UNC Medical Director Advises Residents on Staying Safe During Heat Wave

This week may be the hottest week of the summer so far with temperatures remaining in the mid-90’s in Chapel Hill and surrounding areas.

Ahbi Mehrotra, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at UNC Hospitals’ Hillsborough campus, has advice on how to stay safe in the extreme heat and avoid dangers like heat exhaustion.

“If you have to be outside, it’s planning ahead, so making sure you have plenty of water to make sure you stay hydrated,” Mehrotra says.

While it’s important to stay hydrated, Mehrotra says to make sure water is the drink of choice when outside in the heat.

“The one thing that people tend to overlook is the importance of the water as hydration and people tend to grab for caffeinated sodas and that can actually make things worse, as well as alcoholic beverages,” Mehrotra said. “They can cause dilation and so you get more heat exposure and so it reverses what you’re actually trying to do.”

Mehrotra also says to try and keep children out of the sun in the peak hours of the day, and to avoid leaving anyone in a turned-off car causing elevation in body temperature.

As for the elderly, Mehrotra says it is best to avoid situations of extreme heat and says having a neighbor check on you periodically is a good idea.

For those who have to work outside, Mehrotra said to always have a partner and to make sure each of you are looking for potential symptoms of heat exhaustion which could lead to a heat stroke.

“For heat exhaustion you’re thinking of headache, dizziness, nausea, those are some of the earlier signs, all the way to heat stroke which you can have seizures, coma, where you can’t tell that you’re at that point,” Mehrotra said. “Your body is starting to shut down, you actually stop perspiring so you’re no longer sweating.”

If someone seems to be experiencing these symptoms, Mehrotra says to first make sure you are safe, and then help the person in need by getting them indoors and hydrated with cool water.

If someone’s symptoms are not improving or they begin to show more signs of heat exhaustion, Mehrotra says to call 911 for professional care.


Hillsborough Police Citing Kids for Bicycle Safety

Officers from the Hillsborough Police Department are patrolling the neighborhoods looking for kids following the law.

The Police Department started a new program called Citation Patrol, which is rewarding kids wearing helmets while riding their bikes with a McDonald’s gift card and enforcing bike safety with providing helmets to those kids they see without them.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said the officers have tried to enforce the importance of bike safety with a new approach.

“This is really really important. We want to make sure that kids not only have bikes but that they really know how to ride them safely,” Stevens said.

Stevens said they are using this program as a new way to get out in the community.

“Police are really a part of the fabric of the community, so, walking down the street we’ll chat with people, we’ll step into a restaurant, and we’ll drive around and chat with folks and the kids. Just be present in the community and start building those relationships and to do that particularly with the young folks seem like a good way to go,” Stevens said.

Stevens supports the new program and the police department for getting involved with the community.

“Right now they want to look for things going right, so, I really applaud this program that they are doing,” Stevens said.

The Citation Patrol has already begun so don’t forget those helmets when riding a bike.


Part of the Riverwalk Set to Be Closed For Construction

A section of the Riverwalk in Hillsborough will be closed this Thursday for erosion-control work.

The work will take place between emergency markers 108 and 109 west of the Stickwork sculpture.

Thursday’s work will not interfere with Friday’s ribbon cutting event for the new bridge connecting Riverwalk to the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail.

The erosion-control work is part of the town’s effort to improve the water quality of the runoff in the Eno River.


Ribbon Cutting Event for New Hillsborough Footbridge

Residents of Hillsborough are invited to attend a new ribbon cutting event to mark the opening of a new footbridge.

The new footbridge links the Town’s Riverwalk Greenway to the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.

The six-foot-wide pedestrian bridge spans 95 feet over the Eno River east of the Town of Hillsborough’s Riverwalk.

The bridge was installed by the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust and the Richard Hampton Jenrette Foundation.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said in a release that the town is very fortunate to have access to these lands.

“It’s hard to overstate how lucky we are to have these historic Classical American Homes Preservation Trust properties so open and available to anyone in the community who wants to enjoy them.”

Both the bridge and trail pass over and protect Native American village sites along the Eno River.

The $260,000 bridge is part of Ayr Mount’s Master Trail Plan and was built with $100,000 in Recreational Trails Program grant and community donations, according to officials.


Authorities Arrest Second Suspect in Hillsborough Shooting

Local authorities have arrested a suspect wanted in connection with a Hillsborough shooting earlier this year.

The shooting in late May on Harper Street sent two men to the hospital.

Records show that 19-year-old Chan Owens was arrested on Wednesday and was being held in the Orange County Jail.

Owens has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, assault by pointing a gun and discharging a firearm in town limits.

The shooting resulted in a 38-year-old man being transported to a hospital with what was described then as potentially life-threatening injuries, according to law enforcement. Police said at the time that a second individual – a 33-year-old male – was brought to a hospital by an unknown person and was in stable condition.

Police said in June that one of the victims has required several surgeries, still has serious health issues and will require a “lengthy recovery period.”

Police said the preliminary investigation showed the shooting was connected to another instance of shots being fired into two homes on Harper Street in May.

Officials say 18-year-old Isaiah Long of Efland has also been charged with the same offenses as Owens. Long was being held in the Alamance County Jail for a robbery in Burlington as of last update.

Owens has a court date listed for Thursday.


Hillsborough Man Charged in String of Residential Break-Ins

A Hillsborough man has been charged in connection with four residential break-ins in Orange and Durham Counties.

Officials say Jonas Brian West, of 1720 Palmers Grove Church Road in Hillsborough, was arrested on June 24 and charged with three residential breaking and entering reports in Orange County and one instance in Durham County.

West was arrested after a vehicle pursuit by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, according to a release.

Breaking and Entering Suspect Vehicle

Vehicle allegedly used in break-ins. Photo via Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

West was driving a red Toyota T100 extended cab pickup, according to officials.

Authorities say they recovered stolen property and were able to match it to the reported break-ins. But if anyone has additional information regarding West, you are asked to contact law enforcement.

West is currently being held in the Durham County Detention Facility under a $285,000 bond. Authorities say the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected.


Bottle Rockets May Have Caused Fire at Gateway Center in Hillsborough

Illegal fireworks may have ignited a fire that caused an estimated $30,000 in damage to a building in downtown Hillsborough on July 4.

A release says remains of bottle rockets were found of the roof of the Gateway Center and in the parking lot between the building and the Eno River Parking Deck. The fire burned a section of the roof measuring 20 fee by 20 feet. The fire was extinguished shortly after 7:30 Monday night.

Firefighters called police around 11 o’clock Monday night to report someone shooting bottle rockets from the top of the parking deck toward the Gateway Center roof, according to officials.

Surveillance footage is being evaluated.

Hillsborough fire marshal and emergency management coordinator Jerry Wager said in a release, “The town sounded like a war zone while we were out there – mostly from West Hillsborough and down US 70-A areas of town.”

The types of fireworks allegedly involved in the incident are illegal in North Carolina.

The fire forced the Orange County Register of Deeds office to close on Tuesday.


Negro League Legends Return to Hillsborough for Museum

Derrick Jones’ hobby has grown so big, that he’s turned it into a traveling museum. Jones, a former educator and baseball enthusiasts, has been collecting memorabilia from the Negro Leagues for more than 20 years.

Now, he travels through Virginia and North Carolina sharing his collection of vintage jerseys, baseball mitts, cards and more.

Renee Price works with Hillsborough’s Free Spirit Freedom group, and has teamed up with Jones to help share his collection.

“One thing led to another and here we are on Fourth of July weekend talking about America’s favorite pastime.”

Jones is bringing his pop up museum to the Whitted Building in Hillsborough over the Fourth of July weekend to celebrate the Negro League’s history in the town.

“A lot of people don’t know about the Negro Leagues and I was surprised to find out that we have some stellar folks here in Hillsborough.”

Those folks include Lawrence and Richal Vanhook – a father and son who played for the negro team, the Hillsborough Allstars, in the 1950’s and 60’s.

“At five years old, I started off as the bat boy for them and I continued into the later 60’s,” Richal Vanhook said. “I came into play right at the tail end of the Negro League right before they disbanded. I started playing for them when I was 13 years old.”

Richal’s father, Lawrence Vanhook, was both a player and a coach in the Negro Leagues for more than 20 years. He remembers getting his start in rural counties before making his way to the Hillsborough team.

“I first got started in the rural areas by having a team around home. Then I went to the Hillsborough Allstars. I played there for several years and had an opportunity for the majors but just didn’t get big enough.”

Dickey Edwards is another legend of the Negro Leagues who also started his career at an early age.

“Baseball has always been my life. I graduated from high school and sort of got disappointed because I went to several tryout camps with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two years that I tried out, it was always ‘You’re too small, you have a lot of talent, come back next year.’”

His luck changed when he tried out for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1967 at the age of 17.

“I ran upstairs, packed some clothes, and my mother said, ‘Where are you going?’ I said ‘I’m going to play ball.’ And that was my start.”

Rounding out the local legends celebrating the leagues’ history this weekend, is Horrace Johnson, who attributes his success to his killer arm.

“The catcher started talking to the batters and he came to me and said, ‘Alright Johnson, put some mustard on it and throw at his head.’ I could bring it about 95 miles an hour back then. My first pitch was at the guy’s head. He ducked. The second pitch was at his head. Then he said, ‘Put a wrinkle on it.’ Today they call it sliders or they call it sinkers. So I did, and the guy twisted around like a pretzel. You’ve never heard so much cussing in all your life.”

Those memories have stayed with Johnson years after he played in the Negro Leagues and during his time in the air force.

“Sometime I sit down at night and I talk with my grandson and my son and we have fun about it. I have pictures that I show when I played with the Monarchs. It was fun times.”

All four former players, as well as Renee Price, joined Aaron Keck on WCHL.


The men talked about legends like Hank Aaron, “Cool Papa” Bell, and of course, Jackie Robinson, who are all featured in Jones’ interactive museum. Over 100 pieces of memorabilia tell the stories of the players who paved the way for Jackie Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier.

In addition to the museum, interactive presentations and appearances from some of the Hillsborough Allstars will celebrate the league’s history. A friendly softball game is also open to the community. More information about how to get involved can be found on the town’s Facebook page.


Local Fourth of July Celebrations

It’s 4th of July weekend and it’s time to celebrate our country’s independence. If you are looking to celebrate 4th of July in a fun way the Towns of Carrboro, Hillsborough, Caldwell and Chapel Hill are putting on events for you to enjoy.

You can start your celebration early with the Town of Carrboro’s July 4th celebration at the Carrboro Town Hall. The event will start at 9:30 a.m at Weaver Street Market Lawn with music by Tim Stambaugh and end at 4:00 p.m.

The event will include a parade going from Weaver Street Market to Town Hall, starting at 10:50 a.m. Kids will have access to the fun zone and the fun zone stage.

In the event of inclement weather, a message will be posted here under the news flash section and on the Carrboro Recreation & Parks Department’s Weather Information Line at 919-918-7373.

The Third Annual Community Reading of Frederick Douglass’ essay “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” will be held rain or shine at the Carrboro Century Center from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Residents of Caldwell can celebrate their Independence Day starting at ten o’clock in the morning as the town marches from Caldwell Fire House to the NC 57 and Guest Road Intersection. The parade will start moving at 10:50 a.m.

If you are a resident of Hillsborugh celebrate the Third Annual Picnic in the Park at the River Park on East Margret Lane from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Festivities begin with a community reading of the Declaration of independence, followed by live music from several local bands. Families can enjoy lunch from one of many food trucks.

There will also be a ton of fun activities for kids, according to the town, including colonial-style games and crafts with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

And the Old Fashioned 4th of July is back with the celebration from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on the lawn at The Horace Williams House. There will be free Ice Cream, flags, lemonade and patriotic music performed by the village band. Be sure to bring lawn chairs, blankets, family and friends.

Once you’re done with your town’s daily activities head over to UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium for the celebration of 4th of July this Monday. The gates open at 7:00 p.m. and fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m.

The event starts off with a watermelon eating contest hosted by DSI comedy.

If watermelons and comedy isn’t really your thing, enjoy The Soul Psychedelique Orchestra. The TSP has a wide variety of music ranging from Rock to Reggae.

Stadium Gates five, six and Blue Zone North will be open for entry at 7:00 p.m..

Amanda Fletcher and Jim Orr with the Town of Chapel Hill spoke with Ron Stutts about the fireworks celebration at Kenan Stadium:


Hillsborough Police Seeking Help Identifying Suspect

Hillsborough Police are asking for help in identifying a suspect.

The individual pictured above is wanted in connection with a fraud case, according to police.

Anyone with information in regards to the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Hillsborough Police Sergeant Chip White at (919) 732-9381 ext. 34 or by email at chip.white@hpdnc.org.

There is no further information available at this time as to the nature of the fraud investigation.

This story will be updated when more information is made available.