Your letters, Sept. 15

September 13, 2013 

Sidewalks are a mess

Please clean up the sidewalks of gravel, glass, trash, straying vegetation and poison ivy.

Some of it is the town’s duty; some of it should be done by property owners who have a sidewalk in front of their homes. I am really not interested in walking around with trash bags and pruning shears, as I have been doing on occasion. I have been thinking of sending the town a bill for my pruning services.

There are two spots on Estes Drive, near the gas works and between the gas station and library that always have gravel, making it difficult for wheels. I have complained about these in the past: someone comes and cleans it up, then it washes back over the sidewalk with the next rain.

There is soil covering over half of the sidewalk between Mt. Bolus and Hillsborough. There is lots of poison ivy behind the Burger King near 15-501. There is poison ivy along the Elliott Road sidewalk. The vegetation has nearly grown over the sidewalk along 15-501 near the Mariakakis plaza. There is lots of trash on the bank behind Burger King which is always visible after the leaves fall.

Almost every corner in town has been run over by trucks that have taken the corners too fast; even the corners with exceptionally large radii are run over, leaving a muddy mess. I suspect these are mostly from delivery trucks like UPS and other packages services, which I notice always are going over the speed limit in neighborhoods. Chapel Hill should consider bollards or rocks on the corners to protect them better. There is no reason why all of these corners should be like this.

People in cars apparently are going by too fast to really see how ugly the Chapel Hill landscape has become, or someone else would have done something about it a long time ago. As a pedestrian, this trash, overgrown vegetation, soil and gravel, is ugly and is everywhere. The landscaping in front of many homes is also is not properly maintained at all.

Come on, Chapel Hill: please care about our landscape. Clean it up, and keep it that way.

Sarah K. McIntee

Chapel Hill

Giant leap forward

The LGBTQ Center applauds the decision by the US Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service recognizing all marriages equally for federal tax purposes, effective with the 2013 filings.

The announcement included such inclusive language as, “same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.”

Therefore, couples living in North Carolina who hold a valid marriage license from any of the following jurisdictions should consult the IRS and/or their tax attorneys for guidance:

States: California, Delaware, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C,

Counties in New Mexico: Dona Ana, Sandoval, Santa Fe

Native American Tribes: the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Coquille (Oregon), Suquamish (Washington State)

This follows the June 26th Supreme Court decision re the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Department of Treasury and IRS further described this ruling as “providing certainty, benefits and protections under federal tax law for same-sex married couples” - verbiage that has never before been seen.

This marks a giant leap forward in governmental sanctioned protections, which resonates with the LGBTQ Center’s mission statement to foster a safe, inclusive environment for UNC-Chapel Hill community members of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. For more information, including how to file claim a refund and future guidance, please go to

Adrianne Gibilisco


Languages are fun

In “Starting from Scratch,” Rita Mae Brown tells us that “Language is a road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” Although Brown was referring to English when she wrote these words, they are true of any language.

Whenever someone asks me why I am learning Spanish, I always have a list of perfectly plausible reasons. So many people in the Triangle are Spanish speakers, and I want to be able to talk to them, and maybe someday work with them. I want my kids to learn it, and want to set a good example. These are all good, valid reasons, and they’re all true as far as they go. But the real reason that I study Spanish is because I love learning languages.

Learning a new language is fun. It’s a game, a secret code you can use to communicate with a whole new group of people. It’s also a way of exploring another culture. What does a language tell you about those who speak it? Why does Spanish have two verbs that mean “to be,” ser and estar? Why does French use the same word, belle-mêre, for “mother-in-law” and “stepmother”? Why does Italian use so many different personal pronouns? Why does German capitalize all its nouns? Why does Russian translate the phrase “Ivan is not here” as “There is no Ivan”? (I’m not sure I want to know).

There are many ways to learn a language. You can study on your own, from books, CDs or online tutorials. You can take traditional, structured classes, learning grammar by rote. In my experience, though, the best way to learn a language is by speaking it and hearing it.

For the past several years, my twin daughters and I have been learning Spanish at CHICLE Language Institute in Carrboro. We’ve had some wonderful teachers and some great experiences. The adult classes focus on conversation and reading, with grammar introduced as we go along. We also have writing assignments, and I find that I’m not as inhibited about my writing in Spanish, which lets me be more creative. The kids’ classes are lots of fun. Every parent knows that kids are natural learners, and childhood is a great time to learn a new language. What they learn now will stay with them forever.

Alice C. De Bellis

Chapel Hill

Editor’s note: CHICLE Language Institute is offering a People to People Trip to Cuba in January 2014. Go to for information on trip.

Don’t toss needles

The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department is reminding the public to safely dispose of syringes/needles.

The way needles are discarded has a major impact on sanitation workers and their families. Each accidental needle stick requires HIV and hepatitis testing, not to mention the stress of waiting for test results.

For those who use syringes, please be aware of safe disposal methods. Use a hard-wall plastic container with tight lids, such as laundry detergent, bleach bottles or peanut butter jars, etc. A thicker wall makes the container safer to use.

Needle users should avoid using thin plastics, such as soda bottles as they are easily pierced. Glass containers are also not recommended because these can break and cause a greater hazard.

Never throw loose needles in the garbage. Protruding or falling needles endanger trash collectors.

For more information, please call the Solid Waste Management Department at 919.968.2788 or send an email to

Muriel Williman

Solid Waste Management Department

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