Salsa Night With DJ Juan Pachanga

Cafe Symmetry Presents Salsa Night With DJ Juan Pachanga on Friday, September 25.

Come to Cafe Symmetry in Carrboro for their first Salsa Lesson Latin Dance Party.  Salsa lessons from 9:30 to 10:30 PM.  Latin dancing from 10:30 PM till 1:00 AM or last call.

African-American Students Still Disciplined at Higher Rate than CHCCS Classmates

Discipline in Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools has been a focus of the Board of Education in recent years, as more data has shown that African-American students are disciplined at a higher rate than their schoolmates.

Interim assistant superintendent Dr. Rydell Harrison gave the board an update on the latest discipline data last Thursday night.

“One of the things as a principal I would always say to my staff, ‘In God I trust, all others need data,’” Harrison said. “I think that we have been a data-rich district, but we have not been a data-driven district in every decision that we’ve made.”

Harrison said it was important to tailor efforts going forward around data that the district has at its disposal.

A concern in recent years has been African-American students being disciplined for subjective reasons, including “disrespect.”

Harrison said “disrespect” has gone down as a source for Office Discipline Referrals, or ODR’s, but that other areas have taken its place.

“I think where in the past, there has been a lot of focus on ‘disrespect’ and us unpacking, ‘Well, that’s really subjective,’” Harrison said, “we’ve seen that almost be a nonexistent referral.

“While that process has happened and we’ve seen ‘disrespect’ go away, then you see things like ‘disruption’ and ‘defiance’ creeping up because, again, there’s some level of subjectivity in that.”

Harrison said that one way to measure the success of the district’s efforts with Positive Behavior Intervention and Support was to see if the method was helping reach 80 to 90 percent of students.

“When we look at what the data says, out of the 11,982 students, the number of students that we have with ODR’s was 1,016,” Harrison said. “So it’s working [for] 91.5 percent of our students, overall.”

But in those overall numbers, a common problem showed itself – 97 percent of Asian students, almost 95 percent of multi-racial students, 94 percent of white students and 90 percent of Latino students went without a discipline referral throughout the entire school year.

“And then we get to African-American, and almost 73 percent of our students had zero referrals,” Harrison said. “That’s really an eye-opener I think for us.

“We know there’s disproportionality, but I think that that is glaring for us to say, ‘This is not working.’”

Harrison said it was time to realize punitive discipline does not help the students and that new methods must be used, including restorative practices and interventions.

Harrison said some improvements were now being made as teachers were being required to take a two-day course on restorative practices as part of Project ADVANCE.

That training will be extended to administrators as well, the board said on Thursday.

Harrison said the next steps included reviewing the data with principles at each school and keeping track of the restorative practice training.

The board also emphasized equity as a cornerstone in its search for a new superintendent after citizen input.

The board is hoping a new superintendent will be in place in January.

PTA Thrift Shop Breaks Ground on New Non-Profit Collaborative Venture

The PTA Thrift Shop is digging into a new collaboration project in hopes of uniting youth-serving organizations in the Triangle. PTA Thrift Shop held a groundbreaking Monday to announce the beginning of the Non-Profit Collaborative Venture, and how it will work.

“We’ll be partnering with PTA Thrift Shop specifically on some of the work that we already do,” said Tabitha Blackwell. She’s the director of Youth Forward, an organization that will be partnering with PTATS.

Aaron Nelson speaking at groundbreaking. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce President Aaron Nelson speaking at groundbreaking. Photo via Blake Hodge.

The Non-Profit Collaborative Venture, or NCV, aims to create an office space by its executive office on West Main Street in Carrboro for five to seven local, youth-serving organizations to build capacity and facilitate programming.

PTATS Board Chair Wil Steen also says she’s excited for the project to begin, and says the NCV is also collaborative in the sense that it’s because of encouragement from the community that the project is even possible.

“Everybody that’s here has done something for us, to get us to this point and so really the thanks goes to you and the applause goes to you because without your help and your support, we wouldn’t be here.”

State Senator Valerie Foushee speaking at groundbreaking. Photo via Blake Hodge.

State Senator Valerie Foushee speaking at groundbreaking. Photo via Blake Hodge.

State Senator Valerie Foushee also attended the groundbreaking. She says the NCV will provide better opportunities for non-profits to provide resources and support for student youth in the Triangle.

“I believe it will be a stellar example of collaboration among local youth-serving non-profits and I, as well as all of you I’m sure, wish it all the best as this new project moves forward.”

Funds for the NCV have already been secured, but organization members are still seeking funding for operations and programming.

PTA Groundbreaking. Photo via Blake Hodge.

PTA Groundbreaking. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Carrboro Selects New Poet Laureate

Bringing the presence of poetry to Carrboro is a responsibility that few people officially hold.

The Arts Committee just selected local award-winning poet Gary Phillips as the new Poet Laureate of Carrboro, where his role is to do just that.

“Carrboro is very fortunate to have had Gary selected to serve as our Poet Laureate for the next two years. His perspective on Carrboro will inform his poetry in a unique way that will be available for generations to enjoy,” said Mayor Lydia Lavelle.

The role of the Poet Laureate includes engaging in poetry-related activities around town like participating in Carrboro Day and helping organize the annual West End Poetry Festival that is sponsored by Carrboro.

“I have been in downtown Carrboro since 1982 and lived here as a student in the early ’70s. My poetry is like homemade bread, simple, warm and sometimes strongly flavored,” said Phillips.

“A singer and storyteller, I believe words are important and poetry is an essential part of our public life. Teaching, performing, gathering poets together – that’s all sweet gravy for me. I look forward to it.”

Previous Poet Laureate, Celisa Steele says Phillips is ideal for the role and that Carrboro is “lucky to have him.”

Phillips will hold the position until June 30, 2018.

You can meet and hear Gary Phillips read poetry, along with other local poets, at the West End Poetry Festival on Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15 in Carrboro.

More information about the festival is available at the West End Poetry Festival website.

Phillips is also listed as the co-founder of Weaver Street Realty on the company’s website.

Numerous Coyote Sightings in Carrboro Cause Concern

Coyotes are becoming more well-known in the Carrboro area, as many residents of the town have reported sightings of the animal in their own backyards.

Orange County Animal Services director Bob Marotto said coyotes are in the area and are more common than they have ever been.

“The question is, how do we coexist with them and what do we do to assure our own safety as well as the safety of our pets,” Marotto said.

Marotto said he wants to inform the public of these sightings to make sure everyone is aware of the danger we can all avoid.

Photo via Orange County

Photo via Orange County

“The main message we want to convey to people is that we don’t ever want coyotes to become comfortable or accustom to us. Like any animal species, they learn through their experience and so one of our goals is to teach them that they want to steer clear of human beings and human habitats,” Marotto said.

Some ways to deter coyotes include “hazing” the animal, which consists of making loud noises to scare the animal away. Marotto said he also recommends to residents that you can reduce the attraction you have to the coyote by removing bird-feeders, keeping pets and their food inside of your house, making sure your garbage is disposed of properly and securing all areas underneath your house.

If you happen to see a coyote, Marotto said he encourages you to make a report using the animal services website.

“We try and pay attention to the patterns that exist in those reports in order to, as a community, will be better able to coexist,” Marotto said.

Orange County Animal Services also provides more information about coyotes, including resources about deterrence and protection on its website.


GoTriangle Launches New Carrboro to Durham Route

Community members gathered bright and early on Monday morning to catch the GoTriangle Express bus from Carrboro to Durham for the first time.

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle was the first one to board the 405 and said it was an exciting morning for Carrboro.

“Our residents have been wanting this extended service for many years as part of the bus plan,” Lavelle said. “People will start seeing the buses come through Carrboro and they’ll start asking, ‘Where are the two stops where we can get on?’

“Because up until now it’s been, pretty much, having to go to Franklin Street and get on there.”

Lavelle said the new route will fill a large void for those looking to use public transit to commute between the two downtowns.

“Also, it’ll open up an avenue that people haven’t really thought about,” Lavelle said. “I think people will be really surprised who haven’t done it before to realize how easy it is to hop on here in Carrboro and be deposited right downtown [Durham].”

Lavelle added this is the next step in connecting the region in her eyes.

“Our town is so walkable, and we have so many folks in such a small concentrated area,” Lavelle said. “People will see this is just a great way to get around.”

Former Chapel Hill Town Council member Lee Storrow was also among the group eagerly awaiting the first trip. He said he believes this will be a successful route due to the willingness of community members to use public transit.

“Chapel Hill Transit system has been successful because students, employees of UNC and just residents of Orange County have made a commitment that using transit to not relying on consistently building more and more parking spots is a value that the community shares.”

The first full year of the extended service is expected to cost $650,000 and will be paid with funds gathered from voter-approved local sales tax and vehicle registration revenues.

For more information and to see the full extended bus service, visit GoTriangle’s website.

Go Triangle Extends Bus Routes from Carrboro to Durham

The transportation service Go Triangle will be extending its weekday routes to include stops from Carrboro to Durham on Monday.

“We’re pleased to offer this service that meets a need we’ve heard from Carrboro residents,” said GoTriangle General Manager Jeff Mann.

“By extending our former Chapel Hill to Durham route in the busy 15-501 corridor, we’ll give passengers an efficient one seat ride from Carrboro to downtown Chapel Hill, Duke, the VA and downtown Durham.”

Morning routes beginning in Carrboro to Durham will begin at 5:45 and will serve the Jones Ferry at Collins Crossing stop, East Main St. at Weaver St. Realty stop, E. Franklin St. at the Carolina Coffee Shop stop, and Erwin Rd. at Duke Durham Station stop.

Afternoon routes from Durham to Carrboro will begin at 3:30 and will serve the Durham Station stop, Erwin Rd. at VA Hospital stop, E. Franklin St. at the Varsity Theatre stop, E. Main St. at Jade Palace stop, and Jones Ferry at Alabama Ave. stop.

A one-way trip will cost riders $2.25.

“The route will serve residents who can now travel more easily to Durham, and visitors who will have greater access to our town. This new service supports our values around public transportation, including increased accessibility for all residents while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mayor Lydia Lavelle.

The first full year of this extended service will cost an estimated $650,000, and will be paid with funds gathered from voter approved local sales tax and vehicle registration revenues meant for bus improvements and from the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project.

For more information, or to see the full extended bus schedule visit Go Triangle’s website.

Six Inducted into Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame

Six local business people were inducted into the Chapel Hill – Carrboro Chamber of Commerce in a ceremony on Thursday night at The Carolina Inn.

Those inductees were:
Dickie and Bev Dickinson of Dickinson’s Garden Center
Engineer M. Joseph Hakan
Victor Huggins of Huggins’ Hardware
Roger and Dorothy Jennings of Jennings & Company
Restaurateurs Moreton Neal and Bill Neal
Brother Peacemaker of Gates of Beauty Body Shop

“I am so honored to be here tonight, celebrating the accomplishments of the men and women who’ve given so much to develop our thriving business community in the greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro region,” said Aaron Nelson, President & CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

Hakan, Huggins and Bill Neal were inducted posthumously.

That Building in Carrboro is Still Just Sitting There

I live in Carrboro and, like a lot of people around town, am concerned about the property located on the corner of North Greensboro and West Weaver Streets.

This abandoned piece of prime property in downtown Carrboro was purchased by CVS several years ago.  How that happened is beyond me, but it did.

Shortly thereafter a group of anarchists took over the building.  If they were prepared for a battle, they were in the wrong town.  Mark Chilton, who was mayor at the time, showed up and diffused the situation.  But, it didn’t take long for the building to be boarded up and a fence put around the property.

And there it sits, years later, crumbling.

My question is what can be done to change this?  Will we spend the next 20 years watching the building degrade into a pile of rubble?

Oh lord.  Don’t get me started.


— Jackie Helvey

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Carrboro Commune

The “Carrboro Commune” at the intersection of N. Greensboro St. and W. Weaver St. (Photo by Jeffrey Clayton)

Interim Superintendent Takes Over Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools

For the first time in five years, the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School System has someone other than Tom Forcella leading the district as superintendent. Forcella’s retirement was effective at the end of July.

Now, Dr. Jim Causby is taking over the superintendent position on an interim basis.

Causby says he has worked at all levels of public education in North Carolina during his more than 40 year career.

“I had the pleasure of working as a teacher at the elementary and middle school levels for several years,” Causby said, “and then was an elementary principal, a middle school principal and a high school principal.

“And then my superintendent career, I covered three districts over a period of 27 years.”

After he retired from his post as superintendent in Johnston County, Causby said he took on statewide roles in public education.

“Fist one as executive director of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators….did that role for two years,” Causby said. “And then I became executive director of the School Superintendents Association.”

Causby said those roles allowed him to visit and speak in every school system across North Carolina and has extended his career beyond what he initially planned.

“I’ve been trying to retire for a long time, in fact I’ve done it five times, and people keep coming along and saying, ‘How about doing this for us,’” Causby said. “I love public education, and I love the role and being involved and doing the good things we do for young people.”

While his retirement may not have gone according to plan, Causby said he is now able to be very selective over what he would like to be doing, which led him to be interested when Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools was in need of an interim superintendent.

“This school system is among the best,” Causby said. “There’s no question about that. It’s among the best in North Carolina, among the best in the southeast, among the best across the nation.”

Causby continued, “This system does a lot of things the right way. That doesn’t mean there are not issues and things that need to be worked on and improved, there certainly are.

“That’s the case everywhere.”

Causby said he will get direction from the school board of priorities it would like to see prioritized during his tenure. He said those priorities include Project ADVANCE, which Causby called an “outstanding initiative, and I think again the school system is leading the way in that.”

Another priority Causby said he has heard from the board is work aimed at closing the achievement gap.

“The equity issue – how do we make sure that every single child in the school system is achieving at their potential,” Causby asked.

Causby said he views his role when leading the system as being one to keep the train on the tracks until a new conductor is chosen.

“It’s more a role of maintaining, of looking at where things are and continuing those things and making sure they’re being done,” Causby said, “looking at the priorities of the Board of Education and making sure that those are continuing to be talked about and emphasized until a new superintendent is on board.”

Causby said when he was chosen as interim superintendent that a goal of his was to meet every district employee within the first 30 days on the job.

The school board has said it hopes to have a permanent superintendent in place at the beginning of the 2017 calendar year.

There are several ways for the public to get involved in the search for the new superintendent.