Chapel Hill: Opinion

Your letters, Aug. 20

An amazingly talented man

When Robin Williams was in town, my son had played Fagan in the Oliver Twist play production at Phillips Middle School.Tomas twisted and broke his leg in two places showing off after seeing another play at Phillips. At that point, both my sons had seen all of Robin Williams movies, and our Shea had learned to recite pieces of scripts from some of his movies.

I wanted to tell Mr Williams why we couldn't go down to see some of his filming in Chapel Hill, so, instead, I wrote him a fan letter explaining how my youngest ham had broken his leg showing off, and how much our family loved his work. We did not get any personal reply, but we did get an autographed picture for the film he was currently promoting.

Now, both sons are finishing up Ph.D.s in technical fields. Every member of our family mourns the loss of Robin Williams. He was an amazingly talented man.

Sally S. K. McIntee

Chapel Hill

Another take on home sales

It is understandable that Realtors, whose sales commissions are tied to a home's selling price, should want home prices to continually increase. And because they get paid each time a home changes hands, it's understandable that they would view a decrease in the number of home sales as a cause for concern.

But the 99 percent of adult Chapel Hill residents who are not professional Realtors should welcome the changes columnist Mark Zimmerman describes (CHN,

Why? A reduction in number of home sales may indicate greater community stability, with more individuals choosing, and able, to remain in their homes, and in Chapel Hill, for longer periods of time.

For example, the trend toward “aging in place” encourages older individuals to modify their existing homes rather than move to retirement communities or assisted-living facilities.

And all of us who just received our property tax bill should celebrate the fact that the “perceived value of living here, as compared to neighboring communities, may be narrowing.”

First, it means that the quality of life and of schools is improving in Durham, Raleigh, and elsewhere, which is good for the folks who live there, and may reduce traffic congestion on our highways by encouraging people who work in neighboring cities to also live there rather than commuting from Chapel Hill.

Second, it reduces the upward pressure on housing prices in Chapel Hill, which makes it easier for newcomers to buy a home here, and lessens the growth in the tax burden on existing homeowners.

I do, however, agree with Zimmerman that we should make it easier for property owners to renovate older homes. The reasons many owners do not renovate has nothing to do with Neighborhood Conservation Districts or other restrictions. Rather, people want to avoid paying the higher property taxes that would be imposed on homes whose value increases as a result of renovation. Thus, one way to encourage renovation would be to exempt the first, say, $50,000 in renovation costs from being added to the home’s new appraised value.

David Schwartz


Newspaper carrier’s kindness

This letter is a public tribute to Monica Romweber, who faithfully delivers my Chapel Hill News on Wednesdays and Sundays.

One morning, a few weeks ago, the paper was late, and I just happened to be walking up my driveway when Monica arrived. As she handed me the paper and apologized for being late, I replied, “Oh, that is perfectly fine. I am just glad to know that you are not sick.”

This was the first time that either of us had met, so she had not known that I am an amputee who walks on crutches.

Ever since that meeting, she wraps my paper twice, and positions it on one of the wooden railway ties at the end of the driveway so that it is easier for me to pick it up. This necessitates her getting out of her car, rather than tossing it in the driveway. Even when it is pouring rain, she performs "this random act of kindness."

I would like Monica to be thanked in the newspaper that she delivers so conscientiously.

Carla Shuford

Chapel Hill

Tell that to the dead

Mr. Johnson’s letter titled, “Basic Human Rights” is wrong (CHN, Aug. 13,

There are just under 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza strip, and they as well as the Israelis receive funds from the United States. The Palestinians also receive donations from at least 40 other nations not including private donations, grants, assistance from the World Bank and other international organizations.

Has Mr. Johnson wondered why there is about 40 percent unemployment with all that money coming into the region? No manufacturing, no building of infrastructure to put young men to work, but wait all the unemployed are put to good use. Digging tunnels from Gaza into Israel for humanitarian reasons perhaps or building weapons so inferior they are compared to fire crackers. Tell that to the dead Israeli soldiers, please.

To calculate the ratios of casualties I imagine a line of Palestinians and a separate line of Israelis being shot. I killed one of yours now it’s your turn to kill one of ours to make it even. War is not a game!

How many rockets were lobbed into Israel without retaliation? Want to calculate that? How many buses were blown up by the Palestinians, how many shops, schools, weddings, meeting places? Would that not be considered a travesty, Mr. Johnson? If your to research, do it fairly and correctly.

Remember the Fogel family who while asleep in their beds were murdered? A mother, father and their three children – one an infant whose throat was slashed. Upon returning to the murderers’ village, celebrations occurred and sweets were given out.

The Fogels only crime was being Jewish. Where were their basic human rights?

M. R. Wylly

Chapel Hill

Learn to lead a community garden

It is often said the most important word in community garden is not garden.

Many community gardens are started without a plan or solid leadership, and these gardens can fail.

The Orange County Partnership for Young Children’s Growing Healthy Kids Project will be offering a series of workshops for community garden leaders, garden members or those thinking of starting a community, school or faith-based garden. The Growing Communities training was developed by the American Community Gardening Association to help garden leaders learn basic skills critical to community garden success such as community organizing, leadership development, fundraising and meeting facilitation.

Growing Communities is not a gardening workshop; it is a community organizing series. All workshops will be interactive and participatory. Come join with other garden leaders to learn skills and problem solve issues of sustainability and management that all community gardens face.

Eight sessions will be held every other Tuesday night from 6-9 p.m. starting on Aug. 26 and running through Dec. 2. Meetings will be at the Carrboro Century Center at 100 N. Greensboro St. in Carrboro. Participants may register for individual workshops for $8 or sign-up for all 8 sessions for $50. Registration and further details are available on-line at:

Thanks to a grant from the Weaver Street Market Cooperative Community Fund, scholarships are available for residents of Orange, Chatham, Alamance and Durham counties. To apply for a scholarship or for more information contact me at or 919-525-5946.

My goal is to help build strong, vibrant and sustainable community gardens. I think this is an excellent curriculum and I look forward to leading the series

Maria Hitt

Garden manager

Growing Healthy Kids Community Garden