H2-oh no!

Around noon on Friday, February 3, assistant principal Spencer Hawkins came on the announcements to tell students that, due to a city-wide water crisis, they could go home early.  The Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) had issued an emergency release at 11 that morning, saying that due to limited water supply, residents were “not to use water until further notice.”

 The cafe commons erupted into cheers, as friends discussed how they were going to  spend their newly-free half-day.  Students, staff and families alike also made plans to buy and stockpile bottled water to last until the crisis was over.  Thus began a rather inconvenient, but all together never dangerous, weekend in Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

A common misconception about this weekend’s crisis is that the reason OWASA issued “do not drink” order was because residents’ tap water was contaminated with high levels of fluoride.  It’s true that on Thursday, February 2, the cities’ water treatment plant on Jones Ferry Road oversaturated its water with dangerous levels of fluoride.  

However, that water was quickly discarded.  To make up for the loss, Chapel Hill-Carrboro started borrowing water from Durham, made possible by the fact that the two water systems are connected.  The real issue came late the next morning, when a pipe linking the cities’ water burst near Dobbin Creek.  

The leak lead to the loss of around 1.5 million gallons of water, and brought the Chapel-Hill Carrboro water supply to a dangerous low.  OWASA urged in their release that using any water could results in system-wide contamination.

Friday afternoon, the town of Chapel Hill forced all restaurants to close, and the UNC v. Notre Dame basketball game scheduled for Saturday night was rescheduled to Sunday afternoon and moved to Greensboro.

Free water was available throughout the weekend to those in need at a few places around the area, including at Carrboro High.  The Harris Teeter in Carrboro also gave out free water while supplies lasted.

On Sunday, February 5, OWASA held its second press conference of the weekend, saying that residents could begin to use water again in limited quantities.  A few hours later, the emergency order was completely rescinded, and residents were permitted to resume normal water usage.

Photo by Hope Anderson

Behind the Legend of Ms. Uzun-Byrnes’ Cats

Nearly every student in Ms. Uzun Byrnes’ CHS English classes must’ve asked her the question. Conflicting claims and outlandish accusations have characterized the legend of Ms. Uzun-Byrnes’ cats for years. So, in this Jagwire-exclusive interview, we will finally learn the truth.

One of Ms. Uzun Byrnes’ cats, Zelda Sprinkles. Photo courtesy Ms. Uzun’s Website

This is an interview with Ms. Uzun Byrnes from January 25th, 2017. The JagWire has edited it for content and brevity.

JagWire: How many cats do you have?

Sibel Uzun Byrnes: I have eight—yes, eight—cats.

JW: Do you have photographic evidence of all eight?

SUB: Yes, just not like all together though. And not right here. When I say I have eight cats, people say, “What! No you don’t!” That’s their first response, and so then people say, “Well, let’s see pictures of them.” You know, I don’t feel like I have to justify myself.

JW: So, you’re tired of the constant questioning?

SUB: This whole interview is part of that!

JW: We’re just trying to get to the truth. What are your cats’ names, and do any of their names have any significance?

SUB: So, I have Zelda Sprinkles, Herbert Poindexter the third, Madeline, Holly and Lucky, Cooper, and then Lynx. Those are my eight cats. Wait—did I say seven, did I leave one off? Oh, yeah, Tristesse Eleanor. Some of them have literary meanings, and some of them are just names that I think are cute. Like Zelda, for example,  I named her for Zelda Fitzgerald—F. Scott Fitzgerald, he’s my favorite author, and Zelda’s his wife. But then, my husband named her Zelda because he likes Legend of Zelda the video game. So her name has a double significance.

JW: Is there any one thing—maybe an event, a person, or a particular cat—that created your obsession with cats?

SUB: I think my parents had a lot to do with that, because growing up I was actually never allowed to have pets. So, once I like graduated from college I just went the total other route and said, “Now that I can, I’m just gunna get a bunch of cats.” And, I’ve always been a cat-person because I just can’t really handle all of like the hyperactivity of a dog—the barking and the jumping on you. Cats are just—you know—[cooler].

JW: Do you ever talk to your cats?

SUB: All the time. I have conversations with them.

JW: So they talk back?

SUB: Okay…I mean, they do talk back because they meow. I feel like they kind of understand what I’m saying. I’ve read if you say “beautiful” to them enough, then they understand it’s a good word. So I call my cats beautiful all the time, and I have conversations with them.

JW: Did you buy your cats from a breeder or adopt them?

SUB: A lot of them…people will like post on Facebook: “Found a litter of kittens,” or: “Found this kitten behind a dumpster,” and then “Oh, I’m gonna  give them to a shelter and they’re gonna  get put down because I can’t take care of them because I have a pitbull.” Then, I’m always like, “Oh yes! I’ll take her! Please…don’t give her up.”

JW: Do you have any funny stories about your cats?

SUB: One of my cats, Zelda Sprinkles, I actually entered her into a costume contest last semester. I dressed her up as a crazy cat lady; she had a wig with curlers and a robe and mice hanging off of her robe. And she won! I felt bad, because I thought the prize was gonna be for her, but it was actually from Southern Seasons—it was a really nice gift basket for my husband and I.

JW: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with the school about your cats?

SUB: Yeah. I know that a lot of people don’t believe that I have eight cats. So, yeah, hopefully this interview will set the record straight.

Editor’s note: Ms. Uzun denied our request for photos of all eight cats, saying, “I like keeping an air of mystery around this topic.”