Carrboro Police Make 2 Arrests in Break-In

Carrboro Police have made two arrests in connection with an armed robbery.

Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack says officers were called to the scene of a reported armed home invasion at Estes Park Apartments at 1:18 Tuesday morning.

“Upon arrival, officers discovered that two people had tried to force their way into an apartment with a weapon,” he says. “By the time officers arrived, the suspects had fled the area.

“We used one of our canines to track one of the suspects. And the track went for a period of time and actually our canine needed to be relieved by a Chapel Hill canine. And when the Chapel Hill canine took over, apparently the suspect was very near to where our canine had tired out.”

Atack says – with the help of the four-legged partners – police were able to take 29-year-old Joseph Moran into custody. Atack says after further investigation 29-year-old Jared Grant was also arrested.

Atack adds both suspects required medical attention upon their arrest.

“Both Mr. Moran and Mr. Grant suffered injuries as a result of the residents defending themselves,” he says. “They had not serious injuries, but they were significant injuries.”

Atack says this does not appear to be a random act, at this time.

“There was a nexus that led these people to a certain location,” he says, “and it’s not a random event.”

Atack says, because of that, police do not believe this is connected with a string of armed robberies in the area.

“Different folks, different MO, we don’t feel there’s any involvement,” he says. “We’re not sure exactly where this idea came from, but we don’t believe this is part of a greater trend at this point.

“We think it’s a singular event.”

Moran was charged with First Degree Burglary and Attempted Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon. He is being held under a $105,000 bond. The Orange County Court calendar shows Moran with a scheduled appearance for Wednesday afternoon on those two charges as well as felony possession with intent to sell cocaine, felony possession of a scheduled 1 controlled substance, and a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon.

Grant will be transported to the custody of the Orange County Jail after his release from UNC Hospital.

Atack says the police department wants to take this opportunity to encourage residents to notify authorities if they see anything suspicious.

“We always want to come out and check on things before there’s a problem,” he says.

If you have additional information regarding the Carrboro break in, you are asked to contact Carrboro Police or Crime Stoppers.

The ArtsCenter Features Theatrical ‘Mixed-Tape’

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro is holding its 14th annual “10 By 10 in the Triangle” program. Each performance features 10 different 10-minute plays performed back-to-back.

Director Jules James told “The Art Spot’s” Jeri Lynn Schulke the program is almost like a mixed-tape.

“It’s got to have some sort of sense of organization, as well as some sort of larger story that you want to tell the audience,” James said. “Not that every play means something immediately next to one another, but they’re going to mean something because they’re put next to one another.”

This year’s “10 By 10″ features a whole new set.

Performances are at 3 p.m. Sunday, and Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.

PACE Students, Teachers Await Mid-August Decision

Lawyers wrapped up their arguments Tuesday in a hearing to determine whether a Carrboro charter school will remain open. But students and teachers at PACE Academy won’t know for several weeks whether they will be able to return to PACE in the fall.

After a meeting at PACE Academy, PACE student Addison Edwards takes a stack of papers from Jamie Bittner, his school’s occupational therapist.

“This is his paperwork for career and college promise,” Bittner says waving the stack of forms. “His GPA is outstanding, his SAT scores are outstanding, so he’s going to be taking community college courses while attending—hopefully PACE next year.”

Bittner says “hopefully PACE,” because it’s up in the air whether PACE will be open for Edwards to come back to in the fall.

In May, the State Board of Education voted not to renew the school’s charter over concerns about poor attendance records and non-compliance with some regulations for teaching students with disabilities. The school appealed that decision to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

After 4 days in court, it rests for Judge Phil Berger Jr. to decide if PACE will get to keep its charter. That has PACE student Jerry Garfunkel worried about where he’ll be in the fall.

“It’s scary to think about,” Garfunkel says. “I don’t really know where I’m going to go, or what I’m going to do.”

PACE says its mission is to serve students in grades 9 through 12 who aren’t thriving in traditional public schools. Half of PACE’s students have autism or other mental health diagnoses. Many are teen mothers, and some are homeless or former dropouts.  Garfunkel says he came to PACE because the traditional public school environment was much too stressful for him.

“I thought I was going to end up in the UNC psych ward if I stayed there any longer,” he says. “I almost had a mental breakdown in my study hall class.”

Garfunkel says the smaller class sizes and nurturing environment at PACE suit him much better.

“The people here are understanding, the students here are very kind, the teachers here are extremely qualified for their jobs,” he said. “I’ve just been going from like D’s and F’s to A’s. It’s incredible.”

Berger will deliver a judgment by August 13—less than two weeks before the start of the school year. PACE Assistant Principal Jane Miller says that means she and the other administrators aren’t just hoping for the best, they’re planning for it too.

“Rhonda, Jamie and I are still operating as if we are going to open on August 25,” Miller told a room of concerned parents, students, alumni and teachers. “Because if we don’t plan enough, we simply wouldn’t have enough time once we get the decision that affirms we stay open.”

At the same time, PACE administrators say they have a contingency plan. Miller says she and other staff members will spend the next weeks helping families identify traditional public schools, private schools and home-school groups in case PACE closes.

Judge Extends Hearing on PACE Academy

A hearing that will decide whether PACE Academy will keep its charter will go longer than expected.

Attorneys for PACE Academy Charter School and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) were scheduled to wrap up their arguments Thursday in a hearing that will determine whether PACE will remain open. But PACE’s attorney Phillip Adkins says there’s more questioning and argumentation to be had.

“It has gone longer than we expected,” Adkins said. “And given our schedules and the judge’s schedule, we’ve decided to return on Tuesday morning at 8:30.”

PACE Academy is appealing the DPI’s decision not to renew the school’s charter. This is the second time the school has faced closure. In 2013 the Charter School Advisory Board and the State Board of Education (SBE) expressed concerns about low attendance, poor academic performance, compliance issues and fiscal difficulties.

PACE was allowed to keep its charter as part of a settlement agreement last summer.

But this year, the DPI said it found evidence of continuing poor attendance, bad record-keeping and compliance issues. In May, the SBE recommended the charter not be renewed.

Adkins says PACE wasn’t given a fair shot to present its case to the SBE.

“If the Department of Public Instruction would let the charter school—before the meetings—see the material that’s going to be presented, exactly what they’re going to present, so that they can prepare to reply to that—because it’s supposed to be a conversation—then I think it would be much fairer, and we wouldn’t be here,” Adkins said.

Adkins says the judge’s decision will hinge on whether the school received ample opportunity to make its case and whether its methods for tracking attendance were legal. The school counts some students as present when they take their classes off-site, but the DPI has taken issue with the practice.

“We now in the courtroom understand each side’s position,” Adkins said, “but unfortunately I think it’s going to have to go to a decision the judge has to make.”

The judge in the case is Phil Berger Jr., the son of Senate President Phil Berger. The hearing continues next week. Adkins says PACE is hoping Berger will rule on the case by the end of July.

Carrboro Charter School Battles to Stay Open

PACE Academy will fight in court Tuesday to keep its doors open.

Teachers, students, parents and alumni of PACE Academy gathered at the State Board of Education building Monday morning. They were there to protest the Board’s decision to revoke PACE’s charter.

The state’s Charter School Advisory Board recommended PACE be closed due to concerns about low attendance, financial problems and compliance issues. But protest organizer Stephanie Perry says she believes those concerns are unfounded.

“Over the past two years, PACE Academy has been aggressively targeted by the Charter School Advisory Board in a very unfair way,” she said.

Perry says the advisory board did not take into account the school’s unique population when making its assessment. PACE serves students in grades nine through twelve. The school says half of its students have mental health problems or learning disabilities and that many of its students are teenage parents and former drop-outs. Perry says that means many PACE students take classes on a nontraditional schedule and weren’t there when advisory board members came out to check the school’s attendance

“Because of the vocational curriculum, a lot of the students have on-the-job training and internships,” Perry said.

PACE has appealed a May decision by a State Board of Education review panel that revoked the school’s charter. Senate President Phil Berger’s son, Judge Phil Berger Jr., will hear arguments beginning Tuesday.

This is the second time PACE has had its charter on the line. The school’s charter was nearly revoked in 2013 over similar concerns.

Latest Candidate Filing Info

The filing period for 2015 local elections opened up at eight o’clock Monday morning.

The latest official reports from the Board of Elections are listed below:

Chapel Hill:

Mayor: Mark Kleinschmidt*, Gary Kahn, Pam Hemminger.

Town Council (4 seats open): Lee Storrow*, Michael Parker, Paul Neebe, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson.


Mayor: Lydia Lavelle*.

Board of Aldermen (3 seats open): Michelle Johnson*, Damon Seils*, Bethany Chaney*.


Mayor: Tom Stevens*.

Board of Commissioners (3 seats open): Evelyn Lloyd*, Mark Bell.


Mayor: Glendel Stephenson*, Robert Huey.

City Council (2 seats open): Patty Philipps*, Everette Greene*.

Chapel Hill – Carrboro School Board (4 seats open): Annetta Streater*, Rani Dasi, Theresa Watson, Margaret Samuels.

The filing period runs through July 17. Election day is November 3.

*- incumbent

Carrboro Family Displaced by Fire

A fire in Carrboro displaced five residents from their home, according to officials.

Carrboro Fire crews responded to a structure fire at 204 Cates Farm Road at 11:32 on Sunday night.

Carrboro Fire_5

Firefighters found smoke and heavy fire coming from the roof of the home. Firefighters from Carrboro, Chapel Hill, North Chatham, Orange Grove, New Hope, and White Cross Fire Departments were able to get the fire under control in approximately 45 minutes.

The Red Cross is assisting the family.

Carrboro Fire Marshal Kent Squires says the cause of the fire is still under investigation. An agent from the State Bureau of Investigation who specializes in these cases is assisting the fire department.

No injuries resulted from the fire.

Frederick Douglass’ July 4th Speech Still Resonates Today

Fireworks will rise into the sky on July 4th as millions of Americans celebrate the birth of our nation and its values of freedom and independence.

But Ted Shaw, professor of law and director of the Center for Civil Rights at UNC-Chapel Hill, says it’s important to remember that July 4th, 1776 did not mark the birth of freedom for African Americans. They and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would remain enslaved for almost a hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

That distinction is the subject of Frederick Douglass’ fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.” Shaw and others will be reading the speech at noon on July 4th at the Carrboro Century Center.

“He [Douglass] talked about the fact that white americans—they celebrated freedom, they celebrated independence, they celebrated their country. But for the slave—for African Americans—that was hypocrisy,” Shaw says.

Shaw says Douglass’ speech still resonates with Americans today, even 150 years after the abolition of slavery.

“We still carry this stuff with us,” Shaw says. He points out that since African Americans arrived in what is now the U.S., they have lived 90 percent of the time under either slavery or Jim Crow.

“And yet,” Shaw says, “we have that dishonest discourse that says ‘that’s history, that happened too long ago’—even though we embrace all kinds of things that happened a long time ago, including our Founding Fathers, and the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.”

Shaw points to disproportionate rates of poverty and incarceration, and educational inequalities as part of the continuing legacy that began with slavery. He says Douglass’ message resonates today because people of color are still fighting against the same forces of structural racism and discrimination Douglass spoke out against.

Shaw quotes Douglass: “Frederick Douglass said ‘if there is no struggle, there is no progress.’ He said ‘there is no negro problem,’ in the language of the time. He said the problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough and patriotism enough to live up to their own constitution,” Shaw says. “That’s what I think about on the Fourth of July. I think that’s what all Americans, not only African Americans, ought to think about on the Fourth of July.”

‘Bike-Fairies’ On the Lookout in Carrboro

You’ve heard of the tooth-fairy and the sugar-plum fairy, but have you ever heard of a bike-fairy? If you opt for two wheels instead of four, you may have one watching over you on the streets of Carrboro.


Sitting on a bench in downtown Carrboro, bike-fairy Eric Allman has begun his watch over the morning commute.

“We’re sitting on the corner of Roberson and Weaver Street and looking for some folks who might be doing some good behaviors on their bikes,” Allman says.

His partner is Heidi Perry, who arrives helmet-clad and wearing a bike-shaped pin on her shirt.

Perry and Allman are both founding members of the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition. They started the bike-fairy program this summer with a grant from Carolina Tarwheels, a bicycle-advocacy group. The bike-fairies stay on the lookout for cyclists following the rules of the road: stopping at stoplights and stop-signs, not passing on the right, and signaling before a turn. They find and reward safe cyclists like Katelyn Murphy, who Allman waves down after she’s safely turned right onto Roberson Street.

“Excuse me! Would you like a free gift certificate for stopping at that light?” Allman calls after her.

“Sure!” says Murphy, and Allman offers her a selection of $5 gift certificates to “bike-friendly” businesses in town.

Perry says they started the bike-fairy program to show that most cyclists are following most traffic laws, even if they have a bad reputation with drivers.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, ‘you cyclists.’ And I’m like do you know how many cyclists there are? I am one,” Perry says.

For Perry, reinforcing a positive image of cyclists isn’t just about easing tensions with motorists, it’s also about increasing public support for bike-friendly legislation.

“There’s House Bill 44, which is a law that has to do with infrastructure,” she explains.

The bill would put new restrictions on municipalities’ ability to create bike lanes on existing roads. Perry worries this kind of legislation comes from people who have had a few negative encounters with cyclists.

“There a lot of people who would be very happy, who are very anti-cyclist,” she says. “Because of these few people [unsafe cyclists], they would like to see a lot of our rights taken away. So I think it’s very important to show that it’s not all of us.”

But more important than showing cyclists’ good sides, the bike-fairies say their program is about making the streets safer in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Between 2013 and 2014 the two towns had at least 60 accidents involving cyclists or pedestrians. Three of those accidents resulted in the death of a cyclist.

Perry and Allman stop and reward their second safe biker of the morning commute, Daniel Matute, who unlike a few other cyclists that morning, waited through an entire red light. Matute seems surprised to receive acknowledgement for following the law, but grateful nonetheless.

Matute rides off down Roberson, and Allman smiles as Matute signals before his left turn onto the bike-path.

“I feel like maybe he wouldn’t have signaled that time. Not only did he see us by now it’s in his brain,” Allman says. “If you reinforce it, it makes that person who did it 50 percent of the time, now do it 70 percent of the time, or maybe 100 percent of the time.”

After an hour on the street, Perry and Allman pack up for the morning, hop on their bikes and head to their day-jobs, all the while on the lookout for more safe, deserving cyclists.

Diversity Across the Boards

By Barbara Foushee:

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro/Orange County area has a very diverse population. There are many different cultures and races.

Our local governing boards make decisions that affect all of us and these boards should be a direct reflection of the populations that they serve.

This is not the case.

There is approximately one minority member per local board in this area, which is a good indication that the needs and the concerns of some are not being met. To summarize that statement, there is not adequate representation at the table for everyone when important laws, ordinances, appointments, etc., are being discussed and subsequently voted on.

This troubles me because I know that there have been some qualified applicants in the past and recently that have been looked over in favor of the “status quo.”

I am here to encourage all of you to be a part of your local governing bodies. The decisions that they make will ultimately affect you and your neighbors. Get involved and be the change that you would like to see.

I would also like to challenge the local government entities to take a good hard look at your membership make-up, the efficiency of the board, and whether the board is actually serving the general population or a specific group.

In my opinion, it is definitely worth looking into.