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Biking! Drinking! Recycling! Driving! Housing! Reporting! Dancing!

The newest restaurant in Chapel Hill’s 140 West is celebrating its grand opening on Thursday, March 20.

Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom will mark its grand opening on March 20 with a ribbon cutting at 11:00 a.m.

Old Chicago got its start back in 1976 – and to honor that, the company will offer free pizza for a year for the first 76 customers in line. There will also be a free throw shooting contest outside on the 140 West plaza – and Old Chicago will donate $76 to Farmer Foodshare for each free throw that gets made. (Show the Tar Heels how it’s done!)

Listen to Aaron Keck’s conversation on the Wednesday afternoon news with Old Chicago’s Chris Beckler.

Click here.

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For the next two months, the Town of Chapel Hill is inviting you to give your feedback on the latest draft of its Bike Plan.

You can find the plan and a comment form online at TownOfChapelHill.org/bikeplan.

There will be a public forum to discuss the plan on Monday, April 28.

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Chatham County officials say drinking water in some parts of the county might have a musty taste and odor for the next month or so – but it’s still safe to drink.

Chatham Water Utilities found higher-than-usual levels of compounds in water recently sampled from Jordan Lake Reservoir, causing the slight difference in taste. Director Leonard McBryde says this is a seasonal issue that’s “not uncommon for water systems that draw raw water from lakes.”

Since it’s seasonal, county officials say it should only last about a month – but in the meantime, residents can minimize the taste difference by refrigerating water in a pitcher, or using a carbon filter.

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Orange County will be holding a second public hearing in April to discuss the proposed new solid waste service tax district for unincorporated areas of the county.

The district is being proposed as a way to continue funding the county’s recycling program. The program had been funded with an annual fee attached to residents’ property tax bill, but that fee has been discontinued.

The public hearing takes place on Tuesday, April 1, also at 6:00 p.m. at the Social Services Center at Hillsborough Commons on Mayo Street in Hillsborough.

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Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s three high schools are holding “mock crash” events this spring to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving.

The events will begin with an assembly, followed by a crash reenactment in the footbal stadium. A UNC Air Care helicopter will land in the stadium as well, to simulate transport of an injured victim.

The mock crashes will take place at Carrboro High School on Friday, March 21; at East Chapel Hill High on Wednesday, April 9; and at Chapel Hill High on Friday, May 2 during the school day.

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The Greater Chapel Hill Association of REALTORS has earned a grant to promote affordable housing in the local community.

The grant comes from the Housing Opportunity Program of the National Association of REALTORS; the Greater Chapel Hill branch will use the funds to produce a housing expo in Chatham County.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Amanda Bennett will be on campus Thursday, March 20, speaking as part of UNC’s Women in Media Leadership Series.

Working for the Wall Street Journal, Bennett won the Pulitzer in 1997 for her coverage of the AIDS crisis, and a second Pulitzer with The Oregonian for an expose of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She’s also the author of “The Cost of Hope,” a book about confronting death in the context of the U.S. healthcare system.

Bennett’s talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. on March 20 in the Freedom Forum Conference Center in Carroll Hall. It’s free and open to the public.

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This weekend, a nationally-recognized dance choreographer will be in the Triangle to support arts education in local schools.

Jacques d’Amboise is the principal dancer-choreographer for the NYC Ballet. He’s in town from Thursday through Saturday, March 20-22, to support NC Arts in Action – which provides in-school and afterschool dance programs for kids, based on a model d’Amboise developed back in the 1970s.

On Thursday d’Amboise will be in Chapel Hill, meeting with fourth-graders at Northside Elementary School.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/biking-drinking-recycling-driving-housing-reporting-dancing/

Chilton, OCRCC Among Honorees At Chamber Mtg

CHAPEL HILL – About 400 political and business leaders gathered at the Friday Center on Thursday for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, to honor outstanding local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals.

Meg McGurk of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership set the tone in her keynote address. “Downtown has reached a tipping point,” she told the attendees. “The private sector is investing in downtown on unprecedented levels, the public sector has taken a new pride in engaging in our downtown…(and) you are the ones that are making that change happen.”

The highlight of the annual meeting was the awarding of the Chamber’s annual Business of the Year honors:

• The Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year award went to Sweeps, a company that matches UNC students with locals in need of moving, cleaning, tutoring, and other odd jobs.

Vimala’s Curryblossom Café beat out 140 West Franklin and the newly expanded PTA Thrift Shop for the Mid-Size Business of the Year award.

• The Large Business of the Year honor went to ARCA, an international manufacturer and distributer with global headquarters in Mebane.

• The Orange County Rape Crisis Center won the Chamber’s Nonprofit of the Year award.

And the Chamber also recognized three individuals as well. Longtime volunteer Irene Briggaman won the Ambassador of the Year award; UNC Executive Director of Real Estate Gordon Merklein won the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service award for his work not only with UNC, but also with various local service organizations. And outgoing Chamber board chair Paige Zinn recognized former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton with the Chamber’s award for Leadership in Public-Private Partnership.

“Mark has demonstrated that you can support economic and community development without forswearing your interest in the environment and social justice,” Zinn said of Chilton.

Attendees at the meeting included state government officials, the three mayors of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, and all but one member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/local-leaders-businesses-honor-local-leaders-businesses/

News Around Town: National Humanities; Medicine Drop; 140 West Grand Opening

CHAPEL HILL – The second annual conference on Human Rights and the Humanities will take place at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park this Thursday and Friday.

The keynote address on Thursday evening will be from historian, author and Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff. Following this address about human rights, sovereignty and globalization, NHC trustee emerita Jean Bethke Elshtain will respond.

On Friday, the conference continues with speakers from leading universities in Israel, Germany, China, and throughout the United States.

The conference will be free to the public on Thursday evening starting at 7:00. On Friday afternoon, $20 for adults and $10 dollars for students and seniors provides entry to the full conference, including meals.

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Operation Medicine Drop is from 3 to 6 p.m. today, at the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 501 Hampton Pointe Blvd. in Hillsborough.

The Hillsborough Police Department is partnering with Safe Kids North Carolina, Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth, and Wal-Mart to sponsor the event, which is offering residents a safe and secure way to get rid of old or unneeded prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Almost 4500 people have died from prescription drug poisoning since 1999 in North Carolina, making unintentional poisonings the second leading cause of injury death in the state.

The service is free and anonymous and will help prevent accidental poisonings, drug abuse, and water contamination from flushing medicine.

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The Grand Opening of the 140 West Franklin Plaza and dedication of Exhale, Chapel Hill’s newest public art installation, will take place Friday, April 26.

Exhale was created by the internationally renowned landscape architect Mikyoung Kim, and is an impressive sculpture featuring vivid lighting and fog effects as an interactive component. 140 Franklin Plaza features 26,000 sq. ft of outdoor public space and another 26,000 sq ft of retail space, and is intended to be Chapel Hill’s ultimate gathering place.

The event will feature live music by Jasmé Kelly, who has a unique, blended sound of R&B, rock and soul music. Also, the Studio A DanceArts will perform a dance commissioned by the Town of Chapel Hill to celebrate Exhale. Mikyoung Kim will be present to talk about her artwork and the overall plaza design.

The event is taking place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 26 at 140 Franklin Street Plaza.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town-national-humanities-medicine-drop-140-west-grand-opening/

News Around Town: Smith Level Construction; OC Library Closure; 140 W Franklin

CHAPEL HILL – A nearly one-mile stretch of Smith Level Road in Carrboro will soon see major improvements, but not before the public has a chance to weigh in on the proposed work.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting Monday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. to discuss the widening plans that include bike lanes, sidewalks, and turn lanes with a center median. A roundabout is also planned at the intersection of Rock Haven Road and Smith Level Road.

Monday’s meeting will take place at Carrboro Town Hall. An NCDOT representative as well as the project contractor will be in attendance to answer any questions about the project and the expected timeline.

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The Orange County Main Library and the Cybrary Branch will be closed from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesday to allow the staff to devote time to developing its strategic plan.

A series of public input sessions and an online survey were conducted and will be discussed when designing the strategic plan.

For more information, call the OC Main Library at 919-245-2525.

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The grand opening of 140 West Franklin Street is two months away and Ram Realty Services recently announced the sale of its 100th luxury home.

The development includes 140 homes in all as well as 26,000 square feet of street-level retail, a public plaza, and two levels of covered parking.

The project that has shut down a portion of Church Street as well as closing a lane of Franklin Street also includes 18 affordable homes that are being sold through a partnership with the Town by Community Home Trust.

A public grand opening and dedication ceremony of 140 West Franklin will be held Friday, April 26.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town-smith-level-construction-oc-library-closure-140-w-franklin/