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On July 4, Remembering Our Civil Rights Legacy

For the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, this year’s July 4 festivities come with a somber reflection on our nation’s often-troubling past.

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history and a watershed moment for the civil rights movement. It also continues the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

To mark the occasion, the Town of Chapel Hill hosted a discussion Wednesday on the legacy of the Civil Rights Act, in a packed room in the Chapel Hill Public Library. Gene Nichol and Ted Shaw served as keynote speakers; State Senator Valerie Foushee was among the panelists. (CORRECTION: Foushee was scheduled to be among the panelists, but was unable to attend.)

And on Friday – Independence Day proper – the Town of Carrboro is hosting a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s famous 1852 speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro” (also known as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”). Readers will include Valerie Foushee, former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, and WCHL’s Aaron Keck. It begins at Town Hall at noon and should last about a half hour, as part of the town’s July 4 festivities.

James Williams is the public defender for Orange and Chatham Counties; he too will be among the readers on Friday. Earlier this week he joined Ron Stutts on the Morning News.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/july-4-remembering-civil-rights-legacy/

Should You Change Your Eastern N.C. July 4 Plans?

National Weather Service meteorologist Kathleen Carroll says Tropical Storm Arthur is on track to becoming the season’s first hurricane by Thursday morning and could affect your weekend plans in eastern North Carolina, if those plans include an early start to the weekend.

“Over the next day or two, it will be moving North towards North Carolina, and we should see some impacts with that beginning late Thursday and then overnight Thursday night,” Carroll says.

***Carroll Spoke with WCHL’s Ron Stutts Wednesday Morning***

However, Carroll says the storm could be out of the way in time for fireworks.

“It definitely will be a rainy and potentially breezy day on Thursday, but it looks like the Fourth of July–at least in the evening hours when everybody will probably be enjoying fireworks and barbeques–current timing has that tropical system moving off to the northeast by the afternoon hours,” Carroll says.

If you’re staying put for fireworks at Kenan Stadium, Carroll says Arthur is unlikely to play a big factor in the Triangle.

“For that area, we may not even see that great of an impact from the system itself,” Carroll says. “Winds really wouldn’t be a whole lot stronger than anything we normally see, because the system’s expected to stay closer to the coast. We will probably see a bit more rain, but that will be, in part, due to a frontal system that’s going to be approaching kind of sandwiched between the tropical system off the coast.”

For the latest forecast and tropical storm track, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/weather/change-eastern-n-c-july-4-plans/

NC Patrol Reports 13 Deaths During July 4 Holiday

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The N.C. Highway Patrol says 13 people were killed on the state’s streets and highways during the July 4 holiday period.

The death toll is one less than for the same holiday period in 2012.

Two people were killed in a traffic accident on N.C. 101 east of Havelock.

A statement from the patrol said the numbers are preliminary and are based on collisions reported to the patrol as of Sunday.

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/nc-patrol-reports-13-deaths-during-july-4-holiday/

Rockets’ Red Glare Caps July 4 In Chapel Hill

Fireworks at Kenan. (Photo by Susan Murray.)

CHAPEL HILL – Thousands of local residents turned out at Kenan Stadium Thursday night for another memorable July 4 fireworks display.

Ron Stutts emceed the event, put on by the Town of Chapel Hill in conjunction with numerous local businesses and organizations. Among the attendees were Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, new UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, and Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene.

“It’s a great time to take some time out to enjoy some fellowship and fireworks,” Greene said. “I’ve got my son and my husband here with me, and we’re really enjoying it.”

After a week marred by torrential downpours, the rain held off all night — save for a brief sprinkle right before the fireworks got under way.

But the rain could not stop the show on Thursday; in fact, WCHL News Director Ran Northam said it only got the crowd that much more excited.

“(There was) a little tiny bit of a sprinkle just before the fireworks went off — that was greeted by many, many cheers,” he said shortly after the show began. “People (are) loving it now.”

The fireworks got underway right on schedule at 9:30, following an evening of entertainment featuring music from Liquid Pleasure and a watermelon-eating contest sponsored by DSI Comedy.

The show itself was not without incident: “One fire official did have to go down and put out a little bit of a fire there at the end,” Northam said. “There were a couple small fires there.”

And attendees were also surprised by another round of fireworks that started up after the 25-minute show appeared to reach its end. That second round lasted several more minutes, even as the lights in Kenan had already come back on.

Still, the show as a whole was an unqualified success — especially for new Chancellor Folt, who’s still getting oriented to Chapel Hill in her first week on the job.

“It’s been great,” she said of her first days in Chapel Hill. “I’ve just been meeting so many people, and everyone’s friendly — I keep hearing what a friendly place (Chapel Hill) is, and it’s absolutely true.”

More than the fireworks and the camaraderie, though, July 4 is a day to celebrate America — and in particular the Declaration of Independence, a document that not only established the U.S. as a distinct nation, but also expressed the fundamental values on which it would seek to build itself.

And Sally Greene says this year is especially noteworthy in that regard.

“This is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg,” she says. “Abraham Lincoln gave an address for the ages when he gave the Gettysburg Address — and what he was doing there was cementing the Declaration as the founding document which the Constitution must interpret…

“He really was reinforcing the Declaration of Independence as the founding document that would bring forth all of our rights and ensure us those liberties to this day. So it’s a time to remember that — a time to remember what’s fundamental about our democracy, and a time to stand up and fight for it.”

The Kenan Stadium fireworks show is a longstanding annual event—but 2013 marks its second year back, after budget cuts forced the town to cancel it in 2011.

http://chapelboro.com/news/entertainment/rockets-red-glare-caps-july-4-in-chapel-hill/

Traffic Decrease Expected Ahead of Deadliest Day for Drivers

Image courtesy of interstate-guide.com

CHARLOTTE – With the July 4 holiday coming up, the American Automobile Association (AAA) is warning drivers to be careful, as a recent AAA study found that Independence Day is the deadliest day for car crashes.

Public relations manager for AAA Carolinas, Angela Daley, says July 4 is consistently the deadliest day for car accidents because, unlike other holidays, it always falls on the same date.

“For Memorial Day and Labor Day, it changes based on the year, so July 4 is always going to be the holiday for every year,” Daley says.

In its study, AAA attributed the high number of traffic fatalities to the higher number of drivers on the road and the fact that many people drink during Independence Day celebrations, impairing their driving.

July 4 also has more drivers than other prominent holidays because, according to Daley, summer has the highest traffic volume of any season.

AAA estimates that 988,500 North Carolinians will be driving during this year’s July 4 holiday. But, this is actually a two-percent decrease from 2012.

Daley points out that gas prices have risen eight percent in North Carolina since 2012, but she also adds that last year’s travel numbers may have been inflated.

“Most years, the July 4 holiday is a five-day weekend, so depending if it falls on a Thursday, like it is this year, the travel holiday is through Wednesday to Sunday,” Daley says. “But every seven years, it falls on a Wednesday, and that’s what happened last year.”

By comparison, North Carolina traffic during July 4 in 2011 was around 940,000.

http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/traffic-decrease-expected-ahead-of-deadliest-day-for-drivers/