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Fiber Internet In 2014?

Your days of waiting for videos to buffer or uploading attachments may be over soon as competition is growing for which data provider is going to offer internet speeds up to 100 times faster than your current provider.

AT&T announced Thursday that it would join Google and Time Warner Cable in providing cities in the Triangle and Winston-Salem one-gigabit speeds through their fiber-optic internet services.

“AT&T already has a large fiber footprint in the region—that’s one of the reasons it made it such an attractive partner,” says Marc Hoit, the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology at N.C. State and a spokesperson for the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN). “With that, they have the ability to jump start and do things faster. We’re hoping some of those connections start before the end of this year.”

The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro along with UNC agreed in January of last year to join four other municipalities and three other major universities to ratify NCNGN. According to its website, NCNGN is a “regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation broadband networks in North Carolina.” It’s also comprised of Durham, Cary, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; Duke and Wake Forest round out the group.


Courtesy of Gizmodo

According to Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, the Triangle averages internet speeds between 10.9 and 14.6 megabits per second. The ultra-high-speed internet option of one-gigabit per second would be 70-100 times greater than those averages.

“If you think of how long it takes to download a movie or if you’re doing education content with the university and doing streaming, some of the things that you want to do with offsite stuff like Google Apps and Documents and Microsoft SkyDrive and download music and your save your music up in the cloud, if you have a one gig file and you’re up at a gig, it takes a second,” Hoit says.

Hoit says NCNGN sees ultra-high-speed internet changing the world of medicine.

“We’re hoping to see things like medical diagnostics live, hi-resolution video used for medical services or for other types of services that you can do diagnostics and use that high-speed stream,” Hoit says.

Another positive aspect of fiber-optic internet is downloading and uploading speeds are the same. With Google fiber or AT&T U-verse with GigaPower, you could receive or send files big and small in almost no time. For example, you could download a full-length, high-definition movie in about 30 seconds.

“The symmetric version is really important from our standpoint, because as you want to work with all these new services that people are doing and putting your music in the cloud; if somebody’s in a studio and creating music and then wants to put it up and to be served somewhere else, you need that upload speed just as much,” Hoit says.

Google offered its first fiber-optic internet service in Kansas City, Missouri in 2012. It later expanded to Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas. In mid-February, the internet giant announced it was considering Triangle cities as places to expand the ultra-high-speed option.

Time Warner Cable said last year that it plans to extend the next level of service sometime in the near future.

Of course, the prices for these ultra-high speed options could be higher. Google fiber in Kansas City is selling its product at $70 per month for internet alone. It is, however, currently waiving its $300 construction fee to customers who sign up.

“Our expectation is to be priced similar to what you’re seeing in Kansas City and in Austin,” Hoit says. “The price depends on the costs and other things, but it should be very close to that same price.”

The next step for the municipalities and universities within NCNGN is to review the terms and agreements of the plan to continue the process.

Carrboro elected officials will likely vote in mid-May on the plan; Chapel Hill leaders have not decided on a date when they will vote on the plan. However, Hoit says the next step should be fairly seamless.

“It’s been a two, two-and-a-half year process of which the municipalities and the universities have been working together through this whole time,” Hoit says. “It will hopefully not come as a surprise. The municipal lawyers have all been involved, so there’s been a lot of collaboration that we’re hoping everything goes smoothly.”


Squirrel Hunting From Cars Reported Within Carrboro Town Limits

Police are searching for several males who were reportedly hunting squirrels from their cars in Carrboro town limits.

Captain Chris Atack said the Carrboro Police Department received two reports on Monday afternoon of shots being fired from a green Honda sedan driving in the N. Greensboro St. area.

One subject was driving and another was sitting in the backseat, believed to be armed with a rifle. Atack said police did not know if the rifle was a firearm or an air rifle.

“Obviously, anytime you have someone driving around taking pot shots at squirrels, that is a concern for us,” Atack said.

In January, a similar incident was reported in the Westbrook Dr. area, with shots being fired from a silver Acura RSX. A person was questioned in regard to that report.

“Our immediate concern is that someone could be seriously injured, or worse, in this situation. We also have some violations of the law that concern us.”

Hunting and the discharging of firearms or air guns are not permitted within Carrboro town limits. In addition, several North Carolina hunting laws were violated in this incident.

Atack said it is important for residents to call 911 if they see similar activity happening. He added that  projectiles, whether bullets or pellets, fired in community areas, are an obvious threat to public safety.

If you have any information about this case, please call Crime Stoppers at (919) 942-7515.


Remembering Former Rec & Parks Director Richard Kinney, 1952-2014

Friends and colleagues of retired Carrboro Recreation & Parks Director Richard Kinney remember him as a forward thinker who left an indelible stamp on his town.

“He was a dedicated recreation director who had the foresight to see the growth that was occurring, and the needs of the community,” says Carrboro Recreation Administrator Dennis Joines.

Richard Kinney served Carrboro for 27 years as as director of Recreation & Parks , until his retirement in the early 2000s.

He died March 7, at the age of 61, of an apparent heart attack at his home in Hillsborough. He is survived by Lorah, his wife of 37 years; and their daughter Lorah, and their son, Richard.

Kinney was a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in recreational administration.

Alderperson Jacquelyn Gist started working with Kinney back in 1990, when she first took her seat on the Board of Aldermen.

She opened the March 11, 2014 Aldermen meeting at Town Hall by paying tribute to Kinney.

“He was a great, great guy,” said Gist. “He was so funny.

“I know a lot of you never met Richard, but if you’ve been to the Farmer’s Market, or you’ve been to Anderson Park, or you’ve been to the Century Center, that’s all Richard. A lot of who we are comes from Richard.”

Gist cites Kinney as a perfect example of how Town staffers are the unsung heroes of local government. She adds that it was particularly true during the planning for the Anderson Community Park on Highway 54.

“The boards come up with these grand ideas, and then it is staff’s – in this case, Richard’s – job to figure out how all that’s going to happen: How’s the park going to look? How is it going to be staffed? How’s it going to be laid out?”

Gist says that Kinney, in his good-natured way, was always there to remind town leaders that public spaces such as the Farmer’s Market and Town Commons should be open to all citizens.

Former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird was Mayor of Carrboro from 1987 through 1995.

Like Gist, she remembers Kinney as a big-picture guy who knew his stuff, and wasn’t afraid to say what people needed to hear. But he always shared that knowledge cheerfully, and with humor.

“He was always cheerful, always upbeat,” she says. “And if you’re going to put a stamp on a town or a project, that is what you need. You need to learn how to really get along well with people and share the vision that you have, so that they share that vision, too.”

As she paid tribute to Kinney at Tuesday’s Aldermen meeting, Gist told citizens of Carrboro that there is still a way to get to know Richard Kinney, even though he’s now gone:

“Go walk around the park, or go to the Farmer’s Market, and feel Richard there.”


Cold Front To Bring Frozen Precipitation

National Weather Service Senior Forecaster Scott Sharp says once the cold front moves through the Triangle between 7:00 and 7:30 Monday morning, we should expect rain to switch to sleet at about midday.

WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Sharp during the WCHL Monday Morning News.

***Listen to the Interview***


Google Fiber Could Be Coming To Chapel Hill/Carrboro

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are on the list of 34 communities across the country that are being considered for Google Fiber, a broadband network of ultra high speed internet.

Regional cities that also made the list include Cary, Charlotte, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh.

“Folks like Google and others see us as an important place to invest in this kind of infrastructure. I am very excited to have that acknowledged,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

In 2009, towns interested in becoming Google Fiber communities submitted applications for the project. Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said it speaks well for the area that Carrboro and Chapel Hill are being considered.

“We are already ahead of the game. I think a lot of that kind of forward thinking will pay off for us one day,” Lavelle said.

Kleinschmidt said the good news is that Google could chose to move forward with both Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

“We are not in competition with Carrboro, Durham or Raleigh, or the other cities that are a part of this announcement,” he said. “My understanding is that we are all in this together as a Metro Region.”

Google Fiber, which is about 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband, already has projects in Kansas CityAustin and Provo.

Google representatives will work with staff from Carrboro and Chapel Hill to map out a potential Google Fiber network and also assess what challenges might arise. According to Google’s blog, the plan is to provide updates by the end of the year naming the cities that will be getting Google Fiber.

Kleinschmidt said Chapel Hill has various initiatives underway which will make it an attractive candidate for the project. This includes a recently completed fiber optic project that installed about 30 miles of municipal fiber optic cable connecting 15 Town facilities.

“I believe we are the only municipality in North Carolina that actually owns fiber in the ground. It stretches just into Durham and all the way through Carrboro,” Kleinschmidt said.

That network of fiber optic cables in Carrboro, Lavelle said, creates a “backbone” for potential high-speed vendors.

“I would venture to say that we are more in partnership with Chapel Hill in the sense that we are almost seamless in efforts to provide broadband to our residents,” she said.

Lavelle added that this opportunity could also provide high speed broadband internet to residents who might not otherwise be able to afford the service.


‘Solarize Carrboro’ Moving Forward in 2014

CARRBORO -An initiative to install at least 50 solar panels on the rooftops of Carrboro homes is moving forward this year.

“In the past, I thought – many of us thought – widespread adoption of solar panels on roofs was something that would occur someday in the future, but never really get there,” said Rob Pinder of Next Climate Inc., a non-profit Carrboro organization.

“But I think that, really, that time is now.”

Next Climate Inc. has been working closely with Town of Carrboro staff as well as NC Solar Center, a technical and research group at NC State.

Together, they created the project Solarize Carrboro. And this year, they’re taking action.

“It’s certainly feasible to get to something like a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by widespread adoption of solar panels,” said Pinder.

Pinder presented a report to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen this past Tueday night. Back in 2009, the Board passed a resolution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Carrboro.

That was the same year that a group of neighbors in Portland, Oregon banded together to negotiate a group discount from a local solar panel installer.

“The Department of Energy saw this,” Pinder said. “They thought, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s try to replicate this all over the country.”

The DOE provided assistance for expert groups to work with citizens all over the country to solarize their towns.

Right now, the Solarize project managers are reviewing proposals, and will announce a vetted installer on February 21.

Solarize hopes to start home assessments on March 1. The first big kickoff meeting will be April 2.

“The purpose of that will be to explain the program,” said Pinder, “and help people understand every aspect of the solar process so that they can make sure that their installation is a great fit for their home.”

People will also get the opportunity to sign up. It’s a limited time offer. Signups end on May 30, so that installations can be completed in time for homeowners to be eligible for a tax break at the end of the year.

The goal for this year is at least 50 homes in Carrboro. Pinder said there have been 30 inquiries already.

More information is available at www.solarizenc.org/carrboro


Checking In With Your Community

Duke Energy Spokesperson Megan Musgrave

Chapel Hill Transit Director Brian Litchfield

Orange County Public Affairs Director Carla Banks

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens

Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton


Carrboro Lifts Ban on ‘Wee Hours’ Public Parking

CARRBORO- Folks who enjoy Carrboro’s nightlife, but worry about driving home afterward, may once again leave their vehicles parked in public lots overnight.

Just before Carrboro’s Mayor and Aldermen closed a work session to the public on Tuesday night, Alderman Damon Seils made the evening’s last public motion: “…that we remove the change we made around 3 a.m.-to-5 a.m. parking in public lots.”

It’s been a nagging issue for Seils for several weeks, and voting on it was pre-empted by another threat of inclement weather a few weeks ago.

But Tuesday, he finally got a vote on rescinding the town’s prohibition on parking in public lots between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

It didn’t take long. There was no need for a staff presentation, and comments, such as this one from Alderman Jacquelyn Gist, were few:

“I second that, because it was a mistake on our part,” admitted Gist. “Because it’s encouraging people to drive cars when they shouldn’t.”

The ban was put in place last year. Speaking to WCHL recently, Seils recapped how parking in public lots during the wee hour became an issue in the first place.

“Some residents, who were beginning to use the public parking lots for long-term parking, because, presumably, they didn’t have enough parking on their property,” he said.

Not long after Aldermen voted for the ban, Seils and others reconsidered. He told WCHL that it wasn’t because of a reported uptick in roadway accidents or DUI arrests.

He said it was based on feedback from local business owners and constituents, who just thought it was a bad idea to make people drive when they shouldn’t just to avoid getting a parking ticket.

Nobody has to worry about that anymore. Alderman have now — unanimously — removed that ban on “wee-hours” parking.


This Week In Orange County! (Weather Permitting.)

**UPDATE: The OWASA Board meeting scheduled for Thursday night (see below) has been cancelled. The Board will accept public comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at their meeting Thursday, February 27. (To read the plan, again, see below.)

ORANGE COUNTY – UNC will test its emergency sirens today, Tuesday, February 11, between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.

The test was originally set to take place in late January, but got postponed because of the snow that hit the area.

You’ll hear the sirens if you’re on campus, downtown, or near the Friday Center or Carolina North. The purpose is to test the Alert Carolina system; UNC will also send a text message to about 50,000 cell phones registered by students, faculty and staff.


Carrboro town manager David Andrews has named Carol Anderson Dorsey as the town’s new human resources director. Dorsey has spent the last five years as human resources director for the city of Oxford, NC; her prior jobs included serving as director of human resources for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.

A total of 85 candidates applied for the position, representing 16 different states.


The Orange Community Players will open their 2014 season in February with “Steel Magnolias,” the acclaimed story of six very different Southern women whose tight friendship carries them through joys and tragedies.

“Steel Magnolias” runs from February 13-16 at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. You can purchase tickets at the Senior Center, or online at OCPNC.com.


The OWASA Board is inviting you to come ask questions and comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at a meeting on Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the OWASA Building on Jones Ferry Road.

You can also send your comments and questions via email or by letter or fax. Send an e-mail to boardmembers@owasa.org; send a letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510; or send a fax to 919-968-4464.

Click here to read the draft strategic plan.


Chapel Hill town government is moving out of Town Hall! (Part of it, at least.)

Renovations are about to begin at Town Hall, to repair the damage from last year’s flood and make some other layout changes to improve customer service. In the meantime, the mayor’s office has moved to the Chapel Hill Public Library, along with the office of the town manager and seven other Town staffers.

Everyone will move back into Town Hall when the renovations are finished. Town Council chambers are expected to reopen in September; other building areas will be addressed in phases after that.

Other town officials who are temporarily moving to the library: mayoral aide Mark McCurry, Assistant to the Town Manager Jason Damweber, Policy and Strategic Initiatives director Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Sustainability Officer John Richardson, Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett, Organizational Effectiveness Coordinator Rae Buckley, and Administrative Assistant Peggy Paumer.


This weekend, the campus organization VDAY Carolina is staging a bilingual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” to benefit the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

Shows run from Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16 at Hanes Auditorium, with two shows each on Friday and Saturday–one in English and one in Spanish.

You can buy tickets at Union Box Office, over the phone or online. For ticket information, visit VDAYCarolina.web.unc.edu.


Thursday, February 13, UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center will host the world premiere of “Ice Music,” a multimedia creation by the artist Brooks de Wetter-Smith. “Ice Music” examines the beauty and the importance of ice in our world, featuring de Wetter-Smith’s videography and photography, a new musical composition by Lowell Liebermann, and dance choreographed by Carey McKinley.

“Ice Music” will premiere at 8:00 p.m. on February 13, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Center as part of UNC’s Process Series. On Friday the 14th, there will be a workshop presentation and discussion at 4:00 p.m., also in the Mandela Auditorium.

For more information, click here.


You’re invited to a public information meeting on Thursday, February 13, to discuss Orange County’s “Agricultural Support Enterprises” program.

The program is designed to help farmers generate additional income by expanding the types of activities they may pursue on their farms. It’s been in development since 2001; Orange County is currently considering amending the Unified Development Ordinance to adopt it.

The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Food Lab of the Environmental and Agricultural Center, located at 306 Revere Road in Hillsborough.


Protect your cats and dogs by coming to a Microchip Clinic on Thursday, February 13, from 3-5 p.m. at the Orange County Animal Services Department on Eubanks Road.

Microchips will cost $25 per pet, which includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database. The Department will also offer one-year rabies vaccinations as well, for $10 per pet.

For more information, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices.


Another Dose Of Winter Weather Aiming For Triangle

RALEIGH – Another winter storm is heading for the Triangle, but its severity is still unknown.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with National Weather Service Meteorologist Barrett Smith about when the winter weather will start and how long it will last.

***Listen to the Interview***

A hazardous weather outlook is in place for the area through mid-week. Click here for more details.