Chapel Hill: Opinion

What you’re saying: Wayne Benson, Karen Schellhorn, Sue Hunter, Susan G. Shevach, Cole Barnhill, Peter Aitken and Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action

Simple bathroom solution

I continue to be bemused by the “so-called” “bathroom” bill as I remember my first trip to Europe.

I needed a visit to what they referred to there more accurately as a toilet (no bath involved). I was embarrassed to find myself amongst several women. I muttered my apologies and backed out, but someone realized my plight and explained that the room for hand washing was for everyone. Then one went from there to a private stall for the business at hand.

Such a simple solution! Why can’t we do that?

Wayne Benson

Chapel Hill

HB2 pure ignorance

Our state legislature may want to revisit House Bill 2 again. College basketball is perhaps our state’s favorite pastime. But if HB2 isn’t reversed in a few days, we will be unable to attend both ACC and NCAA tournaments in North Carolina because they won’t be held here for years to come, if ever.

The “bathroom bill” never protected anyone from anything. If the legislators really believed they were protecting women and girls by keeping men out of their bathrooms, they did just the opposite. The only thing the bathroom portion of the bill stands for is ignorance.

Elsewhere in the bill, our legislature has hijacked the ability of communities to determine what is best for them. I thought the legislature didn’t like big government. Our legislature is supposed to represent all residents with good decision making that would make our state better. Let’s look at HB2 again.

Karen Schellhorn

Chapel Hill

I support light rail

I’m writing to express my support for the Durham Orange Light Rail Transit (DOLRT) project. A 2015 Public Policy Polling survey conducted in Chapel Hill showed that 69 percent of those surveyed support the project, so I’m dismayed by the vocal minority that continues to insist light-rail technology is outdated and a bad deal for our community.

There is no one size fits all transit tool, and multiple transit options can work together to create a fully integrated system. While the cost of developing the light-rail infrastructure is significant, light rail has lower operating costs and lower emissions than buses. It’s worth considering how reduced emissions benefit the health of our community given the link between pollution and heart and lung disease. Can you put a price on that?

The proposed path of the DOLRT connects people in our growing urban centers and three academic medical centers, the largest employers in Durham and Chapel Hill. I work in one of these medical centers and would welcome the opportunity to use mass transit for my work commute and social outings.

I grew up using street cars in New Orleans and the MARTA rail system in Atlanta. When my parents downsized, they chose to purchase a condominium within walking distance of their local light-rail system, the St. Louis Metrolink. On visits with my family I’m able to show my children a different way of life, one that does not include a car, as we travel between home and various local attractions.

I want mass transit to be something I can use in my own community. I want Chapel Hill to experience the benefits of reduced emissions and increased tax revenue from the economic impact of developing a transit infrastructure. Don’t you want these things too?

Sue Hunter

Chapel Hill

Think 10 years from now

The Feb. 19 letter about the Durham Orange Light Rail project promulgates the misconception that building such a system can be justified only if existing transit needs will keep the trains full and the books in the black.

The fact is, building DOLR now is more correctly viewed as an investment in the future. When we really need DOLR, say in 10 years, it will be there.

If we wait until we really need it to start building, we’ll be in a mess. The land purchases required will be hugely more expensive and it’s very unlikely that the cost of borrowing money for the construction will be as low as it is today. We will have spent billions building and widening highways because people were forced to drive due to lack of public transit.

If built now, the mere existence of the DOLR system will have altered land use and housing patterns, with residential and commercial development clustered around rail stops, making the rail system even more useful. We’ll have reduced automobile use and highway needs, we’ll have less greenhouse gas emissions, and there will be reduced sprawl. We can be thankful that we have at least some city planners and politicians who think beyond the short-term balance sheet.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

We support OCS teachers

We are writing to acknowledge all that the Orange County teachers give to our community. We admire their passion, dedication and skill.

Their job is difficult. Students have unique backgrounds, interests, strengths and learning styles, yet teachers are expected to help them each achieve the same outcomes. They are the educational stewards of Orange County. Their work directly impacts each person here. Their workday begins before the bell rings and ends long after the students have gone home for the day.

We want our teachers to know we are committed to them. We faithfully called our senators, encouraging them to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Our calls fell on deaf ears as campaign contributions spoke louder than calls from concerned constituents. Nevertheless, we persisted. As the fight for equality in education continues, we will persist on teachers' behalf.

This struggle has just begun. We will do everything in our power to support teachers, students, and public education. We will insist that our senators be faithful to teachers in their voting. We will demand that the teachers' contracts be honored regardless of what happens under our new Secretary of Education. We will share the good we see teachers doing. We invite teachers to demand more of us, call on our assistance, and rely on us to generate action.

Orange County teachers have chosen to serve us, the people of Orange County. We choose to support them.

Michelle Anderson

Gina Rhoades

Jamie Paulen

Valerie A. Futch Ehrlich

Erin Carrier

on behalf of Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action

Observe, then legislate

I have never been one to be scared of “bureaucracy,” but recent appointments have me worried. My reasons for concern are, to be honest, selfish. But I also find them valid, and I won’t stop fighting for what I think is right.

I am a college student, born of two educators. My father is a kindergarten teacher with over 20 years of experience. My mother is a first-grade assistant who is still young in her new career. The previous state administration attempted to cut her job once. If this new federal administration slashes funding, as they hope to, my mother will lose her job. Period.

If this happens I will not be able to afford school. Neither will my sister who attends another UNC system school. If this administration slashes funding for federal aid I will not be able to afford school. I will, after 18 years of hard work, be forced into either crippling debt or waiting to complete my education when I can afford it.

This all said, I am extremely privileged. I have two parents who work full-time jobs. Other students don’t. The government seems to forget this fact when making policy. When education policy is made it changes the lives of countless students, educators, administrators, and parents, among others across the state and the country.

My plea for the incoming administrations is to go to a classroom, observe, see the everyday struggles. Only then should policy changes be considered.

Cole Barnhill


Rolling, rolling, gone

I have lived here since 1991 and enjoyed the rolling hills and various displays of gorgeous foliage.

Recently this has been removed, ruined and generally devastated. So I suggest renaming Legion Road to Devastation Drive.

Susan G. Shevach

Chapel Hill

Letters policy

Please send up to 300 words to All submissions, online comments and posts to editor Mark Schultz’s page may be edited space and clarity. Thank you.