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Re: Duke Energy and coal ash; Google Fiber; vouchers

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Postcards from the edge...

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Re: Duke Energy and coal ash

The INDY has drawn attention to the minimal reprimands of Duke Energy for its serious coal ash spill ("DENR covers its ash," "Rivers of ash," Feb. 19; "Canary in the coal ash," Feb. 26). It is extremely important that the public know that a huge industry like Duke Energy does not deserve babying and a slap on the hand when an issue like this arises.

The long-term costs of the spill's clean-up can reach up to millions of dollars; especially if full drinking water restoration is in the plan. While the Department of Environment and Natural Resources deflected any punches of environmental suits toward Duke Energy, minimal fines were levied after the energy company's mere spill of 30,000+ tons of toxic coal ash into drinking water for thousands of Americans.

Governor McCrory is especially connected to the stress of the situation because he has had Duke Energy in his "family" for a long time. Funny how Duke Energy can afford to put more than a million dollars toward the governor's early office campaigning but is being frugal about providing safer and cleaner places for storing coal ash. They never thought to regularly update and check the safety strength of the ponds but decided to mainly channel funds into lobbying.

I encourage (these) writers to continue their publications on this issue. It is extremely important for the public to see the numbers associated with the spill. The "By the Numbers" box in Ball's article was easy to read and laid out the essentials of the issue. This will encourage the public to take action or support the environmental groups that will file suits in defense of the health, safety and livelihood's of American people and land.

Duke Energy must take full responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof.

Madeline Baker, Chapel Hill


Re: Google Fiber

Google recently announced that Cary is one of several Triangle towns and cities being considered for future installation of its fiber optic network ("The need for speed," Feb. 26). This announcement generated a tremendous response from our citizens, including the demand that we actively pursue this opportunity and questions about the effect it will have on our participation in the region's North Carolina Next Generation Network project.

The Cary Town Council and town staff are all very excited about Google's announcement and we're doing all we can to bring fiber to Cary. In 2010, Cary joined more than 1,000 communities across the country in applying to be among the first to test Google's new service; although that honor went to Kansas City, we are fortunate to be considered now as the company adds 34 new locations to its expansion plan. Citizens can trust that we will fully participate in Google's selection process and provide them with the information they need in a timely manner. This evaluation is extensive and will include analyzing everything from Cary's topography to our permitting process; Google is hoping to choose which locations will receive fiber by the end of the year. Town staff is prepared to meet the challenge and make it easy for Google to choose Cary.

I also want to make it clear that the Town is still committed to the NC Next Generation Network initiative, referred to in the past as GIG U. In fact, Google's announcement is in line with the work we've been doing as a member of the NCNGN project to address our community's need for faster Internet speeds at competitive prices. This regional effort, which includes five other Triangle municipalities and three universities, will continue to encourage companies to provide next generation broadband service at gigabit Internet speeds, which are 100 times faster than today's basic speeds. Currently, the NCNGN steering committee is reviewing proposals for a regional network that would provide this ultra-fast service.

In Cary, we value innovation, and we're committed to bringing the best services and economic development opportunities to our community. Citizens can count on their Town Council and Town staff to make decisions that keep Cary one of the best places in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.

Harold Weinbrecht, Cary

The writer is the mayor of Cary.


Re: vouchers

Thank you for Aaron Lake Smith's illuminating story on who is behind the school voucher push in N.C. ("Billion dollar babies," Feb. 26). This is a movement in favor of private interests whose long-term agenda is apparently to get public, accountable schools out of the education enterprise.

Contrary to proponents' rhetoric about "choice," vouchers serve narrow, non-diverse groups of students, while the schools are often managed by for-profit companies, and do not provide the nutritional, health and supportive services that are so important to children's education. With only minimal regulation, few standards to meet and token reporting requirements, families, the public and lawmakers have no way of knowing what is happening to children's education or to the tax dollars that finance it.

I hope the INDY will continue to follow this story.

Nancy Milio, Chapel Hill

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