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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Library honchos: Budget cuts — take two

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 9:30 AM

So far, the citizens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the Friends of the Library have raised roughly $135,000 in an effort to bolster the Charlotte Meckleburg Library's busted budget.

In other mildly hopeful news, the library's board of trustees plans to meet again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. to discuss alternative ways to shave down the budget without axing half of the system's library locations.

Just like last week, the meeting will be live-tweeted. If you're interested in following the news as it happens, watch the #cmlibrary Twitter stream. (No need to sign up for an account if you don't already have one.)

Library Director Charles Brown said Monday that senior staff are reconsidering all their options on how to deal with immediate losses in county money, including additional salary and benefit cuts.

Steps already taken include four unpaid furlough days for the staff and a discontinuation of employer matches to the employee 401(k) program.

Brown said he and his staff will present their ideas to library trustees at a special meeting they've called for Wednesday, the deadline set to either find money to avoid the closure of 12 branches or to move ahead with them.

"We're looking at alternatives to see what steps can be worked on to avoid closings, such as having fairly significant service reductions instead," Brown said.

Library officials say cutting 148 staffers was the first option, because personnel accounts for 72 percent of the library system's budget.

Robin Branstrom, chair of the library board of trustees, said the board hopes to minimize the damage by significantly cutting hours or days of service at the system's 24 libraries, or charging fees for services.

Nearly every department and agency that receives county money has been told to brace for cuts, with the amount of possible reductions varying by where they fall on a list of priorities commissioners approved at their retreat last month, among other factors.

Some of the biggest cuts, percentage-wise, could come to areas like parks and libraries (50 percent each), public television station WTVI (100 percent) and non-profit agencies (about 74 percent).

The Sheriff's Office is facing nearly a $9 million cut for next year, or 11 percent.

Sheriff Chipp Bailey said he may cut services, such as shutting down the jail annex and moving inmates back into the central jail.

Read the entire Charlotte Observer article here.

Crossroads Charlotte is covering the impact of the library's closures from the patron's perspective. Here's yesterday's post, by Tonya Jameson: IMPACT ON ACCESS: Hickory Grove Just Opened, Faces Closure

To donate to the library's cause, click here. Sign up to volunteer here.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Celebrate beer this week

Posted By on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 1:50 PM

beer-toast

This week, Charlotte raises its glass and toasts, well, beer. The inaugural Charlotte Craft Beer Week jumped off last Friday and continues through March 28. Bars and restaurants all around town will be hosting various beer-related events, such as tastings of rare and exotic brews, showcases featuring local and regional breweries, food and beer pairing events, brewery tours and appearances by some major names in the brewing industry.

From www.charlottecraftbeerweek.org:

"The craft beer movement in the Carolinas really took off thanks to the Pop the Cap campaign which resulted in passage in 2005 of a bill in North Carolina to raise the maximum alcohol content in beer from 6 percent to 15 percent. In 2007, South Carolina went a bit further and raised its cap to 17.5 percent," said Darrin Pikarsky, founder of the Charlotte Beer Club. "Since that time dozens of unique beers have become available in the Charlotte area and a terrific new wave of North Carolina craft brewers have brought some world class beers to market."

The goal behind Charlotte Craft Beer Week is to celebrate a new golden age of beer in the Queen City and help introduce more people to the dozens of amazing beer styles and venues now available locally. Tickets for the events will be sold at each of the host locations.

Click here to see what kind of events are going on and when. Note to self: There are multiple things going on each night!

Why craft beer? Watch this video from Craftbeer.com.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How does the Q.C. rank on the green cities index?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Not too shabby considering the city's recent attempts to re-brand itself as a green-job mecca.

Charlotte ranks No. 20 among 43 U.S. metro areas in a study of the nation’s “green cities.”

The Business Courier of Cincinnati, a sister publication of the Charlotte Business Journal, complied the Green Cities Index. It ranks metro areas based on environmental factors such as air and water quality, traffic congestion, transit use, carbon emissions, the number of energy-efficient buildings and green jobs.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord metropolitan statistical area ranks No. 21 among the 43 markets for congestion and No. 27 for public transportation use.

The study found that 79 percent of the region’s workers drive alone to their jobs. Only 2.3 percent of the local work force uses public transit.

The region also gets low marks because of its smog, ranking No. 33 for air quality. Charlotte’s polluted streams, creeks and rivers place the region at No. 32 for water quality.

On the positive side, Charlotte placed No. 6 for its high number — 82 — of Energy Star-rated facilities. And it ranks No. 12 for the number of properties — 41 — certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program.

The green credentials of certain local professionals also boosted the region’s overall ranking. The region rates No. 6 for its high number of LEED-accredited architects and No. 2 for LEED-accredited professionals overall.

Charlotte ranks No. 19 for generation of energy from renewable sources.

Read the rest of this Charlotte Business Journal article, by Susan Stabley, here.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Myers Park teen a YouTube hit

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 9:38 AM

YouTube has helped create many minor celebrities in our Internet age, but the circumstances that made Myers Park High School senior Amelia Downs a viral hit are surprising even to her.

Amelia Downs posted her video as a response to a unique question on a college application to Tufts University.

The Medford, Massachusetts school is known for creative questions for its applicants, and this year, offered an optional essay that asked students to submit a 1-minute web video that helped explain who they are.

Downs' video begins, "Oh, hi! I didn't see you there. My name is Amelia Downs and I'm here to show you how I combine two of my favorite things -- being a nerd and dancing." She goes on to show off several dances she created with friends that simulate math terms such as scatterplot, pie graph, and tangent.

Read the rest of this MSNBC/ NewsChannel36 article, by Beth Shayne, here.

Here's the video:

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Navy will pay to test toxic waters at N.C. base

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM

It's hard to believe there was even a disagreement about this ... and, what in the hell has taken them so long?

The Navy has agreed after months of fighting to fund a study into the health effects of past water pollution at Camp Lejeune on Marines.

The Department of the Navy said in a letter Thursday to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that it will pay more than $1.5 million for the work. The study will look at whether there are higher mortality rates for Marines who served at the base during the years the water was contaminated.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Friday.

North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan had urged the Navy to fund the study. The two lawmakers were behind legislation passed by the Senate in September preventing the military from dismissing claims related to water contamination before studies are completed.

"I am pleased the Navy has listened and is taking this crucial step. The findings will help bring answers to our Lejeune families who deserve closure on this issue," said Hagan, who wrote the legislation.

Read the rest of this Washington Post/ Associated Press article here.

From June 2008, the description of this YouTube video reads, "My name is Mike Partain and I was born on MCB, Camp Lejeune N.C in 1968. During my mother's pregnancy, we were exposed to drinking water which was highly contaminated with VOCs including PCE and TC..."

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The greenish Olympics

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Are they the greenest Olympics ever, or what? Some say, "Or what."

From Grist.org's Jonathan Hiskes, a simple solution for a greener Olympic experience:

For all the efforts to minimize the impact of the Olympics, one big solution never gets taken seriously. So much of the environmental and financial cost of the games comes from cities trying to build facilities that suit both a massive, two-week influx of athletes and spectators and also the long-term needs of locals. So you get things like Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 summer games and not paid off in full until 2006. Or the “spookily quiet, deserted” Olympic village Tom Philpott saw in Turin, Italy, two years after the games there.

The solution: Hold the Olympics in the same location every time, one spot for the summer games and one for the winter. Since the greatest concentration of athletes comes from Europe, putting the summer games in, say, Athens and the winter games somewhere in the Alps would minimize jet travel, which accounts for fully half the carbon impact of the Vancouver games.

From E-Magazine's Brita Belli, a little angst:

With such worldwide attention and grand-scale showmanship, it seems almost inappropriate to calculate the emissions and “sustainability” of the Vancouver Olympics. Each Olympics aims to be the greenest, and Vancouver is no different. As E wrote in a recent feature "Are the Games Really Green?" there‘s a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions—specifically 330,000 tons along with ecosystem and habitat damage—associated with creating and hosting the Games that’s just inevitable. When organizers do build arenas, tracks and buildings, they aim to set a green example. That includes the highly efficient Olympic Village in Vancouver, the temporary home for more than 2,000 skiers, snowboarders, figure skaters, curlers and other competitors, that has been called one of the “greenest neighborhoods in north America” by organizers and the National Resources Defense Council. When the Games have ended, the mini-city’s buildings will be turned into mixed-income housing, and aim for Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. A 64-unit building called Southeast False Creek that will later become senior housing is actually net zero—meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes.

But the Olympics are polarizing, and draw the ire of activists who see the Games as wasteful, destructive and out of step with their own agendas. Figure skater Johnny Weir—who wore a fur-trimmed outfit during the Nationals—decided to stay in the Olympic Village instead of a hotel as a result of what he describes as threatening harassment from anti-fur activists.

And now Friends of the Earth is using the Olympics to generate attention to tar sands exploitation in Canada. The group is particularly concerned that several oil companies involved in strip mining operations are also Olympic sponsors.

Green Daily writer Cat Lincoln's just happy things are getting better:

Whenever you bring together a big group of eating, drinking, trash-making humans, the green clique starts to get concerned about the environmental impact of the event.

In terms of architectural green-ness, Vancouver is pretty impressive. The Olympic Village is being built to the LEED Gold standard and they will have a LEED Platinum Community Centre. The speedskating oval is built from pine beetle damaged wood. But as Treehugger reported, some folks are disappointed because these uber-green buildings are too utilitarian. In short, they're ugly.

...

Aesthetics aside, official Olympics beverage sponsor, Coca Cola, is shooting for a carbon neutral Olympics. They introduced bottles made from 30 percent plant-based materials, and they're using hybrids for delivery.

Watching the green progress from two years ago gives the games an interesting added dimension for us Greeniacs at home, who worry about how many energy bar wrappers and plastic water bottles are going to wind up in the trash. This year, it sounds like that number is going to be closer to zero than every before. Now that's a reason to cheer!

See one of the sustainable innovations inVancouver's Olympic village for yourself:

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras!

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Just in case you won't be making it to New Orleans this year:

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Goodie Mob hits Charlotte Feb.14

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 12:47 PM

The Dirty South hip-hop legends known as Goodie Mob hit the Amos' Southend stage this Sunday. So, here's a classic video for the fans and for folks who've never heard of the group:

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 3:32 PM

MADtv had a vision of the future way back in the day ...

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Seinfeld in Charlotte tonight

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Love me some Seinfeld. Especially when he's crackin' on Larry King:

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