In Other News

Like many of you, I have been so wrapped up in the presidential horse race, it's been hard to pay attention to local issues lately. But lest these stories fall entirely through the cracks, here are a few notable news items from this week:

CHN 10/26/04: County sees increase in voter rolls
Due to overdue list cleanup, there are only 665 more voters registered in Orange County than we had in 2000, but there are 2,493 more voters registered as unaffiliated.

DTH 10/26/04: Businesses offer voting incentives
Local businesess are offerring deals for voters.

DTH 10/26/04: Town mulls building height
Carrboro continues the debate of 3 stories versus 5 stories, tries to buffer neighborhoods better.

CHN 10/26/04: Sign snatchings anger residents
We have a problem with people stealing and vandalizing political signs. My opinion: probably the same childish morons who egged Dale Pratt-Wilson's house.

CHN 10/27/04: Endorses Carey, Foushee for commissioner

CHH 10/28/04: Man with warrant brings crack to court
And not only that, "he fell asleep in court and didn't hear his name being called."

DTH 10/29/04: IFC praises Moran's service
Executive Director Chris Moran's 20-year anniversary with IFC.

DTH 10/29/04: Poll workers troubleshoot heavy voting
Board of Elections has hired temporary workers, 26,000 have voted in Orange County so far including lots of young people.

Issues: 

Total votes: 202

Comments

Jack,
I'd like to hear more about your knowledge and views on the IFC shelter. What do you know about lives being saved, and why have you changed your position on the shelter's location?

I'm asking this because normally you write against things, rather than for things.

Ed,

Contact Mr. Lattimor Davis in Durham.

Best, Jack

Speaking of stories that fall through the cracks:

CH's town council has debated, twice now, over how to spend $150,000 ($100,000 from UNC, $50,000 from the town) to fix up the Old Chapel Hill Cemetary (UNC is also repairing the rock wall). The task force said that much more money is needed ($350,000, I think) to do the repairs they'd like to do. The disagreement is over how to allocate the money they have. In case some folks are not familiar with this, here's some background. (Well, a lot of background).

Among other things, the Cemetary Task Force's recommendations include using $52,000 to restore some wrought iron fences surrounding the Di and Phi Societies' plots. The majority believes that a one-time restoration of the fences would provide the most visual impact (from an artistic point of view) and this, together with the historical significance of the wrought iron , justifies the expense. They say it simply costs a lot to restore wrought iron properly.

One member of the task force objects to dedicating one third of the money to just one area and some members of the council agree. They believe the money should be spread throughout the cemetary. Gutter and headstone repair as well as some required maintenance in the African-American section were mentioned as alternatives for the money.

One council member suggested a $25,000 challenge grant, to be matched by private funds, as an alternative. However, the Di/Phi Societies apparently lack the capability of raising this kind of cash. This was pointed out at the October meeting. (There are only 18 current members at UNC,according to a member who showed up at the public forum). There is a $10,000 pledge for the fences, which is in addition to the $52,000 (task force members say the fences may cost a bit more). It wasn't clear to me where the $10,000 was coming from.

To address gutter repairs (which was estimated at 8-$10,000, I think) , a council member suggested this money could be found somewhere in the current budget (the town was able to find $15,000 to hire a facilitator for the Airport Rd. renaming committee). Headstone repair and maintenance of the African-American section (there are sunken graves that need leveling) would be part of the ongoing maintenance of the cemetary.

At the end of the public forum on Mon., a council member referred to a document (distributed by another council member ) containing a highlighted paragraph. It said, essentially, that the cemetary reverts back to the state if the town fails to maintain it. The coucil had already voted to send their recommendations back to the task force and nothing else was said about it.

With all this said, I decided to visit the cemetary yesterday to see what all the fuss is about. (If anyone's interested, you can pick up a nice brochure and map at the Horace Williams House). It is a huge cemetary. I can see how it would be difficult to decide how to spread the money around. The fences in question are in bad shape. The roots of a tree stump have caused the fence to bow and it is broken in several places. There are many other broken fences surrounding what I suppose are family plots (whether they are wrought iron, I don't know). I saw one broken headstone, but I was there for only 20 min. I had my 9 yr. old with me (Can we go now, MOM!) and I didn't get to the African-American section.

Speaking as an amateur genealogist, I know how import old cemetarites are when it comes to tracing family roots. My family cemetary in rural Georgia has graves dating back to the mid-1800's. Luckily, there are family members nearby who care enough to keep it trimmed and mowed.

To me, that's what this debate boils down to. Does the town care enough to maintain the graves of people who's families are not here to do it? The cemetary has historical significance to both Chapel Hill and UNC (from the brochure). I think someone at the meeting Mon. referred to the cemetary as a "jewel". The question is, should it be Chapel Hill's jewel or UNC's jewel? Maybe there are folks who think the cemetary should revert back to UNC. If so, I'd be interested in their reasoning.

Meantime, I think the council should release the money to do the repairs that the task force recommended.

After doing some research on wrought iron, I'm now convinced that the $52,000 allocated for the Di/Phi fences is justified.

http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/1998/art/pages/simmons.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacksmith

These fences were created by talented artisans and they deserve to be preserved.

 

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