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Charlotte

Living in the country can stink 

Jeff Bennett swears he’s not trying to drive Wallace Farm Inc. out of business. But he thinks something needs to be done about it. His neighborhood near Huntersville in northern Mecklenburg County often reeks of rotting food and manure from the company’s composting operation, and some neighbors have a hard time discussing it rationally. “There are some people who would be extremely angry and vocal and screaming at you and telling you it’s not fair.”

Maybe they shouldn’t be surprised by the scent from Wallace Farm’s 160 acres. For most of the past 60 years, it was a dairy farm, rife with the aromas of dung, silage and compost. About 1990, it began leasing out the dairy operation and focused on composting. The last cow departed in 1999.

The Highland Creek subdivision started south of Wallace Farm in the early ‘90s. Eric Wallace’s grandfather sold the developers land so they could run sewer lines. Until five years ago, Wallace, now company vice president, couldn’t see the houses from the farm. Now, they border it on three sides. Trees that filtered the stench were cut down to make way for more homes, he says. Some went up within sight of compost rows.

Wallace Farm has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to mitigate the smell, he says. “This is a trend that’s happening throughout the country. I could tell you story after story about how irresponsible residential development has encroached upon farms, landfills, wastewater-treatment plants. People buy their homes, they move in and they complain. It blows my mind.”

But Bennett, president of Highland Creek Community Association Inc., says the odor has gotten much worse since he moved in 12 years ago. Aerial photographs show compost mounds have grown in the past year and a half, he says. The company processes about 100,000 tons of waste a year — about what it did in the ‘90s, Wallace says, but inventory has grown because it’s giving its product more time to mature.

Bennett’s neighbors have discussed lawsuits. Wallace Farm is trying to renew its state composting permit, and Bennett says he would rather avoid legal action by working out tougher rules with regulators, including limits on the size of the operation and what raw materials it can use. “We’d just like to see a solution so everyone can peacefully coexist without the odor issue.”

More Jobs That Count

Just like Jell-O, there’s always room for bean counters. A recent survey of 200 executives in the Charlotte region found 9% planned to add accounting and finance staff in the second quarter, while only 4% planned cuts. “We have not felt the economic turndown here as quickly as everywhere else,” says Andrea Seymour, Charlotte-based regional vice president for Robert Half International Inc., which did the study. “Businesses are still growing here.”

 

CLEVELAND — Daimler Trucks North America plans to lay off about 1,500 of the 2,900 workers at its Freightliner factory here in June and cut production from two shifts to one. The Portland, Ore.-based company blamed soft demand for its trucks on a weak economy and costs from changes in federal emissions standards.

CHARLOTTE — Beaverton, Ore.-based Metro One Telecommunications will close its call center here this month, idling nearly 275, as part of a cost-cutting plan. About 600 workers companywide will be let go.

CHARLOTTE — San Jose, Calif.-based Tessera Technologies, which helps miniaturize electronics, expects to add 185 positions at its research center here. That will increase employment to about 285. Most of the hires will be engineers.

CHARLOTTE — Sporting News magazine plans to move its headquarters here from St. Louis in July. It employs about 30 and is owned by Charlotte-based American City Business Journals, which bought it in 2006 from St. Louis-based Vulcan Sports Media.

CONCORD — With five hotels set to open here within the next year, Cabarrus County tourism officials are trying to increase the number of hotel workers in the region by, among other things, seeking an expansion of community-college training programs and improving public transportation. The hotels will require at least 600 workers.

CHARLOTTE — Stephen Macadam, 47, replaced Ernie Schaub, 64, as CEO and president of EnPro Industries, which makes seals, bearings and other industrial products. Macadam had been CEO of BlueLinx Holdings, an Atlanta building-products distributor.

CHARLOTTE — The U.S. National Whitewater Center hired Amplify Sports and Entertainment as its marketing agency. The center, which had a $1.3 million operating loss in its first fiscal year, wants the New York-based company to procure a naming-rights deal and attract corporate sponsors for its events.

CONCORD — Cabarrus County commissioners approved more than $190,000 in tax incentives for a Chapel Hill company that wants to put flight simulators near Con-cord Regional Airport. FlyRight plans to invest $12 million and hire about 18.

CONCORD — The city is seeking a private partner to help build a second 12,500-square-foot terminal at Concord Regional Airport and a 125-space parking deck. It hadn’t estimated the cost.

HICKORY — St. Louis-based Furniture Brands International plans to sell its HBF division to Muscatine, Iowa-based HNI for $75 million. HBF, which makes upholstered seating, textiles, wooden tables and wooden case goods for offices, employs about 335 in Hickory.

CHARLOTTE — Speed Channel, a cable-television network focusing on automobile and motorcycle racing, plans to add 34 jobs during the next three years. That will bring employment to more than 100.

TAYLORSVILLE — Jasper Group, an Indiana-based furniture maker, plans to begin production here this summer. The factory will employ about 40.

HICKORY — Lenoir-Rhyne College will change its name to Lenoir-Rhyne University in August. The school’s president says the change reflects an expansion of its curriculum, including more courses in health care, business, education and religion.

CHARLOTTE — MedCath, which builds and operates heart hospitals, plans to sell Dayton Heart Hospital in Ohio to Dayton-based Good Samaritan Hospital for $55 million this month. MedCath will then own nine hospitals in seven states — none in North Carolina.

KANNAPOLIS — The state Division of Facility Services denied Winston-Salem-based Novant Health’s application to build a $90 million, 50-bed hospital here, saying it’s unnecessary. Novant is expected to appeal.

CHARLOTTE — Goodrich laid off about 45 employees at its plant in Danbury, Conn. The aerospace company says the layoffs, which will leave the plant with about 500 workers, reflect changes in some customer contracts.