Spur some summer imagination at these Raleigh museums

    Kids Town

      There’s no chance of hearing your kids complain of boredom this summer. Our community is rich in ample opportunities for fun and the best part is they’ll be learning all the while, without even knowing it. (We won’t tell if you won’t.)

      Below are just two of the many opportunities coming up this summer.

      Marbles Kids Museum 

      The fun is pretty much guaranteed at Marbles Kids Museum. Its name has two meanings. One is for the wall that wraps around the facility and contains more than 1 million marbles that light up at night. The other is because the term “marbles” is slang for brains. Marbles has a “play-osophy” promoting the idea that play generates creativity and learning, strengthens families, and unites communities. That’s showcased in the 14 interactive exhibits that are nothing short of stimulating. Whether it’s wandering through a mini version of the community in Around Town; having an underwater adventure aboard a pirate, submarine, or lighthouse in Splash!; or making music inspired by the wonder of nature in Tree Tunes, there’s something for everyone!

      North Carolina Museum of History 

      Help your kids dig into history at North Carolina Museum of History this summer. Here, they’ll learn about our state’s rich heritage, which includes such notables as the place where the Wright Brothers made the first controlled aircraft flight in 1903. More than 13 current exhibits delve into North Carolina’s connection with World War I, fashion, and sports. But that’s not all. This summer, youngsters can take part in numerous stimulating events, which include:

      • Time for Tots: Skiffs, Sharpies, and Sailing Ships , 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 5: Ages 3-5 learn about watercraft and make their own sailing vessel
      • History Corner: Coastal Legends , 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 6: Ages 6-9 with an adult discover North Carolina’s coast and hear such tales as the mystery of the Lost Colony and a whale named Trouble.
      • History Hunters: Inventors Wanted , 11:15 a.m., Wednesday, June 6: Ages 10-13 learn about inventors from our state and what it takes to create a new gadget. They also strive to meet the creator’s challenge.

      These are just a taste of the fun events this summer designed to inspire kids by taking them back in time. Who could ask for more? Whether it’s creativity-inspired play or taking a look back at where we’ve been, your kids are sure to have a great time this summer at two of the best kid-friendly museums in Raleigh.

      Exotic encounters in the Triangle and beyond

      Kids Town

      • 21 May, 2018
      If you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary way to spend time with your kids, we’ve got some wild suggestions. How about taking a day trip to learn about exotic animals? Below are four great ideas for building memories while gaining insight into the protection of some amazing creatures.

      North Carolina Zoo 

      Your kids can get an exotic animal immersion with a day trip to the North Carolina Zoo. Situated on 2,200 acres in the Uwharrie Mountains, this attraction is a safe haven for animals that also let’s your kids learn more about them. Here, a two-hour stroll through the African exhibit will have visitors feeling like they’ve just gone on a safari without ever leaving home. Plus, stopping by the aviary will send imaginations into flight as dozens of exotic birds nest among 3,000 breathtaking tropical plants. If learning about wildlife a little closer to home is what your kids crave, they’ll love the North America exhibit. It’s a tour that takes at least two hours and showcases wildlife found everywhere from the North American Coast to its deserts and points in between.

      Carolina Tiger Rescue 

      Located in Pittsboro, Carolina Tiger Rescue is a facility dedicated to the protection of tigers and other big cats. It offers fun, educational opportunities with Tiger Tales Tours. These monthly tours offer you and your child the chance to join a trained team member for an engaging story time and craft-making project, followed by a tour of the sanctuary to see the iconic animals up close. It’s a great way to create memories you’ll both cherish for years to come.

      Conservators Center 

      Aptly named, the Conservators Center is home to more than 80 animals and over 21 species. The Center, seated in Burlington, NC, participates in cooperative educational efforts designed to reconnect people with wildlife. The Center hosts wildly up-close tours on weekends and on select holidays year-round, which are available only through reservations.

      These tours consist of walking a three-quarter-mile path with a specially-trained guide to obtain an understanding of each species’ ecological importance. Along the way, you also learn each animal’s personality and story. It’s an invaluable and unforgettable experience for both you and your kids.

      Duke Lemur Center 

      The Duke Lemur Center houses the biggest and most distinct assortment of lemurs on the planet, outside of their native Madagascar. This facility furthers the biological conservation of the world’s most threatened mammal through scientific research, community-based conservation, and reaching out to the public.

      The Center’s tours serve various age groups, budgets, and levels of interest. All are available with a reservation. They include:

      • Lemurs Live public and private tours
      • Little Lemurs for ages 3-8
      • Enrichment: More than Just a Toy
      • Walking with Lemurs
      • Painting with Lemurs
      • Lemur Keeper for a Day
      • A Photographer’s Dream

      What could be a better way to build unique family memories than to share an enriching experience at the Duke Lemur Center?

      724 Degrees Conferred in JSU’s Spring 2018 Commencement Ceremony

      Jacksonville State University



      Just six weeks after an EF-3 tornado devastated Jacksonville State University and its surrounding community, 724 JSU students received their degrees in one cumulative commencement ceremony at the Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium on May 4.

      JSU President Dr. John M. Beehler presented the degrees, and Congressman Robert B. Aderholt delivered the commencement address.

      William Earl Stroup and Justin Wayne Tinker are the graduates whose families received posthumous degrees.

      The commencement exercise was webcast and remains available on the JSU Television Services website.

      For a list of graduates, search the Merit page.

      Delve Into ‘Suicide Notes: A Novel’ This Summer

      Jacksonville State University


      Are you looking for a great read now that summer is under way? Get in on the “Suicide Notes” craze that’s sweeping Jacksonville State University’s campus as students, faculty and staff pick up the common reading selection, “Suicide Notes: A Novel,” by Michael Thomas Ford. You’ll step into the shoes of Jeff as he tries to move forward with his life after attempting suicide.

      What happens when a person survives a suicide attempt, and how does that individual move forward after such an event?  “Suicide Notes” answers this question in a series of journal entries, or “notes,” in which the 15-year-old protagonist, Jeff, recounts his 45-day stay in the psychiatric ward of a hospital. As he comprehends his own motivations, he also develops a better understanding of his fellow patients, each of whom has a unique story. These peers, the staff and his family all play a part in helping Jeff come to terms with his decision and move toward recovery.

      In this coming of age story, Jeff learns to cope with depression and suicide, while also learning empathy for those around him. But, most importantly, Jeff must learn to accept who he is. The same could be said about millions of first-year college students across the country each year, as they pack their bags and move away from everything they’ve ever known. Coping with stress, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts has become a dark reality on college campuses, and JSU is committed to bringing these important issues into the light.

      Each year, the JSU Reads committee selects one book to serve as a unifying force and promote thought-provoking discussion among freshmen students. Introduced to the common reading selection at orientation, freshmen go on to study it during their English composition and First-Year Student Experience courses. Faculty, staff and upperclassmen are encouraged to read it as well.

      One group that gets a head start on reading the selection each year is the team of JSU GO! Leaders and Coordinators. Responsible for guiding students around on orientation days during the summer, every GO! Leader is expected to have read the book before Orientation gets started each year.

      “I liked it because it kept me engaged,” said GO! Leader Jenna Bennett, who is a junior majoring in finance. “The reading level was not too serious or difficult to understand which made it an easier read. I took away the message that we should not judge or neglect others because we don’t know what they might be facing in their personal life. We should also refrain from labeling and stereotyping people that we assume to be a certain ‘type’ (in this case, the ‘crazies’).”

      GO! Leader Reyna Ramirez, a senior majoring in nursing, believes incoming students will benefit from the message behind “Suicide Notes.”

      “’Suicide Notes’ will be helpful for freshmen to get an insight on the different community they are about to go into,” she said. “College is full of diverse people who go through different things, so I think this book will either help students understand or be more empathetic toward others who go through these things or it will show them they are not alone.”

      For more information on the Common Reading program, please click here.


      Vera Roofing & Construction

      It’s no secret that our area is susceptible to severe weather, which can leave a trail of damage in its wake. To make matters worse, that damage makes homeowners easy targets for storm chaser scammers. They wind their way through neighborhoods affected by storm damage in an effort to find vulnerable homeowners and take advantage of them.

      JSU Graduate Sports Management Program Gets National Ranking

      people doing marathon
      Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

      Jacksonville State University


      Jacksonville State University’s Graduate Sports Management program has been ranked No. 29 by BestColleges.com. With more than 400 colleges and universities in the nation offering some form of Graduate Sports Management Programs, the ranking places JSU well within the top 7 percent of institutions.

      “The ranking is prestigious given the competition,” said Dr. Reginald F. Overton Professor of Sport Management at JSU. “More importantly, we are ranked ahead of each public institution in the state of Alabama and within our service region. Given the competitive nature of this industry, it is important that we stay visible with what we have to offer.”

      Factors determining JSU’s Graduate Sports Management national ranking with BestColleges.com include its academic quality affordability and online programming.

      JSU’s online master’s degree program curriculum requires 30-33 credits, with a 10-course program core covering topics such as law and ethics in wellness and sports studies, sports facility administration and design, sports promotion and event planning, and administration of athletics. It also includes an internship experience in either sports management or sports marketing and advertising.

      “We are proud of our job and internship placements for our students,” Dr. Overton said. “Placements such as the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Talladega Motor Speedway, Georgia Tech and the Nashville Predators are but of few of our partners.”

      In addition, the master’s in sports management online offers an optional master’s teacher certification in sports management, which requires students to finish an additional survey course in special education. JSU’s online learners also take advantage of a multitude of services and resources, including online orientation, technical support, library services, academic advising and tutoring, as well as access to both JSU’s library and the Alabama Virtual Library, providing a wealth of research materials.

      Brewer Hall Renovations Unimpeded By Tornado Damage

      Jacksonville State University


      One of the newly updated classrooms in Brewer Hall.

      Just as renovations to portions of Brewer Hall were under way, the building – like much of campus – was  impacted by the EF-3 tornado that hit JSU and the surrounding community on March 19. Fortunately, those upgrades were spared by the devastation.

      “The inside of the building, especially classrooms, suffered little damage and nothing had to be relocated,” said Dr. Maureen Newton, dean of the School of Human Services and Social Sciences. “The rooms are not finished being remodeled, so some of the new classrooms were not at risk. We only have two fully remodeled classrooms, and we are waiting for two others to be completed. There was no significant damage to the new classrooms.”

      Renovations to Brewer Hall have been ongoing for more than two years, impacting approximately 300 student seats in the building. Updates include:

      • Lobby and First Floor: Walls painted, new signage for the school
      • New signage for the departments on each floor
      • Lighting for the entire building (florescent to LED)
      • Ceiling tiles for the entire building
      • Computer Lab, B-103: New student and instructor computers
      • Total Room Renovation, Room 141:  HVAC, theater style seats with adjustable writing desk/arm, flooring, blinds, movie screen, theater quality speakers, technology station, walls, paint, ceiling tiles, lighting
      • Total Room Renovation, Room 212: flooring, walls, blinds, tables, chairs, glass board, technology
      • Total Room Renovation, Room 328:  flooring, walls, blinds, desks, white boards, new screen and projector
      • Partial Room Renovation, Room 122: Computer lab with new student and instructor computers, flooring, paint, technology-projector and screen, updated wiring, new blinds
      • Partial Room Renovation, Room 231: HVAC and new technology
      • Partial Room Renovation, Room 330: flooring, walls, blinds, tables and chairs

      Plans are also underway to add JSU information monitors/televisions to each floor, as well as to update Room 228 with flooring, walls, blinds, desks and technology. While these upgrades weren’t impeded by the storm, that doesn’t mean the building went unscathed.

      “Brewer Hall had similar damage to other buildings, just to a lesser extent,” Dr. Newton said. “We have roof damage, and the roof is currently being replaced.”

      The building also lost 5-10 windows, which are patched with plywood, and suffered damage to exterior lighting, brick facade and the ADA entrance, which are undergoing repairs. Fortunately, damage to the building’s rear awning, ceiling tiles and interior frames in faculty offices and classrooms are near completion. Another piece of good fortune is that classes haven’t needed to be relocated. All repairs should be completed by the start of the fall semester.

      “Full steam ahead,” said David Thompson, director of capital planning and facilities. “At this moment, we intend on Brewer Hall being fully functional for the fall semester.”

      GO! Team Gearing Up for 2018-19 Orientation

      Jacksonville State University


      Gamecock Orientation for the 2018-19 academic year kicks off in June with the theme, “Your Adventure Begins Here.” JSU plans to welcome between 1,200 and 1,300 new students and their family members to the campus in the events.

      The goal of Gamecock Orientation is to achieve the following:

      • Introduce the JSU undergraduate community to new students from an academic and personal perspective.
      • Provide information and assistance to new students (and their families) so that they may succeed academically and develop socially.
      • Utilize GO! Leaders who can share their own experiences as a source of support and information.
      • Allow new students to meet each other and interact in small group settings to develop new relationships.
      • Provide information on the variety of student services offered on campus so that students will feel comfortable navigating the university on their own.

      2018-19 GO! Leaders and Specialists helping new students get acclimated to JSU include:

      Team 1

      • Megan Ogle, GO! Leader, communications/PR
      • Jack Gehrdes, GO! Leader, political science
      • Jennifer Foster, GO! Specialist, English

      Team 2

      • Kuvvat Jorayev, GO! Leader, finance
      • Jenna Bennett, GO! Leader, finance
      • Christy Burns, GO! Specialist, English

      Team 3

      • Reyna Ramirez, GO! Leader, nursing
      • Ann-Katherine Dothard, GO! Leader, nursing
      • Brent Helms, GO! Specialist, chemistry

      Team 4

      • Jalia Wilkins, GO! Leader, criminal justice
      • Stone Alexander, GO! Leader, pre-health prof biology
      • Erin Rider, GO! Specialist, sociology

      Team 5

      • Skylar Fontaine, GO! Leader, occ safety/health management
      • Danielle Sanders, GO! Leader, nursing
      • Katelyn Williams, GO! Specialist, English

      Team 6

      • Patrick Hubbard, GO! Leader, nursing
      • Caitlyn Whitehead, GO! Leader, nursing
      • Allen Gilbert, GO! Specialist, kinesiology

      Gamecock Orientation Dates:

      June 7, 12, 14, 19, 21 and 26

      July 12, 17, 19 and 24

      Transfer Orientation Dates:

      June 8 and August 6

      Freshman Convocation:

      August 20

      Storm Damage Temporarily Sidelines New Recording Studio

      Jacksonville State University


      While the JSU Department of Music’s main recording studio room and booth were unscathed by the March 19 tornado the electronics storage room and its contents were destroyed.

      When an EF-3 tornado hit Jacksonville State University on March 19, it left a trail of devastation in its wake. One building suffering major damage was Mason Hall. Fortunately, the main portion of Department of Music’s new recording studio wasn’t impacted.

      “The main recording studio room and booth were not damaged, but our overflow electronics storage room and equipment in that room were destroyed ­­– cables, mixers, keyboards, a few other odds and ends,” said Music Professor Dr. James Woodward, who manages the studio. “We basically lost a lot of accessories and backup components, but the main studio equipment was spared.”

      However, damage to other parts of the building have temporarily put the recording facility out of commission.

      “The studio is unusable until Mason Hall is repaired,” Dr. Woodward said. “They just began a second round of ceiling work on the second floor of Mason, which took out my second and third alternate rooms for the studio.”

      But that hasn’t stopped the mission of the studio.

      “We can still be productive on our projects, though, on other computers and we will build up a list of audio and sample recordings we want to make once we can build the studio again,” Dr. Woodward said.

      The recording studio was added to the Department of Music’s education arsenal in August 2017, thanks to a $10,000 Faculty Commons REAL Teaching/Classroom Grant. It’s an endeavor that earned Dr. Woodward the Ringer Faculty Development Award at JSU’s annual Faculty Awards Reception earlier this month.

      Since the studio’s inception, students and faculty alike have created a variety of projects featuring ensembles in a number of genres. Through the studio’s label, Vintage Sweater Records, several projects have already been released, including “Eryn Oft: Out of the Box,” recorded by Music Professors Eryn Oft Mark Brandon and Andrew Lynge, along with cellist Bryce Anderson and percussionist Colin James. It’s available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.

      “We also provided recording services for The Marching Southerners with Teresa Stricklin’s voice-over for the 2017 show ‘Angels Among Us,’ the JSU Steel Band’s drum set recording for ‘Number 2’ by Dave Longfellow on the recent JSU Jazz CD,” Dr. Woodward said, “and for Daniel O’Donnell’s senior, Music Education Instrumental Tracks for ‘The Sound Shelter’ Recording Studio, including ‘Tongue Tied’ by Paola Proctor and ‘Meet Me in a Sad Song,’ by Reckless Johnny Whales, featuring Alicia Michilli, featuring JSU students Daniel O’Donnell, saxophone; Braden Barrentine, trombone; and Jason Warren, trumpet.”

      Once Mason Hall is repaired, complete with a new roof, Department of Music faculty plan on using the recording studio and to continue improving it to further musical education opportunities.

      “As soon as Mason Hall is waterproof again,” Dr. Woodward said, “and as President Beehler said, ‘We will rebuild, and we will be better than ever.’”



      Two Itasca Place Apartments

      Mother’s Day is the perfect day to show Mom just how much she means to you. And, nothing says love like brunch! These three special Mother’s Day brunch spots in Itasca near Two Itasca Place Apartments have delectable menus and are all still taking reservations for May 13th.


      Enjoy farm to table fare at Burnham’s restaurant, housed in Eaglewood Resort & Spa Chicago. This annual event features a fun atmosphere and a varied menu. Whether it’s Louisiana chicken and sausage gumbo, market chop salad, seafood, or a delicious entrée and sweet, there’s something sure to put a smile on Mom’s face. Brunch is $19.95 to $45.95. Reservations are highly recommended.

      For more information or to make reservations, call (630) 694-5899 or email restaurants@eaglewoodresortchicago.com.


      Take your mom out for a great meal at the Fox & Turtle. The special day’s menu includes numerous mouthwatering entrees. From shrimp cocktail and pecan chicken quinoa salad to pork tenderloin piccata, trout Pomodoro, and parmesan crusted wagyu beef, there’s no doubt something she’ll love on this menu. When she’s done with the main course, let her indulge in the amazing, colossal chocolate cake! And you can treat her to all this for under $30.

      Fox & Turtle is located at 400 East Orchard Street in Itasca.


      Give Mom a special treat at the 2018 Mother’s Day Champagne BrunchHoliday Inn Chicago West-Itasca and Kem’s Restaurant are joining forces for this celebration. Admission for adults is $13.95 to $25.95 with reservations and $27.95 at the door.

      Holiday Inn Chicago West-Itasca is located at 860 West Irving Park Road in Itasca. For more information or to make reservations, call (630) 773-2340.

      We hope you enjoy your special day! If you’re looking for luxury apartments in the heart of beautiful Itasca, contact us to schedule a tour and find out more about our community.