Across the Region

Chambers speaks at Founder's Day

Civil rights attorney Julius Chambers, chancellor emeritus of N.C. Central University, urged fellow members of the class of 1958 to continue the important work started nearly 100 years ago by the university's founder, Dr. James E. Shepard.

Chambers, chancellor from 1993 to 2001, was the keynote speaker for the university's 61st Founder's Day Convocation. He was among several class members inducted into the university's Society of Golden Eagles on Friday.

He discussed problems such as low achievement and graduation rates among black students, men in particular. Chambers said retirees have an obligation to help reverse the trend that has seen many black youths shunning education.

Chambers and his partners argued a number of significant civil rights cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, including Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the landmark 1971 case that upheld busing as a means to desegregate schools.

(Durham) Herald-Sun

Meck briefs


The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County plans three “Coffee and Conversations” community workshops this week to hear comments and suggestions for future services.

Planners want residents' ideas before developing a new Library Facilities Master Plan, which will guide the library's growth and program development for 10 to 20 years.

Residents can attend any session to offer comments about services they value or want:

Monday, 7-8 p.m., Independence Regional Library, 6000 Conference Drive.

Wednesday, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Beatties Ford Road Library, 2412 Beatties Ford Road.

Thursday, 7-8 p.m., North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Lane, Huntersville.

Residents also can offer comments or suggestions online at http://plcmc.org/Programs/ FMP2008.asp.

Karen Sullivan

Regional briefs

Alamance County Burlington

Alamance County is among 59 jurisdictions – and is the only one in North Carolina – federal authorities will monitor on Election Day to ensure equal access to the polls.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division will send more than 800 federal observers and department personnel to monitor polling places in 23 states, the department announced Thursday.

According to a news release, the observers will watch whether voters are treated differently due to a disability or based on their race, color or membership in a minority group.

They also will look at whether the jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Scot Montrey, of the Civil Rights Division, would not say Friday why the county was selected. According to the Voting Rights Act, monitoring is done when there are concerns about racial discrimination in the voting process or to ensure compliance with bilingual election procedures.

A 2006 report commissioned by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund found “numerous problems” during the 2004 general election regarding Hispanic voter intimidation in Alamance County. (Burlington) Times-News

Orange County Chapel Hill

Cutting the size of Chapel Hill's Franklin Street Halloween celebration by more than half Friday night apparently helped reduce misbehavior.

The town of Chapel Hill reduced the celebration to about 35,000 people. In recent years, as many as 80,000 people have swarmed downtown for holiday revelry.

Franklin Street was cleared of partygoers at 12:30 a.m., and the area streets were opened to traffic around 2 a.m. after being cleaned by town crews.

In the closed downtown area, five people were arrested for simple affray (four arrests) and impersonating an officer (one arrest). Last year, there were 13 arrests in the closed area, with more fights and drunk and disorderly behavior.

Orange County Emergency Medical Services responded to 18 alcohol overdose calls, and nine people were taken to UNC Hospitals. Last year, EMS responded to 31 calls, and eight people were taken to UNC Hospitals.

(Raleigh) News & Observer

Police digest

York County Clover

A 20-year-old Clover man died Saturday morning in a single-vehicle collision that also left a Lake Wylie man in critical condition.

Travis James Pettus of Clover died in the 3 a.m. wreck along Ridge Road in Clover, York County interim Coroner Sabrina Gast said. Pettus was a passenger in a Jeep Cherokee that ran off the road, hit a tree and overturned, said Cpl. Jeff Gaston of the S.C. Highway Patrol.

The Cherokee's driver, 20-year-old Jason Isbell of Lake Wylie, was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he was listed in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Pettus, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, Gast said.

Isbell, who also wasn't wearing a seat belt, was trapped in the vehicle, Gaston said. The wreck is under investigation.

Toya Graham, (Rock Hill) Herald

South Carolina Columbia

A former Kershaw County detention center officer has been charged with misconduct after authorities say he groped a female inmate and asked two others to show their body parts in exchange for cigarettes.

Kenneth Levi Odom, 34, was fired from his job after his Oct. 9 arrest.

A sheriff's report said Odom failed a polygraph test and confessed to having sexual contact with a female inmate. He is charged with misconduct in office and furnishing contraband to prisoners.

It was unclear whether Odom has an attorney. A message for Odom's family was not immediately returned Saturday, and no one answered the phone at the jail. The (Columbia) State