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Charlotte

Preserving battlefield is another lost cause 

In the waning days of the Civil War, Union Gen. George Stoneman’s cavalry raided parts of the Piedmont. After plundering Salisbury and burning its military prison, the Yankees turned their attention to a railroad bridge over the Yadkin River near Spencer. On April 12, 1865, about 1,200 federals fought with roughly the same number of Confederates for 5˝ hours before giving up.

More than 140 years later, a longer battle was waged over that property. But this time the hostilities were between historic preservationists and Atlanta developer Richard Combs, who wants to build a “racing country club” there. High Rock Raceway, a 2.15-mile road course, will be ringed by 120 town houses on 130 acres near the river.

The Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association in Salisbury opposes the project, citing historical accounts that fighting took place on the property. The Civil War Preservation Trust, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, ranks it as one of the nation’s most endangered battlefields. Combs says the fighting was closer to the river — 500 feet from where his property ends. Spencer annexed the property last year, and town officials say it is not historically significant. They’re hungry for the 184 jobs Combs says his development would create and its annual economic impact of $110 million. The track, much like a golf country club, would be open to residents but also available for competition in a number of racing divisions.

Work has been delayed, first by plans that were deemed too vague, then by two lawsuits by the preservation association. Those were eventually dropped. Combs recently got a $30 million construction-loan commitment from Vanderbilt Commercial Lending, a Sacramento, Calif.-based hedge fund. He still needs some state and local permits but expects construction to begin this fall. The course’s opening day has been pushed back, from late 2008 to mid-2009. For local race fans, it can’t come soon enough. For local history buffs, it’s too close for comfort.

CHARLOTTEWachovia’s senior management continued a shake-up started when Bob Steel replaced Ken Thompson as CEO. Tom Wurtz, 46, plans to step down as chief financial officer and Don Truslow, 50, as chief risk officer as soon as replacements are found. The company also plans to cut 6,950 jobs by November and leave about 4,400 other positions vacant to reduce costs. It will still have more than 113,000 employees.

CONCORDLowe’s Motor Speedway struck a deal with about 35 nearby hotels to lower rates 15% and eliminate minimum-stay requirements during the track’s NASCAR race in October. It also cut prices for some ticket packages by 30%. The nation’s economic slump has shrunk crowds at many NASCAR races this year.

CHARLOTTESencera International, a maker of solar panels, plans to spend $36.8 million to build a factory that will employ 65 in three years. It also plans to move its headquarters and 10 other employees into the building. The company received $62,000 in state incentives.

KINGS MOUNTAIN — Republic Newspapers of Knoxville, Tenn., sold the Kings Mountain Herald, The Cherryville Eagle, The Belmont Banner and The Mount Holly News to Gemini Newspapers of Port St. Joe, Fla. Terms were not disclosed. Republic acquired the papers in March 1989 from Gary Greene of Greene Newspapers.

LINCOLNTON — Germany-based Sennebogen plans to open a $5.1 million warehouse and training center here by early next year. The company makes specialized equipment to handle scraps, logs and coal. The center will employ about 25 within two years and receive about $90,000 in local incentives.

HARRISBURGSaddle Creek plans to spend $11 million during the next three years to upgrade its distribution center. The Lakeland, Fla.-based logistics company will add about 30 jobs, bringing employment to more than 175.

KINGS MOUNTAINChris-Craft laid off 40 workers, about half its work force here. The Sarasota, Fla.-based boat maker cited slow sales.

KANNAPOLISSensory Spectrum plans to open an office at the North Carolina Research Campus this year. The New Providence, N.J.-based consulting firm tells food, beverage and drug companies how to make their products look better. It will employ 10 initially.

HICKORY — Michael Blackburn replaced Denny Bruns as CEO of Frye Regional Medical Center. Blackburn, 56, had been Carolinas regional vice president for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health Resources. Bruns, also 56, retired earlier this year.

HICKORYCatawba Valley Community College will drop its motor-sports program this fall. Only one student signed up for it, compared with about 100 in 2005.