Roses and raspberries, Aug. 7

August 6, 2013 

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Raspberries to the poop-sign purloiner.

As we reported Sunday, someone in the Oaks neighborhood of Chapel Hill has been vandalizing “Poop Pollutes” signs encouraging people to carry a bag and pick up after their pets.

It’s no trivial matter.

In 2012, Chapel Hill had 3,100 licensed dogs, according to Wendy Smith, the environmental education coordinator in the Public Works Department. With an average half pound of waste per day, dogs on the Hill leave 1,550 pounds per day or 24 tons per month on the ground if it is not removed.

We spend a lot of time debating water quality. But dog waste often accumulates along greenways, sidewalks and common areas that drain into storm drains and creeks, Smith says. Think of it as part of our urban and suburban runoff.

Each dog dropping contains billions of fecal coliform bacteria. It can also contain salmonella, giardia, viruses and parasites that can cause mild to severe disease in humans and other animals exposed to the droppings or infected soil. Bacteria and parasites can accumulate and remain in soil and creek or lake sediment for years.

Nasty stuff.

But it takes time to change pet owners’ habits, even when if you stop to think about it it makes sense. Smith estimates that only half of dog owners clean up on their walks.

That’s where the signs come in, just one more nudge for animal lovers to do their civic duty. Those neighborhoods where heavy aluminum signs have stayed up say they have helped.

Signs or not, though, it just makes environmental sense, as well as shows respect for your neighbors. Pick up after your pets.

Speaking of creeks, Roses from the Bolin Forest neighborhood to 15 members of the Trailheads, Rob Ferguson and Tim Poe.

Recent flooding washed away the wood bridge across Bolin Creek near Bolin Forest. Fortunately it did not shatter, but nestled against the train trestle near Estes Drive.

The Trailheads carried the heavy bridge back to the crossing place. Rob replaced broken slats and Tim got a new cable and bolts to secure the bridge. Now it’s back and good as new!

Roses to St. Thomas More Catholic Church, which opens its doors to the PORCH hunger relief program each month to assist with the sorting of food donations. The help comes in the form of bright, spacious conference rooms lined with long rows of tables.

Here’s how it works: after going porch-to- porch picking up food donations, the People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes pull their cars into the church parking lot. As many as 1,000 bags of food are unloaded from the trunks of cars and carted into the conference rooms, where they are set on long tables so they can be checked and sorted by dozens of volunteers. Then the bags are repacked and off they go to meet the needs of local food pantries and families in need.

The food sort is a four-hour whirlwind of activity tucked into all of the other day-to-day, hustle-bustle of the church. But still, the staff at St. Thomas More shows the patience of Job in serving as a staging area for PORCH’s food sorts and pantry deliveries. Our community is fortunate to have these kinds of partnerships in place, strengthening the safety net for the working poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the marginalized.

Over 3,000 residents living in 165 neighborhoods throughout Chapel Hill and Carrboro now participate in PORCH’s monthly food drives, according to the group’s website. Find out more at

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