Chapel Hill: Opinion

July 8, 2014

Roses and raspberries, July 9

Roses from Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens and members of the Hillsborough Historic District Commission to winners of the town’s 2014 Preservation Champion Award.

Roses from Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens and members of the Hillsborough Historic District Commission to winners of the town’s 2014 Preservation Champion Award.

The award went to Aran Construction owner Howard Staab, his business partner Jim Tomberg, a former Duke math lecturer, and builder Rony Dominguez for their commitment to saving houses that seemed beyond repair and for preserving the unique qualities of historic buildings through appropriate methods and materials. The trio restored the houses at 408 Calvin St. and 409 W. King St.

The original Calvin Street house dates to 1921 and had been vacant for many years, according to a town news release. The Historic District Commission twice had approved the house for demolition. In 2012, Staab and Tomberg bought the property, seeing the potential in it. They remodeled the house using historically appropriate materials. Artificial siding was removed, structural elements were replaced, wood weatherboards and windows were repaired and replaced, a modern metal roof was installed, and diamond vents in the gable were rebuilt. The renovated house was sold to new Hillsborough resident Todd Stabley.

The King Street house dates to 1850 and is the oldest house on its block, according to the release. It also had been vacant and deteriorating for many years. Staab and Tomberg bought the property in 2013 and restored it with Dominguez doing much of the work. They paid careful attention to details –matching original materials, restoring windows, and retaining as much original fabric as possible. The project received approval for the state historic tax credits, which requires state approval of the interior work’s appropriateness. Tomberg and his wife, Pam Groben, now live in the house.

Roses to Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue for taking on an unlikely cause: the children of incarcerated parents.

As correspondent Beth Velliquette reported Sunday, Blue is on the board of Our Children’s Place, a nonprofit that is raising awareness of the often-forgotten victims of crime: the offenders’ innocent children.

Blue says he was actually a little ashamed he hadn’t given the issue more thought. Since then he has learned, and is spreading the word, that families that can somehow stay together when parents are behind bars see less recidivism, or repeat offenses, when they those parents get out.

The group had hoped to build a physical space for low-security prisoners but has since had to settle on advocacy. If you’d like to learn more and possibly help see the Facebook page PlaceNC

Roses from the co-chairs of Project Graduation in Chapel Hill who want to thank all of those involved in this year’s spectacular party.

“The “Great Gradsby” high school graduation celebration was attended by over 70 percent of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area seniors along with over 400 of their guests,” write co-chairs Laura Enyedi (East Chapel Hill) Liz Buchman (Chapel Hill) and Steve Scanga (Carrboro).

“The event was another huge success this year due to the support of the local community. Families and businesses contributed over $77,000 to fund the event and students received over $30,000 in prizes during the evening, including twenty $1,000 scholarships. UNC generously allowed the use of their student union for the night, and 192 volunteers from the community made the ‘Great Gradsby‘ run smoothly.

“We could not have done this without you. Thank you for helping us keep these seniors safe on graduation night.”

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