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Language barriers often keep us from understanding those around us, but sometimes being able to look beyond words makes the meaning more apparent.In its original Russian, the Maly Drama Theatre’s rendition of Anton Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” featured supertitles, where the actors’ lines were translated into English on a projector screen above the stage.A minimal set of only a few chairs and tables below three floating bales of hay gave the sense of a trip to the country, to a wooden house where the pace of life is a bit slower than usual.And for the characters, the slow pace is stifling. The country estate is a tomb for them, a place of eternal boredom that cannot be remedied.Some characters found solace in alcohol, drinking to feel alive instead of to eliminate problems. They feel they’re wasting their lives and spend much of their time wondering what could have been.Despite Memorial Hall’s large stage and seating area, the atmosphere was intimate at Wednesday night’s performance. The characters invited the audience into their psyches through their dialogue, telling their individual stories while blending seamlessly with the ensemble.But it was the moments of silence where the most gripping emotions were felt. When there was no need to focus on the supertitles above, the passion of the actors came through in vivid facial expressions and subtle gestures to the audience.An acoustic guitar and the sound of crickets served as the primary music of the show.Moments of extreme sadness were often juxtaposed with a lighter tone or funny line that demonstrated a real sadness brewing just beneath the surface but still gave a glimmer of hope.And yet there was humor — not the slapstick, slip and fall of today’s comedy — but the humor of unique personalities making their way through a tough, yet always strangely normal, life.It was difficult initially to keep changing view from the supertitles to the actors. But as the show progressed, the meaning became apparent without the translated words above.An emotional connection developed between audience and characters, and language was no longer a barrier. The screen no longer became the focus, but rather a complement to the performance of the actors. The emotional exploration of the idle life left the audience with no visible light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, we were left with a smile, some hope and a promise that one day, eventually, there will be rest. Contact the Arts Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduate students got their first chance this semester to have a chat with the chancellor.Sponsored by the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, the open house provided an opportunity for students to interact on a personal basis with Chancellor Holden Thorp and his administrative team.Topics ranged from paying tuition to finding a job as administrators explained policies and answered students’ questions.10-semester capDue to the varying time it takes to earn an advanced degree, graduate students are now able to apply for a waiver that will provide them with funding for more semesters.In the past, tuition remission and in-state funding to graduate students was limited to 10 semesters for doctoral students and four semesters for master’s programs.Tuition remission reduces tuition costs for graduate students to an in-state rate. The graduate school has a tuition remission and in-state budget, which is allocated to students.Once those budgets are depleted, individual departments will have the opportunity to fund students staying beyond 10 semesters using money from their instructional budget.There is no formal process in place if students are denied funding, but they do have the opportunity to appeal to the graduate school.This will give departments more autonomy but could leave them with difficult decisions as they choose how to allocate funds, Thorp said.Residency issuesThe administration hopes to improve issues surrounding residency qualifications by making the process more transparent and providing more face-to-face interactions.Many out-of-state students apply for residency because it classifies them as in-state students and allows them to pay in-state tuition. Strict rules govern the residency process, but administrators want to make the process as easy for students as possible.“We’ve got to get beyond the checklist and better understand the graduate student situation,” said Winston Crisp, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.Graduate job marketAcknowledging that the job market for graduate students isn’t at its best, administrators are encouraging better development for graduate student career services.Thorp emphasized students creating their own opportunities, saying that grad students are well-equipped to handle a wide variety of jobs.“If you’ve gotten your Ph.D, you’re already an entrepreneur,” he said.
A controversial court decision brought discussion of Constitutional amendments, corporate speech and fast-food advertisements to campus Tuesday afternoon. About 50 students, faculty and residents attended a talk at the UNC School of Law to discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to spend money to attack or endorse candidates in local, state and federal elections.Brenda Wright, director of Demos, a public policy organization, led the discussion. She never explicitly stated that she is against the court’s ruling, but she criticized it strongly.She spoke about the impact the court’s decision could have on the American political landscape, especially regarding elections. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled 5-4 that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend as much money from their corporate treasuries as they wish to endorse candidates. Prior to the decision, corporations could form political action committees, private groups organized to raise money from individuals to endorse or attack candidates. Now corporations are allowed to make expenditures from their general treasury funds for media advertisements and other forms of communication that advocate the election or defeat of candidates. Companies can run an ad on behalf of a candidate, but money cannot be directly given to a particular campaign.“It’s very hard to see this decision as anything other than a really serious threat to the principle that government is supposed to be responsible to the people it serves,” Wright said. The change could give corporations more political pull, as they have the opportunity to use an unlimited amount of money to potentially affect a candidate’s campaign. Regulations regarding disclosure of money that is spent will remain, but they vary from state to state. When discussing disclosure, Wright envisioned a McDonald’s sign. “Over 6 billion sold, and over 435,000 Congress persons bought,” she said.The case could encourage lawmakers to move to change the Constitution, she said. One attendee asked what to take back to colleagues in business, who might plan to become future corporate executives. “Talk about the term self-restraint,” Wright said. “Think about the common good. I think we’re in a moment where the fear of big corporation is taking over a lot more strongly and the fear of big government is kind of fading.” Gene Nichol, UNC law professor and director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, also spoke, detailing the less-than-ideal state of campaign finance law. First-year law student Lace Wayman said she thought the discussion sent a strong message.“It was very powerful being able to see all of the effects that this is going to have on the larger community,” she said. Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
Laura Blue’s excitement for becoming president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation is especially noteworthy when you look at her competition.
This semester at Lenoir Mainstreet, expect to find food from your backyard.
Three people were threatened at knifepoint Tuesday near the automated teller machines next to Davis Library, UNC police said.Ronny Renee Forney, 42, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon at about 11:07 a.m. Tuesday on Raleigh Street, according to Department of Public Safety reports.Forney is studying biology at the University through the Friday Center.Police responded to reports of a person with a knife causing a disturbance, reports state. Officers said they saw Forney holding a knife in her hand and pointing it at the group when they arrived.Police issued Forney with a trespass warning and arrested her for assault with a deadly weapon, reports state. She was taken to the Department of Public Safety office and was then transported to Hillsborough, where she was brought before a magistrate.She was released from custody Tuesday afternoon, said University police Sgt. James Arwood.Martin Richenhagen, 57, from Duluth, Ga., was one of the people threatened, UNC police said. Two relatives of Richenhagen were also present at the scene. Brigitte Richenhagen, 45, is also from Duluth. Mechthild Richenhagen, 26, is a senior in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Police do not know what provoked the incident, but Martin Richenhagen said it started when he asked Forney for change for a parking meter at the ATMs on Raleigh Street. Richenhagen said Forney became aggressive and called him “old” and “ugly.” Richenhagen said when he tried to calm Forney down, she pulled out a knife. He described the knife as similar to a Swiss Army knife.Nate Crosby, a courier for University Libraries and a witness at the scene, said he saw Richenhagen push Forney to the ground. Crosby said Forney got up and pulled out a knife after being pushed.“She would have been OK if she didn’t pull out the knife,” Crosby said. Randy Young, DPS spokesman, said the incident is under investigation.Martin Richenhagen is the chief executive officer of AGCO Corporation, a Fortune 500 company that manufactures and distributes agricultural equipment and related parts. He gave a lecture Monday about German and American business practices.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A woman was found guilty Monday of misdemeanor common law forgery for altering town of Carrboro documents related to a struggle with the town that’s lasted more than two years.Marilyn Kille, owner of Peppermint Spring Farm, built an apartment within a barn on her property in 1997. When it was brought to the attention of the town of Carrboro through a formal complaint in 2006, she became engaged in a civil lawsuit with the town for violating a zoning law.Kille’s apartment is located in a town watershed area, where these kinds of apartments are prohibited.In a criminal lawsuit that came to a close Monday, the court found that Kille went through property records, changed information with a pen to indicate that an apartment had been part of her barn’s original use and then made photocopies.During cross-examination in court, Kille said the word “workshop” added to a document was in her handwriting, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman said.Kille took the stand in her own defense Monday, denying that she altered the documents.She still claims that the proceedings stem from a corrupt Carrboro government.She said she thinks her property is being targeted to gain control of watershed farms in the area.“Carrboro has misled public officials to get erroneous information to be used against me,” she said. “They’ve got too much money in the continuing development of this community to allow me to prevail.”Nieman requested that Kille undergo a mental evaluation, but the judge did not order it.“If I have to be a criminal, let me be a criminal,” Kille said.Judge Joseph Buckner sentenced Kille to a 15-day suspended sentence, a $100 fine and court costs. Kille has a right to appeal to N.C. Superior Court, but Kille did not confirm or deny whether she would appeal. “My understanding is that Ms. Kille will likely appeal this decision,” T.C. Morphis, Carrboro assistant town attorney, said.J. Dickson Phillips, Kille’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.Morphis brought a civil case against Kille in 2007, and it still hasn’t been resolved.“The criminal case and the civil case are really separate,” Nieman said.The civil issue was discussed at the Sept. 1 Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting. Carrboro officials resolved that Kille should remove the electrical meter from the apartment, making it unlivable, Morphis said.Kille has been renting the apartment to a local graduate student.Morphis said the meter has not yet been removed.Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
The more people who come to the food pantry, the more Chris Moran is sure layoffs and foreclosures have hit homes in Chapel Hill.About 62 percent more households have joined the Inter-Faith Council for Social Services food pantry since last July, from 1,470 households to 2,379, Executive Director Moran said.“People are earning less but have the same expenses, and many rely on food stamps to help them get by so they can keep their homes,” Moran said.The Inter-Faith Council food pantry provided 1,422 bags of groceries to households in July 2009, up from 1,155 bags a year before.The problem: More food is going out than coming in, he said.The amount of food the council receives is slowly rising among the council’s 2,800 donors, but the number of needy families is rising even faster.Giving is up about 25 percent from last year, but it is still far away from where the nonprofit would like it to be, Moran said.To receive groceries, households apply at the pantry. Members of the Inter-Faith Council then determine whether or not families are eligible for aid based on their particular financial situations. There is no set formula for determining eligibility.Members of households can come in once per month to receive groceries. Some come every month, while others might only show up once a year, Moran said.“If all of those households came in every single month, we would run out of food,” Moran said.The Inter-Faith Council is trying to find a space to combine the food pantry, which is located in Carrboro, with a community kitchen in Chapel Hill, also operated by the Inter-Faith Council. The kitchen prepares and serves free meals. Almost 100,000 meals were served in the past year.Combining the pantry and kitchen would allow the Council to distribute resources more easily and to start more outreach programs like helping with food stamp applications and showing families how to cook on a budget.Moran said community involvement is a crucial aspect of ending hunger in Carrboro and Chapel Hill.“We need more help, more money, more food and more support,” he said.“Everybody has to eat.”Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story reprinted from June 4 issue of The Daily Tar Heel.
The paramedic who responded to a high school football player who died shortly after being provided with care will still be allowed to keep his credentials.
A seven-member disciplinary review board with decided unanimously to take no action against the credentials of Orange County paramedic James Griffin, who responded to Chapel Hill High football player Atlas Fraley.
But Griffin cannot work in Orange County without repeating his training.
Atlas Fraley, 17, died Aug. 12 after Griffin, along with a fourth-year medical student, responded to Fraley’s complaints of dehydration and cramping all over his body.
Griffin advised Fraley to continue to drink fluids and to work out his cramps. He then allowed Fraley to sign his own release form, despite his lawful status as a minor.
Fraley’s parents found their son dead in their home later that night.
A report released Monday by the state office of EMS stated that while Griffin violated Orange County protocol during his response to Fraley’s call, he did not act incompetently under state regulations.
“We were not investigating Orange County, we were looking at Griffin,” said Drexdal Pratt, chief of the state office of EMS.
Pratt said the board’s decision rotated around two main issues. The first was that Jane Brice, Orange County EMS medical director, found Griffin to be a competent paramedic.
After reviewing Griffin’s actions, Brice terminated the paramedic’s practice privileges in Orange County later that August. According to the report, Brice said she had never had a paramedic violate so many protocols at once.
Brice later said that she believed Griffin was capable of being a paramedic anywhere except Orange County, due to the higher standard of service it holds for its paramedics.
The second reason Pratt gave was that the medical report did not indicate that Griffin’s actions directly contributed to Fraley’s death.
Fraley’s autopsy report concluded that the cause of death was “undetermined natural causes.”
Pratt said the state stood by its decision even though the board had not received some of the information it requested, including a report from the medical student who accompanied Griffin.
“We thought we had enough based on interviews to not pursue that any farther,” he said.
Other information not released to the state includes records from the phone Griffin said he used to call Fraley’s parents while on the scene.
Fraley famliy attorney Donald Strickland said the family is preparing to take legal action against Griffin and Orange County Emergency Medical Services, but he did not mention a specific date.
All-you-can-eat buffets, late-night food on Franklin Street and an excellent bus system make it easy to forget to stay healthy during your first year of college.
It's official: Carolina North was approved.After almost a year of deliberation the Chapel Hill Town Council voted Monday to approve the development agreement for the new research campus" which will allow construction to move forward.""I think it turned out to be an excellent" innovative document that is worth all the time we put into it" said Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy.The UNC Board of Trustees will vote on the development agreement at their meeting today. Carolina North is a proposed 250-acre research and multipurpose campus that will be located on the Horace Williams Tract, about two miles north of the University's main campus.Before any construction could begin, the site's zoning required a development agreement to be written and approved.University and town officials collaborated to create the agreement, which outlines specific ways the development of Carolina North will be true to all parties' visions.The agreement addresses issues including parking and transportation, affordable housing, pedestrian pathways and environmental conservation, among others.A draft was completed in April. Although council members were initially worried that it would not be approved on time, the last of many work sessions with the council and trustees happened Monday, on schedule.And officials plan to continue this collaboration throughout the entire development of Carolina North, noting that revision and review must continue for the project to be successful.This is a living document" and it has a lot of ongoing commitments in it" Chancellor Holden Thorp said. The first part of Carolina North scheduled to be built is the Innovation Center, which will help entrepreneurs develop ideas and work on turning their ideas into business. Next will be a law school.According to the permit for the Innovation Center, building must start by 2011 and finish by 2013.An initial report projected that the first 15 years of development will leave the town with at least a $1 million deficit, something the council will look at in the future.Some council members, although pleased with the agreement, stressed the need for continued oversight.It's a bit quixotic"" Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward said. Just because we have it now doesn't mean we'll have it a year from now."" Thorp said that while he thought this would be one of the hardest things to get done"" he was happy with the way things turned out. ""It's been enjoyable and produced a great outcome for the community"" he said. Now we need money to build a law school.""Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
From the moment the curtain lifted to the final bow" the audience in Memorial Hall was transported to a world of young love" dreams and maddening windmills with the Bolshoi Ballet's performance of ""Don Quixote.""For some audience members"" to see the Bolshoi in Chapel Hill was the chance of a lifetime.""This is the first time I have had the opportunity to see the Russian ballet"" said Raleigh resident Mary Gatton, 91. They are the world's best.""But being the world's best requires more than fancy footwork. The stunning combination of the renowned company with a show and a score that exuded endless energy and strength captivated the audience from beginning to end.""It's colorful" fiery with lots of leaps jumps and twirls very different from ‘Swan Lake"'"" said Emil Kang" UNC's executive director for the arts.Lively costumes and vibrant lighting brought the age-old story to life. Bright lights in the dream sequence highlighted the dancers' white tutus transforming them into ethereal beings.In many scenes flowing red dresses served as interactive props for the dancers.The score composed for the Bolshoi by Ludwig Minkus in the mid-19th century and performed Wednesday by the N.C. Symphony accentuated the company's mastery of form.N.C. Symphony General Manager Scott Freck said accompanying the Bolshoi was a unique project for the group" since they had rehearsed the music for just a week amid other performances.""I don't think we've ever done anything quite like this before"" he said. It's been a total honor for the orchestra to play in the pit for what is really the world's foremost ballet company. There's really nothing like it.""The chemistry of the two leads really drove the show. Kitri and Basil" portrayed by Maria Alexandrova and Ivan Vasiliev respectively brought chemistry and passion to their roles.It was easy to become entranced while watching the dancers' feet. The complex movements paired with incredible precision made their performance exciting to watch.Kitri's famous leap in which she kicks her foot behind her head — featured on the posters across town — was named for the Bolshoi's Maya Plisetskaya. The leap was executed perfectly by Alexandrova and her final 36 pirouettes kept the audience hanging on every turn.But the real drama was found in the performers' faces. The passion that Kitri and Basil had as they gazed into each other's eyes and the sly grin of Sancho Panza introduced a human element that at times transcended the movements themselves.After the show" Gatton was quite pleased.""I'll die happy"" she said. Everything was just perfect.""Arts Editor Rebecca Brenner contributed reporting. Contact the Arts Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The recommended budget for Orange County has been created to operate at a revenue neutral tax rate while addressing priorities of providing safety net services for the county.The new recommended budget will necessitate a change in the way services are delivered in various departments and reductions in county programs are recommended across the board.The $177.6 million budget developed by County Manager Laura Blackmon allocates 51.6 percent of the General Fund to county departments and the remaining 48.4 percent to fund local school districts.Blackmon is recommending a four percent funding increase in employee health insurance effective January 1 2010.She also is requesting to maintain the living wage at $10.12 an hour. No employee furloughs are expected" but a 12-month hiring freeze is recommended for vacant county positions.""The situation for next year may be worse"" she said. We want to make sure there is flexibility for next year.""Major sources of revenue for the county include property and sales taxes" monies from other governments and fees for various services.A new property tax rate of 85.8 cents is being recommended following property revaluations earlier this year.It is estimated that one cent on property tax adds around $1.5 million in additional revenue.There will be two public hearings regarding the recommended budget. The first will take place tonight at Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. The second will take place May 26 at the Southern Human Services Center in Chapel Hill. The final county budget will be approved June 16.Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
The Orange County landfill is projected to reach capacity in June 2012" a year later than originally expected.The extension will provide commissioners with more time to decide on the future of a proposed waste-transfer station — time many believe can only help the process.""If we're actually going to be able to site and build the transfer station" we need all the time we can get" solid waste planner Blair Pollock said.The county has been searching for a transfer station site for more than a year. The station will store trash before it's shipped out of the county. A site in Bingham Township off N.C. 54 has emerged as the county's top choice from hundreds of possibilities.Commissioners will receive follow-up information on the site search at their meeting tonight.The board will also discuss possible contingency plans in case the county landfill is full, but a transfer station is not yet built.Those options include reducing the quantity of incoming waste into the landfill and diverting all government and private garbage. If the landfill gets full but the station isn't yet built, options include developing a temporary transfer operation in the Rogers-Eubanks community, home to the Orange County landfill for decades.At this point, these are simply options commissioners will consider.And the new deadline gives the county another option — finishing the transfer station before the landfill is full.The most important issue regarding a contingency plan is not needing one"" Orange County solid waste management director Gayle Wilson said. Just the nature of it implies that it is a last resort or that it portends the avoidance of a crisis.""Wilson said that while the transfer station still might not be built in time" the county will keep trying to use its space efficiently.But with the new projections" it's more likely that the station could be built before the landfill fills.The new deadline also gives community activists more time to make their case.""We definitely need more time to make the right decision"" said Bonnie Hauser, member of activist group Orange County Voice.Community groups are lobbying commissioners to re-examine the transfer station search process and look into alternative solutions, like using waste for energy.Some feel rural Orange County should not have to handle trash generated mostly in the three main towns.Orange County Voice says the county could save money by not building a station and letting contractors haul garbage.The projected cost for building and operating the station is more than $54 million during 20 years.County staff are still in conversations with Dennis Howell, the owner of the N.C. 54 site.Howell is asking for $3 million though the 142.7-acre property has a market value of $820,000. It is unknown at this time whether Howell will sell his property. Assistant County Manager Gwen Harvey said it is impossible to forecast what will happen.It's one step at a time as it relates to this delicate negotiation."" Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners passed Tuesday an agenda to present to the N.C. General Assembly later this month.The approved legislative agenda for Orange County is a 38-item document containing issues which the county hopes that state representatives will address.The agenda identifies several priorities including more funding options for transportation and school construction.Commissioners also support banning smoking in all public places.In addition commissioners chose to support the Jordan Lake Rules" a proposal aimed at reducing stormwater pollution and preserving the lake. Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier noted the importance of throwing full support behind the rules.""There's going to be negotiations regardless of what we say"" she said. I support us making a strong statement.""Commissioners approved most of the items on the agenda without discussing them at the meeting" but decided to temporarily delay a request for funding for the Orange County Heritage Center.The resolution requests $134000 from the N.C. General Assembly to establish the center which would serve as a space to preserve historical documents.Commissioners said they removed it from the agenda because they feel more details about the project needs to be gathered including an in-depth look at the contents of the collection where to house it and how much the project would cost.The agenda will be presented to the county's legislative delegation April 20.Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
More than 1"000 Orange County residents assembled Monday to rally against the most recent property revaluations.Chants of ""Tax relief now!"" filled the room as organizers of the meeting" sponsored by FreedomWorks of Orange County" asked for support and gave tips for residents who plan to appeal their valuations. The group is asking Orange County commissioners to rescind the valuations — which increased values by an average of 24 percent.""This bunch is not going to give up"" resident Monty Ray said. We're going to fight harder.""Residents contend that the county can throw out its policy to do revaluations every four years and follow state requirements to do them every eight.Though there is no clear answer to the legality of the move" County Manager Laura Blackmon is presenting it as an option to commissioners for a meeting tonight. But the manager is recommending that commissioners not rescind the revaluations but instead enact a revenue-neutral tax rate which would mean tax increases for properties which had an increased value of more than 16 percent.Organizers at the Monday meeting also instructed residents about the appeal process for new revaluations. Residents can appeal their property valuations up until March 31. After that date appeals may be made to the Board of Equalization and Review. Joe Phelps a realtor from Hillsborough encouraged residents to fill out the appeal forms available on the county Web site. The tax assessor's office will reassess the property in question and submit their opinion by mail. Residents can then choose to accept the opinion or appeal again to the board of equalization. But if they choose to appeal further Phelps said they need to bring more solid evidence.Deputy County Tax Assessor Judy Ryan said in an interview that her office had received about 2100 appeals as of Monday much more than initially expected.An increased number of appeals from tax revolters could lead to a slower system she said. She added that this could be an issue for taxpayers" since it would take assessors longer to complete each appeal. Monday's meeting was one of many that hundreds of residents attended.""I've been rather surprised at the turnouts"" said Roy Loflin, spokesman for FreedomWorks of Orange County. I haven't seen them as fired up as they are now.""Residents were encouraged to stick together and to contribute with time as well as money.Resident Bob Mason said the turnout gave him hope for the success of the protests.""By golly we can stand up and do something."" Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A presentation from Orange County Tax Assessor John Smith stirred up more controversy about new property revaluations at a meeting Tuesday.Orange County residents said they were confused by the mechanics of the revaluation which is done every four years to readjust property tax rates.Many residents said they are disappointed to hear that no property owners have walked out of Smith's office with a value adjusted on the spot.While officials are encouraging residents to appeal their revaluations on an individual basis" Smith said adjustments take time.Residents also repeated their request to Orange County Commissioners to throw out the new numbers and do another revaluation that would better reflect county housing market values.""The average person out there has no idea what (Smith) says"" Orange County resident Ray Kirby said.Smith said he expects the number of people appealing their valuations this year to double what it was during the last revaluation, in 2005.Residents have turned out to county meetings to protest the revaluations in numbers. The Orange County chapter of Freedom Works, a national anti-tax organization, has been organizing what's being called the tax revolt.""About 150 residents" some with signs crowded into Tuesday's meeting. Smith noted that the average increase since the last valuation in 2005 is 24 percent. He also said about half of county properties had value increases of less than or equal to 24 percent. Cries of mistrust rang out in the room since some residents said their property revaluations resulted in an increase of more than 500 percent. Commissioners questioned Smith about the roughly half of residents who faced revaluations above the 24 percent average. If the county adopts a revenue- neutral tax rate which would lower the tax rate to compensate for increases in property values everyone above that average will pay more taxes.Commissioners will decide on a tax rate by the end of June.Residents said Smith's numbers only made things worse. Boos were heard on many occasions as Smith presented his statistics.In asking commissioners to throw out the valuations residents are also challenging County Attorney Geoff Gledhill's claim that the county cannot legally do so.The county decided years ago to update property values every four years despite state laws requiring it every eight. Gledhill asserts that the county can't redo the revaluations.Smith suggested that the county would lose money if commissioners rescinded the valuations.The board accepted Smith's comments and decided to hold their opinions for a later time. Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
Water conservation rules in Orange County might change in light of last year's drought.Orange Water and Sewer Authority will meet tonight with the Chapel Hill Town Council Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Orange County Commissioner to discuss proposed revisions to water conservation standards which could relax restrictions regarding water use.Patrick Davis utility manager generalist at OWASA said they try to learn from past experience" drawing on public input to improve future conservation measures. ""Our approach is to evaluate our experience and lessons learned after each drought that our community goes through" he said. The proposed changes for drought situations include:Eliminating the water supply advisory stage" an alert to OWASA customers about potential shortages. Davis said that in the past, the advisory stage provided few benefits and is confusing to the public. Allowing irrigation of public-purpose recreational fields and botanical sites, provided that individual sites submit a water conservation plan. For many public use areas, the safety of the users is related to the quality of the turf. By keeping these areas watered during water-shortage conditions, a greater public benefit can be achieved, Davis said.Extending spray-irrigation hours to promote consistency with other communities' ordinances. Differentiating between irrigation of turf versus shrubs, gardens and trees. The latter typically have a higher resource value and take longer to grow, and relaxing irrigation provisions for them could increase plant sales and ensure longer life for some plants.Allowing public and private swimming pools to be filled or topped off until a water emergency is declared. Davis said that with the 2007-08 drought, the few swimming pools in the county did not create a significant loss of water.Restrictions on water use during last year's drought forced the town get a tanker truck to haul water to the Chapel Hill Community Center indoor pool to keep it topped off, said Butch Kisiah, director for parks and recreation for Chapel Hill. This would not be necessary if the changes are accepted.We're going to be able to use our normal systems to top off those water levels so that we can have the optimum amount of water in the pool"" he said.We had to get a tanker truck and haul water to the pool to keep it topped off.""Previous drought restrictions left some businesses to search for alternative sources of water to keep things afloat.The proposed changes are intended to give customers more flexibility in the context of water conservation.Public feedback for the proposals has been favorable.The proposals have been in the works for almost a year. But new provisions do not mean that citizens need to stop conserving. Davis said last year's drought should act as a constant reminder to conserve water even when not in drought conditions.Kisiah said he looks forward to the new provisions and is thankful that alternative options are being investigated.""We appreciate OWASA working with us to allow us to not only take care of our pools but also maintain our turf athletic fields. We look forward to seeing what happens."" Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A proposal to establish regulations concerning the development of drive-through facilities in Orange County sparked residents' interest at a Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. At the meeting a joint venture between the board and the county planning department" officials sought guidance on whether or not to prohibit the construction of drive-throughs altogether or create strict regulations.The proposal emerged after concern that cars left idling in drive-through lines caused significant harm to the environment arose.Many board members agreed that environmental reasons for prohibiting or regulating drive-throughs were pressing.Chairwoman of the Board Valerie Foushee said that they understood the negative environmental impact of drive-throughs. But she said it was important to consider both support and opposition for drive-throughs.""Sometimes what we see as a convenience for some people really is a necessity for others"" said The goal of the meeting was to determine the public's reaction to the proposals. The proposal will be decided on in April or May.Flood regulationsHundreds of Orange County residents pressed commissioners on potential changes in county flood zones Monday night.Officials sent letters to 8,300 addresses in the county about the changes that many residents said were overly confusing.Residents said they felt they were uninformed as they lined the walls at the meeting.Commissioners deferred most residents' complaints and questions to the county planning department.Contact the City Editor at email@example.com.
100 acts of kindness celebrate integrationLisa Andrukonis Staff WriterMonique Paylor a third-grader at Rashkis Elementary School wrote on paper hands about making her grandfather breakfast" helping her sister pick up toys and her classmate baking cookies.She's one of Claire Nelson's third-grade students who wrote 100 acts of kindness on paper hands to celebrate a milestone in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.The district is celebrating the 100th day of its 100th year today with projects based on the number 100.""We're encouraging folks of all grade levels to take part and … asking folks to put a service aspect on it"" said Stephanie Knott, assistant to the superintendent for community relations.Nelson's class decided to write their acts on multiculturally colored hands after learning of segregation in Chapel Hill. The schools integrated in the early 1960s.Harper Lewis, one of Nelson's students, said doing kind acts encouraged others to be kind.It's like the line leaders who set a good example" Lewis said.Meg Johnson's second-grade class is also marking acts of kindness at Rashkis.We go to a teacher and tell them and they write it down" said Isabel Hudson, a second-grader in Johnson's class.Johnson's class watched for acts of kindness and recorded them on a multi-colored poster in the classroom.The whole atmosphere got even more caring"" Johnson said. We really hope it will even continue after the 100th day.""Students send ‘thank you' notes to soldiersSteven Norton" Staff WriterOn a busy Tuesday afternoon Glenwood Elementary School students put the finishing touches on letters that will soon travel halfway around the world.In celebration of the 100th day of the school district's 100th year Linda Sheer's second- and third-graders wrote 100 letters to troops in Iraq.Smiles traveled through the room as students finished. Each letter includes a special thank you for the troops a note about the school's 100th day" a class picture and a Valentine's Day sticker wishing a happy holiday. ""We say thank you for serving our country and tell them to keep safe"" third-grader KaHeathsha Brittian said. They'll like that we thanked them for fighting for our freedom.""For third-grader Bora Imirgi and his classmates" writing 100 letters seemed daunting but during the two weeks of work" they were up to the challenge. ""It was hard" but it went fast" he said.The finished letters will be sent to Letters To Soldiers, a Utah-based organization that will distribute them to Army Post Offices in Iraq.Aside from celebrating the school's 100th day, Sheer said she believes that the project will not only improve students' writing skills but teach them a little bit about public service.It gives them an appreciation of others and lets them know that it's good to do things for other people"" she said. It's not all about them.""Contact the City Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.