Chapel Hill: Opinion

The Conversation: Karen Markle Bell, Robert L. Porreca , Allen Torrey, Chris Weaver and Katherine Williams

Tragedy could have been ours

The six-fatality crash (CHN, of an Embraer EMB 500/Phenom 100 on approach to the general aviation airport in Gaithersburg, Md., was certainly a sad end for pilot Michael Rosenberg and his passengers and, I dare say, even sadder for Gaithersburg woman and her two young children killed when the jet hit their house. Our sympathies go out to all four families.

Beyond that, I can’t help but wonder what the outcome would have been had this accident taken place on the return leg of the flight, which originated at Chapel Hill’s Horace Williams airport. In Gaithersburg, the aircraft went down less than a mile from the runway’s end. In Chapel Hill or Carrboro, where would that have put the crash scene? No place good, most likely. Gaithersburg’s tragedy could have been ours.

For years, UNC-Chapel Hill chancellors, most notably Holden Thorp, sought to close Horace Williams, which UNC owns. And for years a main sticking point was the basing there of the aviation-centered Area Health Education Centers. AHEC flights, however, have now moved to RDU. Yet private planes continue to use the airport, only a couple of miles from downtown Chapel Hill. Presumably they will do so until the university actually needs the land for its long-delayed Carolina North project.

Unless, that is, one of those planes were to crash here as the jet did in Gaithersburg. Under the circumstances that might well mark the end of our historic but now inappropriate airport. Local residents surely would wonder why it hadn’t been closed sooner.

Allen Torrey

Chapel Hill

Coat-drive success

Our family has grown so large over the years that we have stopped buying presents for each other at Christmas. Instead, someone picks a charity dear to their hearts, and everyone contributes either items or cash to support that charity in the amount normally spent on gifts.

This year, I picked a coat drive to benefit the elementary children of Alleghany County, tucked in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. The county is diverse in its economic make-up, ranging from three golf course communities to artisans and agri-businesses. Some school age children have immense needs for warm clothing on our zero degree days.

I spread the word to my siblings, they spread the word to their children, their clients and co-workers, and the ball got rolling. We have collected a truck and a half full of coats, scarves, hats, gloves, socks, and assorted other clothing. The new or gently used items went directly to the guidance counselors at each school, who put the clothes on children’s backs the next day! This included 55 coats, 25 caps or hats, 10 scarves, eight pairs of gloves, eight pairs of socks, four sweatcoats, and five vests. In addition, five large bags of not-as-new clothes went to Alleghany CARES, our local thrift shop, which benefits Christians Associated for the Emergency Relief Services.

On behalf of these children and their families, special thanks go to the Markle family, Claire Smith at Hair Waves Salon in Cary, Anna Passanante and Student Government at Chapel Hill High School, and Andy Wright, age 9, of Holly Springs. Each of these contributors spear-headed local coat drives for this benefit! We appreciate your generosity and willingness to share.

Karen Markle Bell

Sparta, N.C.

Responsible growth

Regarding Brian Wittmayer’s guest column “Flawed development policies costing town needed revenue” (CHN,

I am encouraged to see that there are voices that support streamlining our development processes, focusing on real commercial tax base growth and promoting fiscal responsibility.

These hallmarks should be viewed as a solid foundation for responsible growth.

Del Snow


Fallaciously private

Regarding Mark Zimmerman’s commentary “Enhancing our rural buffer” (CHN,

“To many, the rural buffer is almost a moral buffer, a sacrosanct shield against suburban sprawl.... It is a beautiful resource for city folks to enjoy. “

This is the root: A dedicated clerisy rules over 38000 fallaciously private acres.

Toss in the regulation with out representation for those living in the EJT (extra-territorial jurisdiction), and we see the gold passementarie adorning the hem of their lording cloaks.

Chris Weaver



Reading Eric Fair’s mea culpa about his days as an interrogator at the Abu Gharib prison in the Sunday N&O ( I could not help sense an undercurrent of misplaced pride in the angst he claims to feel and a failure to hold himself accountable for his own conduct.

While winding along a convoluted path of thought about what his students and others might think the unwritten suggestion throughout is that he was just following orders in the service of a country that he can’t be proud of. Nowhere is there the slightest hint that he had free will and could have refused to use interrogation methods that he knew were wrong. A junior enlisted man exposed the activities at the prison at great risk to himself. Where was Fair’s conscience then?

Instead of pointing his finger at this country he should look in the mirror and feel ashamed of himself for two reasons. First for his weakness in not standing up for what he thought was right. Then for the odious act of blaming his behavior on his country. His responsibility as a representative of this country was to maintain the high ideals and standards that are incorporated in military and civilian law and are a part of our national character.

Mr. Fair should not be ashamed of his country, but his country may have grounds to be ashamed of him.

Robert L. Porreca