Laura Candler

Web Producer

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.  

Ways to Connect

Laura Candler

In the supermarket today, you can find about a dozen kinds of apples. But years ago, there were hundreds and hundreds of varieties grown all over the South. North Carolina native Lee Calhoun once had 3,000 apple trees growing in his backyard in Pittsboro. I visited him there recently and he showed what was left.

“This is a remnant of an old orchard I used to have,” he said. “Most of them are gone now. This is an Orange Cauley, a little bit different from a regular Cauley, and this is a Green River --that’s a Kentucky apple.”

photo of Congress
Lawrence Jackson,

Several of North Carolina’s members of Congress have issued statements about  U.S. involvement in Syria. The statements follow a chemical weapons attack which the U.S. says was carried out by the Assad regime in Damascus on August 21. More than 1,400 people were reported killed in the attack.

Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, as well as several Representatives have made the following statements. We'll update this post with additional statements as they come in.

Bubba the ram has been spotted several times in Durham in the past week. He's still on the run.
Steve Sbraccia, WNCN News

There’s a ram on the loose in Durham County whose escape tactics have outsmarted capture attempts by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, a man with a tranquilizer gun and a local veterinarian with a lasso. The animal was first spotted near Odyssey Drive in Durham on Monday afternoon, August 25, and is thought to be a either a Barbados/Mouflon sheep or a Toggenburg goat. Deputy Paul Sherwin with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office was one of the officers who responded to Monday's call.

courtesy of Kevin Hauser

Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, a 1900s-era working farm in Pinnacle, North Carolina, is prized for its heirloom apples. The farm runs the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard, which is stocked with 400 varieties propagated by cuttings from trees all over the south.  Now, apple trees cultivated with grafts from Southern Heritage trees are under the care of farmers in Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda, thanks to a project called Apples for Africa.

Car loads onto the M/V Stanford White ferry  at the Stumpy Point Ferry Terminal Thursday. DOT workers and contractors successfully tested new ramps at both Stumpy Point and Rodanthe, which serves as an emergency ferry route after major storms cut road acc

In preparation for peak hurricane season, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has tested out two new ramps along its emergency ferry route. The ramps are located at Stumpy Point, on the mainland, and Rodanthe, on the Outer Banks, a route that would allow access to Hatteras Island if Highway 12 were damaged in a storm.

“We hope not to need these ramps anytime soon,” said NC Ferry Division Deputy Director Jed Dixon in a statement. “But if we do, the new ramps will provide the public safer and more reliable access to the emergency route that serves as a lifeline to Hatteras Island after a major storm.”

Greg Stott practices powerlifts in his training room in Sanford.
Jillian Clark-Ramey

Sanford resident and world champion powerlifter Greg Stott is not your normal weight-lifting competitor. He’s a 50-year-old used car dealer, father of two, and a former Army Ranger whose military career ended in prison.  He’s a piano player and self-identified evangelist. And he’s manic depressive.  In October, he’s slated to compete in the 100% Raw (meaning drug-free and without the use of belts or supports) World Championships in Las Vegas and hopes to set a Master Powerlifting Total World Record. A film production team led by his son, Nicholas Stott, is documenting the endeavor and is currently raising money on Kickstarter to turn their footage into a feature film.

The wreck of the Civil War vessel USS Monitor lies off the coast of Cape Hatteras. Friday marks 150 years to the day since it sank.
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary /

The NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary held a ceremony in Beaufort yesterday to unveil sign recognizing the 40th anniversary of the USS Monitor's discovery. The sign is the first of five to be dedicated that marks a place of significance in the Civil War vessel’s history. The USS Monitor was discovered 40 years ago in 230 feet of water about 16 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras. 

Duke released a new study that looks at the high depression rate in clergy members.
public domain

A new study from Duke shows that clergy have a higher rate of anxiety and depression than the national average. The study, conducted by the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School, surveyed all United Methodist Clergy in North Carolina and found that their depression rate was 8.7 percent, which is higher than the national average of 5.5 percent. Anxiety rates were 13.5 percent.

Protesters take a stand for abortion and women's rights at a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

The Department of Health and Human Services found health code violations this summer at two North Carolina clinics that provide abortions. Now, one of them has closed for good, while the other has re-opened.

Members of the 1st Naval Constuction Battalion on Bora Bora during World War II.
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

Durham resident and Navy veteran Jerry Smith turns 100 years old on Tuesday, and he’ll have what is likely to be his biggest birthday bash yet.  The North Carolina Executive Mansion is hosting a party for Mr. Smith to honor his service as a Navy Seabee during World War II. Attendees include Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Senator Richard Burr, Rear Adm. Douglas Morton, as well as other Naval Commanders and Army Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk.

The rattlesnake-master borer moth has been listed as a candidate for the Endangered Species List. It's found in Pender County, NC.
William Glass

Officials with the US Fish & Wildlife Service made two big announcements concerning North Carolina this month: they determined that a very rare moth found in one county near the coast warrants placement on the Endangered Species List, and they are awarding the state two grants to help with wildlife conservation.

The succession of North Carolina Governors poster.
NC Bankers Association

Curious to know what all the North Carolina governors looked like? Now you can see all 68 (well, most of them) in one place, thanks to the North Carolina Bankers Association. They’ve reissued their poster of the state’s gubernatorial lineage, which hadn’t been updated in more than 50 years.  

Visitors harvest lavender at Bluebird Hill Farm in Chatham County. Agritourism.
Bluebird Hill Farm

The Triangle foodie scene is growing its digital footprint. A new website called TriangleGrown launched by the Destination Marketing Organizations for Orange, Durham, Johnston, Chatham and Wake Counties aims to promote agritourism by being a go-to resource for people interested in exploring the local farming community.

The Southern Oral History Program mapped oral histories with DH Press in their project Mapping the Long Women’s Movement.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed an easy-to-use website-building tool that puts previously complex digital programming into the hands of historians and researchers. The new tool, called the Digital Humanities Toolkit or DH Press, provides a way for historians, researchers, teachers and others to create interactive websites, virtual tours, data maps and multimedia archives with a WordPress platform. It also organizes data in more easily searchable and intuitive ways, such as mapping.  UNC-Chapel Hill’s Digital Innovation Lab (DIL) and its Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) collaborated on the new tool.

Google named Cary the state's 2013 eCity for the high online connectivity of its small businesses.

Google has announced its first eCity awards, recognizing one city in every state for the strength of its online business community. In North Carolina, Google gave that distinction to Cary for the high percentage of small businesses that leverage the Internet to connect with customers. Being an eCity won’t earn Cary cash prizes or awards, but it does earn the mayor a congratulatory phone call from Google and some hefty bragging rights.

Pittsboro resident Marielle Hare owns a dog, Oona, that she believes might have traces of Carolina Dog in her. She is interested in testing its DNA.
Marielle Hare

The first Carolina dog that I. Lehr Brisbin took home with him smeared fecal matter all over the back seat of his car. He found her at a pound in Augusta, Georgia in the 1970s, and despite strong discouragement from the pound’s staff (they said she bit everyone who touched her), he managed to wrangle her into a carry crate in his back seat, where “she immediately had a diarrhea attack,” Brisbin recalls. But he was far from discouraged.  Brisbin wanted to take her home because he thought there was something strange and special about her. She resembled some wild dogs he’d seen in the woods along the Savannah River. And Brisbin was starting to put together an exciting hypothesis about why there were wild dogs in the South Carolina lowland that looked and acted different from most others.

At the time, I. Lehr Brisbin was a biologist studying wildlife at the Savannah River Ecology Lab, a field research station of the University of Georgia in Aiken, South Carolina. His research often took him into the 300 square mile wilderness of the Savannah River Ecology site. That’s where he first noticed the wild dogs.  They had long, pointy snouts, ears that permanently stood up and tails that curled back on themselves.  And their behavior, he noticed, was unusual, too. They dug small pits in the ground with their snouts. They hunted in packs and signaled to each other by flashing the white undersides of their tails. They moved as a pack, like wolves.  They were more like Australian Dingoes than European-bred dogs brought to America by colonists.  Brisbin hypothesized that the wild South Carolina dogs descended from canines that belonged to Native Americans, that the dogs’ ancestors had crossed the land bridge between Asia and North America with humans around 12,000 years ago.

Two students at Durham's School for Creative Studies try out for the new cycling team.
School for Creative Studies

If you’re a student in a North Carolina public school with aspirations of becoming a pro cyclist, you might not have much of an opportunity to develop your bike skills on a school sports team. That is, unless you attend the School for Creative Studies (SCS), a new public magnet school in Durham. The school began tryouts this week for a new competitive cycling club registered with USA Cycling, the cycling body responsible for training and sending American athletes to the Olympics and the Tour de France.  It’s the first school in North Carolina to start a USA Cycling-registered team.

“Competitive cycling is exploding in the U.S.,” says SCS Assistant Principal and cycling coach Andrea Hundredmark. “Being involved with an officially-sponsored team will allow School for Creative Studies students to advance in national rankings, and perhaps even compete internationally.”

The school, which opened in July, currently has 260 students enrolled in the sixth, seventh and ninth grades. They plan to add grades each year and eventually be open to sixth through 12th graders.  Because they are a magnet school, they don’t have a competitive athletics program.

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory vetoed two bills today.

One (HB 786) known as the "Reclaiming NC Act" would have required undocumented immigrants to submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting to obtain driving permits. It also would have allowed police to detain people they suspect of being undocumented for up to 24 hours. It was heavily critiqued by NC's ACLU chapter and others. McCrory said in a statement that he vetoed it due to a loophole that would allow businesses to hire more undocumented workers.

The second bill Gov. McCrory vetoed today (HB 392) would have required drug testing for Work First applicants, a state program that provides financial assistance and job training to needy families.  The ACLU of North Carolina and the N.C. Justice Center had publicly discouraged Gov. McCrory from signing the bill, saying that it would violate the privacy of low-income people.

McCrory spoke about his decision to sign HB 589 in a video.
NC Governor's Office

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill today that requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls, despite opposition from Attorney General Roy Cooper. In addition to requiring a form of photo ID for voters, the bill also shortens early voting by one week. Hours after he signed the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the bill.

Cree's XSPR street light.

Durham-based lighting company Cree recently unveiled its latest LED creation: a low-cost, energy-saving residential street light they claim can save cities millions on their electric bills. While LED street lights have been around for years, most are created specifically for roads and interstates, not neighborhoods. Cree’s new light—the XSPR street light— is designed with residential areas in mind, and it also wears a lower price tag.

Megalodon tooth with two great white shark teeth.
Brocken Inaglory & Parzi via Flickr, Creative Commons

Many bills brought before this year’s General Assembly were hotly debated and heavily protested. But one bill that sailed through both chambers without a hitch was HB 830, which designates six new official state symbols. Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law in June. If you’re a Tar Heel, here are your newest state designations:

A wrecked car in Mecklenburg County, which had the highest total number of fatal crashes in 2012.
W. Robert Howell via creative commons

For the third year in a row, the same four counties have topped AAA Carolinas’ list of North Carolina’s most dangerous counties for car collisions. Pitt, New Hanover, Person and Watauga Counties were ranked the four most dangerous, all averaging over 250 car crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Pitt County has topped the list for five straight years.

A new study finds that black teens have fewer babies by using birth control, practicing less sex, or having abortions in response to job loss. Contraception.
Bryancalabro via Creative Commons

While there are many studies that highlight the irrational nature of teenagers’ decisions, a new study conducted by researchers at Duke University has just found evidence of the opposite. The study shows that when a community experiences job loss, fewer African-American teenagers have babies.

Christina Gibson-Davis is an associate professor of public policy, sociology and psychology and neuroscience at Duke and one of three authors of the study.

Frozen yogurt shops are being inspected by the state.
shadeofmelon via Flickr, Creative Commons

Summer is in full swing, which means it’s high season for frozen yogurt shops around the state.  But the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is urging customers to be wary: what you pay for might not be what you get. Many yogurt shops determine price based on the weight of the yogurt and toppings, but they are required to subtract the weight of the cup or package first (which is called the tare weight). According to Jerry Butler, NCDA & CS Weight and Measures program manager, not every shop is aware of that.

Faye Hunter was the bassist for 80's band Let's Active.
Faye Hunter, Facebook

The Winston-Salem community mourns the loss of local musician Faye Hunter, who was found dead in on Saturday of an apparent suicide. She was 59 years old. Hunter was the bassist in the 80’s band Let’s Active, which was led by Mitch Easter. Yesterday on "Here & Now," host Jeremy Hobson interviewed Easter about his former bandmate.