December 2008

Toy Chest Needs Contributions

Have you noticed the tree with the little paper bears hanging from it in Carr Mill Mall? That tree is usually almost empty of bears by now.  I was thinking maybe it was just me being paranoid or sentimental, but the Carrboro Citizen affirmed what I suspected.

The families in need of assistance with Christmas gifts is increasing and the donations are not meeting the need. 

The Orange County Department of Social Services Toy Chest is running low on toys and clothes. Families are participating who had no need in the past. The Citizen mentioned how sad it is for younger children to be bypassed because they can't understand, but a friend also said that the Toy Chest is particularly in need of things for teens.

To donate toys or checks can be taken to Southern Human Services on Homestead Road in Chapel Hill or Whitted Human Services in Hillsborough.

Spread the word.

Bacteria in the water at Morris Grove

Why are more folks not talking about the bacteria in the water at Morris Grove Elementary? OWASA submits to test after test with the water bacteria free, so the bacteria is developing after the water leaves OWASA and is piped through the schools system. I cannot find information anywherethat states what is being done to correct this problem. Am I the only oneoutraged at this? These are our children, some getting sick from drinking tainted water.  Is there a plan in place to correct this?   

Mayors request infrastructure project money

The N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition has submitted its request for money from the federal and state governments for infrastructure projects. I’ve mapped the requests made for the town of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. No requests were made by Hillsborough.

See the raw Chapel Hill data here. See the full spreadsheet of requests here.

Roofs Leaking at Local Schools

Some things you have to see for yourself to believe.
I recently took a tour of about a half dozen schools, mainly older facilities, in the Chapel Hill Carrboro school system.  Because the County Commissioners fund the school systems' budgets, it's important for me to see first hand what the parents, teachers, and school administrators are complaining about.  I took a similar tour of facilities in the Orange County School system a while back and wanted to assess the situation in the city schools.
Boy, am I glad I did.

Chapel Hill Town Council meeting on Carolina North


Saturday, January 10, 2009 - 5:00am to 9:00am


Transit Meeting Room, Town Operations Center, Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Town Council special meeting on Carolina North


Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 2:00pm


Extraordinary Ventures, 200 Eliott Road, Chapel Hill

Affordable Housing Roundtable Discussion


Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 6:30am to 8:30am


Chapel Hill Public Library Meeting Room

Drinking Liberally


Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - 2:00pm


The Station at Southern Rail, Carrboro

Recession Proof Holiday

Every afternoon I stop at the light at the intersection of 15-501 and I-40 and I talk to the men who panhandle there.  It is usually the only interesting moment in my daily commute. 

This week I asked one of the panhandlers if he and his friends needed anything.  I said, “With the holiday coming up do you guys need anything for Christmas?” The man paused and tilted his head as people often do when considering a question.  After a few seconds he smiled and said, “Nope. We’re good.”The light changed and I drove away thinking about the irony of panhandlers who do not need anything.

Why Here?

One of the panhandlers on 15-501 recently returned to our area following 12 month sabatical. He spent the time away in a federal prison in South Carolina for cashing a few bad checks and for resisting arrest. I asked him, "What was it like down there in prison?" He said, "It was really easier than livin' out here. I got medical treatment and they fixed one of my teeth and it wasn't so cold."

I have not asked him why he returned to our area but I am curious about it. What is so attractive about homelessness and panhandling in our community? What would motivate a person to travel back here to live in the woods and beg for money on the highway? I wonder if it is a positive or negative reflection on our community that this homeless man and so many others in similar circumstances want to make this place their home.

Michael B. Owen




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