owner of Hopemills.net. After careful review, I found at least 18 areas that are rift with misinformation purported to be fact-based information.

The article omits several public records and a factual, chronological history of event references that, for some unknown reason, Blevins failed to include and share with her readers. Some examples are:

05 parish house 2 The article completely omitted the town board regular meeting Feb. 4, 2019, regarding the discussion of the Parish House and its demolition (Budget Retreat Item 2018). A motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell to rescind the motion from March 3, 2018, to budget for the demolition of the Parish House and engineering fees for the design of a parking lot until the Board has received further information from the Historic Preservation Commission. Why? Because the HPC was never informed of the town board’s decision to demolish the building.

Blevins also claims the Parish House is not on the National Register of Historic Places — but it is! I researched her claim by calling Amber Stimpson, local preservation commission/certified local government coordinator at the State Historic Preservation Office, located at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in Raleigh, North Carolina. Stimpson informed me Hope Mills was last surveyed in 1985 and the Parish House, at a minimum, must be “significant” enough to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

In fact, this issue was referenced during a town board regular meeting on March 8, 2017, where Planning and Development Administrator Chancer McLaughlin presented an overview of the Hope Mills Historic Overlay District in concert with the work of the Historic Preservation Commission. McLaughlin presented a map with the current boundaries and noted the HOD is registered on the National Register of Historic Places.

Blevins also claims Pat Hall identified the HOD … but she did not. The HOD was identified as the Historic Mill Village in 1985 when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Properties by the North Carolina Department of History and Culture. In fact, the Historic Preservation Commission began reviewing the HOD with a $15,000 grant by the same State Division in 1995.

Further, the Parish House is 110 years old as of 2020 — not 89 years old. According to the Episcopal Church History in North Carolina by Rev. Norvin C. Duncan, the Parish House was built in 1910, not 1930. The church burned in 1916, at which time the Parish House was damaged. The Parish House was partially restored and a new brick church building was erected.

After reading the article, my best advice to Blevins is a quote from Catherine Rampell’s article, “Four suggested 2020 resolutions for the media.” Rampell states, “Make sure we’re in the information business, not the disinformation business. … Yes, it’s important to challenge misstatements or deliberate lies, especially consequential ones. But we need to lead with the facts, contest the falsehoods and swiftly return to the facts again. Instead of amplifying the lies, we must amplify the truths.”

In conclusion, I cannot predict what the future holds for the 110-year-old Parish House. However, what I do know is that every option must be discussed and explored, along with public input, before a final decision is made in the best interest of the town and the citizens of Hope Mills.

Respectfully,
Jessie Bellflowers

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