As Sept. 5 careened into Sept. 6 during the North Carolina hurricane summer of 1996, the wind was at locomotive-level decibels outside my father-in-law's home just outside the Swansboro town limits. Tree limbs were snapping like a super-conducting popcorn popper in the back yard. Many limbs skittered across the roof of the house. Rain fell … Continue reading Covering hurricanes has changed but there is still little actual reporting without power
When I worked for a newspaper on the North Carolina coast we covered lot of hurricanes, some that ever made landfall at all. We reported about the approach of major storms so people in the Onslow, Carteret and Pender county areas would be well prepared should the storm make landfall. Some of that early storm … Continue reading North Carolina underwater, again
How old are the schools in Alamance County? Let's start with very, very old and work from there. In fact, at least one is far older than most would believe and the others aren't all that far behind. Think pre-World War I, old. That's old. The last high school was built here 48 years ago. … Continue reading How old are schools in Alamance County?
This would have to be among the last columns I produced in my long newspaper career and it tells the sad and oddly inspiring story of one of the best athletes in Alamance County history whose life was altered by cruel fate. I wrote this on the occasion of the death of Bill Gentry in … Continue reading From the archive: Remembering the tragedy and miracle of Bill Gentry
About six or so years ago -- back when my spouse, the lovely and talented Roselee Papandrea, first started working at Elon University -- I began to notice something that hadn't occurred to me before. Every building on the Elon campus looks like, or very much like, it has been there for decades. Everything matches, … Continue reading New buildings appear like magic at Elon
The toppling of the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Monday night was entirely predictable and equally avoidable. It happened because political extremism in our nation has left common sense to suffocate in the dirt -- buried alive -- fueling widespread hopelessness and rage. I fear … Continue reading Silencing Sam
High school football in North Carolina starts tonight -- that's Friday Aug. 17, 2018 (for historical purposes). A dozen or so teams in the area in and around Alamance County will take the field. Some will do so against traditional rivals. Williams travels across Burlington to face Cummings in a game that once ended the … Continue reading Are the days numbered for football?
This is a column I wrote nearly five years ago -- February 2013 -- about my youth football days -- fun but tough -- and what I believed then and now to be the future for American football. It probably doesn't have one in its current form. A few high school teams in North Carolina … Continue reading Growing up with football and growing concerned about football
Do a quick search on Google under the keywords Alamance 12. You'll find a few stories right away about what has become a notorious and politically charged (what isn't these days) case involving illegal voting in the county I call home. Most of the stories are from the local newspaper, the Burlington Times-News, where I … Continue reading The case of the Alamance 12
First published as a column in the Jacksonville Daily News in August of 1997. He was just about to turn nine. This, in and of itself, was no epic event. There would be bigger birthdays. And there were more important events going on in the world. But in the days before his birthday -- August … Continue reading The perfect birthday gift in the perfect summer of 1968