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Coming tomorrow in The Chapel Hil News

Here's a look at tomorrow's headlines:

RETIRED NOT REHIRED: Allie Stamler hoped she could save her former teacher job's when she wrote a letter to Superintendent Neil Pedersen. But the school district really didn't have a choice when it let go Allie's teacher and three other retired educators who had returned to the classroom under special legislation. Read Alicia Banks' story.

YOU SAY TOMATO: Did you know a tomato is actually a fruit? OK, so maybe you blog readers did. But I bet you didn't know the Carrboro Farmer's Market can feature up to 65 varities over the course of the season. Read Alicia's story on the market's annual Tomato Festival (and check out my pictures!).

"Revenue neutral" redux

Remember the Orange Tax Revolt?

Hundreds of people crowded meetings months ago to protest Orange County's revaluation. They said the new assessments were too high for a recession and would lead to higher property taxes. 

Some 5,000 taxpayers appealed, four times what the county had seen in prior revals. Many assessments were lowered, but overall, the county said the assessments were accurate. The new values fell in line with what area homes were actually selling for.

Last week I sat down with Mark Zimmerman, a Realtor and columnist for the Chapel Hill News. Mark believes we will see a resurgence of Tax Revolt in September when the county mails out property tax bills. Why? Because, as we've reported, revenue neutral -- a term by which the county says it will generate the same amount of tax revenue as the year before revaluation -- doesn't mean revenue neutral.

As we reported even the county commissioners were stunned to learn real property tax bills will rise under the revenue neutral rate to make up for declines in other taxable property. The average property owner will see a $159 increase in his or her county tax bill. But Mark has done additional research for a column running Sunday that shows just how much tax bills are increasing throughout the county.

Since Mark is a Realtor, I asked him what motivated him. I mean, higher property values mean higher commissions, right? 

"I think [revenue neutral] is a Trojan horse that allowed them to raise [tax] rates without having to say they effectively did so," he said. "People are going to get their tax bills, and I think people are going to fall off their chairs."

As much as Realtors trading in high end properties might benefit, Zimmerman said he does not want to see Chapel Hill become a Greenwich, Conn. 

"There are people who are not going to be able to live here who made this a place people want to live in."

Read Mark's column Sunday in The Chapel Hill News.

Today in The Chapel Hill News

Here's a look at today's headlines:

LIVING WITH LUPUS: Alexis Drago is a dynamite theater director. You'd never know she was battling a potentially life threatening auto-immune disease. In fact, many women with lupus do not recognize the signs. Read Rebekah Cowell's story to learn more.

PHOENIX RISING: Chapel Hill-Carrboro's alternative school is graduating. Phoenix Academy will be a high school this fall. Read about the school and its new principal, veteran Orange County educator LaVerne Mattocks, in new staff writer Sadia Latifi's story.

CHAPELHILLMEMORIES.COM: The best memorabilia, old photographs and such of Chapel Hill may not be in the Chapel Hill Museum or even the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library. It's on Charly Mann's Web site. Read associate editor Dave Hart's story.

Read, too, about Greenbridge developers' donation to the community, Maria Palmer's bilingual My View on why we need to educate immigrant children, and reader/guardian ad litem Sarah Shapard on why the state needs to do more to protect the unborn. Lots of letters today, and D.G. Martin on "Resilience."

Thanks for reading,

Mark 

 

Coming tomorrow in The Chapel Hill News

I'm not sure if the best part of coming in on Saturdays is working to "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" (Jimmy Fallon was hilarious just now) or "This American Life." Takes me back to the Ithaca Times , one of my first jobs, when I'd come in on the weekends and Ted the ad guy would be listening to Garrison Keillor. I like life's little consistencies.  

Here's a look at tomorrow's headlines:

IMMIGRANT STORIES: Two stories on our front page tomorrow deal with the immigrant experience. Cornelio Campos is a Durham painter who now has a canvas hanging at UNC's Campus Y. Mariana Rivera Rodriguez interviewed him about how his journey influences his work. And in our My View column, UNC journalism professor Paul Campos lays out some ground rules for civil discussion of what to do about illegal immigration. 

GRAPPLING WITH GRAFFITI: I thought a long time about putting the photo of the Handprints mural graffiti on the front page tomorrow. On one hand, printing the spray paint scrawl could reward the vandal, giving him a bigger audience. On the other hand, it's news, shows you what we're talking about and let's get real, if the vandal's a kid, he's probably not reading our paper anyway (though you never know). What do you think?

ELECTIONS: Wow, a lot of people want to spend a lot of time in meetings. We run down all the folks who filed for office. Note: In some cases, candidates did not send out a release, return a call or have web sites we could turn to for information. We got almost everybody, though, and when we did receive statements have posted them on our blog.

We also have what may be the town's biggest azalea bush (thanks Judy Foster), an essay by Rob Stephens on why the town's growth task needs more diverse membership and lots of interesting letters. Plus sports, Dave Hart's editorial and more.

Heading to the ArtsCenter for the 10 x 10 festival tonight. If you haven't been to these 10-minute plays before, I highly recommend it. There's also a matinee tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.

Mark   

Today in The Chapel Hill News

NOTE: Today's print edition will go online tomorrow (Monday).

Here's a look at today's headlines:

OUT SWINGING: Chapel Hill Town Councilman Matt Czajkowski is a lightning rod; love him or hate him, folks have an opinion (see the 20 reader comments on the post about his filing). One thing is sure; the mayor's race will be the most closely watched this season. Czajkowski joined Republicans Augustus Cho and perennial candidate Kevin Wolff as official candidates last week. Councilman Mark Kleinschmidt should follow this coming week. Read who else filed in local elections in our roundup. 

MIXED-USE MILLIONAIRES: Diversity isn't the only issue hanging up the town's new growth task force. Members also disagree about the scope of their work. While officially the task force has been asked to advise the council on where growth should go and what it should look like, some say they can't do that without addressing bigger issues. Like how much water the area has to serve growth, or what kinds of jobs we need so people can afford to live here. Will Raymond says the town's mixed use projects on transit corridors are creating housing for the elite. Read more in my story from this past week's meeting.

SCOOTER SQUABBLE: Scooters are still cool. But UNC's plan to treat them  like motorcycles has rallied scooter owners, who say charging them permit fees and making them park in designated lots discourages the very kind of alternative transportation the university should be encouraging. Read Eric Ferreri's story.

AND ... I'm old enough now to measure my life in dogs I've had and lost. And it still hurts. Debbie Meyer tackles the tough subject of euthanasia in her monthly Tails of Two Cities pets and wildlife report. My View columnist Lynden Harris continues to amaze with her Faulknerian tales of growing up Southern. And attorney Jay Ferguson says Elliot Cramer's wrong: North Carolina needs a Racial Justice Act.

Strong local news and commentary today. You make us better with your feedback, letters and blog comments.

Thanks for reading,

Mark     

Coming tomorrow in The Chapel Hill News

Here's a look at tomorrow's headlines:

GOING SOLO: "The Soloist" made $31 million, less than half its production costs. (I didn't see it, and Robert Downey Jr. is my favorite actor.) But I'm going to have to read the book it's based on after talking with Jamie Rohe, Orange County homelessness program coordinator. Read my story to find out why.

ELECTIONS: You know, these filings are tough with our Monday deadline for the Wednesday paper. We've decided to go ahead and report the Monday filings each Wednesday and send you here to the blog for Tuesday additions. For this first wrap up, though, we're safe. Nobody filed today. So read who filed Monday tomorrow. Got it?

VALARIE's BOOK: Valarie Schwartz, longtime Neighbors columnist, has written a new book about ... what else? Chapel Hill. Read what she told Dave Hart about her latest project in tomorrow's story.

Lyle Estill takes on the culture wars, guest columnist Cristina Chenlo talks up Chapel Hill's voter owned election program (you can learn more about that Wednesday night at Town Hall), Elizabeth Greenberg turns 100 and sports editor Elliott Warnock, Eddy Landreth and Randy Young bring you the latest in all things athletic.

Hey, I saw "Jersey Boys" Saturday. As good as everybody said, and the guy playing Franky Valli nailed "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."

Thanks for reading,

Mark

 

 

 

 

Coming tomorrow in The Chapel Hill News

Here's a look at tomorrow's headlines:

TRANSFER STATION: Orange County staff have taken a look at the Millhouse Road site and like what they see. Solid waste staff have asked the county to get a firm offer from Chapel Hill so they can proceed with a more thorough evaluation of the town-owned site next to the Town Operations Center. Read Jesse DeConto's story.

LIBRARY, SCHOOLS: Win some, lose some. The new county budget, which was all but approved this week, finds money to keep the Carrboro and Cedar Grove library branches open. But schools take a $2 million hit, with nealry 10 jobs being eliminated in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools alone. Read our update.

CZAJKOWSKI'S IN: As in in the race for Chapel Hill mayor. Read why the council member who has butted heads with his council colleagues the most now wants to lead them, (even if he didn't call us back after announcing his plans yesterday; and what's with that Matt?)

WILNER'S OUT: OrangeChat readers get the headlines before they hit print. Read our folow-up tomorrow to hear what others are saying about ArtsCenter director Jon Wilner's decision to retire after six years ... and why it may be up to others to follow through on his uncompleted goals.

We ask Carrboro High grads what they learned in high school, columnist Eunice Brocks writes on writing (memoirs to be exact) and Dave Hart says Neighbors for Responsible Growth is doing a good job on watching over traffic and Carolina North. We've got lots of letters, sports and more, so enjoy and stay informed.

And thanks for reading,

Mark

 

 

Today in The Chapel Hill News

A look at today's headlines

CHELSEA TOO: Daniel Cook Johnson has a unique take on the Varsity/Chelsea theaters story. He worked at the Varsity five years until last Thursday, which he thought might be the movie house's last day under owner Bruce Stone. Read what he has to say about the state of independent theaters in today's story.

ROAD BLOCK: I hadn't heard that "we reject your reality" quote Alderman Dan Coleman said at last week's meeting. But our correspondent, John Musci, knew where it came from and put it in his story today on the town's Smith Level Road impasse. Read the update.

KNIVES, VANDALISM: Kids brought three knives to Chapel Hill High and Seawell Elementary schools respectively in the past two weeks. One's in jail; the other's suspended. Summer intern Julian March has the details.

SAVE THE LIBRARY: In today's editorial, Associate Editor Dave Hart says financial savings from closing the Carrboro and Cedar Grove branch libraries are insufficient to justify their closing. We also have another letter on the library, alongside letters/guest columns on Greenbridge and the Millhouse Road solid waste transfer station. 

Sports editor Elliott Warnock has more on the Chapel Hill High basketball coach, staff writer Jesse James DeConto says Augustus Cho and Matt Czajkowski are already sparring in the mayor's race (and Matt's said he's not even sure he's running), and lots more. 

Saw "Up" yesterday. Man, the first 15 minutes is a movie all by itself.

Oh, and one more thing. We deleted two comments from the OrangeChat blog this week after readers pointed us to language that was offensive. If you see offensive or just plain hurtful words on the blog, please let us know.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

 

 

Coming tomorrow in The Chapel Hill News

Here's a look at tomorrow's headlines:

FRUSTRATED FUNERAL HOME: Knotts Funeral Services has filed at least two police reports on damage caused by the Greenbridge Development next door. The developers say they've bent over backwards to accommodate their neighbors, even stopping work when funderal services were under way. Colin Campbell has our story.

VARSITY BLUES: Speaking of which, what was your favorite 190s Rob Lowe movie? "St. Elmo's Fire", "About Last Night" or "Varsity Blues"? Blog readers already know what this story's about. We had to put the CH News to press last night, but as of this afternoon, Varsity Theater owner Bruce Stone said he was still negotiating to sell the downtown movie house.

COOP MOMENTUM: Associate editor Dave Hart says they put out 20 chairs for last week's meeting on the formation of a possible arts cooperative on Franklin Street. They ended up needing more than twice as many, which is why organizers are optimistic. Read Dave's report.

GOOD AND PLENTY: OK, another digression. ... But did you ever think how cool it would be if advertisers reran some of those old TV commercials? I mean wouldn't you like to see "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" and "Where's the beef?" again? Or the commercials for Good and Plenty candy with that catchy theme song. ... What's that got to do with Lyle Estill's My View column on our local currency, the PLENTY? Nothing, but read the column 'cause he mentions Ithaca, where I used to  live.

Lots more, including ArtsWeek, Sports, reader Ari Livanos' COOL picture of a coyote he photographed in Duke Forest and more support for saving the Carrboro Branch Library.

And it's all free.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

 

 

 

In today's Chapel Hill News

Here's a look at today's headlines:

TRASH SCOPE EXPANDS: The search for a solution to Orange County's trash problem expands to Durham next month when Orange County Manager Laura Blackmon and commissioners Chairwoman Valerie Foushee meet with Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield. Read the story here

CARRBORO ARTS WING: The city school board moved the project to the "funded" list last week, leapfrogging it past the new elementary school planned for the Northside neighborhood. Several Carrboro High parents also spoke to the county commissioners, who ultimately make funding decisions. Read the story here.   

BASSETT'S HIDDEN TALENT: Who knew the town's economic development officer was a master wood carver. Corresponent John Musci interviewed Bassett about his new creation taking shape outside Spanky's. Read the story here

There's lots more. Augustus Cho asks how long bus riders will have to risk their lives crossing MLK, Charles Rempel talks about the new "Book of Dads" and a reading by Clyde Edgerton next week, Mark Peters has a guest column on school funding in advance of Tuesday's budget hearing, and we speak with Emily Weinstein on a ladder (her, not us), as she completes work on that neat mural on the Jada Palace wall in downtown Carrboro.

Enjoy Memorial Day weekend, and thanks for reading,

Mark 

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