Friday, February 27, 2009

This weekend

Here's some new items and events taking place this weekend in the area:

• "Looking Back, Facing Forward," a celebration of the former Central High School, will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, at Mt. Bright Baptist Church, 211 W. Union St. The event features the Central Community Band and a panel of speakers. Refreshments will follow in the Fellowship Hall.

• The Hillsborough Moose Family Center, 202 Holiday Park Road, will hold a spaghetti dinner Sunday with entertainment from 2 to 5 p.m. Entertainers include Brian Ellis and Friends. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m.
Costs are $7 for adults in advance, $10 at the door; and $3 for children 12 years old and younger.For more information, call Dianne Rutledge at 484-0727 or (336) 599-2466, or send an e-mail to
Proceeds will go toward Toys for Tots and other Moose charities.
(They say to bring your dancing shoes).

• The 12th Annual Community Dinner will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 1 in the Cafetorium at McDougle School, 900 Old Fayetteville Road in Carrboro. Tickets for adults are $8; children 10 years old and younger are $3.
Tickets are available at the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber. The Community Dinner is, according to the chamber, "a community building event, crossing economic, racial, religious and ethnic barriers and presenting a wealth of wonderful, culturally diverse food and entertainment. A large number of the tickets for the dinner are distributed to people who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend. You can feed a family of four with a $22 donation."
For more information, visit or call Nerys Levy at 932-1532. Entertainment for 2009 includes Joy Williams African Dancers; the Cedar Ridge High School Choir; East Baile Latino, a Latino Dance Club at East Chapel Hill High School; The Taptasions, Prince Miah; and the Girl Toyz, an "Eat Local" theater performance.

• New Horizon Church, 100 New Horizon Place in Durham (just over the county line), will feed 400 families in need from Orange and Durham counties at 9 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers will be on hand to provide non-perishables, produce, personal care items and a stuffed animal or book for children. The international organization Feed the Children is partnering with the church for this event.

ladies night out

Mark your calendars, ladies! The next Ladies Night Out will be held in Hillsborough April 30 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

coming up

This is an action-packed week, and I've got plenty of stories for this week's paper.
  • There's a Board of Education meeting this Monday.
  • I tagged along for the Board of County Commissioners and Board of Ed walkthrough of Orange County Schools. Hopefully, it will make it into this week's paper.
  • I've started up a new feature for the Education Page: Educator of the Week. This week, I'm talking to a Durham Tech teacher. You'll have to wait until Wednesday to see who he is.
  • I'll be going to the Central High School exhibit Saturday at Mount Bright, so look for that with some photos.
  • I've got pictures and an article with Stanford teachers Eric and Michele McDuffie making chemistry interesting for their students.
  • Durham Tech is going to a four-day schedule over the summer.
  • And I'm hoping to talk with the 18 year old who was recently elected precinct leader of Hillsborough.
I've also got lots of great Ed Page stuff coming in, but please feel free to send me more or suggest ideas for stories or even Educators of the Week.

Sorting through the e-mails

OK, this is becoming a weekly tradition, but here's something that came in while we were putting together the paper on Tuesday. This comes from Orange track coach Danny Cash.

"Orange High Track Coach Jesse Doty will be competing at the USA Track and Field Indoor Nationals this weekend in Boston, Mass. Coach Doty is currently seeded fifth in the United States in the indoor weight throw. This meet will finish Coach Doty's indoor season and he will begin his outdoor season, where he competes in the hammer throw and was an Olympic trials qualifier. Coach Doty has been a important part in the OHS Track Program and we wish him the best of luck as he represents our school and our track program at Nationals."

Hopefully, we can find some information from this weekend's event and update in the paper next week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

mr. triebel

I'm sure many of you realized that yesterday Board of Ed member Ted Triebel was scheduled to be in court. After spending the better part of the morning in the courtroom, I found that he was not. The ADA handling the case, Jeff Nieman, was kind enough to call me today and let me know that Mr. Triebel's case was pushed back to May 19 because his blood work was not yet back from SBI labs. This isn't uncommon, but they can't proceed with any charges at all until they know how high or low Mr. Triebel's BAC was.


Today we are recovering from yesterday's paper bonanza; I had to run out and cover the State of the Town address (which will be in next week's paper) and return to finish editing the pages, so I was barely home in time to see President Obama's speech (making it two State of the ___ in one day). Hopefully, no massive spelling errors made their way into this week's edition.

I thought that we had a good mix of stories on this week's front page. David Hunt's Revolutionary War Day also looked great on the PDF and in the paper. We held some photos of students performing science experiments with Mentos and cola, which we'll likely use next week when we have available front-page color. If you've never seen what those experiments look like, search on YouTube and you'll know why those pictures are worth holding on to.

Dance lessons
This is an item that we'll put in the calendar, but I got the flier for cheap social dance lessons yesterday and wanted to make people aware of the next event. Tomorrow night, Feb. 26, will be the next Hillsborough Social Dance Club "meeting," at 7 p.m. at Carillon Assisted Living (Orange Grove Road). They'll teach you how to waltz, foxtrot, hustle, swing or line dance for $7 per dancer. For more info, call Michele at 644-8440.

Business success in hard times
We're looking for stories from businesses or patrons of businesses that have adapted to the current economic climate. We want to hear success stories, or just stories of trying things a different way. If you've noticed any business doing something to adapt to the economy, let us know.

Editorial cartoons
This week, we published a stand-alone photo with a caption in place of a cartoon by Andy Marlette, nephew of the late Doug Marlette. We had been running Andy's cartoons since Doug passed a few years ago, and his work touched on national politics; having some editorial views in the paper that provide diversity is a good thing for any paper.

Recently, we had been hearing more complaints about the content of the work that appeared in the paper, which led us to discussing the relative benefits of publishing the cartoon versus the drawbacks. For now, we think the space can be better used to run photos from close to home; space is often at a premium in print, especially for pictures.

That said, we're going to try and use the space for photos or possibly for another, more local cartoon. We're open to discussing use of the space with any aspiring local cartoonist who would want to comment on current events, be they local or national. You can send an e-mail to if interested.

Now it's time to go through all of the e-mail that's built up in the previous 1.5 days. It looks like lots of letters.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting on its way ...

The paper is in progress, and since I have to duck out and cover the State of the Town address (not in this week's issue, we held enough already), it might be quite late before it's all gone.
Just wanted to let people know that Vanessa made the cut last night and got into the "Tax Revolt" meeting. Many, many people were turned away. I think she's got a great story in tomorrow's paper. Look for it around noon tomorrow (in racks and online).

Monday, February 23, 2009

tax revolt!

For all those who are interested, I'll be at the "Tax Revolt" forum tonight at 7 p.m. at the Big Barn.

Feel free to come up and talk to me. I'll be the one in the back with the camera.

State of the Town

Happy Monday, everybody.

The Hillsborough Town Board won't meet tonight for their regularly scheduled workshop. Instead, members of the board, along with other town staff members, will be at tomorrow night's State of the Town address (6 p.m., Central Orange Senior Center). Everybody's invited.
From the town:

"As in previous addresses, the mayor will outline key issues that the town faces, where the town is headed and how residents can get involved.
Those attending will have the opportunity to meet Hillsborough’s elected officials and town staff and to provide input about town government. Displays of various projects in town will be available.
Residents also will be able to see Orange County’s new senior center, which is located next to the Triangle SportsPlex at 1 Dan Kidd Drive off U.S. 70A in Hillsborough."

Also, in production news, we are facing another bottleneck with space vs. stories from the past week. We'll try to put something up during the next week for things that were withheld. Right now, we're trying to fit six stories by me and another four by Vanessa into this week's paper. We'll see how well that works out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Heritage Room update

At Thursday night's town/county meeting, many things were discussed, including the need for joint meeting space.

But among the items that town officials updated for county officials, or vica versa, there was news on the North Carolina Room/Heritage Center front. Anybody who reads our letters to the editor has seen people from as far away as Oregon writing that they are concerned about the future of local archives. The North Carolina Room, which is less than 350 square feet, is not currently replicated in the new library plans.

Last night, new library director Lucinda Munger said that they are aware of community concerns, and are working on several possible solutions for the room. State archive officials recently conducted an inventory of the room, she said, and found close to 1,700 items in the current room, some of which are in danger of disrepair. Some pieces of items have also gone missing over the years, Munger said.

She said she is working toward a goal of preserving the artifacts and still hoping for a "prominent display" similar to the current North Carolina Room. I am still planning on sitting down with her next week and will inquire as to specifics.

Also, if you're looking for something to do on Saturday, head to downtown Hillsborough for Revolutionary War Day (high temperature close to 55). There's nothing like a good old reenactment for weekend entertainment.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

this week

Well, whatever's been going around, I've got it. I apologize for my blogging absence, but here's what I've got cooking this week.

  • I talked with the Faulkners, who broke ground today on their new gymnastics and dance studio. Dr. Halkiotis, of the Orange County Board of Education, was there, among many others.
  • Josh and I will have a combined stimulus story that includes the Board of Ed's wish list.
  • I'll be going to the "tax revolt" meeting Monday evening. That promises to be interesting.
  • I'll also be tagging along for the Orange County Board of County Commissioners/ Board of Ed tour of Orange County Schools.
  • I'll be attending the Pauli Murray Human Relations Award ceremony Sunday at New Hope Elementary School.
  • I'm hoping to talk to a Durham Tech teacher for a profile for the education page.
  • Stanford Middle is having a science expo tomorrow, which Principal Purcell was kind enough to inform me about.
I've got a couple other things floating around, but I think those are the most likely candidates for this week's paper.

If anyone has any other ideas, feel free to post a comment, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

Accident on 86 North

An FYI for those heading north of town this afternoon — as of about 12:30, traffic was being routed around a stretch of N.C. 86 North.

Less than an hour ago, several emergency responders were sent north of Hillsborough to respond to a two-vehicle accident on N.C. 86 North near the 86/57 split. Initial reports are that both drivers are OK.

Officers at the scene said that one driver was transported to a hospital, but did not say which one. He said a car had collided with a tractor-trailer, which had a visible label of a regional grocery chain.

Neighbors said that a car came over the hill north of the intersection and collided with the other vehicle, and that they had seen that both drivers were conscious and appeared OK.

Once we get in touch with highway patrol, we'll update.

UPDATE: Sorry, nothing more as of Friday morning. Still have a call into Highway Patrol.

Your weekly Bob Barker moment

These are two small things that fall in between publication dates or that we intended to squeeze into this week's paper but could not. They are completely unrelated, I promise:

• The next Artists' Salon, sponsored by the Orange County Arts Commission, will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, at the West End Theatre at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro.
Light hors d'oeuvres will be served. Salons are free, for artists of all kinds — performing, visual, literary or other, are encouraged to meet, network and build a better arts environment for all Orange County Artists.
The topic for February will be “Making Money Online Through Art.” Guest panelists will be Sarah Powers (Visual Art Exchange) and Michelle Lyon (Knockabout). Both of these venues are located in City Market in Raleigh. Sarah will focus on “Fast & Easy Websites” and Michelle will focus on “How to Sell Online.”
The purpose of the salon is to bring together artists of all disciplines in a casual setting to share ideas, concerns and information. It is the hope of the Orange County Arts Commission to not only bring the artistic community together but to facilitate closer ties between artists and the general community of Orange County.
Anyone planning to attend, should RSVP to the Orange County Arts Commission at 245-2335 or

• And from the Bob Barker files, some notes on pets (via Orange County):
"The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has declared
Feb. 24 'Spay Neuter Day' in Orange County, at the request of the Animal Services Advisory Board (ASAB), to encourage citizens to spay and neuter pets and to raise awareness about pet overpopulation in the county.
The ASAB and the Animal Services Department have made the reduction of pet overpopulation in Orange County a priority. 'Spay Day USA,' recognized nationally by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is designed to raise awareness and help eliminate the need for euthanasia as a means of population control.
Animal Services, with assistance from the Department of Social Services (DSS), has partnered with AnimalKind's 'The $20 Fix' program to offer low-cost and no-cost spay and neuter surgeries to pets of qualifying households in Orange County. In recognition of 'Spay Neuter Day,' Animal Services is kicking off and promoting this partnership through targeted
advertising and outreach efforts. It is the hope of Animal Services and Orange County that this program will increase the number of pets that are spayed and neutered in the County, and in turn help eliminate the ongoing problem of pet overpopulation we face as a community.
For more information, call Sarah Fallin at 967-7383."

Also, on the note of pets, be sure also to take advantage of cheap rabies clinics.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

.... And, we're back

So, faithful blog readers (whoever and however many of you there are), you've probably noticed our absence over the last few days. I was trading working sick days with Vanessa, so this past week was an adventure, to say the least. We got the paper out, and despite a sort of flat color on the front, I think there were some good stories in this week, though we had some longer ones than in previous weeks.

(Look at the PDF on, it will give you a better idea of how it looked when we released it Tuesday night.)

Now that we (hopefully) are on the good side of whatever bug has been getting around, I'm going to be getting on here with some sort of update or event blurb Monday to Friday (and weekends on occasion). For this week, we finished a Woodcroft Gazette, budgeted for next week and sat through a court date for Alvaro Castillo. Here's what we're working on for next week. I am almost certain we won't get 100 percent of these to fit in next week's edition:

• Carolina Ice Synchro, a locally based synchronized skating team, will be competing for a national championship in early March. After spending a freezing practice session on the ice taking pictures (who'd have thought — ice rinks are cold), I have some good shots of them in action and more about the sport (everybody raise your hand if you've seen synchronized skating before).

• We'll of course have a little more information about Alvaro Castillo's trial, which has now been set for late July.

• I'll have some more information about the county and Orange County Schools' stimulus project lists that are being sent to U.S. Rep. David Price's office. Nobody knows quite yet how much money will be available and for what kinds of projects, but they have some ideas about how they'd spend it. How will you be spending your $32-40 per month (the estimated stimulus amount appearing soon in paychecks)?

• The Town of Hillsborough and Orange County government will discuss a host of issues of importance to the boards, including the local train stop, the Elizabeth Brady bypass, Fairview Park operations and a Heritage Center update (at the very end of the meeting).

Vanessa will likely have more of our to-do list for you tomorrow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

BOCC special meeting notices

For the purposes of public awareness, a few Orange County commissioners' events, as released today by the county:

• The Orange County Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at the Franklin Hotel, 311 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, and 5 p.m. at the Carolina Inn, 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, for the purpose of going into closed session "to consider the qualifications, competence, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee or prospective public officer or
employee," NCGS § 143-318.11(a)(6).

• Commissioners will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Link Government Services Center, 200 S. Cameron St., in Hillsborough for the purpose of going
into closed session "to consider the qualifications, competence, character, fitness, conditions of appointment, or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee," NCGS § 143-318.11(a)(6).

• Members of the Orange County Board of Commissioners will be taking a tour of some of the Orange County Schools from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Feb. 23, and will be departing from the OCS Administrative Offices, 200 E. King St., Hillsborough, at 9 a.m. This meeting
notice is being given because four or more of the Orange County Commissioners may attend this event.

Plus, the regular commissioners' meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the Southern Human Services Center in Chapel Hill (still at 7:30 p.m.), and the joint meeting between the Hillsborough and OC leaders will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Link Center.

I will be covering the latter two meetings for the Feb. 25 issue, FYI.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Catching up

Wow, what a week.

As Vanessa mentioned, I have been operating at somewhere between 30 percent (Monday-Tuesday) and 75 percent (today) healthy, and between that and a scheduled seminar today, we're behind on our Web updates and the next paper. I cut out after the morning session of the NC Press Association conference to catch up back at the office, but we're not going to have both editorial people back until Friday. At that point, we will give a more thorough rundown of next week's paper. We held a few less-timely stories over from last week and have some solid features coming down the pipeline.

We were blessed this week to have the photography skills of Ed Kubacki, of the Orange wrestling team staff, to display in the paper. It was a nice addition to Peter Rourk's coverage.

Again, back in the swing by tomorrow, but this week has flown by (and I spent a good part of it imitating a zombie around the office with people telling me to go home).

Among other things, look next week for a story about the Maple View Agricultural Center. They are still doing work on the outside elements of the property, but they have some high hopes for the facility and its role in the education of local students.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

web updates

Sorry the Web update is taking so long. Normally that's Josh's domain, but he's a little under the weather, so I'm taking a stab at it.

Hopefully, it won't be too much longer, now.

In the meantime, I'm about to post the .pdf of the front.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sports coverage and this week

The Panthers ran away with their second consecutive 2A championship Saturday night; congratulations to them. You can expect to see broad front- and inside-page coverage of their wins last week from our sports freelancer, Peter Rourk, as well as photos from both Rourk and some shots kindly submitted by members of the wrestling staff.

On the note of sports coverage, we've had some questions about our coverage of late. Around the same time we re-started the Athlete of the Week feature, we lost the services of our long-time freelancer, who had provided us with great coverage and photos for several years. As a staff, Vanessa and I each week cover the happenings in town and county government, the schools and school board proceedings, upcoming and ongoing events, crime and several other issues as they arise. I had made it a mission during the time we were without a freelancer to at least print as many scores and results from games as we could get our hands on.

Recently, we've gotten back on track, so to speak. We have an excited freelancer going to events and snapping pictures, which will lead to more pictures and better overall sports coverage. I'm very excited about this, and I foresee a more complete local publication.

As a "community newspaper," we each cover many, many different things on a given week. Even with a solid freelancer relationship, we can't be everywhere, but we'll try. Some parents and coaches in the community have been great about sending photos of games that we couldn't get to, and we hope that continues.

This week, in addition to the championship coverage, look for photos from a faculty talent show and the annual agricultural summit, among others. The front page is still a work in progress; likely, we won't be able to narrow down our choices until later today or tomorrow morning.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Orange going for second straight wrestling title

The Orange wrestling team took down West Stokes and Croatan last night to win the Eastern Regional. They'll be competing for the state 2A Duals championship at 6 p.m. at home on Saturday, Feb. 7 against Newton Conover, a rematch of last year's final that saw Orange claim the state duals title on the road.

When I was over at Orange this morning for our Athlete of the Week interview this morning, the mood was lively and our athlete from that school, James Norman, seemed quite excited.

Three state titles in a calendar year for Orange? That would be quite an accomplishment. I am fairly new to the state (born here but raised in Tennessee), so does anybody know of another school in the area with recent multi-sport dominance?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Synchro team and library stories

After receiving about a dozen phone calls yesterday, we've built a list of 20+ stories we will be trying to put together in the coming weeks.

Among them will be a story about the Triangle SportsPlex's non-adult synchro skating team, which placed fourth at the Eastern Sectionals last week in New Jersey and will compete for the national championship in early March. Look for that story in one of the next few issues, complete with photos and more information about the sport (which sounds like something at which I would be terrible, given my track record with balance).

Also, I spoke with new county library director Lucinda Munger this morning. I am sitting down with her in a few weeks (not surprisingly, with a new library building coming, she's a busy person) to discuss the progress of the new facility. We'll also address the state of the North Carolina Room, about which many letter-writers have expressed their concern. Munger said that it is not disappearing in June, despite what she says she has been hearing around the community.

Munger also said that the new Margaret Lane facility will likely be completed in the late summer or early fall, and the move-in date is still up in the air. We'll have more for you in coming issues.

Again, we have been inundated with great stories coming out of the community, and we want to hear even more. If you want to share something, drop us a line or three at

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Crowded house

UPDATE: The State of the Town address is on. It is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the new Orange County Senior Center.

As I mentioned last night, we had to squeeze some things tight and squeeze some things out for this week's paper. We usually have several recurring items in the paper which, when added to the advertisements, give us an idea of what sort of space we are working with for a given week. Many of these have been mainstays long before I began working here, but I was hoping for some feedback of what readers find most useful. Some of them are:

Page 2 — Crime reports (Town Crier): We make it a point to report crimes that have occurred and arrests/summons that have been made in northern and western Orange County. We collect reports weekly from the Sheriff's Office and the Hillsborough Police Department, and we fit them in however we can. Citations are not reported largely because of space.
In recent months, the number of reports in the paper has been on the rise. This can be attributed to the holidays and the economy or because of increased communications between law enforcement and residents. Both are likely responsible, HPD Chief Birkhead said earlier this year. Regardless, it means that an increasing amount of our P2 space is devoted to publishing those reports.

Page 3 — Word on the Street: From what I hear, this might be the most widely-read item, week to week. We've had weeks where we can only fit 7-8 days of events into the entire column, so we try to place event information elsewhere in the paper on weeks when we can't get 10-14 days into Word.

Page 4 — Perspective/Pie Chart: We'll be working to include more people and less of a giant pie chart.

Cartoon: We have been using cartoons of national interest by Andy Marlette, nephew of the late Doug Marlette. While we appreciate being able to use the cartoons, the idea of using reader-submitted photos or the work of a local cartoonist has been discussed. There's certainly a lot of talent in Orange County, so we'd love to hear from any local cartoonist interested in producing a current events series.

Floating elements — Pet of the Week and Rabies Watch: These are in-kind elements that we publish weekly (or, with the Rabies Watch, when they occur) through our relationship with Orange County and private animal services groups. The Rabies Watch tracks where and when incidents occur and is used by the Animal Services department in their reports once we've published them.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Almost done ...

We will have the paper off to the printer within 30 minutes, but wow, did we have to do some squeezing to get things in. We chopped out entire portions of some stories but will try to post the pre-tightened versions online.

Tomorrow I will run through some of our committed elements — the things that really tie up our space week to week. I'd love to know what's useful to readers and what could be amended.

Also, we added a "breaking" Colonial Inn update to the front. Front page PDF up by 7:15 tonight, paper copies in after 11 a.m., barring weather-related issues.

Monday, February 2, 2009

This week's paper

Wow, space is filling up before our eyes. Here's what we know of for Wednesday's front page thus far:

— Rail station committee chooses its site(s) — The task force has chosen a site to recommend to town and county officials as a good place for a train station. But they also have a secondary option.

— Revaluation talk — Vanessa caught up with tax assessor John Smith and will have an update on revaluation appeals and the deadlines for making them.

— We have photos and/or stories from the opening of the Central Orange Senior Center, a "dinosaur discovery" library event and a science fair featuring local students. It was a good week for visuals.

— Vanessa will also have a story or two from the Board of Education meeting tonight, including more information on potential student reassignment (scheduled as an informational item, meaning no final decisions are being made).

State of the Town

I just got off the phone with Mayor Tom Stevens, and he mentioned that Hillsborough's State of the Town address will be held Monday, Feb. 23, in lieu of the town board workshop meeting. Mayor Stevens said that the next year is, like it will be for pretty much all municipalities, a challenging year for the town, so I would expect some aspects of creative budget-making (see post from last week) to be included in the talk.

No location or start time has been set yet. We'll give more details as we know them.

UPDATE: Apparently, the date might even change to the 24th. So basically, this post means little and we'll update you when we have any worthwhile information to offer.