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.

Carrboro Police Respond to Reports of ‘Edged Weapon’ at McDougle Middle School

Carrboro Police were called to McDougle Middle School on Monday.

Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack says officers responded to the school, on Fayetteville Road, to assist staff in two cases of a weapon being brought on campus.

“The School Resource Officer was contacted by staff on some information that they had gotten from other students,” Atack says, “and basically just stood by while staff was able to locate a weapon in a backpack of a student at the school.”

Atack says that discovery led staff members to another incident on campus.

“As a result of that investigation, there was additional information that led to another student who had also something in their backpack and in their locker that met the legal criteria for the charge of weapon on educational property.”

Atack says the weapon in each circumstance was not a firearm but an “edged weapon.” Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School system spokesperson Jeff Nash says, in at least one of the instances, the item was some kind of throwing star.

Atack adds there was no evidence to suggest either student intended to injure anyone or use the weapon in any malicious manner.

Atack says it was his understanding the students had brought the items to show each other at school on Monday.

Atack says that the school system is handling the discipline of the students.

Nash adds that a student at McDougle Elementary School, also on Monday, brought a toy gun to campus. Nash says it is his understanding that the student was playing with the toy gun on the bus, alarming some of the other students.

No discipline sanctions were disclosed among any of incidents by the school system.

Unopposed Carrboro Leaders Look to Future

Carrboro incumbents sailed to victory on Tuesday, as all were running unopposed.

Mayor Lydia Lavelle was re-elected to her second term with 1,746 votes.

Alderpeople Bethany Chaney, Damon Seils, and Michelle Johnson received 1,585, 1,562 and 1,635 votes.

In the coming year the board will tackle questions of how to regulate parking in downtown Carrboro, as well as how to accommodate a request from the IFC to relocate the non-profit Community Kitchen to Main Street.

Carrboro Debates IFC’s Plan To Relocate Community Kitchen

The Inter-Faith Council is in the process of splitting up its Community Kitchen and Men’s Shelter. The new transitional housing facility has opened on Homestead Road in Chapel Hill, and now, IFC leaders are looking to relocate the Community Kitchen to West Main Street in Carrboro, to share space with the food pantry on that site.

Tuesday’s discussion in the topic by the Board of Aldermen began with a dry dissection of zoning and land use, but quickly shifted to a heated debate on how best to help those in need while addressing the worries of nearby business owners.

“I found it really offensive, the way it says ‘Diners shall be instructed to disperse from the property after exiting.’ That’s disgusting,” said Randee Haven-O’Donnell, responding to a proposed regulation in the land use ordinance designed to keep crowds from loitering outside the kitchen after meals. “It’s one thing to say we have to feed hungry people, but if we’re not going to be fully consistent with how folks need to be respected and given dignity, we’re failing.”

The Community Kitchen serves free food to anyone who’s hungry. According to the IFC, between 75 and 125 people eat lunch or dinner at their current facility. Lunch is served for an hour and 15 minutes. Dinner lasts just 45 minutes.

Town staffers say the volume of guests arriving and departing in such a short time poses planning challenges. They put forward a land use plan that calls for a crowd management plan, as well as stipulations requiring security personnel, additional lighting, and more trash cans.

Alderwoman Bethany Chaney opposed these constraints, saying they stigmatize those in need.

“What I’m afraid that we are doing by making a very expansive change or addition to the land use ordinance here, is making bad policy that will victimize people further,” said Chaney.

Several on the board chastised town planners for catering to what they deemed baseless fears.

But Alderwoman Jacquie Gist pushed back. She says she’s heard from many business owners in Carrboro worried about the relocation of the Community Kitchen, and she urged her peers not to downplay those concerns.

“What we do, is we look for ways to make it work, without blaming the person who’s worried, very justifiably, about the impact on their business or their home,” said Gist. “We don’t say, ‘Oh, you’re making unfair assumptions.’ No, they’re not. They are based on reality, and we’ve got to address that stuff up front.

I’m asking some of these questions because of the citizens of Carrboro who have come to me and said, ‘These are things I’m worried about and I’m scared to ask them because somebody’s going to think I’m a jerk.’ We have got to have a way to have this conversation without people being judged.”

All agreed the community needs a chance to weigh in. Board members say they don’t want to see Carrboro’s process become as polarized and negative as Chapel Hill’s year-long battle to approve a site for the IFC’s new Men’s Shelter.

Mayor Lydia Lavelle offered an olive branch to board members on both sides.

“I think really, folks, we’re all a lot closer than it seems right now,” said Lavelle. “Everyone here has good intentions. Everyone here wants to find a way to move this forward and have this community conversation.”

The board voted 5-2 to send the ordinance back to town staff for revision, with Gist and Haven-O’Donnell opposed.

The revision will come back to the board for comment. Once the land use plan is approved, the IFC will likely move forward with a request to rezone the site on West Main Street.

Carrboro: Best City For Singles

Best City For Singles

Carrboro at Sunset

Are you single?

Move to Carrboro.  Evidently it is the best city for singles in the United States.

Livability ranked Carrboro at the top of their list of “10 Best Cities for Singles.”  The website “explores what makes small-to-medium sized cities great places to live.”

Carrboro is the best city for singles because it, “holds a high concentration or single adults who are generally more active and social than the average American.”  Livability also cited the city’s layout, college-town vibe, and assortment of entertainment options.

Of course, these lists should always be taken with an enormous grain of salt.  Another website, Only In Your State, listed Carrboro at No. 3 on their list of Best Cities For Singles…in North Carolina.  That list put Raleigh and Charlotte ahead of Carrboro.  Only In Your State did not mention any actual criteria.

Cities and towns located near major colleges were prominently featured on the top 10 list.  Oxford, Mississippi, home of the University of Mississippi, landed at No. 4 on the list.  The home of Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, is listed at No. 7.  Athens, Georgia, home of the University of Georgia, landed at No. 9.

Overall, the criteria for the Livability ranking included percentage of population who are unmarried, percentage of population between 20-34, use of online dating websites, went dancing in the last 12 months, watched romantic movie in last 6 months, visited a nightclub/bar in last 12 months, and went to an art gallery in the last 12 months.

Popular nightlife spots in Carrboro are highlighted.  The Station, Orange County Social Club, and The Speakeasy at Tyler’s all get mentions.

But, Carrboro did not become the best city for singles just for its nightlife.  The Carrboro ArtsCenter and the Parks and Recreation Department also get credit for their programs that promote an active lifestyle.

The people at Livability previously ranked Carrboro at No. 55 on their list of “Top 100 Best Small Towns.”

Silver Alert Issued for Carrboro Man

***UPDATE: Carrboro Police have canceled the Silver Alert. Burton has been found in Durham and transported by EMS to the Durham VA for evaluation, according to authorities.***

Carrboro Police are asking for assistance locating Sammy Lee Burton, of Crescent Green of Carrboro.

A silver alert has been issued for Burton, who was last seen Saturday afternoon.

Burton is described as a 6’ 2” black male weighing 220 pounds.

He is believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment, according to police.

If you encounter Burton or have any information as to his whereabouts, you are asked to contact Carrboro Police at (919) 918-7397 or Investigator Kenny Stewart at (919) 918-7412.

Jones Ferry Road Reconfiguration Starts Monday

A busy stretch of Jones Ferry Road is going on a diet.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is breaking ground Monday on a road diet project that will trim travel lanes between Highway 54 and Barnes Street in Carrboro.

According to DOT officials, the half-mile span has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian accidents in the past five years.

The road diet plan will reduce through lanes from four to two, and add turn lanes, a median, bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks and a traffic signal at Davie Road, all in an effort to improve safety.

Construction will take place daily between 7 a.m and 9 p.m. Drivers should plan for alternating lane closures and delays throughout the process, which is expected to be completed in March of next year.

Unopposed Carrboro Candidates Use Campaign Season to Promote Voter Turnout

Municipal races will be over in less than a month, and candidates in Carrboro are taking the opportunity to urge voters to make their voice heard.

While most eyes in local politics are focusing on the races for Chapel Hill Mayor and Town Council as well as the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board, the candidates in Carrboro are focusing on voter involvement.

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Board of Aldermen members Bethany Chaney, Michelle Johnson and Damon Seils are all running for re-election this year unopposed. But they are not resting on their laurels. They have taken it upon themselves to encourage residents to still exercise their civic duty of voting, according to Chaney.

“I know that I am particularly interested in just hearing from voters,” she says, “either affirming that what the Board of Aldermen is doing now is heading in the right direction or telling us that, ‘no, it’s not.’

“When people show up to the polls, they actually have a choice; they can vote for one of us, two of us, all of us, or write in somebody’s name. And I think it’s still worth it to show up at the polls, even in an uncontested race, so that you can do that.”

Seils says the candidates are taking up this voter-involvement initiative in the time they would have spent running a campaign.

“In terms of our own sort of individual campaigns,” he says, “we have elected instead to focus on this more general issue of getting people to the polls.

“I think, as Bethany said, not only are we interested in hearing from people, we are politicians after all we want to know how we’re doing and how people think we’re doing.”

Seils was also quick to point out there are races on the ballot where Carrboro residents can still make an impact.

“The Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools School Board is on the ballot,” he says. “It’s an incredibly important election this year. There are four seats up for election; two incumbents are not running for re-election.

“This is an opportunity for folks to really shape the future of the school system in this community, and it’s a rare opportunity.”

Chaney adds on to the importance of the school board vote because she says there are no Carrboro residents currently on the board.

“There’s an argument to be made that context is really important,” she says. “Where you live shapes your view of how things are going in the schools or shapes your opinion of how your child is doing in the schools.

“I think it’s something for Carrboro citizens to be thinking about.”

Lavelle says, while some residents choose not to vote in municipal elections, it is important to not get out of the routine of voting.

“Part of what we’re doing is reminding people about our election that’s coming up this fall,” she says. “But I think it’s extremely important for people to get in the habit of voting, because next fall it’s going to be so critical for the state of North Carolina for many reasons.”

The 2016 election will include races for the US Senate, Governor and County Commissioner, among other races.

Early voting for this year’s municipal races in Orange County starts on October 22nd and Election Day in November 3rd.

What’s Left After the General Assembly Went Home

The North Carolina General Assembly has wrapped up one of the longest legislative sessions in recent memory.

Municipalities’ ability to make decisions specifically impacting their communities, public school funding being diverted to charter schools, light rail spending, status of sanctuary cities, and the discreteness of the search for the next UNC system president were all up for debate in the whirlwind of action over the final few days of the legislative session.

Local Government Control: Senate Bill 279

A piece of legislation was introduced on the final day of the legislative session that proposed restrictions on local governments, before flaming out in spectacular fashion.

The changes were introduced as part of an unrelated bill that started out in an attempt to address qualifications of sexual education experts to approve sex ed curricula in school districts across the state. Throughout the intense debate on Tuesday, social media lit up with protests over the surprise amendment. LGBT advocates argued the move was aimed at reversing decisions by some municipalities extending discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation.

After being voted down by the House Rules Committee, a previous version of the bill – without the restrictive language – was passed by the Senate.

Charter School Funding: House Bill 539

Another piece of controversial legislation was also stopped in committee Tuesday night. The bill would have shifted some traditional public school funding to charter schools.

Public schools already split funding with charter schools based on enrollment numbers, but the new proposal would have taken money from pots previously reserved for public schools and diverted it to charters across the state.

Supporters say the bill would just provide equal funding to charter schools. Opponents argued against allowing charter schools to split funding for nutritional meals and transportation with public schools, because charter schools are not required to provide the same food and transportation services as traditional schools.

The bill could be brought back up in the short session next year.

Lawmakers said they wanted more time to evaluate charter school needs.

Light Rail Spending Amendment of Revenue Law Changes: Senate Bill 605

The House had voted earlier in the week to pass an amendment that would have removed the $500,000 spending cap on light rail.

The cap was originally placed in the state budget with no discussion beforehand.

Some have called the cap a “project killer” for the Durham – Orange Light Rail project, because the 17-mile light rail proposal is counting on 25 percent of the funding to come from state dollars.

The Senate sent the amended legislation to committee, where it will stay until at least next April.

The legislation to remove the cap could be reevaluated next session.

Sanctuary Cities: House Bill 318

Legislation is heading to Governor Pat McCrory that would ban sanctuary city policies, similar to what Chapel Hill and Carrboro have in place, from being adopted in the future.

This places the status in our community in limbo with several jurisdictional questions left to be answered, likely through litigation.

Protestors delivered letters to Mcrory on Wednesday asking him to veto the legislation. Another protest was held on the UNC campus on Thursday.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about the proposal earlier in the week before it was passed. Listen below:

UNC President Search: Senate Bill 670

Finally, term limits have been placed for members to serve on the UNC Board of Governors, who will now only be able to serve three four-year terms on the 32-member board.

An amendment on the bill had called for a public meeting with the final three candidates for the president of the 17-campus UNC System.

That proposal was removed before the bill was finally passed to the governor.

Now the dozens of pieces of legislation that were nailed down in a fast-paced few hours await the signature of Governor Pat McCrory to become the law of the land.

High School Football Week 4 Preview

This week WCHL will be broadcasting the game between Northwood and Carrboro. Kickoff is at 7:30 at Carrboro High School.

The Jaguars are still looking for their first win of the season, coming off a blowout loss to Chapel Hill last week to fall to 0-3. The Tiger offense was unstoppable as they beat the Tigers 52-15. Jaguar QB Gordon Guest went 11-21 for 71 yards. He hooked up with WR Greyson Magee on a 39 yard touchdown pass.

Northwood earned its first win of the season last week against Jordan Matthews 21-7. The Chargers relied on the workhorse running back Montel Goods, who touched the ball 30 times and ran for 270 yards. He scored two touchdowns and his longest run was 63 yards, which was more than the entire Jordan Matthews team combined.

Last year Northwood topped Carrboro 56-14.

The Southeast Raleigh Bulldogs and Chapel Hill Tigers were in the second quarter of their Thursday-night varsity football game when the clouds opened up.

The Bulldogs led 13-6 with 9:40 left in the first half as a storm closed in on Southeast Raleigh and dumped heavy rain and lightning into the area. The game was postponed and will be continued Friday evening at 6.

Officials had already delayed the game 30 minutes at the start due to lightning.

In other action this week, East Chapel Hill travels to Bartlett Yancey, Cedar Ridge travels to Riverside and Orange defends their home field against Cummings.

Make sure to tune in to WCHL for all of your local high school football coverage.