Ninth St. Harris Teeter set to open on November 13

I don’t have much to add, and normally when I have little to add I just bury a story in odds and ends, but this is big news and I just had to share ASAP:

The new Harris Teeter grocery store near the corner of Ninth Street and Hillsborough Road is opening Nov. 13.

Catherine Becker, a spokeswoman for the company, said the store will be opening at 8 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It ain’t easy being Becoats

Hey, you remember that little story from back in August about DPS superintendent Eric Becoats? It went something like this (from the H-S):

The Durham Public Schools Board of Education has formally reprimanded Superintendent Eric Becoats for misusing a DPS school activity bus and driver in June.

Becoats verbally contracted to use the bus and driver June 7 and 8. The driver used the bus to transport Becoats’ friends and family to private events during that weekend, which included a trip to the Streets at Southpoint mall, according to a DPS announcement on Thursday.

Oooh, a formal reprimand! Ouch. Well, if there’s one way to absolutely 100% stop employees from misusing resources, it’s a formal reprimand. And anyway, he probably just made an honest mistake; maybe he didn’t know that the system policy sharply restricted this sort of use?

Emails and other documents indicate that Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats knew beforehand that system policy sharply restricted the use of school activity buses of the type he rented in June for family outings.

Um. OK. Well, that doesn’t sound so great. What about test scores? They’re doing well, right? It’s easy to overlook a little minor corruption when somebody’s knocking it out of the park:

Test scores from students in the Durham Public Schools are set to dip, perhaps by 20 to 30 percentage points, Superintendent Eric Becoats told the City Council.

Oh, that’s maybe not great news. But I’m sure that’s due to state-level rejiggering of metrics, not anything under his control.

So, I guess it’s been a rough year for Becoats, but maybe he can turn it around! I mean, now that he’s been reprimanded, and now that his test scores have plummeted, he’ll surely be on his best behavior going forward. You know, get all that paperwork in order – dot those Is, cross those Ts

“There were expenditures in the record for which there was not full documentation or explanation,” Carter said. “The board is seeking clarity on these expenditures. We also will consider developing additional financial controls over credit card use and travel reimbursement.”

She also said she noticed personal items being purchased on the credit card and travel cost that exceeded the state per diem rates…

Records show Becoats spent $20,157.86 on the credit card from July 2012 to June 2013 for out-of-state conferences, dinners and lunches with colleagues, economy-class air travel, hotels, room service, limousines from the airport, meetings, workshop supplies, flowers for recognition of employee achievements and gifts to a host family in Mexico.

Yikes! Well, maybe he just didn’t know he needed prior approval from the school board?

The contract that Superintendent Eric Becoats signed with the Durham Public Schools encourages him to attend appropriate local state and national professional meetings with the prior approval of the chairperson of the school board. But it was unclear Thursday whether such approval was sought or granted in the prescribed manner…

Carter has suspended Becoats’ use of the credit card and recently denied two of the superintendent’s requests for travel.

Well. Um. That doesn’t sound great either! After reprimanding him for those joyrides in DPS buses, I wonder what nasty repercussions Becoats will face now?

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Eric Becoats’ district-issued credit card has been terminated.

OH man, that’s a sick burn. Now he’s been reprimanded AND he’s losing his allowance? You’d better watch out, Eric; next time, maybe they’ll ground you during prom or something.

Local Kickstarter odds and ends

I hope to make a more concerted effort to stay on top of the various Kickstarter projects around town. I can’t specifically call out every project that’s created, but I’ll try to mention the ones that have some kind of specific local relevance (or that I think are especially cool).

First up, actively funding projects:

  • KoKyu BBQ is hoping to open a retail location. They’ve got a long way to go and only one week remains; edible rewards start at $20
    • Funding goal: $46,000
    • Current progress: $11,118
    • Funding ends: Nov 1
  • Duke Rhythm and Blue, a Duke a cappella group, is making an album. They’ve met their target already, but it’s not too late to contribute before the window closes tomorrow: $25 gets you a copy of the new album.
    • Funding goal: $5,000
    • Current progress: $5,202
    • Funding ends: Oct 25

Updates on funded projects:

 

Main St. bridge over Campus Drive nears completion

After several delays, the bridge over Campus Drive on West Main Street is almost ready to re-open. The bridge was initially supposed to be finished in September, but weather hasn’t been cooperating and as with many other construction projects this summer the deadline slipped.

Duke Today now reports that Main St. should re-open before the end of October, and only finishing touches now remain on the bridge construction. I’m personally very happy to see the road re-open, as the detour via Buchanan / Markham lacks a bike lane and the additional detour traffic has made them kind of dicey to ride on. The re-opened Main St. will feature bike lanes in both directions and should make life a lot easier for cyclists in this area.

Early voting for the general election is now open

Actually, it has been open for several days now, but I may have not noticed that fact until today. Oops.

Early voting will run through Saturday, November 2, at 706 W. Corporation St. A sample ballot and operational hours are listed in this PDF file.

As a reminder, here are this year’s endorsements. Of note: the Indy has finalized its endorsements to reflect the results of the primaries, which I’ve added to the list:

Group Mayor Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3
Durham People’s Alliance Bell Cole-McFadden Davis Moffitt
Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People Bell Cole-McFadden Beasley Karriker
Friends of Durham Bell Cole-McFadden Beasley Karriker
Indy Week Bell Davis Moffitt

The Indy didn’t even bother endorsing Cole-McFadden (seeing as how she’s unopposed and all), so the only addition is that of Moffitt in Ward 3, which is somewhat unsurprising considering that his challenger, Pam Karriker, doesn’t even support same sex marriage. In Durham. In 2013. Get with the times there, grandma.

Hotel development plans would close parts of Holland St. pedestrian mall

I first came across this one via a mailing list; apparently the developers of a hotel at 315 E. Chapel Hill St. want to acquire the alleyway by Seven Stars Cycles from the city and convert it to a patio. I’ll let Seven Stars explain:

 Some folks want to turn the building across the alley into a new restaurant and boutique hotel. Which is fine. However, they’ve applied to close this alley in order to construct a private, raised, outdoor dining area that, at it’s highest, will create an almost nine foot retaining wall in the middle of the space. The current space was designed and constructed in the late 1960’s at the same time the fantastically modern 315 E Chapel Hill St structure was built. It is one of the only designed pedestrian spaces in downtown Durham and contrary to many people’s opinions, heavily used and enjoyed and a hot spot for downtown photographers, both amateur and professional. City Council must consider whether this closure is contrary to the public interest in making their decision at their October 7th (7PM) meeting. You can attend this public hearing and voice your opinion about the importance of saving this historic alley.

This is especially relevant to Seven Stars, since their storefront happens to be situated on the alley:

Well, you may have noticed that Oct 7 has come and gone. Prior to the Council Meeting, the city/county planning department stated (quoting an email):

the City Manager’s office is recommending that case SC1300001, the proposed closing of Holland Street, be referred back to the administration, in order to ensure additional public input prior to City Council consideration.

… which the Council agreed to.

So, what’s next for SC1300001? The planning department has scheduled an “Urban Design Studio” for 18:00 next Tuesday, October 22, at 315 East Chapel St.:

The goal for this studio is to provide an opportunity for public input on the future of Holland Street. The event will include brainstorming and visioning exercises to engage stakeholders in identifying goals and alternative designs for the continued use of Holland Street. The results of the studio will be used to develop a plan that ensures continued public enjoyment of Holland Street and balances all stakeholder interests.
So, if you’ve got any particular attachment to this alleyway, you might want to show up and let them know what you think.

Durham news odds and ends

Hey, I sure hope you guys like news! Cause here’s some:

Slate set for Durham municipal general election

The Chronicle reports (I know right! It’s probably in the H-S somewhere, but I checked the Chronicle first) the results of yesterday’s primaries.

In a shocking turn of events, Bell bested his nearest competitor, Sylvester Williams, by only 80 percentage points. The two will duke it out in the general election, and if Williams manages to capture all the votes that went to Valentine in the primary, he’ll only be trailing Bell by like 74 percentage points. So um, I guess he’s got a little bit of work to do.

But here’s the real story: Eddie Davis (not Bette Davis, and YOU CANNOT HAVE HIS EYES) smacked around his competitors handily, besting Beasley by 38 points. This seems to speak to the strength of the People’s Alliance’s endorsement of Davis, as that’s a hefty margin despite the fact that both the Committee and the Friends have pegged Beasley. We’ll have to see if that trend holds true when the two face off in the general election.

So, the stage is set! And here’s a reminder of the endorsements as they stand presently:

Group Mayor Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3
Durham People’s Alliance Bell Cole-McFadden Davis Moffitt
Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People Bell Cole-McFadden Beasley Karriker
Friends of Durham Bell Cole-McFadden Beasley Karriker
Indy Week Bell Davis

The last day to vote in Durham’s municipal primary is tomorrow

In case you want to vote in the primaries but didn’t make it out to the early voting sites, fear not: you still have one final chance! That’s right, civic minded procrastinators, you can take advantage of the old fashioned “show up at the polling place on election day” approach to making your vote count.

The list of candidates and details on the election can be found in a previous post. Since Bell is pretty much guaranteed to win, the only real question is the Ward II race, where four contenders hope to make it onto the general election ballot.

ATT bridge completion delayed yet again, ribbon cutting to go forward

Yeah, you know that ATT bridge? That was supposed to be done this summer?

Not so much on that.

The original delays were blamed on inclement weather, as Durham faced an extremely wet spring which made construction problematic. The most recent scheduled completion date had been pegged at October 12, but guess what:

A last-minute construction snag will delay the opening to pedestrians of the American Tobacco Trail’s bridge over Interstate 40, in a worst-case scenario until sometime in December.

At this point I’m sure not holding my breath on seeing this thing open before the end of the year. This time they’re blaming straight up incompetence, as fencing was installed improperly and needs to be redone. The contractors are on the hook for the cost in this case, running up a tab of “$100,000 to $200,000” for repairs.

The great part, though, is that the ceremony is still going forward on the 12th:

Officials nonetheless intend to go through with a scheduled Oct. 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony, as the trail expansion will otherwise be complete.

Never let the fact that the project is months overdue, massively overbudget, and still incomplete get in the way of patting yourselves on the back, you guys! Good work!