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United Way’s Hands On Birmingham seeks volunteers for annual Day of Action

Hands on Birmingham volunteers build a storage shed at the West End Community Garden. (File photo)

United Way’s Hands On Birmingham seeks volunteers for its annual Day of Action sponsored by EBSCO Industries.

Hands on Birmingham needs about 125 additional volunteers to participate in eight projects at local non-profit agencies. The event begins at 9 a.m. on June 6, according to the United Way.

Volunteers from four United Way affinity groups: The Tocqueville Society, Women United, Young Philanthropists and 50 Year Donors will be assembling senior care kits for Meals on Wheels clients at the New Hope Senior Center at 1310 17th Way SW in Birmingham.

To volunteer as an individual or organization, visit www.handsonbirmingham.org, email info@handsonbirmingham.org or call 205-251-5849.

Volunteers may choose from projects such as cleaning and organizing books for Better Basics, sorting food donations for the Community Food Bank of Central Al and cleaning the trails at Red Mountain State Park. Other volunteer locations include the Salvation Army, United Community Center, J.S. Abrams Elementary School and the ACIPCO/Finley neighborhood.

Hands On Birmingham, a United Way initiative, connects people with organized and meaningful volunteer opportunities to help bring about positive social change in their communities. Hands On Birmingham sponsors over 150 projects throughout the year and plans and implements large scale community projects and days of service to include: MLK Day, Family Volunteer Day, Project Homeless Connect, Day of Caring and 9/11 Week of Service and Remembrance.

Drakkar Fontez Avery Christian was shot to death Friday, May 26, 2017, at an Irondale home. A suspect is charged and sought in the killing.

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U.S. Marshals searching for wanted man in southwest Birmingham

Brandon Reshoyd Campbell

A search is underway in southwest Birmingham after a man wanted on felony warrants fled from U.S. Marshals searching for him.

Brandon Reshoyd Campbell, 25, was arrested last year on charges of attempted murder, violation of a domestic violence protection order, and burglary. The incident happened in October 2016 when authorities say he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s Birmingham home.

Once inside the home, he encountered another male and fired shots at him before fleeing the scene. He was arrested on the charges on Nov. 15, but later released on bond with a condition of electronic monitoring.

U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said Campbell cut off his electronic monitoring device, and the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force was brought in to search for him. In April, Jefferson County District Judge Michael Streety issued an order noting that Campbell had repeatedly violated the monitoring conditions of his bond, despite warnings, instructions and citations.

Streety ordered that once in custody, Campbell be held without bond.

Keely said the task force received information of Campbell’s whereabouts Thursday morning and were searching for him in southwest Birmingham. When he spotted lawmen, he fled and led them on a brief chase. Ultimately, he bailed from his car and fled on foot.

The search is ongoing in the area of the 2100 block of Snavely Avenue where U.S. Marshals and Birmingham police have set up a perimeter. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.

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Durham City Council to vote on $4.2 million grant for Fayette Place purchase

The Durham City Council is moving ahead with giving the Durham Housing Authority $4.2 million to buy 20 acres of crumbling foundations for future affordable housing.

The council plans to vote on the grant to Development Ventures Inc., (DVI) a development arm of the Durham Housing Authority, at its June 5 meeting.

The grant deal was on the council’s Thursday work session agenda, but members didn’t ask any questions or express concerns, indicating likely approval.

The money would allow DVI to re-purchase the property known as Fayette Place, which was sold to Campus Apartments in 2007. The area is bounded by Fayetteville, Umstead and Merrick streets, between downtown and N.C. Central University.

Most City Council members committed to supporting the grant at a recent Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods meeting.

On Thursday, City Councilman Charlie Reece said it’s essential to bring the property under public control.

Neighbors have expressed frustration for years about the vacant land and unmet promises.

They dated the decline of the once cohesive, affluent black neighborhood to longtime homeowners pushed out to make way for the Durham Freeway and a housing project billed as “urban renewal.”

Instead, the Fayetteville Street public housing complex opened, followed by plans for two affordable-housing projects that never happened.

The city grant will include more than $4 million to repurchase the property and $102,000 to maintain the property through 2019. About $47,000 would go to a market study and legal fees.

The purchase is set to close June 16. A market study is to be completed in August and the community-engagement process would be held in September.

The grant agreement requires the housing authority to mow the grass, remove trash and repair the fencing. The housing authority has to include affordable housing in whatever gets built and seek community input, including from the Hayti area and N.C. Central University.

The authority also has to provide quarterly financial updates and can’t sell the site without the consent of the city manager, the grant agreement states.

For about 35 years, the property housed the 200-unit Fayetteville Street public housing complex.

In the early 2000s, the Durham Housing Authority started to convert the property into Fayette Place, a low-income housing development funded with tax credits. The development never happened.

In 2007, Campus Apartments agreed to pay the authority $4 million for Fayette Place. The agreement allowed the authority to repurchase the property if Campus Apartments failed to rent at least 168 beds to N.C. Central University students or provide housing for low-income individuals.

Under the agreement, the housing authority can reacquire the property for the purchase price or a recent appraised value, whichever is higher. A recent appraisal valued the property at less than the $4 million the company paid.

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Durham city calendar for week of May 15-19

Durham City Government meetings scheduled this week include:

Monday, May 15

7:00 p.m. City Council Meeting (City Hall/1st Floor/Council Chambers)

Tuesday, May 16

7:00 p.m. Durham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

Wednesday, May 17

8:30 a.m. Public Art Committee of the Durham Cultural Advisory Board (Durham Arts Council/120 Morris Street)

9:30 a.m. Upper Neuse River Basin Association (Town Hall/Camp Butner Room/415 Central Avenue/Butner, NC 27509)

3:00 p.m. Durham Cultural Advisory Board (The Bullpen/James B. Duke Boardroom/Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative/215 Morris St., Suite 300)

3:30 p.m. Audit/Finance Committee of the Durham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (Durham Housing Authority/330 E. Main Street)

5:30 p.m. Housing Appeals Board (Neighborhood Improvement Services Department/807 E. Main Street/3rd Floor Conference Room/Suite 2-300/Golden Belt Building)

5:30 p.m. Open Space Committee of the Durham Open Space & Trails Commission (City Hall/Audit Services Area/1st Floor/Conference Room 1A)

5:45 p.m. Bond Committee of the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

6:00 p.m. Durham City-County Appearance Commission (Urban Design Studio/City Hall/City-County Planning Department/Ground Floor)

7:00 p.m. Durham Open Space & Trails Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

Thursday, May 18

1:00 p.m. City Council Work Session (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

1:00 p.m. Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors (RDU Administrative Offices/1000 Trade Drive/RDU Airport, NC 27623)

1:00 p.m. Young Adult Resource Center Meeting of the Durham Homeless Services Advisory Committee (Independent Living Resources/411 Andrews Road, #230)

7:00 p.m. Affordable Housing Density Bonus Community Meeting (City Hall/1st Floor/Council Chambers)

7:00 p.m. Sister Cities of Durham, Inc. Board Meeting (Hibachi Grill/4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard)

Friday, May 19

No Meetings Scheduled

All meetings are held in City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza, unless otherwise indicated. Additional meetings may be scheduled after this list is submitted for publication. Free parking is available during the Council Meeting in the Chapel Hill Street Parking Garage, located across Mangum from City Hall. Any citizen wishing to be heard on agenda matters should called the City Clerk’s Office at 919-560-4166 to place your name on the Speaker’s List.

To learn more about current City of Durham issues and upcoming events, watch CityLife on Time Warner Cable channel 8. CityLife airs Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Citizen input and questions are invited.

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Big changes coming to Durham’s NC Mutual building

DURHAM

The NC Mutual building on West Chapel Hill Street is getting a dramatic makeover – one that will see its landmark name stripped from the top of the building.

The 12-story, 1960s-era office tower has been renamed Legacy Tower by a development group led by Michael Lemanski, who plans to update the building to attract new tenants. Earlier this year, NC Mutual announced it would shrink its footprint there from six floors to one, opening up 60,000 square feet of office space there.

Lemanski bought the building in 2006 for $10.5 million, while still with Greenfire Development, according to property records. The original Greenfire investors were bought out several years ago, and the new group contains mainly local investors, he said

The group is pouring $11 million into the renovations.

“The building has good bones,” Lemanski said, noting the changes will be mainly cosmetic.

Changes include restoring the façade, adding a mezzanine to expand the lobby by 13,000 square feet, and improving amenities such as a fitness center and a cafe.

Lemanski said the group is also adding lights to make the building more prominent at night.

The renovations should be complete in 12 months.

The naming rights of the building are also available for purchase – so potentially a new company name will adorn the top of the building again.

The renovations come as the 118-year-old NC Mutual reduces its footprint in Durham. The company, which posted a loss of $479,000 last year, told its shareholders at its annual meeting this year about the building’s transformation.

The company also changed its name in March to NC Mutual rather than continuing to use N.C. Mutual Life, which is currently written on the building’s signage.

Rents will climb significantly once the renovation is completed. Real estate firm Avison Young lists rates at the building between $26 to $29 per square foot.

“We think it can have similar rates as the rest of downtown Durham,” Lemanski said.

Lemanksi hopes the changes will attract creative-class clientele. The architecture firm Perkins+Will has already moved into the building, and he has heard interest from other potential tenants.

“We think (the renovations) will make it an amazing showpiece in downtown,” he said.

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Woman dies in Durham motorcycle crash

NC DOT camera showing a ramp closed at US 70 and NC 98.

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A woman driving a motorcycle died in a crash in Durham early Sunday evening, police said.

The crash happened just before 6:15 p.m. on U.S. Highway 70 near N.C. Highway 98, Durham police said in a news release.

The woman motorcyclist was heading east on U.S. 70 while pulling a trailer, according to police.

The crash only involved the motorcyclist, who died at the scene, police said.

As of 8:10 p.m., the exit ramp from U.S. 70 east to N.C.98 is closed. The on-ramp from N.C. 98 to U.S. 70 east is also closed.

No other details were immediately available.

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Flood warning issued for Wake, Durham and Johnston counties

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Durham, Wake, Johnston, Wayne and Sampson counties through 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, as rain continues to fall on saturated ground.

Upwards of two inches has fallen since mid-morning Tuesday, and another one to two inches are possible in those counties, according to the weather service. The rain will quickly run-off, causing creeks and streams to overflow their banks, the weather service said.

The rain is expected to continue into Tuesday morning before tapering off as the weather system working its way up from the south moves out and the sun shines again on Wednesday. Up to 6 inches could fall in parts of central North Carolina before the storm is all over, according to the weather service.

If the forecast is correct, it would be the most rain central North Carolina has seen since Hurricane Matthew last fall, far surpassing the 1.93 inches of rain recorded at Raleigh-Durham International Airport the first three days of January.

“We haven’t surpassed that 1.93 at the airport yet,” said meteorologist Barrett Smith said Monday morning. “But it could end up being the largest since Matthew. If not, our forecast is pretty bad.”

But people shouldn’t expect the same level of flooding as when Matthew swept through, Smith said.

“It’s not comparable in that sense,” he said. “But we’re still cautioning that there will be some flash flooding and some roads covered in water.”

Thunderstorms are expected Tuesday morning followed by more rain and then more thunderstorms after 3 p.m.

A flood watch continues for central North Carolina through Tuesday morning, and forecasters said to expect flooding in streams and creeks and standing water on roads. Rivers will rise “significantly,” but the weather service predicted only minor flooding along their banks.

The Haw River is expected to crest at Bynum on Tuesday afternoon, while the Tar River should crest at Louisburg on Wednesday afternoon and on Friday evening in Tarboro, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

[Heavy storms leave thousands without power in North Carolina]

Some areas outside the Triangle could get as much as 5 inches before the rain eases up and ends by Wednesday morning.

Source: National Weather Service

Power outages

The storm caused power outages to thousands of Duke Energy customers in North Carolina on Monday.

More than 48,000 of those customers were in Charlotte, which had received as much as 4 inches of rain by Monday morning.

More than 2,250 customers were without power in Durham near the Northgate Mall on Monday morning after downed trees or limbs damaged electrical equipment. About 500 more were without power in Cary and east Raleigh on Monday.

Related stories from The News & Observer
Area gets heavy rain, but no major flood
The sights and sounds of a rainy day in the Old North State

Other major outages were reported in the Winston-Salem area and Cabarrus County.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett

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Highlighting North Carolina’s opioid problem, Attorney General Stein visits Durham’s TROSA

DURHAM

The demographics of the men and women enrolled at Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers have changed dramatically in recent years as opioid usage has grown across the country.

In 2017, about 40 percent of the 500 people in TROSA’s rehabilitative programs are there because of an addiction to prescription opiates or heroin. That number was only 15 percent in 2010.

And the population has grown increasingly younger, too.

In the past two years, nearly all of the growth at TROSA has come from those under the age of 35, while the older population there has remained constant, according to TROSA Chief Operating Officer Keith Artin.

For many the story started similarly: abusing a prescription for an opiate painkiller after a broken arm or wisdom-teeth surgery.

N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein was in Durham on Tuesday to tour TROSA’s facility to learn about the nonprofit’s approach to addiction and to raise awareness of the state’s opioid problem. Stein was joined by state Sens. Floyd McKissick and Mike Woodard, and state Rep. MaryAnn Black, all Democrats from Durham.

“This is a growing crisis in North Carolina and people have to understand how serious it is – in part so that young people know to steer clear of these drugs and not mess around with them,” Stein said. “A young person can become addicted after only a few usages of these medications.”

TROSA has about 500 participants who live on the nonprofit’s Durham campus and work in its operations – which include a thrift store, moving service and annual Christmas tree sales – while undergoing treatment for addiction and training for careers. The nonprofit offers a two-year residency program that is free to participants and funded by private donations.

More than 90 percent of graduates from TROSA maintain recovery from addiction one year after graduation, and more than 90 percent are employed a year later as well.

Stein – who has made tackling opiate addiction a flagship issue for his first term in office – pointed toward the success of TROSA as an example for the state. North Carolina has four of the top 25 worst cities in the U.S. for opioid abuse, according to a report from Castlight Health, a health care information company.

“There are hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians that suffer from some form of substance use disorder,” he said, noting that only one out of 10 substance abusers received some form of treatment last year.

“We as a society aren’t doing enough to help people who want to get healthy and want to get well. That’s why we need to support groups like TROSA, and that’s why I am here today.”

Momentum is growing in the N.C. General Assembly to address opioid abuse, which has become a growing problem in the U.S. Opioid-related overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this year, Stein and a group of Republican lawmakers introduced the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention, or STOP, Act. The bill would limit doctors to prescribing no more than a five-day supply of opioid during an initial visit to treat a patient’s pain issue, such as a broken bone, and create an electronic data system to prevent abusers from visiting different doctors.

The bill, which passed in the N.C. General Assembly’s House unanimously earlier this month, would also allocate money to abuse treatment and recover services such as TROSA, Stein said.

“This is a nonpartisan issues,” Stein said. “It affects urban and rural, it affects east and west, it affects blacks and whites and Democrats and Republicans. There’s widespread consensus that we need to take broad steps to solve this crisis.”

For its part, TROSA has received funds from the state in recent years. The nonprofit has received $3.2 million over the past two years to expand its operations, including the construction of a new building on its campus.

McKissick, who has worked with the nonprofit since it was founded in 1994, said its growth from around 50 people participating in its earlier years has been a “radical transformation.”

He said he thinks the General Assembly has done well by TROSA but added “we gotta do more.”

“There is great interest in the General Assembly about duplicating what is being done here elsewhere – perhaps in High Point, the Triad area,” he said.

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NC: Durham-Orange Light-Rail Costs Could Delay Durham-Wake Commuter Rail

April 08–DURHAM — The rising costs of the Durham-Orange light rail project may delay plans for a 37-mile commuter-rail line connecting Wake and Durham counties.

The Wake County Transit Plan calls for the Wake-Durham Commuter Rail Project to connect Garner and Durham with stops in Raleigh, including N.C. State University; Cary; Morrisville and Research Triangle Park by 2027.

In November, Wake County voters agreed to raise the county’s sales tax rate by a half-cent in order to help fund the 10-year $2.3 billion transit plan, which also includes bus service improvements.

The Wake plan is based on Durham County paying 33 percent of the commuter rail’s local costs, which corresponds to the percentage of track in Durham County.

In a presentation to Durham City Council this week, GoTriangle officials indicated Durham County’s existing transit revenue streams wouldn’t support Wake’s timeline for launching the commuter rail, considering the updated financing model for the light-rail project.

Durham County’s transit fund cash balance would face a $170.6 million shortfall in fiscal year 2035 if Durham agreed to a 33 percent share and a 2027 delivery date, said John Tallmadge, who directs GoTriangle’s Regional Services Development Department.

Durham County is paying for the light-rail and commuter-rail projects with money from a half-cent transit sales tax, car rental fees and vehicle registration fees.

The commuter-rail project becomes more viable if it is pushed back 10 years, with an opening date in 2037 with Durham shouldering 20 percent of the costs. Durham County would have to pay cash for the project because financing wouldn’t be viable, Tallmadge said.

Mike Charbonneau, a GoTriangle spokesman, wrote in an email that GoTriangle is providing financial analysis of hypothetical scenarios for commuter rail.

"The Commuter Rail project in the Wake County Transit Plan is still early in the planning process," he wrote.

Will Allen, who was appointed by the Raleigh City Council to the GoTriangle board, said it was a strategic decision to present a 10-year plan to Wake voters that was aggressive and concrete. It was based on a conservative investment model that delivered and paid for all the promised items by 2027.

Allen also pointed out that Wake County tax dollars can only be spent in Wake County.

"We are restricted," he said. "We can’t pay for a mile of track in Durham County."

Delaying the plan could increase the costs due to inflation and other economic factors, he said.

"So it’s important that we meet the schedule promised to the voters," he said.

Wake commissioners’ chairman Sig Hutchinson was more optimistic about the potential financing challenges.

"We just have to get creative and find some alternative sources of funding," outside of additional Wake County funding. "We just have to do this work, and this is what we are about — we are about creating as 21st century community in which transit has got to be part of the solution."

The updated Durham Transit Plan presented to the City Council on Thursday included updated figures for the Durham-Orange Light Transit Rail project. The project cost has jumped to $3.3 billion, which includes construction, financing and other costs through 2062.

Orange and Durham will split the project’s $1.9 billion local cost with a cost-sharing agreement that is being renegotiated so Durham shoulders more of the cost to prevent depleting Orange County’s transit funds. The local costs increased after the anticipated state share decreased from 25 to 10 percent of project costs and financing and inflation were included in the price tag.

Elected officials in Durham say there is a strong interest in supporting the commuter rail, but the plans may have to be adjusted.

"We do feel it is an important component for the overall plan for transit in the region," Durham County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow said. "We do want to do it. There is commitment to do it, so we are still looking at when and how that would be funded."

Options could include raising money from other partners, possibly through a special transportation-related tax in the Research Triangle Park district. The current commuter-rail plan doesn’t include state funding, Reckhow said.

Durham County commissioners Chairwoman Wendy Jacobs said officials will work on solutions.

"I think there obviously will be adjustments that are going to have to be made in terms of the timing on how we will fill in some of the funding gaps," Jacobs said. "The important thing is we are as committed to doing the light rail as we are to doing the commuter rail."

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

___ (c)2017 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Where to partake in N.C. Beer Month celebrations in the Durham-Chapel Hill area

DURHAM

April is North Carolina Beer Month — which means, from the mountains to the beach, craft breweries and bottle shops are hosting events to celebrate one of the nation’s hotbeds of craft beer.

Those living or visiting the greater Durham area, which has seen a number of new breweries open shop in recent years, should be able to find a different place to visit every week in April for N.C. Beer Month.

A full list of events across the state can be found at ncbeermonth.com. A spattering of local events are listed below.

▪ Durham craft brewer Fullsteam Brewery is holding events every week during April. The events are focused around the brewing process, with educational sessions on grains (April 8), hops (April 15), and yeast (April 22). Fullsteam is bringing in experts on each subject.

Fullsteam wraps up beer month with a battle of the beers on April 29. The brewery’s employees will compete against each other to see who can brew the best beer made from North Carolina grains and at least one ingredient from the state and from a local company.

▪ Ponysaurus Brewing Co. is hosting the Bull City Food Swap at its brewery on Monday, April 17. The event gives guests the opportunity to drink beer and trade homegrown food.

▪ Tap the Triangle’s Friday Night Flights beer shuttle is running tours every Friday this month in Durham. The company is offering 20 percent off its tours during N.C. Beer Month and makes stops at Durty Bull Brewing Co., Ponysaurus, Startpoint Brewing, Ramblers Bottle Shop, Sam’s Quik Shop and Fullsteam.

▪ Bull City Burger and Brewery is releasing four one-off beers this month: a cask-conditioned Jack Tar Irish Stout with Amarena Cherries (April 1), a Mango Mint Mosaic Single Hop IPA (April 7), a bourbon barrel-aged Boars Russian Imperial Stout (April 14), and a Secret Sour Saison with Raspberries (April 21).

▪ Many of Durham’s bottle shops are also holding special N.C. Beer Month events. Bottle 501 will have a North Carolina brewery tap takeover every week. Beer Durham will host a party on Friday, April 7. Beer Study has a litany of events as well as Sam’s Quik Shop.

▪ Bull Durham Beer Co. is hosting free blues concerts every Wednesday and Friday in April at its new The Bullpen location on Blackwell Street. The music will be from various artists through the Music Maker Relief Foundation.

▪ Carrboro’s Steel String Brewery is hosting a cake bake-off on Saturday, April 8, in honor of the annual release of its Choco Freakness Imperial Cocoa Stout.

▪ Mystery Brewing is co-hosting a three-day block party in Hillsborough on April 28-30. The block party, called West Fest, will feature local musicians and beer from Mystery Brewing.

▪ Raleigh-centric Walter Magazine is hosting a beer tasting event at Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village on Sunday, April 9. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and features beers from Fullsteam Brewery, Mother Earth Brewing, Bond Brother Beer Co., Four Saints Brewing Co. and Tarboro Brewing Co.

Tickets are $25 per person and complimentary hors d’oeuvres, pop-up shops and live music from Gasoline Stove will be present.

▪ New Pittsboro cider maker Chatham Cider Works is hosting an open house at its cidery on April 15, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.