Erin Zureick

Education, politics and observations from Sanford

Unemployment woes continue

The N.C. Employment Security Commission released its latest unemployment numbers today, and they aren’t pretty: Lee County unemployment rose to 10.9 percent in December.

Lee County’s November umemployment rate was 9.8 percent.

The county is outpacing other surrounding counties. Chatham County’s rate of 6.2 percent places it tied for third lowest in the state with Durham County.

Visit here for the full report.


January 30, 2009 Posted by | Business | , , | 2 Comments

Check us out on Twitter

The Sanford Herald is now posting its news updates, articles and information on Twitter. You can follow us at

We’ll connect you to any of the stories we publish, our blog posts and any other short news updates or community events that occur each day.

Don’t know what Twitter is? Here is a short introduction.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Sanford Herald, Social media | , , | Leave a comment

Some Wyeth reading for Sanford

Thought some of you out there in Wyeth land of Sanford might want to know some tidbits about what people across the country are saying about Pfizer‘s planned acquisition of the biotech pharmaceutical company.

The deal, which is worth about $68 billion, is the largest deal since the credit crisis took hold this fall. It is expected to aid Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, especially when its cholestorol-lowering drug Lipitor faces competition from generics in November 2011.

Here’s a rundown:

January 27, 2009 Posted by | Business, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

Pfizer in talks to buy Wyeth

UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): Wyeth employees were officially informed this morning, according to company spokesman Doug Petkus.
“No specific decision has yet been made regarding job reductions or facilities,” he told me.

UPDATE: Pfizer and Wyeth announced this morning that the deal will go through for $68 billion. Read the New York Times story here. Read the AP story on the Sanford Herald Web site here. No word yet on how this could impact Sanford.

Several media organizations are reporting that Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, is close to completing a purchase of pharmaceutical company Wyeth.

Wyeth has a large operation in Sanford and is one of Lee County’s largest private employers. The company has slashed about 200 jobs at its Sanford plant since April in an attempt to cuts its workforce by 6 percent worldwide in 2008.

It is not immediately clear how the acquisition would impact the Sanford plant. The company’s Sanford facility is used to make components of the vaccine Prevnar, which is used in infants and children to target a number of diseases. The drug was expected to bring in $2.8 billion in 2008.

Analysts have said that one benefit of the merger would be the cost savings provided by cutting areas where the companies duplicate activities. The deal is estimated to be $68 billion and would be worth $50.19 a share, according to media reports.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Business, Sanford | , , | Leave a comment

Lee Early College applications

Eighth-graders who live in Lee County can start applying for Lee Early College, the district’s school that lets high-schoolers graduate in four to five years with a high-school diploma, as well as an associate’s degree.

Applications are due Feb. 17, and can be downloaded here. Decisions are tentatively set to be made by April 1.

Some basic information about the school’s application process:

  • As part of the application process, the following information will be shared from current middle schools and will be submitted with applications to LEC:
  • Grades and attendance for the current year
  • Scholastic record
  • Student Services and Exceptional Educational records
  • 504 records
  • Discipline Profile
  • Attendance Profile
  • Test Profile

Also according to the application:
LEC participates in a lottery system.  Once your student has been approved through the application process and completed the interview, accepted names will be placed in the lottery.  Students may only enter LEC as an incoming freshman, and we can not consider upper classmen for enrollment or transfer.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Education | , | 1 Comment

School updates for Friday

UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): Lee County Schools will operate on a normal schedule Friday.

Chatham County Schools will operate on a two-hour delay for Friday. Bus routes will operate two hours later than usual. All staff should report to schools at regular times.

Lee County Schools hasn’t announced its plans for Friday yet. An open house tonight at the Dennis Wicker Civic Center in Sanford is still planned though for students interested in Lee Early College.

LCS Public Information Officer Sharon Spence said the district will have to make up the missed days, but school officials have yet to finalize how to do so.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Education, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s history

obamafrontwebI just wanted to reflect on some of the moments I’ve had in the past few days covering the local reactions to Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday. On Monday, I covered Sanford’s 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. There were probably about 400 people in attendance, and it was amazing to feel the energy that people brought.

The ceremony was appropriately dedicated to Obama. People brought their families and friends — it definitely felt like a party, especially with the soulful singing of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir and Abraham’s Seed.

It’s hard to be around people who have struggled for civil rights and who thought they would never live to see a black president and not feel the excitement of the moment.

Tuesday’s snowstorm kept many in their houses to watch the inauguration, but there was a heavy sense of accomplishment from the people I interviewed. Even those who didn’t vote for Obama seem to recognize the importance of him doing well for the betterment of the country. It feels really nice to see people coming together and largely putting aside partisan differences, at least for one day.

Members of the Central Carolina Jaycees gathered Tuesday night to rewatch Barack Obama's inauguration address

Members of the Central Carolina Jaycees gathered Tuesday night to rewatch Barack Obama's inauguration address

Several people told me they thought Obama’s speech was a call to arms, a call for people to get involved and help steer the nation onto the right course. I covered Obama speaking live on two occasions, and I thought his inauguration address lived up to his campaign addresses. I don’t think he came near the magic of Grant Park (though I think that will go down as one of the best speeches a president-elect has ever given).

Even though the excitement of the historic day is over, I think everyone is hoping we keep our unity of purpose.

January 21, 2009 Posted by | politics, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

Sanford snow update

Outside the Sanford Herald office

Outside the Sanford Herald office

UPDATE (10 p.m.):
I spent some time this evening driving around Lee County, so here is some lowdown on what I saw:

  • The main roads are pretty smooth for the most part.
  • Lee Avenue and where Carthage turns into 15-501 were a little rough, so make sure to go slow.
  • If you’re out tonight, make sure to watch out for black ice, it’s still below freezing and getting colder by the minute.

UPDATE (8 p.m.):
Lee County Schools new superintendent Jeff Moss will be sworn in as the new schools chief Wednesday, a day later than scheduled because of the  snow and icy conditions. The ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the Heins Education Building.

UPDATE (6 p.m.):
Lee County Schools has canceled classes for Lee Early College and Tramway Elementary School for Wednesday. The planned staff work day for the rest of the district is on a two-hour delay and is optional for instructors.

UPDATE (4:30 p.m.):
Roads are starting to clear up more if you are heading out, though officials still caution you to be careful.

Chatham County Schools WILL NOT be in session tomorrow. Lee County Schools won’t be either, but they already had a scheduled teacher work day. Temperatures are hovering around 30 degrees, or near 22 degrees after wind chill.

HERALD UPDATE (2:30 p.m.):
The Herald’s Jan. 21 Inauguration Day edition is scheduled to go to press early on Tuesday evening, but treacherously icy road conditions will likely prohibit our carrier force from delivering until Wednesday afternoon or possibly even later. Because of the anticipated poor driving conditions, The Herald’s offices will open at 11 a.m. Wednesday. And any updates about that, as well as local closings and postponements, will be posted on our website at For more information, call The Herald at (919) 708-9000 after 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Keepsake ready-to-frame copies of Wednesday’s front page, commemorating the inauguration of President Barack Obama – on 11×17 photo paper – will be available to purchase from The Herald beginning Friday. The souvenir pages are $7.50 each, or $5 each for two or more copies. Order by calling The Herald’s circulation department at (919) 718-1233, or by e-mail at

UPDATE ( 2 p.m.):
Horner Boulevard is looking pretty clear from snow, though it’s still a little slick.

Gov. Bev Perdue has called a state of emergency, and the Department of Transportation is warning of black ice. It’s about 19 degrees outside after wind chill, so bundle up!


There are about 3 inches of snow that have already fallen in Sanford, N.C. and more is to come. So far, government meetings have been canceled and the schools were already on a day off for an optional teacher workday.

I drove from my apartment complex off of Carthage Street to the Sanford Herald office a little earlier, and the roads are not very good. The snow is still coming down. The most problematic issue is probably as temperatures drop is the potential for the roads to start to freeze.

Check the Herald Web site for more updates and this blog as the day continues.

Outside the Herald on St. Clair

Outside the Herald on St. Clair

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Sanford | , | Leave a comment

Inauguration news

Obama speaking at a campaign rally in Raleigh in November

Obama speaking at a campaign rally in Raleigh in November

We’re all gearing up for an exciting week over here at the Sanford Herald with Tuesday’s noon inauguration of Barack Obama fast approaching.

Our community editor Jonathan Owens will be heading to Washington, D.C., starting Sunday to bring coverage on the event. He’s already written one story about some Sanford teenagers who are attending the historic day as part of a leadership program. He’ll also have a story in tomorrow’s Herald profiling some more locals who are heading to D.C.

We’re still looking to find some people in the Sanford area who are going to be watching the inauguration around here. So if you are planning on having a watch party or inaugural bash party, please comment on this entry or send me an e-mail at ezureick@sanfordherald.

Here is one event in the area that is going on though for anyone interested. The Pittsboro General Store Cafe will hold an inaugural bash at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Go here for more information.

January 17, 2009 Posted by | politics, Sanford, Sanford Herald | , , | Leave a comment

Anoop makes Hollywood on Idol!

I’m a proud alumna of UNC-Chapel Hill, so it was my great delight last night to see my fellow class of 2008 graduate, Anoop Desai, advance to the next round of American Idol.

Anoop tried out in Kansas City and came dressed in a plaid button-down, khaki shorts and, yes, what I believe were his rainbows. Randy Jackson called him “Anoop Dog” and Simon said he looked like he came from a meeting with Bill Gates.

But he sang “Thank You” and the judges definitely loved him, telling him they hadn’t expected that voice to come out of him. UNC folks of course know Anoop from his turn as a featured singer for the a capella Clef Hangers. My personal favorite that he sang at school was “She will be Loved.” He is currently a master’s student in folklore at UNC. On that note, Go Heels and here are some musical treats from Anoop!

Anoop singing “Angel of Mine”

Singing “I’ll Make Love to You”

January 15, 2009 Posted by | American Idol | , , , | Leave a comment