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UNCC Student From Hillsborough Dies From Fall

A UNC Charlotte student who died early Sunday morning has been identified as 18-year-old Joshua Robert Helm of Hillsborough.

Helm was a graduate of Northern High School in Durham and was in his freshman year. According to the News and Observer, police say Helm fell from a seventh-floor window of the 12-story Moore residence hall.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is still investigating the incident and hasn’t ruled out whether it was an accident, suicide, or something else.

The Charlotte Observer spoke with someone who lived on the same floor as Helm who said, “If anything bothered him, you couldn’t tell.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/uncc-student-hillsborough-dies-fall/

Panthers Look To End Long Playoff Drought In 2013

CHARLOTTE – The Panthers have been a dynamite team the last two years in post-Thanksgiving Day games with a combined 9-3 record. The problem for Carolina is those games haven’t mattered much.

By starting each of the last two years 2-8, the Panthers have rendered the season’s stretch run meaningless when it comes to the playoffs.

In fact, Carolina fans haven’t had much to be excited about in December in quite some time. The Panthers haven’t been to the postseason since 2008 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2005.

Tight end Greg Olsen says this year’s team is out to change that.

Olsen says, “We can’t put ourselves in that hole and think a late six-game push is going to put us over the top when you start the season 2-8.”

http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/panthers-look-to-end-long-playoff-drought-in-2013/

CHPL Hours Extended; ACC Football Championship Tickets; Hillsborough Hydrants

CHAPEL HILL – Starting Saturday, you’ll have more options for visiting your local library.

The first phase of the Chapel Hill Public Library’s hour extension takes place this weekend when the days hours are extended from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. both days to 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

The six-hour increase takes the Library up to 60 hours per week, which is still four hours short of its total before the library facility was upgraded to its current state. The last phase of the increase of hours is to take place in the near future after the library staff meets to create a plan.

Monday – Wednesday   10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday – Friday   10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
SATURDAY   10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
SUNDAY   12:00 n – 6:00 p.m.

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You can now get your tickets for the 2013 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game in Charlotte.

Tickets are $25 and $40 for Upper Level, $70 and $90 for Lower Level, and $150 and $175 for Club Level. They can be purchased through The ACC’s website here, Ticketmaster, or at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

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The Town of Hillsborough will perform basic maintenance on fire hydrants beginning September 1.

Town personnel will flush the hydrants which helps remove sediments and maintains proper circulation and water quality within the system.

During the hydrant flushing, you many experience cloudiness or discoloration in your water. Small particles of iron and manganese that settled could be stirred up, but those particles are not unsafe, but they could discolor clothes in the wash. To clear it up, run cold water in your bathtub for a few minutes until the discoloration or cloudiness clears up. If the water does not clear within five minutes, you should call 919-732-2104 during regular business hours or 919-732-3621 for emergencies during nights and weekends.

The process could take two months to complete and town officials may need to trim plants or other materials that are in the way to make sure they are accessible in emergency situations. A three-foot area around all hydrants is requested.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/chpl-hours-extended-acc-football-championship-tickets-hillsborough-hydrants/

Celebrating the End of the Charlotte Curse

What is one thing we can do for Charlotte now that that former Mayor Pat McCrory has been elected governor of North Carolina and his successor, Anthony Foxx, has been nominated for U.S Secretary of Transportation?

We can stop referring to the Charlotte mayor’s job as a dead end or curse for politicians aspiring to statewide or national office.

It might take some getting used to.

The previous three Charlotte mayors who tried for statewide office, Eddie Knox (governor in 1984), Harvey Gantt (U.S. Senate in 1990 and 1996), and Richard Vinroot (governor in 2000, 2004 and 2008) were unsuccessful.

Another recent mayor, Sue Myrick, ran successfully, not for statewide office, but for U.S. Congress.

Knox, Gantt, and Vinroot were extraordinarily talented, ambitious and effective leaders whose talents would have served the state well.

Knox and I grew up in Davidson, where I got to know him and his many cousins. All of them were proud of their rural heritage and the success and status their energy had earned them. Two of Knox’s older brothers became mayors, one in Davidson and the other in Mooresville.

Friendly, cheerful, helpful, and energetic, Knox had a special appeal that helped make him a very successful lawyer. Later, when Bill Clinton came along, he reminded me of the young Eddie Knox. Both of them could make you feel like you were something special to them.

Knox became a political ally of Jim Hunt during college days and he supported and gained support from Hunt’s progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But he was able to assure conservatives, that he was not so liberal. In Charlotte, he gained support from business, African Americans, and many Republicans.

With all those talents and charm, I thought that he would have a chance someday to run for president.

But all that potential came crashing down when Rufus Edmisten beat Knox in a bitter Democratic primary runoff in 1984. Some said the Charlotte curse made the difference.

Knox burned his bridges with his Democratic base by supporting Jesse Helms against Jim Hunt and later changing his registration to Republican.

I still think that if he had bit his lip and run for the U.S. Senate in 1986, he would have won and might still be in the Senate—or the White House.

Harvey Gantt was already a folk hero when he won the Charlotte mayor’s election on his second try, becoming the city’s first African American to hold that office. He earned a place in history as the first black student to attend Clemson University and had become a prominent and respected architect in Charlotte.

His two close losses in the U.S. Senate races against Jesse Helms were, looking back, extraordinary achievements for a black politician in a southern state. His campaigns prepared the way for Barack Obama’s narrow victory in this state in 2008. Ironically, if Gantt had defeated Helms and served in the U.S. Senate, he, rather than Obama, could have been our country’s first African American president.

Richard Vinroot and I competed in basketball in high school and were on different sides politically the rest of our lives. Still, I have always admired his courage, his commitment to public service, his ability to lead and bring together diverse groups, and his unselfish friendship.

Like his fellow Charlotte mayors Knox and Gant, Vinroot was one statewide successful governor’s campaign away from being a possible candidate for the nation’s highest office.

Looking back at the lost potential of Knox, Gantt, and Vinroot, we can be thankful that Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary of Transportation-designee Anthony Foxx have put an end to that dreadful Charlotte curse.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage.

Upcoming guest (May 12, 16) is Daniel Wallace author of “The Kings and Queens of Roam.”

The program will also air at Wednesday May 15 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Jerry Bell co-author with Dean Smith and John Kilgo of “The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching,” which shows how Coach Smith’s principles of success in basketball can be applied to business and everyday life.

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

Do you remember “Big Fish,” the wonderful novel by Daniel Wallace and the movie it inspired? They made us suspend disbelief and go into a magical world of stories and characters. Wallace has done it again in his latest novel, “The Kings and Queens of Roam,” which is full of the magic he uses to draw us into his worlds of imagination.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/celebrating-the-end-of-the-charlotte-curse/

North Carolina Must Rise To Its Unique Climate Challenge

NASA’s James Hansen recently declared that climate change has become a planetary emergency.

If humanity doesn’t begin cutting global emissions by 2015, the climate crisis will pass a point of no return – and a hellish condition for us all.

North Carolina has a unique duty to help avert climate and economic chaos – because the world’s second-largest power company is based in Charlotte.

The sheer size of Duke Energy means that its transition to clean energy could be a climate game-changer.

NC WARN and allies are pressing Duke to phase out fossil-fueled electricity by ramping up energy-saving programs, and renewable power – which are far cheaper than the nuclear plants Duke hopes to build.

In fact, Duke is investing heavily in solar and wind out West. But in the Southeast, Duke is blocking clean energy so it can keep burning coal and gas while trying to build new nukes.

Tragically, our society has been very slow to respond to the climate crisis.

Indeed, the acceleration of bizarre weather and rising storm surges can feel paralyzing.

And our government is surely failing its duty.

But NC WARN and allies have a strong chance of persuading Duke Energy to join the Clean Energy Revolution.

North Carolina must rise to this extraordinary moral challenge.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/north-carolina-must-rise-to-its-unique-climate-challenge/

Giving in Orange County

When I reached the age of senior discounts, I wondered whether I should accept them. Because others likely have greater need for this generosity, it has become my practice to take the discount, collect these bits of change or occasional dollars that I would have paid absent the discount, and then contribute my windfall to the Interfaith Council on my birthday, a nice little bonus to our family’s philanthropic commitments. I enjoy sharing my thinking with cashiers and invariably it brings a smile to their faces. These smiles make me think about charitable giving in our community.

Recently the Chronicle of Philanthropy published a landmark study, including an interactive database, of charitable giving across the U.S. in 2012. Did you know that those with incomes greater than $50,000 donated 4.7% of their income to charity? Charlotte residents contributed 5.8% of their income, earning them sixth place among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Orange County and our neighbors in Durham paint a striking picture. In Orange County the median discretionary income was $73,000 and we donated 4.6% of that income to charity, less than the national median. For Durham residents, the median income was a more modest $50,000 and yet they more generously donated 6.1% of their income to charity. Think about this for a minute. The income in Durham is nearly 30% less than the income in Orange County and yet our neighbors to the east contributed nearly a third more of their income to charity. This bears repeating. Durham residents earned a third less in income, but contributed a third more to charity.

Just imagine all the good that could be done, if the median contribution in the WCHL listening area matched the 6.1% given by Durham residents. Go to Chapelboro.com to learn about the many organizations and causes in our community alone that would benefit from these gifts. Talk to your friends about why you give, where you give, and discuss how Orange County can become a more generous player in the philanthropic world.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/giving-in-orange-county/

Innovation. What do you mean?

“Innovation is the key.”

We are hearing these words of wisdom all the time, aren’t we?

And we nod our heads in agreement, remembering our pocket computers and communication devices that we still call phones. Or how the 3D technology and programs of North Carolina-based Geomagic make possible the on-demand manufacture one-of-a kind products based on the special 3D design plans from Geomagic’s software.

But does the word have meaning to us ordinary humans who are not geniuses like Apple’s Steve Jobs or Geomagic’s Ping Fu?

At a recent discussion on innovation at the AdvantageWest Economic Summit in Asheville, I asked panelists to explain what innovation means and to illustrate with an example.

Their varied answers helped me understand that there is a place for innovation in almost every workplace.

Mike Adams, president of Moog Music Inc.— the high tech manufacturer of the Moog music synthesizers, noted the innovations that had swept by in his lifetime in rapid long distance communication: Telephone and telegraph replaced mail, which was replaced by telex, which was replaced by fax, which is being replaced by emails, which are being replaced by a variety of innovations. “I try to think like a 12-year-old. They are thinking, what’s next?”

For Anita Brown-Graham, director of North Carolina’s Institute for Emerging Issues in Raleigh, innovation is not so much about mere good ideas. An innovation to her is an idea that can be applied to meet an unmet need.

Brown-Graham described a teacher in Chapel Hill who found it hard to get her students’ attention after lunch. But if she let them first go to the playground, they came back refreshed and alert. The teacher wanted to give her students stimulating exercise. She also wanted to preserve serious class time. By innovating, she did both. She recorded her lectures for the post-lunch class, gave each kid a listening device, and took them for a 35-minute walk while they heard her recording. Her innovation met her need. It is also meeting the needs of other teachers through The Walking Classroom program that makes available a WalkKit listening product preloaded with a year’s worth of lectures.

Brown-Graham is optimistic about the innovation capabilities of the generation just entering college. They are risk takers and programmed to be innovators. However, they don’t have the support networks, experience in small business, or the financing to make their innovations a business success. 

Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden Leaf Foundation, agreed and emphasized the need for sources of funding for the effective use of innovations in a commercial context.

Gerlach described an unusual innovation in the location and construction of a wave-making machine in the Nantahala River in Swain County. That innovative idea, when brought to reality, drew thousands of people to the region for this year’s Freestyle Kayaking World Cup Championship.

Charlotte’s Mark Erwin, former U.S. ambassador to Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa, used that country as an example of innovation. In 1976, when the island gained its independence, it was one of the poorest countries in the world, almost totally dependent on a sugar plantation economy. When the new leader took an economic inventory of his country, he found there was almost nothing, only 1.3 million mostly uneducated people. Since the populace was the country’s only resource, the leader declared that education would be free for everyone.  

“That was innovation,” said Erwin. “Today it is the most prosperous country in Africa, with the highest literacy rate, a huge Information Technology center, much tourism, and a thriving textile industry.”

These different examples of innovation suggest that, since there are an untold number of unmet needs, there are an equal number of opportunities for innovation. Just waiting for some of us to develop.

For more information: Walking Classroom and AdvantageWest.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/innovation-what-do-you-mean/

All kinds of new North Carolina books

Summer has suddenly come to an end. And I bet there is a stack of books by your bed or somewhere in your house, ones you meant to read this summer.

Watch out!

Here comes another batch of new North Carolina books, some of which belong at the top of your pile and others you ought to know about, even though they might not end up in your reading pile.

It has been gone for 50 years, but people still talk about the Dixie Classic, that holiday basketball tournament with Duke, Carolina, State and Wake and four more of the best teams in the country. Greenville’s Bethany Bradsher, author of “The Classic: How Everett Case and His Tournament Brought Big-Time Basketball to the South,” follows the Classic from its origins to its scandalous end. She will be the guest on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch on Friday, September 28, at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 30, at 5 p.m.

Charlotte poet Judy Goldman’s two novels, “Early Leaving” and “The Slow Way Back,” explored the complicated, beautiful, and painful relationships that come with being part of a family. Now she turns her poet’s and storyteller’s talents to a memoir, “Losing My Sister.” It tells the story of her family and her complicated and sometimes hurtful relationship with her sister. Their anger at each other runs side by side with their love. It is a poignant relationship that will resonate with everyone who has a sibling. (Oct. 5, 7)

Ten years ago, David Cecelski’s great book, “The Waterman’s Song,” introduced me to Abraham Galloway, an ex-slave from Wilmington who became an incredible leader of blacks in North Carolina during the Civil War and later in state government. I became fascinated with Galloway and wrote then, “He is my candidate for North Carolina’s greatest civil rights hero.  He packed into his short life a story of an escape from slavery, intrigue and dedication, leadership and audacity, and political achievement that is as inspiring as the tales of Robin Hood, King David, and Rob Roy MacGregor.” I waited a long time for Cecelski to tell me more. Now he has done it with his new book, “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” (Oct. 12, 14)

Longtime Charlotte lawyer Jon Buchan represents newspapers and once was a reporter for The Charlotte Observer. Now he is a novelist. His powerful first book,  “Code of the Forest,” is about inside politics in both Carolinas. Political and business leaders look out for each other based on loyalties formed in exclusive prep schools and at hunting lodges deep in the forest. Buchan also takes his readers through the terrible and challenging mess a libel action lawsuit can be. (Oct. 19, 21)

Novelist Lee Smith says that this book is “deeply moving, disturbing, haunting, and important.” She is talking about “Leaving Tuscaloosa,” the debut novel of Walter Bennett, a former lawyer and judge. He is also known as the husband of N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences retiring director, Betsy Bennett. Walter Bennett’s “Leaving Tuscaloosa” is set in the 1960s and features two Tuscaloosa, Alabama, teenagers, one white, Richeboux Branscomb, the other black, Acee Waites, who, although they are the same age and live in the same town, hardly ever cross paths, until their parallel lives explode tragically and memorably. (Oct. 26, 28)

One of the greatest horrors of slavery was the breakup of families. A husband sold away from his wife, a mother from her child. UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Heather Andrea Williams tells another chapter in that story. Her new book, “Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery” relates how separated families attempted to find each other and reunite, before and after the Civil War. (Nov. 2, 4)

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/all-kinds-of-new-north-carolina-books/

All Eyes on Charlotte as Dems Gather

With the Democratic National Convention kicking off, Charlotte’s week in the sun has come. 

Of course, the illumination of the host city may be more artificial than natural as broadcasters from around the world come to town with their high intensity tv lights in tow.  The thousands of reporters, delegates and convention-related visitors will all have their own opinions about the Queen City. 

But none could be more thoughtful or informed that the views offered during my special Charlotte-DNC edition of Beyond the Headlines by four esteemed North Carolinians with close ties to host city as well as to the Triangle: Jill Dinwiddie, former head of the NC Council for Women; Marion Sullivan, Senior Advisor to Gov. Perdue; Rob Harrington, partner at Robinson Bradshaw and President of the Mecklenburg Bar; and Walter Dellinger, former Solicitor General of the United States.  You can hear the discussion here:
 

And if you want more background on Charlotte and the Convention, you can listen below to a replay of my show from two years ago predicting (correctly!) that Charlotte would be picked and previewing what it means to serve as the host city.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/beyond-the-headlines/all-eyes-on-charlotte-as-dems-gather/

Hillsborough author’s book is 'superior' to 'The Help'

“…‘The Dry Grass of August’ is a superior book to ‘The Help,’ even if it doesn’t sell three million copies.”

So writes Christina Bucher in the North Carolina Literary Review about “The Dry Grass of August.” Hillsborough’s Anna Jean Mayhew takes us all the way back to the racially-segregated Charlotte of 1954 and a poignant story of a young girl in a family under stress, being pulled apart by forces the girl does not understand. It is a story, in Lee Smith’s words, that is “written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place.”

More about that story later, but the story of Mayhew’s writing life is also worth telling. She was well past her seventieth birthday when “Dry Grass,” her first novel was published.  The book was almost 20 years in the writing. A supportive writing group read Mayhew’s drafts and redrafts, giving her the encouragement and support to keep going.

“Dry Grass” was a surprise best-seller and continues to benefit from favorable critical attention and word of mouth recommendations. It won for Mayhew the prestigious Sir Walter Raleigh Award, established in 1952 and given by the Historical Book Club of North Carolina each year to the North Carolina writer who published the work of fiction judged the best.

In making the award, Nan Kester, president of the book club, explained how Mayhew’s life experience conditioned her for literary success, saying that her “past career experiences equipped her with skills that prepared her for writing, her fourth career. She was a court reporter which gave her invaluable insights into speech patterns and dialect, bringing truth to the dialogue in her fiction, opera management which taught her the importance of plot and flair for the dramatic production, editor of a major medical journal gave her the research skills necessary to validate the historical facts in her fiction set in the 1950’s and ’60s.”

The novel’s story begins in the Myers Park neighborhood where Mayhew grew up. The Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision putting an end to legal segregation in public schools has stirred up a hornets’ nest of racist reactions throughout the white community.

Meanwhile 13-year-old Jubie Watts is deeply attached to Mary Luther, Jubie’s family’s African American servant. Jubie bristles at the indignities that Mary Luther suffers, ill-treatment from Jubie’s parents and guests, always riding in the back seat of the car, and not being allowed to eat or sleep in the same facilities as the family on trips. Meanwhile Jubie’s dad is active in a White Business organization that uses its employment power to take jobs from blacks who try to vote or otherwise challenge the white dominant system.

Jubie adores Mary Luther and that affection is returned as loving discipline and support that Jubie craves. With very little positive attention from her troubled mother and father, Jubie needs all the help she can get.

With her look back at a racial and cultural society in transition, Mayhew also delivers a coming of age novel that will touch readers’ hearts. Then she serves up a tragic moment that will give those same hearts a hurt that will be long remembered.

Continuing her comparison with “The Help,” reviewer Bucher says that “The Dry Grass of August” and Minrose Guin’s “stunning debut novel,” “The Queen of Palmyra,” “offer a more nuanced view of this complicated, troublesome time in the not-so-distant past, when it was debatable the ‘dreams of the Good’ would—or could—prevail over the ‘killers of the dream.’”

http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/hillsborough-authors-book-is-superior-to-the-help/