Jeremy Loeb

Reporter

Ways to Connect

As 2011 winds down, Morning Edition host Eric Hodge speaks with Freddy Jenkins and Keith Weston of Back Porch Music about some of their favorite folk and acoustic music of the year.

Keith chose Sarah Jarosz and New Found Road Live.

Freddy picked Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch.

We also lost a number of artists this year

Here's some of note:

Green Restaurant Association
dinegreen.com

Asheville is known as a sort of local food-haven. Now it's leading the way in an effort to reduce the environmental impacts of restaurants. The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is using a $258,000 grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund to make upgrades in 18 Asheville restaurants.

Kwanzaa celebration
townofcary.org

Kwanzaa is underway and the Town of Cary will observe the holiday with a celebration Thursday. Kwanzaa is held each year from December 26th through January 1st in honor of African-American culture and heritage.

A new study out of Duke University finds global warming is forcing tropical birds in Peru to migrate to higher elevations. But it also finds they're migrating at a slower rate than the world is warming.

Scientists are used to relying on grants for funding, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. But a recent trend called "crowd-sourcing" could help small projects get underway. It's basically a kick starter campaign where the general public gives online donations for scientists' research. North Carolina State chemistry professor Walter Weare was able to pay for new equipment for his solar energy research using the method.

Superintendent Maurice ''Mo'' Green
gsnc.com

Students in Guilford County Schools have a few weeks left to surpass a goal of collectively reading two million books in a year.

Attorney General Roy Cooper
governor.state.nc.us

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today what he calls the "first wave" of ramped up efforts to fight Medicaid fraud in the state. Cooper says 18 people in 10 counties have been arrested in the past week. He says the total monetary loss to the Medicaid program from these cases is more than half a million dollars.

Larry Fedora
unc.edu

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill introduced its new head football coach today. Larry Fedora signed a seven-year contract with the school worth $1.7 million per season. UNC fired coach Butch Davis at the start of this season.

Smithfield Foods says it will stop using so-called ''gestation crates'' by 2017.
humanesociety.org

Animal rights advocates are welcoming news that Smithfield Foods is on track to phase out the use of small metal crates for pregnant hogs. The company said in a statement it will end the practice by 2017. The non-profit Humane Society filed a federal complaint against Smithfield a month ago.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and Mayor-elect Nancy McFarlane
raleighnc.gov

Outgoing Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker is on somewhat of a farewell tour today. First off is the Human Relation Commission's "Unity Day" at the Convention Center this morning. One big issue they'll be discussing is the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and domestic unions in the state. Meeker doesn't mince words about that.

The non-profit LandTrust of Central North Carolina is teaming up with the North Carolina Zoo to preserve a unique tract of Longleaf Pine Forest. The 113-acre tract in Montgomery County is a rarity for this type of growth in the Piedmont. The land has been preserved by private owners for more than a century. Crystal Cockman is a conversation specialist with LandTrust.

Researchers from Duke University and Georgia Tech are seeking to debunk several myths about clean energy in the south. They claim their new study refutes six myths purported by policymakers, business leaders, and advocacy groups. Etan Gumerman is a co-author and Duke Senior Policy Analyst.

William Peace University
peace.edu

Colleges and universities across the state are looking at raising tuition. But one university in Raleigh is going against the grain. William Peace University has announced in a letter to students it's lowering tuition around 7.73 percent. That brings tuition to $23,700 for the 2012-2013 school year. Debra Townsley is the university president.

The new Occupy Raleigh encampment
Occupy Raleigh

Occupy Raleigh protesters have set up camp four blocks from the Capital. About 15 to 20 protesters have been camping since Thanksgiving. They're paying $400-a-month for the site owned by Rob Baumgart. Baumgart says it's purely business, but he did sympathize with the protesters.

Meet Occupy Raleigh protester Joseph Huberman, a 61-year-old artist and former small-business owner who's now retired.  He's been with the movement since it started.  Hear an interview with Occupy Raleigh protester Joseph Huberman, a 61-year-old artist and former small-business owner who's now retired.

Kurt Zehnder is a 20-year-old Occupy Raleigh protester, and a self-described moderate Republican. He attended Western Carolina for a year before running out of money and dropping out. Now he's waiting tables, saving up for college, and camping out as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Hear an interview with Kurt Zehnder, a 20-year-old Occupy Raleigh protester, and a self-described moderate Republican.

A non-profit that supports new mothers in Durham County is getting a boost from President Obama's healthcare measure. Healthy Families Durham will use a $320,000 grant to support new families in east Durham. Program Director Jan Williams says they'll be providing home visits for two reasons.

Go Triangle
gotriangle.org

Triangle commuters with high tech devices like smart phones will have a new source for busing information. GoLive aims to be a one-stop source for all the information a bus rider might need. That includes arrival times and routes across different systems. John Tallmadge is Director of Commuter Resources for Triangle Transit. He says right now Triangle commuters can pull up a tool to find out information about certain bus systems.

A conference today in Chapel Hill is focused on sexual health in the young Hispanic population. It's being hosted by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Finley says they'll be exploring how to tackle the staggering problem of teen pregnancy in the Hispanic community.

City of Fayetteville Police Department
bethebadge.com

Fayetteville's City Council has taken steps to address a perception of racial bias in its police force. Civil rights groups have complained about a greater frequency of police searches on black residents than white ones. The Council voted Monday night to require at least one documented reason for asking for a consent search. Drivers and occupants still will have the right to refuse. City Manager Dale Iman says it's still up to each officer to determine what's a reasonable pretext to ask to search someone. But Iman says they have to document that reason now.

Triangle Expressway Map
ncturnpike.org

Drivers can start buying electronic transponders for the Triangle Expressway Tuesday, October 11th. The transponders are a means of paying tolls easily. They come in time for the opening of the first section of the Triangle Expressway in mid-December. That's an extension of the Durham Freeway into Research Triangle Park. There will be two transponders to choose from. One is for North Carolina travel. That one will cost $5. The other includes states up and down the coast and is $20. David Joyner is Executive Director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

Piedmont-based PSNC Energy will begin selling compressed natural gas at two locations in Raleigh with plans for a third in Gastonia. State regulators approved the $1.70-per-gallon price tag. That's about half the cost of gasoline. But you'd have to have a vehicle that uses CNG or to have converted your vehicle to be able to use it. PSNC spokeswoman Angie Townsend says they've had a handful of CNG customers since the early 90's but interest is growing.

Mayberry Solar Farm in Mt. Airy
o2energies.com

Mt. Airy is now the site of a 1.2 megawatt solar farm capable of producing power to the equivalent of about 150 homes per year. John Morrison is Chief Operating Oficer for Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar.

A Durham-based environmental group warns utility companies are trying to add nuclear capacity without significantly reducing their use of coal power. A report from NC WARN focuses on what they call the "Southeast Five." That includes both Duke Energy and Progress Energy. Jim Warren is executive director of NC WARN.

North Carolinians are split over President Obama's jobs bill. A new Elon University poll finds 36 percent opposed, 35 percent in support, and more than a quarter of those surveyed are unsure about it. Other numbers from the poll indicate the president's popularity is waning in the state. 42 percent approve of the job he's doing. 51 percent disapprove. Assistant poll director Mileah Kromer says those are bad numbers for a president trying to win North Carolina again in 2012.

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