Board of Historic Morganton Festival stands by courageous decision . . . for now

By Sandy . . . In this age of “Everything is relative,” there are very few, if any, universal truths, very few ideas about which everyone, or at least almost everyone, is in agreement.

This may be one: When people who have been in prison return to society, society wants them to be rehabilitated, commit no more offenses, find employment, and be positive, contributing societal members. Indeed, one would be hard-put to find someone who said he disagreed with that.

And of course, while some with past criminal convictions will not live up to that, many will.

Luke Heimlich did; he had a lucrative career in baseball.

Steven Striegel, an actor, was happy to have even small roles as long as he was working.

Bruce Habowski is an accomplished artist whose work hung proudly in the University of Maine’s art gallery.

And Artimus Pyle, a musician of long standing, has. Once with the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, he has had his own band since 2013, the Artimus Pyle band, and according to venue organizers averages eighteen concerts a year.

Most recently the band is booked to headline one of the nights of the popular Historic Morganton Festival held in September each year in Morganton, North Carolina. However, a petition has been created to remove Mr. Pyle from the program.

In 1993 Artimus Pyle was placed on the sex offender registry in Florida after a no-contest plea conviction for attempted sexual battery, charges that he denies. The discovery of Pyle’s name on the registry prompted the petition, initiated by someone who withholds his name but is identified only as “Concerned Citizen.”

According to statements made by Mr. Pyle to WSOC-TV, he has lost jobs before due to his inclusion on the registry.

If Morganton holds fast to their current status, he won’t lose this one.

Unlike Luke, whose career was destroyed, unlike Steven whose scenes were cut and career ground to a halt, unlike Bruce whose art was pulled from the gallery, Artimus has, at least for now, found a champion.

The board of directors for the festival said that he had been completely open with them about his past. In announcing their decision to keep the Artimus Pyle Band in their festival lineup, they said, “It is significant that many of the concerts, which the Artimus Pyle Band has performed in recent years, have been in public venues such as auditoriums or outdoor stages, all without inappropriate incidents.”

We may all say that we want those with past criminal convictions to build meaningful lives and enter society as contributing members, but the actions of all too many show that to be untrue.

Thankfully, the Historic Morganton Festival, Inc. Board of Directors are showing their beliefs by their actions. They are to be commended.

Robin Vander Wall

Robin is NCRSOL's president.

3 thoughts on “Board of Historic Morganton Festival stands by courageous decision . . . for now

  • May 28, 2022 at 8:59 am
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    I think I will have to attend this festival. Spend some money in Morganton.

    AND as usual, Thank you Sandy for your tireless advocacy.

    Reply
  • May 26, 2022 at 2:40 pm
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    Robin I hope this concerned citizen can see through the smoke screen. Your past shouldn’t dictate your future. This was almost 30 years ago. Like mine over the internet with no physical contact. It was over 14 years ago. They still visit me every 90 days even though I have lived in the same place 15 years this August 4th. I still have to report every 6 months to Cumberland County Sheriff’s Registry unit at the Cumberland County Detention Center here in Fayetteville NC. Next year I am going to petition the court and find a reasonable lawyer to represent me.

    Thanks Again
    Have a great day

    Reply
  • May 26, 2022 at 12:04 pm
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    Thank you for supporting someone who has owned up to the mistakes of their past and is moving forward as a productive member of society. We are still suffering unconstitutional punishment by being required to put ourselves and our family in danger by being forced to publish our addresses online for anyone to take advantage of. I don’t see murderers or drug dealers, who are just as dangerous if not moreso towards our youth, being forced to do this. They are allowed to do their time and once they have done their time, they are allowed to move forward with their life and put their past behind them. Ask any psychiatrist or psychologist and if they are being honest, they will tell you that it is impossible to heal from ones transgressions if they are not allowed to put those transgressions in the past where they belong. I am a proponent for justice, but I am a proponent for equal justice for all.

    Reply

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