The push and pull of budget negotiations between Raleigh and Chapel Hill has begun again as 2014-15 budget talks have begun, and the state’s budget director, Art Pope, says the UNC system is asking for too much.
The Board of Governors sent the legislature a budget request 11.3 percent greater than that of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Pope replied saying that “it simply is not (a) realistic” request. He also said the request made by UNC was based on needs when it should have been a true budget. However, President Tom Ross said he and the University had a statutory duty to present the needs.
In December, the Office of State Budget and Management sent out a budget instruction letter asking all state agencies to submit a budget reduction and expansion request. In that, it needed to “equate to a net savings of a minimum of two percent of the agency’s 2014-15 certified appropriation.”
Pope said the Board of Governors should reconsider its request and submit a “more realistic proposal.”
To read the response by Pope to the Board of Governors, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/art-pope-slams-unc-systems-budget-needs-2014-15/
Congratulations to Desaray Rockett, Judith Blau, and Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe–winners of this year’s Pauli Murray Awards.
The Orange County Human Relations Commission gives out the Pauli Murray Awards each year to a youth, an adult, and a business in Orange County “who serve the community with distinction in the pursuit of equality, justice, and human rights for all residents.”
This year’s winners were honored at a ceremony on Sunday, February 23, at 3:00 in the Central Orange Senior Center. Also honored were Judah Kalb and Nathan Bell – both students at Smith Middle School, and both winners of the Orange County Human Relations Commission’s 2013 Student Essay Contest.
As part of a class on African American Studies, Kalb and Bell wrote about the lasting impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kalb won first place in the essay contest; Bell took second.
UNC has honored Roberto G. Quercia, chair of the City and Regional Planning department, with the university’s 2013 C. Felix Harvey Award.
Awarded by the Provost’s office, the honor recognizes “exemplary faculty scholarship that reflects one of UNC’s top priorities and addresses a real-world challenge.” It includes a $75,000 prize, which Quercia will use to develop the Bridges2Success Scholar Athlete Support Program, an academy that trains middle and high school coaches to promote academic success among male athletes of color.
To learn more about the program, visit Bridges2Success.org.
You’re invited to the annual meeting of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Wednesday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Carolina Inn.
Speakers will include Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue and Al Bowers, the owner of Al’s Burger Shack.
Before there were art museums and science museums, there were “Cabinets of Curiosities”: densely packed rooms where scholars and nobles displayed rare and fascinating items from shells to gems to old relics and bizarre devices.
Now, UNC’s Wilson Library is celebrating those old exhibits with an exhibit of its own, “Rooms of Wonder,” on display through April 20. The exhibit features rare books and catalogs from the old rooms–as well as items from the UNC Rare Book Collection’s own “cabinet of curiosities,” including ancient Babylonian tablets, an Egyptian papyrus roll, and an “Incan record-keeping device consisting of intricately knotted threads.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Wednesday, March 5, you’re invited to campus for a free screening of the documentary “Breaking Through,” chronicling the stories of LGBT elected officials across the country–including Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay U.S. Senator.
The film begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center. Director/producer Cindy Abel and editor Michael Bruno will be on hand, and the film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring North Carolina’s LGBT elected officials–including Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Town Council member Lee Storrow, Alderman Damon Seils, and State Representative Marcus Brandon.
You can watch the trailer online at BreakingThroughMovie.com.
Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center just completed a successful canned food drive, collecting nearly 1,000 cans of food for the IFC by offering customers a $10 discount on oil changes if they brought in four cans of food.
IFC officials say those cans will be used to help about 450 different families in the area.
To learn how you can donate, visit IFCWeb.org.
Chatham Habitat for Humanity is teaming up with the MassMutual Life Insurance Company to give away free $50,000 term life insurance policies to benefit children of working families in Pittsboro.
You are eligible to apply if you’re a permanent legal U.S. resident of good health between the ages of 19 and 42, with a total family income between $10,000 and $40,000, and a parent or legal guardian of a child under 18.
You can apply at a one-day public event on Saturday, March 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Chatham Habitat for Humanity office at 467 West Street in Pittsboro.
You’re invited to explore the history of Hillsborough on Saturday, March 8, with a one-hour guided walking tour hosted by the Alliance of Historic Hillsborough.
The tour begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Hillsborough Visitors Center and winds through the center of the Piedmont’s oldest town, visiting schoolhouses, old homes and cemeteries along the way.
Tickets are $5 per person; children under 12 are free.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/honors-tours-curiosities/
North Carolina has hired an outside attorney to conduct yet another independent review of irregularities in an academic department featuring classes with significant athlete enrollments.
The school said Friday that Kenneth L. Wainstein — a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Justice Department — would look into any additional information that might become available from a criminal probe into fraud in the formerly named Department of African and Afro-American Studies dating back to the late 1990s.
The probe led by Orange County district attorney Jim Woodall has led to the indictment of the former department chairman for receiving $12,000 to teach a lecture course filled with football players that he instead treated as an independent study requiring only a paper in summer 2011.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-launches-new-review-past-academic-problems/
Laurence Lovette, one of two men who murdered UNC Student Body President Eve Carson back in 2008, is trying once again to get the possibility of parole attached to his life sentence.
But Orange & Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall, the prosecutor in Lovette’s murder trial, doesn’t think Lovette’s chances are very good.
“I have very high hopes that the appellate courts are going to find that Laurence Lovette’s re-sentencing was done properly, and that he will remain in prison for the rest of his life without possibility of parole,” says Woodall.
Lovette was convicted in 2011 of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery and felony larceny for his role in Carson’s kidnapping and shooting death on March 5, 2008.
He and his convicted accomplice Demario Atwater are both serving life in prison without possibility of parole for crimes in connection with Carson’s death.
But Lovette’s lawyer is pushing for him to be re-sentenced, based on the fact that he was 17 at the time of Carson’s murder. As reported in the Daily Tar Heel on Wednesday, Lovette’s attorney Keat Wiles argued his client’s case in the NC Court of Appeals on Feb. 6.
Lovette’s defense is pointing to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that life in prison without possibility of parole for someone younger than 18 when the crime was committed is cruel and unusual punishment.
Wiles argued that Lovette was denied due process because he was unable to take advantage of new sentencing guidelines that were in the works while his trial was ongoing. He’s asking for the possibility of parole after 25 years.
But Lovette did get a re-sentencing hearing last year, and Superior Court Judge Allen Barbour handed down the same punishment.
“And so in our case, at the re-sentencing, Laurence Lovette received another sentence of life without the possibility of parole, and I certainly hope that the North Carolina Courts find that the new legislation is constitutional, and that that is the ultimate punishment he receives,” says Woodall.
Woodall says he’s sure that the judge’s decision in Lovette’s June 2013 re-sentencing hearing was in compliance with the language of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, as well as sentencing legislation regarding minors, passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2012 and signed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue.
“The Supreme Court decision was based on two separate cases involving younger defendants,” says Woodall. “The essence of the Supreme Court decision is that someone who was less than 18 years old at the time the crime was committed can’t automatically receive a life sentence upon conviction – that a judge or a court must have the option, and must consider mitigating circumstances.”
Now it’s up to the North Carolina Court of Appeals to decide whether the essence of the Supreme Court’s decision was understood correctly in Lovette’s case. Woodall guesses that decision could take several months.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/killer-eve-carson-case-seeks-parole-possibility/
On Wednesday, a day before the rescheduled UNC-Duke basketball matchup, the rivalry had already inspired some mischief, in the form of vandalism on UNC’s campus.
As The Daily Tar Heel first reported, a few buildings on UNC’s campus were spraypainted with familiar slogans early Wednesday morning.
Randy Young, UNC’s Department of Public Safety spokesman, tells WCHL that the graffiti either badmouthed UNC, or mentioned Duke.
“There were three that were reported to us today, said Young. “And we all believe that it’s, in all likelihood, related incidents.”
Those were at the South Building, the Campus Y and the Student Union.
Another incident was reported recently, regarding NC State-themed graffiti painted in red against a red façade. UNC Public Safety officers believe that incident happened earlier this season.
Young says that, fortunately, vandalism like this doesn’t happen every year.
“Some folks feel that it’s a longstanding tradition,” he says. “There have been incidents that dated back decades, of course. It is not something that happens every single year.
“Prank or not, we do take it very seriously when it comes to matters of damage to university property – as would any officials as Duke University as well.”
And, he adds, anybody getting caught committing vandalism could be in for serious legal trouble.
Young says that cooperation between UNC’s public safety officers and their counterparts at Duke regarding this issue is where all attitudes about a rivalry get put aside.
So he warns against any UNC students committing some equal form of retaliation.
“If there’s information that we can work in collaboration to arrive at with Duke University police, then we don’t rule that out as well.”
Young has a request for people walking around UNC’s campus, at this, or any time of year.
“We would like to say to the campus community and beyond that if anybody sees suspicious activity – and this is not just related to this series of incidents, but any incident on campus, that they call 911,” Young says.
Young says that while he appreciates the tradition of pranks and one-upsmanship, there’s no reason that graffiti needs to cause expensive damage.
“We have a cube, upon which things can be painted for free expression in our pit area,” Young says. “Folks have not availed themselves of that.”
He can’t recall too many folks getting caught for spraying game-related graffiti on campus, but there was one memorable incident.
“There were some folks, a number of years ago, that spray-painted, using red paint, on the eve of the University of North Carolina and NC State basketball game,” he recalls.
“And some graffiti was put on the bell tower, and other prominent areas of campus. I believe we were able to identify those folks because they were fairly proud of the artwork and had posted it on Facebook.”http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/pre-game-duke-graffiti-found-uncs-campus/
ORANGE COUNTY – About six inches of snow fell on Orange County on Wednesday, causing massive traffic jams across the area – and the unprecedented cancellation of the scheduled UNC-Duke basketball game.
And it’s nowhere near over: the snow has turned into sleet and freezing rain in much of the Triangle, and National Weather Service meteorologist Nick Petro says he expects “a quarter to a half an inch” of ice accumulation as well.
That much accumulation has the potential to cause power outages, as ice weighs down branches and power lines. Tens of thousands of Duke Energy Progress customers lost power on Wednesday in southeastern North Carolina.
And Petro says there will be more snow as well: “The precipitation type should go back to snow during the day (Thursday); one to three inches of additional snow may fall.”
UNC and Duke have cancelled classes all day Thursday, as have the area’s school districts (CHCCS, Orange, Durham, and Chatham).
Traffic jams across the Triangle were widespread and massive, as drivers reported taking hours and hours to travel distances that usually only take a few minutes – and some drivers gave up altogether, abandoned their vehicles and walked. The UNC-Duke basketball game was cancelled after the charter bus scheduled to bring the Duke team to the Smith Center couldn’t even get to Duke’s campus to pick up the players.
The precipitation is expected to end on Thursday afternoon – the Winter Storm Warning in effect for the Triangle expires Thursday afternoon at 6:00 – but Petro says it’ll take even longer for the area to return to normal.
“Impacts are going to be long-lasting because it’s going to take a while to get rid of all this ice,” he says. “Temperatures are going to stay cold (Thursday) night, struggling into the mid- to upper 30s even on Friday. So it’s going to take a while to get this all cleaned up.”http://chapelboro.com/news/weather/six-inches-snow-already/
**UPDATE: The OWASA Board meeting scheduled for Thursday night (see below) has been cancelled. The Board will accept public comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at their meeting Thursday, February 27. (To read the plan, again, see below.)
ORANGE COUNTY – UNC will test its emergency sirens today, Tuesday, February 11, between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.
The test was originally set to take place in late January, but got postponed because of the snow that hit the area.
You’ll hear the sirens if you’re on campus, downtown, or near the Friday Center or Carolina North. The purpose is to test the Alert Carolina system; UNC will also send a text message to about 50,000 cell phones registered by students, faculty and staff.
Carrboro town manager David Andrews has named Carol Anderson Dorsey as the town’s new human resources director. Dorsey has spent the last five years as human resources director for the city of Oxford, NC; her prior jobs included serving as director of human resources for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
A total of 85 candidates applied for the position, representing 16 different states.
The Orange Community Players will open their 2014 season in February with “Steel Magnolias,” the acclaimed story of six very different Southern women whose tight friendship carries them through joys and tragedies.
“Steel Magnolias” runs from February 13-16 at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. You can purchase tickets at the Senior Center, or online at OCPNC.com.
The OWASA Board is inviting you to come ask questions and comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at a meeting on Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the OWASA Building on Jones Ferry Road.
You can also send your comments and questions via email or by letter or fax. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; send a letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510; or send a fax to 919-968-4464.
Chapel Hill town government is moving out of Town Hall! (Part of it, at least.)
Renovations are about to begin at Town Hall, to repair the damage from last year’s flood and make some other layout changes to improve customer service. In the meantime, the mayor’s office has moved to the Chapel Hill Public Library, along with the office of the town manager and seven other Town staffers.
Everyone will move back into Town Hall when the renovations are finished. Town Council chambers are expected to reopen in September; other building areas will be addressed in phases after that.
Other town officials who are temporarily moving to the library: mayoral aide Mark McCurry, Assistant to the Town Manager Jason Damweber, Policy and Strategic Initiatives director Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Sustainability Officer John Richardson, Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett, Organizational Effectiveness Coordinator Rae Buckley, and Administrative Assistant Peggy Paumer.
This weekend, the campus organization VDAY Carolina is staging a bilingual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” to benefit the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.
Shows run from Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16 at Hanes Auditorium, with two shows each on Friday and Saturday–one in English and one in Spanish.
You can buy tickets at Union Box Office, over the phone or online. For ticket information, visit VDAYCarolina.web.unc.edu.
Thursday, February 13, UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center will host the world premiere of “Ice Music,” a multimedia creation by the artist Brooks de Wetter-Smith. “Ice Music” examines the beauty and the importance of ice in our world, featuring de Wetter-Smith’s videography and photography, a new musical composition by Lowell Liebermann, and dance choreographed by Carey McKinley.
“Ice Music” will premiere at 8:00 p.m. on February 13, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Center as part of UNC’s Process Series. On Friday the 14th, there will be a workshop presentation and discussion at 4:00 p.m., also in the Mandela Auditorium.
You’re invited to a public information meeting on Thursday, February 13, to discuss Orange County’s “Agricultural Support Enterprises” program.
The program is designed to help farmers generate additional income by expanding the types of activities they may pursue on their farms. It’s been in development since 2001; Orange County is currently considering amending the Unified Development Ordinance to adopt it.
The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Food Lab of the Environmental and Agricultural Center, located at 306 Revere Road in Hillsborough.
Protect your cats and dogs by coming to a Microchip Clinic on Thursday, February 13, from 3-5 p.m. at the Orange County Animal Services Department on Eubanks Road.
Microchips will cost $25 per pet, which includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database. The Department will also offer one-year rabies vaccinations as well, for $10 per pet.
For more information, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/week-orange-county-weather-permitting/
CHAPEL HILL – UNC clinical counselor and academic advisor Mary Willingham says she’s considering a lawsuit against Provost Jim Dean for his comments about her release of data to the public.
In an interview with the Daily Tar Heel, Willingham said she’s singling out Provost Dean because “he’s the one that said I was lying, and he’s the one that said it was a travesty to the University.”
Willingham released her research to CNN on January 8 saying that an alarming number of UNC student-athletes can’t read. Carolina followed that report with a study of its own that debunked the claim.
Immediately following the release by UNC, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) suspended Willingham’s research and said she must reapply. The concern revolved around the use of student-atheletes’ names in the report.
Willingham told WCHL on January 31 that she was weighing all her options of her next steps. Now, the DTH says she’s even consulting a whistleblower protection agency along with her attorney.
UNC is currently conducting a more in-depth review of the data and claims. The University has not commented on who is on the review panel or when the findings are scheduled to be released.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/willingham-considers-suing-unc-provost-jim-dean/
ORANGE COUNTY – Carolina has offered admission to 6,036 of the 16,987 students who applied by the first deadline. Counting the first and second deadlines together, a total of 31,209 students sought admission to UNC this year, also a new record for the ninth straight year.
The applicants represent 94 North Carolina counties, 48 states and 27 countries including the U.S. Their average ACT score is 31; their average SAT score is 2044; and 85 percent are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
UNC will make its second-deadline admissions decisions in March. The University expects about 4,000 new first-year students to enroll in August.
February is Valentine’s Month, and to mark the occasion, the Orange County Animal Services Center is reducing adoption fees by nearly half for adult cats and dogs as well as select kittens and puppies.
Head to OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices to view photos of some of the available cats and dogs, or visit them in person at the Animal Services office on Eubanks Road. The reduced fees are valid all month long.
A national professional touring theater company will be back in Chapel Hill this weekend, with a 45-minute show for kids to celebrate Black History Month.
Based out of Asheville, Bright Star Touring Theatre performs nearly a thousand shows a year. On Saturday, they’ll be in the Chapel Hill Public Library, putting on a play called “William’s Adventure in Black History.” It’s about a boy whose history book comes alive, giving him (and us) the chance to meet famous historical figures in person.
The show is designed from kids from grades from pre-K up to fifth grade. The curtain goes up at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, February 8, in Meeting Room B of the Chapel Hill Public Library.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/pet-adoption-black-history-theater-record-apps-unc/
ORANGE COUNTY – Chapel Hill is adding a new parking lot downtown: on Monday, February 3, the town is opening the Courtyard parking lot, located at 115 South Roberson Street near the west end of Franklin. Town staff say there will be 53 spaces available at the new lot. (There are about 1200 available parking spaces in all in downtown Chapel Hill.)
Earth Policy Institute founder and president Lester Brown will be on campus Tuesday, February 4, lecturing on the future of agriculture in a world of dwindling water.
The lecture is entitled “Peak Water: What Happens to Our Food Supply When the Wells Go Dry?” It begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Global Education Center. It’s free and open to the public.
Starting in April, ARCA will begin assembling CM18 cash recyclers at its manufacturing facility in Mebane, transfering operations from Italy. The move will make the Mebane facility the only one in the U.S. to produce cash recyclers, used by banks and credit unions to speed its balancing and inventory functions.
Twelve Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School teachers have recently earned National Board Certification: Melissa Nicholson-Clark and Samantha Howard of Morris Grove Elementary; Susan Azzu, Agnes Bernasconi, and Ashley Laver of Rashkis Elementary; Christine Cohn of Estes Hills Elementary; Jennifer Pedersen of Northside Elementary; Lisa Myles of McDougle Elementary; Miles Chappell of Phillips Middle; Beth Kinney of McDougle Middle; Holly Loranger of Chapel Hill High; and Jenny Marie Smith of East Chapel Hill High. Congratulations to all twelve!
North Carolina leads the nation in the number of teachers certified by the National Board.
Another recognition for UNC: the Princeton Review has ranked UNC-Chapel Hill as the number-one public university in the nation on its 2014 list of America’s “Best Value Colleges.”
UNC has long been recognized as a national leader in preserving affordability and accessibility while simultaneously providing a high-quality education and maintaining high graduation rates.
NC State also made the Princeton Review’s list, as the number-four public university in the nation. Williams College in Massachusetts ranked first among private universities.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are participating in North Carolina’s first official pilot test with school buses filled with propane autogas, an alternative fuel designed to lower gas costs while also reducing toxic emissions.
The North Carolina Propane Gas Association is promoting the new technology in conjunction with Triangle Clean Cities Coalition and Triangle Air Awareness. They say propane autogas can reduce emissions by 80 percent compared to diesel fuel.
Other districts participating in the pilot program include Union, Brunswick, and Nash-Rocky Mount.
Carolina Brewery is celebrating its 19th birthday with events beginning on Wednesday, February 5 and running through Saturday the 8th–including the debut of a new “Anniversary Ale” and a pint glass giveaway on Friday the 7th.
Visit CarolinaBrewery.com for a full schedule of events.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/parking-water-beer-business-education/