A standing room only crowd greeted Bev Perdue at Cape Fear Community College's North Campus Wednesday for her first Town Hall as governor. The topic was education, but the focus shifted to economics. "Every single decision that we make now, in these tough times, will define what our state looks like in the next 20, 30 and 40 years," Perdue said. Specifically, audience members wanted to know about the governor's budget plan and the cuts various programs face, especially in education. She was asked questions such as: "What personal cuts in spending is your staff and office personally making?" "How will you ensure the integrity of the More at Four program and its services to at-risk children and their families?" "What do you plan to do for the students in the program if it is eliminated?" To those questions the governor said she and her office have cut back as much as possible. She conceded a plan to merge More at Four with Smart Start may not be the best decision for the programs, even if it saves money. Perdue also suggested other programs and online learning available to students whose educational programs fall victim to the budget axe. As a former teacher, Perdue said she is committed to education, which she said is a key in turning around the state's economy. "This is as troubling a time as we've seen since the Great Depression, and folks who are not able to understand that I hope will give pause and listen because it's the same as its ever been,” said Perdue. “We'll be fine at the end of the day, we'll move ahead, this is North Carolina. We're going to continue to educate our people and grow our work force." The governor had hoped to announce job growth in our area during a visit to Screen Gems Studios earlier in the day, but 15 minutes after Perdue was supposed to arrive, her press secretary canceled the event at the studio's so-called Dream Stage, saying the announcement would be premature and that the cancellation was out of the governor's control. Sources tell us the governor was going to announce the Disney-backed movie "The Last Song" would use the new Screen Gems soundstage. According to Variety, the movie is a Nicholas Sparks-scripted adaptation of a novel he wrote specifically to turn into a vehicle for Miley Cyrus, who is slated to star in the film. Variety said the film will start production in June with the book hitting stores in the fall, but no word on the status of film now.
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