Chapelboro.com » News http://chapelboro.com/category/news/ More of what you live here for Fri, 19 Dec 2014 20:09:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 More of what you live here for Chapelboro.com no More of what you live here for Chapelboro.com » News http://chapelboro.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://chapelboro.com/category/news/ CHCCS Offices Evacuated Due To Ventilation System Malfunction http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chccs-offices-evacuated-due-ventilation-system-malfunction/ http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/chccs-offices-evacuated-due-ventilation-system-malfunction/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:07:40 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123682 The Lincoln Center is closed until repairs can be made.

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An intense burning odor on Friday morning forced the evacuation and early closing of the Lincoln Center, the central office for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

“About 9:00, we noticed a smell that came on, and it was pretty sudden and pretty strong,” says district spokesperson Jeff Nash. “It smelled like – when you turn on the heater for the first time each winter, you get the smell of the dust that’s burning – like that, but very intense, so obviously some kind of electrical (or) mechanical thing.”

The Chapel Hill Fire Department arrived on the scene quickly and determined a mechanical issue had affected the ventilation system. Steps are being taken to make the needed repairs, but the center was closed for the rest of the day.

“Because of the strong odor, we were concerned about employees getting headaches,” says Nash. “(We had) no symptoms, no reports of anybody getting sick – but we want to be on the safe side, so we’ve closed the building to the public.”

 

Nash says most employees will be reachable by cell phone.

The full statement from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools:

Due to an intense burning odor permeating the building, Lincoln Center had to be evacuated this morning. The Chapel Hill Fire Department arrived on the scene quickly and determined a mechanical issue had impacted the ventilation. Steps are being taken to make the needed repairs, however the building will be closed to the public for the remainder of the day. It will reopen after the holidays, on Monday, January 5.

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Critics Say School Board Selection Process Raises Concerns http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/critics-say-school-board-selection-process-raises-concerns/ http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/critics-say-school-board-selection-process-raises-concerns/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:48:15 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123662 The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board swore in its new member Thursday, but some expressed disappointment with the way the board made its decision.

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The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board swore in its new member, David Saussy, on Thursday.

Board members made their selection from a pool of 14 applicants (one dropped out from the original pool of 15) after Mia Burroughs left this board to join the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Mark Dorosin, an Orange County commissioner and civil rights lawyer, expressed disappointment with the way the board made its decision.

“This community purports to have a commitment to transparency and community engagement,” said Dorosin in an interview with WCHL. “And then to make a decision on something so significant without any conversation really is almost disrespectful to the public and certainly to the other candidates that were there in the audience.”

Dorosin wrote an op-ed in the Chapel Hill News criticizing the board’s decision-making process. The board voted in Saussy without publicly discussing which applicant would be the best fit for the job.

“We wouldn’t expect any elected board to make a fundamental policy decision in silence, without any conversation about what any individual member’s position was, why a member was supporting or not supporting one policy over another,” said Dorosin in the interview. “Why would we accept a vote like this in silence? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Mike Kelley, the new board chair, defended the selection process. He said members discussed how they would make a decision, and he said the candidate interviews were done in public.

“The board members could have made comments if they wanted to. There was opportunity to have discussion. They and I chose not to,” said Kelley in an interview after the Thursday meeting. “If someone wants to know, they can always call and talk to me or the other board members. And they may or may not share that because sometimes it’s very difficult when you’re talking about individual people, especially when you’re going to be expressing opinions about why you’re not selecting someone or why you’re selecting someone . . .It can be difficult to make certain statements in public.”

Kelley also said that when board members selected a candidate in previous years, they chose not to comment on the candidates.

Dorosin endorsed candidate Jennifer Marsh.

“He may be the best person for the job, but we have no way of knowing that,” said Dorosin about Saussy. “No one made any case as to why this candidate should have been selected and more importantly why or how the person they chose is going to effectuate the board’s priorities.”

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UNC Ranked Best Value Education in Country http://chapelboro.com/news/higher-education/unc-ranked-best-value-education-country/ http://chapelboro.com/news/higher-education/unc-ranked-best-value-education-country/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:56:40 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123648 UNC is checking in atop a national ranking for the 14th year in a row. Carolina offers the best value of any public school in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which publishes the annual list. “UNC ranks number one for both in-state and out-of-state [students],” says editor Sandra Block. “UNC is just […]

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UNC is checking in atop a national ranking for the 14th year in a row.

Carolina offers the best value of any public school in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which publishes the annual list.

“UNC ranks number one for both in-state and out-of-state [students],” says editor Sandra Block. “UNC is just a bargain for what you get.”

Block says that UNC’s ability to provide financial aid to students is paramount to maintaining their positioning on the top of the list, but there are other factors – including “[the] student-faculty ratio, [the] admission rate – which is 27%, very competitive – [and] undergraduate debt, [which] is lower than average.”

Block mentions that UNC is the top ranking public university on the combined public-private value list, checking in at number 22. She says the list is dominated by private universities because of the amount of financial aid at the disposal of the schools – including one just down the road from UNC.

“Duke is number 10 on our combined list,” she says.

Both UNC and Duke excelled at graduating their students in four years. Duke has a four-year graduation rate of 87%, while Carolina’s is 81%.

Block adds that public universities face some obstacles that private institutions don’t – including state budget cuts.

The recent revelations of academic irregularities at UNC involving student athletes have dominated headlines in the academic world. Block says that they did factor that into their study by removing those students and rerunning the numbers to recalculate the graduation rate.

“Not to downplay the seriousness of the scandal,” she warns, “(but) statistically it wasn’t significant.”

Block says that, overall, the state of North Carolina, in particularly the Triangle, is very well represented on the list. UNC tops the list for in-state and out-of-state students at public universities. Duke checked in at number 10 on the combined public-private list, and North Carolina State University ranked 12th on the public university list for in-state students.

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No Death Penalty in Case of Murdered Professor http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/no-death-penalty-case-murdered-professor/ http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/no-death-penalty-case-murdered-professor/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:52:24 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123497 Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall will not be seeking the death penalty in the case of a murdered UNC professor from July of this year. 59-year-old Feng Liu was hit in the head with a landscaping rock on July 23rd, while he was walking near West University Drive and Ransom Street and died the […]

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Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall will not be seeking the death penalty in the case of a murdered UNC professor from July of this year.

59-year-old Feng Liu was hit in the head with a landscaping rock on July 23rd, while he was walking near West University Drive and Ransom Street and died the next day at UNC Hospitals.

Two men were arrested in connection with the case the next day.

They’re charged with first-degree murder – a capital crime – but Woodall says there are issues that exist with the death penalty, in its current form.

“The death penalty is really in a state of uncertainty,” he says. “There has not been an execution [in North Carolina] in many years. There are lots of challenges to our death penalty statute and the scheme that is used in North Carolina. That’s true all over the country.”

DA Woodall also says that, based on recent history, he does not believe a death verdict would ultimately be handed down.

“[Even] as horrific as the circumstances of this case are, I think it’s extremely unlikely that there would be a death verdict in this case,” he says. “I talked to the Liu family, and they did not want it pursued as a death penalty case.”

Woodall says the discussion with the victim’s family does not make the decision of whether to pursue the death penalty or not, but it does factor into his equation.

The next step in the Liu trial is a court date set for April, which Woodall refers to as an “administrative” appearance.

Woodall adds that the investigation is ongoing and new discoveries are being made. Those discoveries must then be shared with the defense throughout the trial.

The district attorney is not expecting to have evidence back from the state crime lab before the next trial date.

“It will not be a case that’s for trial for some period of time,” he says. “Waiting to get the evidence back from the crime lab will take, probably, close to a year.”

27-year-old Troy Arrington, of Chapel Hill, and 23-year-old Derick Davis II, of Durham, have been charged in killing the professor.

The two men face charges of armed robbery in addition to first-degree murder.

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Chapel Hill Police Looking for Two Breaking-and-Entering Suspects http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chapel-hill-police-looking-two-breaking-entering-suspects/ http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chapel-hill-police-looking-two-breaking-entering-suspects/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:33:34 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123607 Chapel Hill Police are searching for two suspects believed to be responsible for breaking into a vehicle, in the Meadowmont community. Lieutenant Joshua Mecimore, of the Chapel Hill Police Department, says the break-ins occurred last Wednesday, on Sprunt Street. He adds the suspects quickly used stolen cards to run up quite a bill. “Those cards […]

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Chapel Hill Police are searching for two suspects believed to be responsible for breaking into a vehicle, in the Meadowmont community.

Lieutenant Joshua Mecimore, of the Chapel Hill Police Department, says the break-ins occurred last Wednesday, on Sprunt Street. He adds the suspects quickly used stolen cards to run up quite a bill.

“Those cards were used at several stores, just inside Durham,” he says. “And were used a couple of times shortly after that at other locations. Those totaled close to $5,000 in charges.”

If anyone has information concerning the identities or whereabouts of these individuals, please call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.  Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous. The caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrests.

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Town of Chapel Hill Named among Healthiest Companies in Triangle http://chapelboro.com/news/health/two-chapel-hill-companies-among-healthiest-triangle/ http://chapelboro.com/news/health/two-chapel-hill-companies-among-healthiest-triangle/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:18:02 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123495 The Town of Chapel Hill has been named one of the 35 healthiest employers across the Triangle by the Triangle Business Journal. Jason deBruyn, with TBJ, says he is very excited about a new program that has been launched by the Town of Chapel Hill. “They do some pretty progressive stuff,” he says. “They have […]

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The Town of Chapel Hill has been named one of the 35 healthiest employers across the Triangle by the Triangle Business Journal.

Jason deBruyn, with TBJ, says he is very excited about a new program that has been launched by the Town of Chapel Hill.

“They do some pretty progressive stuff,” he says. “They have a free employee health clinic. That’s staffed with a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, and a health coach that are all employed by UNC Health Care.”

deBruyn says that the clinic is open to all town employees – eliminating many of the excuses we use for not going to the doctor.

“By having this clinic on site, and by the Town of Chapel Hill saying that the employees can come during work and get checked out, people are a lot more likely to use it,” he says.

deBruyn says he expects the use of on-site clinics to increase in the area, especially in locations where multiple companies share an office park and can split the healthcare costs.

After a long tenure with their headquarters in Chapel Hill, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has transitioned to a more central campus in Durham.

deBruyn says Blue Cross Blue Shield has been on the leading edge of providing a healthy workplace in recent years.

“They offer various incentives to encourage employees to lose as much weight as possible,” he says. “They’ll even group them into teams.”

deBruyn adds that BCBS was one of the first companies in the Triangle to begin offering this program. He says that breaking the participants up into teams can also build strong bonds among the employees.

Overall, the region has actually regressed below the national average in terms of the health workplaces, but deBruyn says a portion of that can be caused by the fact that companies have been working to stay ahead of the curve for so long.

He adds that having healthy employees can be very beneficial to the companies as well.

“There have been some really good studies,” he says, “that show that for every dollar invested in a wellness program – or in some kind of a health benefit outside of traditional health insurance – it returns as many as three, four, sometimes as much as five dollars in work productivity and in less lost time.”

Both the Town of Chapel Hill and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina have both been on the annual list in recent years. For 2014, BCBS checks in at number 7 in the region and the Town of Chapel Hill ranks 14th.

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Two Hillsborough Mills Granted Landmark Status http://chapelboro.com/news/business/two-hillsborough-mills-granted-landmark-status/ http://chapelboro.com/news/business/two-hillsborough-mills-granted-landmark-status/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:14:41 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123493 The Town of Hillsborough has adopted an ordinance that will grant local historic landmark status to two of the town’s mills. The former Bellevue Manufacturing Company and Eno Cotton Mill buildings will enjoy the new designation after the ordinance passed the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners. Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens says this decision will spur growth […]

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The Town of Hillsborough has adopted an ordinance that will grant local historic landmark status to two of the town’s mills.

The former Bellevue Manufacturing Company and Eno Cotton Mill buildings will enjoy the new designation after the ordinance passed the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens says this decision will spur growth in the area.

“That will help in their redevelopment,” he says. “It will be great for economic development and provide a lot of new residencies and amenities in Hillsborough.”

Stevens adds they have proof of the potential ramifications because the Eno Mill has been used as a host for area small businesses for decades.

“Mystery Brewing has their facilities in there,” he says. “Weaver Street has their facility in there. It’s been a great incubator for a lot of small businesses, and some businesses have gotten to be pretty substantial.”

While the Eno Mill has served as that small business incubator, the Bellevue Mill can provide additional housing in Hillsborough. “The Bellevue Mill has been approved for the last five years for a little bit more than 100 apartments or condominiums,” Stevens says.

Stevens says that they are hopeful the 50% reduction in property taxes that come with the landmark status will enable the Bellevue Mill developer to move forward.

Mayor Stevens says he believes that the additional housing from the development of the Bellevue Mill – coupled with the entrepreneurship that is being developed at the Eno Mill – will provide a major economic boost to Hillsborough and the surrounding area.

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Orange County Deputies to Patrol Neighborhoods Over the Holidays http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/orange-county-deputies-patrol-neighborhoods-holidays/ http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/orange-county-deputies-patrol-neighborhoods-holidays/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 19:37:09 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123489 Going away for the holidays can create worries for people living in neighborhoods where break-ins are likely to occur.

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Going away for the holidays can create worries for people living in neighborhoods where break-ins are likely to occur.

Investigator Chan McDade of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has a tip if you’re heading out of town over the next week or so.

“Have someone to pick up their mail or their packages, if any packages are to be delivered,” said McDade.

And be assured that Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies watching things while you’re gone.

Deputies in marked patrol cars, as well as “unmarked and unconventional vehicles” will make regular cruises though residential neighborhoods, in an effort to reduce break-ins.

But they can’t do it alone. So if you happen to be home for the holidays, please call 911 if you see any suspicious activity on your street.

That includes suspicious vehicles, persons, or behavior. McDade said he’s actually encouraged when neighbors report unmarked Sheriff’s Office vehicles as suspicious.

“At least they’re paying attention and calling 911 when they see something that’s out of the ordinary,” said McDade, “and that’s what we want them to do.”

Putting reports of suspicious-looking sheriff’s cars aside, the motto of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is: “If it’s concerning to you, it’s concerning to us.”

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Blue Recycling Roll Carts Set To Roll Out In Orange County http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/blue-recycling-roll-carts-set-roll-orange-county/ http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/blue-recycling-roll-carts-set-roll-orange-county/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:28:29 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123483 Blue recycling roll carts will roll out to homes in rural Orange County next month, with the blessing of the Board of Commissioners.

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The Orange County Board of Commissioners last week approved the purchase of 7,600 recycling roll carts at a cost of $444,144. Chapel Hill and Carrboro received 90 gallon carts to replace the smaller bins earlier this year.

“I’m very supportive of this and I think that the people in the county, the 7,000 people that want their roll-out carts are going to be thrilled,” said Commissioner Penny Rich.

The county’s rural recycling program serves only a fraction of the residents of unincorporated Orange, about 13,700 households. Others take their trash and recycling to one of the five solid waste convenience centers around the county.

When commissioners first debated purchasing the roll carts for county residents, some residents objected, saying their long driveways and lack of curbs made the carts hard to use.

Gayle Wilson, director of Orange County Solid Waste, told the board slightly more than half of the current customers requested roll carts. He asked the board to authorize the purchase of additional carts in case others changed their minds.

“It is expected that once we start distributing the carts, people will decide that they do want a cart rather than continue to use their bins, or they may have not responded previously and saw a nice, shiny new bin at their neighbors and they call up and they want one,” said Wilson.

Commissioners approved it by a 6-1 vote with Chair Earl McKee opposing. While the purchase had broad support on the board, some, including Commissioner Barry Jacobs, worried it might be short-sighted, coming at time when the towns and county are working on a long-term plan for solid waste.

“Considering that the Solid Waste Advisory Group is looking at the methods for funding curbside or roadside pickup, is this not putting the carts before the horse?”

Jacobs serves on the Solid Waste Advisory Group (SWAG), an intergovernmental work group tasked with identifying a county-wide solution to handle trash and recycling as well as a means to fund it. He and fellow SWAG member Rich told board members the work group will present a slate of proposals for funding recycling pick-up in the spring of 2015.

In the meantime, the new blue carts will roll out in January to 7,000 Orange county residents.

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Zones Chosen By FSA Council To Create Pipeline to Success for Children http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/zones-chosen-fsa-council-create-pipeline-success-children/ http://chapelboro.com/news/pre-k-12-education/zones-chosen-fsa-council-create-pipeline-success-children/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 01:11:12 +0000 http://chapelboro.com/?p=123377 FSA Council has chosen two zones to begin a pilot program aimed at creating a pipeline to success for children living in poverty.

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The Family Success Alliance Council has chosen two of the six geographic zones to enact a pilot program with the goal of creating a pipeline of success for children living in poverty.

Dr. Michael Steiner, with UNC Health Care, announced the selection following a committee vote.

“Congratulations to Zone 4 and Zone 6, and the Family Success Alliance will look forward to continue working with you and starting the next steps of the process.”

Zone 4 represents central Orange County, specifically between I-40 and I-85. Zone 6 covers a densely populated area from downtown Chapel Hill to Highway 54.

Representatives from the six zones that were being considered for the pilot program gave their pitch to the council during a special meeting, on Tuesday evening.

Delores Bailey, from the non-profit EmPowerment, represented Zone 6. In her pitch to the council, she focused on a need of young children in the community.

“There’s been a major setback in the Head Start program,” she says. “And that alone has been responsible for the groundwork and young people growing. If we’re missing that Head Start piece, we’ve got to have resources that wrap around what we’re missing from there.”

Zone four was campaigned for by Aviva Scully from Stanback Middle School and New Hope Elementary’s Rosemary Deane.

Deane says that during some community events they were able to break down barriers and establish a cumulative goal for the area.

“During our forum, we had families from all over come together. You could see a common vision of what they want for our community,” she recalled.

They are looking to calm some of those concerns with the help of pilot program from the Family Success Alliance Council.

One common theme developed throughout the meeting. No matter which zones were ultimately selected, the ball was rolling and each zone would have the support of the zones that were not chosen.

As for those zones that were not selected, Orange County Health Department Director Dr. Colleen Bridger cautioned that this was a pilot program, so there was no firm timeline for involving the other zones. But she made clear the intention was to do so.

“We need to try it and see how it goes. And then as soon as we can, we want every single zone to be involved in this.”

Doctor Bridger adds that the zones that were not selected will be encouraged to continue their work, and the council will be able to provide some guidance following their next meeting in February.

Meanwhile, the implementation of the pilot program will immediately go into action in zones four and six. Feedback from the success of these programs will be documented and passed along to other areas throughout the community to encourage similar efforts.

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