Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ba-a-a-d joke draws neighboring town's comment

The Apex sheep saga has settled down to jokes and comments and life goes on. Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly appeared on a radio show this week and cracked a joke that this sort of problem might be expected in Holly Springs but not in Apex. To his surprise the Holly springs Mayor Dick Sears came back with "Well, you know, he's a jerk." Later after Weatherly called to apologize Sears calmed down and suggested it should all be left in Apex.

Animal protection representatives have visited the second farm owned by the man found to be keeping sheep in his home in Apex and determined that animals there were lacking for attention but the situation did not rise to animal cruelty. The saga of keeping animals in the Apex house is settling down and the owner is being viewed as a bit eccentric and that he was overwhelmed by having so many sheep born that he simply couldn't take care of them all. Time will tell when his case is resolved and the issue repeats itself or goes away.
News and Observer
March 31, 2007
Toby Coleman and David Bracken, Staff Writers

Mayor's ba-a-a-d joke

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly responded to news that a man was keeping a flock of sheep in his downtown Apex house with a lot of jokes.

He even went on WRAL-FM's "Bill and Sheri in the Morning" show Tuesday to face baaas and a bunch of cracks.

He respond-ed with what he said was a lighthearted jab at a neighboring town: "Very frankly, you might expect this sort of thing in Holly Springs, but ... it was a surprise to us in Apex."

That didn't play well in Holly Springs.

"Well, you know, he's a jerk," said Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears on Wednesday morning.

Sears cooled down later in the day after Weatherly called him to apologize. He said that he no longer thought Weatherly was a jerk.

"You just shouldn't do those kind of things," Sears said. "If the joke was on Apex the whole show, then leave it on Apex."

"If anybody took that as a serious commentary they missed the point and that's unfortunate," Weatherly said later.

"I certainly didn't mean to demean the good people of Holly Springs," the mayor added. "That would be ludicrous."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More on Apex sheep owner - charges filed

The owner of the abused animals has been charged. David Watts has been formally charged with cruelty to animals and is being held in the Wake County jail.

Read the latest report...

News and Observer
March 28, 2007
Michael Biesecker and Toby Coleman, Staff Writers

Sheep owner charged with 30 cruelty counts

APEX - The suburban shepherd who shared his downtown Apex house with 77 sheep has been charged with 30 counts of cruelty to animals.

David Watts was being held this morning in the Wake jail in lieu of $30,000 bond.

On Tuesday, Watts denied in an interview that he had abused his flock. He said that so many lambs were born this year that he was a little overwhelmed. Read more...

More on saga of neglected Apex sheep

A second report reveals more on the life and troubles of the sheep owned by David Watts of Apex. He claims "so many lambs were born this year that he was a little overwhelmed, but denied he abused his flock." It would seem more like he wasn't able to provided adequate care all along and isn't up to facing reality. The veterinarians remarks indicate "some in the flock showed signs of serious neglect that had been continuing for many months, probably years."

Following the rescue at the Apex house police and animal care personnel visited his farm in Chatham County they found a smaller group of animals that were in reasonably normal condition for the most part. Watts claims he planned to eventually move the neglected sheep to the farm but didn't get around to it.

Read the latest report with remarks from the veterinarian that helped with the rescue operation...
News and Observer
March 28, 2007
Michael Biesecker and Toby Coleman, Staff Writers

Lambs just kept coming, owner says
77 sheep seized; 60 more are found

APEX - The suburban shepherd who shared his downtown Apex house with 77 sheep said that so many lambs were born this year that he was a little overwhelmed, but denied he abused his flock.

"It was just bad timing for me," David Watts said Tuesday. "I just got hit with the extra animals this year that needed extra supervision."

Veterinarian Kelli Ferris, who examined the sheep that Watts surrendered to Wake County animal control officers Monday, said that some in the flock showed signs of serious neglect that had been continuing for many months, probably years.

So far, 30 of the sheep have been euthanized after it was determined they were too sick to recover. Read more...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sad day for abused sheep in Apex

This was truly a sad day for sheep living in a house in Apex...

When the police were called on a bright spring Monday morning about a flock of sheep grazing in the town cemetery they knew right where to go. A dilapidated old 1910 home next to the cemetery was being shared by David Watts with his flock of some 80 sheep. They lived in and around the first floor, on the porch, in fenced off areas under tarps and trees and virtually all around the property. He lived on the second floor of the house, apparently alone.

Mr. Watts could be seen occasionally walking some of his sheep on leashes in the neighborhood surrounding the house and cemetery. Neighbors had called police and animal protection personnel numerous times about the foul smell in the neighborhood but until now no one could justify taking the animals away from him. He will now face criminal charges and is to blame for some thirty or more having to be euthanized due to severe sickness and untreatable conditions.

The town has previously tried to draft an ordinance to prevent keeping livestock in residential neighborhoods but had not been able to produce a draft draft a plan that could be approved before this tragedy ocurred.

Read the complete report...

News and Observer
March 27, 2007
Michael Biesecker and Benjamin Niolet, Staff Writers

80 sheep weren't flock, but roomies

APEX - When Apex police got the call early Monday that wayward sheep were grazing on the floral arrangements in the town cemetery, they didn't have to guess where the animals had come from.

On an adjacent downtown property, a short stroll from the quaint restaurants and art galleries lining Salem Street, David Watts had long shared his crumbling house with what authorities say was a flock of about 80 sheep.

"He lives upstairs, and the sheep were living downstairs," Apex Police Sgt. Robert Towell said. "He considered them pets." Read more...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Progress versus saving the past

An interesting article was published in the March 25, 2007, News and Observer titled "Is progress killing small towns?". Interesting to me because I grew up in the "small" town of Apex, and have arrived at a similar question about what progress has done to my home town and what it is like compared to it's past, in spite of efforts by the town board and planners to allegedly "preserve the small town atmosphere" here.

I agree completely with the idea suggested by the news article that progress is essentially destroying what has been referred to as "small town atmosphere" in much of the region and most of what was here is fading into the past.

I lived here from when I was born in 1943 through graduation from college in 1966, went into the Navy for a time and returned to a different part of North Carolina afterwards. After returning and living in Winston-Salem, NC, for a while, I was transferred to Virginia for thirty years and moved back here in 2002, a year after the factory I worked in was closed and all the jobs were exported to China. That's a story for another day, so for now I'll stick to the "progress killing small towns" issue at hand.

The town I knew while growing up was truly a small, southern town. It had a population of 2,000 or so when I left and was truly a small town by any standards. During the time I was gone the town began to grow during the time when growth accelerated in this part of the state and had grown to a population of some 33,000 by the time I returned. It simply was not the little country town it was when I left years ago.

Main street in Apex during the fifties and sixties was very much like it looks now and even the buildings look the same except for numerous attempts to make downtown look better and be more attractive to newer businesses and residents. Years ago downtown included a movie theater, corner drugstore, florist shop, insurance agency, beauty shop, barber shop, the "dime store", Western Auto, Martin's grocery, Beasley's grocery and supply, Baker's dry cleaners, an old closed up hardware store, the Apex fire station, a bank, an old corner gas station (complete with a pot bellied stove, gum and candy counter and ten cent cokes), a farm supply business, the old town hall, the local working train station and a Ford car dealership. And of course there is the railroad that has always run straight through the middle of town since it's begining. There were a few other stores near downtown and scattered nearby but these made up a majority of businesses in town. There were a couple of doctor and dentist offices and eventually the town was blessed to gain a small satellite hospital on the edge of town.

For the most part all of these businesses disappeared long ago (except for the insurance agency) and the original stores have been replaced by an assortment of small locally owned businesses that use the same buildings in much the same shape and appearance as they were in the past. The sidewalk has been widened and streetlights styled like gas-lights have been added. The street otherwise is much like it always was and still carries hundreds of cars through downtown each day and still has lots of eighteen wheeler trucks squeezing through town each day (even though they aren't supposed to be on the crowded street).

Although the old central part of town has been "preserved" and looks much like it did fifty years ago, new shopping areas and lots of typical commuter subdivisions have been built around town bringing in a new era of big-box shopping and conveniences of big city living. Much of the town is grid-locked from sunrise until dark every day with commuters rushing back and forth to employment centers in Raleigh, Durham and the Research Triangle Park areas. Even though there has been a little improvement in major outlying roads into and out of town, the town planners have not seen fit to push to replace the single old railroad "underpass" road through the south end of town so thousands of commuters passing through town now squeeze through many of the small streets in the older parts of town bringing modern day grid-lock to virtually every neighborhood. With recent completion of widening of highway NC 55 toward Durham and the other end toward Holly Springs the portion of this major state artery inside the city limits of Apex remains the only bottleneck in the path thousands of commuters and no plans have been made to rid the town of the reputation of being the worst traffic bottleneck in the southern Wake County.

In this little town there has been much talk of "preserving" the past and keeping the "look and feel" of what the town was like in times past. Part of the town has been declared a "Historic Area" in an attempt to keep at least those portions of town from dramatically changing. Unfortunately much of these parts of town have been changed by allowing construction of apartment buildings mixed adjascent to old homes and the roads in these areas have been allowed to overflow with a flood of daily commuter traffic. This has forever altered the character of even older Historic Area neighborhoods and they no longer reflect the quiet country living that once characterized the town.

As for the question as to whether "Progress is killing small towns" there isn't much left of the laid back style of living that was in this rural country town and most of the same observations can be made in many other similar "small towns" scattered around the region.

Read the N&O article for more about how much of the small town atmosphere has slipped away and what some communities are doing to try to bring back and protect some of the past "small-town character."

News and Observer
March 25, 2007
Jesse James DeConto, Staff Writer

Is progress killing small towns?

Small-town charm is now so rare in the Triangle, it has become a commodity.

Chambers of commerce use it in their marketing slogans, such as Wendell’s “Small Town Charm -- Capital City Connection.”

Some in Hillsborough have given it a name -- “smalltownliness” -- and they’re trying to sell the experience to tourists through a Web site,

And the booming suburb of Morrisville aims to create an old-time Main Street feel where none ever existed.

As Triangle towns mesh into a single metropolitan area, no longer isolated from one another by forests and farmland, folks are striving to protect or recapture the small-town lifestyle. Read more...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CSX trains and late night noise...

If you plan to live in one of the existing older homes in the downtown district or the "historic area" of Apex, or even in one of the newly constructed buildings like Duncan Commons or in Villages of Apex, be aware of issues with CSX trains left parked and idling in downtown at the old CSX freight depot building. In addition to noisy evening freight car movement, CSX leaves two to four diesel train engines parked and idling all night during cold weather beside the old CSX freight depot.

While this might not seem to be a problem on the surface, the noise continues all night and can be heard blocks away and is especially noticeable inside homes. When the wind is drifting to the east, the sounds are even louder in the old "historic district" where many single family and apartment residences are located.

Requests for Town representatives to resolve this issue and restore quiet to the night in these areas has not been productive.

A similar problem with CSX leaving engines idling at night in Raleigh's historic Mordecai area has been solved through efforts of the Raleigh City Council. Mayor Meeker and the city of Raleigh worked hard to put in place requirements that train engines be turned off at night to help keep the area near the trains quiet for residents. CSX has even provided a telephone number for Raleigh residents to call when trains are left idling for longer than fifteen minutes at night and has agreed to have the engines turned off when called.

If you would like to contact your Town of Apex representatives they are listed at the Town website. The town telephone directory is also available on the website.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Mordecai House - Visit the Wake County site

Raleigh's Mordecai House - an interesting local site to visit. See website below for hours and prices for tour.

Take the photo tour!

From the Mordecai House web page on Raleigh's website...

City of Raleigh, NC, website
March 19, 2007

Mordecai Historic Park

The Mordecai house and grounds were once the seat of one of the largest plantations in Wake County, encompassing more than 5,000 acres. Today, the Mordecai House is one of the oldest residences in Raleigh and the oldest on its original foundation.

The home was originally built in 1785 by Joel Lane but the house takes its name from Moses Mordecai, who married into the Lane family. After Moses' death in 1824, his second wife Nancy used money from his will to hire William Nichols, then State Architect, to enlarge the original house. Read more...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

EQ chemical disposal plant can't rebuild in Apex

Great news for Apex residents... The State of North Carolina Division of Waste Management said Tuesday that EQ is being barred from rebuilding the Apex facility destroyed in its recent chemical fire. EQ bypassed Town of Apex and sought to have the state grant an exception on a recent Town of Apex declaration because the company had been established in the now mostly residential area prior to town zoning changes banning hazardous material facilities in the area. This is good news for the thousands of Apex residents living near the former facility and may help to reduce anxiety about such a facility appearing nearby in the future.

A March 7, 2007, News and Observer provides details of the ruling...

News and Observer
March 7, 2007
Toby Coleman, Staff Writer

Hazmat plant can't rebuild
State: Violations were not reported

EQ Industrial Services kept silent about fires and chemical reactions that plagued its Apex hazardous waste warehouse in the two years before it blew up, the state Division of Waste Management said Tuesday as it barred the company from rebuilding.

State regulators say EQ flouted reporting rules intended to ensure that the people who live and work around hazardous waste warehouse are safe. They said the company should lose its permit to operate on Apex's Investment Boulevard and pay a $553,225 fine because it did not submit required reports of two fires and three potentially dangerous chemical reactions.

"Our actions today send a clear message that the state of North Carolina will not tolerate non-compliance with rules and non-reporting of incidents that occur at commercial hazardous waste facilities across the state," division director Dexter Matthews said in a prepared statement. Read more...

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