Activists Call For Council Action On Coal Ash Dump

Stefan Klakovitch, with the group Friends of Bolin Creek, came before the Chapel Hill Town Council on Wednesday to ask the town to take action to clean up a coal ash dump recently discovered under the Chapel Hill Police Department Headquarters adjacent to Bolin Creek.

Image from a July 2013 assessment by Falcon Engineering, Inc

Image from a July 2013 assessment by Falcon Engineering, Inc

“As with many other landfills in the State of North Carolina, this landfill is totally unregulated, unlined, and contains known hazardous substances including heavy metals that have leached out into the environment and will continue to do so until the dump is removed,” said Klakovitch.

The site was used as a dumping ground for coal ash in the 1960s and 70s, before the town purchased it in 1980 to build the police station at 828 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

An engineering consultant hired by the town last year reported high levels of arsenic, barium, chromium and lead in groundwater samples from one of two testing wells, as well as elevated levels of barium in soil samples across the site.

The Friends of Bolin Creek say they are concerned that the town is not currently planning to clean up the coal ash dump and they worry contaminants will leach in to the creek if the dump remains in place.

But in a letter to the Town Council, officials from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) say the recent findings have been misconstrued.

They say there’s no evidence contamination has spread to the surface waters of the creek and called for repeated sampling to confirm if heavy metals have in fact leached into the groundwater.

The town will be required to submit a remediation plan to the state once the investigation is complete, but Klakovitch and others question DENR’s approach, saying the regulatory agency has lost credibility following the Dan River Coal Ash spill in February.

“We need to do more than just what will merely satisfy DENR, whose reputation on coal ash has been discredited on a national level,” said Klakovitch.

Still, town staffers stress the investigation has just begun, arguing it is too soon to determine what should be done with the site. In the meantime, the town has installed silt fencing above Bolin Creek to keep the coal ash out the water and security fencing to keep out the public.

DENR officials will provide recommendations to the council when review of the latest round of testing is complete.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/activists-call-council-action-coal-ash-dump/

It’s Time To Register Alarm Systems In Chapel Hill

Police and fire officials are reminding the community that it’s time to register all alarm systems, both residential and commercial, in Chapel Hill, per a new town ordinance.

It’s free to register, but if you don’t by July 1, you’ll have to pay a penalty. Too many false alarms will equal fees as well.

“Legitimate alarms, of course, we want to go to. It is the accidental alarms that take up a lot of our time and tie up equipment and people unnecessarily,” said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue.

The goal of the program is to track the number of accidental alarms, which have caused public safety officers problems in the past.

Blue said that research revealed Chapel Hill police officers and firefighters were responding to about 5,000 alarm calls each year. About 95 percent of those calls were accidental alarms, which were proving to be costly for local law enforcement and more importantly, tying up public safety resources.

“Educational campaigns and problem-solving efforts to reduce those activations has not been effective,” Blue said. ”We’ve reach out to people. We have tried to help them mitigate their problems, but we still see numbers in the thousands [of false alarms] every year.”

That’s why Blue worked with Fire Department Chief Dan Jones to establish the ordinance, which was passed by the Town Council in October of last year.

The Town will begin tracking the number of accidental alarms on July 1.  Fire and Police alarms will be tracked and counted separately.

People who don’t register their alarm systems by the July 1 deadline will face a $100 penalty.

If a registered alarm user has four or more accidental alarms during a 365 day period, it will result in a series of graduated fines, ranging from $100 to $500 for each violation.

Fee schedule for accidental alarms:

1 – 3: No fine
4 & 5: $100 each
6 & 7: $200 each
8 & 9: $300 each
10 + : $500 each

“The goal here is not to send bills out or to generate revenue. The goal is to reduce emergency response unnecessarily,” Blue said.

Matt Lawrence, CHFD Deputy Fire Chief, said that this ordinance does apply to UNC.

“We’ve work very closely with both the University and the hospital to work through their interests and what their concerns were and moving toward solutions to make our response to their locations better,” Lawrence said.

Blue said that the fees from the program will help to offset the cost of the third-party vendor, Cry Wolf, which will handle the registration process and track the number of false alarms through its software. Municipalities such as Durham and Burlington already have similar programs.

“The good news is other than the staff time to do the research on the ordinance, there really haven’t been any significant costs,” he said.

For more information on how to register your alarm system, click here.

Notable: In 2012, the Police Department responded to 3,630 alarm calls at a cost of $75,213, per the Town’s research. In 2012, the Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to 1,250 alarm activations at a cost of $122,400. Police Department routine alarm responses include at least two officers while Fire Department response include three to four fire apparatus with up to 10 firefighters.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/time-register-alarm-systems-chapel-hill/

Missing CH Woman Recently Spotted In Pittsboro

Police say a Chapel Hill woman who has been missing for close to a month was spotted in Pittsboro recently.

Sergeant Bryan Walker of the Chapel Hill Police Department says that authorities haven’t been able to contact Kathryn Loreena Perkins since she went missing and still consider her to be endangered.

Perkins, 51, has medium-length red hair, stands at 5’7”, weighs 135 lbs., and has hazel eyes. She is believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment.

Walker says Perkins was seen in Pittsboro on April 5. He does not have information as to whether she was alone or accompanied.

Walker says a citizen reported the sightings.

“She was just seen at a couple of locations in Pittsboro, one being a church I believe and then possibly a grocery store,” Walker says.

Perkins was last seen in Chapel Hill in a white passenger car with two Hispanic males on Homestead Rd. on March 29.

“We don’t have any new information that leads us to believe that she is any more in danger than the original report, but until we can speak with her or a law enforcement officer can speak with her and confirm that, we have to assume that she is still endangered.”

If you have information concerning Perkins or her whereabouts, please call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760 or 911 immediately.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/missing-ch-woman-recently-spotted-pittsboro/

Silver Alert Issued For Missing Chapel Hill Woman

A silver alert has been issued for a missing endangered woman, Kathryn Loreena Perkins, of Chapel Hill.

Perkins, 51, was last seen in a white passenger car with two Hispanic males on Homestead Rd. on March 29, according to Chapel Hill Police.

She is believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment.

Police say she has medium length red hair, stands at 5’7”, weighs 135 lbs., and has hazel eyes.

If you have information concerning Perkins or her whereabouts, please call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760 or 911 immediately.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/silver-alert-issued-missing-chapel-hill-woman/

Hedgepeth Murder Documents To Remain Sealed, Judge To Review Case Info.

A Durham Court judge denied a motion to unseal search warrants and 911 calls regarding the unsolved murder investigation of UNC student Faith Hedgepeth, the Durham Superior Court Clerk’s office confirmed.

Hedgepeth, 19, was found murdered in her off-campus apartment on September 7, 2012. The apartment complex was inside Durham County lines. Authorities have said they don’t believe the crime was a random act, thought they haven’t disclosed how she was killed or information about possible suspects.

For 18 months, Durham District Attorney Leon Stanback has requested that the court to reseal the documents, which were sealed three days after Hedgepath’s death, to keep from “compromising the investigation.”

According to the state’s motion to keep the documents sealed, there were search warrants for a 1977 Honda Accord,  a unit in Hedgepeth’s apartment complex and her own apartment, WNCN reportedInvestigators also searched a laptop and a Facebook account.

Stanback told WCHL News in September of 2013 that he would seek to keep the documents sealed for as long as the courts allow.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning said Wednesday that the documents, including the autopsy report, would remain sealed until he reviews them, without specifying how long the process would take, according to multiple news outlets.

Earlier this month, several Triangle media companies filed a motion asking the court to unseal the case documents, which was heard in court Wednesday.

The Durham District Attorney’s Office will prosecute a suspect, should any arrests be made, though the Chapel Hill Police Department is the investigating agency.

On January 8 of this year, the CHPD released details of the investigation, including DNA of a male suspect found at the scene.

Chapel Hill Police continue to express that this is not a cold case and that it is continuing to follow leads.

The Daily Tar Heel reported this week that police did not request video evidence that might have revealed information about the hours leading up to Hedgepeth’s murder.

On the evening of her death, Hedgepeth and her roommate went to The Thrill, a bar on E. Rosemary St. George King, the owner of George’s Towing and Recovery, has more than a dozen video cameras in the area, which could have captured footage of Hedgepeth leaving the bar, though it is recorded over every few weeks.

But King said Chapel Hill Police never requested footage collected on his cameras the night she was found murdered, according to the Daily Tar Heel.

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Authorities continue  to seek any information that could help in the investigation. Anyone with information should call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-614-6363 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.

A reward up to $39,000 is available to anyone with information that can help solve the case.

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/faith-hedgepeth-murder-documents-remain-sealed-judge-review-case-info/

Chapel Hill Hopes Alarm System Registry Deters False Calls

CHAPEL HILL- Starting soon, the Town of Chapel Hill will require all residents and business owners to register their security alarm systems.

This is the first step in a new program designed to reduce the number of false alarms the town’s emergency personnel respond to.

In 2012, police and fire fighters responded to nearly 5,000 alarm calls at a cost of $197,000. But officials say that’s a waste of time and money, as about 95 percent of alarm dispatches turn out to be unfounded.

Last October, the Town Council approved a plan to charge a series of graduated fines to those who report multiple false alarms.

While the town is not yet registering alarm systems, officials are working to hire an independent vendor to run the registration system. Police and fire representatives will be educating the public on how to prevent false alarm activation once that registration system is up and running.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/chapel-hill-hopes-alarm-system-registry-deters-false-calls/

Chapel Hill Police Search For Gas Station Robber

CHAPEL HILL- Chapel Hill Police need your help identifying a man who robbed the Family Fare BP at 1201 Raleigh Road on Monday afternoon.

Investigators say a man entered the business just before 2 o’clock, brandished a knife at an employee, demanded money and fled on foot.

The suspect is described as a black man in his mid-forties with black hair, brown eyes, and a thin goatee.

If you have any information, call Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and you may be eligible for up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest. You can also submit tips online at http://www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org/.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chapel-hill-police-search-gas-station-robber/

CHPD Seeks CHPL Larceny Suspect

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill Police Department needs your help finding the suspect of a larceny from a person last week at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

The suspect took a person’s purse into the men’s bathroom, removed cash, and threw the purse away before fleeing the building.

Authorities are looking for a black male with short hair and a slim build. At the time he was wearing a dark hooded jacket, dark pants, and light running shoes.

chpl larceny

If you can assist Chapel Hill Police in finding this person, please call Investigator Bolden at 919-968-2870 or Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous. Information leading to an arrest could receive a cash reward up to $2,000.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chpd-seeks-chpl-larceny-suspect/

CHPD Seeks Missing Teen

CHAPEL HILL- Chapel Hill Police also need your help to locate a missing teenager.

Shannon Junco was last seen leaving her home on Umstead Drive around 5:30 on Wednesday.

She is a 16 year old white female, five foot four weighing 130 pounds. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a red knit beanie, gray pea coat and gray leggings. Police believe she’s in Chapel Hill, Carrboro or Durham.

Junco missing teen

If you have any information, please call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/chpd-seeks-missing-teen/

Halloween Draws Larger Crowd Than 2012, No Arrests

CHAPEL HILL – It’s the one time of year when super heroes , rock stars, ghosts and goblins alike descend on Chapel Hill and roam Frankin St.  This Halloween, police estimated that the crowd numbered 30,000— up from last year’s total of 22,000. With tighter restrictions in place, Town leaders had hoped that tighter restrictions would decrease this year’s turnout.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Kevin Gunter said that no arrests were made in the closed area of Franklin St.

Though there weren’t any major incidents, Gunter said the Town will continue to work to reduce crowd size in the coming years.

“Our goal is to keep reducing the numbers,” Gunter said. “At some point, we will get to a point where it is much more manageable. But even 20,000 thousand people can pose a certain problem.”

Attendance has declined steadily in the past several years since the Town initiated “Home Grown Halloween” after 82,000 people filled Franklin St. on Halloween night in 2007.

Gunter said the smaller crowd puts less of a strain on police.  300 law enforcement officers patrolled this year’s Halloween celebration. 250 were from agencies outside of the local jurisdiction.

 

Daniel Surratt, a bar manager at Top of the Hill, has been in Chapel Hill for seven Halloweens. He said the Town’s effort to reduce the Halloween crowd doesn’t make a drastic difference in profits.

“Once again, the people who are coming in after 1 a.m. probably don’t need another drink anyway. It is certainly easier on us,” Surratt  said. “The crowd starts to clear out a little bit earlier. It is such a long night that it is not that bad of a thing to happen.”

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt was walking along Franklin St. in Carolina blue sneakers given to her by Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. She said she loved her first Chapel Hill Halloween experience.

“I am seeing some pretty amazing costumes,” Folt said. “But I actually have been impressed; there are a lot of little kids here and families, and a million students and also the whole town coming together to make sure it is safe. It is really pretty amazing.”

And the costumes were amazing. Dean Nehama and his friends took a page from pop culture and went as the “Men at Twerk.”

“The whole craze about twerking right now, we thought it was a clever idea [to pick up on that], like a play on words!” Nehama said.

Carrboro High School student Katherine Dunleavy, who was dressed as Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls, said she wished the crowd were as intense as it was in past years.

“It is kind of a bummer, but I think it will get bigger as the night goes on,” Dunleavy said.

Other students, like UNC freshman John Alliss—A.K.A anchorman Ron Burgundy for the night—didn’t seem to mind the smaller crowd than those he’d heard stories about. Alliss was accompanied by his Action Four news team.

Fred Porter, who went as The Village People motorcyclist, was also one of many who dressed up as a member of a larger group.

“It is a lot of fun!” Porter shouted. “We just decided on this a couple of weeks ago and we have a big group of friends. We were thinking, what could we all go as? The Village people!”

James Rockefeller Gray was promoting the bar East End and said the energy on Franklin St. was just the same as it always has been.

“I’m feeling great right now,” Gray said. “I am dressed as a rapper-gangster with a gold chain handing out lollipops!”

And though law enforcement tried to keep the celebration for locals only through road closures and parking limitations, some outsiders, like Shane Grant of Charlotte, still found a way in.

“We drove here in a box truck, and we still found parking,” Grant said. “We parked down near McDonalds.”

Sophie Rose and her family came out to enjoy the thrills of the evening and said she felt safer in the more manageable crowd.

“We chose to come early and leave early, and people can also stay later,” Rose said. “I think it is good that everyone can enjoy the party.”

Her son, Dorian Rose, enjoyed the costumes he saw, “They are funny, and some are a bit scary!”

And just a bit later than scheduled, Franklin St. was cleared at 11:45 p.m. and re-opened to traffic by 12:45 a.m.

Orange County Emergency Medical Services responded to 15 calls related to alcohol intoxication, according to CHPD. Seven of those treated were transported to UNC Hospital for further evaluation.

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/entertainment/halloween-draws-large-crowd-than-last-year/