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1.31.2007 |

Here is what happens when someone forgets to rake around the very flammable pine tree.

You can hear the sap in the tree boiling as the fire goes all around it. It's really a little scary. Trees like this one and dead trees can be a worry when mopping up along the fire line. If a piece of tree falls or rolls across the line, it can start a fire in the middle of the night. There will be three rangers spotting the fire overnight to make sure nothing like that happens. They'll be checking on the fire all night long. It's a job that when it's boring, it's REALLY boring -- but when it get's interesting, it can get interesting quick.


The secret plan...

The burn boss has mapped out the entire burn and every area that certain crews are responsible for. Some crews are faster than others, but all of it is going on without a hitch. There have been two small spot overs but they've taken care of them. Only about 1/3 of an acre has been burned by the unintended spot overs. The wind has stayed consistent and other than a little coughing the smoke hasn't been bad at all.


Ok thats a lot of fire. Even though its cold outside the fire is too strong and hot to get close to.

The first part of the day I was shivering and my hands were like ice. Up on the mountain, it's a lot warmer. Everyone is pink and chapped because of the intense heat AND the cold. Also, most everyone has big black smudges on their jumpsuits and faces. There's a lot of traffic on the radio. Everyone keeps up with everyon else's position to make sure no one gets in the midst of a fire line. There a trucks with water tanks at the top, middle and base of the mountain to make sure any problems can be taken care of quickly.


Helping the fire along by torching the edges.


Scary to be this close...

It pretty much goes against every instinct to be this close to fire. On our way up the mountain, there is fire and smoke on either side of the vehicle. I trust the crews to keep everyone safe but I don't trust the fire. Fire isn't known for being predictable, you know? But after a few minutes up on the trail, it's not as scary. In fact, after a while I'm standing nearer to the fire line casually chatting with crew members.


Firefighter or Blueberry?

You know in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Violet Beauregard starts turning into a blueberry? That's kind of what I feel like. These jumpsuits aren't made for girls...and certainly aren't made for girls that are 6 ft tall. But if it keeps me safe...I'll wear it. It's made out of Nomex which is a fire resistant material that's used for firefighting gear and as insulation in big engines and machines. Hopefully, it doesn't all come in bright blue...


Where there is smoke there is fire!

Burn, baby. Burn. |

Well, all the numerous factors have fallen in place this morning and the Burn Boss along with his crew have decided go ahead with the prescribed burn. It'll likely be close to noon before media are allowed up close to the fire. I think it's because they'd like to see how the fire behaves for an hour or two before allowing inexperienced civilians on the mountain.

Rangers from Crowders Mountain, NC Forest Service guys, former Crowders' rangers and local firemen are around to make sure nothing goes too horribly wrong.

From my previous experience with these guys, I have no worries. Anyone working on a prescribed burn has had the training they need and Burn Bosses -- the ones in charge -- have had more training than you can even imagine. They have to know fire behavior, plant ecology, the burning capacity of certain woods, when to burn and how it will affect plant and animal population; not to mention a hefty knowledge of meteorology and how to organize a huge crew.

So, stay tuned and I'll have more coverage as it happens.
(If you hang in there, you'll even get to see me dressed in a Nomex fire resistant jumpsuit -- which is just as flattering as it sounds!)

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1.29.2007 |

Cleveland County Elementary Honors Chorus sings a the school board meeting.

1.26.2007 |


My Hero! 1.24.2007 |

I was watching a documentary last night--passive learning Eddie Izzard calls it; I dont know much about sharks. I know if you kiss them on the nose, it disarms them. Anyway, I was watching a documentary about Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

He was an engineer of epic proportions annnnnd I'll bet you've never heard of him. He built tunnels and bridges and railways and massive cargo ships. He built the first tunnel under a river and the first propeller-driven ocean-going iron ship. He also created something called an atmospheric railway in which trains run on air, but rats eating leather or something like that thwarted the whole system. (Sounds like a death metal band. Put your hands together and make some noise for RATS EATING LEATHER!!)

He smoked 40 cigars a day. He slept four hours a night. He could draw a perfect circle and the screw propeller he designed and built was found to be only five percent less efficient than a computer-designed model.

As far as heroes go, he's one of them. But the man that really has my heart in Chuck Yeager.

I'm a little upset that my friend Amanda, by all accounts a very bright and well-educated college graduate, had no clue why Chuck Yeager is famous. Never even heard of him!!

We were talking about heroes and idols of our adolescence. My friend Kim identified and idolized with Raggedy Ann, and no, I don't know why. Amanda was contemplating a childhood hero when I fessed up that my hero was Chuck Yeager. I smiled, waiting for some sign of recognition and I was greeted with blank stares.

So, allow me to school you...Chuck Yeager is an aviation god. As an Air Force test pilot, he was the first man to break the sound barrier. He flew the Bell X-1, which he dubbed "Glamorous Glennis" after his wife. (A woman I am insanely jealous of...)

October 14, 1947, he flew Mach 1 at about 45,000 feet. He almost got scrubbed from the flight because two days before the flight he broke some ribs while horseback riding. To keep it 'hush-hush' he was treated by the local veterinarian. He was in so much pain the day of the flight he had to use a broom handle to seal the aircraft's hatch.

He was the first to fly a MIG 15 (the original pilot had defected from his native South Korea.) Before any of the above however, he was famous for being the first American pilot to attain the title "ace in a day" as he had shot down 5 enemy planes in one mission. Later on in the war, he even won a dogfight with a German jet fighter!!

Go rent "The Right Stuff."

1.15.2007 |

MLK service at GWU


1.10.2007 |

Shrinkdown temptation at CCS technology showcase.

Shrinkdown Kick-off! 1.08.2007 |

The lines at the ShrinkDown registration were moving fairly quick around 2 this afternoon.


Reception for Bruce Boyles...

Celebrating Life, the Chitty Funeral 1.07.2007 |

‘Only through Christ alone can we stand through this day’
Cherish Wilson - Jan. 6, 2007

SHELBY — As Haley Chitty arrived at the burial of her parents and two brothers, a mass of umbrellas shifted, allowing the 25-year-old woman and the friends and family who surrounded her to pass through.
Even as rain soaked the more than 150 people huddled in front of four matching caskets, a day-long journey began which was as much a celebration as a time of sorrow.
It started at 11 a.m. at Sunset Cemetery.
The family’s caskets were in a row; Jay and Taylor flanked Jim and Kay on either side. The parents’ caskets were raised slightly higher than their children’s. All four died in a plane crash in Charlotte on New Year’s Eve.
A tennis racket surrounded by bright yellow flowers stood in front of Taylor’s casket.
After reciting John 3:16, First Baptist Church Pastor Tony Tench reassured those present that Jim, Kay, Jay, and Taylor had not perished but were now enjoying an everlasting life. The burial service lasted less than 30 minutes.
Friday afternoon at 2, a celebration of life service was held at First Baptist Church.The church overflowed as both the main sanctuary and Webb Chapel held capacity crowds. Finding a parking place in uptown Shelby was nearly impossible.
Colleagues and friends of both Jim and Kay, friends and schoolmates of Jay and Taylor, neighbors and strangers simply wishing to pay their respects heard a lively arrangement of hymns.Nothing mournful, this music was filled was both praise and promise.Tench eulogized the Chittys and their influence on the lives of others and in their own family.
“Only through Christ alone can we stand through this day,” Tench said.

Friends and family celebrate lives of father, mother and sons

Remembering Jim
Tench spoke of Proverbs 17 calling Jim Chitty a cheerful heart and truly good medicine.The Chitty’s neighbor, David Miller, told Tench of Jim’s cheerful personality.
“The most recent conversation anyone had with Jim likely included laughter,” Miller said. Remembered and loved for his levity and quickness to laugh, Jim was remembered as well as a businessman, a servant of the community, and an avid University of North Carolina fan. His greatest priority, Tench said, was his family.
“He was a rock for me,” daughter Haley Chitty said.

Remembering Kay
A gracious servant, Kay was remembered as a woman quick to form relationships and as a reflection of her father, Carlos Young.
During her time as the 5th grade Sunday school teacher, Jerry Dycus said Kay had a gift for relating to children and when teaching “she brought God down from the skies and into their lives.”
Tench said Haley spoke of her mother as someone who was content never to take credit for anything and an aunt interjected, “You kids were her credit.”

Remembering Jay
“He lived as a brother,” Tench said.
Closely watched by his younger brother, Taylor, Jay served as an amazing role model, Tench said.
“Jay had a great responsibility,” Haley said. “Because Taylor went wherever Jay was going.”
Not only a brother to Haley and Taylor, Jay was brother to his friends and influenced nearly everyone he met.
“There has been little in my life that Jay was not a part of. Jay has a part of all my memories,” said friend and fellow tennis player Alex Pearson. “I wanted to be around Jay because I wanted to be like Jay.”

Remembering Taylor
Steve Young, Taylor’s uncle, called the boy “a little prince.”
“The whole world before him and such ability and such promise,” Young said.
A Carolina fan, like his parent and siblings before him, Taylor’s friend described Taylor’s devotion to the Tar Heels in a rather succinct way, “He loved Carolina and he hated Duke.”
Tench cited the gathering of friends at Shelby Middle School and the uptown candlelight vigil as evidence of Taylor’s rich friendships.
“He had already made a name for himself,” Tench said.

Honorary Pallbearers
Woody Kennedy Sunday School Class along with David Miller, Tripp Mabry, Harry Blanton, Jimmy Godwin, Odell Barnes, Steve Young and Bill Beam

Dot Hicks Sunday School Class

Davidson College Men’s Tennis Team along with Jay’s Davidson roommates Wilson McCrory, Keith Farrow and Carson Sanders and Shelby friends Jack Blalock, Alex Pearson, Randell Bowen, Alex Jimachello, Glenn Young, William Noblitt, Tripp Beam, David Rybnicek and cousins Will Beam and Franklin McKinney

The youth group of First Baptist Church, BSA Troop 100, Tom Kelly, Russell Vanzomeran and cousin Stevie Young

Bryan Young, Jeri Ledford, Andy Roby and Jeff Renn
- To God Be the Glory,
- Praise to the Lord Almighty,
- Blessed Be Your Name,
- How Great is Our God,
- How Great Thou Art,
- In Christ Alone
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness

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The Chitty Burial 1.05.2007 |

Throughout the day, I'll be covering the Chitty's final arrangements. At 11 a.m. I attended the burial of Jim, Kay, Jay and Taylor Chitty at Sunset Cemetery.
The most striking thing to me was the way the caskets had been arranged. Jim and Kay's were flanked on either side by their son's caskets. It was a very poignant placement -- hinting at the cohesive and loving nature of the Chitty family.
The mourners present were a sea of umbrellas. I feel it's very satisfying when the weather reflects the mood of an occasion, and the rainfall and gray sky did just that.
After the burial, the exit procession of cars was lengthy -- practically every parking space in the area was taken. It was a great show of respect and support for the Chitty family during a truly difficult time.

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Chitty burial |

Much of Sunset Cemetery was full of cars.