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Tag: raleigh

Vick to speak at event honoring NC athletes; thousands express outrage with the choice

vickTens of thousands are expressing their outrage online over the selection of Michael Vick as the main speaker at an “Evening of Champions” event in Raleigh.

The event, held to honor local athletes, is scheduled for Feb. 12.

Officials with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the event, say they’re reviewing the complaints that have flooded in online about the appearance of the quarterback, who was convicted and served time in connection with his dogfighting operation.

But they say they have no plans to disinvite Vick.

“There is a group of folks, who are very unhappy with Mr. Vick for a variety of reasons — and they are passionate about it,” said Harvey Schmitt, president and CEO of the chamber.

But, he added, “Mr. Vick has an interesting story to tell. It is one of an attempt for his personal redemption.” Schmitt also stressed the event isn’t about honoring Vick, but spotlighting local sports stars. “The recognition is not for Mr. Vick,” he said.

The announcement of the event on the chamber’s Facebook page has drawn more than 1,000 comments, almost all of them negative.

“If you want a few Champions to speak to your little group, how about inviting the people who had to rescue and rehabilitate the dogs that survived their experience with Michael Vick? Or lets hear from the people that had to deal with the bodies of the ones that did NOT survive Michael Vick? THOSE are the true champions,” wrote a woman who identified herself as Sandra Melvin.

A group organizing a protest at the event has seen 1,600 sign up to attend, according to its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, a petition demanding the chamber remove Vick from the program has been signed by nearly 70,000 people on the website Change.org.

Organizers say the event is an opportunity to “learn the real story about his incredible NFL career, his meteoric rise from poverty to riches and fame, his downfall, and his improbable comeback.”

The program is being held at PNC Arena, with tickets running as much as $75 each.

Chamber officials declined to say how much Vick is getting paid for the appearance, according to WNCN, which first broke the story.

Vick,  currently a free agent, played for the Atlanta Falcons at the time of his arrest and, after his prison sentence, was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles.

One-time landfill provides backdrop for photographer’s portraits of throwaway dogs

johnstone

Once a week, Meredith College art professor Shannon Johnstone takes a homeless dog for a walk to the top of what used to be a landfill.

The Raleigh area landfill has a new life now, as a park.

The dogs she photographs there are still waiting for one.

They all come from the Wake County Animal Center, where, after being abandoned or surrendered, they’ve been living anywhere from a couple of weeks to more than a year.

The park, located atop a 470-foot peak formed from 20 year’s worth of Raleigh’s trash, serves as a scenic backdrop, but also, for Johnstone,  as a metaphor.

Johnstone has photographed 66 “landfill dogs” so far — either on her climb up or atop the hill, according to a column in the Raleigh  News & Observer.

Shot at what’s now one of the highest points in Wake County, the pictures of throwaway dogs playing atop a hill made from other things people threw away are sometimes haunting, sometimes hopeful, sometimes a little of both.

Some of the dogs she photographed have found homes right away; others remained at the animal shelter. Five have died.

johsntone2Johnstone, 40, has degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and she’s on a yearlong sabbatical from Meredith.

Johnstone has photographed shelter dogs before. While she declined to name the city, one project she was involved in photographed animals before, during and after euthanasia.

She said the idea for the current project came from Wake County’s former environmental director, who envisioned dozens of dogs at the park.

Instead Johnstone brings them there one at a time, and doesn’t remove their leashes (except later with Photoshop).

Landfill Dogs, according to its website, is a project with three overlapping components: fine art photographs, adoption promotions, and environmental advocacy.

The project  was made possible by a year-long sabbatical granted by Meredith College’s Environmental Sustainability Initiative, and with cooperation from the staff and volunteers at Wake County Animal Center.

(Top photo by Shannon Johnstone; bottom photo by Corey Lowenstein / News & Observer)

 

State official’s dog finds missing swimmer

josieA state official’s golden retriever found the body of an East Carolina University student who drowned along the North Carolina coast over the weekend.

Michael Peeler, the deputy for administration in the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, was walking his dog Josie along the beach at Pine Knoll Shores on Sunday evening when the dog ran out into the surf. He called her back, put her on the leash and they continued walking. On the way back, Josie went into the water again at the same spot.

That’s when Peeler saw the body of Braxton Horton, 19, who rescuers had been looking for since Saturday when he was dragged out into the ocean by rip currents while swimming with friends.

“It was less than knee-deep” Peeler told the Raleigh News & Observer. He waded in, pulled the body ashore and called 911. Even after Horton’s body was taken away, Josie remained upset and was pulling at her leash, said Peeler’s wife, Karen.

“She was very agitated the remainder of the evening and kept pulling to go back toward the beach, even after they were already home,” she said.

Horton, a 2012 graduate of Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, had been working at Camp Seagull, a summer camp for boys in Arapahoe, when he and others from the camp went to Atlantic Beach on Saturday.

After he went missing, rescue and recovery crews from Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach and Atlantic Beach police departments conducted a four-hour search in the water before suspending the operation due to nightfall.

Horton had just finished his first year at ECU, where he was majoring in biology. His family said he wanted to be a physician’s assistant.

(Photo by Michael Keeler; from the Raleigh News & Observer)

Does N.C. legislature have a new top dog?


There’s a rising star in the North Carolina legislature, and she has four legs.

A miniature Pomeranian named Diva comes to work every day at the General Assembly with her owners, Republican representative Nathan Ramsey and his wife, Robin Ramsey, a legislative assistant — and the fuzzy four-pound dog is said to be developing quite a following.

The Ramseys, who live on a farm in Fairview during the off-season, say they started bringing Diva to work in February, because they thought she’d be lonely staying at the condo they reside in while in Raleigh.

Since then, she’s shown herself to be a valuable asset, both a diplomat and a crowd-drawer.

“… In a short time, the taffy-colored rescue pup has arguably become the most chased after creature at the legislative building. Walk in on any given day and you’ll see a steady stream of bipartisan visitors knocking on the Ramseys’ office door,” North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC (91.5 FM) reported.

“It certainly opened the door to more visitors, which is good,” said Robin Ramsey.

On building tours for visiting schoolchildren, Diva’s office has become a regular stop — and, we’d guess, one of the more exciting ones.

“I make it a point to stop by,” said Democrat Rick Glazier of Fayetteville. “You can’t leave after playing with Diva and talking to the Ramseys unhappy or in a bad mood, and that is not always true around here.”

Ramsey, a former county commissioner, says Diva helps breaks the ice and cut through frosty exteriors. And he suspects she has helped him garner support for at least a couple of measures he has introduced.

“A lot of this is about relationships, and really, unless you’re a seat-mate with someone, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to reach across the aisle,” he said. “You don’t develop relationships by sitting in a committee meeting. You have to find out about other people’s lives and families and get to know them in more depth.”

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis recently stopped by Ramsey’s office with his boxer, Ike. A spokesman for the speaker reported the get-together was “like many meetings in this building — more sniffing around than anything else.”

Back home on the family dairy farm, Diva likes to spend her time circling the baby calf pen.

She likes to round things up, Ramsey says, and those skills seem to have translated from barnyard to state house.

(Photo by Jessica Jones / WUNC)

Home is where the Hyatt is

 

Yesterday, I went searching for a piece of my past and found Hilton and Hyatt instead.

The house where I spent my seventeenth year – not quite 40 years ago – is gone, erased without a trace and replaced by a Hyatt Place hotel with, for your pleasure and convenience, Starbucks coffee and ample parking.

One purpose of my continuing journey across America, with my dog Ace, is to revisit some places of my past – both those I have recollections of and those whose memories, like some dog’s used-up bone, are buried in my head and difficult to locate without help.

On this trip, we’ve tried to dig some of them up. The triggers, we’ve found, can be a road once traveled, a scent once smelled, a song once heard,  or a human reconnection, be it with childhood friends, or college buddies.

Passing through Raleigh, I felt the need to visit the last house I lived in, before going off to college in nearby Chapel Hill — or at least the place where it once stood.

It was on Wake Forest Road, just a block or two off the beltline (I-440), once a sparsely populated stretch that ran from the town of Wake Forest into downtown Raleigh, lined, back then, by lots of woods and homes spread far apart.

Now, as it nears the beltline, Wake Forest Road is a lot less foresty. It’s Anyexit, USA, with a Denny’s, a Day’s Inn, a Marriott, a Hilton Inn and, on the property where I once lived and roamed, a Hyatt Place. Once nearly rural, it’s now upscale suburban — an area where weary travelers can get a tasty meal and a decent room exactly like those they got in the previous town and will get in the next one.

But 40 years ago, I can tell you, that same swath of land, now mostly paved over with parking lots, had character. Man, did it have character. Read more »

PETA’s attempt to spoil Thanksgiving dinner

Here’s an ad by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that won’t be airing during today’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

PETA had sought to have the ad aired during the parade at NBC affilliates in Raleigh, N.C., Columbia, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and Little Rock, Ark.  But they all rejected it, according to PETA spokesman Michael Lyubinsky.

The commercial depicts a young girl saying grace at Thanksgiving, giving thanks for “the turkey farms where they pack them into dark, tiny little sheds for their whole lives.” It encourages viewers to “go vegan.”

Brad Moses, general manager of Raleigh’s WNCN, said he decided to ban the ad in Raleigh and Savannah because it’s not appropriate for the spirit of the parade, the Associated Press reported.

My hero: Fat Georgia dog drops 100 pounds

Meet my new hero — Raleigh, the dog. I’m thinking of taping his picture to my refrigerator.

Raleigh, through diet and exercise — and we all know that, unfortunately, is what it takes — dropped 100 pounds in just over three years.

Raleigh weighed 60 pounds when owners Jane and Jay Whitehead of Oconee County adopted the then one-year-old mixed breed at a Gwinnett County animal shelter about six years ago.

But, as the Athens Banner-Herald points out in a lovely story about Raleigh’s weight battle, he just kept growing – sideways.

By February 2006, Raleigh was a Goodyear blimp on legs, ballooning to 187 pounds.

The Whiteheads tried cutting back on Raleigh’s food, and took him to their vet, who found no disorder. Other than his weight, he was perfectly healthy.

He couldn’t walk more than a few steps at a time before he flopped over on his side, and it would take three people to get him up again, his owners said.

“It just kind of equates to people you see on TV that are so obese they can’t get out of bed. That’s what he was,” said Jane Whitehead, the chief financial officer for a Gwinnett County company. “You just don’t know what to do. He had no quality of life, but nothing seemed to help.”

In late 2005, the Whiteheads’ vet referred them to Sherry Sanderson, a professor in the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of physiology and pharmacology who was beginning a study on a new weight-loss drug for dogs.”

Raleigh turned out to be ineligible for the study, but Sanderson remained interested in his case, and suggested the Whiteheads began feeding Raleigh a specially formulated dog food that is low in calories but has the nutrients dog need. It was was provided free by the Nestle Purina PetCare Co., which also helped pay for the rest of Raleigh’s therapy.

That was the other problem. Raleigh was too far gone for normal dog exercise, but Sanderson asked one of her students to set up three-times-a week sessions on an underwater treadmill in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Small Animal Hospital. The treadmill, most often used to rehabilitate dogs after surgery, allows dogs to move their legs without putting much weight on their joints.

The treadmill and new diet worked for Raleigh, who began shedding pounds. In a few weeks, he was able to walk short distances on his own.

By January 2007, Raleigh had slimmed down to 116 pounds, and by last April, he was down to 89. His owners are aiming for a goal weight of 70 to 80 pounds.

“After seeing what he did, I don’t think there’s any case that’s truly hopeless,” Sanderson said. “I hope he can be a motivator for others.”