Chapel Hill News

On Facebook: Readers weigh on rail, flag and ... ballet photos

My Facebook page lit up last week with readers’ comments on our stories about the light-rail plan, the Confederate flag and ... Chapel Hill Dance Theater’s “Snow White.”

Reader (and photographer) Mike Shavel’s comments helped us choose the photo of dancers Catherine Biglaiser and Grace Burns that led Sunday’s front page. We had been looking at that photo for online only, but Mike was right. It was a stronger image. Thanks, also, to the dozens of you who helped pick the shot of Hannah Marchuk and James Strong that we used on page 2. (Total comments on post: 61)

The light rail debate continues to pick up steam, to use an engine metaphor.

After Carrboro Alderwomen Randee Haven O’Donnell and Jacquie Gist raised asked what’s in the light rail for their town recently, many of you weighed in (and seriously, send me a Friend request and join in; total comments on this post: 64)

“A good on-going conversation this subject is,” Amanda Ashley wrote. “Carrboro’s piece in this puzzle can afford to percolate for a while. The key is to keep the Town's voice at the table.”

Gist wrote in to expand on her comments: “My main concerns: the high cost and the increasing percentage of that cost that local governments – i.e. taxpayers – will be asked to cover; the opportunitty cost – what are we not providing in order to fund light rail; housing costs along light rail lines are very high-a small portion of the housing maybe built for low-income residents which is great but middle-class families have a hard time finding housing they can afford along a light rail corridor; during an economic downturn sales tax revenue go down, debt meant to be paid using that revenue still must be paid; only a small percentage of Orange County residents will use light rail on a regular basis.

Not everyone who commented opposed the project.

Alderman Damon Seils responded to his fellow board members: “Presumably, the answer to the question “What’s in it for Carrboro?” is the same as it was in 2011, when the Board of Aldermen unanimously endorsed the transit plan (including the light rail project), and in 2012, when nearly three-quarters of Carrboro voters approved the associated transit referendum.”

And this note from Erika Uhlin: “First everybody bitches about traffic and pollution, then everybody bitches about anything that might relieve it.”

As for the Confederate flag (total comments: 54):

“Put it in a museum where it belongs as a piece of history,” Carla Harkness suggested. “Not one that anyone is proud of, but one that should be noted by all.”

“The flag, several versions of the flag, is a part of U.S. history,” wrote Tony Maddox, but he continued: “Those who fought on the side of the Confederacy were welcomed back into the “fold” as veterans by an act of Congress. Those who want to put it away into museums are least likely to know history. Should it fly alongside the U.S. flag? That's a matter to be resolved by the people, not by an angry mob who attributes only the idea of white supremacy to that flag.”

And this last word, from Catherine Dean: “It seems to me that we should start caring about the impact something has. At a time when minorities are feeling most marginalized, the flag is a painful symbol. We shouldn't even need a rule or law to tell us to stop hurting each other. The confederate flag's meaning has been long since usurped by white supremacists and is a southern dog whistle to those more subtle old Jim Crow values (imo), and long been used as a symbol as such. Even if it was once meant in any other way, that’s what it predominantly means to the world now.”

Mark Schultz is the editor of The Chapel Hill News. Contact him at or 919-829-8950. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @chapelhillnews1 and on Instagram @mark_schultz_nando