Select Page

Fred Black

Rolling With the Meals (ON Wheels)!

Back in April, I did a special edition of  Who’s Talking with Stacey Yusko, the Director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels program. Imagine my surprise when earlier this month she invited me to participate in their “Big Wheels Drive Meals on Wheels” event. So today, I had the opportunity to accompany two volunteers on their regular route and deliver meals to 11 homebound program participants in our community. What an experience! I linked up with Pam Drake and Mary Reeve at Binkley Baptist Church and loaded up the meals for the Wednesday stops on Route #1. We had Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and okra, rolls, fruit, cookies, juice and milk, all tailored to the participant’s preferences. There were also special items for those who were diabetic. It not only looked tasty but the packaging was very functional. We loaded the coolers into Pam’s car and started out on our route. I asked Pam how long she had been a volunteer and she said since 1979. Our program in Chapel-Carrboro is celebrating its 35th anniversary, so Pam is goes almost back to the beginning. Mary indicated she had been a volunteer for about four years and that she and Pam have been partners for almost three. When Pam can’t make it Mary recruits her husband Roscoe. As we drove from house to house, the route notebook had all of the important information we needed and included special...

Read More

If You Tell Them, They Will Come!

Town leaders and the planning team for “Chapel Hill 2020” went to amazing lengths to get the word out that all citizens were invited to come to East Chapel Hill High School on Tuesday, September 27th, to participate in the first sessions to help develop a new comprehensive plan. Getting that word out included a variety of methods – mail, email, news articles, radio, phone calls, contacts with specific groups and organizations, and person-to-person, just to name some. It worked! The thought that “wouldn’t it be great if 200 came” actually resulted in some 400 coming out to provide their vision for Chapel Hill’s future. They also identified a variety of themes that would help realize their vision. I had the opportunity to facilitate one of the many table discussions, and if all were like mine, everyone was enthusiastic, respectful and focused on the task. By any measure, this first step of “Chapel Hill 2020 – Our Town, Our Vision,” was a success because so many from all over the community came to help shape our future. But what about those who, in spite of all of the efforts made, still didn’t know about the opportunity to be part of this? This is the information age, isn’t it?  I guess we might assume that when you push information out, magically, it hits the target. Just not the case! It’s my opinion that we do have a problem with getting information...

Read More

Building More Than Homes

It was another special Sunday in our community and I witnessed another amazing event. On September 18th more than 200 people gathered on the grass at the Habitat for Humanity of Orange County’s Phoenix Place to enjoy a lunch and dedicate the 10 homes built in a program called “Build A Block.” So many things about this project were just extraordinary, but here’s what stood out to me. First, the idea to do this came from UNC student Megan Jones who led the Habitat Chapter at UNC during the planning and execution phases. The chapter typically built two houses a year, but when she learned that there were many UNC families applying for Habitat homes who might not receive one, she proposed bringing several schools and departments together to build an entire block of 10 homes. She ran her idea by Patti Thorp, who described herself as “the cheerleader,” and with contagious enthusiasm and excitement, she helped the project idea come to life. Not only was there no UNC money used, but the group came up with creative ways to raise the $350,000required to build the10 homes. They also were able to encourage more than 1400 members of the UNC community to work some 7,052 hours alongside the future homeowners. In the Habitat model, homeowners are asked to contribute the required number of “sweat equity” hours to the program. Speakers indicated that those who worked on...

Read More

Thank You!

On Sunday, September 11, we had an amazing tribute in our town to mourn and remember those who perished because of the attacks and honor those who risked their lives to save others. Citizens of Chapel Hill have every reason to be proud that we planned and conducted such a ceremony, so I would like to say thank you.  Thank you to the leaders of our fire and police departments. Thank you to the members of the honor guard. Thank you to Professional Firefighters’ Associationfor proposing that we have the event. Thank you to all of the police officers and firefighters who were there. Thank you to the UNC Clef Hangers for their music. Thank you to all who provided the support for the ceremony. Thank you to all of the speakers who said just the right things for the occasion. Last but not least, thank you to the members of our community of all ages who were there Sunday morning. I’m not sure if the planners had any idea how many would attend, but everyone I talked to was impressed with the amazing turnout. The messages, music, and the delicious and plentiful refreshments fed all of us who attended Sunday morning.  But most important, we were provided an amazing way to publically stand with friends and neighbors at the Fire Place in Meadowmont  to reflect on those horrific attacks 10 years ago and honor the goodness of...

Read More

Remembering and Hoping

Significant events in our country generate significant reactions. Look at the attack on Pearl Harbor, dropping the atom bomb, the Kennedy assassination, and the Challenger explosion as examples of significant events that we as a society remember in various ways. On Sunday, September 11, 2011, we as a nation and others around the world will take time to remember the horrific attacks that occurred that day. There will be ceremonies of all sorts, memorials dedicated, special religious and civic services of prayer and remembrance, TV specials, service projects, academic programs and a host of other events to reflect on the events of that day, mourn the victims who lost their lives, and honor the heroes who emerged. And it’s no surprise that none of this happens without controversy, criticism, or protests. From the design of memorials to those included or excluded on a program, from attempts to gain a commercial advantage from the tragedy to very public disputes over benefits, we are reminded once again that even remembering tragic events are capable of driving a wedge between us. Wedges aside, what I still remember most about that Tuesday morning 10 years ago was my cycle of reactions. As I sat glued to the TV, I, like so many others, was in shock. I simply refused to believe what I was seeing on the screen. The reporting as the morning passed also proved that a principal I...

Read More

Mother Nature, Human Nature

After this latest experience with a weather event provided by Mother Nature, it’s very clear that she has her own plans and can change them anytime she wants. In spite of the technological wonders employed by some of our most brilliant minds, Mother Nature seems always to have the upper hand. So in the absence of certainty, is anyone surprised by what happens when that certain element of human nature kicks in? Yes, there’s that quality of human nature that reveals itself in so many ways when Mother Nature sends an event our way. How many were surprised by the people who believed the whole thing was overdone by the media? How many were surprised by the people who refused to evacuate when the order to do so went out? How many were surprised to see the people playing in the water when they were told how dangerous it was? How many were surprised by the people who were genuinely angry when their favorite shows were preempted because of media coverage of the impending storm? It appears that every time we have one of these events we get the cries of it was over hyped and there was just too much hoopla. I guess human nature leads some not to want too much information, early warnings or constant updates until it isn’t provided, then that other aspect of human nature kicks in, anger. Then the argument...

Read More

How Do You Do It?

As the heat of this summer eventually gives way to a hopefully cooler autumn, you can bet that the local political climate will be anything but cool. Soon the campaign signs will sprout up, the letters to the editor will fill the papers, campaign forums will be conducted by a variety of organizations, campaign literature will be mailed to you, and candidates and their supporters will go door-to-door – all of this to get you to vote for a candidate, and in some cases, not to vote for a candidate.  So how do you do it? How do you decide whom, if anyone, will get your vote? Does the money candidates spend on the signs and advertisements make a difference? Do the letters written by supporters of a candidate have an impact? Does what’s said by a candidate at a forum influence you? Are door-to-door campaigns effective? We know that the so-called “off year elections” don’t produce the turnout that we see in even-year elections when Congress, state and county officials, and every four years the presidency is on the ballot. Lots of research tells us that people just don’t seem to get excited about local elections, even though local government has a dramatic impact on us in significant ways. We have local mayors, council/aldermen seats, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board, and a tax issue on the ballot, and yet few will actually vote. So again, how do you...

Read More

Voter-Owned Elections: I’m Just Not A Fan!

I was really happy to see the two-part report on “Voter-Owned Elections” here on Chapelboro.com. We are now in the second election cycle of the test that the North Carolina General Assembly authorized Chapel Hill to conduct during municipal elections. If you wish to learn about the specifics details of the test program, you can read about the town’s public campaign financing system at this link. But I’m more concerned about what the program’s assumptions and what it means to us in our local elections. First, I think we can all agree that elections have become expensive propositions, but why has that happened? To file for a Chapel Hill position the fee is $5.00. Arguably, all expended funds beyond that requirement are a function of candidate behavior, and especially, candidate competition. We have had successful candidates in some elections that spent very little so we know it is not mandatory to spend big bucks to win. We also know that those yard/road signs, stickers, newspaper ads, and slick color mailings drive the cost of elections right up there and candidates say all the time that they have to do it because others do it. But why should my tax dollars have to fund a candidate’s completive ambitions? When we had the Town Council debate on the program before its approval, proponents argued that we needed the VOE program to...

Read More

No Boom, No Rose!

One of the wonderful things that the Internet allows you to do is to keep up with the news from home while you are traveling. While we were away, I read in the Chapel Hill News that they gave the Town of Chapel Hill “Raspberries” for what they called a “shortsighted decision to do away with the July 4 celebration and fireworks show at Kenan Stadium this year.”  So unlike last year, no boom, no rose! We happened to be in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 4th and we had the pleasure of viewing two firework displays. The first followed a great baseball game at Victory Field where the Indianapolis Indians lost to the Toledo Mud Hens. As soon as the game ended, the field was covered and the launchers positioned to bring us a delightful display of good old time 4th of July fireworks. The people in the sold-out stadium all seemed to remain in place to enjoy the celebration. About the time that show ended, another one began in the downtown area. This display was the end of a series of events held downtown to celebrate the 4th, and the fireworks launched from the roof of the Regions Bank were truly spectacular.  A local resident told us that the year before the celebration was close to being cancelled because of funding, but Regions Bank and others in the business community stepped up and made...

Read More

“Your Honor, I Saw His Lips Moving!”

“Your Honor, I Saw His Lips Moving!” Can you imagine one of our fine police officers having to appear in court to explain why they issued a ticket for talking on a cell phone and uttering those words? Once again, the topic is hot and the discussion on banning cell phone use while driving includes ALL cell phone use. Understand that this action has been on the back burner, awaiting action by the General Assembly, but there is no North Carolina legislation yet, so the Town Council may move forward anyway.   Today, nine states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. Except for Maryland, all laws are primary enforcement. This means that an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.  No state bans ALL cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers, but 30 states and D.C. prohibit all cell phone use by novice drivers, and bus drivers in 19 states and D.C. may not use a cell phone when passengers are present.   There seems to be plenty of evidence that tells us using a cell phone while driving impairs the driver’s ability, something some call the “distracted driver” problem. Many view the use of Bluetooth devices in the ear or those built into the auto as safer than holding a phone,...

Read More
Translate »