Rachel Nash

OC Health Director Defends Smoking Ban

Additional Reporting by Elizabeth Friend and Ran Northam CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County smoking ban is getting town leaders on all sides of the argument fired up. Last week Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, who says he supports anti-smoking efforts, still had strong words for Health Director Colleen Bridger regarding the smoking ban. It went down at a recent meeting with town and county officials. Mayor Kleinschmidt said: “I personally object to the Board of Health’s extension of jurisdiction over us and commandeering of our police force to handle this, so I will not be telling anyone about this, because my understanding is that the Board of Health will be enforcing it.” In response to what Mayor Kleinschmidt had to say, Dr. Bridger released a statement to WCHL: “I completely understand the Mayor’s concerns about enforcement.  However, while crafting this Rule, the Board of Health arranged for 6 different opportunities for public comment.  Two of those opportunities were explicitly designed for elected officials.  Like all legislation, that was the time to work with the Board to suggest ways to improve the Rule.  The Mayor never engaged the Board of Health or the Health Department staff with his concerns.  Now that the Rule has passed and it is too late to make changes, we hear of the Mayor’s vehement opposition to it.  Rather than continue the debate, I’d rather work with the Mayor...

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Post Loss To Kansas, What’s Next For The Tar Heels?

CHAPEL HILL – The UNC Men’s Basketball team is done after a 70-58 loss to No. 1 seed Kansas in the Round of 32.  And we’re all trying to move on, but let’s recap briefly. “Whatever kind of shots they are, if you don’t make them then you aren’t going to do very well. When Carolina shot 22 of 73 that is not a winning formula,”  said Barry Jacobs of the ACC Sports Journal. The Jayhawks can now relish in the fact that for a second year in a row, they ousted UNC from the NCAA tournament. But in the first half of Sunday night’s game, it was the Heels that came out more composed. “It’s almost like at the beginning of the game Kansas was hyperventilating,” Jacobs said. “North Carolina came out and was like, ‘We have nothing to lose, nobody expects us to win.’” That’s not to say that Carolina was firing on all cylinders in the first half, though. The Heels and Jayhawks were deadlocked at two points for nearly two minutes. But the less experienced Heels unraveled. The Jayhawks out scored the Heels 49-28 in the second half. “When you miss lay-ups as well as three-pointers and you have more turnovers than assists, which Carolina did last night, you’re going to lose most times,” he said. So with what Carolina fans would call an early exit...

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Saturday Marks 6th Anniversary Of Former UNC Mascot’s Passing

CHAPEL HILL – Saturday is the sixth anniversary of former UNC mascot Jason Ray’s passing. Jason was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in 2007. “It does not get any easier. It feels like when I say he’s been gone six years, it feels like it’s been 60,” said Charlotte Ray, Jason’s mother. Jason was traveling with the men’s basketball team at the NCAA Regional in New Jersey, when a car struck him as he was walking back from getting dinner. Jason died three days after the accident. Because Jason was an organ donor, the Ray family started the Jason Ray Foundation. “What we tried to do was take something that was so bad and so terrible and try to make something good out of it,” Charlotte said. If the group can raise a million dollars to increase awareness and aid organ donation, the UNC Center for Transplant Care Clinic will be named in Jason’s memory. The Foundation has raised $200,000 so far. “He has really opened doors for people,” Charlotte said. “There are more people that have put their little red heart on their driver’s license to be donors. And so many people that I see will say, ‘Charlotte, I’m an organ donor now thanks to your son.’” Coming up on Sunday, April 28, the Foundation is hosting the 2nd Annual “Ray of Hope Brunch.” Plates are $50 and...

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‘Girl Playing Flute’ Artist Reacts To Mural Painted Black

CHAPEL HILL – The beloved mural on Franklin Street depicting a girl playing a flute is gone.  All that’s left is a black wall in its place. “I didn’t know anyone was planning that. I was very disappointed. These things are kind of like my little children,” said artist Michael Brown. He says he was on his ladder Wednesday painting a new mural for the Chapel Hill Library when he found out the news. “And I’m very disappointed in the way it was done in an expedient way,” Brown said. Brown explains he painted the mural around 2001. The Lantern Restaurant in the 400 block of West Franklin Street painted over the mural with black paint after the restaurant expanded. “There are so many people who are invested in it,” Brown explained. “You can only think that they just didn’t know. And were very eager to display their new look and indeed the place does look wonderful.” The murals are not protected because the walls belong to property owner. The Lantern Restaurant was with in its rights. “The truth after being upset and confused for a little while, I just said, ‘Well, that’s their prerogative,'” Brown said. “Save the Murals” campaign raised $1,500 to restore the mural back in 2008. Though he says he holds no hard feeling towards the Lantern Restaurant, Brown says he’d love to see some of...

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CHCCS Facing Tough Decisions With Projected Budget Shortfalls

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education has to make some tough decisions coming up. The district faces a $5 million shortfall for this next fiscal year in addition to potential cuts in state funding. The Board met Thursday night to take public comment and also held its own discussion on the superintendent’s recommended budget. “What we were talking about was if there were opportunities for us to do some cost-savings and looking at us being more cost-efficient with our resources,” said Chair of the Board Michelle Brownstein. The Board discussed consolidating high school classes that were under-enrolled, even suggesting using telecommunication teaching methods between schools. The Board also addressed the cost and effectiveness of virtual or online classes. Public comments included one speaker who said “we will have your back” in regards to the Board trying to keep class sizes down. Another speaker voiced her concern on the lack of teaching assistants in elementary classes. Released Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s proposed budget caused a stir in the education community. It’s estimated about 1,800 full-time teachers will be hired over the next two years. However, the trade-off is cutting teaching assistants. “It’s kind of a shape-shifting of sorts where the PR on it is that they are adding teachers but really all they are doing is adding the teachers they are required to add...

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UNC Hosting Forum To Reduce Violence

CHAPEL HILL – In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the UNC campus and community are coming together with a goal to reduce violence. “Our schools are pretty safe places but we have a steady flow of these mass-casualty events,” said UNC Professor Stephen Marshall. Marshall is the director of the Injury Prevention Research Center at UNC. He wants the community to check-out the forum that’s being held on Wednesday at the Tate-Turner Kuralt Auditorium on UNC’s campus at noon. It’s a discussion that’s open to the public. “We want to bring all of those people together to have a forum or public conversation on how we can keep our schools safe,” Marshall explains. “It’s also about keeping society safe in respect to how we resolve our conflicts with one another.” Panelists include UNC Professors, leaders from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, and the executive director of SAVE or Students Against Violence Everywhere. “People should come prepared to discuss and engage but they should also come prepared to listen,” Marshall said. The UNC School of Social work is hosting the event. You can also attend the reception at 11:30 a.m., and a portion of the discussion will be open-mic to the public. Marshall says the best parking option is the Dogwood visitors deck near the UNC Hospitals, which is about a ten-minute walk from the...

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Future of Lee Scholars School in Question

CHAPEL HILL –The National Heritage Academies released a press release today announcing it has backed-out as the management firm for the Howard and Lillian Lee Scholars Charter School. “After much consideration, National Heritage Academies has made the difficult decision not to move forward with the proposed school. ….We have the utmost admiration for Howard and Lillian Lee, the members of the school board, and the many others we have partnered with in the community to try to bring this school to life,” according to a press release issued by the National Heritage Academies. But Joel Medley of the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools said he was not notified of this development. “This is really late for them in the middle of March. The school is slated to open in August. It raises questions about the facility so we’re seeing where they are in being able to open in August of 2013,” Medley explained. Medley says if a new management firm were to take over, that would require approval from the State Board of Education. Now that the National Heritage Academies management firm has backed out, it is not known when or even if the school will open. It was originally expected to open in August 2012 after receiving approval from the state. Construction of a new building was set for a site in Carrboro at Claremont South; that...

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Ackland Museum Focuses On More Love For Art Enthusiasts

CHAPEL HILL –  If you want some love this weekend check out the Ackland Art Museum. The exhibit, More Love: Art, Politics, and Sharing since the 1990s, is open right now through March 31st. “With love, as a theme, as a method, as a strategy to create objects and interactions and participatory events for our audiences,” Amanda Hughes of Ackland Art Museum says. She explains the exhibit explores the idea of love through elaborate crafts, sound environments, and interactive projects.  “When you try to talk about love in serious settings people kind of roll their eyes and say ‘they’re about to get all touchy-feely’ when in fact there’s a long historical discourse on the importance of love,” Hughes says. Hughes says it’s a “thinking show” of the universal emotion. More Love features 48 works of art by 33 contemporary artists including Yoko Ono. “Come and demonstrate your love, have your picture taken, be apart of the exhibition,” Hughes says. “Your photograph will go up on the wall and then eventually go into Yoko Ono’s archives. There are lots of ways for people to get...

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