Chapel Hill: Opinion

Your letters: Tom Fenn, Jill Hemmings Austin, Ed Kerwin, Keith Karczewski

Community responsibility

Once again we are indebted to a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. I am referring to Mike Harris’ column, which expressed frustration at those who blame solely our schools for the troubling achievement gap experienced by our African-American and Latino and Hispanic students.

I too was upset by the use of phrases “poverty factory” and “manufacture … our future inmates” but didn’t take the time to express my outrage. Shame on me.

I would encourage your readers to go back and read Mr. Harris’ piece published on November 11 (CHN; it hit on several valid points. No sensible person would argue that there isn’t a problem, but to lay it at the feet of our schools and our hard-working teachers is wrong. As a community, we are all responsible for the “product: that is our young people.

Tom Fenn

Chapel Hill

Losing the visual commons

A community bulletin board may seem a small thing – a place for fliers about a concert, free kittens, a fundraiser. We take this common space for granted as a reliable social fixture. We might fail to see that it functions as a community commons where important exchanges occur.

Some spaces lend themselves to a vibrant community board – places with a high volume of traffic from a wide range of patrons and users. Indeed, any Chapel Hill location considered a community gathering place and a locus for information should have a bulletin board.

Unfortunately, our town has recently lost two of its key bulletin boards to renovation and interior design. The community information area at the YMCA has been replaced with glass tiling; and the Chapel Hill Public Library has removed the majority of its bulletin board to give patrons a view of the book-sorting machine behind the wall.

When we remove these visual commons, we unwittingly lose one of the important ways that we say who we are as a town. We also take away one of the tried and true ways of sharing the news and connecting with our neighbors. Time to reconsider the worth.

Jill Hemming Austin

Chapel Hill

9 OWASA questions

On behalf of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) Board of Directors and staff, please participate in our 2015 Customer Survey by

▪ going to and clicking on the survey link; or

▪ contacting us at or 919-537-4267 to receive an electronic or paper copy of the survey to return to OWASA; or

▪ calling us at 919-537-4267 if you wish to answer the survey questions by phone.

We very much want to hear from anyone who receives our drinking water and/or wastewater (sewer) management services in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community. If you do not have an account with OWASA, but you receive OWASA service and pay for it through your rent or a bill from the property owner, we want to hear from you.

Our survey has only nine questions so you can complete it in a few minutes. However, the questions give you the option to add comments in addition to giving us your ratings, and the final question asks how we can improve.

As your public, community-owned water utility, we believe that understanding your needs, preferences and perceptions related to our work is crucial to our effectiveness. In order to make the best decisions and to continuously improve our service quality, cost-effectiveness, etc., we need to know what you think about OWASA, so please take a few minutes to complete the survey. If you have already taken our survey, we sincerely thank you.

We hope to hear from you and if I can be of service, please contact me at or 919-537-4211.

Ed Kerwin OWASA executive director

Glaring streetlights

I noticed that Chapel Hill is testing new LED Streetlights. In my neighborhood, they are on Honeysuckle road, at Foxwood and Kornegay, and at Booker Creek/Old Sterling. I’m sure there are others around town as well. I am all for converting to LED Streetlights, it makes economic and environmental sense for the City.

However, the type of LED Streetlights being tested are – in my opinion – the worst that technology has to offer. They have a high glare factor and are so bright – I call that color “prison yard white.” I do not want these type of streetlights everywhere in Chapel Hill. There are other types of LED streetlights that produce a softer light and don't have the glare that these lights produce. Asheville has a nice softer color in their new streetlights that is much easier on the eyes than what is being tested. This is a 10- to 15-year investment for the town, and the residents of Chapel Hill should have some input as to whether they like this light shining in their houses and wearing sunglasses to walk their dogs at night.

Feel free to make your opinion known to Public Works Department – 919-969-5100.

Keith Karczewski

Chapel Hill

Watching and waiting

Can the healing begin? Let us presume that incoming UNC system President Margaret Spellings is sincere about mending divisions and building bridges, and let us give her doubt’s benefit that through this process she will be a person of good will who knows that she must earn the trust of the sizable communities who view her appointment with some mixture of alarm, disdain and incredulity.

What must she do? To begin, she must never, ever, ever again say the words “those lifestyles” (“UNC’s next chief ready for challenge,” N&O, Oct. 24) when referring to people in the LGBT community. The person who uses such a phrase draws attention to herself as insensitive, naive, bigoted and out-of-touch.

Is this education leader educable? We shall be watching.

William S. Meyer


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