Archive for August, 2010

Strong Durham Schools

By: Page Page

Before my children were ready to start kindergarten, I exhausted myself talking to anyone who would talk to me about my educational options in Durham.   Unfortunately,  much of what I heard about Durham Public schools was not very positive.  It was scary and frustrating trying to decide where to send my babies to school! In the end,  I learned that all the negative opinions were more perception than reality.  Both our children are currently attending a wonderful Durham Public School.

So, I was very excited when a friend decided to fight for our kids and our schools!  Strong Durham Schools ( was launched this year by a concerned parent, Elizabeth Tolman, to combat the undeserved negative reputation of our school system.

The mission of Strong Durham Schools is to improve the reputation of Durham Public Schools, foster school spirit and encourage parents to choose a DPS school for their children to attend. By allowing DPS parents to share true stories about their experiences,  Strong Durham Schools is helping other families decide what is best for their children.

It makes me proud to see someone stand up for Durham Public Schools!  As a parent of two children in the school system,  I want others to know how wonderful an education in Durham can be for our kids.   If you child currently attends a DPS school,  please help Strong Durham Schools with its mission.  Go out and RAVE about the successes your children have had!


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Clean Transportation, Bull City style

By Bill Dandridge

On December 14, 2009 the City of Durham introduced the first of its fleet of 20 new hybrid diesel-electric buses on the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) routes. These buses use 20 to 45 percent less fuel and are up to 50 percent quieter than conventional diesel buses. This is great news for the air and sound quality of Durham’s environment!

It is only through a big assist from the federal government’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that our city was able to effect this wonderful change (the Federal Transit Authority covered $8.5 million of the total $10.7 million cost). Thanks to the vision of our local and federal government, we will all be breathing easier in the Bull City.

Another beneficial step for the citizens of Durham, and for those fortunate enough to work here, is the birth of the Bull City Connector. This is a fare-free bus service that connects business travelers, downtown walkers, visitors, and students through our city. This route begins at the Medical Center of Duke’s West Campus, travels through downtown along Main Street, and finds its terminus in the Golden Belt. To learn more about these particular Hybrid buses and the new service, visit the Bull City Connector’s website.

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An Eye For Beauty

By :  Mary Rae Hunter

I was out for a morning run and noticed a sofa that had been put by the curbside to be picked up – apparently no longer cherished by the owner, but ready to be taken home and refurbished as someone else’s treasure.  Seeing this abandoned, but nifty piece of furniture triggered in my mind several possibilities of fabric combinations, then ideas for places that I could put this needy sofa. Perhaps I took notice of the sofa because, recently, the son of a close friend picked up two discarded chairs he came across on the road.  He refurbished them and now those chairs have become part of my friend’s “retro” kitchen look.  The chairs really are not only unique, but they provide an insight into human ingenuity:  one person’s junk transformed into an object of beauty.

Architectural Digest contains an article titled “A Gift for Thrift.”  The article is about how interior designer, Roderick N. Shade, took to heart one of Benjamin Franklin’s phrases:  “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Normally, as with the abandoned couch or chairs I mentioned above, we think that we need to get rid of and replace the old with something new.  We find it difficult to keep the couch or chair, and, like the talented son of my friend, refurbish the worn out furniture into something of beauty – thereby also saving money.  Shade took Franklin’s aphorism and applied it to a dilapidated Harlem apartment – a Cinderella, if you will.  Shade applied his designer magic to an otherwise humble, if not bleak and cramped space.  He turned the space into an aesthetic and captivating room.  While the New York apartment now looks regal, it cost a fortune less than a move to an upscale residence in Manhattan.

Part of what makes Durham unique is its population of creative minds.  We have around us many imaginative and resourceful people such as my friend’s son, or Roderick Shade.  Do they see something that we don’t?  Are they possessed of more talent than we ourselves?  Perhaps we give ourselves too little credit.  We each have our own ways of expressing creativity.  Recently, I asked several acquaintances about their favorite places to visit locally.  Here is a brief sample of the responses:

“I got an awesome mirror from Once and Again”

“I discovered a fabulous table at Classic Treasures”

“I found great yard art at Chelsea Antiques”

“I purchased an unusual rug at Fargo Hana in the discount room”

“I got lucky and picked up a rare chest at a yard sale”

All around us are numerous local second hand stores, consignment shops and antique stores offering treasures that, with some work and ingenuity, make our homes warm and our lives a touch more interesting.  All around us are numerous old homes, buildings and neighborhoods that, formerly abandoned or in deteriorated condition, have secured new life through the vision and efforts of our family, friends, and acquaintances.

Shades of magic, they are!

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Lead-Based Paint Renovation Requirements

By: Jessica Sadler

You may have noticed signs in front of houses recently with warnings such as “CAUTION LEAD.” They are likely accompanied by plastic wrapping, tape and other safe precautions. This is the result of the EPA law that went into effect April 22, 2010. The details below are from the EPA website at:

Under the new guidelines:

“contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.”

To become certified, a contractor must take an eight-hour EPA-approved training course. The new guidelines require precautions like those below:

  • Contain the work area.
  • Minimize dust.
  • Clean up thoroughly.

Many of our clients move into homes in order to renovate them and one should keep these rules in mind.

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House Hunting Like a Blind Date

By: Susan Herst

Megan Daum’s memoir, Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House describes with uncanny accuracy folks who are obsessed with houses and who find the house hunting process terribly romantic!  It is no big surprise since she grew up with a mother obsessed with houses; their main weekend activity when she was a kid was going to open houses!

Daum has an interesting attitude about moving too.  For her, moving was like “pressing a reset button” when she was growing up.  She could go to another school and start over if she wasn’t doing well in a subject.  She found it liberating.  Nowadays, even if she is not actually looking for a house, she finds it incredibly relaxing to look at pictures of houses!

And yes, she still loves open houses, and the notion of being first.  She finds the house hunt like looking for a romantic partner, or going on a blind date!  “Will this be the one?!”    The best real estate professionals are the ones who can be counselor, psychologist and accountant wrapped up in one according to Daum.  They understand the heart of their clients so they can best guide them.

with gratitude to Wendy Cole, Realtor Magazine, June 2010

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