Rebecca Martinez

Morning Producer

Rebecca Martinez produces WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition. She reports breaking news as well as feature stories and interviews about a range of subjects, including immigration enforcement and environmental sustainability. She knows a lot about municipal solid waste.

Rebecca is also the co-creator and founding producer of The Civilist with Steven Petrow. The podcast is a partnership between WUNC and PRI, and it explores how people can talk respectfully about controversial and awkward topics.

Before coming to North Carolina, Rebecca was a reporter and host at Wyoming Public Radio, where she created the "Upstarts" entrepreneur profile series. She won a PRNDI award for soft feature reporting in 2012 and has edited and produced several PRNDI award-winning stories and episodes of "Open Spaces." Rebecca has reported on agriculture and community issues at The News Leader in Staunton, VA. She spent two years cutting tape, booking interviews and running scripts at NPR's Washington, DC headquarters. Her reporting has aired on NPR, the BBC, PRI, Marketplace and National Native News.

She lives in Durham, where she volunteers on the crisis line at Durham Crisis Response Center. She also occasionally leads bike tours of the city’s murals.

Ways to Connect

A picture of the South Wake Landfill.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

The South Wake Landfill in Apex is putting its garbage to work. Wake County recently hosted an open house for its landfill gas power plant.

Solid Waste Director John Roberson said the plant is making money and producing electricity from the garbage that's decomposing inside the dump and cutting down on bad smells there.

A photo of a girl near a Girls Rock poster.
Girls Rock NC

Girls Rock NC is turning 10 years old this summer.  The series of week-long day-camps gathers girls of varying ages and musical abilities to form bands.  They write original music and play a show at the end of the week. 

But tonight, some male musicians are covering songs by female artists at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw to benefit the nonprofit.  With me this morning is Girls Rock NC founder Amelia Shull, and Stu McLamb of the band The Love Language

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The Dare County Sheriff's Office is encouraging visitors to the Outer Banks to know exactly where they are in case of an emergency. Cell phones sometimes share inaccurate or incomplete location data with 911 dispatch, so knowing your street address can make it easier for help to find you.

Assistant Director Lora Nock said the 911 Center handles twice as many calls in the summer months as it does in the off-season.

North Carolina Air Pollution
Doug Bradley / Flickr

Duke University researchers have found a connection between state and federal air pollution restrictions and improved public health in North Carolina.

Duke Surgery Professor H. Kim Lyerly and his team evaluated disparate data from air quality monitoring stations and health statistics between 1993 and 2010. Lyerly said air quality improved, and so did respiratory health.

Accounting for seasonal changes and an overall drop in smoking, Lyerley said annual emphysema-related deaths dropped from 12-per-100,000 people, to five. Asthma and pneumonia-related deaths decreased, too.

A picture of curbside recycling carts in Durham.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikipedia

Durham's Solid Waste Department is cutting four jobs to make up for a $1.1 million budget shortfall.

Director Donald Long said his department is very expensive to run. Its $16 million budget is about the same size as last year, and Long said one of the only places to cut costs is personnel.

A portrait og Tom Bonfield
City of Durham

Spurred by complaints about racial bias in the Durham Police Department, City Manager Tom Bonfield said he'll review recommendations to improve relations with the community.

“I recognize the critical importance of a trusting relationship between a community police department and the community. And I also recognize that and the end of the day, I'm responsible for the actions of the department and how that plays out in terms of the relationship.”

black bear
Casey Brown / Flickr/Creative Commons

NC State University and the Wildlife Resources Commission are catching bears that live in and around Asheville and tracking them using satellite collars. The five year study began in May and is the first of its kind in the Southeast.

The Wildlife Commission's Brad Howard said the urban bear study will help answer a lot of questions, not only for Asheville, but other developed areas where bears have been spotted lately, including Raleigh.

John Howie Jr. and The Rosewood Bluff performing at a Back Porch Music On The Lawn concert in 2013
Kathryn Walbert / www.kathrynwalbert.com

John Howie, Jr. started off playing drums, but it wasn't long before he switched to guitar and began making some hard-core honky-tonk music, first in the Chapel Hill-based Two Dollar Pistols and now in his current band, The Rosewood Bluff.

The latest album is called "Everything Except Goodbye."  It's chock full of heartbreak, pedal steel, upright bass and John's baritone voice.

A picture of a man charging an electric car.
David Dodge / Green Energy Futures via Creative Commons

As more alternative fuel vehicles take to the roadways, North Carolina is working to prepare first responders how to react when they're part of an emergency.

The NC Solar Center has worked with the State Fire Marshall's office to develop a workshop for emergency services personnel in the Triangle. Soon, responders in other parts of the state will be able to complete the training online. They'll learn to identify gas, biofuel and battery-operated vehicles.

A picture of a Viking gas-powered lawnmower.
kallerna / Wikipedia

Durham's "Get Your Grass Off Gas" campaign kicks off its fourth year next weekend. Each year, the city collects gas-powered yard equipment – like lawn mowers and weed whackers. They send those to the scrap yard and give residents discounts on new electric models.

City Sustainability Officer Tobin Freid says about 300 people have turned in gas-powered equipment over the past three years.

Michael Campbell reacts to winning the 2005 U.S. Open held at the Pinehurst Resort No. 2 Course in Pinehurst, N.C., Sunday, June 19, 2005.
John Mummert / USGA

The U.S. Open begins at the Pinehurst No. 2 golf course today. WUNC’s Jeff Tiberii is covering the event.

A picture of Eli Aquino with a rusty cannonball.
Tim Duffy

A young treasure hunter uncovered a heavy piece of history, and now it’s in the hands of the Durham County bomb squad.

Ten-year-old Eli Aquino of Hillsborough found a rusted cannonball in the Eno River near Gold Park last week. Eli has been known to collect objects he finds while sifting through the mud wearing swim goggles.

A picture of the US Supreme Court building.
Daderot / Wikipedia

The US Supreme Court has upheld North Carolina's limits on how long people have to file pollution-related lawsuits.

The case involved pollution connected with a CTS Corp. manufacturing plant in Asheville. But the decision undercut families trying to sue over groundwater pollution at Camp Lejeune.

black bear
Casey Brown / Flickr/Creative Commons

Early Monday, officials were tracking a bear in the Five Points area of Raleigh. WRAL reported that information about the bear began to come in after midnight.

A mailman working in the area told WRAL News that a couple reported seeing the bear near a home under construction at the corner of Carroll and Whitaker Mill Road.

 

A picture of fresh produce.
Jina Lee / Wikipedia

People living in a southeast Raleigh neighborhood have a new place to buy groceries. 

About 18 months ago, two Kroger stores closed forcing residents of the South Park area to travel long distances to find fresh, affordable food.  Two church groups working with volunteers, opened the Galley Grocery on Bragg Street late last month. 

Ashley Lee is a member of the Hope Community Church and helped get the new venture off the ground.  She said there are still some challenges to overcome.   
 

A picture of a baby olinguito.
Juan Rendon / Saving Species

Species are going extinct about 1,000 times faster than they should be because their habitat is being destroyed. That's according to new research led by Duke University.

Conservation Ecology Professor Stuart Pimm said the worse news is that nearly 90 percent of the species are unknown to scientists.

A picture of the Rockford restaurant's sign.
Shop Local Raleigh

The Raleigh City Council has created a task force to review the city's sign ordinance. The measure determines what signs certain businesses can have, what they look like, and where they put them.

Raleigh recently overhauled its planning code, but didn't change the sign ordinance much. Local businesses and associations have complained that the rules are too restrictive. This week, Raleigh appointed 11 business people and residents to study the issue.

Planning and zoning administrator Travis Crane says he's looking forwards to what the task force finds.

A SolarBee
Medora Corporation

The Army Corps of Engineers is wrapping up the environmental impact review of a $1.4 million plan to put solar powered water mixers (also known as SolarBees) on Jordan Lake to break up algae.

Last year, the General Assembly decided to delay implementation of rules that would restrict development around the lake to reduce contaminated runoff. Instead, they had the Department of Environment and Natural Resources spend $400,000 on 36 SolarBees to churn the water and prevent chlorophyll a, which is linked to algae blooms, from building up.

A picture of the 13th Amendment document.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

North Carolina's copy of the 13th Amendment is now on tour.  The document that marked the formal end of slavery in the US will be on display at the courthouse in Historic Edenton. 

Officials say the series of stops at historic sites across the state is part of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.  The timing is also linked to Juneteenth. African Americans observe June 19th as when the last of the enslaved learned they were free in the summer of 1865. 

Sarah Koontz is a state archivist.  She said the document has to be handled with care.

A picture of insulin vials and a syringe.
.:[ Melissa ]:. / Flickr

A report from Harvard University says one-in-10 North Carolinians has diabetes, and that the disease will cost the state $17 billion per year by 2025.

Sarah Downer is a fellow at Harvard's Health Law and Policy Clinic. She said limited access to healthcare, nutritious foods and safe places to exercise are dangerous to communities.

North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of food insecurity, meaning people don't have regular access to nutritious meals. The state also ranks fifth for early childhood obesity.

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The state of North Carolina is appealing a judge's order for a new trial for Darryl Howard. Howard has been in prison for 19 years for the 1995 murder of Doris Washington and her daughter, Nishonda.

Judge Orlando Hudson cited new evidence and misconduct by former Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong. Nifong failed to provide Howard's attorney with a memo from a tipster who said members of a New York drug gang raped and killed Washington and her daughter. DNA evidence found on Washington's body matched another felon’s, not Howard's.

A field of flags outside the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC.
Gerry Dincher / Flickr/Creative Commons

People will gather across the state for Memorial Day ceremonies honoring men and women who died in service to the US military.

Governor Pat McCrory and the commander for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune will gather for a ceremony at the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington.

During World War II, the battleship participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific, survived a broadside torpedo attack, and earned 15 battle stars.

Marine Brigadier General Robert Castellvi said the armed forces are facing new issues since the time the North Carolina sailed.

Expert Infantry / Creative Commons

Women are still excluded from certain areas of military service, but the Department of Defense has given branches until 2016 to eliminate "unnecessary gender-based barriers to service". Now, bases are evaluating how women fare during training that was reserved for men.

Camp Lejeune is studying enlisted female Marines who have passed their first 29 days of general training and volunteer for another 30 days of specialized training. At the end of it, their male peers can become machine gunners and missile men.

A picture of Caleb Johnson.
wn.com

The newest American Idol comes from Asheville. Caleb Johnson won Season 13 of the televised singing competition last night.

Johnson took the stage with Kiss. Together, he and the band performed a medley of "Love Gun" and "Shout it out Loud."

He beat out Jena Irene Asciutto from Michigan.

Third time was the charm for Johnson, who had been an American Idol contestant twice before. He only made it as far as the Hollywood auditions in previous seasons.

A picture of the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.
Vbofficial / Wikipedia

A new bill introduced in the North Carolina Senate would allow the state to offer to buy or trade the federal government for the Oregon Inlet.

The Department of Interior took over ownership of the waterway in 1958. It charges the Army Corps of Engineers with dredging there -- being that it's an important access point for commercial fishermen and boat builders.

But state Representative Bill Cook said the feds rarely put up enough money to manage shoaling in the Oregon Inlet.

A picture of Joe Westerlund in a bird beak nose.
Spacebomb Records

Drummer Joe Westerlund is a busy man.  He plays with Triangle based band Megafaun as well as Califone and Durham's Mount Moriah.

But recently he's been working on something else altogether.  It's called Grandma Sparrow & His Piddletractor Orchestra. 

Westerlund describes it as a psychedelic children's song-cycle for adults.  It recons Frank Zappa, Monty Python and Firesign Theater.

A picture of a boy and a steer.
Green N' Growing collection / North Carolina State University Libraries

Employees from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension will travel from across the state to Raleigh today and tomorrow to celebrate the organization's 100th anniversary.

The Cooperative Extension is based out of North Carolina State University and NC A&T State University. Their personnel work in every county to connect farmers with new research and technology. But the organization, which runs 4-H, is also invested in helping families in general.

Sheri Schwab is an associate director of the Cooperative Extension at NC State.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

Police and community leaders in Fayetteville are working on a local incarnation of the Silent Siren program to help veterans in an emergency.

Fayetteville police responded last week to a call from a woman whose husband, a soldier, was parked outside a Walmart threatening to kill himself. Police approached the stand off without lights, sirens and shouting.  They were able get the soldier help.

Fayetteville wants to expand that gentle approach for emergencies involving veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or traumatic brain injury.

A map of the Strategic Transportation Investments proposed projects.
NCDOT

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has ranked 3,100 proposed transportation projects. They're all vying for a chunk of the $15 billion expected to be allocated in the 2015 Transportation Improvement Program.

NCDOT's Chief Deputy Secretary Nick Tennyson said the department prioritized projects that would alleviate serious, ongoing traffic congestion. For that reason, many of the higher ranked projects are in the Triangle and Charlotte areas.

Back Porch Music on the Lawn Logo
WUNC / American Tobacco

Update: 12:28 p.m. Southern Culture on the Skids to has been rescheduled for  Thursday May 22 at 6 p.m.

Update: 12:06 p.m. Due to the weather, the concert tonight with Southern Culture on the Skids and the Letter Jackets has been canceled.  We're hope to reschedule -- stay tuned for details. We'll post updates on the main Back Porch On The Lawn Concerts page.

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