Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Official: Changing name to 'UNC' had little impact on Pembroke

The current chancellor of UNC-Pembroke stated recently that changing the name from Pembroke State University to UNC-P back in the 1990s had "minimal effect" on the school's enrollment growth, even going so far as to say that the name change initially hurt enrollment.

It wasn’t until UNC-Pembroke started an “aggressive marketing campaign” several years after the name switch that enrollment began to grow, Allen Meadors, the school's chancellor, said. He believes the name change played a negligible role in that growth.

“I do not think the name change was a major part of that growth, but it wasn’t a negative,” Meadors told the Daily Advance.

Meadors’ perspective is at odds with that of state Rep. Bill Owens,
D-Pasquotank, who co-authored the bill authorizing the name change at Pembroke
and is now pushing for a study of a possible name switch at Elizabeth City State

At an ECSU Board of Trustees meeting last week, Owens in fact used the
enrollment growth at Pembroke to make his pitch for the name-change study at
ECSU. He noted that Pembroke’s enrollment had grown by more than 100 percent
since the name change, suggesting that ECSU could reap similar benefits if it
changed its name to include some form of North Carolina in its title. Two
options Owens has heard are Northeastern North Carolina University and the
University of North Carolina at Elizabeth City. ...

Owens said he believes the name change at Pembroke has had an effect in
boosting that campus’s profile. And he believes the same could happen at ECSU.

“Public perception means a lot, and the UNC-Pembroke name does mean a lot
to most people in the public,” he said. “UNC schools have worldwide recognition,
and we want ECSU to have worldwide recognition, too.”

Meadors acknowledges that he wasn’t at Pembroke at the time the university
changed its name. However, Pembroke was still feeling some of the effects of the
name switch when he arrived in 1999.

“We had some very unhappy alumni and community people for a number of
years,” he said. “However, after 14 years, we are seeing less and less of that.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This just in: N.C. has a connection to tobacco

Greensboro is fourth "smokiest" city in America, according to a report. Wilmington came in at No. 7, and Hickory came in at No. 10.

"Earlier this month, U.S. News & World Report published a list of metro areas with the most smokers as a percentage of population," says the Star-News.

"The rankings, which came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health risk data, showed the Wilmington metro area, which covers New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, in the No. 7 spot, tying with the Chattanooga, Tenn. area.

"Nearly 27 percent of adults in the Wilmington area said they smoked in the CDC survey."

Oddly enough, Durham -- which was built on tobacco -- ranked as the fifth-lowest city for smoking, with just 12 percent its residents saying they smoke.

"The Huntington, W. Va. area topped the list of 161 metro areas included in the survey, with more than 34 percent of its adult residents smoking. In comparison, only 7 percent of residents in the Provo, Utah area reported they smoked.

" 'I think the fact that we have North Carolina ranking that high means that we do really need to take action in the state,' State Health Director Leah Devlin said by phone Monday. 'Those statistics represent real people.' ..."

Quick hits: N.C. is fourth-fastest in growth and hog riders can show their love of the Parkway

N.C. is No. 4 on list of fastest-growing states
"Utah is the nation's fastest growing state, knocking Nevada from its usual top spot," according to the Associated Press.

"Utah's population climbed by 2.5 percent from July 2007 to July 2008, according to new population estimates from the Census Bureau. Arizona is the second-fastest growing state, followed by Texas, North Carolina and Colorado.

"Nevada, last year's fastest-growing state, fell to eighth. Nevada had been among the four fastest-growing states each of the last 23 years. ...

"California remained the most populous state, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois."

State tag lets motorcyclists support Blue Ridge Parkway
"A new North Carolina license tag is set to go into production for motorcycle riders who want to help the Blue Ridge Parkway.

"The Winston-Salem Journal reported Monday that enthusiasts have nearly reached the required threshold of 300 bike owners committed to buying the Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle tag," again according to the AP.

"The cost is $30 more than the regular license fee. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation would get $20 for its work; another $10 will go to the state's roadside wildflower program. ..."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Psycho T sets UNC scoring record

Those who know me know I'm a Wolfpacker through and through, so it pains me to have to write/say/think just about anything positive about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (See -- I couldn't even reference the school as just "UNC" or "Carolina!")

Having said that, this site would be remiss if it didn't say congratulations to the ever-hustling Tyler Hansbrough for becoming UNC's all-time leading basketball scorer.

"Since the day he stepped foot on North Carolina's campus, forward Tyler Hansbrough has been working to diversify his offensive resume by trying to extend his shooting range," writes the N&O.

"But it seemed appropriate that when it came time to break UNC's three-decades-old career scoring record during the top-ranked Tar Heels' 91-73 basketball victory over Evansville on Thursday night, the senior went back to an old staple: a workmanlike power move.

"With 7:42 left in the first half at the Smith Center, Hansbrough muscled around Purple Aces forwards James Haarsma and Pieter van Tongeren to bank in a shot off the glass and score his 10th point of the game and 2,292nd point of his career. That basket broke the mark of 2,290 that point guard Phil Ford set from 1974 to 1978.

"Hansbrough finished with 20 points and now has 2,302 for his career."

Congratulations, Psycho T. But forgive me if I say that I hope you never score another college point again -- or at least against the Pack!

(Getty Images photo via

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Barbecue with 'single-minded devotion'

This article from the Los Angeles Times is almost a year old, but it bears reading again.

"The moon was high over the loblolly pines when Keith Allen arrived for work at 2 a.m. He built a fire of hickory logs, and a plume of rich blue smoke creased the black night sky.

"When the fire had produced glowing red coals, Allen shoveled them into a pit below two dozen hog shoulders on a metal rack. For the next nine hours, he shoveled more coals, stoked the fire, and turned the shoulders as they cooked a ruddy, smoky brown.

"Long after first light, he was still at it. With a cleaver in one hand and a knife in the other, he chopped the pork with a rhythmic whump, whump, whump. Then he plunged two gloved hands into the steaming meat to mix in a homemade sauce of vinegar, salt and red pepper.

"And that, for purists, is the long, hard, wearying way of making genuine pit-cooked Eastern North Carolina chopped barbecue. ...

"Only 20 to 30 barbecue restaurants among hundreds in the state still cook with wood, says Bob Garner, author of two books on Carolina barbecue. 'But nobody does it to the degree Keith does – he’s one of a kind,' Garner said.

"Allen’s painstaking methods – cutting his own hickory, manning the fire for hours, chopping his own meat and making his own sauce – have their roots in a time-honored process. Pigs have been roasted over wood coals in North Carolina since the 17th century.

"The process evolved generations ago into the hickory-smoked, seasoned and chopped pork dish known as North Carolina barbecue. (Sauce in the eastern part of the state is vinegar-based; in the west, it’s tomato-based.)

"But purists say the delicacy is being compromised by modern shortcuts. That’s why holdouts such as Allen are so significant, Garner said.

" 'He pursues it with a single-minded devotion,' Garner said. 'That’s his niche, and he’d be a fool to change now.' ..."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hard Rock Park unlikely to open in '09, 2010 a possibility

Just a short drive from N.C. is Myrtle Beach, aka, the "Redneck Riviera." It's a popular spot for North Carolinians; let's face it, there's more "to do" in Myrtle Beach than in any of our state's beach destinations.

One thing that can be scratched off the "to do" list in MB - at least for the very near future - is Hard Rock Park.

"The auction of the $400 million Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach is under way, but even if a buyer is identified this week, it is doubtful the park will be able to reopen next year, the state's tourism chief said.

"The 55-acre park, which opened in April, is being sold as part of the bankruptcy case of its owner, RPH Myrtle Beach Holdings LLC," says the Associated Press.

"Chad Prosser, director of South Carolina's Parks Recreation and Tourism Department, said Monday he thinks the $35 million minimum bid for the park may be a stumbling block for potential buyers.

"The winning bidder would have to spend a lot of money to get the park up and running and to market it, Prosser said. And that also would take time, even if a buyer comes out of this week's auction.

" 'At this point, I think it would be difficult to open in 2009,' Prosser said. 'I think it's more likely 2010.' ..."

Have no fear, beachgoers. There's still plenty of good restaurants and golf in Myrtle Beach, not to mention Eagles, Wings and the poor man's Hooters.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quick hits: N.C. Christmas trees and ECSU's name are in trouble

Can foreign firs save N.C. trees?

"Christmas begins on the mountain slopes of North Carolina, where farmers grow Fraser firs from seedlings to decorate millions of East Coast homes – including the White House.

"An estimated 50 million Fraser firs are under cultivation, and North Carolina ranks second in the nation (behind Oregon) in the number of Christmas trees harvested," says the News & Observer.

"With the rapid increase in fir plantings have come problems, such as the spread of a highly destructive rot, called Phytophthora, that infects the roots of Frasers and kills thousands of trees each year. It costs N.C. growers an estimated $5 million to $6 million a year.

"The exotic pathogen doesn't just kill the trees. It leaves the soil unusable for growing more Frasers. Left unchecked, that poses a serious threat to a state industry that relies on the signature Fraser.

"But help may be on the way from Turkey.

"More than 50,000 Turkish firs are now growing on mountain slopes in North Carolina. ..."

ECSU should study name change
"A state lawmaker plans to ask the Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees Monday to study a possible name change for the university to reflect ECSU’s regional appeal," says the Daily Advance.

"State Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, emphasized Saturday that his recommendation is only that ECSU officials study a name change. He said the idea has been talked about for two decades but never formally studied.

" 'I’m not suggesting anything other than they look into it and weigh the pros and cons,' Owens said.

"It’s unknown what type of reception Owens will get. However, four key alumni leaders have signed a letter opposing changing the school’s name.

"The letter from Charles D. Cherry, president of the ECSU National Alumni Association, Curtis Bryan, chairman of the NAA Board of Directors, Kenneth Henshaw, chairman of the ECSU Foundation, and Hezekiah Brown, chairman of the ECSU Board of Visitors, also opposes 'any major revision to the mission statement that excludes an acknowledgement of (ECSU’s) rich heritage as an historically black college and university.' ..."

(Photo of the Fraser Firs near Grandfather Mtn. from; photo of the 1899 ECSU class from

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quick hits: Shrine Bowl to be shown on 'The U' and WCU sustains Cherokee art

Shrine Bowl to be televised on ESPNU
"A tape delay of the 2008 Shrine Bowl of the Carolina's will be shown on ESPNU on Jan. 7, at 10 p.m.," according to HighSchoolOt.

"The game will be held at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College on Dec. 20. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

"The Shrine Bowl of the Carolina's is the oldest prep football all-star game in the country, featuring 44 of the top football players from North Carolina and South Carolina. ..."

Western Carolina helps sustain Cherokee art
"In the past six years, more and more members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have rekindled interest in native arts.
"But these aspiring craftspeople also found it increasingly difficult to find the natural materials the tribe has been using for generations, such as river cane for baskets and the butternut for fabric dye.

"That's where the Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resourcesan initiative operated through Western Carolina University's Cherokee studies program, steps in," says the Citizen-Times.

"RTCAR was established in 2004 to help ensure craft materials are available to Cherokee artists and that these crafts are promoted through education and exhibitions.

"The two-person office on U.S. 19 near Bryson City receives its funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and has distributed $1.2 million in grants. ..."

Warren Haynes: Hell of a guy

"Thursday's heavy rains made gardening impossible, but that's what Suzie Cromer was thinking about.

"Cromer is looking forward to tending flower beds in the yard of the new home she received from Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. The home was built with proceeds from the 2007 Warren Haynes Christmas Jam.

" 'I think it's a great opportunity,' Cromer said of the home. 'It's the best opportunity.' ..."

Musicians, actors, celebrities oftentimes overstep their fame by telling us who we should vote for, what causes we should back, etc. But sometimes these are just good people doing great things. We've noted for some time the Asheville Citizen-Times' great coverage of Haynes and his annual Christmas Jam, which raises money for Habitat.

"Haynes, a Grammy-winning guitarist known for his band Gov't Mule, presented the keys to the home in the Habitat for Humanity Enka Hills community to the Cromers on Thursday afternoon," according to the paper. Haynes has funded about 10 percent of all the homes the organization has built in the Asheville area.

Not too shabby.

All proceeds from the annual concert go toward the organization's building projects. It has pumped $665,000 into the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, allowing the organization to build about 12 homes. Habitat usually builds two homes each year with money raised from the jam.

For Haynes, meeting the families who receive the homes “makes it all very omnipresent.” When he first started making this now-annual appearance in the neighborhood, he said he found it very emotional.

“It makes you realize what you are doing this for,” he said.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Funding for N.C. Zoo may not be in the cards

According to WRAL, 2009 may not be a good time for the good folks from the N.C. Zoo to ask for more funding, despite being in need of repairs and new exhibits.

A legislative panel "decided it would be useless to seek about $4 million for the zoo next year. The panel said the economic slump is creating budget shortfalls for the state.

"Zoo officials want to use 70 percent of admission revenue to repair old exhibits and build a new one. To do that, the state would have to pay more of the park's operating costs.

"The committee said it would ask the Legislature to allow the zoo to participate in commercial activities, such as development of hotels."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quick hits: Christmas Jam's charity aspect more important than ever, and country ham making a comeback

Christmas Jam expands to double duty
"The annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam has long been a major force in Asheville, drawing 7,000 or more fans to the Civic Center each year, many who fill local hotels, restaurants and clubs during their stay here," says the Citizen-Times. "It's the signature concert event at the Civic Center, with an international reputation for its strong musical lineup. And it's so far pumped $665,000 into the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, letting the organization build about 12 homes.

"But this year, with the economy in recession, the jam's financial punch could be more important than ever. Grammy-winning guitarist Haynes, an Asheville native, is expanding the all-star jam to two nights, Friday-Saturday at the Civic Center arena. ..."

Disappearing art of the country ham
"Salty. Leathery. The skin dried so hard, it can take a band saw to cut through it. Before cooking, you have to heft it into a sink and scrub off the mold. This is not most people's definition of food. But in the Carolinas, it's a good description of one of our most important contributions to the American food story: Slow-cured country ham," says the Charlotte Observer.

"It once kept people in this part of the world alive through tough winters. It added flavor and protein to meager plates of grits and greens. It was so prized, colonists made scarce cash by shipping it to Europe for the gentry.

"Today, slow-cured country ham is not much more than a lingering taste of Carolinas history. In supermarkets, you usually find mass-produced versions that use climate controls to hurry the process. ..."

Friday, December 05, 2008

Winston and Salem's baseball team no longer the Warthogs

Winston-Salem still has a minor league baseball team, but they are no longer the Warthogs.

Instead, the team will be known as the "Dash," a "nod to the hyphen between 'Winston' and 'Salem' and the city's history," says the Journal.

"The team unveiled the new name -- and the new logo, uniforms, colors and mascot -- at a midday party yesterday at the Millennium Center downtown."

(Warning: This part coming up does not sound promising. ...)

"The team's mascot is a yet-to-be-named red furry animal, a cartoonish cross between a bear and a dog with a mohawk and lightning bolts over its ears."

The team's owners and managers collected more than 3,000 submissions for the new team nickname, then narrowed those to five. The team eliminated the four others -- Rhinos, Aviators, Wallbangers and Racers -- after talking with corporate sponsors and season-ticket holders, Kevin Terry, the team's president, said.

"A lot of people leaned toward the Dash," Terry said. "You can't have Winston-Salem without the dash, and then it ties into baseball because you can dash around the bases and an outfielder can dash after a ball."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rodney Rogers paralyzed in ATV accident

Durham native and former Wake Forest basketball player Rodney Rogers is paralyzed as the result of an all-terrain vehicle accident, according to The News & Observer. |

Dave Odom, who coached Rogers when he earned All-America honors at Wake Forest and was the 1993 ACC Player of the Year, said Wednesday that his former star is paralyzed from the shoulders down.

“Say a prayer for Rodney and his family,” Odom said.

Barry Saunders writes that Rogers had a “legendary physique,” and that’s what struck me as especially stunning when I heard about his paralysis: The Durham Bull, an athlete defined by his body, is now rendered helpless by it.

I watched Rogers beat N.C. State in Reynolds Coliseum when I was in school. He had two 360-degree dunks in a display of his body as art.

Career statistics: Wake Forest | NBA

N.C. earns a 'B' when it comes to college affordability

"Most states are doing better preparing students for higher education than they did a decade ago, but that modest progress is eclipsed by rising tuition costs, enduring enrollment gaps between rich and poor, and a in global competitiveness," says Gannett.

"The situation could worsen if states don't do more to prepare high school students for college and make college more affordable and accessible to Americans of all backgrounds, according to the 'Measuring Up 2008' report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education."

The good news for North Carolinians is that the state still continues to do a fairly good job of offering affordable college education, even if perhaps not doing as good a job as it has in the past.

“Family wealth and income, race and ethnicity, and geography play too great a role in determining which Americans receive a high school education that prepares them for college, which ones enroll in college, and which ones complete certificate or degree programs,” said James B. Hunt Jr., former North Carolina governor and chairman of the center's board.

The center graded states from A to F in five areas — college enrollment, college affordability, college completion rates, how well the states prepare high school students for college and percentage of residents who are college-educated.

North Carolina received its highest grade, a B- , in both completion and preparation. The proportion of eighth-graders scoring well in math has almost tripled over the past 15 years, and the state is a top performer in enrolling high school students in upper-level math.

In other positive news, three-quarters of high school students are taught by qualified teachers. And while 58 percent of college students complete a bachelor's degree within six years, 47 percent of African-Americans graduate within six years compared with 62 percent of whites.

The study also found that the likelihood of enrolling in college by 19 has increased by 25 percent since the 1990s.

The state received a C+ for benefits, an F for affordability and a D+ for participation. Every state got an F for affordability except California, which got a C-.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quick hits: New Bern's 300th and an Air Force One museum ... in Wilmington?

Celebration of New Bern's 300th expected to boost city
"The chairman of New Bern's 300th anniversary committee says a yearlong celebration of the city 'will help us weather the storm and position us well for economic recovery.'

"Nelson McDaniel, who leads the committee, said the group is eager to have advice from the city and that its members 'will be the best stewards of the trust placed in us,'" according to the New Bern Sun-Journal.

"Part of that job, he said, is being mindful of the struggling economy as plans are made, but understanding that the celebration should be grand enough to have long-term effects.
" 'We are putting together a celebration that ... reflects our history, our values and our current lives ... a celebration that is to have immediate and lasting impacts,' McDaniel told aldermen this week. ..."

Officials endorse Air Force One museum in Port City
"A group of Southeastern North Carolina elected officials Monday afternoon unanimously endorsed a private proposal to build an Air Force One Museum and White House Photo Gallery in Wilmington.

"But that doesn’t mean it’s coming here," says the Star-News. "Other places in North Carolina, including at least one in the Outer Banks, are also hoping to land the proposed museum, where the history of presidential air travel would be preserved alongside a display of decades of White House photographs. Museum planners also hope at least one former presidential bird would serve as the museum’s main attraction.

" 'The question is where it’s going to be,' said Howie Franklin, director of the Brunswick County Airport and a member of the proposed museum’s board of directors. 'It’s going to be somewhere.' ..."

(Rendering from the Star-News online)

Monday, December 01, 2008

All the Christmas tree news fit to print

Another North Carolina tree has found its way to the nation's capital to enjoy its final days as the official White House Christmas tree.

"A horse-drawn wagon pulled the 20-foot Fraser fir up to the White House on Sunday as [Laura] Bush was waiting under an umbrella. The tree will decorate the Blue Room," says the AP.

"Jessie Davis and Russell Estes, owners of River Ridge Tree Farms in Crumpler, N.C., where the tree was grown, joined the first lady, along with their families.

"The North Carolina Farm Bureau says River Ridge also will provide about 25 smaller trees for the White House, including the ones for the offices of the president and vice president."

Across the state, tree farmers are hoping for a good sales season, despite the slumping recession.

"Consumers are telling us that they won't have as much under the Christmas tree this year, but they will have a tree," Linda Gragg, director of the N.C. Christmas Tree Association, told the News & Observer.

So far, so good for tree sales.

"After one weekend, Christmas tree farms in western North Carolina appear to be standing tall in the face of a struggling economy.

"The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that farmers enjoyed a good opening weekend, and one official representing growers expects this year to be as good as 2007."