The Opinion Shop

Letters to the editor: Newspaper delivery, cyclists, teacher gifts, teacher raises, Chatham Park,

These letters were not published in the print edition but deserve a look.


Because of all the recent weather nastiness, I admit my expectations were low when I looked out the door at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 13 to see whether my newspaper arrived. But there it was in my driveway, actually on the ice that was on the snow that was on my driveway!

As I shuffled out to retrieve that welcome package, I noted that there was just one set of tracks on my street, no doubt left by my dedicated delivery person. He/she (not sure which, since I’m new to the neighborhood) will surely get a nice thanks from me come Christmas time.

Meanwhile, maybe that person can give some tips to the USPS, which couldn’t make it to my house.

Fred Gebarowski



After seeing the Feb. 28 “Hope and grief ride together” photo, I felt the need to describe an experience last week that we don’t hear enough of.

I was coming home from work on Bass Lake Road heading toward Holly Springs. An oncoming car flashed its lights, and I was immediately set on high alert. At a narrow stretch in the road, with a blind curve, I saw a flashing red light. The traffic ahead of me had slowed down significantly.

After turning on the blind curve, I saw that the flashing light was actually a cyclist who had the light on his backpack. The road was too narrow to pass, but all the drivers were patient and giving him plenty of room. Soon, we reached Bass Lake Park, and he signaled that he was turning left into the parking lot to allow all the cars to go by.

I was so impressed with how that situation was handled by all involved – starting with the oncoming car flashing its lights.

Spring is coming with more cyclists on the road. I hope we hear more stories like these.

Helena Mazzella

Holly Springs


Regarding the Feb. 17 news story “Teacher gifts under scrutiny”: As a proud teacher of English who left the profession to enter the business world because I simply could not afford to teach, I would like to offer my perspective.

First, this is a prime example of why single-term limits may be our only salvation. Obviously, politicians do not plan strategically for the health of N.C. anymore, having substituted tactical planning focused on re-election. In the near future, we will face a crisis much greater than the damage currently being done, not only to our state’s educational system that has taken decades to grow, but the entire economic health of the state because we have stripped away everything that would make quality educators (and quality, job-creating corporations) stay in or come to N.C.

People who have never spent a day in a classroom are making critical decisions simply to pander to an ignorant, reactive political base and without any thought to the future cost of repair.

Let’s just put up “Teachers not welcome” signs on our boarders and get this over with as quickly as possible so we can start fixing it sooner than later. It’s where we will wind up eventually if this political madness continues.

Rick Poillon

Atlantic Beach


Regarding your Feb. 9 news article: Chatham Park is a massive project with an enormous potential to be a source of great pride for Pittsboro, Chatham County, North Carolina and the United States. If it is not done well, however, it could be a source of great dissent and disharmony locally and of disappointment nationally and globally.

The question becomes how Chatham Park can become a sustainable community that receives strong support from Pittsboro and Chatham County and a 21st century ecological landmark that stands out among the few zero-carbon towns in the world.

I moved last year to Chatham County from New York City where I worked as a sustainability sociologist for 43 years. One of my educational activities consisted of teaching sustainable communities at Pace University in Manhattan. Having researched the Chatham Park project and having given testimony at the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners, I believe that four things should happen in 2014. They would not only greatly improve the project, but, more importantly, also increase community harmony and strength.

1. Have the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners hire a specialist in public engagement process planning because, as was so well-stated by retired attorney Jeffrey Starkweather, process is essential. A visioning process is to be devised as part of the five-step procedure in building sustainable communities as suggested by the U.S. EPA Office for Sustainable Communities and others.

2. Have the Board of Commissioners produce a value-based brochure that would translate the technical parts of the Master Plan into value questions that citizens can understand, discuss and vote on as part of that visioning process.

3. Have the Board of Commissioners hire a team of renewable energy specialists who are to produce the Chatham Park Energy Master Plan 2040, because no carbon-neutral town can be established without an energy plan that has been developed from the beginning of the project.

4. Have both the Pittsboro and the Chatham County Boards of Commissioners develop, possibly with a grant or developer funding, an energy and climate change educational program that would take the Chatham Park project as an eminent educational opportunity that cannot be wasted. The county then would not only have an excellent project, but also an educated population who can find excellent jobs in the Triangle in these times of climate change, climate crisis and looming climate catastrophe.

These actions would take extra time at the front end but would save time and resources over the life of the project because citizens, government, developers and investors would be of one mind on the basic outline and direction of Chatham Park.

Frans C. Verhagen, Ph.D.

Chapel Hill

The length limit was waived.


Regarding the pay raise for beginning teachers: I figure it might have gone something like this: “You know, teachers who have already invested 10 or more years in the profession probably have children and mortgages so it would be hard for them to quit. No reason to give them a raise. Let’s raise new teacher pay just enough to trick the newbies into teaching here. Maybe they won’t notice they aren’t getting a raise for the next 10 years.”

The governor says he wants a highly qualified teacher in front of every student. Then rules that only 25 percent can be good enough for a $500 trade for tenure. Then he has the gall to give raises to teachers who have not yet shown any evidence of high qualification. New teachers can’t pay their student loans? Just wait until their kids start to drive. Experienced teachers can’t pay their bills, either.

Beverly Rust

New Bern


Regarding the Feb. 17 news article “Teacher gifts under scrutiny”: Yet another slap in the faces of all teachers.

As a retired teacher who had the honor of teaching over 25 years, I am appalled! Does anyone know how much teachers spend each year on teaching-related supplies? Does anyone even care? What is wrong with Wake County and for that matter North Carolina?

Here is what the board members should be worrying about: how to recruit and retain excellent teachers, how to pay all teachers (not just beginning) what they deserve, how to fix the mess lawmakers have made with the “25 percent contracts” and how to reinstate the kind of morale teachers had under Gov. Jim Hunt.

Instead, they are worrying about a teacher getting a latte with a Starbucks gift card. Really? I continue to be disappointed and angered with much of what has gone on concerning teachers, the lack of respect they get, the amount of testing going on in each classroom and people who bash teachers when they haven’t a clue what it takes to be an effective teacher.

Linda Claire Ward



Regarding your Feb. 17 news article about Wake County’s looking to limit gift cards to teachers. Is it April Fools’ Day?

Many teachers routinely spend their own money to supplement classroom supplies and food. My son, 16, has special needs and is in an autistic classroom. For 13 years, his classrooms have started with a deficit of supplies. Why should we not be allowed to give gift cards to help buy supplies?

Does giving my child’s teacher a gift card make the county think I am buying my son’s grade?

I am not buying his grade. I am giving out of sincere appreciation for every man and woman who get up every day and try to help my son have a better quality of life by teaching him skills he will need . This includes cutting up his food, changing his diaper if he has had an accident, washing his hands, trying their best to figure out what he wants because he is nonverbal and all the while protecting him from hurting himself if he has a meltdown.

If I can give them a gift card to show my appreciation, I will do so. Teachers and especially special needs teachers are leaving at a high rate. Maybe we need to focus on that instead of worrying about gift cards.

Mary Zahn