Catherine Brand

Host, "All Things Considered"

Fed up with the frigid winters of her native state, Catherine was lured to North Carolina in 2006. She grew up in Wisconsin where she spent much of her time making music and telling stories. Prior to joining WUNC, Catherine hosted All Things Considered and classical music at Wisconsin Public Radio. She got her start hosting late-nights and producing current events talk shows for the station's Ideas Network. She later became a fill-in talk show host and recorded books for WPR's popular daily program, Chapter A Day. 

Catherine is just as comfortable on stage as she is behind the microphone. She holds a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys using her musical background in her work with the North Carolina Symphony. For the past several seasons, she has hosted a pre-concert program called Meet the Artists. Catherine adores being a being a mom and loves spending time exploring the natural world with her beautiful little girl, Wren.   

Ways to Connect

It's the end of an era. The last mental health patient has been transferred from Dorothea Dix hospital in Raleigh to the newer Central Regional in Butner. The closure has been in the works for more than a decade. Lucky Welsh oversees the network of state psychiatric hospitals for the Department of Health and Human Services:

Teams of scientists from NC State and the University of Maryland are developing new wireless sensors designed to detect structural deficiencies in bridges. They hope the smart technology will help prevent bridge disasters like the one in Minneapolis 5 years ago that claimed the lives of 13 people. Lead scientist Mehdi Kalantari is a research engineer from U-M-D. He says the sensors are durable and are built to withstand harsh conditions...

Recent puppy mill raids in Brunswick and Jones Counties have prompted more discussion at the General Assembly about the need for legislation to regulate commercial breeders. About half of all states have such measures in place. Mondy Lamb from the the SPCA of Wake County says large breeding operations are escaping through a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act. She says North Carolina regulates every other entity that houses large numbers of dogs.

The red-light camera program at select intersections in Cary could be eliminated over multiple concerns, among them complaints the system is wrongfully issuing citations. The system is operated by the company Redflex. It collects nearly 90-percent of the revenue from traffic violations captured by the cameras. Town Manager Ben Shivar says local officials have have been less than impressed by the company's performance.

Overall crime across the state is down by nearly one percent, according to the latest statistics from the North Carolina Department of Justice. That makes the 2011 crime rate the state's lowest since 1977. It also marks the third consecutive year of decline. It's not all good news, though. Murder is up by almost six percent. Overall crime in some Triangle-area counties, including Chatham and Franklin, appears to be on the rise.

An exhibit about Roanoke Island's role in the Civil War opens at the Outer Banks Visitor Center today. Curator Kaeli Schurr says capturing the island was an important part of the strategy for both the confederacy and the union.

Kaeli Schurr: After a long summer of both sides training troops and devising military strategy, both knew that whoever would be able to control the supply lines would control all of eastern North Carolina. And that led then to being able to disrupt the supply lines from Wilmington up to the Confederate capital in Richmond.

The future of food, farming, and sustainability are topics at a symposium today and tomorrow at UNC and Duke. Jaqueline Olich is from the Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies at UNC; she's also one of the coordinators of the event. According to projections from the United Nations, Olich says food production will have to increase by up to 100-percent by the year 2050 to sustain an estimated 9 billion people.

Chatham County schools are trying to get kids to be more active through 'Eat Smart Move More' grants. The goal of the project is to encourage schools and teachers to integrate physical activity into the curriculum no matter what the discipline. Holly Coleman is with the Chatham County Health Department:

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is designating High Point-based Thomas Built Buses as an "Environmental Steward." Julie Woosley is the manager of the state's Environmental Assistance Center. She says Thomas Built recycles 100% of the waste it creates.

UNC Chapel Hill this afternoon will officially mark the opening of its new Comprehensive Angelman Syndrome Clinic at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. Anne Wheeler is a psychologist at CIDD; she's also co-coordinator for the new clinic. She says Angelman Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder that occurs in about 1 in 15-thousand births.

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue announced today that she will not seek a second term this year. The Democratic Governor was the first woman elected to the position and all indications were that she planned to seek re-election.

Drivers of electric vehicles in the Triangle and Triad will be able to take advantage of new charging stations in Alamance County. There are two on either side of I-40-I-85, at a rest area near Burlington. Julia Casadonte is a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Julia Casadonte: Part of the idea of establishing this infrastructure is to make people more comfortable driving electric vehicles cuz people have to be confident they can be charged and remain charged and make sure they're not stranded anywhere.

Stewart Cook/International Fund for Animal Welfare

Warmer temperatures in the North Atlantic over the last several decades have resulted in significantly higher mortality rates of baby harp seals. A new study out of Duke looked at satellite data of ice conditions in the Gulf of St Lawrence, a major breeding region and compared them to yearly reports of dead seal pups that washed up on shore. Lead researcher David Johnston is a scientist at the Duke University Marine Lab:


David Johnston:  These animals have evolved to take advantage of the advan tages of ephemeral surfaces like ice.

North Carolina has seen its fair share of both flooding and drought over the past several years. One of the problems has been getting accurate information, especially in rural areas. Francios Birgand is a biological engineering researcher at N.C. State. He led the development of the 'Gauge-Cam'. He says he and his team wanted to explore the possibility of using wireless imaging technologies to help track water flows in streams and rivers.

Officials in Currituck County are trying to restore oyster populations by getting consumers to recycle the shells. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has set up receiving areas at the Barco and Moyock Recycling Centers. The agency's Patricia Smith is asking residents and restaurants to take shells to one of those two designated sites:

The state extension's division of Family & Consumer Sciences is celebrating 100 years of service. What was first called 'Home Demonstration' and later 'Home Economics' has undergone many changes since 1911. Carolyn Dunn is the state's associate program leader for Family and Consumer Sciences. She says in many ways, the program has come full circle.

bear on allk 4s
National Park Service

  People from Greensboro to Garner have been spotting black bears in recent days. Officials say it's the time of year juveniles typically venture out of their home habitats in search of a new place to live. Colleen Olfenbuttel is a biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. She says bear sightings in the Triangle and Triad are becoming more frequent.

Visitors to the North Carolina State Parks can take advantage of a new smart phone app. The Pocket Ranger Mobile Tour Guide can be downloaded from the iTunes Store and Android Market. It includes maps for parks and campgrounds and a social networking tool that allows users to share experiences in real time. 
The State Parks' Charlie Peek says it's the first app of its kind to offer so many features. 

A new project aims to give combat veterans and their families some rest and relaxation on the beach. Kevin McCabe is one of the founders of the Cape Hatteras Wounded Warriors project. Its main goal is to provide Purple Heart recipients with vacation getaways on Hatteras Island. McCabe says the idea was born out of a desire to give something back to those who have served their country.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse
National Park Service

Ferry Service on the southern end of the Cape Lookout National Seashore will be getting an upgrade. Officials are planning new passenger service to the Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout Lighthouse from either Beaufort or Morehead City. Wouter Kaytel from the National Park Service says the NPS plans to join forces with either of the two communities to streamline services and offer contracts to potential vendors. A public meeting will be held tomorrow night to gather feedback from residents.

A Chapel Hill neighborhood is welcoming Orange County's first eldercare home. There's a special ceremony today to mark the opening. Paul Klever is executive director of Charles House Association, the non-profit sponsoring the home. Klever says residents of the Heritage Hills neighborhood actually approached them when they first heard about the idea:

A panel of local and national experts were scheduled to address the legacy of Agent Orange at a public forum February 16th in Chapel Hill. The toxic herbicide was used by the U.S. government to remove tree cover in the jungles of Vietnam, so the enemy wouldn't be able to hide as easily. Nancy Leterri is executive director of Children of Vietnam. She says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allows compensation for anyone who had 'boots on the ground' in Vietnam and who suffers from disabilities including certain cancers, Parkinson's Disease...

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