Our Chatham is a collaboration between Chatham County residents and students at UNC’s School of Media and Journalism. You ask the questions. We do the reporting and post the answers. Submit your question and subscribe to our newsletter to get the answers sent straight to your inbox.
This week, we’re heading to the power plant off of Shearon Harris Road, and it’s all thanks to Our Chatham subscriber Billy Cummings. He asked, “What is status of nuclear waste storage at Shearon Harris? How effective are local emergency management plans?”
Shearon Harris power plant. (Chloe Arrojado/Our Chatham)
What is Nuclear Waste, Anyways? Nuclear waste, also known as radioactive waste, refers to the
radioactive leftovers of a nuclear reaction.
In addition to expanding its water supply, the
town of Pittsboro is also trying to figure out the best way to cleanse it of
unregulated, potentially dangerous contaminants. Last fall, Pittsboro hired engineering and
construction firm CDM Smith to complete a public water supply and treatment
expansion study. In an October memo, town engineer Elizabeth Goodson wrote that
Pittsboro’s current public water demand “is approximately 700,000 gallons per
day” but is estimated to grow to approximately 3 million gallons by 2020, 7
million by 2030 and 10 million by 2040. But in addition to increasing the quantity of drinking water, Pittsboro is also interested in improving the quality of it. While Town Manager Bryan Gruesbeck said the Pittsboro Water Treatment Plant meets state and federal standards, there are high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the Haw River, from where the town’s water comes.
Finally, it’s here. The story you’ve all been waiting for. In March, we asked you all to vote for the question you wanted us to answer the most. It was a tight race, but one question asked by Mary Ann Woehrel came out on top with 37 votes out of 117 total: “What is the county doing to stop the silt pollution coming from the construction on 15-501 next to Fearrington Village?” You know how it goes.
Thanks to a curious Chatham resident, Our Chatham took a look into something that’s still early in the works: Seaforth High School. The school is scheduled to open in fall 2021, but we have the answers to this reader’s key questions:
How will Northwood High School be affected by the opening of Seaforth High School?Will Northwood kids in the attendance zone for Seaforth immediately be sent there?How are they managing overcrowding at Northwood in the next two years until Seaforth opens? Plans for Seaforth
Last year, Chatham County Schools announced the opening of two new schools: Chatham Grove Elementary, scheduled to open in fall 2020, and Seaforth High School. Because Chatham Grove has an earlier timeline, the county hasn’t made plans for Seaforth’s attendance zone yet. However, Chris Blice, chief operations officer for CCS, shared the districting process for Chatham Grove, which will look similar for Seaforth.
additional reporting by Adrianne Cleven and Eric Ferkenhoff. There was a lot of talk of history in Pittsboro Monday night. What was true and what were lies? Who did what when? Whose history mattered?
Chatham Park officials estimate that the
largest mixed-use development in the state will generate 6,051 additional
students in Chatham County. For context, Chatham County Schools currently
serves 8,840 students.
More students, naturally, means more teachers. This thought wasn’t lost on William Rosenfeld, a self-described elderly professional who has “been very interested in education quality and funding for many decades.” With that in mind, Rosenfeld asked Our Chatham to report on how CCS will “find (and pay for) teachers?” with the Chatham Park development. Much of the growth is still a while down the
line, with no CCS in Chatham Park actively under construction or even formally
announced. But the need for future schools is undeniable, as long as plans hold
for Chatham Park to generate an additional 60,000 residents for Chatham County
in the next 40 years.
With additional reporting by Giancarlo Garcia Salazar. When a million-dollar company tried to push 28 families out
of their homes, a local community center gave them the fuel to push back
instead of sitting down. El Vínculo Hispano, a nonprofit in Siler City, facilitated negotiations between former residents of Johnson’s Mobile Home Park—a majority Hispanic community—and Mountaire Farms, a chicken processing plant that bought the land that the trailers occupied. Over 12 percent of Chatham County reports Hispanic origins, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The new plant, off of U.S. 64, is open and accepting
applications for both management and entry-level positions.
Feeling Curious? This week, Our Chatham dives into a topic with big impact:
Jordan Lake. We look at Jordan Lake’s water quality and the factors that impact
the water. We answer the important questions hanging in your mind:
How do people measure water quality?How safe is Jordan Lake? What do experts have to say about it?
“Because I said so,” is a response that many people grew up hearing from their parents. Although the phrase frequents households nationwide, a Costa Rican psychologist informed parents at Siler City Elementary School why this answer is detrimental for children. SCE
hosted its fifth meeting for the Latino Parents School on March 5. SCE’s
Community Outreach Committee created the program in October 2018 to inform
Latino parents about the North Carolina education system. The school’s student
population is over 62 percent Latino, according to school records, and most of
the parents are immigrants.
In recent years, Chatham County Schools has grown steadily, increasing the number of students it serves each school year from 2009-10 to this year. In that period, the district’s student population has gone from 7,679 to 8,840, a 15.2 percent increase, according to data from the state Department of Public Instruction. However, the current period of growth is minor compared to what’s on the horizon with the building of Chatham Park.
The largest mixed-use development in the state, Chatham Park is expected to add 60,000-plus new residents by full buildout in 40 years to Pittsboro, which had an estimated population of 4,221 in 2017.
This sort of transformative growth will certainly impact CCS, which currently has 18 schools.
“This is a good problem to have,” CCS Chief Operations Officer Chris D. Blice said at a recent Board of Education meeting. “To be in a district that is growing, to be in a district that is building new schools … that is a great problem to have.”
Reader Doreen Messick asked, “How is the expected growth going to impact our schools?”
Here’s a look at how CCS is preparing for what’s ahead.
Two new schools opening within the next two years
The number of district schools will reach 20 in a few years, with the additions of Chatham Grove Elementary and Seaforth High School.
Chatham Grove, which is being built on a 26-acre parcel of land at the corner Parker Herndon Road and Andrews Store Road, is on track to open by the 2020-21 school year.
Chatham Grove will have a capacity of 750 students, according to a district document. At a Chatham County Board of Education meeting on Jan.