Chatham County Line - Where all voices are heard

February 2019

Randy Voller takes the helm as Chatham County Line celebrates 20 years in print
By Julian Sereno

In January 1999, Chatham Crossroads published its initial issue, its printed pages first seeing the light of day. In February 2019, Randy Voller acquired ownership of Chatham County Line, the paper Chatham Crossroads morphed into, and became its publisher.

Matt Case, a former N&O reporter who covered Chatham County, founded Chatham Crossroads. He saw Chatham at a crossroads: forest and farmland under threat by developers (Briar Chapel), traditional industries such as textiles and furniture, shutting down, a newly arrived and growing Latino population, a vibrant local culture and arts scene. Sound familiar?

I arrived on the scene in 2001 when they hired me to be editor. The paper, which had been published five times a year, had achieved non-profit status, the coveted 501(3) C. That enabled them to pay me with a Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation grant. After I was hired, Matt moved on. I had a blast. It was the most fun I had at work since I edited the features section of the daily Durham Sun, an evening paper, in the late ‘80s. But the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation grant was not renewed, the Board of Directors other fundraising endeavors fizzled and it voted itself out of existence and shut down the paper.

I asked if they would mind if I tried to make a go of it by selling ads. They gave me their OK with the stipulation that, on account of how their bylaws were written, I would need to change the name. Chatham County Line published its first issue December 2002. Kelly Lojk, the designer at the time, donated the design.

We continued at five issues a year until 2006, when we doubled it to 10 -- a monthly with combined summer (July/August) and winter (December/January) issues.

The newspaper business changed dramatically since 2002. The great recession of 2008 killed the major metropolitan dailies when its advertising base evaporated. Real estate and autos ads dried up, and Classifieds migrated to Craig's List. Papers started going belly up. The model for dailies had been that 80 percent of their revenue came from ads, and only 20 percent from subscriptions and news rack sales. It was no longer sustainable.

Around here, The Chapel Hill News, the Village Advocate, the Carrboro Citizen, Southern Neighbor and more all bit the dust. The national dailies thrive only because of the largesse of oligarchs Jeff Bezos for The Washington Post and Carlos Slim for The New York Times.

Chatham County Line managed to survive lean times because of the commitment of the Chatham community. Local folks wrote eloquently and prolifically about the issues that awake their passions. Businesses continued to buy ads. That support sustained the paper.

No one supported Chatham County Line more than Randy Voller. He and his wife Lesley Landis have contributed articles and bought ads for at least a dozen years. Randy even ordered extra papers that he filled with insertions and distributed himself.

A few years ago he expressed an interest in acquiring the paper. This meant that the paper would go on even after I aged out of it. Last year we hashed out the terms. A year ago, Randy started distributing the paper. He emphasized direct mail over micro-deliveries. In September he took over advertising, and in October he launched his vision: A full-color newspaper with high-quality paper. October had a print run of 31,000, of which more than 30,000 were direct-mailed. The goal for the regular print run is about 10,000; but look for special issues.

Chatham County Line is a living being that has been supported and sustained by the Chatham community. I urge you to continue your support. To those who have traditionally advertised in this paper, please continue to advertise. The ads cost more but they are beautiful in color and reach many many more readers.

I'll remain editor for at least two years, longer if I am still useful. I am profoundly thankful that Randy Voller has taken the torch and kept its flame bright. I will support him in every way I can. We need a place "Where All Voices Are Heard". Now and 20 years hence.

Julian Sereno is the editor and former publisher of Chatham County Line.

In a Manner of Speaking
by Gaines Steer

I'm worried about who is not reading this news column. Satire is not much appreciated in the South; Actually, mine is not widely understood North, South, East or West. I can prove it: one time I newspaper-wrote about the "lack of grits" in a certain locale and folks wrote letters to the Editor to complain… Get the picture?

So I have a new idea: I'm gonna give 25 cents to anyone who stops me on the street and claims that they read this column. You must reference the correct date to qualify, of course. Kudos are anticipated.

Another unorthodox technique that I'm experimenting with is to quote the Bible, Shakespeare and Fox News (on occasion) in my column. Everybody knows that Chatham is part of the "Bible belt" and as long as I'm nice-about-it and legitimately ignorant, I can probably get away with this and even benefit mankind (plus women), as well as improving my literacy level, so-to-speak. In full disclosure, I own five Bibles and most of them are marked- up and two are gifts from my Mama. I do not lie.

So this is my plan: In order to be scripturally and fundamentally objective, I'm gonna randomly select a verse from the Old Testament and take my chances on what it has to offer us. OK? Surely no one who watches that 24 hour TV channel with multi-preachers-galore "thing" will be offended. (However, maybe the rest-of-you are at some risk…).


Speaking for the Trees: Chatham Park can do better
by Gary Simpson

If trees could talk they would tell us the amazing story of the critical part they have played in creating the diverse and livable biosphere that we too often take for granted. Appearing on earth approximately 70 million years ago, trees and forests prepared the way for the climate that we now enjoy. As they increased in numbers, trees removed excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, causing temperatures to drop and the planet's climate to become similar to our modern world.

If trees could talk they would teach us that we owe our very existence to them. Without them we wouldn't be here. And without them in abundance, life will cease to exist. You can bet your bottom dollar that they would urge us to partner with them first and foremost in order to conserve and defend the priceless biosphere that humanity shares with all the flora and fauna that call Earth our common home.

But it is because trees, forests and woodlands cannot talk that critical thinking people who understand and appreciate their intrinsic value in preserving life must stand up and speak out on their behalf to protect and preserve them in the face of human folly. It is such folly as exhibited in Chatham Park Investors' (CPI) woefully inadequate tree protection revision that rallied environmental protection groups and a bevy of concerned citizens to "circle the wagons" around the Chatham County Courthouse the afternoon of February 15.


Letters to the Editor

I am a 10th grade student at Woods Charter School. I am writing to voice my concerns about government action on Climate Change. As many people know, Climate Change is the increase of temperatures across the globe, due to the greenhouse effect, which is caused by burning fossil fuels to produce energy. The effects of Climate Change will include long periods of drought, frequent wildfires, and increase in the number, duration, and intensity of tropical storms. The way to prevent this is by lowering fossil fuel usage and switching to renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal energy.


I would like to point out a pressing modern issue that many people might not be aware of: political polarization. Polarization is a major issue in North Carolina because we live in a swing state. Our representatives hold a variety of opinions and that is good for us; it means we will probably have more solutions to important problems. However, it also means we are a target of polarizing political content on social media, polarizing speech and corruption. There are a few different factors contributing to the increasing division of our population.


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Page 1 - Randy Voller takes the helm as Chatham County Line celebrates 20 years in print * Is there a cure for Cary? * The Monument, Part 3: The Event - Page 2 - Use your superpower -relationships- to help students * CARY (cont. from page 1) * CORA's 9th Empty Bowls Charitable Fundraiser - Page 3 - Psychics and medical science - Page 4 - The canine and equine dynamic * What's It worth? - Page 5 - Charles ("Chuck") Lee Lazarus, trumpeter - Page 6 - NC Arts Incubator gearing up for an exciting new year * Opinion - Page 7 - Opinion - Page 8 - Chatham Comunidad bilingual news - "No te preocupes: todo saldrá bien"

Donate to help local ICE detainees

Some of us may be reeling from the stories of family separation which have resulted from the recent ICE raids in which over 200 people were detained in North Carolina. Many of those detained are hardworking productive members of their community with families to support and children working to succeed in our schools. Those arrested are sent to detention in Georgia, making family contact nearly impossible for most.

The good news is that many communities have mobilized to do what they can to support their neighbors. El Centro Hispano is handling a fundraiser for Durham, Chatham, Lee, Randolph, and Wake counties. Funds collected go toward legal expenses and toward support of families left behind.

For further information see of Durham or of Siler City.

Advocate for Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid Expansion Advocacy Day on February 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the NC Museum of History, 5 East Edenton Street in Raleigh, is sponsored by a coalition of advocacy organizations including and Health Action NC.

North Carolinians from the mountains to the sea will join together in Raleigh to tell our lawmakers that we want to close the health insurance coverage gap by expanding Medicaid during this legislative session. We would love for you to join us!

The day will begin with an advocacy training and policy education session featuring some great speakers, including DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen as our keynote. A press conference will follow the morning session, and we encourage everyone to make appointments to meet with their state representatives and state senators in the NC General Assembly in the afternoon!

Check out Chatham Parks & Recreation Updates

"We have a lot of news on several fronts to report from Chatham County Parks & Recreation," according Tracy Burnett, who leads the department. "This is quite a busy time with facility enhancements underway, a master plan almost finished and several new programs introduced for various ages."

Burnett said that the final version of the long-range Comprehensive Master Plan for Parks, Recreation, Greenways and Blueways (waterways) will be presented to the Board of Commissioners on February 18. "We are so thankful for all the residents who took the time to provide input throughout the nearly year-long planning process. The resulting plan will be our roadmap for the next few years."

As to facilities, Burnett said that the construction of new facilities at the Park at Briar Chapel is underway thanks to a state grant from Park and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF). "We expect the playground to be finished late spring and the shelter completed early summer. We then will begin construction of a walking trail throughout the park this summer.

Burnett said that department is pursuing grant funding for Southwest Park, located near Chatham Central High School, which would provide space for outdoor programs. "Stay tuned for more details on this."

Several new instructional programs have been announced. For young people, they have added Intro to Art by Ginny classes for arts classes (grades 1 to 6), Jump Rope by JumPro (ages 6 to 14), and youth volleyball clinics (ages 9 to 14). The volleyball clinics will be offered at Horton Middle School and Chatham Central High School. A new adult series is Dance2Fit with Marcie. Most of the new classes are offered starting early March and most have limited slots.

Burnett said that several athletic programs are open for spring enrollment, including t-ball, youth softball, youth track and field, adult basketball and adult co-ed softball. More details on programs can be found at Look for the link at the top of the page for the Spring 2019 Flyer.

People can register online at or stop by the Parks & Recreation Office at 964 East St., Suite 100, Pittsboro. Note that this is a NEW location in the space previously occupied by the YMCA.

-- Debra Henzey
Chatham County Government


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