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Matthew E. Milliken
Durham, North Carolina, a.k.a. #DurhamNC
Reporter.
Recent Activity
The Durham City Council decided early this afternoon to defer a possible utility extension to the controversial proposed 751 South development. The council voted to wait until current lawsuits about the Southern Durham project come to a close, which staff estimated could take anywhere from 18 months to three years. The council was motivated at least in part by fear of becoming entangled in litigation itself. Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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Durham public school system officials released some negative but expected student test results on Thursday. They also backed away from a key achievement claim that they had made when announcing test scores on Wednesday. Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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(This post was updated late on Wednesday, July 20.) Test scores by Durham Public Schools students rose slightly in the 2010-11 academic year. “We believe that these are some significant accomplishments in Durham Public Schools,” said Eric Becoats, the district superintendent, who recently completed his first year in office. The results, which will be considered preliminary until next month, were announced Wednesday morning at Spring Valley Elementary School by school system officials. Perhaps the best news the Durham school system had involved the graduation rate, which rose from 69.8 percent to 73.9 percent. Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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A major player in North-East Central Durham got together with its neighbors Tuesday evening to start collaborating on a shared vision for the area’s future. While nothing was finalized at Tuesday’s public input session, it seems something important may have been decided by its end. Both sides — the Durham Rescue Mission and North-East Central Durham residents — proved themselves willing to listen to each other in charting a course for the mission’s expansion. Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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The 38th annual CenterFest Arts Festival will be held not in September (as the event Website still erroneously states) but in 2012, officials with the Durham Arts Council and partner organizations announced this morning. “We want to reshape it and grow it into something even more exciting that reflects the tremendous creativity going on in Durham today,” Sherry DeVries, the executive director of the council, said at the announcement. So what does that mean in practical terms? The expanded event will feature an enlarged name — tentatively, CenterFest: Festival of Arts, Music, Food and Creativity. That reflects what should be a broader palette of attractions. Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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Downtown Durham is continuing to add its menu of culinary offerings. The expansion is bringing full-fledged restaurants as well as other types of establishments. The latest addition to the downtown food scene arrived earlier this month at 405 E. Chapel Hill St. That’s the home of Reliable Cheese, a new fromagerie aimed at lovers of pressed milk curds. Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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A $30,000 Leaf should soon be alighting on the Great Lawn at Durham Central Park. “I think it’s going to energize the east side of the park,” said Ellen Cassilly. She’s a Durham Central Park board member and an advisor to a dozen North Carolina State University master’s of architecture students who have designed and will build the structure. Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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A $30,000 Leaf should soon be alighting on the Great Lawn at Durham Central Park. “I think it’s going to energize the east side of the park,” said Ellen Cassilly. She’s a Durham Central Park board member and an advisor to a dozen North Carolina State University master’s of architecture students who have designed and will build the structure. Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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There has been at least some community unease about the request to rezone the historic Y.E. Smith School property, perhaps in large part because things have come together quickly. “We as a community are pretty cool with the school being in a building that was formerly a school, so that’s obviously a very compatible use,” Aidil Ortiz Collins, chairperson of the community group Uplift East Durham, said last week. “For us, though, we’re pretty wary of, at this point, the process for that, because the zoning that’s up there isn’t for a school.” In fact, would-be purchaser Self-Help is asking for the parcel’s zoning to be changed from RU-M(D), or residential zoning with a development plan, to RU-5(2), or residential suburban. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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It was years ago that the historic Y.E. Smith School stopped being a school and began falling into decay. Now, the building is on the cusp of returning to its original function. Would-be purchaser Self-Help has applied to rezone the former school property at 107 S. Driver St. to allow it to be used for education. The matter will be heard by the Planning Commission this afternoon. If the request is granted, that would smooth the way for Self-Help to buy the building from Trosa and lease it to Maureen Joy Charter School. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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Jamie Hager is a green building specialist at Southern Energy Management. She reviews construction to make sure they comply with LEED and other environmentally friendly building codes. One of her clients is NC Green Build, which is working on what could be Durham’s first LEED-certified single-family home at 208 Regiment Way. “NC Green Build has been really great,” Hager said. “They’re really organized. And so I feel really confident that they’re going to get the certification level that they want the first time on a house, which is rare.” Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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In a little more than two months, Durham may have its first LEED-certified single-family home. A new company called NC Green Build is constructing the home at 208 Regiment Way. Physically, the site is part of the Colony at American Village on the western edge of Durham County and a short drive from Duke, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. But metaphorically, NC Green Build partners Steve Frasher and Duncan Lundy say, the site represents the cutting edge of home construction. Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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It will be years, if ever, before a Triangle Transit train pulls into any station in Durham, Orange or Wake counties. But a plan for investing more than $2 billion in regional rail and bus transit is about to pull out of the station. The Durham County mass transportation investment plan could be adopted as soon as this month by leaders of three key groups: the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, which oversees transportation strategies; Triangle Transit, which operates DATA bus service in Durham as well as regional bus service, and which would likely operate any new rail system; and the Board of County Commissioners. The first two organizations will both consider the plan on June 22; county commissioners will hold public hearings on the plan itself and on a referendum for a half-cent sales tax on June 13. Commission action on either or both issues may come on June 27. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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The Durham City Council could be called on to decide the fate of a proposed affordable housing development Monday night. It would be understandable if the zoning map change that’s been requested to enable the construction of Crowne Pointe is overshadowed by other business on the agenda. After all, the other public hearing scheduled for Monday involves the proposed 2011-12 budget and the city’s five-year capital plan, both of which should affect far more people in Durham. But for many people living in vicinity of the now-vacant 6200 and 6300 Barbee Road, the council’s decision could have an immediate and long-reaching impacts. Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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A proposed hotel that once bitterly divided one of Durham’s tonier neighborhoods is now on the verge of securing support from residents. On Wednesday evening, the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association board meeting learned about a deal that a group of members has worked out with developers of the Residence Inn proposed for 1108 W. Main St. between North Buchanan Boulevard and Watts Street. While the presentation didn’t put every concern about the project to rest, it did result in a consensus that negotiators have struck an arrangement neighbors can accept. Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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Durhamites will get a chance to examine and potentially to influence one of the county’s most important planning documents this afternoon. The six-year-old Durham Comprehensive Plan is about halfway through its first major revision. In one way or another, the document touches upon nearly every major aspect of life in Durham County. It has 18 chapters covering land use, housing, historic preservation, commerce, conservation and the environment, transportation, recreation, education, capital projects, and public infrastructure and buildings, among other topics. Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2011 at Bull City Rising
Durhamites will get a chance to examine and potentially to influence one of the county’s most important planning documents this afternoon. The six-year-old Durham Comprehensive Plan is about halfway through its first major revision. In one way or another, the document touches upon nearly every major aspect of life in Durham County. It has 18 chapters covering land use, housing, historic preservation, commerce, conservation and the environment, transportation, recreation, education, capital projects, and public infrastructure and buildings, among other topics. Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2011 at Bull City Rising
Everyone, I appreciate the readership and the comments! Some responses: Ross, I updated the story to mention Cary’s Bond Park, which was not prominently featured in the Google searches I conducted. If there are other area high-ropes courses that I've missed, please let me know and I'll add them. John and Mark, Parks and Recreation hadn’t figured out all the budget details when I visited the high ropes course. Clearly if this facility runs significantly in the red, that will be a major problem. Since the high ropes course will mostly be run on an appointment-only basis (excepting those "discovery days" I mentioned), it's conceivable that the course won't lose much money at all even if it receives little traffic. The facility should be locked up any time it's not in use, so I assume no supervisor will be needed if there are no bookings. And yes, safety issues are also potentially significant. The fact that the city insures itself could minimize that matter, especially if the facilitators can keep the course injury-free. Mark, I agree that Bethesda Park might benefit from some extra signs pointing the way! Maybe those will come once the high ropes course officially opens...? I didn’t look at the disc golf course, but I thought the covered courts were nicely done and should make it easier for folks to play in different types of weather without the expense of completely enclosing the facility. On the other hand, I wonder how playable the basketball and tennis courts might be if winds carry the water onto the playing surfaces. (But that's another story!) Thanks all for reading and commenting!
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The city Parks and Recreation Department is about to enable Triangle residents to taste adventure in an otherwise sleepy neighborhood. Construction of the new Discovery High Ropes Course at Bethesda Park wrapped up this spring. The amenity graces a 21-acre facility that already featured covered and lighted tennis and basketball courts, a disc golf course, a playground, an open play field, walking trails and restrooms when it debuted just last fall. Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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A local personal hygiene product maker is donating a day of service in an effort that could boost Durham’s urban farming movement. Nearly 400 locally based Burt’s Bees employees are scheduled to work today at three sites controlled by the local nonprofit NEEM. The group’s founder and director, Jeff Ensminger, called the donation of labor “one of the coolest things I’ve seen a company do.” Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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For 14 years, Dogstar Tattoo Co. has been putting its mark on Durham. By month’s end, it could be ready to move into a new home that may be nearly as permanent as the patterns its artists imprint on clients. Dogstar Tattoo moved from its longtime Ninth Street storefront to Golden Belt Arts last fall. But its current lower-level spot on the east side of Golden Belt’s Building 6 is a temporary location. Around month’s end, the shop should move to a suite in the southwest corner of the same building. The move will also coincide with an increased emphasis by Dogstar Tattoo Co. on community service... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2011 at Bull City Rising
Durham County is putting the old Carmichael warehouse up for sale, Ray Gronberg reported in Tuesday’s Herald-Sun, following Duke’s submission of a $6.8 million bid for the building. What does that mean for downtown Durham? Good things, according to Bill Kalkhof, the impresario of downtown Durham and the president of Downtown Durham Inc. “The county has a very solid offer that I think is a very fair offer for the property,” Kalkhof said. “And it’s being made by a great institution, and the offer can only get better from here.” Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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Several local bands are the draw for Bull City Undercover, a three-night event at Motorco Music Hall that begins Thursday... The musicians will bypass their original work and exclusively perform tunes by an earlier band that has significantly influenced their work. Think of it as a musical wife swap or Freaky Friday. Proceeds from the event will benefit SEEDS and the Central Park School for Children. Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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Ambitious, innovative and risky by its very nature, the Durham Sculpture Project can be summed up in one word: entrepreneurial. This is the type of venture that is mounted not to fill a market need but to create a market. Artist-engineer John Wendelbo, the project’s leader, implicitly acknowledged as much when he said he wants his initiative to spur the creation of additional sculptures in Durham and the Triangle. What’s more, the approach Wendelbo is taking to create a 35-foot-high piece of art essentially turns the conventional process on its head. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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A Durham resident is scheming to remake the city’s landscape and the region’s sculpture scene. John Wendelbo is an engineer by training and artist by vocation. His day job at Carolina Bronze Sculpture of Seagrove involves both of those spheres. Now, he’s trying to combine profession and passion through an independent initiative called the Durham Sculpture Project. Simply put, the project is an effort to raise approximately $800,000 from a variety of sources to fabricate a massive abstract sculpture designed by Wendelbo himself. At a projected 35 feet high, “Dionysos” would dwarf virtually every other piece of artwork in Durham and stand taller than most buildings in the county. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2011 at Bull City Rising
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