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For the Record: Best ideas of 2007

Contested elections
Things were looking dull in this year’s municipal elections — at least that’s what some folks thought. But the idea that no one should have an unchallenged stroll to re-election was at least some of the impetus behind a number of those who decided to seek public office. The result was a lot more discussion and give-and-take. If you were paying attention, you learned a lot. If you weren’t, it was at least entertaining.

A downtown library
Not a new idea, but one that really started to gather a buzz last year. It is not lost on folks in Carrboro that a lovely new library just went up in Hillsborough. But while there may be some hope of county help, it’s likely that it’ll take a considerable amount of local effort and support to get things rolling.

Comprehensive plan to end homelessness
The county, towns and a host of social agencies finalized a plan to end homelessness in Orange County in 10 years. It’s a lofty and difficult, if not impossible, goal. And it’s been tried before. But this time there is a much higher degree of cooperation and coordination and, with that, a lot more hope for success.

Quickly declaring a water emergency
Showing that lessons were learned in 2002, local governments and OWASA were quick to tighten water restrictions beyond the mandatory year-round requirement already in place. The move put the issue very quickly before the public, and water use has dropped.

Rethinking the waste transfer station
Whether it was or not, the idea of placing a waste transfer station on Eubanks Road seemed to most like a done deal. But an organized and vocal community response caused the board of county commissioners to back up and try again. The board wisely decided to initiate a full-fledged site-selection process.

Extending Roberson Street (or something like it)
There’s still a lot to be thought through in terms of how to handle the additional traffic, parking and bustle of a much more “vibrant” downtown. The idea of extending Roberson Street further east — a suggestion made in a recent traffic study and brought up during the campaign by Mayor Mark Chilton — is an example of the kind of creativity it’s going to take.

Holding off on the transfer tax referendum until 2008
Judging from the effectiveness in other counties of the Astroturf campaigns financed by the Realtors PAC, not rushing a proposed 0.4 percent land transfer tax onto the ballot last November was a right smart move. The referendum was defeated in 16 North Carolina counties.

Calling it Morris Grove
The old remnants of the school started by Morris Hogan, a former slave, sit nearby. And the memories of hundreds who attended school there abound. So the decision to name Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ 10th elementary school Morris Grove wasn’t all that difficult. Even more important is the lesson that generations of schoolchildren who pass through school will gain: a deeper understanding about an oft-forgotten chapter in the history of our community

Starting T.J. Yates at quarterback
While giving Butch Davis a $291,000 raise after a 4-8 season maybe wasn’t one of the best ideas of 2006, Davis’s decision to start Yates at quarterback was a pretty good one. The redshirt freshman from Marietta, Georgia broke the school single-season passing yardage record.

Impeaching Cheney and Bush
They were on it long before Cindy Sheehan rolled into town, and you can say what you want about the tactics of GRIM — the local organization that has pushed for impeachment of Vice President Cheney and, following that, President Bush and has launched a campaign noting that Carrboro is the “Cradle of Impeachment” — but as evidence keeps rolling out about domestic surveillance, political vendettas, corruption and torture, the concept that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to dust off Article II Section 4 and hold a few hearings makes more and more sense.

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  1. 2007: The Year in Review