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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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Monday, September 21, 2015

With the election looming, Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town shuns incumbents in its endorsements

Posted By on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 4:06 PM

No big surprises today, as the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town, better known as CHALT, announced its formal endorsements in the town's races this fall.  The grassroots group, which has hinged its platform on criticism of the Town Council and Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, endorsed a spate of challengers for the November election, shunning incumbents altogether.  The organization chose Pam Hemminger, a former county commissioner and school board member, in the race for mayor. Hemminger is running against Kleinschmidt and challenger Gary Kahn, who the Indy profiled this month, for the mayor's seat. CHALT has focused its outreach on...

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chapel Hill Councilman Lee Storrow pledges to stay in this fall's race for re-election, despite DWI arrest last month.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 11:27 AM

Chapel Hill Town Councilman Lee Storrow hears the calls for him to stay out of this fall's race for re-election following last month's arrest for driving while impaired. He chooses not to heed them however. In an exclusive interview Tuesday with the Indy, Storrow said he will continue his campaign, less than a week after pleading guilty to DWI in an Orange County courtroom. Police said Storrow registered a BAC of .16, twice the legal limit, after he was stopped by police in the early morning hours of Aug. 26. Storrow was stopped for driving 63 mph in a 35-mph-zone...

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Here's your chance to have coffee with today's Indy profile star, Gary Kahn

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Here's your chance to have coffee with Chapel Hill's dueling mayoral candidates, including today's Indy star Gary Kahn.  La Vita Dolce, a cafe in Chapel Hill's Southern Village, is hosting "Coffee with a Candidate" later this month, in which the three mayoral candidates—incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt, Pam Hemminger and Kahn—will share their vision for Chapel Hill and chat with voters.  We profiled Kahn, a former Republican turned Democrat, and his taste for straight talk. Included in the profile, Kahn had some choice words for Asians in explaining why he moved from his native New York to North Carolina more than...

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chapel Hill Councilman Lee Storrow arrested for DWI, speeding

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Chapel Hill's 2015 election just became a little murkier. Councilman Lee Storrow, 26, who is running for re-election this fall, was arrested early Wednesday for driving while impaired and speeding in the Orange County town. A police report obtained by the Indy shows that Storrow was driving 63 mph in a 35-mph-zone on Martin Luther King Boulevard and Municipal Drive in Chapel Hill. The officer reported suspicion that Storrow was impaired. When tested, he had a blood-alcohol content of .16, twice the legal limit in North Carolina.  When he was elected at the age of 22 in 2011, he...

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Friday, July 10, 2015

National LGBT group to release report on states' anti-bullying policies

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 12:39 PM

Creative Commons LicenseThis probably won't be kind to North Carolina. The national nonprofit, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), is expected to release a report Wednesday that will review the anti-bullying policies of more than 13,000 school districts across the country, including districts in North Carolina. The report, "From Statehouse to Schoolhouse: Anti-Bullying Policy Efforts in U.S. States and School Districts," will examine whether states' anti-bullying rules are implemented at the local level, and whether educators are being trained to handle the issue in the classroom. The study will also determine whether the efforts are having an impact on...

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Friday, July 3, 2015

Carrboro's PACE Academy to protest state's decision to revoke charter

Posted By on Fri, Jul 3, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Creative Commons LicenseParents, staff and students at a troubled Carrboro charter school say they plan next week to protest the N.C. State Board of Education's decision to revoke its charter. In a statement Friday, school leaders at PACE Academy said the state board is "relying on faulty and unreliable reports" from its finance officers in recommending closure for the school this year, which has been battling to stave off charter revocation since 2013. Parents, staff, parents and community leaders will assemble to protest in front of the State Board of Education building—located at 301 N. Wilmington St. in Raleigh—at 10...

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chapel Hill library to hold public forum on gay children's book

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Photo by Alex BoernerFormer Orange County teacher Omar Currie resigned last month after reading a gay children's book in class.While Orange County Schools squirmed over third-grade teacher Omar Currie's reading of the gay children's book "King & King," the Chapel Hill Public Library saw a spike in the number of checkouts and holds placed on the controversial Dutch fable. Fittingly, library leaders say, they will hold a public forum on the book next week, part of a new event called "Between the Lines," in which local leaders and residents gather at the library to discuss hot topics in the news....

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Chapel Hill, Carrboro municipal races filling up fast

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 at 12:03 PM

Creative Commons LicenseThe good/bad thing about politics: Just when you think you're done with them, filing season begins anew. Filing begins July 6 for a full slate of local races in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. On Monday, Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils became the latest entry into the race when he announced his intention to seek re-election. Three seats on the Carrboro board—held by Seils, Bethany Chaney and Michelle Johnson—will be up for election in 2015, along with the mayor's seat. Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Johnson have already announced their intentions to run again. No word from Chaney, who won her...

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