Chapter 204

I awoke Thursday morning nervous for some reason. After breakfast I called Janice to see how her night was. Then I went to KCC to spend the morning. I was going to be back to the gym at one to prepare for the signing at three.

Kelly and Courtney had carried them to a thank you breakfast. They were in the process of loading the cars to come home. Captain Peters had stopped by the college. He gave them a sealed package to deliver to me and wished them a safe trip.

I told them to be careful. I loaded the car numbers into my GPS program so that I could follow their homeward progress.

I reviewed the progress reports from the dorm repair. According to Mr. Bozman’s notes, they were on schedule.  There were copies of materials invoices where he had verified delivery amounts.

I had picked up the day’s local papers and after the routine morning things were finished, I had time to look through them.

The Star Reporter had several pages of reports from the commissioners meeting and a page of photographs. There was several of me, Jason, Lorrie and Marcy. In one we were being interviewed by the TV crew. In a couple they had Duke and I talking in the hall and one of me giving him a hug after we had finished.

The Feds were still doing daily press releases. The new information they released could have been stuffed into a thimble but the papers made a big deal out of every word.

The papers were speculating that the commissioners were going to resign. That speculation I doubted. The money had been spent on county projects no matter how trivial. If they resigned they would lose some of the legal defense options they had.

If they had stolen the funds, the county would refuse to supply legal aid to them and they would be on their own. But so far there was no evidence of that.

I left the college at noon and made my way to the gym. I ate lunch with the rest of my mates at the refreshment center and watched Jenny eat for two again. There was no doubt that there was a growing baby bump, but it all could have been either wishful thinking or just imagination.

Ching Lee and Vicky both asked if I noticed it yesterday. One thing for sure was a shopping trip for Jenny to get some less reveling clothes, or should I say some to disguise the issue for as long as possible, was on tap.

With July the 4th coming next week, we would have some time to shop – and with the doctor’s appointment tomorrow – have definite answers.

The Lowes team came in after lunch for the final meeting. After that, we went over to the shopping center for a construction update. Then we were going to set up for the press conference. Their PR department even had a model and photographs of what the finished building would look like.

By 2:45 everything was set up, the models and photograph were on stands, covered with sheets until they were to be reveled.  Several media groups were there, including Marley’s station.

I also saw there were several representatives from various special interest groups on the island. The groups were always against everything.

The County Commercial Business Development team was there. Jason had met with Harry Stills – his friend – and had given him some data to report for his part of the news conference, with the blessing of the Lowes PR team. Jason had made the introductions at the after lunch meeting at the gym.

At 3, Harry Stills opened the news conference. For having little time to put a speech together he had plenty to say. He talked about how the county had the first settlement in Maryland in 1631 and organized into a county in 1706. The first railroad came to the county in 1868, not far from the very spot we were standing on. He went on to talk about the county being the connecting link from the Eastern Shore to Annapolis and Washington DC.

He then linked the history with the present by new growth, new businesses and new opportunities for the county citizens. He said that these changes were the future jobs for our children, also the financing for our schools and roads.

He introduced me as President of Jones Business Groups, the owner of the shopping center, Marcy as Executive Vice president and CFO, Lorrie as Executive Vice President of the Real Estate and Aviation division and then the rest of us and their positions.

Lorrie made a brief speech and introduced Chad Johnson, Vice President of Lowes Centers – the new tenant of the Island Shopping Center.

There was another 10 minutes of speeches, then handshakes, all the media pictures and finally a question and answer session. After the end of the official Q&A session I walked through the crowd speaking to people I knew.

One of the first people I met was Chuck Rustone from Q&T Banking and Trust. He asked, “How do you think this is going to affect the 2 lumber yards in the county?”

“I don’t think this will affect the lumber yards hardly at all. They cater to the contractors that build houses from 7 to 5. Someone wanting a house, an addition or a garage goes to an architect at the lumber yard to draw it up and they build it or recommend someone that will; that is their customer. Lowes caters to the person that works 8 or 10 hours and wants to do repairs or small jobs, landscaping and such  after work or on the weekend themselves, to save money,” I said.

“When you bought this the bank thought you had made a bad decision. That you would never be able to do anything with it, the word out here is that you have a very long term contract with good terms. So you made a good decision and made some financial advisors look out of step with the community,” Chuck said.

“If we could not rent it we were going to turn it into our depot for receiving new and disposing of old lease cars, and more office space. We are on track to add a thousand this year. I doubt that the lot would have been big enough to handle it all. Now we are back to looking for a disposal site again,” I said.

I saw Chuck looking over my shoulder intently looking at someone then he said, “I think these ladies are looking for you,” as the North six came up beside us.

Janice was holding her arms crossed on her chest with the broken fingers on top. I knew that they hurt less in that position.

Just to be polite I did a quick introduction to Chuck then I asked, “How was the trip back and how are the broken fingers doing?”

“The trip was fine, the fingers are still letting me know they are not happy with me,” Janice said.

Chuck being polite asked, “How did you break your fingers?”

Janice was one never to tread lightly and could hold a stone face, “I broke them defending myself from a man that tried to attack me.”

“I hope you gave him more than broken fingers,” Chuck replied.

“Oh yes I did, he is dead,” Janice replied to a startled Chuck.

“Let’s go over to the office and debrief,” I said. We met Lorrie and Marcy then went over to the office. After debriefing I sent them home in the unmarked cars.

Edit by Alfmeister

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