Joey DeVito

CHCCS Struggles To Find Funding For Infrastructure Projects

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is looking for solutions after bids for the renovation of Lincoln Center came in much higher than its initial $25 million budget. “The school received bids in October,” said finance director Gary Donaldson at a meeting with the Orange County Board of Commissioners. “Those bids were 40 percent over the project budget.” The four bids ranged from $35.3 million to $35.8 million. The renovation would include adding a second floor to Lincoln Center to house a Pre-K program, expanding Phoenix Academy and adding more office space for administrators. The project will be paid for using part...

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Sebastian Gorka UNC Speech Sparks Protests

Students gathered outside of the Genome Science Building Monday night to protest the speech of former President Donald Trump deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka. Gorka was in town to talk about the United States’ relationship with Israel and what the current administration is doing to strengthen the connection. “Internationally there will be a continued reassertion of our leadership,” he said. “We will stand with our friends, whether they are in the Middle East, like Israel, whether they are in Europe or in Asia.” The protests called for recognition of Palestine as an independent state. Despite the noise outside the building,...

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Chapel Hill Evaluating Affordable Housing Options

Hired in 2016, David Paul Rosen and Associates presented its findings to the Chapel Hill Town Council earlier this month on the issue of affordable housing. The firm presented financial analysis and recommendations on what the council should do with two public housing units – 2200 Homestead Road and the Craig Gomains Public Housing neighborhood. “We do want to create more affordable housing,” said Mayor Pam Hemminger. “So if we can find the best ways to go about it that would get us to those ends, that’s what we’re looking for.” The report, presented by DRA principal Nora Lake-Brown,...

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Orange County Considers Agritourism Regulation

In a recent push to expand their businesses, farmers across North Carolina have been turning to agritourism, hoping to get additional revenue from their lands. Agritourism brings people who otherwise might not come to the countryside to visit farms for weddings, wineries or other non-conventional uses. “In our county, the primary concerns that have risen to the legislative level have been about wedding facilities and the use of farms for major public gatherings,” NC General Assembly representative Graig Meyer said. These types of gatherings can be loud and burdensome for neighbors surrounding the farms. In a meeting held September...

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Residents Protest Fluoride In OWASA Drinking Water

Michael Willock graduated from the UNC dental school and has been practicing for 30 years. If you visit his office there will be one thing unexpectedly missing – fluoride. “Fluorine is extremely toxic,” he said. “If you look at the periodic table where it sits, the pure fluoride will melt glass and eat concrete.” Willock was part of a group of about 20 that protested the addition of fluoride to the OWASA water supply. Fluoride is commonly added to drinking water in the United States to help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Daria Barazandeh founder of Fluoride Free Chapel...

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Orange County Schools Bans Confederate Flag

After nearly a year of debate and deliberation, the Orange County Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a new dress code that specifically bans students from wearing the Confederate flag, the swastika or other symbols of oppression. Board chairman Stephen Halkiotis said he was moved by the events at a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. “The tragic loss of a 32-year-old woman, an innocent human being,” Halkiotis said of Heather Heyer, who was killed when one of the white nationalists drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters. “The tragic loss of two Virginia State...

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Orange County Schools Continues Confederate Flag Debate

The debate over the Confederate flag in Orange County Schools will continue, as the school board referred a proposed change to the dress code back to the policy committee. Board member Donna Coffey, who made the motion, said she thought the draft as written was insufficient. “We’ve heard from many that there’s a need for protection for all,” she said. “In my opinion, while the proposed policy protects some, it shortchanges others.” Coffey said the policy does not specifically protect LGBTQIA or handicap communities. The proposed policy says would ban students from wearing anything that is “indecent, profane, or...

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Local Governments Take Hard Look At Fracking

Orange County commissioner Mark Marcopolos proposed a resolution aimed at stopping fracking in North Carolina, which is a method used to obtain oil and natural gas from the ground. “Natural gas was considered a ‘bridge fuel,'” he said. “As scientists have gotten a grip on what’s really going on, we found out the natural gas and the methane that’s released in the production and incineration of it is worse than coal.” The resolution calls for NC governor Roy Cooper to use his executive authority to shut down fracking in North Carolina by the end of 2018. It also calls...

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Orange County School Board Tentatively Approves New Dress Code Policy After Confederate Flag Debate

****UPDATE: At the second meeting, the policy was sent back to committee by a 4-3 vote.**** The Orange County Board of Education took a step toward banning students from wearing the Confederate flag on school grounds at its Monday night meeting. After a brief discussion about the language of the dress code policy, the board unanimously approved a new dress code that would prohibit students from wearing “racially intimidating” attire. This language was added after a campaign to ban the Confederate flag in Orange County Schools was organized by the Hate Free Schools Coalition. Founder Latarndra Strong spoke after...

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Town Council Pushes For More Affordable Housing In Budget

During Monday’s discussion of the proposed budget for Chapel Hill’s next fiscal year, one topic dominated the conversation – affordable housing. “If we as a community really want the teachers, the town staff, the public safety officers, the nurses, maybe even the young doctors to be able to live here, we need to do more than we’re doing,” councilman George Cianciolo said. The draft budget for 2017-2018 includes $2.3 million for 336 public housing units run by the town. This would be a five percent decrease from the current fiscal year. The decrease is a result of the completion...

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