A prosecutor says he has dismissed a felony fraud charge against a former North Carolina professor linked to a scandal involving academics and athletics.
In a statement Thursday, Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall said he dropped the charge after Julius Nyang’oro cooperated with the criminal investigation and an independent probe into fraud in the department where Nyang’oro served as chairman.
A grand jury indicted Nyang’oro in December for obtaining property by false pretenses. He was charged with receiving $12,000 to teach a summer 2011 lecture class that did not meet. The class, filled with football players, was treated as an independent study requiring a research paper.
Former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein is leading the independent probe into the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/fraud-charge-nyangoro-dropped/
The newest restaurant in Chapel Hill’s 140 West is celebrating its grand opening on Thursday, March 20.
Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom will mark its grand opening on March 20 with a ribbon cutting at 11:00 a.m.
Old Chicago got its start back in 1976 – and to honor that, the company will offer free pizza for a year for the first 76 customers in line. There will also be a free throw shooting contest outside on the 140 West plaza – and Old Chicago will donate $76 to Farmer Foodshare for each free throw that gets made. (Show the Tar Heels how it’s done!)
Listen to Aaron Keck’s conversation on the Wednesday afternoon news with Old Chicago’s Chris Beckler.
For the next two months, the Town of Chapel Hill is inviting you to give your feedback on the latest draft of its Bike Plan.
You can find the plan and a comment form online at TownOfChapelHill.org/bikeplan.
There will be a public forum to discuss the plan on Monday, April 28.
Chatham County officials say drinking water in some parts of the county might have a musty taste and odor for the next month or so – but it’s still safe to drink.
Chatham Water Utilities found higher-than-usual levels of compounds in water recently sampled from Jordan Lake Reservoir, causing the slight difference in taste. Director Leonard McBryde says this is a seasonal issue that’s “not uncommon for water systems that draw raw water from lakes.”
Since it’s seasonal, county officials say it should only last about a month – but in the meantime, residents can minimize the taste difference by refrigerating water in a pitcher, or using a carbon filter.
Orange County will be holding a second public hearing in April to discuss the proposed new solid waste service tax district for unincorporated areas of the county.
The district is being proposed as a way to continue funding the county’s recycling program. The program had been funded with an annual fee attached to residents’ property tax bill, but that fee has been discontinued.
The public hearing takes place on Tuesday, April 1, also at 6:00 p.m. at the Social Services Center at Hillsborough Commons on Mayo Street in Hillsborough.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s three high schools are holding “mock crash” events this spring to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving.
The events will begin with an assembly, followed by a crash reenactment in the footbal stadium. A UNC Air Care helicopter will land in the stadium as well, to simulate transport of an injured victim.
The mock crashes will take place at Carrboro High School on Friday, March 21; at East Chapel Hill High on Wednesday, April 9; and at Chapel Hill High on Friday, May 2 during the school day.
The Greater Chapel Hill Association of REALTORS has earned a grant to promote affordable housing in the local community.
The grant comes from the Housing Opportunity Program of the National Association of REALTORS; the Greater Chapel Hill branch will use the funds to produce a housing expo in Chatham County.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Amanda Bennett will be on campus Thursday, March 20, speaking as part of UNC’s Women in Media Leadership Series.
Working for the Wall Street Journal, Bennett won the Pulitzer in 1997 for her coverage of the AIDS crisis, and a second Pulitzer with The Oregonian for an expose of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She’s also the author of “The Cost of Hope,” a book about confronting death in the context of the U.S. healthcare system.
Bennett’s talk will begin at 5:30 p.m. on March 20 in the Freedom Forum Conference Center in Carroll Hall. It’s free and open to the public.
This weekend, a nationally-recognized dance choreographer will be in the Triangle to support arts education in local schools.
Jacques d’Amboise is the principal dancer-choreographer for the NYC Ballet. He’s in town from Thursday through Saturday, March 20-22, to support NC Arts in Action – which provides in-school and afterschool dance programs for kids, based on a model d’Amboise developed back in the 1970s.
On Thursday d’Amboise will be in Chapel Hill, meeting with fourth-graders at Northside Elementary School.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/biking-drinking-recycling-driving-housing-reporting-dancing/
The Duke Energy coal ash facility fallout continues—this time at a Chatham County plant located about 25 miles south of Chapel Hill. State environmental regulators are now investigating whether the utility has been pumping contaminated wastewater into the Cape Fear River.
Jamie Kritzer, spokesman for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said that state inspectors observed on March 11 that Duke Energy workers had possibly pumped water from two coal ash ponds located at the Cape Fear Plant in Moncure, which was closed in 2012.
The pumps were attached to hoses that carried water from the coal ash ponds into an internal canal.
The canal is supposed to discharge only treated wastewater from the coal ash ponds.
The concern is whether contaminated water was also released into the canal, which flows into an unnamed tributary that feeds the Cape Fear River, a drinking water source for several cities. Coal ash contains toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and lead.
“The utility told us that they were conducting routine maintenance,” Kritzer said. “Certainly some routine maintenance is allowed under their wastewater discharge permit, but discharge of untreated wastewater could be a violation of that permit. That is what we are looking into right now.”
Kritzer said DENR discovered the potentially illegal pumping during a planned investigation of the plant.
This was part of a state-wide effort by DENR to conduct detailed inspections of all 14 Duke Energy facilities with coal ash impoundments.
The investigation was precipitated by the February coal ash spill at a Duke Energy plant in Eden during which at least 30,000 tons of pollutant were released into the Dan River.
Kritzer said DENR officials are expected to make a decision later this week about whether Duke Energy violated the discharge permit at the Cape Fear Plant.
“There is the potential we could issue notices of violation. Those could carry with them fines and penalties that could be fairly stiff,” Kritzer said.
The Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group, flew a plane over Duke Energy’s Cape Fear River plant on March 10 and photographed the two pumps drawing water from the two coal ash ponds. Those photos were released to the media.
DENR maintains that the state agency’s inspection discovery was independent of Waterkeeper Alliance’s investigation.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury convened as part of a widening criminal investigation triggered by the coal ash spill in Eden, the Associated Press reported. The jury will examine whether state regulators, DENR officials included, helped shield Duke Energy regarding its negligence.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/duke-energy-chatham-spill/
National Weather Service Senior Forecaster Scott Sharp says once the cold front moves through the Triangle between 7:00 and 7:30 Monday morning, we should expect rain to switch to sleet at about midday.
WCHL’s Ron Stutts spoke with Sharp during the WCHL Monday Morning News.
***Listen to the Interview***http://chapelboro.com/news/weather/cold-front-bring-frozen-precipitation/
UPDATE: Chatham County has cancelled the boil advisory, confirming that no leak occurred. Here is the county’s full statement, released at 3:04 p.m. Thursday:
“Chatham County Water Utilities has announced that residents in sections of North Chatham no longer have to boil county water before using it for consumption. The State Division of Water Quality has verified that the water supply meets state standards and does not have to be boiled.
“A boil water notice was issued yesterday due to an unexpected drop in water pressure affecting specific parts of north Chatham. Utilities staff found no leaks or technical problems in the water system, but water pressure returned to normal levels. This points to the possibility that a private contractor doing utility work in the area may have impacted a water valve.”
Chatham County Public works director David Hughes says Wednesday’s advisory to residents in northern Chatham County was strickly precautionary and that he doesn’t believe there was every a break in the line.
“We don’t believe it was a break,” Huges says. “We suspect it was a contractor who closed some valves and shut off supply, so there was never a break in the line. Our tanks never dropped. We didn’t do anything particular, and the system regained pressure and went back to normal operating. So, the potential for contamination is very low. It’s possible but unlikely.”
Hughes says any time there is a drop in water pressure, water samples are taken to check for contaminants and safety measures are taken ensure no one consumes what is potentially hazardous.
While it takes just a few minutes more, he says the best course of action is to follow the safety instructions when they’re handed our—even when danger is not suspected and it’s just a precautionary step.
“They should boil the water for a minute to two minutes until we get the results back,” Hughes says.
In Orange County, Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) Board of Directors Chair, Alan Rimer says there are processes in place to protect from such an event.
“We have a number of storage tanks that contain several million gallons of water, and those tanks are managed by…a system of intercommunication between the treatment plant and these tanks,” Rimer says. “So, we can control the rate at which that water is put into the system at a pressure which would never allow for it to drop below a particular pressure level that would require a boil order.”
In fact, Rimer says it could be up to a day before the water system’s pressure drops below a safe level.
“We might ask folks to conserve, but certainly not to boil,” Rimer says.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/owasa-protected-n-chatham-water-woes/
RALEIGH – A North Carolina legislator has been arrested on felony tax charges.
The N.C. Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that Rep. Deborah H. McManus, D-Chatham, faces three counts of embezzlement of state property. The first-term lawmaker from SilerCity is alleged to have used her position working as a bookkeeper for a medical practice to embezzle more than $47,000 that had been withheld from employees to pay state income taxes between January 2011 and July 2013.
The agency said the 56-year-old had appeared before a magistrate at the WakeCounty jail and placed under a $150,000 bond. Her first appearance in Wake County District Court is scheduled for Thursday. It’s not immediately clear if she has an attorney.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/chatham-legislator-resigns-amid-tax-charges/
CHAPEL HILL - Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, Matt Hughes, says he remembers Kinnaird when he first joined the Democratic Party and how she helped him get involved.
“When I first became active in the Democratic Party as a teenager actually, Senator Kinnaird was one of those out there, who was willing to really take me under her wing and show me ropes within the party and just also in North Carolina politics in general, my feeling is that Senator Kinnaird is approachable by members of the community” Hughes said.
Senator Kinnaird iss a former Mayor of Carrboro before moving to the State Senate to represent Orange and Chatham counties. Hughes says since the beginning of her political career, Kinnaird has been approachable and is willing to listen to everyone about the issues.
“Senator Kinnaird has always been willing to engage with her constituents and really work with them as many of our elected officials in orange county do, but particularly Senator Kinnaird is someone who also has sought out an understanding of those who do not see things from her perspective in order to really construct a well-rounded view” Hughes commented.
Throughout her career, Kinnaird has accomplished many things and earned the respect of many people in the area, including Matt Hughes. Kinnaird’s resignation will leave a void in the State Senate with big shoes to fill. Hughes says one of Kinnaird’s greatest aspects was that she would pursue the facts and learn an issue from all angles; he says hopes that her replacement will continue to be as open as her.
“What I hope is that the successor to Senator Kinnaird’s seat will be able to really represent all of district 23 Orange and Chatham County” Hughes said “to really have a firm understanding of the issues that are before the state senate and state legislature and how we play a role in that as a community”
Kinnaird served 8.5 terms as State Senator.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/matt-hughes-on-kinnaird-she-showed-me-the-ropes/
CHAPEL HILL – New fees on Chapel Hill’s Park and Ride lots will begin August 15.
The lots affected will be Carrboro Plaza, Eubanks, Southern Village and Jones Ferry. The rates will start at $2 for a daily rate, $21 for a monthly rate and $250 for a yearly rate.
UNC says it will be implementing its own fees for its park and ride lots at the same time, and UNC park and ride permits will be usable in town lots.
Final graduation numbers are in as 5,845 students received a degree from UNC this year, including 1,327 master’s degrees, 679 professional degrees and 259 doctoral degrees.
8,547 UNC students were recognized on the Spring 2013 Dean’s List, which requires a minimum 3.5 GPA for 12 hours of letter-grade credit.
Property tax bills for Chatham County residents should be arriving by at least mid-August, with the deadline to pay on January 6.
Some residents may receive real estate and personal property tax bills separately, according to the Chatham County Tax Administrator, Frances Wilson. Tax payers may appeal the personal property tax bill within 30 days of the date listed on the bill, with all residents encouraged to bring questions to 919-542-8250 or 919-542-8260.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/park-and-ride-fees-begin-chatham-residents-get-tax-bills-5845-students-get-unc-degrees/
It’s official! Walmart is coming to town!
Well, not our town, but Chatham County, just over the line. And to the victor go all the spoils. Walmart has announced it will build a huge 148,500 square foot store on the 15-501 commercial corridor near Smith Level Road and hire 300 employees.
Walmart cash registers will soon be ringing and Chatham County will rake in the sales tax dollars. Then the property tax will begin to roll in.
Meanwhile, traffic will beat a path across Chapel Hill roads to the Walmart store just a stone’s throw away. More lost business for local merchants.
All this sound familiar? Déjà vu!
First, there was New Hope Commons along with several other commercial developments that went to Durham. The proposed Obey Creek mixed-use complex in Chapel Hill fell through because of town restrictions.
Long in the planning process, projects such as Aydan Court and Charterwood have met similar fates though Charterwood may be revived.
Chapel Hill is hemorrhaging tax dollars and there’s no end in sight.
Let’s hope Town Council gets its act together soon before Chapel Hill becomes the sole enclave of the rich and well-to-do.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/chapel-hill-is-hemorrhaging-tax-dollars/
We have changed.