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

Everyone knows that NC State, Duke, and UNC can play basketball. But how well do they dance?

The 60th ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament is underway, where North Carolina’s Big Three will compete with other conference teams for the championship.  We found videos of all three North Carolina schools performing the Harlem Shake – a dance that has made waves on the internet in recent weeks.

Phoebe Lawless
Lissa Gotwals

People who bake pies for a living usually do so because they love it. Not to win awards. So when Phoebe Lawless of Scratch bakery learned recently that the James Beard Foundation named her a semi-finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef – an honor she shares with only 19 others in the country – she was thoroughly shocked.   “I certainly did not expect to find myself on the list,” she said.  Lawless learned of the honor while at home on her couch, when someone mentioned it on Twitter.  

Fullsteam's First Frost persimmon ale
Fullsteam

Like last year, Sean Lilly Wilson of the Durham brewery Fullsteam found out that he was on the list of 2013 James Beard Award semi-finalists via Twitter.  And he thought it was a mistake.  His reaction?  “Profound disbelief,” he says.  Wilson’s Fullsteam made the semi-finalist list for the Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional Award, joining names like Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and The Brooklyn Brewery.

Oh, the fun you can have if you’re a NASCAR driver.  

Even though he’s been a James Beard Award semi-finalist for three years in a row, Chef Aaron Vandemark of Hillsborough’s Panciuto was caught off guard last month when he learned that his name was on the list yet again. He was checking his email and received a congratulatory note, at first not realizing what it was for.  But that’s not too different from last year, Vandemark says. In 2012, he was alone in his kitchen cutting up lamb parts when he received a phone call from a writer in Raleigh who gave him the news.  “I’m always surprised by how informal it is,” he admits, referring to the fact that The James Beard Foundation does not notify its semi-finalists directly.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle
annaandelizabeth.com

While many popular musicians today seek out the newest digital technology to enhance their performances, there’s a young musical duo from rural Virginia who are moving in the opposite direction. Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle call themselves simply “Anna and Elizabeth.”  Both accomplished traditional Appalachian musicians on a variety of instruments, together they have resurrected a storytelling tradition called the “crankie,” whose technology outdates their combined age (which is 50).

A dish at Lantern, a previous James Beard Award winner
Lantern

The James Beard Foundation has released its annual list of semifinalists for the Restaurant and Chef Awards. On the list are 13 North Carolina eateries and chefs, 9 of which are in or near the Triangle. The James Beard Awards are considered the highest awards in the food industry. The semifinalists in North Carolina are:

Beercade: The Last Barfighter
McKinney

Arcade games have long been a popular bar distraction, but Durham-based ad agency McKinney has recently taken coin-operated entertainment to a new level. Instead of inserting quarters and playing for points, two players can now insert their beer cups and battle each other for a drink. They call it the Beercade.

Officers with flag
North Carolina Museum of History

On May 12, 1864 during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia, a Union soldier in hand-to-hand combat with a North Carolina standard-bearer tore the battle flag right off its staff. The flag ripped along its left border, the color-bearer was captured and imprisoned, and the Union soldier who seized the flag was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his deed. Today, the historic flag is on display at the North Carolina Museum of History.

Acacia is expecting a baby in early summer
Tom Gillespie, N.C. Zoo

    

On Valentine’s Day, the North Carolina Zoo announced that one of its three female gorillas is expecting a baby. If the pregnancy is successful, this will be the third baby gorilla born at the State Zoo in less than a year.  The two other female gorillas both gave birth last August.

A cockroach cleaning an antenna
Ayako Wada-Katsumata

A new study from researchers at N.C. State finds that cockroaches must clean themselves incessantly in order to function properly. The findings are important not just for scientists studying insect behavior, but also – to the relief of those who suffer from infestations – might provide clues in developing more effective pesticides.

Laura Candler

The new $119 million Durham County Courthouse opens this month on South Dillard Street in Durham. In addition to its location beside the jail, the 11-story building incorporates an array of new features, many focusing on efficient design and energy use. The building’s internal layout includes three separate areas of circulation - one for the public, one for courthouse staff, and a secured circulation area for transporting inmates. The only place that all three can converge is in one of its 20 courtrooms.

National Archives, Washington, D.C.

From May 15 through June 16, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation will be on display in the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The historical seven-page document is on loan from the National Archives in Washington, D.C..

''Home'' by Toni Morrison
UNC News

“Home,” the latest novel by Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, will be the 2013 summer reading book for incoming students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christopher Putney, associate professor of Russian in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures and chair of the selection committee that chose the book, said that students will be able to relate to “Home.”

Xuanhe Zhao
www.pratt.duke.edu

A new material developed by Duke University engineers may help ships rid accumulated scum from their vessels. The material can be applied like paint to the hull of a ship and can move in response to an electric current to dislodge bacteria and prevent accumulations on the ship’s surface. Bacterial buildup on ships increases drag and reduces the fuel economy of the vessel, as well as blocking or clogging undersea sensors.

Bahama Pintail Duck
Snowman radio via Flickr, Creative commons

In 2009, Sylvan Heights Bird Park received a call from the US Embassy in Trinidad, asking them to help restore two species of nearly-extinct native ducks, the White-Faced Whistling Duck and the Bahama Pintail. Four years later, they are celebrating the successful introduction of individuals of both species back into Trinidad, a promising sign for the health of native populations.

George Higgs
Tim Duffy, Music Maker Relief Foundation

North Carolina blues musician George Higgs died on Tuesday. He was 82 years old.

Cassandra Deck-Brown
www.raleighnc.gov

City Manager J. Russell Allen announced today that he has named Cassandra Deck-Brown to be Raleigh’s new Chief of Police. Deck-Brown has been serving as Interim Police Chief for the Raleigh Police Department since October 1, 2012, when former Police Chief Harry Dolan retired. Prior to being Interim Police Chief, she was the Deputy Chief. Deck-Brown is the first African-American female to hold the position. Her promotion is effective February 1.

Richard Luby
music.unc.edu

UNC-Chapel Hill music professor Richard Luby died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday. Luby was known among his colleagues and students as a charismatic teacher and a passionate musician. He joined UNC-Chapel Hill in 1979, when he was hired as a professor of violin and chamber music.

 William ''Mo'' Cowan
Massachusetts Governor's Office

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has named William "Mo'' Cowan, a former top aide, to serve as interim U.S. senator for Massachusetts until a special election is held to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry.  Cowan is a North Carolina native and Duke University graduate, and will be Massachusett’s second African-American U.S. Senator.

A new study from Duke University looks into how male sparrows express their anger. Although they are capable  of fighting to the death, the new study reveals that they often wave their wings wildly before attacking in an attempt to avoid a possibly fatal brawl.

Scientists say they may have found a new clue that sheds light on the sinking of Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley during the Civil War. The new evidence lies in a pole, called a spar, once placed on the front of the sub and used to plant explosives on enemy ships.  Scientists announced Monday that 135 pounds of gunpowder was attached to the spar at the front of the vessel.

A cougar at the NC Zoo
Jeff Owen

Keepers  at the North Carolina Zoo used a snow-making machine to fill a cougar's habitat with snow on Tuesday. With temperatures not expected to get out of the 30's, zoo visitors can expect to see the exhibit snow for several days.

At the ceremonial inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday, January 21, James Taylor took to the stage to strum and sing an acoustic rendition of “America the Beautiful.” His performance was greeted by cheers from the crowd and a hug  from President Obama. Other musical guests at the inauguration included Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé.  In 2011, President Obama awarded James Taylor the National Medal of Arts in a ceremony at the White House.  Taylor grew up in Chapel Hill.

Little Brown Bat with white-nose syndrome in Greeley Mine, VT, March 2009.
Marvin Moriarty/USFWS

White nose syndrome has arrived in North Carolina. The syndrome is a fungus that's been killing bats up and down the East Coast. In New York state, about 90 percent of some species of bat have died. Biologists have closed caves to spelunkers and hikers in an effort to control the spread.

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