Little by little, details are coming out about World of Bluegrass, the International Bluegrass Music Association convention and festival coming to downtown Raleigh at the end of September. Wednesday afternoon found Mayor Nancy McFarlane onstage at Red Hat Amphitheater to announce further details of the event -- which even includes a barbecue festival, and you've gotta love that. See the report here.
A month after firing longtime City Manager Russell Allen, the Raleigh City Council might be having trouble agreeing on a short-term successor to lead City Hall after Allen leaves on June 30.
With the search for a permanent replacement expected to take up to six months, Raleigh leaders must appoint an interim manager this month. In the past week, the council has spent hours in two closed-door meetings to discuss the appointment.
Councilman Randy Stagner said last week that he'd like to see an interim appointed this week, but Tuesday's closed session ended with Mayor Nancy McFarlane announcing "no decision was made," and no more meetings are scheduled until next Tuesday. Stagner says it's important to have a transition period where the interim learns the ropes from Allen.
Last week, the council got a presentation from two UNC School of Government professors who explained the pros and cons of interim manager choices. The council, they said, could hire an interim from outside the city -- a retired city manager, for example. Or they could promote from within city hall.
Should they pick the latter option, a few possibilities come to mind (though no candidates have been named by the council). City Hall's second-in-command is Dan Howe, the assistant city manager. There's also veteran City Attorney Tom McCormick, who applied for the manager post when Allen was hired 12 years ago. He left the room during Tuesday's closed session.
But during the meeting with the government professors, city council members worried that an interim might have trouble returning to their old job after six months in charge. With that concern in mind, they might consider former assistant city manager Julian Prosser, who retired last year after 32 years with the city. He was recently brought back as a part-time sustainability consultant.
All that, of course, is just speculation on my part. We'll know for sure once the council reaches a consensus; they'll have to take an official vote on the hire in open session.
Three weeks after firing longtime city manager Russell Allen, the Raleigh City Council will begin its search for his replacement on Tuesday.
The council will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a presentation by the UNC School of Government about how the selection process might work.
With the exception of Councilman John Odom, who served when Allen was appointed in 2001, the process is a new one for current council members.
This month, the council will need to select an interim city manager to take over when Allen leaves June 30. They'll also decide whether to bring in a national search firm to help recruit candidates, Mayor Nancy McFarlane said recently.
McFarlane says the council hasn't yet decided whether finalists' names will be made public, as was the case when the city sought a new police chief earlier this year. In that search, the top candidates came to Raleigh for a public forum before the hire was made.
"I’m very interested in the public’s input," McFarlane said, but "I don’t want to exclude anyone who may be interested in coming but has not told anyone where they (currently work)."
With a growing array of restaurants, bars and shops, downtown Raleigh's rebound has landed it a new accolade from a statewide group of city planners: Great Main Street.
The North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association gave the honor at its annual Great Places awards ceremony Wednesday.
"Fayetteville Street is a great public space where all of Raleigh and Wake County can come together, and we are proud to have been recognized by APA-NC,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said at the event.
The award nomination points to the turnaround driven in part by the 2006 reopening of Fayetteville Street to traffic and the renovation of City Plaza: "The historic commercial spine of North Carolina’s capital city, Fayetteville Street has been transformed in less than 10 years from an emblem of urban decline to a dramatic symbol of urban success. By day, Fayetteville Street bustles with business, commerce and government activity. At night, it pulses with youthful energy fed by the restaurants, bars and nightclubs.”
Other "Great Main Streets" recognized were Fayetteville’s Hay Street, Davidson’s Main Street and Blowing Rock’s Main Street.
The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved one traffic-calming project on Glascock Street while altering a similar North Raleigh project that divided neighbors.
Glascock’s $440,000 proposal for a narrower road and more sidewalks had widespread support, but that wasn’t the case on Rainwater Road from Spring Forest Road to Hunting Ridge Road, which serves as a shortcut around Millbrook High School.
The initial petition for $125,000 in curb extensions, mini roundabouts and other efforts to slow traffic on the residential street drew the city-mandated signatures from 75 percent of residents and homeowners. But many said Tuesday that they misunderstood the petition, thinking they were merely expressing interest in traffic calming.
By Tuesday’s hearing, opponents of the plan slightly outnumbered supporters. Some said they’d changed their mind when the design details were released and drawn on the pavement for reference. The neighborhood was divided on the final plan, with opponents wearing red to the city council meeting and supporters sporting green “please slow down” badges.
After a heated 90-minute hearing, Mayor Nancy McFarlane proposed a temporary approach as a compromise solution. The council approved her idea after garnering support from both sides of the debate.
“I would like to see us consider some sort of measure – either stop signs or an installation of signs that say ‘you’re going too fast,’ and see where we are in six months to a year,” McFarlane said. “I think this might be a good interim measure.”
Raleigh Police Officer Timothy Hathaway was the first responder to arrive at a Jan. 25 apartment blaze. He sped to the scene, grabbed a gas mask from his trunk, and headed into the burning building.
He was able to help several residents of the Mission Valley Apartments to safety and knocked on doors to alert others. On Tuesday, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane read a proclamation honoring Hathaway for bravery.
The blaze broke out amid an ice storm and displaced 36 people in the complex on Avent Ferry Road near N.C. State University. Everyone made it out safely, though Hathaway and five others were taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.
Katie Couric was in Raleigh today to film promos at WTVD for her new talk show, "Katie," which debuts on September 10.
WTVD hosted a breakfast for Couric at Oro in downtown Raleigh, where Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane (who went to high school with Katie at Yorktown High in Arlington, Va.) proclaimed July 18 "Katie Couric Day" in the capital city. (If I'm not mistaken, TV writers get to take that as a holiday next year.)
Couric, introduced by WTVD anchor Larry Stogner, described her new show as being "smart with heart," and said she hopes the program fills part of the void left by Oprah Winfrey's departure from daytime.
We got a few minutes with Couric to talk about her new show, which will broadcast live from New York each weekday at 2 p.m. and then air here in the Triangle at 3 p.m. on WTVD (KatieCouric.com has more details). The former "Today" show co-anchor also gave us some of her thoughts on the current morning television battles.
Click below for Q&A.
RALEIGH -- North Carolina may or may not be the home of bluegrass. But for at least three years, it will be home of the World of Bluegrass.
As expected, the International Bluegrass Music Association announced on Wednesday that it will bring its weeklong convention and awards show to Raleigh for a three-year run starting in 2013. Russell Johnson and the Grass Cats opened and closed Wednesday's announcement ceremony on downtown's City Plaza by playing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and other bluegrass classics.
But the big moment was mayor Nancy McFarlane unveiling a banner showing Raleigh's World of Bluegrass dates. Comprising a four-day business conference, an awards show and a three-day "Bluegrass Fan Fest" with more than 60 acts, next year's Raleigh edition of IBMA will be Sept. 23-29, 2013.
The 2011 convention's events in Nashville drew a reported 16,000 total visitors, more than half from out of town. Raleigh city officials project similar figures for next year's World of Bluegrass, estimating the local economic impact at more than $9.9 million.
On Wednesday, various speakers touted the event's bottom-line potential as well as North Carolina's illustrious bluegrass history. Earl Scruggs, Red Smiley, Doc Watson and George Shuffler are among the North Carolina natives who are in the IBMA's Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and Brevard's Steep Canyon Rangers shared the IBMA's artist-of-the-year award with Steve Martin last year.
Since 2005, the IBMA's World of Bluegrass has been in Nashville, where it's one of many awards shows. Seeking a higher profile, the IBMA board has been looking to relocate the show. More than a dozen cities made overtures, with Raleigh, Nashville, Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky., emerging as major contenders.
"One thing that really sold us on Raleigh was all the options here and how compact they are," said IBMA board member Jon Weisberger. "We don't have to choose whether or not to do shows indoors or outdoors, we can do both. And the convention center, amphitheater and other venues are all right here."
The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts complex will also be a venue, along with other downtown nightclubs and Fayetteville Street. New IBMA board member William Lewis likened World of Bluegrass to Hopscotch, the successful rock festival that happens every September in Raleigh.
"We think this will be like a bluegrass version of Hopscotch," said Lewis, who is also executive director of Raleigh-based PineCone (Piedmont Council of Traditional Music). "It's an event that will seize the synergy of downtown and engage audiences and venues beyond just music -- photographers, artists, galleries. It could be a signature event for downtown."
Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata says new student assigment plan "worked for the vast majority of the county"Submitted by KeungHui on 04/13/2012 - 13:04
As expected, Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata faced a steady stream of questions about the new student assignment plan at today's press conference.
Tata blamed many of the problems giving parents the schools they want on what he called the old assignment plan’s failure to control crowding in the district. He said the new plan’s efforts to adhere to strict capacity limits created “friction points.”
“Our assessment right now is that the plan has worked for the vast majority of the county,” Tata said. “But it’s also shone a very bright spotlight on where we have some proximity capacity issues and we intend to address the near-term issues immediately as best we can. This is the first step in developing a sustainable long-term plan for this county.”
WEP says adherence to strict campacity limits the cause of most complaints about the new student assignment planSubmitted by KeungHui on 04/12/2012 - 16:07
The Wake Education Partnership is saying that "the district’s desire to tightly control school capacities" is the cause of most of the complaints about the new student assignment plan.
In the latest issue of In Context, the WEP's e-newsletter, the group says that failure to control capacities was "a significant problem in prior years that often led to severe overcrowding and frequent reassignments."
"Because the current plan promises families they will not be reassigned, Superintendent Tony Tata has been extremely reluctant to over-enroll schools," the WEP writes. "Instead, he has emphasized new programs to attract families to schools that have space."