Let's kick off a new year of news with a look at some of the big stories in today's paper and from the weekend:
More on 751S: We covered the 751 South last night in all its deja-vu glory; if you haven't had enough yet, you've probably already seen these, but for completeness' sake: Herald-Sun, N&O, Indy Weekly.
Duke Benefits and DRH: An intriguing turn at Monday's BOCC work session, when doctors from some of the few physician practices not under the aegis of Duke Medicine complained that changes to Duke's employee benefits plans are dropping their practices from coverage this year. Which sounds like a matter for Duke employees and not for the County Commissioners, except for the fact that Duke operates Durham Regional Hospital, with indy docs raising the specter of DRH patients potentially getting hit by out-of-network charges or finding new doctors. BOCC chair Michael Page said the county would take a closer look at the matter. (N&O)
Big Week for Convention Center: The H-S has an update on the debate over the future operation of the Convention Center, with incumbent Shaner Hotels -- which currently runs both the DCC and the downtown Marriott attached to it -- lobbying hard for the status quo. County and City officials, meanwhile, told the BOCC yesterday that they thought Shaner's current contract didn't incentivize better operation and that the hotel pairing meant the facility is underutilized since there's no reason for Shaner to work with other hotels to bring in overnight meetings larger than the Marriott could hold. (Herald-Sun)
More K-12 Cuts: More bad financial news for local schools, as state education leaders try to find ways to meet Gov. Perdue's request to cut 2.5% over the remaining half-year of this budget, and with bigger cuts in the form of a nearly $4 billion shortfall facing state leaders for FY 2012. (Herald-Sun)
ATT Bridge -- Really, This Time We Mean It: The Durham News' Jim Wise has a sweet gig, doing a year-end look at the status of the American Tobacco Trail bridge over I-40, the missing link in the region's trail backbone. Heck, given the half-decade of delays on this one, he could practically file this story every December, adding one or two new grafs. This time, though -- this time -- the bridge should start construction this year. Really! And if not, you'll see a Dec. 2011 story in The Durham News with Jim's byline. (N&O)
Home Visits Expansion: County leaders are set to announce an expansion of a social services program that sends nurses out to the homes of newborn babies a few weeks after birth in order to see how parents are doing and coping, and to offer tips and help with social services options while they're at it; this year, the program is expected to expand to cover every new birth in Durham County. (N&O)
Barber to Rebuild: Samuel Jenkins lost his well-respected barbershop and neighboring trophy shop on Angier Ave. to a weekend fire; the respected community bulwark in East Durham promises to rebuild both businesses with insurance proceeds after an electrical malfunction led to the early morning blaze. (Herald-Sun)