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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Apocalypse … Now? The INDY’s Election Day Live Blog, Part 2

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 3:26 PM

Welcome to the INDY’s Election Day live blog, part 2! There are, as of this writing, approximately 240 minutes until polls close in North Carolina and our long national nightmare finally (hopefully?) comes to an end. Throughout the day, the INDY will have a team of reporters out of the streets of the Triangle, talking to voters, looking into reports of election weirdness, and generally being on the lookout for any news that breaks. As they report in, I’ll be updating this blog. (And with more frequency later in the day, after we put this week’s newspaper to bed;...

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Apocalypse … Now? The INDY’s Election Day Live Blog

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 9:06 AM

Welcome to the INDY’s Election Day live blog! There are, as of this writing, approximately 630 minutes until polls close in North Carolina and our long national nightmare finally (hopefully?) comes to an end. Throughout the day, the INDY will have a team of reporters out of the streets of the Triangle, talking to voters, looking into reports of election weirdness, and generally being on the lookout for any news that breaks. As they report in, I’ll be updating this blog. (And with more frequency later in the day, after we put this week’s newspaper to bed; one of the...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Expanded Early Voting Hours Begin Today and More Clown News

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 8:10 AM

Happy Thursday, folks here's some of today's headlines:  1. Early voting locations expand throughout the state today. As the second week of early voting (also known as one-stop voting) begins, counties are adding more locations for early voting. In Durham, it's ballooning from five locations to thirteen. Other counties like Forsyth County, which only had one location for the first week, will finally allow voting at satellite locations. By opening other locations many counties will have the opportunity to help solve the problem of congestion and long wait times, but the hope is to all bring in more voters. WRAL has...

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Chapel Hill Is Probably Getting a Wegmans, Becoming a 'Foodie Place'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Good news for the "Bring Wegmans to the NC Triangle Area - Please" Facebook group: the grocery retailer announced yesterday that it intends to open a new store in Chapel Hill in the next few years.  The spot it has selected is on U.S. 15-501, just east of the Wendy's—you know the Wendy's—on a piece of property currently occupied by Performance AutoMall, which is moving to The Streets at Southpoint next year. Leaders from the Town of Chapel Hill and the Orange County Board of Commissioners announced the news in a release yesterday. “We are working proactively to bring new...

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Party Barn Hearing Ends Without Resolution, Continued to Later This Month

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 12:37 PM

A grueling, four-and-a-half-hour meeting of the Orange County Board of Adjustments Monday night was not enough time for the board to arrive at a conclusion on the matter of Bingham Township's "party barn."  The standing-room-only crowd in the basement of 131 W. Margaret Street, in Hillsborough, heard from all sides in the dispute, which the INDY reported on last month. That included Kara and Chris Brewer, who intend to build a wedding venue/events space called The Barn of Chapel Hill on twenty-two acres of property in rural Orange County; neighbors of that property who argue their quiet, rural lives will...

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Party Barn Appeal Will Be Heard in Mid-October

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 12:47 PM

The saga of the "party barn" arrives at another pivotal moment next month.  The Orange County Board of Adjustment has set October 10 as the date to hear an appeal from the neighbors of Kara and Chris Brewer. The Brewers, under an LLC known as Southeast Property Group, are in the midst of constructing a forty-two-hundred-square-foot barn/events space on twenty-two acres of property they purchased in Bingham Township last year.  Neighbors—concerned about an intrusion of traffic, parking, and noise in their serene section of the county—have filed an appeal of the Orange County planning department's decision to issue the Brewers...

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

UNC Sophomore Alleges She Was Raped By Football Player

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 1:57 PM

A UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore is expected to detail this afternoon a Valentine's Day rape she says she endured at Ram's Village, an on-campus apartment complex.  The alleged perpetrator? A UNC football player. According to statements released by the woman's attorney, Denise Branch—statements that the victim, Delaney Robinson, her father, Stacey Robinson, and Branch will read during a 2 p.m. press conference—the case has yet to be prosecuted, despite the fact that Robinson filed a report with the university's Title IX office. From the release: "I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do. I reported it. I allowed the...

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Op-Ed: On Labor Day, A Tale of North Carolina’s Two Economies—and How to Give Those at the Bottom a Leg Up

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 9:36 AM

At first glance, North Carolina’s workers have a lot to celebrate this Labor Day. In many ways, it is the best of times. An economy based on textile and furniture manufacturing a generation ago is being rebuilt with the help of industries such as banking, high tech, health care, and pharmaceuticals. Our Tar Heel State is now adding jobs at the ninth-fastest rate in the country, and several areas are emerging as small-business hot spots. With the famed Research Triangle Park just down the road, a host of health and technology companies have fled the expensive Northeast Corridor to set...

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Will the New Plan for Chapel Hill's American Legion Property Make It Through?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 3:04 PM

During a, let’s say, spirited community meeting back in January, a large crowd of Chapel Hill residents made known its disgruntlement regarding a developer’s proposal to build a resort-style luxury-apartment complex on one of the last remaining chunks of undeveloped land in Chapel Hill. That property—thirty-six acres in all—is owned by the American Legion Post 6, and it sits just east of Fordham Boulevard and Ephesus Church Road. The Legion intends to sell the land for $10 million to Woodfield Investments, but the deal hasn’t gone through yet. The sale is conditional on a rezoning of the land, which the...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Light Rail Funding Once Again Jeopardized by State Budget

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 12:07 PM

You'll recall that, last year, the Durham to Orange Light Rail Transit project was derailed by a sneaky, last-minute provision inserted into the state budget that capped state spending on light-rail projects at $500,000. The D-O LRT funding plan called for the state to contribute $400 million. Because of the way the budget process works, it's difficult to know who was responsible for slipping the provision into the budget, and because the Republican leadership is spineless and secretive, not a single GOP official stepped forward to claim authorship of it. Democracy, baby! Some Republicans, including Gov. Pat McCrory (who pushed...

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Friday, June 17, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Lebron Doesn’t Quit, Bernie Almost Does

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:45 AM

Happy Friday, everyone. Let’s make this short and sweet and get to the weekend already.  1. Bernie Sanders didn’t quite concede last night.  The Vermont senator didn’t officially quit or endorse Hillary Clinton, but in a message to supporters released last night, he said he’ll soon be joining the fight to defeat Trump (who, frankly, is doing a pretty bang-up job defeating himself, but the more, the merrier, I guess). “Our vision for the future of this country is not some fringe idea,” he said.  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Thursday in an address to his supporters that he...

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Orange County Follows Durham’s Lead, Introduces Juvenile Diversion Program; Other N.C. Counties May Follow

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 11:30 AM

North Carolina is the worst place in the country to be arrested as a teenager. A draconian state law dictates that sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds picked up for misdemeanors as frivolous as littering or marijuana possession are considered adults in the eyes of the criminal justice system. Every year, thousands of North Carolina teenagers start their lives with a criminal record—and all the hardships that entails—because of dumb mistakes they made before they were even allowed to vote or serve their country. This isn't true anywhere else in America besides New York, which bests N.C. by having a "reverse waiver" provision...

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Friday, March 18, 2016

This Week in the Carolina Comeback: Unemployment Shoots Up All Over the State

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 12:52 PM

The "Carolina comeback" stalled earlier this year, according to the January unemployment numbers the state reported this morning. State officials found that all one hundred North Carolina counties saw a rise in unemployment from its lowest point during the December holiday season.  The state unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, down slightly from 5.9 percent in January 2015 and up from 5.3 percent in December. (The rates aren't seasonally adjusted, which might explain some of the volatility.) A total of 274,460 North Carolina residents found themselves out of work in January 2016.  The highest unemployment rate in January was 15.5...

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Friday, February 19, 2016

What Should the New Orange County Slogan Be?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Per Chapelboro, Orange County is seeking input for a new slogan to be slapped upon the highway sign greeting westbound travelers on Interstate-40 at mile maker 269. The current, damaged sign says "Welcome to Orange County: You'll Be a Fan for Life." Yes, we'd say there's room for improvement.  Last year, the Orange County Board of Commissioners invited the public to dream up some new slogans for the sign. It received almost 900 suggestions. After ideas that either exceeded the six-word limit ("It's Getting Kinda Pricey To Live Here") or contained inappropriate language ("Fuckin' Tar Heels Rule!") were disqualified, the...

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lost cause: “Confederate Memorial” lettering officially removed from Hillsborough history museum

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 12:32 PM

Last May, Orange County Historical Museum leaders asked the town of Hillsborough—which owns the museum—to remove the words “Confederate Memorial” from the building’s portico. They felt the signage was discouraging people from entering the building, which is not a memorial to the Confederacy but rather a monument to the history of Orange County. But it used to be a whites-only public library called the Confederate Memorial Library, and some of the signage managed to hang on over the years. When word got out, a bunch of angry white people banded together to take back Orange County from those who would...

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Report touts benefits for workers and the economy in raising wages for public employees

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 12:54 PM

When Orange County builder Mark Marcoplos told me earlier this month that it's time for a living wage debate, he was on to something.  Orange County's Living Wage Campaign hit the ground running this month, enlisting more than 30 local businesses to agree upfront to pay their employees a "living wage," or about $12.75 per hour in Orange County. Earlier this year, Durham launched its own campaign, guaranteeing workers hourly pay of at least $12.53. And this week, Wake County commissioners agreed to raise the minimum wage for all county workers to a solid $13.50 an hour.  Fittingly, on...

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Orange County's 2016 race for the Board of Commissioners is off to a fast start

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 11:12 AM

And away we go.  The race for four seats on the Orange County Board of Commissioners in 2016 is off to a speedy start. Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier announced last week that she won't be seeking re-election next year after seven years on the board.  And now, Mark Marcoplos, a local builder who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the board last year, has announced that he will be running for the county commission's at-large seat, which will be vacated by Pelissier. Meanwhile, Matt Hughes, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, has stated that he is considering a run in 2016...

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pelissier bowing out of a re-election campaign in 2016

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Because the 2015 municipal elections wrapped on Tuesday, it's time to start talking about 2016.  Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier wasted no time, announcing Thursday that she would not be seeking re-election next year.  "Many of you know that I have been a long-time advocate for agriculture, farmers, and local food," Pelissier wrote in an email to reporters Thursday morning. "Little did I know how my life would change when my husband and I bought a farm in Cedar Grove last year. This has given me the opportunity to become a farmer and join in with my children in this effort. Having just turned...

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In Chapel Hill, a big night for the challengers

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 9:51 PM

A bitterly contested race for the mayor's seat and the Town Council in Chapel Hill, as well as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, came to a bitterly close ending Tuesday night. After a campaign marked by a clamor of anti-incumbent fervor, much of it drummed up with a strong push by the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town (CHALT) political action committee, it was the challengers who won the night in all three elections. Pam Hemminger, a former Orange County commissioner and school board member, defeated incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt in the race for mayor, picking up...

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Hillsborough voters side with the status quo

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 8:48 PM

By some people's reckoning, this race in Hillsborough was about the decaying Colonial Inn and the fate of the "Confederate memorial" lettering on the town's former whites-only library. Others say it was about whether you support Hillsborough's current track or you don't. Either way, the status quo is celebrating tonight in Hillsborough. Incumbent town commissioners Brian Lowen and Evelyn Lloyd, as well as Mark Bell, a candidate closely aligned with the incumbents, won a resounding victory Tuesday night. With three seats up for grabs, longtime commissioner Lloyd led all candidates with 29 percent of the vote, followed by Lowen at...

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Chapel Hill polling shows the challengers taking over

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Chapelboro is reporting a major shift in the polling for this year's hotly-contested races in Chapel Hill. Read the Indy's endorsements for these races here.  Courtesy of Public Policy Polling, a new survey shows challenger Pam Hemminger has taken the lead over incumbent Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, with Hemminger leading 43 to 37 percent. Second challenger Gary Kahn has pulled in 2 percent.  In the Town Council contest, while the race remains nail-bitingly close, three of the four front-runners at this point are challengers, Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town-endorsed candidates who have been critical of the direction of the...

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Sierra Club endorses the incumbents in Chapel Hill, plus Michael Parker

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 4:34 PM

Here's a key, late-breaking endorsement from last week in Chapel Hill's oh-so-contested race for the Town Council and the mayor's spot. The Sierra Club of N.C. is siding mostly with the incumbents—Lee Storrow, Donna Bell and Jim Ward—in addition to town Planning Commission member Michael Parker, in the race for four seats on the Town Council. Meanwhile, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt also picked up the group's endorsement in this fall's race against former county commissioner and school board member Pam Hemminger. The Indy's endorsements will be released this Wednesday, one day before one-stop and early voting begins.  According to the...

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hillsborough moves to acquire the foundering Colonial Inn

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 at 1:34 PM

After more than a decade of wrangling over Hillsborough's dilapidated Colonial Inn, town officials have moved this week to begin the process of acquiring the West King Street historic structure through the process of eminent domain.  The Town Board of Commissioners voted Monday to start the process, which could eventually end with the town paying the inn's owner, Francis Henry, "just compensation" for the structure. Since 2002, when Henry purchased the 176-year-old inn, the town and the local businessman have been bickering off and on. Indeed, Hillsborough has sued the former UNC soccer star twice over allegations that he...

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Campaign spending on the rise in Chapel Hill

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2015 at 1:30 PM

If it feels like this year's municipal election in Chapel Hill has been far more contentious, you're not imagining things.  According to the most recent campaign finance reports filed for town races, this year's crowded roster of hopefuls has already outspent candidates in the 2011 municipal election. Since that year also included a mayoral contest on the ballot with four seats up for grabs on the Town Council, it's a relatively fair comparison.  Total spending reported in that election for the Town Council and mayor was about $31,417. This year's crop, including the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable...

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Early polling shows Mark Kleinschmidt with a sizable lead in Chapel Hill mayoral race

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 1:51 PM

We're in for a treat. Rarely do you get the chance for some real insight into local municipal races.  Per Chapelboro's Blake Hodge, a recently-commissioned Chapel Hill survey by Public Policy Polling found Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt with a somewhat comfortable spot atop the candidates. Of course, we're still seven weeks out from the election, but Kleinschmidt tweeted some relief.  According to Chapelboro, Kleinschmidt leads all candidates with 37 percent supporting his re-election. Another 25 percent back Pam Hemminger, the candidate endorsed earlier this week by Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town, and 5 percent support Gary Kahn. It's much...

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