Incumbent state Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. and Bob Atwater have filed for re-election.
McKissick represents part of Durham County in District 20. He was appointed to the Senate in 2007 after the death of Jeanne Lucas and was subsequently elected to office in 2008. Read his press release here: senator-floyd-b-mckissick-jr-running-for-reelection
Atwater, who represents Chatham, Lee and southwestern Durham counties, is in his third term. His announcement is here: senator-bob-atwater-announces-that-he-will-seek-re-election
B.J. Lawson, who, in 2008 ran a spirited, but unsuccessful campaign against Democratic incumbent David Price for the 4th congressional district, has announced he will again try to win the seat. Lawson lost to Price by a 2-1 margin in that election.
But first, Lawson, a doctor and software developer, will face former international banker Frank Roche of Apex in the Republican primary.
Lawson combines progressive stances with Libertarianism. On one hand, his principles echo the free-market right: the elimination of federal income tax and "onerous" regulations, and the establishment of health care savings accounts instead of universal health insurance. He does not support Roe v. Wade.
Yet, at times, Lawson sounds like a progressive, opposing the war in Iraq—and the war on drugs—the death penalty and a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage.
The Indy covered the Price-Lawson race in 2008.
Roche’s issue statements come out of the left field of the far right. He is skeptical about human impacts on global warming. On illegal immigration, he promises to eliminate it as much as possible, and would “push aside advocates of multiculturalism, identity politics, and political correctness.”
On hate crimes legislation, he says, “I do not support efforts to establish laws based on thoughts. America has more than enough laws to protect us all and to bring justice to those who do harm us.”
You get the picture.
The Chatham County school board appointed Gary Leonard, a retired English teacher, to represent District 4. Leonard replaces Gerald Totten, who died in December.
Leonard, who lives in Bennett, was among six applicants, including two other retired Chatham County teachers, Mary Harris and Trudy Walters.
District 2 school board member David Hamm said for him, Leonard was “a very clear choice.”
"I've known him my whole career. He's always been real active in the community at all levels," Hamm said. “I can sum him up in a couple of words: he's a pure gentlemen who will put kids first.”
Leonard retired from the Chatham County school system in June 2007, and now teaches sixth grade English at Chatham Charter School in Siler City. His wife teaches fifth grade at Bennett Elementary School.
"We are excited to have Gary join the board, said Deb McManus, who also represents District 4. (Due to the number of residents in the district, there are two representatives.) “He is very respected in the county and brings over thirty years of experience in education. We believe he will be a strong asset to us and the school district."
Leonard will be sworn in Monday, Feb. 15.
Who knew what when: The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources wants answers from UNC-Chapel Hill about the 53-day gap between the time workers at the Bingham Facility suspected a leak in a treated-wastewater storage pond and when the university notified environmental officials that said leak did occur.
The treated wastewater did flow into nearby Collins Creek, a violation of UNC’s discharge permit.
A letter from DENR to UNC (160kb, pdf denrletter24) stated that the state regulators are considering “enforcement action,” and asked for a response from the university.
Mary Beth Koza, director of UNC environment, health and safety, said the university is preparing a response to DENR. “We try to do everything in compliance,” she said.
Because of the discharge DENR revoked UNC’s “deemed permit status,” a general permit classification, and is requiring the university to apply for an individual discharge permit. UNC has until early March to submit its application.
There have been several malfunctions or leaks at the facility’s wastewater treatment ponds, which have raised questions about the quality of the construction. Koza would not address that issue, but added “We’re working with the contractors to fix the problem.”
Carlo Robustelli, former aide to Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, has been named director of Orange County operations for Durham Technical Community College.
We profiled a Robustelli in December, when he concluded two and a half years in the Chapel Hill mayor's office as Foy opted against running for re-election.
Robustelli, who took classes at Durham Tech and transferred the credits to UNC, now is charged with running student services, recruitment and overseeing daily operations for the Orange County campus.
"I am delighted that Carlo Robustelli has joined us," Durham Tech President Bill Ingram said in a press release. "He is uniquely qualified to help us strengthen and sustain Durham Tech's programs and services in Orange County."
Gov. Bev Perdue was beaming when she signed the state's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants into law in March, saying they'd tackled the "big enchilada" after restricting smoking on college campuses and in the legislature.
"This is really in no exaggeration of the word an absolutely historic day for this great state that was built initially on the backbone of tobacco," Perdue said among a group of health advocates and lawmakers.
"My hat is off to the General Assembly. I have never been as proud of a body in my entire life."
Her tone also was congratulatory today as she celebrated a $6.7 million expansion of a tobacco manufacturing company in Rockingham County that will create 35 jobs.
“North Carolina is a great location for international companies looking to expand," she said in a press release. "Our top business climate and our tremendous workforce continues to be very attractive to growing companies.”
That's the message. Welcome, thanks for your tax money and your jobs. Don't even think about bringing your products to lunch with you, though.
Kentucky-based Commonwealth Brands Inc. already owns a tobacco plant in Reidsville where 224 people work, and this addition will allow them to manufacture a new line of cigarette tubes.
The local youth media project, Northeast Central Durham Community VOICE, is publishing its first print edition this month—and is moving into its new digs at Golden Belt, 807 E. Main St., in Durham.
Scientific Properties is donating space in Building 4 to the publication, which is sponsored by journalism programs at UNC and N.C. Central University. (Disclosure: The Indy leases space in the Venable Building from Scientific Properties.)
VOICE went online in Septmeber at durhamvoice.org. It is holding a general meeting Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10-11 a.m. in its newsroom at Golden Belt for area youth interested in writing, photography, video, blogging, art or journalism.
Read the full press release here (36kb, Microsoft Word): necdnewsroom2010
Leadership from both nonprofits will host a public meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Seymour Center auditorium in Chapel Hill to garner input on the collaborative effort.
Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, executive director of El Centro Hispano, said her organization is ready and willing to provide much-needed translating, English lessons and job finding services for Orange County's Spanish-speaking community.
"We are confident that the structure we have here will allow us to give good service to the community," she said.
El Centro Latino closed after a 10-year run as a nonprofit due to a lack of funding and constant turnover of its leadership.
James Hansen, one of the nation's leading experts on global warming, joined a group of UNC students today in calling for the university to become coal-free.
Standing in front of UNC's Cogeneration Facility, which powers the campus, about 20 students held signs encouraging Chancellor Holden Thorp to "be a climate champ."
They were joined by Professor Jose Rial, a UNC glaciologist, Patricia Leighten, a Westwood neighborhood resident who lives about a quarter-mile from the plant, a handful of Sierra Club members and Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade.
The speakers praised Thorp's creation of an Energy Task Force and said it provides an opportunity for UNC to become a national leader in renewable and clean energy.
"The best way for the Energy Task Force to address energy use on campus is to get UNC off of coal as quickly as possible," said Stewart Boss, a freshman and media outreach coordinator for the Sierra Club's Coal-Free UNC Campaign. "Coal is the dirtiest possible energy source we could be using today."
After a nearly five-year investigation, Durham police have charged Raven Abaroa, 30, with the 2005 stabbing death of his wife Janet in their Durham rental home. Janet Abaroa, who was 25 at the time, was pregnant with the couple's second child when she was killed April 26, 2005.
According to a Durham police news release, Raven Abaroa was arrested at his Montpelier, Idaho, home without incident. He is being held in the Caribou County, Idaho, jail and is awaiting extradition to North Carolina.
Raven Abaroa, who was married to the victim for almost five years, has long been a "person of interest" in the case, but police continued their investigation. At the time of Janet Abaroa's murder, Raven Abaroa said he had driven from Durham to Morrisville, N.C., to play in a soccer game. He said when he returned home at 11 p.m., he found his wife and she was dead. Their then-6-month-old son, Kaiden, was also inside the home but wasn't harmed in the attack.