Roses and raspberries

Raleigh News & ObserverSeptember 10, 2013 

Raspberries to Chapel Hill town leaders for letting a consultant’s bill for leading Central West discussions escalate to nearly a quarter-million dollars.

The name Central West is troublesome enough. It just sounds like something out of big city (i.e., Central Park West in Manhattan), which we are not.

Now comes word that consultant Rhodeside & Harwell’s fee for leading discussions about how the Estes Drive-Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard area should grow has grown from an initial $92, 855 budgeted to $230,000 —almost the entire $250,000 budgeted for all Chapel Hill 2020 followup work this fiscal year. And Central West is one of only six small areas identified for future development.

We understand the 2020 community process left working out the details until later. The original contract calld for four meetings and a community workshop, which sounded reasonable, but it somehow ballooned to 16 committee meetings and three workshops, Town Manager Roger Stancil told staff writer Tammy Grubb last week.

And now 35 committee meetings appear on a town calendar before a possible council vote in November, plus workshops and walking tours. Criminy!

The Town Council should rein this one in. With nothing imminent at Carolina North across the street, the town has an opportunity to understand how this happened and make sure the public understands the cost of public participation.

Roses to Bruce Stone, the owner of the Chelsea Theater, for keeping the movie-going tradition alive in Chapel Hill.

At a time when mainstream moviemaking seems to care only about teenage and twenty something males and sure-fire sequels that increasingly misfire, Stone has continued to cater to a crowd that will buy tickets for smaller, independent and foreign films.

But it hasn’t been easy.

Young people, even in this college town, don’t go to movies like they once did. And if they’re watching movies it’s more often on their macs and mobile devices.

So when the digital age hit, Stone could have closed shop on the three screen-shoebox arthouse whose patrons have long suffered with scratchy film prints projected through the dark.

Instead, he dipped into his retirement and made the conversion to digital. It was a dramatic change, as a recent matinee of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” (see it for Aussie star Cate Blanchett) made clear.

It may be convenient to watch movies when and where we want them. But we will lose something if we can no longer watch them together. Thanks to Stone for investing in his and our entertainment future.

Roses to the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority for keeping Faith Hedgepeth’s memory alive a year after her death.

About 200 people filled the grass amphitheater behind UNC’s Bell Tower Saturday night to listen to speakers. Several, like new Chancellor Carol Folt, told the crowd they did not know Faith or know her well. It did not matter; they wanted to show their respect for her.

It has been frustrating as police and the Durham district attorney’s office investigate the case. (Faith was killed in a part of Durham County that is also in the town of Chapel Hill.) A judge has repeatedly sealed warrants that might provide clues to the leads police are chasing.

But with no witnesses, police work sometimes takes longer than we or they would like. We trust, as the Hedgepeth family does, that investigators are doing their best.

And that’s what Faith’s sorority did Saturday night. As the sisters led a silent walk to the Old Well, the procession took on a power all its own. As people laid white flowers around the well pedestal, they showed they remember.


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