National Issues Catch Attention of UNC Board of Trustees Chair

Chair of the UNC Board of Trustees Dwight Stone mentioned fairly standard topics during the chairman’s remarks at the board meeting last week – he laid out the committee leadership on the board for the next academic year, spoke about a dinner hosted by UNC System President Margaret Spellings with the chairs from Boards of Trustees across the system – but then his tone changed.

Stone thanked the campus leadership for providing an environment where productive discussions around tense topics could be held. Stone then said he wished that could be said for more of the country.

“Like most of you in this room, I’ve been deeply troubled by the events that have gone on in our country over the last several weeks and months,” Stone told those in attendance.

Stone was referring to recent shootings across the country involving police officers – separate incidents of African-American men being killed by law enforcement officers and then officers subsequently being targeted in other instances.

Stone said he was “scared for our society.”

“When friends tell me they sit down with their children [and] discuss how to handle a traffic stop by police, when they tell me of the fear that they have that something could cause harm to their child or themselves, by a very small percentage of misguided people, because of the color of their skin…there’s a certain loss of innocence in talks like that and it’s disturbing to me.

“I don’t understand what that’s like.”

Stone said he was also disturbed that police officers – who he described as “good, decent people” – were now nervous about going to work.

“When those same policemen are targeted by a few ideologically impaired people,” Stone said, “I don’t understand what that’s like.”

Stone extended his remarks to call for discussions around issues that can be contentious at times.

“Regardless of the color of our skin, or whether we are Christian, Muslim, Hindu or whatever,” Stone said, “we all have certain human rights.”

And Stone went on to quote legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith, who was known as much for his work involved with civil rights as his success on the court.

“There comes a time in every contest when simply standing on the sidelines is not an option,” Stone quoted. “Now is that time.

“We need to have earnest, intentional, honest conversations so that we can understand each other better.”

During the meeting’s intermission, Stone emphasized why he felt it was important to address these topics at the board meeting.

“Without having those kind of conversations and understanding each other, that’s what leads to breakdowns,” Stone said. “And it has been on my mind – both from a national level and a level here at the university – that I wanted to make sure that I spoke, on behalf of the Board of Trustees and myself, saying that we’re open to those conversations and that we know that those are things that we need to do from an understanding standpoint.”

Chancellor Carol Folt said the university would be working to ramp up efforts with Carolina Conversations, which began last year in an attempt to foster talks among the campus community.

“We’ve already started accelerating plans for that to happen more often and really advertise them,” Folt said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of work done in orientation – and not just about safety issues, but also about conversation and what it means to join suddenly in a new community; it’s not your hometown; all that we see as really critical.

“There have been people working on it all summer, and I’m really pretty excited about what I think will take place here in the fall.”

Railroad Maintenance Could Impact Chapel Hill – Carrboro Bikeway

Regular maintenance is scheduled for the railroad on Main Street that stretches to the University’s Cogeneration Facility in Chapel Hill.

The work is expected to begin on Monday and will continue for about two weeks.

The bikeway that connected Carrboro and Chapel Hill and crosses over the railroad in multiple locations is not expected to be closed at this time.

However, there may be moments where the path is closed temporarily as equipment is moved, according to a release.

Proper warning signs and flagmen will be in place to keep pedestrians and bicyclists aware of the situation.

Chapel Hill Residential Parking Permits Expire July 31

It’s time for residents of Chapel Hill who live in the residential parking district to renew your parking permit set to expire on July 31.

Applications for a new parking permit for the 2016-2017 year are now being accepted.

Residents may apply for a permit only if they live on a street where parking is prohibited and there is no practical way of parking the car off the street.

The permit is $25 per year and the fee is waived if you are 65-years or older.

The Town of Chapel Hill will also be selling three-day and 14-day Temporary Residential Visitor Parking Permits. Residents are allowed to purchase up to 10, three-day permits for $2 each and up to five, 14-day permits for $10 each. Guest permits are still available for 24 hour parking.

You can get more information on Chapel Hill residential parking permits here.

Orange County’s Clear the Shelter Event this Weekend

This weekend may be the perfect time to adopt a pet. Orange County will be participating in the Clear the Shelters event this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event will be held at Orange County’s Animal Shelter on Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.

Clear the Shelters is a nationwide pet adoption initiative in cooperation with NBC-owned television stations, including WRAL, that helps find loving homes for pets in need, according to a release.

All adoption fees for this event will be waived, officials say, because the important thing is to find the animals a loving home.

Officials say the pets that need to be adopted the most are older pets, pets with special needs, pit bulls and black pets.

If adopting a pet right now is not favorable the program is happy to take donations, volunteers and ambassadors.

For more information on the Clear the Shelters event here.

New Athletic Director Named at East Chapel Hill High School

Randy Trumbower is the new athletic director at East Chapel Hill High School.

The position was approved by the Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School Board of Education on Thursday night.

Trumbower has been a special education teacher and case manager at Chapel Hill High School since 2007, according to the district, and he has served as the chair of the Exceptional Children Department.

Trumbower was named the 2016-2017 Teach of the Year at Chapel Hill High, where he served as the head baseball coach from 2009 – 2013 and assistant athletic director since 2014.

Trumbower earned his bachelor degree from Appalachian State University while playing football and baseball for the Mountaineers.

Trumbower is replacing the retired Ray Hartsfield.

Chapel Hill Man Arrested with Over 800 Grams of Cocaine

Approximately 815 grams of suspected cocaine were found in the possession of a Chapel Hill man during a traffic stop.

Officials say a deputy pulled over a silver Kawasaki motorcycle on Highway 54 near the intersection of White Cross Road around 10:40 Wednesday morning for a registration plate violation.

A release says the suspect was making “suspicious movements with his hands toward the waist band area of the shorts he was wearing.” The deputy then “gained a position of control over the suspect” and held the individual at gun point.

Gabriel Pineda Rodriguez-Leal, of Butler Road in Chapel Hill, was then taken into custody without further incident after assisting deputies found a package that contained the suspected cocaine.

Authorities say they believe Rodriguez-Leal was trying to discard the package after being stopped, which resulted in the suspicious movement that caught the deputy’s attention.

Rodriguez-Leal was charged with two counts of trafficking more than 400 grams of cocaine by possession and transporting.

Rodriguez-Leal made his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon and is being held in the Orange County Detention Center under a $200,000 secured bond.

He is set to appear in court again on Monday.

UNC Launching New Policy Treating Alcohol Abuse as Public Health Issue

UNC is implementing a new policy dealing with alcohol and substance abuse across the campus.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Winston Crisp told the Board of Trustees University Affairs Committee that this effort was focusing on a particularly dangerous form of alcohol use, which Crisp called “high-risk drinking.”

“We’re not talking about underage drinking, sneaking a beer,” Crisp said. “We’re not talking about having a couple of drinks.

“We’re talking about drinking for the sole purpose of getting drunk.”

John Sauls is the Dean of Students at UNC and is leading the 26-member working group studying substance abuse on campus. He said the last time the issue was studied at Carolina was the mid-90s, when Sauls himself was a new alumnus.

“We recognized that the advent of high-risk dangerous drinking, the amounts that people drink, the availability of alcohol had really changed generationally,” Sauls said. “So we had to think about some of those things as we tackled it, and we organized these five major areas.”

Those five areas of focus for the new policy are education, prevention, intervention, accountability and treatment and recovery. Sauls said this model focuses more on alcohol and substance abuse as a public health issue rather than a law enforcement issue.

“Historically, campuses have tried to cite their ways out of this problem,” Sauls said. “[Thinking] if you just had more discipline, more efforts to give people citations, then perhaps that would curb the problem. All of the data nationally tells us that is not accurate.”

Sauls said UNC is in a unique position because of the availability of alcohol near campus.

“Within a two-mile radius of where we are, there are over 50 establishments that sell or serve alcohol,” Sauls said. “We are in an alcohol-dense environment, which is very much a factor in contributing to the overall environment.”

The meeting was being held one day after the one-year anniversary of a wrong-way crash on I-85 in Orange County that left three people dead. The car going the wrong way on the interstate was being driven by Chandler Kania – a 20-year-old UNC student at the time whose blood-alcohol content the night of the crash was .17, twice the legal limit to drive in North Carolina.

Sauls and Crisp said the university, the Town of Chapel Hill, Orange County and state officials are working together to tackle the issue of binge or high-risk drinking.

One innovative portion of the potential solution is hiring a clinical substance abuse counselor, which UNC is doing. Crisp said a “good portion” of the money to fund that new position was coming from the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement agency.

The new policy is also comprehensive, meaning that it not only applies to students but everyone in the campus community. The new policy will go into effect on August 1.

A new website – – was also launched as part of this effort.

Chapel Hill Employee Receives The Highest Service Award

John French, Resident Services Coordinator for the Town of Chapel Hill, was awarded the 2016 W. Calvin Horton Service Award this past Friday. The award is the highest service honor for a town employee.

The award was announced by the deputy manager Flo Miller at an employee awards ceremony during the town’s Employee Application Day.

French has served as the Town’s Resident Services Coordinator for 13 years. His position previously had been in the Police Department and is currently working in the Housing and Community Department.

French created the Visions Program, which is designed to mentor young African-American men in the community. He also supervises the Summer Youth Employment program where interns are placed in various town departments.

French also runs a Friday night basketball league at Hargraves and has been engaged in a number of community outreach programs both in Chapel Hill and Carrboro City Schools.

The W. Calvin Horton Award started in 2007 when the community raised funds to honor the former Town Manager Cal Horton for his 16 years of service. Horton requested that the funds be used to award town employees for distinguished service.

UNC Football Adds Defensive Commit

UNC football picked up a commitment from a highly touted defensive back in the Class of 2017 on Monday.

Tre Shaw has played all over the defensive backfield for his Georgia high school, while also contributing on the offensive side.

Shaw chose UNC over scholarship offers from Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina.

Shaw announced his decision on Twitter Monday evening.

Shaw joins 14 other high school rising seniors who have committed to head coach Larry Fedora’s program.

Chapel Hill Infant Drowns in Myrtle Beach Pond

A 6-week-old child from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has drowned in a pond near a mall in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Horry County Coroner Michelle McSpadden tells local news outlets that the baby’s body was recovered from a pond near Tanger Outlets. McSpadden says the child died Saturday night.

Additional details haven’t been released. The Horry County Police Department is investigating the incident.