New ABC Store in Chatham County Approved

A new ABC store could be opened before the end of the year in northern Chatham County.

The North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission approved the request for a new location at its board meeting last Wednesday.

The application shows that the proposed location would be on Morning Drive and occupy two suites in a strip that is currently under construction.

There is currently an ABC Store at 50050 Governor’s Drive, but that location would be closed upon the new store opening at the proposed site.

A tentative open date has been slated for October 1, 2016 and the new location has a projected first-year sales total of $768,350, per the Chatham County ABC Board.

Chatham Commission Chair: HB2 is ‘Steaming Pile of Prejudice’

Chatham County Commissioners joined the growing list of local government leadership across North Carolina opposing House Bill 2 on Monday night.

Listen to the report from WCHL’s Blake Hodge below:


Chatham County Board of Commission Chair James Crawford read through a resolution opposing House Bill 2 at the board’s meeting earlier this week. The resolution said that the legislation, which requires transgender individuals to use the bathroom in public buildings corresponding with their birth certificate rather than their gender identity, “is not based on factual criminal data and lacks an authentic understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” The resolution urged the North Carolina General Assembly to “repeal House Bill 2 at the earliest opportunity.”

The legislation has placed North Carolina in the national spotlight as Governor Pat McCrory and GOP leadership have called the bill “common sense legislation” that protects the privacy of North Carolinians, while advocates maintain the law is among the worst pieces of anti-LGBT legislation in the nation.

Board member Walter Petty asked that the board not wade into the controversy over House Bill 2 because he wanted to see what the General Assembly did with the legislation once the short session begins on Monday.

“I think rather than create more problems and animosity,” Petty said, “I’d like to see us buy some time here and wait and see how things shake out before we move on this.”

Karen Howard disagreed with Petty, saying it was important to be ahead of the curve on this issue.

“If [passing the resolution] becomes disruptive, then we have a bigger problem than a resolution,” Howard said. “I think that getting out ahead of this and confronting this ugly piece of legislation in its face is essential.

“I think that the more communities that do this, the faster this thing is going to find its way out of our state.”

Howard also expressed displeasure that the bill removes local government’s abilities to put ordinances in place that go beyond the state’s nondiscrimination policy.

Petty said he did not feel House Bill 2 accomplished its “intended purpose” and, therefore, wanted to allow the legislature time to alter the law.

“Do you want to send a child into a changing facility or a locker room and have mixed company in there,” Petty asked. “I don’t know that we want to do that, and I think that was the intended purpose.”

Crawford said this bill was not about protecting women and children but rather served as a “Trojan horse” to pass discrimination in law.

“If [the General Assembly] really cared about the safety of women and children, they would have called a special session that would have dealt with child abuse as we know it exists,” Crawford said. “It would have been talking about people who are in the home; it would have been talking about restraining orders against angry spouses or angry ex-boyfriends. That’s where the problem lies for those kinds of things.

“And so, again, we’re back to not just the falsity of the Trojan horse, but they picked a target that they thought they could still beat up on, right? We’re still playing smear the queer in this country.”

Crawford added that he worked with a grad student who transitioned from female to male when Crawford was teaching at UNC and shared how this law would impact them.

“Under this law, Connor has to use the lady’s room – with Connor’s mustache,” Crawford said. “Or Connor faces the choice of breaking the law and going where he now feels comfortable going.

“Transgender people aren’t made up; they aren’t figments of someone’s imagination; they aren’t something created by a liberal agenda.”

Crawford also pointed to House Bill 2’s impact on jobs and tourism in the state.

“We’re trying to invite people into our state to invest and to have jobs and to enjoy our tourism amenities,” Crawford said, “But yet, in our parlor, we have this steaming pile of prejudice.”

The board voted 4-1 to pass the resolution with Petty voting against.

Orange County Commissioners passed a resolution calling for the repeal of House Bill 2 on Tuesday night, joining a growing list of local governments standing against the legislation.

The future of HB2 is being considered after the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a decision that barred a Virginia transgender teenager from using the bathroom of his gender identity.

Chatham Board of Commissioners Approve Land Purchase Option

The Chatham County Commissioners narrowly approved an option Monday to purchase a 1,818 acre site, known as the megasite, in hopes of attracting a major manufacturer.

The Chatham County Commissioners voted 3-2 to enter into a contract with the owners of the site for a one-year option to bring in business. After that time the county would have the option to purchase all or a portion of the land, which is currently privately owned.

The county’s main focus so far has been to attract an automobile manufacturer but commissioner Diana Hales, who voted against the option, wanted to open it up to any large industry that would be interested.

She noted that there is a lot of competition with other municipalities around the country to attract a major auto manufacturer.

“My concern is that can we have a split focus, can we have a focus that says yes, we will do our best to pursue somehow getting the winning lottery ticket that says, you Siler City, over everyone else is going to be selected for auto company plant,” said Hales.

Many residents of Siler City spoke in favor of the county purchasing the site, including Mayor John Grimes who said it could help the struggling economy in the town.

“President Kennedy said that a rising tide lifts all ships, almost,” said Grimes, “Well our tides gone out in Siler City, the jobs are gone, so we need another tide to come in.”

Commissioner Karen Howard was concerned there wasn’t enough concrete information, such as a detailed timeline or private appraisal, to make a decision.

“I understand that this is a risk and people have said, oh if you understand business, you take risk but presumably you take a calculated risk and to say that a risk is calculated you need all the background, you need all these questions answered,” said Howard.

“I’m quite frankly stunned by the ease of which some people have come to the decision that this is right,” said Howard.

Commissioner Walter Petty agreed that the purchase of the property was a risk but a risk worth taking.

“The majority of people in this county do not have any objection to us taking this risk and it is a risk because it may not amount to anything,” said Petty. “They see it as economic development and investment in economics and the potential to bring jobs here.”

Howard argued that even though most people that came to the meeting spoke in favor, there was no way to know how everyone in the county felt.

The funds to purchase the option, $540,654, will come from funds that have already been earmarked for economic development. If the county decides to buy the land in the future, even a portion, it will cost at least $15 million.

The one year property option will give the county until June 30, 2017 to attract a manufacturer.

Attorney General Kicks off Prescription Abuse Campaign at Woods Charter School

More than 1,000 people in North Carolina die from prescription drug overdoses each yeah, according to a 2013 report from the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

In an effort to raise awareness about this prescription drug abuse, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper made stops across the Tar Heel state to kick off the state’s Stop Rx Abuse Video Contest.

Roy Cooper speaking to students at Woods Charter School. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Roy Cooper speaking to students at Woods Charter School. Photo via Blake Hodge.

On Wednesday, Cooper was at Woods Charter School in Chatham County.

Cooper said they have expanded the annual contest to the middle school level because law enforcement continues to see younger individuals impacted by prescription drug abuse.

“Many of these kids are opioid naive and it can be one or two pills that can just knock them out,” Cooper said after speaking to the students. “If you add a beer or two to that, it can be significant and these kids just stop breathing.”

This is the fifth annual video contest and the second year it has included middle school students.

To enter, middle and high school students can create a 30-second public service announcement video on teen prescription drug abuse.

Below is the winning video from last year’s high school entries:

Cooper said that it can be hard to get a message to resonate with teenagers, specifically when the message is coming from an adult, which is why the video contest was created.

“As a way to get the young people to find out the facts for themselves and begin talking about the problem with themselves,” Cooper said, “and then trying to convince each other through these ad’s.

“It’s not the ad’s as much as it is the process of making them. Because we’ve seen so many dynamics with the young people as they find out all of this information.”

Cooper said, while this particular campaign is aimed at getting teenagers involved in the conversation, there are other factors at play. Cooper said that the number of pills in a prescription can be a contributing factor after a teenager has their wisdom teeth removed or a similar procedure.

“Often times [the prescription is] 40 pills,” Cooper said. “And they may take one or two. And then you’ve got a bottle of 38 pills left in the house that is a real resource for kids who want to start using them recreationally.

“We’re working with doctors too to try to get the prescription numbers reduced.”

Cooper said there is policy that could be enacted to help fight against the prescription abuse issue, including expanding Medicaid in North Carolina.

“We could cover hundreds of thousands of more people if [state leadership] accept this 100 percent federal Medicaid expansion,” Cooper said. “That’s one thing. We also have seen continued cutbacks in mental health substance abuse treatment.

“We’ve seen an elimination of drug courts in our state, which had been a very positive tool that you could use to hold incarceration over somebody to force them into addiction and substance abuse treatment.”

Stop Rx Abuse. Photo via DOJ.

Stop Rx Abuse. Photo via DOJ.

The entry deadline for 30-second videos to be submitted by middle and high school students is April 18.

More information on the video contest can be found here.

Chatham County Collision Injures Two State Troopers

Derek Bowden Jr. has been charged with reckless driving, failure to move over causing injury and failure to reduce speed after he was involved in an accident with two State Troopers Wednesday afternoon.

According to reports, Bowden failed to reduce speed and struck a highway patrol Dodge Charger in the rear within the inner lane of U.S. Highway 64 in Chatham County.

Two State Troopers were inside the vehicle at the time. The troopers were within the eastbound travel lane, with blue lights activated, assisting with a traffic stop.

As a result of the collision, both troopers were transported to UNC Hospital with minor injuries.

Bowden was transported to Chatham County Hospital with minor injuries.

Chatham County Authorities Bust Multiple Meth Labs

Chatham County authorities have taken several suspects into custody in connection with the operation of multiple meth labs.

Narcotics officers in the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at the home of 46-year-old Kevin Andrews and 32-year-old Brooke Green on Bonlee Bennett Road in Bear Creek on February 11 and found a methamphetamine lab. Officers discovered additional information pointing to another lab on Rock Springs Church Road in Pittsboro, according to law enforcement.

Officers found an additional meth lab at the second location. Andrews and Green were present inside the residence on Rock Springs Church Road along with 57-year-old Robert Warren and 52-year-old Edna Spivey.

The four suspects – Andrews, Green, Warren and Spivey – have been charged with a total of 49 felonies and six misdemeanors.

Officials say more than 374 grams of methamphetamine were seized.

The four suspects are scheduled to appear in court on March 28.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office worked with the State Bureau of Investigations Clandestine Laboratory HazMat Team during both operations.

Stolen Vehicle Recovered from Chatham County Pond

Chatham County authorities have recovered a vehicle from a pond in Moncure that was reported stolen out of Harnett County.

A release says an anonymous tip came in to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office that the 2007 Chevy Aveo in question could be located in a pond off Chatham Church Road in Moncure.

Crews from the Pittsboro Fire Department and Lee County Emergency Management teamed up on February 8 to pinpoint the location of the vehicle in the pond, but officials say the cold temperatures prevented divers from being able to enter the water.

Warmer temperatures allowed divers to search the pond this week. On Monday, the missing vehicle was located and towed from the water.

Detectives matched the vehicle with the description provided by Harnett County.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Sheriff’s Offices from Chatham and Harnett County are now working together as the investigation continues.

Chatham County Authorities Looking for Child Rape Suspect

Chatham County law enforcement officials are asking for public assistance finding a man accused of raping an 11-year-old girl.

A release from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office says 37-year-old Antonio Basilio Vico is wanted for the rape and sexual assault that occurred over the course of two years.

Antonio Vico. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

Antonio Vico. Photo via Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

Vico is described as approximately 5’ 4” and roughly 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

Vico is thought to be in Chatham County or surrounding areas, according to authorities. Officials say Vico is specifically known to frequent Siler City and Winston-Salem.

Vico has been charged with 22 counts of rape of a child, 22 counts of sexual offense with a child and 22 counts of indecent liberties with a child.

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Vico, authorities ask that you contact the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office at (919) 542-2811.

Chatham County Announces Agricultural Photography Contest

As a way to celebrate the diversity of agriculture in Chatham, the county is sponsoring an agricultural photography contest through June 30, 2016.

Winners of the contest will have their photos displayed on the new Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center, which will open in Pittsboro later this year.

“We invite all professional and amateur photographers with high quality images of agricultural activities and scenes to please submit their entries,” said county manager Renee Paschal. “Selected photographers will be honored at our grand opening exhibition event. We are very excited to see the submissions.”

The contest will include single images that stand alone or triple photo murals that can be displayed as a three-photo display.

The images can be in color, black and white or sepia tones, preferably in JPG or PNG format and must be 150 dots per inch for large reproduction. The photos should not be heavily processed with artistic filters .

Each photographer can submit an unlimited number of photos. All photos must have Chatham County subjects, but the photographer does not have to live in the county.

Photos may include people, but children under the age of 18 must have a parental waiver form.

To obtain a submission form and instructions on how to upload photos for the contest, please contact Larilee Isley at 919-545-8393.

Work to Begin on Lystra Road Sinkhole

Officials with the Department of Transportation say work will begin “soon” to address the sinkhole on Lystra Road.

A portion of the road near Jordan Lake was closed in January and detours were set up after the sinkhole developed.

A release says the department will award a contract to repair the road and the 35-foot embankment later this month.

Work is expected to begin by the second week of March.

Officials say both of the 72-inch culverts crossing underneath the roadway will need to be replaced due to damage from recent weather coupled with the age of the pipes. The release says the two pipes will be replaced with one larges culvert measuring 12-foot in diameter.

Officials call this an “extensive project” and expect the work to be completed by early June, barring any weather delays.

The sinkhole developed on Monday, January 19. The next day a second sinkhole started cracking the pavement along Jones Ferry Road in northern Chatham County. The road surrounding the second sinkhole is still closed as well and the last update from the DOT estimated the closure to last through February 26.