It’s a priceless gift when a local community has a paper whose leadership is committed to raising awareness early of potential threats to its health and environment, and then reports relentlessly on the issues and actions by local activists. Last month, Granville County, just north of Durham, lost an editor/publisher with a remarkable record of doing exactly that. The outcomes of over two decades of struggles to prevent local and regional environmental harms are, in great measure, a testament to his legacy and the encouragement he gave to local and regional efforts for protection.
Harry Coleman was born in Hillsborough, but had come to Granville County to serve as editor at the Creedmoor based Butner-Creedmoor News in 1971. Over the years he made sure the public had as much information as he could dig out about the state’s proposed hazardous waste incinerator, various contaminated sites, a huge biohazard lab (NBAF) that the Dept. of Homeland Security proposed for Butner, and, most recently, the possibility of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in central NC, including southern Granville County. It’s probably no coincidence that Creedmoor was the first town in NC to pass an ordinance requiring environmental disclosure for all local permitting decisions, and, more recently, banning fracking in or near the town.
With his commitment to journalistic integrity, Harry still found time to actually join and support numerous organizations working on these issues, including NC-WARN and the Granville Non-Violent Action Team. He often covered the local work of Clean Water for NC to hold polluters accountable, even when it put him in a tight spot with local officials, and his reporters contacted us for information and interviews.
Granville County will miss Harry very much, but we are grateful that the B-C News continues to be owned and run by his family, and that Bebe Coleman, his wife, shares the values that have made the paper a treasured resource for us. We thank all of them, and we wish that every county could have a paper so committed to serving its community and journalism that helps to prevent harm to all of its residents.
Hope Taylor, exec. director, has lived in Granville County and depended on the B-C News for 20 years.