Eno River Association Seeks Help After Sewage Flood

The Eno River Association has been defending the environment for nearly fifty years, but last week the nonprofit faced a new type of threat.

“When we got to work on Monday morning, we found that the four toilets in our office building were overflowing and had flooded pretty much the entire building with something that was clearly sewage,” says Robin Jacobs, executive director of the Eno River Association.

She says a Durham City sewer main backed up, flooding the Guess Road office building with untreated sewage and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

“They’re having to really gut the inside of the building, kind of like in a flood. The wallboard is coming out about a foot up from the floor and then everything below that is coming out and will essentially have to be rebuilt.”

You can watch a video tour of the damage here:

Initial estimates for the repairs range as high as $100,000. Jacobs says the nonprofit can expect to get some money from insurance and possibly some from the City of Durham, but not nearly enough to cover the losses.

“We’ll be paying for the rest of it with funds that we have,” says Jacobs. “Contributions are welcome and much appreciated.”

Though donations will help rebuild the office, Jacobs says much of what was lost was the organization’s history.

“We lost 45 years worth of archives, all kinds of information that people had collected over the history of the Eno River Association. That was destroyed.”

Still, the nonprofit is forging ahead with activities events including the beloved Festival on the Eno in July.

“We’ll just get through it. We are not going to let this be a setback. We’re still doing the things we do, working on land conservation,” says Jacobs.

The Eno River Association will temporarily relocate its office to Chapel Hill. Robins says the group is planning a dance party fundraiser on February 21 at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro to raise money for repairs.

If you want to help, you can find out more here.


Sunday’s 5K Is “Not So Normal”

The Not So Normal 5K is finally here!

After two days of pre-race events around town on Friday and Saturday, the race will take place in Carrboro Sunday morning – with proceeds going to benefit dozens of local charities, especially the ArtsCenter in Carrboro and NC Children’s Promise.

Then at 4:00 pm, the event concludes with a free concert inside University Mall, featuring performances by DSI Comedy, local musicians Ella Bertram and the Buzztown Band, and the Nashville-based band Stereosparks.

Brian Buzby of the Buzztown Band stopped by WCHL this week to speak with Aaron Keck on “Aaron in the Afternoon.”

The whole affair has been organized by Jay Radford – a Chapel Hill dad who writes the “Mom in Chapel Hill” blog. For more information, visit NotSoNormal5K.com.


Local Church Fights Child Hunger

You may be planning to gain weight as you feast over the holiday season; but one in four kids in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools doesn’t have that option. A pastor at a local church is trying to help.

***Listen to the Story***

Chad Simpkins is the pastor at Varsity Church in Chapel Hill. He and his family moved here a few years ago. They were surprised to hear that child hunger is more common in the community than you might think.

“I grew up in North Carolina in Winston Salem, and I always thought Chapel Hill was this safety zone where there were no issues,” says Simpkins, “To hear that kind of blew us out of the water. So we’ve got to do something about that.”

The church found a handful of different programs to address the issue. One of those programs takes off this weekend for the second year in a row.

Simpkins, church members, and community volunteers are packing 10,000 meals for children in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Orange County, and Durham. It’s for a non-profit program known as “Feed 10,000”.

“Child Hunger affects so much of a child’s life,” Simpkins says.

“Not just that they don’t have food. It affects their educational abilities, and of course brings a lot of stress to families. This is more than just feeding stomachs. We feel like it’s feeding minds too.”

Simpkins says he doesn’t expect to resolve the issue of local child hunger in one weekend. But he says he hopes it brings awareness to the issue. He says he hopes people are motivated to take action.

“The resources are here,” says Simpkins: “But like me and our family, not knowing that need is there is a big problem. Anything we can do to get the word out, and get people involved to make a bigger dent in child hunger is great. There shouldn’t be a kid here that ever goes to bed hungry.”

300 volunteers packed the cafeteria at SmithMiddle School last year. Simpkins says it looks like they will do the same this season. He says if you want to volunteer, sign up before the spaces fill up.

“We want to make a difference in this community, but we also know we can’t do it on our own,” Simpkins says, “We want to do it with people in the community, whether they’re part of our church or not.”

To find out how you can help click here.


OC Residents Voice Concern Over County’s Building Plans

CHAPEL HILL- While many are focused on next year’s school budget, members of Orange County Voice are looking ahead to the county’s long-term building plans.

At a public hearing on Thursday, Orange County Voice President Bonnie Hauser asked the board to rethink the list of projects in the county’s $172 million dollar five-year capital investment plan.

“We fear that the county is too focused on new buildings, new campuses and new facilities and there’s not enough attention on the the quality and effectiveness of services,” said Hauser.

She critiqued both the $6.5 million dollar expansion of the Southern Human Services Center planned for 2016, and next year’s $1.5 million dollar renovation to the Whitted Building to provide a permanent meeting space for local governments.

“We’re hearing way too much from architects and designers, and not enough from the major stakeholders and experts on the ground including the professionals, the agencies, the schools, and the everyday users of the county services,” said Hauser. “We ask you to change the way the county plans for our future and make service, not buildings, a priority.”

Marilee McTigue argued in favor of improving cooperation between the Chapel Hill and Orange County library systems before the county invests $7 million dollars to build a library just a few miles away from Chapel Hill’s.

“So the question needs to be asked, should we make significant investments in library facilities, just because it’s been difficult to work with Chapel Hill?” asked McTigue. “What about the rural residents need for library services, many of whom travel more than 15 miles to get to a library. How will there needs be met, and where will the money come from?”

In both cases, Orange County Voice members asked the board to consider creating stakeholder work groups to assess community needs before committing funding to the projects.

The board also heard from those seeking funding for a variety on nonprofits. Northside resident Keith Edwards said Habitat for Humanity’s Brush with Kindness program has proved invaluable in her neighborhood. Volunteers helped repair her house in May.

“The experience was amazing. I know sooner or later I’m going to break down in tears of joy, because I’ve been asking God, ‘Why me?’” said Edwards. “I had a choice between getting dental work done or fixing my house. I chose the dental work, didn’t know how I was going to fix my house, and God blessed me with a brush of kindness.”

Representatives from the Carrboro ArtsCenter and the Marian Cheek Jackson Center also made their case for funding to support children’s programing and neighborhood preservation.

Commissioners will continue budget deliberations at a work session next Thursday at the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road.


Come Dance with the Stars of Carolina on Saturday

CHAPEL HILL- It’s time to cheer on Chapel Hill luminaries as they kick up their heels for a good cause.

The second annual Dancing with the Stars of Carolina takes place Saturday night at Kenan Stadium, and all proceeds go to support the Boys and Girls Club of Chapel Hill.

Event organizer and Board Chair Marla Benton says the club will meet a real need in our area.

“With Chapel Hill having over 600 families living below poverty, and children who are unsupervised at home and not having a safe place to go, this will be very important,” says Benton.

UNC Professor Debby Stroman will be one of the dancers gracing the floor. She says the wide range of participants is a great example of town and gown collaboration.

“It is one of the best examples of how we can work together as a university and a community,” says Stroman. “So we have a lot of people who are employed at the university and then of course, residents of the community. So it’s a nice mix.”

Other local celebrities include Chamber of Commerce President Aaron Nelson, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Assistant UNC Soccer Coach Grant Porter, and Tina Cunningham, wife of Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.

They’ve been practicing their moves for months, and on Saturday they’ll be judged by a panel of dance professionals and celebrity judges, including UNC Women’s Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell, soccer star Carla Overbeck and basketball star Charlotte Smith.

Doors open at 7 o’clock and the dancing starts at 8 0’clock. Click here to find out more.


Snackies, Southern Season, and a very good cause

I try not to be too sweet on A Southern Season, but what can I say. The shop was literally one of the reasons my husband and I thought we could happily transition from Brooklyn to Chapel Hill. I might not be able to walk to Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue anymore, but I could find a wall of their good stuff at Southern Season, along with plenty of other obscure cheeses, miscellaneous house gadgets and specialty wines. Phew! 

I’m psyched to see a deeper effort from Southern Season to engage in the great things happening in the community. Just learned about a super cool foodie event that takes place Sunday, September 18th to benefit Girls on the Run. From 7pm – 9pm this Sunday, Southern Season will essentially host a shopping party to benefit this nonprofit that is all about building confidence in young women. Local food + local chefs + local good causes = Happiness. 

Heavy samples of wine and modern Southern treats like Shrimp and Grits, biscuits, stuffed okra, exquisite LOCAL Mangalitsa and more will be shared while shoppers browse. Add Nancie MacDermott, who will be signing her cookbook and a pie crust making demo from the Southern Season staff and you’ve got yourself a great reason to leave the house on a dull Sunday night. PLUS 10% of all sales that evening will be donated back to Girls on the Run. Wonderful! All for a very reasonable $30 admission fee, available in advance (click here to purchase) or at the door. I finally get the chance to snack my way towards making Chapel Hill a better place to live.