Sidewalks may not seem like something to get excited about, but for residents along northeast U.S. 15-501, the installation of a 5-foot sidewalk from north of Manns Chapel Road to just south of the Orange County line is a very positive event.
Last spring, the County received $245,255 in federal stimulus funds from the Durham-Chapel-Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, and has been working on the engineer/design phase of the project since.
The sidewalk installation officially broke ground today, and is being implemented by White Oak Construction Corporation, based in New Hill, with a contract end-date of June 15.
There are no sidewalks on U.S. 15-501 heading south of the Orange County line. Foot traffic along the four-lane highway at the congested intersection of U.S. 15-501 and Manns Chapel Road has increased in the past five years with the addition of a Chapel Hill Transit Park & Ride lot. which forces many commuters traversing to the bus stop to walk along the highway in grass and mud.
The mile-long sidewalk will connect the Cole Park shopping center and the UNC Park & Ride Lot at Old Lystra Road. According to Chatham County planner Benjamin Howell, “All businesses will remain open during the construction process and will have at least one entry point open for customers at all times.” County residents can hope that this one sidewalk will spawn additional sidewalks along the U.S. 15-501 corridor, encouraging walkability and connecting neighbor-to-neighbor, county-to-county.
More than 60 percent of Chatham County residents work outside of the county; transportation is a crucial aspect to a quality of life in the rural county.
In that spirit, on Feb. 1, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a new Transportation Advisory Board and is seeking applicants to serve on the volunteer board.
The board will have 11 voting members representing the county's five commissioner districts; each member will serve four-year terms.
The board will be comprised of at least one member having knowledge of the following transportation groups:
Non-motorized transportation, such as bicycling and walking
Public transportation, such as transit systems
Personal motor vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles
Large, slow-moving or commercial vehicles, including agricultural and commercial product transport
Transportation & the economy
Transportation & the environment
Transportation & society (community)
“This is a critical issue for Chatham County because we have so many residents who commute long distances to work or school and who live in remote areas with few transportation options,” says Sally Kost chairwoman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, in a press release.
The board's stated purpose is to identify and study issues regarding transportation and related issues. Long-term goals include creating a sustainable transportation system that offers access other modes of transportation.
Interested residents can apply online: http://www.chathamnc.org/Index.aspx?page=1323, until March 26, 2010 at 5 p.m. The board of commissioners will review applications and make appointments in April.
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
The Chatham County as the Board of Education could appoint a replacement as early as Monday for former District 4 school board member Col. Gerald Totten, who died unexpectedly Dec. 2, 2009.
A hearing will be held Monday, Jan. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at which the school board will consider the five applications they have received thus far. Applications must be received at the Central Office, 360 West St., by Friday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. Applications may also be e-mailed to Sheila Talley, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five people have applied for the post:
Update: Just before the Friday deadline, Stephen Douglas Burke, an accountant with the N.C. Department of Transportation, filed his application.
The school board will hold a special hearing Monday, Jan. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at which the school board will consider the six applications, and make their final decision.
Chatham County has four school board districts with five seats. Deb McManus, board chair is the other District 4 representative, which includes Siler City. The new board member will be sworn in Feb. 15.
Read their applications.
A dog wash, a beauty shop and a florist are among several northern Chatham County businesses that have been burglarized in the last month, and the method—busting through a window or glass door—is similar to recent break-ins at Chapel Hill stores.
Since early December, several burglaries have occurred at businesses in Cole Park Plaza, Chatham Crossing and Chatham Downs. Max's Dog Wash and Snack Shack, was burglarized Dec. 16, and again Jan. 3. On his or her first trip, the burglar made off with the cash; the second time, the thief took nothing of monetary value—just the owner's sense of security and the out-of-pocket expense of replacing the $320 glass front door.
Over a two-week span, Panda Garden, Farrington Hair Salon, Fancy Nail Spa, Magnolia House Flowers, and The Hop Shop at Carolina Brewery were also burglarized. Three of those businesses ushered in the New Year with a call to police that their business had been busted into.
In Chapel Hill, 21 businesses have been burglarized. Likewise, the intruder breaks through the glass door or window with a crow-bar or rock and heads for the register.
The Chatham County Sheriff's Department has established a task force investigating the burglaries. Chatham County officers have spent most of today visiting northern Chatham County business owners and encouraging them to use the Sheriff Department's "Business Watch Program."
Taking a break from his lunch at Panda Garden, Capt. Charles Gardener said police are investigating a suspect.
“At this time I can not name that suspect, but we are very hard at work on this case,” said Gardener, who recommends small business owners buy a video camera and/or install an alarm system.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” he said. “Those things are expensive, I know, but it pays off in the long run.”
ProPublica, the investigative nonprofit based in New York City, has compiled an exhaustive accounting of the federal stimulus money for every county in the U.S.
Of the $7.4 billion allocated to North Carolina, Chatham County received $4.9 million in grants, loans and contracts, or an average of $79 for each of the county's 63,077 residents.
Here are some of the beneficiaries. Click here for a complete list. We'll be updating other Triangle counties throughout the day.
FlyLeaf Books which has opened in Chapel Hill on Airport Boulevard: $126,000 Small Business Administration loan
Starrlight Mead, a honey winery opening in Saxapahaw in nearby Alamance County: $55,000 SBA loan
Town of Pittsboro: $607,500 to build a fire station
Chatham County Sheriff’s Office: $44,746 K9 Field Team Supervisor
Silk Hope Ruritan Club: $950,000 for rural housing
It's closer than most political observers imagined: Just 64 votes separated Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller from his under-the-radar challenger, Republican Bill Crawford, giving Voller the win, but hardly a commanding one, especially for a well-known incumbent. With both town precincts reporting, Voller tallied 392 votes to Crawford's 328, according to the Chatham County Board of Elections.
And in the Town Commissioner's race, Pamela Baldwin won one of two seats with 461 votes. However, the second-place finish was decided by just eight votes, giving Michael Fiocco a 345-337 edge over Andrew Allden, who could ask for a recount or a runoff.
Absentee votes are the only ballots that have been counted in the Pittsboro mayoral and town commissioner races, but incumbent Mayor Randy Voller has a 60-39 lead with the town's two precincts yet to have reported, according to the Chatham County Board of Elections.
In a three-way race for two seats on the Pittsboro Town Commission, incumbent Pamela Baldwin has 43 percent of the vote, floowed by Andrew Allden with 31 percent and Michael Fiocco with 23. 5 percent.
Long-time Chatham County progressive activist and 2006 Independent Citizen Award winner Margie Ellison died of a heart attack last night.
Ellison, a Chatham native who fought tirelessly on multiple fronts advocating for populations who couldn't stand up for themselves, will be sorely missed in the grassroots citizen landscape.
Read our 2006 profile here.