Where's the O.C.?
S...l...o...w...l...y..., Orange County has been washing out of the Independent's coverage. It happened so gradually that maybe even the editors haven't noticed! I picked up the Indy at one of the many sites in Orange County (way out in Hillsborough) that offer free space for distribution. On the cover I read "Durham-Orange Edition." Looked for the Endorsement Guide. Well, there's Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Wake School Board, The Indy Voting Guide. Hmmmm. Where's the Orange? I counted the page--none are missing. Was there a special section that fell out when I picked up the paper?
Has "The Triangle's Weekly" finally become "The Rectangle's Weekly?" Plenty of your writers, contributors, staff members and advertisers live in Hillsborough. Does it bother them not at all that Orange, and especially Northern Orange, is mostly left out of your coverage, except for in the paid advertising and those listings generated by the listees? Next time you notice the setting sun, consider exploring the arts, culture, politics and people outside Raleigh, Cary and Durham.
The other papers who are working to cover the scene here seem all of a sudden to be the "alt," and both they and the Indy are worth the price.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The primary endorsements for the Oct. 11 Durham and Wake elections ran in our Sept. 28 issue. Endorsements for Orange County races and runoff races for Wake and Durham are in this issue.
Eichenberger's got it wrong
I am writing to comment on Peter Eichenberger's Sept. 21 Triangles column "Trucker diverts relief supplies." Mr. Eichenberger alleged that Katrina relief supplies were diverted from Camp Casey to a government site. It was my intention to ignore his childishly spiteful tantrum, but we have gotten a few calls of late, and I believe it needs to be addressed.
With the help of George Thompson's donation of a 40-foot trailer to store supplies, we began collecting shortly after the hurricane, and my wife, Maria, was contacted by Mr. Eichenberger about combining loads. He said he had a driver, Charlie Gray, and the truck would be going to Coventry, La. We knew nothing about Camp Casey. We agreed, and the date was set. Shortly after Charlie picked up my supplies, it was published on a number of news Web sites that tractor-trailers were backed up and sitting for days in Louisiana. Mr. Gray called to asked what to do, since he had a business and could not afford to sit there. Maria told him to search the Web for another site that would take the supplies, and he found a FEMA site in Jackson, Miss. That is where the supplies went, and that is when the problem started.
Mr. Eichenberger had planned to accompany the truck and write a story about the experience. When he was told about the change in destination, he became extremely upset and had a very heated discussion with Mr. Gray. The truth is that the supplies did in fact go to needy hurricane survivors as planned, just not to Camp Casey. There was no conspiracy. There was no deception. With regard to Bill Padgett's stolen pallet boxes, Maria and I were both told by Mr. Eichenberger that Mr. Padgett did not care if he ever saw them again. Alleging that Mr. Gray stole them was just inflammatory and an outright lie.
I think it is very sad that Mr. Eichenberger lost sight of the fact that this was about victims of a terrible natural disaster. It was not about Peter Eichenberger. For Maria, this project was all about helping people in desperate need. She did not want it politicized in any way. At the Carrboro site, we had Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians working side by side. There were Catholics, Protestants and atheists at the very least. The age range of volunteers was from 8 to 80. It was truly an egalitarian effort, and it was successful. It may have been moreso without Mr. Eichenberger's stain upon this project. Mr. Eichenberger contends that the community was betrayed, when in fact the community may never have been more united. The spirit of North Carolinians in the Triangle (and beyond) and their collective determination to help others in need has transcended and, indeed, will always transcend politics and self-aggrandizement. Just count the number of times the word "I" appears in Mr. Eichenberger's column.
Maria will soon travel to Mississippi with the supplies and hand them directly to those in need. Mr. Eichenberger, I hope that you get to write your story. I also hope that in undermining support for the Gulf victims, you gained a measure of satisfaction and the restoration of your fragile self-esteem.
Harold E. Mekeel
EDITOR'S NOTE: The length limit was waived for this response.