Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Poodles at the Park Video! - Rock Ridge Park


Rock Ridge Park is featured in this wonderful video produced by the talented videographers of Canine Horizon Productions.  They and their beautiful highly trained poodle actors visit the park almost daily and I was absolutely thrilled that they were willing to produce this awesome movie out of love for their park.  Creative folks like this truly make Pittsboro a great place to live.  See more of their videos on their YouTube channel.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The "Best Map of the US"

The story of the Dave Imus Map is absolutely inspiring to this geographer and appreciator of fine craftsmanship.  Imus worked on this labor of love seven days a week for two years and when finished he won the most prestigious award in the cartographic realm. This and fifty cents couldn't buy him a coffee at Starbucks. It took an article in Slate to launch the map into the zeitgeist and commercial success snowballed from there.  I found this excerpt just showing North Carolina and enhanced it a bit by adding a Pittsboro label, it's original exclusion being perhaps the map's sole flaw.     

Dave Imus Map with unofficial Pittsboro update

The map is a work of art, worthy of purchase and careful study.  The articles linked above are well worth the quick reads.  If you're a lover of maps, you might also find ODT Maps fascinating. They have several world maps which challenge our usual perceptions of our planet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pittsboro based NC Eagles

I always love discovering the great things that people are doing in our community. Recently Jason Thomas contacted me about using the McClenahan Street Park basketball courts to host a small tournament.  Through our conversation I came to learn about the organization he founded called the North Carolina Eagles. This is an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team composed of kids from the Pittsboro area.

Photo by Madison Roberts

I think that one of the coolest things about the league is that it gives the players an opportunity to travel to other parts of the nation to play in tournaments and experience other cities first hand.  Parks and recreational opportunities create lasting positive impacts on individuals, our community, and our society at large.  The folks associated with this team certainly affirm this sentiment in an article I've reprinted in its entirety by Emily Brooks with the Northwood Omniscient.  Text follows:

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“We were laughed at. People said that there wasn’t a chance that we would ever make it and here we are today, five years down the road, and now we’re at a spot where these kids will be able to go to [big showcases],” said Jason Thomas, head coach of a local AAU basketball team, the North Carolina Eagles.

The Eagles are composed of a group of eighth and ninth grade students from the Pittsboro/Chapel Hill area, including seven Northwood freshmen. Those include Ti Pinnix, Talik Farrar, Jalen Smith, Dalton Thomas, Devin Lassiter, Justus Thompson and Daquan Brooks.

In 2008, Jason Thomas had this idea to create a team that could help local kids develop into not only better basketball players, but better citizens.

“There are a lot of single parents around here that don’t have the opportunity to send their kids off to different cities and areas to play a game they love because of money,” said Thomas. “So my wife and I wanted to start an organization that would be able to help these kids that couldn’t do those things.”

Thomas noted that before this team, there were a couple of players who had been suspended multiple times and had not been performing to their true potential in the classroom. After being on the Eagles for five years, these students are now excelling in the classroom, and all seven of the players from Northwood said they strive to play in college.

“If it weren’t for the Eagles, I probably wouldn’t be in school. I probably would be making bad grades and doing bad stuff,” said Lassiter.

Pinnix, who started for Northwood’s varsity team this past season, shared a similar view.
“If it weren’t for the Eagles, there is no telling where I would be or what I would be doing,” said Pinnix.

The Eagles have enjoyed a Cinderella run over the past years. After only five years together, the team is extremely accomplished, winning the USSSA Division III national championship in 2010. “They were 12 years old, and we were a team that everybody laughed at because we came from Chatham County and didn’t have the talent to go up against these main teams. We took a group of guys [to Greensboro] that were determined to show the world that they are something to believe in, and we won that national championship and it was huge,” said Thomas. “We played against top-ranked teams and we won it.”

Farrar shared similar views as Thomas and emphasized how big this win was for the Eagles. “It was a good feeling because we worked hard all season,” said Farrar. “Throughout the season we were pushing towards a national championship and once we got there, we fought for it and we did what we had to do.”

But according to Thomas, the purpose of the team is not just to improve the boys’ basketball skills. “We understand that if you want to go somewhere with this sport, you have to have the grades, and you have to put forth the effort in the classroom,” said Thomas.

Dalton Thomas, the son of Jason Thomas, added another positive aspect of life with the Eagles. “It gives me something to look forward to on the weekends instead of just sitting around,” he said.

This season, which started earlier this month, brought about a major change. The Eagles have moved up to AAU Division I basketball and will be traveling to play in showcases in Detroit and Las Vegas. For several players, this will be their first time on a plane.

Not only are the players continuing to succeed, but they have formed a family-like bond.
“It’s basically like a big brotherhood. We don’t see each other as teammates, we see each other as brothers, on and off the court,” said Farrar.

Jason Thomas agreed with Farrar in the fact that he feels that this team is just like a family. “We teach family. A lot of kids are in gangs because they want to belong to something, and their gang now is the North Carolina Eagles. They are striving to be better,” said Jason Thomas. “I am really blessed, we work hard, we have to work hard to raise money, but we put everything we have into helping these kids.”

But Thomas feels that help extends beyond the court.
“It’s a lot more than just coaching,” he said. “That’s going to be my biggest reward, to watch these kids that people would think would never graduate high school, walk across that stage smiling, going to college somewhere.”

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Paul again:  Everyone loves a good sports underdog story.  This one is a great example of how a commitment to parks and recreation can have a profound impact on people's lives.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Charming History of Pittsboro Parks


Did you know that Pittsboro has a long and proud tradition serving as a desirable recreation destination?

Historic Resort Destination

Pittsboro was once a resort town, providing coastal residents a respite from the brutal heat and mosquitoes of the coast in a time before air conditioning.

“Moncure once served as the western most inland port in the state, linked all the way to the coast by steamships.  Those steamships often brought tourists from the coast escaping the heat and mosquitoes of summer. They often stayed in Pittsboro, which was a resort destination during this time.” - Source

Hunting Mecca 

"Nothing that falls a victim to the hunter's gun throughout the entire confines of North Carolina can compare with the Chatham rabbit." -- The Industrial News of Greensboro, quoted in the Chatham Record, November 22, 1906.

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Postcard Collection of the UNC Library System

That's right, during the early 1900’s Pittsboro and Chatham County were famous for their delectable and abundant Rabbits.  Hunting provided great sport and people traveled here from throughout the Southeast to partake of the famous Chatham Rabbit.  Many loved the area so much that they set down roots and became prominent members of the Pittsboro community. 

Will Sexton has done some great research on the topic, so be sure to visit his wonderful Chatham Rabbit Blog.   

Sports Teams

Most cotton mill villages in the late 1800s had company baseball teams.  The Bynum Mill Village, originally founded in 1872 and developed through the 1890s, was no exception.  

Bynum baseball team, printed in the Chatham Historical Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, August 1989, photograph courtesy of Sally Abernathy Fowler: http://chathamhistory.org/photogallery.html 

“When workers weren't in the mill they found time for well-deserved rest and recreation. Avalon had a competing baseball team--it was rare to find a cotton mill village in the South that didn't. The teams were company organized and competed against the teams of neighboring villages. For both the players and the villagers the games were big events. On Sunday afternoons workers cheered as their teams took the field. The winning team had bragging rights and stories to reiterate all week. For the company the ball teams helped boost employee morale. To this day, many textile mills still have their own ball teams.” -Source:- Ola Maie Foushee, from her 1977 book Avalon: A North Carolina Town of Joy and Tragedy  (Ola Maie happens to be my relation, though I just came across this quote serendipitously.  Your parks planner has roots in Pittsboro - Chapel Hill, too)

Community Get Togethers


The history and legacy of the Pittsboro Community House is long and interesting and deserves a future post of its own. But for now let me say that this depression era community center has played host to high school dances, wedding receptions, concerts and many other events in its 80 years. Like other WPA type projects, it was a public investment which continues to provide value to our society.  PBS Documentary on the Civilian Conservation Corps. Many of our state and national parks were established through this program.  

Preserving our Heritage, Culture & Tradition

Pittsboro has been a great place to play for a hundred years.  It still is.  And with new parks and programs, we're working to make it even better.  With our proximity to the Haw River, Jordan Lake, our beautiful rolling landscape and unique Pittsboro Parks, with support, Pittsboro stands poised to be a recreation destination once again.  



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Town Lake Park Gate Facelift


Before
The Town Lake Park Gate just got a facelift.  It's amazing what a little paint can do.  Add a little mobile sandblasting, primer, several layers of high quality paint and then you've a repair that should last a good while.

A good entrance can set the tone for the rest of the park, so a little attention here goes a long way.
After

Saturday, May 5, 2012

New Swing Seats at Kiwanis Park

New colorful swing seats have replaced the retired originals at Kiwanis Park.  They seem to be getting lots of use.  A handicap portalet has been added to the park as well.



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