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Farmers' Market has ATM

Durham Farmers' Market has joined the 21st century: Its first ATM was installed Thursday and will be ready to use Saturday after a 7:50 a.m. unveiling.

According to market Manager Erin Kauffman, the ATM has been a work in progress for a long time. Some of its fees are to be used for funding another work in progress, a Food Stamp program the Farmers Market hopes to have in operation by the end of this year.

Preservation Durham strikes deal for Liberty Warehouse redevelopment

Preservation Durham has dropped its opposition to removing the Liberty Warehouse’s Local Historic Landmark designation after reaching agreements with the building’s owner and prospective buyer.

The City Council is due to vote on removal at its meeting tonight.

According to Preservation Durham Executive Director Wendy Hillis, Liberty owner Greenfire Developer and East-West Partners, a Chapel Hill firm which has a contract to buy the warehouse, have agreed to address several preservationists’ concerns:

• Integrating the existing southern brick wall into the redevelopment plans by preserving the Foundry, Central Park mural and wall, but making strategic penetrations to allow for enhanced public connectivity and programming in Central Park.
• Incorporating of the northeast brick façade and LIBERTY sign into the redevelopment plans.
• Reusing old wood from the warehouse within the redevelopment and recycling that which is not reused onsite.
• Memorializing and documenting the Liberty Warehouse and the tobacco-auction business in Durham, either through an outdoor public exhibit or a dedicated museum space.
• Using architectural forms and materials that contextually relate to the surrounding area.
• A continued dialogue with Preservation Durham around the development of Liberty Warehouse that will include regular communication and meetings as the project proceeds towards construction.    
• Should East-West Partners not become involved in the Liberty’s redevelopment, Greenfire Development is committed to these same criteria.

Hillis and Preservation Durham President Josh Park negotiated the commitments with Greenfire Managing Partner Paul Smith and East-West principals Roger Perry and Bryson Powell.

“We have always recognized that Liberty Warehouse would be a difficult building to rehabilitate,” Hillis said in a prepared statement.

“Our concern has been that any redevelopment project intelligently assess the historic importance of the site and ensure that any new construction is appropriate within the industrial context of the neighborhood.”

Durham divided on nonprofit grants

County commissioners Chairman Fred Foster wants the city’s advice on nonprofit funding, but his fellow Commissioner Michael Page wants the city to rethink its policies.

Grants to nonprofit agencies came up during a meeting of commissioners and City Council members last week, when Foster asked Mayor Bill Bell how the city ended its “non-city agencies” grant program

“We put a plan in place over a four-year period, told those in the queue we would be ending funding after a certain time and no new applications would be taken,” Mayor Bill Bell said.

The city program ended after the 2011-12 fiscal year. Durham County still makes cash grants to various organizations that apply for its Nonprofit Agency Funding Program. For the current fiscal year, the county gave out $794,849 to 41 agencies.

“It can be a burden without a benefit,” said Councilman Eugene Brown. The grants constituted about .25 percent of the city budget, but took as much council time in budget meetings as the Police Department, he said, and some organizations were doing no fund-raising on their own.

“I agree with you,” Page said, but then said, “I really do hope at some point you rethink this process.

“There are some nonprofits that are really providing services … that work very hard to serve citizens, particularly citizens no one else serves,” Page said.

Durham does give money to some “very targeted nonprofit initiatives,” particularly in low-income housing, City Manager Tom Bonfield said. Some city departments have partner arrangements that support nonprofits through departmental budgets or by in-kind donations.

“We realize we have limited resources,” said Bell. “There are instances where we’ve had people come in who had no experience working with the city … and ask for city money.”

Page said the county got “an enormous number of applications” for arts and recreation programs, areas the city formerly funded as non-city agencies.

“You were carrying some of this weight,” he said.

“People can always ask,” said Bell.

Two days left to comment on Durham bus fare hike

You’ve got two more days to let the city hear what you think about paying more to ride the bus. Higher fares are one option being considered to make up a $1.6 million revenue shortfall for DATA operations next fiscal year.

Wednesday is the last day of taking public comment. DATA is holding a “feedback session” from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Durham Station, and online comments may be made at data.gotriangle.org by clicking on “Proposed Fare Increase.”

Fare increases, if adopted, would take effect Sept. 28. Other ways the city is thinking of raising more money for bus service are:

* Increases to property tax

* Advertising on the outside of buses 

* Cuts in service

* Redirecting part of new vehicle registration fees from expanding services to maintaining services.

Energy bill repeal rebuffed

State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird writes to her constituents weekly. Here is an excerpt from her latest message.

A far-reaching environmental measure was passed several years ago. It was called the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) and required energy companies to purchase 7 to 14 percent of their energy from alternative sources by 2020. It has proved successful, providing a boost to our solar energy industry as well as preventing the need to build more coal or nuclear power plants.

This session, a bill was introduced that would have repealed this alternative energy requirements. In a victory in this grim legislative session, a House committee voted down the chair’s own bill to repeal the renewable energy requirement. Even Republicans joined to vote the bill down.

Interestingly, Duke and Progress Energy that have participated in the alternate energy production goals, and neither asked to have the requirement repealed. The bill was purely ideologically based on the idea that government shouldn’t force industry to meet such requirements. Solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in the state. And while there are complaints that the solar industry is subsidized, the oil and gas industry is much more heavily subsidized.

Tell us about your mom and win a free book

What did you learn from your mom?

Or what did you learn from watching someone else be a mom?

The Chapel Hill News and The Durham News are seeking short reader essays about motherhood in time for Mother's Day. All the people who send us an essay will be entered in a random drawing for a free copy of Maya Angelou's new memoir "Mom & Me & Mom" or Richard Russo's "Elsewhere." (So you don't have to write the "best" essay, just send us one to be in the running.)

Try to keep your essay in the 200 to 400 word range. All entries must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, May 6, one week from today. Send them to editor@newsobserver.com with your photo and a photo of your mom if you like.

We'll pick two winners, and all the essays may get published in the newspaper.

Good luck, and Happy Mother's Day.

ATT bridge going up Saturday night

At long last, the American Tobacco Trail bridge over Interstate 40 is going into place Saturday night, according to City Hall.

A statement issued this morning states that the bridge is going to be set on its foundations by a crane between midnight and 7 a.m. Sunday, requiring that I-40 be closed to traffic between Fayetteville Road and N.C. 751.

Eastbound traffic will be routed around the Southpoint Mall retail area via Renaissance Parkway, westbound routed onto N.C. 54.

Trail users have been anticipating a connection across the interstate since the American Tobacco Trail opened in 2000. Repeated delays for design, financing, bidding, permitting and construction have held it up ever since – most recently this spring when four of the bridge’s eight piers were discovered to have been built 2.5 feet too tall.

According to the city, completion is still expected in July. Along with the bridge, the the $9 million project includes a 4.2-mile extension to complete the greenway in Durham from the American Tobacco complex to Chatham County.

What do you want to see Durham become? (In one word)

Guest post by Dipika Kohli

"Find your cool?" said a young, Pinhook-goer late one night, half jesting but serious, too. "Come on, Durham. Find your slogan."

I spit up my drink.

Did she really just say that? Ouch.

I'm from North Carolina. I've lived in Kyoto, southwest Ireland, and Seattle, but I've always felt some part of me was right here in Durham. This is where I started the growing-up process in 1991 as a junior at Science & Math, after a mind-blowing summer sitting in circles talking about the big questions like, "Who am I?," at Governor's School East when it was still in Laurinburg and people sang along to Extreme.

Why do we alums mist over when we talk about those days? Maybe because ideas were more important than solutions. Concepting mattered more than rote memorization, or plug and chug mechanics. We showed up for class not for the content, but because we were with so many other people who cared about the same kinds of things that we did. These voices came from all over the state, and for many of us that was new, too. Just meeting each other's eyes, we could see there was, that there could be, more.

More conversations of quality, the kinds that would change the course of our lives. More love. More acceptance in simply being welcomed to the table. We were included, and that felt good.

In more than a thousand conversations with groups of different sizes since GSE and later, through my work with people searching for meaning as part of designing brand identities, I've seen one critical thing can make or break brilliance. Dialogue. True creative dialogue, where everyone feels they're being heard.

Even in the most basic family unit, spouses want to be heard. Teens want to, too, under their onion skin of aloofness. Bosses, teachers, mothers, toddlers, high schoolers, landlords, the people at the line at the checkout who've been home all day alone, cafe-going creative classers---all of us. All of us want to feel that our voice matters. That we count.

When that happens, we can talk in a way that helps us get to know our true selves. Expressing that part of us to the world comes next.

"Whoa, let's not get crazy," a lot of people say if I venture into the territory of asking what we're really living for, anyways. "That's hard."

Of course it is.

But if we're not living the lives of our true selves, how can we ever fulfill our greatest potential? How can we know what being here was for if we just zup along the vector of "how we've always done it," or "how it's always been."

Questioning and search---that's what we did when we were teens trying to figure out who we are, and that's what the adults we've trained ourselves not to expand on now feel like getting back to. If we can't, we feel a lack. A lack of meaning.

Later in life we will, of course. We'll examine and discover some of the things that a Guardian article reported as the top regrets of the dying. The one I always quote goes, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

How can we mend this gap between what we are today, and the very best of what we could become tomorrow? How can we bring that vision closer?

The STITCH project, designed and conceived by my partner in life and business, Akira Morita, aims to make us all think about what kind of place we'd like to see Durham become.

The "one-word" project, as people have been calling it, started over the winter when Akira and our 4 year-old son went right up to total strangers in restaurants, cafes, sidewalks, the farmer's market, and cultural events at places like Hayti, Motorco, and Carolina Theater. They asked, "In one word, what would you like to see Durham become?"

When you see people pause and try to come up with something original, you are seeing the creative process breathe. You see people look at one another, try out something, go back and test it out with their gut, and then, finally, arrive at their one word.

There are 276.

Now, Akira and I, along with 24 artists who want to create works inspired by these words, are asking you to support the creation of the new work. See the 24 (and counting) proposals and pick your favorites. See the link to the kickstarter page at: orangutanswing.com.

But this is just the beginning. After STITCH launches here in Durham, we'll take up an invitation to design a STITCH for people in Sikkim, India, and other places, too. For more information, contact dipika@orangutanswing.com.

Beaver Queen Pageant kicks off with Saturday dance at Casbah

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association will hold its annual Beaver Queen Pageant kickoff party this Saturday at the Casbah Durham, 1007 W. Main St.

The benefit dance party for the association will feature two bands – Radar’s Clowns of Sedation and the Bulltown Strutters. This year’s Beaver Queen Pageant contestants will also make their debut at the event. The fundraiser runs from 7 pm to midnight, with a suggested $20 donation at the door.

The Beaver Queen Pageant will be held on Saturday June 1 at 4 pm in Duke Park (and bring your hat or umbrella, cause it's always hot).

The pageant was started by Duke Park neighbors in response to plans to destroy some local beaver dams, and it has grown into a much-anticipated event with more than 500 people last year. "The purpose of the spectacle is to raise awareness of our community's waterways, and pockets of nature, and to raise money to help protect and restore these precious resources for all to enjoy," says community coordinator Katherine Meehan. . The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association is grateful for the support it has received from the Pageant over the years."

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association was founded in 1999 with six acres of land, and since then has acquired nearly 340-acres, including six nature preserves that are managed for water quality and native habitat restoration. Four of these preserves, Glennstone, Pearl Mill, the 17-Acre Wood, and Beaver Marsh, have nature trails and walking paths that are open to the public.

Wednesday forum to look at current LGBT rights scene

Journalists Frank Bruni of the New York Times and Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post and MSNBC will discuss the future of LGBT rights in America at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at UNC's FedEx Global Education Center, at the corner of Pittsboro and McCauley streets.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Chapel Hill’s first and only openly gay mayor, will introduce Bruni and Capehart. They'll discuss marriage equality, homophobia in schools and workplaces, military service and actions taken by LGBT politicians and advocates, according to a news release. The conversation will be moderated by Janie Long, director of Duke’s Center for LGBT Life and an affiliated faculty member with the programs in women’s studies and sexuality studies.

Bruni, a UNC alumnus, joined the Times in 1995, holding his most recent position as op-ed columnist since June 2011. Before that, Bruni was the Times’ chief restaurant critic from June 2004 through August 2009 and Rome bureau chief from 2002 to 2004. He is also the author of the memoir “Born Round,” and “Ambling Into History,” a chronicle of George W. Bush's campaign for the presidency.

Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog. He is also an MSNBC contributor, appearing regularly on “Morning Joe” and other dayside programs. Before joining The Post in 2007, Capehart was the deputy editor of New York Daily News editorial page from 2002 to 2005. He worked as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his successful campaign for mayor of New York City.