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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Raleigh City Council Ok's temp. food distribution site

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Raleigh's city council approved a recommendation by the council's Law and Public Safety Committee to open an indoor temporary food distribution facility across the street from Moore Square Park at a meeting this afternoon.  Other short term goals connected with the project include establishing care points for people in need around the city, implementing an educational awareness campaign and allowing food distribution to continue at Moore Square until the facility opens. The city will partner with Wake county on a ten-year plan to end homelessness; the first step of the long-term process will be to identify within six months a...

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hofmann Forest sale nearly derailed

Posted By on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 12:16 PM

The controversial sale of the Hofmann Forest to Illinois agri-businessman Jerry Walker almost didn’t happen according to emails provided to the INDY by N.C. State University in a public records request. Emails between Tom Percival, the Lumberton-based consultant for Walker’s group Hofmann Forest, LLC and Dean Mary Watzin and David Ashcraft of N.C. State’s College of Natural Resources reveal some disagreement between Walker and former members of his LLC regarding plans for the 79,000 acre property in Jones and Onslow counties. On March 26, 2013 Percival wrote: “After careful review of our meeting on Saturday, I write to express to...

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Chapel Hill High principal addresses plagiarism allegations

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Embattled Chapel Hill High School Principal Sulura Jackson addressed the allegations of plagiarism in a recorded phone message this weekend, apologizing for the distraction caused by the controversy and pledging proper citation in the future. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools spokesman Jeff Nash confirmed Monday that parents and staff at the Chapel Hill school received the message Friday night. Jackson is accused of plagiarism in school memos and letters both before and after her arrival in Chapel Hill this summer. “Although I was saddened to hear it through the newspaper, I have heard the requests of this staff and community and,...

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

More evidence of Chapel Hill High plagiarism?

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 3:06 PM

The future for Chapel Hill High School Principal Sulura Jackson is unclear at the moment, following this week's plagiarism allegations. The allegations, as well as the evidence, are covered in detail in this week's Indy. Read it online here. Members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education were already scheduled to meet tonight at the Lincoln Center in Chapel Hill. The board's agenda says members will discuss a personnel matter in closed session starting at 6 p.m. The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 p.m. School administrators have defended Jackson, lauding her for attempts to increase...

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Haydn "Fats" Thomas pleads guilty to drug, gun charges

Posted By on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Haydn "Fats" Thomas, whose name is linked to two rental cars used this summer by UNC basketball player P.J. Hairston, pleaded guilty today to gun and drug charges in Durham Superior Court. The judge suspended a prison sentence in lieu of a 36-month probation term. Thomas had been charged for possession of a gun by a felon, maintaining a dwelling used to keep and sell drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Dressed in a black suit with a double-slit in the back, a black shirt and a black tie, Thomas was calm and polite while responding to Judge Carl Fox's...

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Meg Lowman, beloved scientist, leaving N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

Posted on Mon, Nov 18, 2013 at 6:35 PM

It's been a rocky week for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences: First, the institution has been scrutinized for director Emlyn Koster's refusal to show a documentary, Shored Up, about coastal development and sea-level rise. Now a leading scientist at the museum is leaving to work at the California Academy of Sciences as its inaugural chief of science and sustainability.  Meg Lowman, who had been the director of the Nature Research Center, was essentially demoted earlier this year in a controversial reorganization that Koster spearheaded. She was reassigned to a new position, Senior Scientist and Director of Academic Partnerships &...

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Friday, November 15, 2013

N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences director puts kibosh on documentary about sea-level rise

Posted By on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Update with correction and clarification: A museum spokesman responded to this story on Wednesday, Nov. 20,  saying Koster did not overrule members of a programming committee, as originally reported. The spokesman said it was solely Koster’s decision not to show the film. As for the committee, according to member David Kroll, it recommended that the film should not be shown without a panel discussion and there was not time to assemble such a panel by late January, when the film is screening in Wilmington. It was also discussed that a grant for travel funds could be sought in order to...

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update: Spokesperson for Hofmann buyer says no plans to develop

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Update: A spokesperson for the potential buyer of Hofmann Forest released a statement saying the documents were prepared in early 2013 for Hofmann Forest, LLC for use by Jerry Walker and other members of the company. He maintains Walker does not intend to develop the property. “The document in question was specifically put together for Hofmann Forest, LLC," wrote Lumberton-based consultant Tom Percival in an email. "It is a document that was originated for internal purposes in early 2013 for use by Jerry Walker, as a Managing Member, and other members of the LLC in the process of their initial...

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Voller cries, developer kvetches over Chatham Park

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 9:12 AM

By Jess Clark Pittsboro residents didn’t expect the controversial Chatham Park development to be on the agenda at last night’s Board of Commissioners meeting, and they didn’t expect Mayor Randy Voller to cry. It wasn’t exactly clear why Chatham Park popped up on the agenda. Many residents who attended the meeting were surprised that discussion and comments on the proposed 7,000-acre development had been scheduled, since many had assumed that an expanded subcommittee would first review the proposal. However, the expanded subcommittee, which is to include members of the citizen’s group Pittsboro Matters, has not yet been formed. Nonetheless, Tim...

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Judge denies motion to block sale of Hofmann Forest

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM

A Wake County judge denied a motion for a preliminary injunction Tuesday to block the sale of the Hofmann Forest. However, the sale cannot go forward until a separate lawsuit is resolved.  The forest's owners, N.C. State University's Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund and the North Carolina State Natural Resources Foundation, Inc., filed a separate motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by a coalition of professors, foresters, landowners and wildlife conservationists who say the environmental impacts of the sale could be significant. Superior Court judge Shannon Joseph said she would take the motion to dismiss the...

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Laura Fjeld to run for Howard Coble's congressional seat

Posted on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Could a progressive woman replace an old white guy in Congress? Stranger things have happened. Like a youngish African-American man replacing an old white guy in the White House. U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, a Republican whose gerrymandered 6th District runs from Greensboro and through the northern part of Durham County to north of Raleigh along the Virginia border, is retiring from Congress at age 82. The Washington Post floated names of Republicans who are considering a run for the seat: Phil Berger Jr., the son of the original Phil Berger, also the State Senate Pro Tempore; Michael Steel of Durham,...

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Monday, November 11, 2013

N.C. Supreme Court to review Chapel Hill towing, cell phone ordinances

Posted By on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Two controversial Chapel Hill ordinances—towing and mobile phones—will go before the N.C. Supreme Court, the town announced late Friday. Meanwhile, a temporary stay and court injunction prevents the town from enforcing either ordinance. The towing ordinance, which was to take effect in May 2012, requires that private tow zones be adequately marked with signage, that tow operators inform police when removing vehicles from private property and that they may not be towed farther than 15 miles outside the town limits. The ordinance also capped charges for towing from private lots. George King, of George’s Towing, has challenged the ordinance,...

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Redistricting begins again in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Expect redistricting drama to begin anew in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools tonight. The school system's Board of Education will take on the subject of Glenwood Elementary overcrowding during tonight's meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Smith Middle School auditorium on Seawell School Road. Read the agenda here. School officials say Chapel Hill's Glenwood Elementary, home of an expanding Mandarin Dual Language program, is already 90 students above its capacity. That number will grow to 155 in 2014-2015 as the school's dual language and non-dual language programs continue to swell. The popular dual language program allows students to receive instruction...

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Service industry wages bad for North Carolina's economy

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Willetta Dukes has worked in the fast food industry for more than 16 years, at McDonald’s, Church’s Chicken and now, at Burger King. She lives in a spare room in her son’s house and questions why she must resort to government assistance to survive. Dukes is one of 66,000 fast food workers in North Carolina receiving some kind of public assistance, at a cost of $264 million a year to state taxpayers who subsidize low wages in the fast food industry. At a forum at the North Carolina Justice Center Wednesday night, workers like Dukes, activists and elected officials explained...

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bob Luddy resigns from Rural Center board

Posted on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Bob Luddy, a conservative politico responsible for nearly eliminating the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, resigned from the board today, according to an email obtained by the INDY. Luddy, who served with Art Pope, now the state deputy budget director, is on the board of the ultraconservative Civitas Institute. The institute is funded by the Pope Foundation—which until earlier this year, was run by Art Pope—(yes, you need a flow chart). Luddy embarked on an investigation that resulted in the dismantlement of the center. Billy Ray Hall, president of the Rural Center, resigned, and Gov. Pat McCrory, via Pope, froze...

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Museum committee ousts embattled scientist/blogger Bora Zivkovic

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Bora Zivkovic was removed from the board of the Friends of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences today, according to a member of the executive committee. Zivkovic did not attend the meeting; moreover he had not been to one since 2011. Rather than spending time deliberating Zivkovic's recent issues regarding sexual harassment without his input, the board terminated his membership for noncompliance with the attendance policy. The Friends of the Museum of Natural Sciences raises money for the nonprofit institution in Raleigh. Zivkovic, the former blog editor of Scientific American, admitted to sexually inappropriate advances toward several female science journalists....

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Orange County races over

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Incumbents coasted and a few plucky newcomers were winners in last night's elections in Orange County. In the race for four seats on the Chapel Hill Town Council, the clear winners were current Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison, Councilwoman Sally Greene and two challengers in local pastor Maria Palmer and Duke University pathologist George Cianciolo. In Carrboro, the three incumbents—Jacquelyn Gist, Randee Haven-O'Donnell and Sammy Slade—were the victors. In Hillsborough, Jenn Weaver and Kathleen Ferguson won seats on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners. And in the race for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, information technology specialist Andrew...

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Davis and Moffitt win in Durham

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 12:01 AM

What does $47,000 buy in Durham politics? Apparently very little, about 13,000 votes. Despite support from a Greensboro-based Super PAC, Omar Beasley and Pam Karriker lost their bids for seats on Durham City Council. As the INDY reported earlier this week, the N.C. Homeowners Alliance, a Super PAC with ties to the N.C. Association of Realtors, had injected large sums into two races for city council.. Former Hillside High School teacher Eddie Davis beat Beasley in Ward 2, by a 65-34 margin. Davis received 11,413 votes, compared with Beasley’s 6,086. The results are unofficial until next week. Howard Clement...

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In Morrisville, Mayor Jackie Holcombe loses a close race

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 11:32 PM

While some Wake County races were landslides—Republican Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears won by a 2–1 margin despite an endorsements snub from the Wake County GOP—the wild card of the evening goes to Morrisville, where gun control became a central issue in the mayoral race, two-term incumbent Jackie Holcombe lost to Mark Stohlman by just 88 votes, 932 to the challenger’s 1,020. Stohlman won three of five precincts. Holcombe had drawn the ire of the National Rifle Association for her opposition to state law that allows conceal-carry permit holders to bring guns into public parks, swimming pools and recreational...

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Plan calls for faster mental health service in Durham, Wake

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Access to care and crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers top the business plan for Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, the state-funded agency charged with disbursing public mental health dollars in Wake and Durham counties. Durham County Commissioners Michael PageBoth were among the top local initiatives for the agency’s 2014-2016 plan as presented to Durham and Wake county commissioners Monday. Read a copy of the plan on the Durham commissioners' website here. The plan, which identifies service gaps and lays out strategies for addressing those gaps, requires review by county officials before Alliance can submit it to the N.C. Department of...

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Durham City Council approves bow hunting for deer

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 8:03 PM

"You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it's all about. A deer's gotta be taken with one shot."—The Deer Hunter The deer were here before sprawl encroached on their habitat, but they can’t use bows and arrows to drive us away. So Durham City Council is leaving it to the hunters to cull the herd, voting unanimously Monday night to approve bowhunting for deer under certain conditions. The issue was part of the consent agenda, which is generally reserved for non-controversial items. There was no discussion, since the proposal had been debated at length during...

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Teachers protest budget cuts, legislation throughout Triangle

Posted By and on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM

Rosa Ramirez, a student at Durham School of the Arts, has long dreamed of being a teacher. But in light of recent changes to the state's education policy, the ninth-grader is reconsidering. "Thanks for crushing my dream," she told a crowd of demonstrators on a cold morning outside Weaver Auditorium at Durham School of the Arts. Public school teachers, supporters and students throughout North Carolina, including the Triangle, demonstrated against legislation passed this year that cut funding, eliminated tenure, removed the cap on class sizes and dropped bonus pay for instructors with master's degrees. Meanwhile, the Republican-led legislature increased...

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Friday, November 1, 2013

N.C. State reveals Hofmann Forest buyer

Posted By on Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM

A contract to sell Hofmann Forest is in the works, but an injunction hearing to block the sale is still scheduled for later this month. Jerry Walker, an Illinois agri-businessman and third-generation farmer, is the prospective buyer, according to N.C. State University press release.  James Conner, the attorney for a coalition of professors, foresters, landowners and wildlife conservationists that filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the sale, said there are a number of conditions in the contract that must be met before the 79,000-acre property can change ownership. One is that the lawsuit—which was brought against the...

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