UNC Fraud Report Released

CH Town Manager Contract Renewed

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Friend

Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil will remain in office until 2017, according to his recent contract extension.

Roger Stancil

Roger Stancil

The Chapel Hill News reports that the Town Council unanimously approved the extension on Monday in a closed session meeting. The decision also approves a three-percent pay increase, as all town employees received this year.

In early September, eleven Chapel Hill residents submitted a petition to the Council asking it to hold Stancil and town staffers accountable for “apparent fiscal mismanagement”.

STORY: Petitioners Question Chapel Hill Town Manager’s Spending

Chapel Hill resident Tom Henkel delivered the petition. He said he’s seen a pattern of over-reliance on outside consultants and a failure to rein in costs for their services. He cites the Central West Small Area planning process as a recent example.

Stancil responded to the petition saying he’s proud of the “consistent and transparent reporting of budget matters”. He said financial updates are given to the public and Council periodically throughout the year and are always available through the Town’s website.

STORY: Roger Stancil Responds To Allegations Of Financial Mismanagement

Henkel said the town should consult with experts from UNC instead of outside experts.

However, Stancil said annual independent audits show the continued commitment to proper financial management.

Henkel also noted that the Town Manager’s administrative budget increased by 45 percent over the past five years, while spending for street repair and new vehicles dropped by 25 percent.

Despite these allegations, the Council showed its complete support of Stancil with Monday’s unanimous vote.

2014  town council


It’s Festifall Time!

It wouldn't be Festifall with out Ron Stutts and WCHL!

It wouldn’t be Festifall with out Ron Stutts and WCHL!

It’s October, and that means it’s time for Festifall!

Chapel Hill’s annual fall festival draws about 15,000 people each year to Franklin Street for a street party featuring arts, crafts, music, dance, magic, comedy, games, food, and more. This year’s event will run from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, on West Franklin Street from Mallette to Roberson.

Visit the Town of Chapel Hill’s official Festifall site.

Highlights include a Lego sculpture; a showcase of the painted goats from Galloway Ridge’s Goat Parade; and three performance stages, two of which will be MC’d by WCHL’s Ron Stutts and Aaron Keck. Performers include The Fox Fire, Cognitive Resonance, a Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens tribute band called “Your Everyday Buddy,” and Tom Maxwell, a singer/songwriter formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Check out the official event guide here, with a map and a complete performance schedule.

The weather is expected to be sunny, with temperatures in the low- to mid-60s.

WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Chapel Hill special events coordinator Wes Tilghman…


…and Aaron Keck spoke with Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt about Festifall.


Also this week, Your Everyday Buddy’s Jack Vitaliz (AKA “Ritchie Valens”) and Kevin Baker (“Buddy Holly”) joined Aaron on the air – along with drummer Steve Dear – to promote their Festifall show and play a couple acoustic songs, “Donna” and “That’ll Be The Day.”


And Pat Richardson of Galloway Ridge joined Aaron on the air this week as well, along with artist Lisa Goldstein and Sarah Lamm of the Rivers Agency, to talk about the Goat Parade.




The 2014 Inter-City Visit, As Told By Aaron Keck: Tuesday Evening

The second and final day of the 2014 ICV wrapped up Tuesday for nearly 100 Orange County residents, including WCHL’s Aaron Keck, who is making his second-consecutive trip with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s ICV has taken the group to Athens, Georgia, with a stop in Greenville, South Carolina on the way. Athens is a college town much like Chapel Hill-Carrboro with the campus of the University of Georgia abutting the City.

Aaron joined Ran Northam on the WCHL Tuesday Evening News to tell the latest about the trip.

***Listen to the Interview***


Have you missed any of Aaron’s updates from Athens?
Monday Morning | Monday Evening | Tuesday Morning | Tuesday Evening

While in Athens, Aaron has also been writing a column.
Dispatch From Athens: Part I | Part II | Part III


The 2014 Inter-City Visit, As Told By Aaron Keck: Tuesday Morning

The second and final day of the 2014 ICV is already upon the nearly 100 Orange County residents, including WCHL’s Aaron Keck, who is making his second-consecutive trip with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s ICV has taken the group to Athens, Georgia, with a stop in Greenville, South Carolina on the way. Athens is a college town much like Chapel Hill-Carrboro with the campus of the University of Georgia abutting the City.

Aaron joined Ron Stutts on the WCHL Tuesday Morning News to tell the latest about the trip.

***Listen to the Interview***

Have you missed any of Aaron’s updates from Athens?
Monday Morning | Monday Evening | Tuesday Morning | Tuesday Evening

While in Athens, Aaron has also been writing a column.
Dispatch From Athens: Part I | Part II | Part III


CHPD, CPD Quickly Nab Young Car Thieves

Story updated September 23, 2014, 6:54 a.m.

Joint efforts of the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Police departments led to the speedy recovery of a stolen car Sunday night, along with the arrest of two young car thieves.

Chapel Hill Police Public Information Sergeant Brian Walker says employees at the valet stand at 450 West Franklin Street near Carolina Brewery noticed multiple car keys missing just before 10:00 p.m.

“Officers checked the parking lot where the vehicles are kept,” Sgt. Walker says. “One of the vehicles whose keys had been taken had also been taken. It was a 2013 BMW 528i.”

2013 BMW 528i (Stock photo - this was not the car that was stolen)

2013 BMW 528i (Stock photo – this was not the car that was stolen)

He says officers immediately put out a BOLO (Be on the Lookout), which notifies all nearby agencies of the incident.

Jesse Mutua

Jesse Mutua

“Within just an hour or two, (the) Carrboro Police Department encountered that vehicle inside Carrboro,” Sgt. Walker says. “When they attempted to stop the vehicle, the two gentlemen inside the vehicle jumped from the vehicle and fled. They were taken into custody shortly after that by Carrboro and Chapel Hill officers.”

Sgt. Walker says the car was not damaged, according to the report.

Raekwon Ortiz Snipes

Raekwon Ortiz Snipes

Jesse Mutua, 19, of Carrboro and Raekwon Ortiz Snipes, 18, of Chapel Hill were arrested. They were each charged with three misdemeanor counts of larceny and one felony count of motor vehicle theft. Sgt. Walker says the additional larceny charges were for other keys that were found in their possession, but no other vehicles were reported missing.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, this is the third time Mutua has been arrested. He was previously charged with felony breaking and entering and larceny involving a motor vehicle in January of last year, as well as felony breaking and entering last December.

Each of the men arrested were held at Orange County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond. Their first appearance in court is scheduled for Monday at 2:00 p.m.

Sgt. Walker says both police departments were proud of the speed at which this case was resolved.

“Carrboro Police and our officers, we might wear different uniforms, but we have the same goal,” Sgt. Walker says. “That’s exactly what this was. This was good teamwork that resulted in an excellent outcome in this case.”


The 2014 Inter-City Visit, As Told By Aaron Keck: Monday Morning

WCHL’s host of Aaron in the Afternoon and the WCHL Evening News, Aaron Keck, made his second-consecutive trip with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and almost 100 other Orange County residents for the 2014 inter-city visit.

This year’s journey is to Athens, Georgia–the home of the University of Georgia. But, first, the journey stopped off in Greenville, South Carolina–the home of Furman University.

Aaron joined Ron Stutts on the WCHL Monday Morning News to tell the story of the journey so far.

***Listen to the Conversation***

Have you missed any of Aaron’s updates from Athens?
Monday Morning | Monday Evening | Tuesday Morning | Tuesday Evening

While in Athens, Aaron has also been writing a column.
Dispatch From Athens: Part I | Part II | Part III


12:30p.m. Update: Water Main Breaks At N. Columbia & Carr Sts.

12:30 p.m. update: The water main has been repaired, however the road will remain closed a little while longer.

According to the Chapel Hill Fire Department’s public information officer, Lisa Edwards, North Columbia Street from Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to Stephens Street remains closed to allow for replacement of the asphalt damaged during the repair. She says its expected to remain closed through the afternoon.

Story originally posted September 10, 2014, 6:16 a.m.

Crews have been working through the night to repair a water main break at North Columbia and Carr streets near Chapel Hill Town Hall.

N. Columbia is closed between Stephens Street and the merge with Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The line broke right around the intersection with Carr St.

water main break

Click to enlarge

Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) crews are working to repair the line. In the meantime, the utility is providing bottled water to the approximately ten homes that are without the service at this time. Emergency crews still have access to the affected area if necessary through other roads that remain open.

The break was reported at around 7:25 p.m. Tuesday night.


Local Leaders Want Information on Military Surplus Owned by Law Enforcement

Local elected officials are working to find out which law enforcement agencies in Orange County have received military surplus gear from the federal government.

Carrboro Alderperson Damon Seils told WCHL that he and fellow alderpersons have been trying to answer a lot of questions about that from constituents over the past few days.

“The lingering conversation that’s been going on over the past few years – one of my frustrations during that period has been that it’s difficult to have a conversation with a lack of information,” said Seils.

That lingering conversation likely started in Chapel Hill back on November 13, 2011.

That’s when a Chapel Hill SWAT team, armed with assault rifles and dressed in riot gear, forced Occupy protesters out of the Yates Motor Company building off Franklin Street.

Many citizens expressed alarm at what was called excessive force. Now, as the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri play out daily on television, new evidence gives Orange County citizens new reason to suspect that the trend of militarized law enforcement could potentially be a problem here at home.

As WCHL reported Monday, a recent New York Times story contains Department of Defense data that shows Orange County has received more military surplus armored vehicles than any other North Carolina county.

The location of just one of those six vehicles has been revealed, thanks to information obtained during an investigation by the ACLU of North Carolina last year.

Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass responded that his department received one such vehicle in 2007 for hostage or barricade situations, but it has never been used.

Carrboro and Hillsborough were not asked, but Seils told WHCL that the Carrboro Police Department does not participate in the so-called 1033 program of the Defense Department, although it “may have in the past.”

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens has also weighed in, telling WCHL that the town’s police department does not own armored vehicles.

Last year, when the ACLU investigation of the state’s 60 largest law enforcement agencies was conducted, a senior legal adviser for the Chapel Hill Police Department replied to the ACLU that the department had “no documents responsive” to a request for information about armored vehicles, and several other information requests were left unsatisfied as well.

Communications Director Mike Meno of the ACLU of North Carolina said the ACLU has reached out to hundreds of police departments across the country, and found that many were reluctant to provide information about participating in 1033.

But some facts can’t be hidden so easily. The ACLU has determined that nearly 80 percent of SWAT raids in the U.S are currently launched to serve low-level arrest warrants – and usually, for drug offenses. That’s a far cry from a SWAT team dealing with a mass shooter or a hostage crisis.

Meno said it’s often a case of “mission creep.” Departments will obtain military gear for one specific purpose, and eventually, the gear is being used regularly.

“Very often, it’s law enforcement who are introducing violence into what is an otherwise non-violent situation,” he said. “And I think one of the things we find really concerning is that there’s so little oversight and transparency.”

He said the ACLU urges municipal governments to impose “meaningful restraints” on local law enforcement regarding the uses of military weapons and tactics.

Meno said that investigations by the ACLU also affirmed what a lot of people may have already figured out from watching the Ferguson tragedy on TV.

SWAT raids are conducted disproportionately on people of color.

“You know, just locally, in Chatham County, the numbers we got back showed that thee was a 15-to-one racial disparity, where a black person was 15 times more likely to be the subject of a SWAT raid than a white person.”

Chapel Hill Mayor Pro Tem Sally Greene told WCHL on Monday that she planned to meet that afternoon with Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt; Police Chief Chris Blue; and Town Manager Roger Stancil to discuss the New York Times report.

Greene said to expect a “coordinated statement” sometime this week.

Carrboro Alderperson Seils said he’s been discussing the issue of police militarization with Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton, as well as Town Manager David Andrews,

Seils said that more information will be available in the coming days, as the Town of Carrboro also releases a public statement.

WCHL is waiting to hear back from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol about the patrol station on US 70 in Hillsborough.


Man Does Not Survive Jump From I-40 Overpass

photo 3

Update 3:30 p.m.: The Orange County Sheriff Department confirmed that at 12:15 p.m. a male subject was seen sitting on the side wall of the NC-86 overpass of I-40. A passing driver called 911. A passerby attempted to approach the man, but before that person could reach him, the man jumped.

He fell in the emergency lane of I-40 westbound, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s department, and did not survive the fall. Emergency services attempted to revive the individual, but were unsuccessful.

The Sheriff’s department reported no vehicles on I-40 struck the decedent. The man’s name has not been released, pending family notification.

Update 2:35 p.m.: NC Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Jeff Gordon told WCHL that state troopers only assisted in shutting down portions of the road and were not involved in the investigation. The Orange County Sheriff Department is investigating, according to Lieutenant Gordon. He said officials were responding to a “subject on the bridge.”

No one was available to speak in the Orange County Sheriff Office as of 2:45 p.m. Thursday, according to a receptionist.

Story originally posted August 14, 2014 at 1:53 p.m.

Police are investigating an incident that occurred around noon Thursday on I-40 at NC-86, exit 266.

Chapel Hill Police, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Orange County Sheriff, Orange County Emergency Services, and the New Hope Fire Department responded to the overpass of NC-86 and I-40 and shut down the right lane and shoulder of the interstate. The right lane of NC-86 was also shut down on the overpass. Traffic quickly backed up on I-40 WB to NC-54, exit 273.

photo 4A Chapel Hill Police officer standing on the overpass at the scene said the area was closed due to an active investigation, but could not give any additional details about the incident.



Durham Tech’s New Look; “Free Movies Under The Stars”; Chatham Tax Bills

School’s back in session and Durham Tech has a new brand!

The school unveiled a new branding campaign earlier this month – complete with a new logo that adds the color orange, in honor of its Orange County campus.

For more information on the new campaign – and more information on the college itself – visit DurhamTech.edu.

Head to the Wallace Parking Deck on Rosemary Street on Friday, August 15, for the latest installment of “Free Movies Under The Stars”!

This Friday’s movie is the Coen brothers classic “Raising Arizona.” The movie gets underway at 8:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public, and free popcorn will be served as well.

If you’re a Chatham County resident, start looking for your 2014 property tax bill – county officials say they should be arriving in the mail right around now.

Tax Administrator Frances Wilson says it’s important to carefully review your tax bill after receiving it, to make sure there aren’t any problems.

January 5 is the payment deadline. For more information on payment options, visit ChathamNC.org.