UNC Fraud Report Released

Mark “Banned Books Week” At CH Library

This tribute to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” is one of the Chapel Hill Public Library’s seven trading cards.

National Banned Books Week begins on Sunday, September 21 and runs through Saturday, September 27. Stop by the Chapel Hill Public Library that week and pick up your Banned Books Week Trading Cards – a new card every day, designed by a different local artist, commemorating a book that often finds itself censored, challenged, or banned.

CHPL director Susan Brown joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Thursday.

On Friday, September 19, the library is hosting a “Sneak Peek Party” from 7-9 pm for anyone who wants to meet the artists and get an early look at the cards.

There were 73 submissions this year for the trading-card project – and you can see all 73 on display at the library that week as well.


Chapel Hill Public Library: Summer Reading So Far and Banned Books Project

The Chapel Hill Public Library has had quite a busy summer, and the summer reading program is still ongoing with a few more events on the way later this year.

Director of the Chapel Hill Public Library, Susan Brown, joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck to give an update on how this summer’s reading program has faired thus far.

“Summer reading is going really well. Chapel Hill is a town of readers of all ages,” says Brown. “Thanks to our friends groups, we have funds for some awesome programs. Our goal this year was 20,000 hours for everybody: kids, teens, adults, and I think we’re right on the cusp of meeting that, and we really want to bust it.”

The Banned Books Week Project is also coming back to the library in the last week of September. Brown explains the details:

“We’ve started getting in some great submissions,” says Brown. “This is where we ask local artists to create a small scale work of art on paper based on a banned book or author. We had about 48 submissions last year. All of the submissions get put into an exhibit at the library, but we have a jury, including the mayor, and we choose seven in a blind jury to print as little trading cards. During that week in September, you have to come into the library every day of the week to get a full set. It’s great art.”

There is still time left to sign up for the Chapel Hill Summer Reading program, available for kids, teens, and adults. To learn more, click here.

For more information on the Banned Books Week Project, click here.


Health, Safety, Schools, Libraries, And Hillsborough

If you still haven’t signed up for health insurance, the Chapel Hill Public Library is holding an all-day Affordable Care Act enrollment session on Monday, March 24, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The library is holding the session in partnership with UNC Healthcare, the League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood, and UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition.

The deadline to sign up for health insurance in 2014 is March 31.

For more information or to reserve a time, call the Chapel Hill Public Library at 919-968-2780.


Are you a veteran or connected to the military? Orange County’s Department of Social Services is inviting you to a new event called “Military Monday,” geared especially toward veterans to make sure they have access to benefits and other federal, state, and local resources.

The first Military Monday event will take place on March 24, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at Hillsborough Commons on Mayo Street. It will be a Career/Resource Fair, with benefit assistance, career assessments, education resources, the Mobile Vet Center and more.

For more information, contact Betsy Corbett at 919-245-2890.


Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will deliver his annual State of the Town address on Monday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m. in the Orange County Public Library.

Among other things, the address will include an update on the town’s Riverwalk project as well as a discussion of Hillsborough’s future population boom. The town is expected to grow by 31 percent in the next four years.

Members of the public are invited to attend. Before the speech, from 5:30-6:30, planning staff will host a public information meeting on the status of downtown access improvements.


If you’re a parent in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and you’d like more information on the district’s dual language program, the district is offering four information sessions this spring, beginning later this month and running through May.

The Dual Language program gives students the chance to become proficient in two languages, English and either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. The district says Dual Language students, on average, outperform their peers on standardized tests and other student growth measures.

The first information session will be for the Spanish program on Thursday, March 20, at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School. The session will be offered in Spanish from 6-7 p.m. and in English from 7-8 p.m. Two more sessions on the Spanish program will take place—at the same times of day—on Thursday, April 24 at Carrboro Elementary and on Thursday, May 22, again at FPG.

There will also be an info session on the Mandarin Chinese program on Tuesday, March 25, from 6-7 p.m. at Glenwood Elementary.


Are you excited about the proposed new Southern Branch Library in Carrboro? What do you want to see there? What do you NOT want to see there?

If you have thoughts and ideas about the library, come out to a Community Engagement Meeting hosted by Orange County. The county is actually holding two meetings: the first is Tuesday, March 25, at 6:00 at Hickory Tavern; the second is on Saturday, April 12, at noon in Carrboro Town Hall. The first 50 participants at the March 25 meeting will receive gift certificates to Hickory Tavern.


The Hillsborough Arts Council has announced a partnership with a new charter school coming to Hillsborough this August.

The Expedition School will be taking part in the Art Council’s ArtCycle program, a program that collects new and used art supplies to be used in local schools.

The Expedition School is scheduled to open its doors in August. It’s a STEM-focused school for grades K-8.


Driving around this month, you might see some new signs on the road – all part of a local campaign to remind people to pull over if they see emergency vehicles coming their way.

The campaign is called “See the Light, Pull to the Right.” The idea came from a town employee, Fire Equipment Operator Luis Rodrigues. Six new signs are being installed near major intersections in Chapel Hill.

If an emergency vehicle is approaching you from behind, take your foot off the accelerator, merge to the outside lane if possible, and pull off the side of the road to allow the vehicle to pass.



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.


Pet Adoption, Black History Theater, Record Apps For UNC

ORANGE COUNTY – Carolina has offered admission to 6,036 of the 16,987 students who applied by the first deadline. Counting the first and second deadlines together, a total of 31,209 students sought admission to UNC this year, also a new record for the ninth straight year.

The applicants represent 94 North Carolina counties, 48 states and 27 countries including the U.S. Their average ACT score is 31; their average SAT score is 2044; and 85 percent are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

UNC will make its second-deadline admissions decisions in March. The University expects about 4,000 new first-year students to enroll in August.


February is Valentine’s Month, and to mark the occasion, the Orange County Animal Services Center is reducing adoption fees by nearly half for adult cats and dogs as well as select kittens and puppies.

Head to OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices to view photos of some of the available cats and dogs, or visit them in person at the Animal Services office on Eubanks Road. The reduced fees are valid all month long.


A national professional touring theater company will be back in Chapel Hill this weekend, with a 45-minute show for kids to celebrate Black History Month.

Based out of Asheville, Bright Star Touring Theatre performs nearly a thousand shows a year. On Saturday, they’ll be in the Chapel Hill Public Library, putting on a play called “William’s Adventure in Black History.” It’s about a boy whose history book comes alive, giving him (and us) the chance to meet famous historical figures in person.

The show is designed from kids from grades from pre-K up to fifth grade. The curtain goes up at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, February 8, in Meeting Room B of the Chapel Hill Public Library.


NC Bar Association holds annual ‘Ask a Lawyer Day’

CHAPEL HILL — People can get some of their legal questions answered pro bono in Chapel Hill on Saturday, thanks to an annual service of the North Carolina Bar Association.

It’s called Ask a Lawyer Day, and this year’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro edition is  being held Feb. 1 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

The statewide annual event gives citizens the opportunity to get some free legal advice from members of the NCBA’s Young Lawyers Division.

“Generally, we’ll have somewhere between 30 and 50 people come out during the four or five hours that we’ll be out there,” says Bar Association member Daniel Hatley. “And each person has between 20 and 30 minutes that they can sit down with an attorney and ask just whatever questions are on their mind.”

Hatley says the benefits of the service go both ways.

“For young lawyers, it’s going to provide them some experience – that one-on-one client interaction that they may not have already,” he says.

The most common questions from citizens involve divorce, splitting of marital assets, setting up a will for an elderly family member, and issues between landlords and tenants.

Whatever questions people may have, the lawyers at the library on Saturday will have it  all covered.

“We have specialists in a number of areas – family law, estates, tax law, and criminal law,” say Hatley.

No question is off-limits, except in the rare case where an attorney may have a conflict of interest. In that case, the person asking the question will simply be referred to another lawyer.

No registration is required for the event – just show up.

For more information, call the Chapel Hill Public Library Information Desk at (919) 968-2780.

Other locations are listed here.


This Weekend In OC: Arts! Concerts! Tax Relief?

With tax season officially upon us, Orange County is once again offering the RSVP-VITA tax preparation service for low- to middle-income residents in need of assistance this year.

“VITA” is short for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. It’s a free program sponsored by the IRS. It begins in February in Orange and Chatham Counties.

You can find out if you’re eligible and make appointments either online or by phone. Visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/aging/VITA.asp, or to make an appointment by phone, call:

Orange County: 919.245.4242 (English)
Orange County:  919.245.2010 (Spanish)
Compass Center for Women and Families: 919.968.4610 (English only)
Chatham County: 919.542.4512 (Angel Dennison)
Chatham County: 919.742.1448 (Spanish)


From now through March, the Hillsborough Arts Council is offering walking tours of the town’s sculptures. The guided tour is called “Take A Closer Look”; it will focus on four of the six sculptures that have been on display since last April.

Tours begin at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery on N. Churton Street, at 1:00 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. The tours are free (though donations are accepted), and they last one to one and a half hours.


This weekend brings the third annual “Mixed Concrete” art auction to Chapel Hill, with proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Featuring local artists working with a variety of materials, the show runs from Friday to Sunday, January 24-26, at TRU Deli + Wine Bar on the corner of Rosemary and Henderson. There will be an opening reception on Friday at 7:00 p.m.

To see some of the art online or to donate to the cause, visit MixedConcrete.org.


If you’re still unsure about the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace, UNC Family Medicine is holding a “Health Insurance Enroll-A-Thon” on Saturday, January 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Officials will be on hand to answer questions and help you enroll.

The event will take place in the UNC Family Medicine Center at 590 Manning Drive. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit UNCFamilyMedicine.org.


The Orange County main library in Hillsborough is hosting an exhibition of folk art from January 24-March 24. It’s called “Road Trip: Folk Art from Mike’s Art Truck”—and it’s comprised of 20 pieces all created by self-taught artists.

Curators Greg and Karen Mack of Hillsborough will be on hand for a reception at the library on Saturday, February 1, from 2-5 p.m.


Orange County’s Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center are inviting you to attend a Celebration Concert honoring the memory of Pearl Seymour on Saturday, January 25.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road; admission is free. Immediately following the concert, there will be a reception and a silent auction, with proceeds going to benefit the Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center.

For more information about the concert, visit FriendsSeymourCenter.org.


Saturday, January 25, you’re invited to a free performance of actor Mike Wiley’s “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till” at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel Hill Public Library. The performance is co-presented by the library and the UNC Program in the Humanities, part of a community dialogue on the legacy of Jim Crow and its impact today.

There will be an audience discussion following the performance.


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.


Chapel Hill Public Library To Extend Hours

CHAPEL HILL – The Chapel Hill Public Library is extending its hours of operation for the second time this year.

Library Director Susan Brown says the additional hours will go into effect on Thursday, December 12.

“We are very happy to announce that we are restoring two hours of service into our operational schedule,” Brown says. “[The hours will be added to] Thursday nights from 6 till 8 p.m.”

When the new library opened in April, its hours of operation were reduced from 68 hours down to 54 per week. In August, six hours were added back to the weekend schedule.

“With these extra hours that we have restored, we have added some new programs, especially in the children’s area,” Brown says. “There are more story times and more weekend programs so business is booming.”

When the two additional hours are added in December, the library will be operating at 62 hours per week.

The library is currently open from 10:00 a.m. till 8:00 p.m.,  Monday through Wednesday; 10:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; and noon till 6:00 p.m., Sundays.


In The Tricky Reverse Narration: “Fun Home”

Monday at 7:00 p.m., Deep Dish Theater Company is holding a book discussion of Alison Bechdel’s graphic-novel memoir “Fun Home,” in conjunction with its ongoing production of “A Queer Kiss.” The discussion (led by Evelyn Daniel) will take place at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Seriously, you should go.

Unfortunately—to my disappointment—I have to be at a different event at the exact same time, so I can’t make it. But consider this piece my contribution...

“What’s your favorite book?”

For me, that’s always been an easy one: Catch-22. After that, in no particular order, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (now back in its rightful place on the shelves in Randolph County). Those four have been my pantheon, for at least the last ten years.

But nowadays I’m not so sure.

Let me tell you about Fun Home.

Fun Home is an autobiographical memoir—written in graphic-novel form—by Alison Bechdel, otherwise best known as the author of the alternative comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.” (She’s also the one who popularized the “Bechdel Test” for movies: a movie passes if it includes at least one scene in which two or more women talk to each other about something other than men. The fact that so few movies do pass that test is a pretty damning indictment of pop culture.)

But Fun Home is her masterpiece. Heck, it might be humanity’s masterpiece.

Written out of chronological order, spanning years and revisiting moments again and again—kinda like Catch-22, come to think of it—Fun Home is ostensibly a coming-of-age memoir about Bechdel’s childhood in Pennsylvania, growing up in the 1960s and 70s in an intellectual-artistic family dominated by the frosty relationship between her mother (a brilliant actress/musician) and her father (an English teacher/undertaker with a mad genius for design and a manic obsession with beauty).

It’s a fascinating bunch in itself, made quirkier by Dad’s work with the family funeral home (the “fun home”)—a closeness with death that contributes to the family’s morbidly icy demeanor.

But that’s just the setup. Here’s the twist: after years of subconscious questioning, Alison comes out as gay to her parents—only to have her father come out right back.

Then a few weeks later he’s dead. Hit by a truck. (A Sunbeam bread truck, as it happens.)

Was it an accident? Was it suicide? Bechdel assumes it was suicide. But she’s also self-aware enough to know she could be wrong. To call it suicide is to insist that there was meaning and purpose in her father’s death—which is oddly comforting, because the only alternative is to admit that the death was meaningless and absurd. But what’s comforting isn’t always what’s true. (Bechdel concedes the timing may have just been a coincidence, that her father’s death may have been unrelated to her coming out—even if it was suicide—but she’s “reluctant to let go of that last, tenuous bond.”)

And so she’s left to put together the jumbled pieces of a puzzle with a missing center, to make sense of a man who’s always just, just out of reach. Dad—Bruce Bechdel—was an enigma, an “old artificer” whose obsession with making the family house appear perfect mirrored his drive to make himself appear perfect. But the artifice is phony, the underlying reality never revealed. (Even when the truth does come out, it’s uncertain. We get competing stories—both stammering and elliptical—of Bruce’s first sexual experience: “He…he was molested by a farmhand when he was young,” says Alison’s mother Helen; “It was…nice,” says Bruce much later. And this is all we ever get to hear. Where is the truth?)

Where is the truth? Bechdel’s memoir is a work of postmodern existentialist genius—a narrative with no faith in objectivity, attempting to make sense of nonsense, telling the true story of a man whose life was a fiction. (Indeed Bechdel says she understands her parents best as literary figures—so Fun Home is full of literary references, from Joyce to Proust to Shakespeare.)

Bechdel 1

(I’ve personally read two books already—Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist and Randy Shilts’ And The Band Played On—based solely on Bechdel’s dropping them here. I’m working my way up to Proust.)

Truth is something we claim to want—“the truth will set you free,” we always say—but truth can also be slippery (as Alison first learns when she starts writing a diary), and truth can also be inconvenient. “I am not a hero,” Bruce writes to Alison, and he’s right: he lived a lie, lashed out physically, slept with his students (or tried to), and cheated on his wife—with her knowledge, apparently, so her truth isn’t particularly convenient either. And hanging over everything is the specter of his death, the inconvenient-est truth of all, coloring every one of Alison’s childhood memories. (Sunbeam Bread is everywhere.)

But the truth does set you free, ugly as it is. “The end of his lie coincided with the beginning of my truth,” Bechdel writes—and as much as Fun Home pretends to be about Bruce, it’s really about Alison all along. It’s her journey we’re seeing: her coming of age, her coming out, her coming to terms with herself and emerging, as an adult, as a lesbian, and as an artist. For better or worse, Alison is her father’s daughter: from Bruce she inherits her artistic skill, her intellect, her sexuality, and perhaps most importantly her gift for restoration—taking something that’s not entirely pretty (an old house in Bruce’s case, a family history in Alison’s) and transforming it into something transcendent and beautiful and meaningful. (Today I learned that Alison’s mother Helen passed away earlier this year; I almost cried when I found out.)

We all know about dealing with inconvenient truths. Deep Dish Theater is hosting its discussion of Fun Home—you should go!—in conjunction with its current production of A Queer Kiss, another work about coming to terms with harsh realities. Both stories begin with men and boys whose fear keeps them in the closet, but it’s the characters around them—and the different ways they choose to confront the hard truths with which they’re faced—that really drive things forward. (Queer Kiss revolves around a shared kiss between two boys and the play puts the boys front and center, but I see the main characters as the parents—one overly supportive, one entirely homophobic, and two completely at a loss for what to do next.)

A Queer Kiss and Fun Home are not the same, of course. Queer Kiss is expressly concerned with making a statement about homophobia in society; Fun Home (surprisingly) doesn’t really go there. Though Alison uses hints and background details to suggest a hetero-centric society that makes life difficult for “inverts,” the Bechdels themselves run in some pretty tolerant circles. (Alison’s mother isn’t terribly comfortable with homosexuality, but we understand where she’s coming from.) Queer Kiss portrays its characters as victims of societal homophobia, but Fun Home’s truth is much more nuanced: on the couple occasions when Alison finds herself leaning toward that interpretation, she immediately pushes away. It’s part of her story, but not the whole.

But at the heart of both is that confrontation with truth—slippery, evasive, difficult, damning, and inescapable. We all have to do it. Today I went back in my Facebook page and found something I remembered posting last February: “I might as well get these three harsh truths off my chest: I kinda wish ______ would just _______, I think I may be _______ with ______, and I might have ______ed my _______.” (Like Bechdel, I’m self-aware enough to admit the inconvenient truths about myself; unlike Bechdel, I’m not brave enough to broadcast them to the world. Though I’ll Vaguebook them from time to time.) We all have sentences like this. The question is: do we deny the inconvenient truths? Do we ignore them, live our lives as if they didn’t exist? Or do we confront them, face them head-on and engage them as equals?

At the center of A Queer Kiss (now playing at Deep Dish!) are characters who try to ignore the inconvenient truths; at the center of Fun Home is a character—Alison herself—who faces them. As a result, the two works ironically trade places: Queer Kiss gives you full access to the truth but ends with uncertainty; Fun Home’s truth is shrouded in mystery and speculation, but it ends with absolute closure. I must have read Fun Home dozens of times by now, and the last page still, still makes me cry.

But I don’t want to spoil nothing. Read it for yourself, if you haven’t already. You’ll thank me later.

Seriously, go ahead. I’ll wait.