Aaron Keck

No. 1 Tar Heels Split Two With Clemson

CHAPEL HILL – The No. 1 UNC baseball team split a doubleheader with Clemson on Monday, losing 5-4 in 11 innings in the nightcap after clinching the three-game series with a 6-2 afternoon win. It was a busy Easter Monday for the Tar Heels and Tigers, who played for nearly seven straight hours to wrap up the series after rain washed out play on Sunday night. The teams picked up where they left off when the rain hit on Sunday, in the third inning with the Tar Heels leading 2-0. Clemson cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth inning before Carolina broke it open: Michael Russell stole home in the sixth to give the Heels a 3-1 lead, then first baseman Cody Stubbs sealed the deal in the seventh with a two-out, two-run single. Trent Thornton got the win in relief to move to 6-0 on the year. The nightcap was a different story, though. Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning on a two-out, two-run homer by third baseman Colin Moran, then Stubbs drove in another run on a two-out hit in the fifth to give the Heels a 3-1 lead. But the Tigers stormed back in the top of the sixth: center fielder Thomas Brittle drove in a pair with a single to tie the game, then shortstop Tyler Krieger scored on a wild...

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Heels Hoping Nova Doesn’t Go

KANSAS CITY – The NCAA Tournament begins for Carolina on Friday night, when the eighth-seeded Tar Heels take on ninth-seeded Villanova at 7:20 in Kansas City. Many Carolina fans are already looking ahead to the round of 32—when the Heels would likely take on Kansas—but Andrew Jones of FoxSportsCarolinas.com says the Wildcats present a major challenge of their own. “Carolina’s won 24 games without notching a really good win,” he says. “If they win this game, (it) might be their best win of the year up to that point.” Still, Carolina enters the tourney riding high: since switching to its smaller lineup in February, the Heels have lost only three games—all to Duke and Miami, both of which are ranked in the top 10. That late-season run had many observers projecting UNC as a six- or seven-seed in the tournament. Receiving a no. 8 seed was something of a disappointment—especially with the prospect of a matchup with Kansas, Roy Williams’ former team, in Kansas City on Sunday. Jones says the Heels deserved better. “To be an 8 (seed), and then to put them in that situation (having to face the Jayhawks in Kansas), I think is just wrong,” he says. “I think UNC got screwed–I think all four ACC teams (in the tournament) got screwed.” Nevertheless, Jones says he’s picking Carolina to win narrowly on Friday. The Tar Heels enter the...

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Heels Hoping Nova Doesn’t Go

KANSAS CITY – The NCAA Tournament begins for Carolina on Friday night, when the eighth-seeded Tar Heels take on ninth-seeded Villanova at 7:20 in Kansas City. Many Carolina fans are already looking ahead to the round of 32—when the Heels would likely take on Kansas—but Andrew Jones of FoxSportsCarolinas.com says the Wildcats present a major challenge of their own. “Carolina’s won 24 games without notching a really good win,” he says. “If they win this game, (it) might be their best win of the year up to that point.” Still, Carolina enters the tourney riding high: since switching to its smaller lineup in February, the Heels have lost only three games—all to Duke and Miami, both of which are ranked in the top 10. That late-season run had many observers projecting UNC as a six- or seven-seed in the tournament. Receiving a no. 8 seed was something of a disappointment—especially with the prospect of a matchup with Kansas, Roy Williams’ former team, in Kansas City on Sunday. Jones says the Heels deserved better. “To be an 8 (seed), and then to put them in that situation (having to face the Jayhawks in Kansas), I think is just wrong,” he says. “I think UNC got screwed–I think all four ACC teams (in the tournament) got screwed.” Nevertheless, Jones says he’s picking Carolina to win narrowly on Friday. The Tar Heels enter the...

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Surprise!

So my Facebook feed exploded yesterday after they announced the new pope. Most of my Facebook friends are lefties—that’s what comes from seven years in grad school and half a decade in Chapel Hill—and naturally they’re none too happy to hear that Pope Francis has a history of being anti-gay, anti-abortion, and all that. I get that much. But what I don’t understand is why they all seem to be so surprised. “I wanted a progressive,” they say. “I was hoping for progress.” By which they mean, “I was really hoping the Church hierarchy would pick a leader with a history of defying the Church hierarchy.” As if that was ever a legitimate possibility. Face it: even if the cardinals had been so inclined, none of the available candidates would have qualified—certainly not to the satisfaction of my leftie friends, many of whom take it for granted that John Paul II was a reactionary. Seriously, nothing about Pope Francis ought to be surprising. Politically he’s in lockstep with all the Church’s official positions: conservative on social issues like abortion and gay rights, more progressive when it comes to economic justice. Not to sound like a valley girl or nothing, but that describes, like, every pope. This is exactly the sort of candidate you knew the cardinals were going to choose; even if it hadn’t been Jorge Bergoglio per se,...

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Plans On Hold (For Now) For Park At Chapel Hill Redevelopment

CHAPEL HILL – Plans are on hold—at least temporarily—for the redevelopment of an apartment complex on Ephesus Church Road, as Town officials prepare to discuss rezoning. “The applicant had (seen) that the Town was beginning to move forward,” says Chapel Hill economic development officer Dwight Bassett, “so the client felt that it made sense for them to step back into the sidelines and let us get through with the conversation about the rezoning before they proceed with their application.” The complex in question is The Park at Chapel Hill (formerly The Colony), located at 1250 Ephesus Church Road behind the Chapel Hill University Inn. The plan is to redevelop it as a mixed-use project, with 10,000 square feet of retail and 800 apartments and townhomes. View the Town’s page on the Park project. See the concept plan. That plan is part of a larger undertaking by the Town to revamp the entire Ephesus Church-Fordham Boulevard corridor—including a redevelopment of Ram’s Plaza and the construction of new roads and road extensions to better handle traffic. The Town Council approved a Small Area Plan for the area in June of 2011. Click here to see the plan itself, with details about the new roads–including extensions of Elliott and Legion. But that project requires a rezoning, and Bassett says the developer has decided to withdraw its concept plan for the Park at Chapel Hill...

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In Chapel Hill, March Madness Is Big Business

CHAPEL HILL – March Madness is officially under way in Chapel Hill, with the Tar Heels set to begin ACC Tournament play Friday night—and across town, local restaurants and sports bars are preparing for a big weekend. “We’re definitely looking for a crowd,” says Patrick Cowden, the executive chef at the new Tobacco Road Sports Café at East 54. “We’re adding a few extra seats, definitely having a nice full staff ready to take on anybody who wants to come and spend the day watching ACC basketball… “We’ve got over 50 TVs, (so) any kind of tournament, any kind of game you want to see, we’ll definitely have it on.” Tobacco Road has other locations in the Triangle, but this is the first ACC tourney for its new home in Chapel Hill. And while the staff at Tobacco Road gets ready for its first ACC tournament experience, longtime institutions like Top of the Hill on Franklin Street are gearing up as well. “What’s interesting about the ACC tourney is, you don’t really know what’s going to happen,” says Top of the Hill proprietor Scott Maitland. “Because it’s spring break, it gets a little bit of a different crowd than we normally would for a game–but it’s something that we definitely have to stay flexible on and prepare for big crowds.” The ACC tourney provides a sizable economic boost for...

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Economist: Rosy Picture For NC, US In Next Five Years

CHAPEL HILL – The unemployment rate is still high and the recovery is still slow, but one prominent Triangle economist says the outlook for the next five years is very, very good. “Despite everything that’s going on Washington (and) everything that’s yet to go on…the underlying fundamentals of the economy are dramatically improved,” says Michael Walden, professor of economics at NC State. Walden delivered the keynote address Wednesday at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Outlook Briefing. The U.S. economy lost nine million jobs and six percent of its GDP during the “great recession” of 2008-09, but Walden says things have turned around on both fronts. The national gross domestic product is now above pre-recession levels—and the country has regained about six million new jobs, a trend Walden says is likely to continue. “We had a very good jobs report last week, and I think that’s going to be more the standard rather than the exception,” he says. In fact, Walden says he expects the country to add about 250,000 new jobs each month for the rest of the year—three million new jobs in the next 12 months, enough to bring the number of jobs in the U.S. back to where it was in January of 2008. The recession hit especially hard here in North Carolina, where the unemployment rate spiked into double digits for nearly three years....

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Snow Still In Wednesday Forecast (But Not Much)

CHAPEL HILL – Old Man Winter is hanging on for at least a couple more days in the Triangle, with snow returning to the forecast for Wednesday—but National Weather Service meteorologist Barrett Smith says there won’t be much accumulation in our area, and the weather will turn much nicer from there. “We’re going to see a low-pressure system moving across NC (Tuesday) evening and overnight,” he says. “We’ll see some rain overnight Tuesday night…(but then) we expect another band of precipitation to develop Wednesday during the day.” That band could include some snow, with high temperatures on Wednesday topping out only around 40 degrees–but Smith says the latest projections show most of the snow staying north of the Triangle, with central Virginia getting hit hardest. “Right now it looks like the best potential (for snow accumulation in North Carolina) is northeast of the Triangle,” Smith says–and even there, he says the total snowfall shouldn’t be more than half an inch. “We’re going to see some snow falling, (but) we’re not expecting any to accumulate here in the Triangle.” Temperatures in Orange County should stay above freezing for most of Wednesday, keeping any potential snowfall to a minimum. Wednesday’s weather still won’t be great, with rain all day and wind gusts up to 35-40 miles an hour. The forecast beyond that is much better, though, with mostly sunny skies through...

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By Way Of Introduction

Hey y’all. If you’re reading this, you likely know me as WCHL’s (former) news director and (current) evening news anchor; some of you may also know that I perform at the DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro. And you advanced scholars will know that it was comedy that brought me to WCHL in the first place—back in 2010 I was head writer for “DSI Witness News,” a comedy spot that riffed on local people and events, and the folks at WCHL liked it so much they asked me to do real news too. True story. Anyway. I served as WCHL’s news director for the last year and a half, but earlier this month I handed the reins to Christopher Hosken—(insert long sigh of relief here)—leaving me with some actual free time. So as of today, I’m adding “Local Buzz columnist” to my resume. Consider this my intro chapter. So what’s this column going to be about? I’m not a science wizard like Jeff Danner; I don’t know North Carolina like DG Martin; and while I may look like a geek, I can’t hold a candle to Alicia Korenman. (And sadly, I’m not a kid anymore.) What I can offer, though, is some interesting political insight, a dash of snarky skepticism, and a fair bit of decent comic timing—so we’ll go with that, I think. For starters. Also, I have a...

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UNC Turning To “Competency-Based” Approach

CHAPEL HILL – As the UNC system reexamines its strategic goals for the next five years, university officials have turned to employers and business leaders to identify key needs—and the result of that will be a new focus on a novel academic approach called “competency-based learning.” That’s according to UNC president Tom Ross, who says today’s business leaders want people who can think and communicate effectively for themselves. “When we talk to people–business leaders and other employers of all types–they tell us what they need more than anything else who can think critically, who can write and communicate orally, who can understand how to use data, how to look at a variety of different disciplinary concerns to solve problems, (and) how to work in teams,” Ross says. “Those are the core ‘competencies’ that employers need.” More information on “competency-based education” available here, here, here, here, andhere. (Online universities have been a driving force in the CBE movement so far–most notably Western Governors University, based in Utah.) The competency-based learning approach focuses on developing broader, widely-applicable skills—like writing and critical thinking—rather than particular bits of information or specific knowledge about specific jobs. In essence it suggests a return to the liberal arts and a recommitment to developing well-rounded graduates with a strong intellectual core—a task that UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp says has been a strength of the UNC system from the beginning.   And...

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