Final Weekend for “All Is Calm” at the Arts Center

World War One is being remembered at the Arts Center this holiday season on the 100th anniversary of the Great War, with “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce Of 1914.”

Director Jeri Lynn Schulke says this play is a wonderful story of the holiday spirit, even during some of the most dreadful times in history.

“(It’s about) when soldiers in the first Christmas of World War I put down their guns, formed a truce, and celebrated Christmas together,” she described. “They sang carols, they exchanged gifts, and they shouted and buried the dead. They played soccer. All of that is told in this story.”

Schulke described the plays as both “moving” and “funny,” saying that the concert-style play has a lot of depth and different aspects that are brought out through the performance.

She says, “There’s a lot of music in it – interspersed with text taken from letters and diaries, war documents, and poems, but mostly music.”

This is the second time the play will be making its way through the Arts Center in Carrboro; Schulke says they put on a rendition of the play two years ago, but this version is a fresh show.

“It’s not just a re-staging of what we did before. It’s completely different,” she assures. “The stage is different. And the staging is completely different. You’re going to see a different show.”

There are some benefits of this being the second version of the show at the Arts Center. According to Schulke, she is more confident and they have been able to bring back three-quarters of the previous cast, which has made for a more comfortable experience for everyone.

And since it is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Schulke adds that this is the second of three shows that fit the theme of remembering the war.

“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce Of 1914” will run through Sunday at the Arts Center in Carrboro. Tickets are available online at You can also stop by the box office on East Main Street in Carrboro, or call (919) 929 2787.

PORCH Set to Eclipse Huge Benchmark

A local organization devoted to feeding needy families in our community is set to eclipse a major milestone.

PORCH is an organization that has a singular mission and humble beginnings. According to co-founder Susan Romaine, they got started by simply asking neighbors for a helping hand.

“Would you be okay putting a few cans of tuna out on your porch?” Romaine asked. “We would be very happy to come by and collect that tuna from your porch, deliver it to the food pantry, and we’re just going to keep this as simple as possible.”

From that simple start, PORCH is now set to eclipse the $1 million-raised plateau with their next food collection in mid-December.

Co-founder Debbie Horwitz says that once they began collecting food, an eagerness to help developed within their network. “What we realized early on was that so many people were so grateful for the opportunity to give.”

She adds, “Everyone is very busy, and we need to find simple ways to give. PORCH provided that.”

Romaine adds that the number of families in need in our community can be staggering. “It’s estimated that 1-in-5 families in Chapel Hill-Carrboro are food insecure. They wake up certain times of the month not knowing where that breakfast or lunch is coming from that day.”

PORCH is able to be as helpful to the community as they are due to their status as an entirely volunteer organization, meaning nearly 100% of donations are turned into aid.

According to Romaine, “Cash supports the “Food For Families” program – which is the delivery of fresh foods to 250 families in the community identified by the school social workers as being especially at risk of hunger. The non-perishable foods support eight local food pantries.”

Romaine and Horwitz joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air last week.


A celebration for eclipsing $1 million raised to fight hunger will be held during the monthly food sort, at St. Thomas More beginning at 9 o’clock the morning of December 15. Horwitz says Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt will be in attendance.

More information on how you can get involved helping PORCH fight hunger in our community is available at

Carrboro Moving Forward with Arts and Economic Development

Art and economic development are converging in Carrboro and planning the best pathway to move forward.

A public hearing has been called on a proposed new Arts and Innovation Center in Carrboro. Mayor Lydia Lavelle says this is your chance to voice your opinion on the project.

“We want to hold this meeting to get input from Carrboro folks, from Carrboro residents, business owners, property owners,” she says. “We’ve had a request submitted to us by The ArtsCenter (and) Kidzu…that we construct, own, or lease to this partnership, an arts center building.”

The meeting will be held at the board meeting on Tuesday, January 20th, and Mayor Lavelle adds that she believes this will be the first of several meetings on the topic.

Mayor Lavelle is also working to push forward economic development involving arts in Carrboro. “We purchased a condo that was formerly owned by Fleet Feet, which is located above Acme. And that enabled the Fleet Feet building and some of the projects in that development to move forward.”

But now the question is raised of what to do with the building. One proposition is to use the building as a common work space for small businesses in the area. Perch, which operates a co-working space in Carrboro, has lobbied to lease the space from the town and add a larger co-working space for Carrboro entrepreneurs to collaborate.

Mayor Lavelle says, “Our sense of it is that it would be an incubator, of sorts, for all kinds of small businesses. It’s a pretty large area.”

While the theory of the small-business incubator is fairly agreeable, the process to get there is still to be determined. The mayor said the question remains, “do we want to subsidize, to a degree, this project for a period of a minimum of two years? What’s the value we’re going to see out of this?” she asked. “Will we end up with Carrboro businesses that form, and grow, and that stay in Carrboro?”

While there are many decisions to be made, it appears the arts and economic development projects are converging and moving forward in Carrboro.

Carrboro Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday

The light switch is about to be flipped in Carrboro with the annual lighting of the tree. The Carrboro Tree will be lit for this holiday season at 6 o’clock Friday evening, December 12th, in front of Town Hall.

According to Mayor Lydia Lavelle, “It’s an annual event we do, where we have students from the local elementary schools come together and sing carols. And then they help count down so that Santa can hear us, and we light the tree.”

Those students will be from Carrboro, McDougle, and Frank Porter Graham Elementary Schools in Carrboro, and Mayor Lavelle says they typically put on quite a show. “Ms. Cantrell usually has them all assembled and singing all kinds of wonderful songs.”

You can join in the tree lighting ceremony on Friday night at 6 o’clock. On Saturday, Chapel Hill and Carrboro will hold their annual holiday parade – making for a weekend of festive activities. The parade will begin at 10 o’clock Saturday morning, starting at the Old Post Office on East Franklin Street and will finish up at the Carrboro Town Hall on Main Street. More than 10,000 holiday revelers are expected to attend the parade.

Discussions Continue Over Highly-Debated Carrboro Corner

Carrboro officials are working toward a solution of what to do at 201 North Greensboro Street. What to do with the space that was the proposed home of a CVS Pharmacy in recent years, is still up for debate.

201 North Greensboro Street sits at the corner of Greensboro and Weaver Streets in Carrboro, and Mayor Lydia Lavelle says they are working to come to a conclusion on what can be done with the area.

“We talked about having a subcommittee of the board get together with the owners of the properties involved, and some other stakeholders,” she says. “And try to figure out a way to have some community conversations around what would be acceptable in that corner. Not just what’s currently allowed, or what might be proposed under a land-use amendment, but what all parties might be willing to come to some agreement about.”

Mayor Lavelle adds that there are some legal obstacles that are preventing certain conversations regarding the development. However, officials are planning to move forward with an open discussion – after Mayor Lavelle has heard one question many times, “What can we do about that corner?”

She says, “I suggested trying to engage in some type of a really open process but include the Board of Aldermen this time. Because we, to date, have not said one word publicly about how we feel about the corner and to try to have some kind of public conversation. Perhaps even end up with some type of a small-area planned process.”

While no concrete solution has been agreed upon at this time, Mayor Lavelle does have a timeline for furthering the discussions. “Our committee is going to be working to try to bring something around in the spring.”

And the mayor can vouch that the area will certainly be well thought out. “It will be better than what it is now, and I think it will be thoroughly vetted.”

Southern Rail Up For Sale

Mike Benson has spent the last seven years as the driving force behind the Southern Rail restaurant. Now, he says he wants to make more time for family and other business opportunities.

“At 48 years old, I’m looking to make some changes in my life and most of those are centered around being a good dad and helping my daughters grow and watching them grow,” says Benson. “I just don’t want to miss it.”

Southern Rail is an unusual eatery consisting of three refurbished rail cars, a steel-and-glass enclosed platform and a beer garden.

“It’s an extremely unique restaurant and its location is prime in the center of Carrboro,” says Benson. “The good news is that we have probably more parking than any other restaurant in the area.”

Benson is looking to sell the restaurant in downtown Carrboro, but he says he plans to keep running The Station bar and music venue along with the Tiger Room coffee shop next door.

While he’s asking $450,000 for the restaurant and its assets, Benson says he’s also open to other ideas.

“We’re looking for anything. You know, somebody that wants to come in and do the kitchen operations as an investor, that’s a possible option, or purchasing the place is an option. We’re flexible.”

He says he’s looking for just the right buyer, someone who has a passion for Carrboro and vision for the venue.

“I think it’s time to pass the baton along to someone that really wants to do something cool with the space that I’ve built here out of these vintage train cars.”

You can learn more about the restaurant and its history here.

TABLE Expands To Feed More Hungry Children

There will soon be more seats at the table for those children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro who are hungry.

The nonprofit organization TABLE was formed in 2008, with the mission to help feed elementary school children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Nearly seven years later, TABLE Executive Director Ashton Chatham Tippins says their overall mission is the same.

“We provide healthy food for weekends and school holidays, when they don’t have access to their free school meals,” she says. “On Thursday afternoons we’ll deliver a bag filled with healthy non-perishables, local produce, and fresh milk, every week. And then we’ll give them extra food for the holidays, including Christmas coming up, which will help provide them with extra food then.”

Ashton Chatham Tippins spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


In the past, TABLE has only been able to provide service to elementary school children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. But thanks to generous donations, the service is now extending to serve preschool and middle school children in the community. According to Chatham Tippins, “30 percent of elementary school kids are on free-and-reduced lunches in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. It’s 60  percent of preschool kids and 24 percent of middle-school kids.”

And with that significant need, the service will now be providing extra food on weekends and holidays to more than 300 local children.

TABLE has two full-time employees, with one part-time member of the staff, and they rely heavily on volunteers – both to assist on site with different events and to organize donation drives. That leaves many opportunities for the community to help out feeding needy children in our area.

Chatham Tippins says residents can help by “donating food and funds. You can host a food drive in your church, your neighborhood, or business, and collect the food and donate it to TABLE. And we always are in need of funds as well.”

And TABLE has an opening for a paid internship beginning next spring. If you would like to submit an application for the position, e-mail your resume and cover letter to

More information about the entire TABLE organization, as well as a portal for donations, is available here.

Vigil Planned in Carrboro Over Ferguson Shooting

Two Carrboro Aldermen are organizing a conversation and vigil in honor of Michael Brown at 6:30 on Wednesday night at Carrboro Town Hall.

Protests occurred across the country after a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot unarmed Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown. Demonstrators in Ferguson set fire to buildings and cars.

“I think it’s easy to say this is an isolated event or to focus on things like, ‘why are they burning the buildings’ or ‘why are they setting the car on fire?’ I think those are distractions,” said Alderwoman Michelle Johnson, one of the organizers of the event. “I think we are here because of institutional and cultural racism and unjust policies and laws.”

Johnson and Alderman Damon Seils heard about the grand jury’s decision together and wanted to organize a local conversation about race, justice and policy. Johnson and others will speak at the event.

“Sometimes people jump to ‘what are we going to do about this?’ and the problem solving before we actually understand the problem,” said Johnson.

Johnson said the conversation is complex and she hopes it will continue long after Wednesday’s event.

You can hear Johnson’s full interview with WCHL’s Elizabeth Friend here:

If it rains, the vigil will move to Carrboro Town Commons underneath the gazebo.

Carrboro Mayor To Wed At Town Commons

Cupcakes and civil rights come together in Carrboro this Saturday, when Mayor Lydia Lavelle will legally wed her long-time partner Alicia Stemper.

“Alicia and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary, but little did we dream two weeks ago that soon we’d be able to make it absolutely legal,” says Lavelle.

The couple was the first in line for a marriage license at the Orange County Register of Deeds office on the morning of October 13, after a court ruling struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

However, the two have been together for more than a decade and Lavelle says they’ve considered themselves married for quite some time now.

“We kind of look at it as renewing our vows,” says Lavelle. “We did have what we consider our wedding a little over 10 years ago. But we decided we wanted to share our re-commitment to each other with the Town of Carrboro and do it at Carrboro Town Commons.”

Now they’ll officially tie the knot and celebrate in true Carrboro style.

“All friends and community members who want to support us are welcome,” says Lavelle. “It’s going to be a short but sweet ceremony. We’re going to redo what we did before, then after that we’ll be there to shake hands and give everyone cupcakes for attending.”

The ceremony begins at 5 o’clock on Saturday at Carrboro Town Commons.

This Sunday, Drink! (It’s For A Good Cause.)

Sunday afternoon, head to downtown Carrboro for the fourth annual “Homebrew for Hunger” festival!

The annual event features more than 100 different beers from dozens of local homebrewers and craft breweries, with brews ranging from the traditional to the you’ve-never-tasted-beer-like-this-before. (“Mango Red Chili Cream Ale”? They’ve got that.) It’s all to raise money for a great cause: proceeds will benefit PORCH, an all-volunteer local hunger relief organization that collects and distributes food to families in need in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Learn more about PORCH and find out how you can help the cause.

This year’s event is co-sponsored by Fifth Season Gardening, Steel String Brewery, Beer Study, and the Splinter Group. The last three “Homebrew for Hunger” events all sold out – and raised more than $25,000 for local hunger relief.

Get a list of available brews at this year’s event.

Homebrew for Hunger co-organizer Richard Quinn (of Fifth Season Gardening) and Steve Balcom (of the Splinter Group, who’s co-sponsoring the event) joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Friday.


This year’s event will take place on Sunday from 1-5 pm in front of Fifth Season Gardening Company, near the corner of Main and Greensboro Streets in downtown Carrboro. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and they sell out quickly.

For tickets, click here.