Thursday, April 30, 2009

tuesday's joint schools/county commissioners meeting

Orange County and Chapel Hill/Carrboro City schools met Tuesday with the Orange County Board of Commissioners to present their proposed budgets for the next fiscal year.

Chair Steve Halkiotis compared the current recession and budget cycle to the Depression, saying the last time public school funding was cut was during that era.

Superintendent Patrick Rhodes gave the budget presentation, saying funding cuts from the county and state would be "a serious double whammy."

The district's fund balance is down significantly from several years ago, and rested at just a little more than $1 million, at the time of the last audit. Rhodes said the district is committed to not spending that money to make up for any shortfalls.

The cuts made during the 2008-2009 school year combined with the cuts the district may have to make to survive this budget cycle amount to 10 percent, Rhodes said.

For that and other reasons, Rhodes asked the commissioners to cut the per pupil by $139 instead of the $189 commissioners proposed. Board of Education members decided to go this route at their last work session, Friday, April 24.

Rhodes said the district has tried to make cuts that wouldn't affect the classroom, but decreasing the per pupil allotment by $189 would force them to make those cuts.

He said the district is facing, among other things, cuts in state at-risk funds, which would hurt children and families who need help the most.

Board member Eddie Eubanks said he hoped commissioners would be able to make up for that loss.

"I think it's not appropriate to balance the budgets on the backs of those least able to withstand it," he said.

Halkiotis said he hoped commissioners would be able to help the district.

"Help us any way you can because we're not going to get help from Raleigh," he said. "I'm not looking to the east anymore. I'm looking right at home."

Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools, meanwhile, also presented their budget. Their big issues were whether or not Elementary No. 11 and the arts wing addition to Carrboro High Schools would be built as originally planned. BOCC Chair Valerie Foushee said that was "uncertain."

For more, see Wednesday's News of Orange County.

Hillsborough's next poet laureate?

We receive many, many e-mails in our general-use inbox each day. Many of them are online newsletters for a wide range of political causes and syndicated political columns or PR story pitches from Texas. That is why my Wednesdays go something like: post content to Web site, sort through e-mails, file stories, maybe a phone call or two.

We also occasionally receive spontaneous, themed poems from readers. Here's one from Tim Langford about tonight's Ladies Night Out event:

"Broads Abroad"
by Tim Langford

“Broads Abroad!,” my paper reads,
“Hillsborough is under siege,
Lock your doors, cut out your lights,
Prepare for unspeakable deeds!”

From there and here the “birds” flutter in,
Bringing scandal, shock and fear,
Surely my mother won’t find out,
Oh my! I think she’s here!

For hundreds of years this town has stood,
Upon this very spot,
But now its future is in doubt,
It’s Hillsborough’s “Ladies Night Out!”

Have a good Thursday.

More things not in print; what's upcoming

An addendum to a post I made a few weeks ago — the blue and yellow button on the front page of the Web site ( will link you to our MyNewsPhotos page, which is a place we can post pictures from events we've covered and other stock footage from stories that have run. It allows us to show a wider range of images from events and, if you like them, you can purchase professionally printed copies. I am in the midst of uploading several weeks' worth of photos, so there will be many more images online by the end of this week.

Here's an item not in print in this week's edition — cheap rabies shots this weekend, courtesy of Orange County's animal services department:
Orange County's Animal Services Department is offering $5 rabies vaccination clinics in April and May to ensure that cats and dogs are current on their vaccinations. Authorized by North Carolina State law, such clinics provide pet owners with substantial savings on rabies vaccinations.
The next clinic will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at Orange County's Animal
Shelter, 1081 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chapel Hill. This clinic
is for 1-year rabies vaccinations only.
The vaccination fee must be paid in cash. Owners wishing to receive a 3-year vaccination should bring their pet's most recent vaccination certificate. Dogs must be on leashes and cats must be in carriers. Animals that may be nervous or unsettled should be kept in a vehicle for their vaccination. Call 245-2075 for further information about the clinic.
This week, I am hopefully going to finish some stories I am have been holding on for a few weeks because the story load has exceeded our space. Among them:

• Local architect Tim Watson wants to spread the use of eco-restorative design on homes and businesses, and he also wants to certify young people for the green job revolution. Read more about his vision next week.

• The ongoing discussion on what, if anything, the town of Hillsborough should charge event organizers for town services has been put off for another year. Town officials are mulling a hotel occupancy tax to help them earn some money from all of the visitors coming to town.

• Orange County has some of the cleanest air in the state, according to the American Lung Association. More on that next week, too.

One final thing: We occasionally host local class trips or Boy Scout troops at the office and show them what we do here. Since our design is done electronically and our press is located off-site, there aren't any fresh-off-the-press paper hats I remember from when I was younger.

Anyways, I told a group from yesterday, all from New Hope Elementary, that we would put their picture online. Also, somebody (I'm assuming it was a Scout) left us a great stick figure ninja drawing. Thanks for that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

OCS calendar

Due to space constraints, the Orange County Schools calendar got pushed out. So, here's what's going on May 1-5:

May 1
Partnership Academy: 2 p.m. Artist in Residence Program
Cedar Ridge: 7 p.m. School musical- Evita
Gravelly Hill: Sixth-grade field trip (Opera – The Barber of Seville)

May 2
Cedar Ridge: 7 p.m. School musical- Evita
District: All day State Jazz Festival at OHS
Orange High: Scholastic Aptitude Test

May 4
Partnership Academy: 2 p.m. Artist in Residence Program
C. W. Stanford: 6 p.m. Athletic Boosters/ Parent Sports Information Night
A. L. Stanback: 7 p.m. Chorus concert
Cedar Ridge: 7 p.m. REMS Parent Information Meeting
Orange High: 7 p.m. National Achievers Inductions (in the Media Center)
Gravelly Hill: 8th Grade AVID Field Trip UNC-Wilmington

May 5
A. L. Stanback: 12:30 p.m. Voices Together performance
C. W. Stanford: 5 p.m. REMS Grant Parent Information Night
Gravelly Hill: 8:30 a.m. 7th Grade Career Fair
C. W. Stanford: All Day Teacher Appreciation Day

the real mccoy: post 100

One hundred posts and more than 1,100 page views. Good for us, and thanks for reading.

Onto the real stuff.

Here's what I've got coming up. It'll be a bit of a lighter week (so far!), but that could easily change.

• Orange County Schools (and Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools) presented their budget requests to the Board of County Commissioners on Monday, and I'll have something on that. It was an interesting meeting, to say the least.

• Pathways Elementary went up against Seawell Elementary in Chapel Hill for Battle of the Books. To find out what happened with that, read this week's paper. It was definitely a great competition, and the students all did an excellent job.

• Central Elementary School is hosting a science day all day tomorrow.

• Ladies Night Out is tomorrow, so I'll be snapping pictures of that.

That's it for now. We'll see what else develops as the week goes on. As always, if you know of anything, give me a ring or drop me a line at

Monday, April 27, 2009

What got squeezed out

Ed. note: Thanks to Vanessa, who noticed this was only post number 99. My apologies. - Josh

In preparation of several items being squeezed out of the paper (I am attending a town board work session but don't see having the space to run anything this week; it's very, very tight), here's a picture and information sent to us by Tom Hurtgen, of Hurtgen Meadows Farm, from last weekend's grand opening of the Eno River Farmers' Market (formerly the county-operated entity in the Public Market House on Margaret Lane; it's now a privately-operated market).

"The Eno River Farmers’ Market held its Grand Opening for the 2009 growing season last Saturday at the Public Market House on East Margaret Lane in downtown Hillsborough. The festive occasion featured 17 farmers and artisans and hundreds of local citizens seeking fresh produce, plants, crafts, baked goods, eggs and meat. The event featured drawings for vendor coupon books and a reading of the locally inspired book, 'Polly and the Forbidden
House.' Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens captivated his audience with the reading and the illustrator, Chris Kanoy, autographed the books."

These are the decisions I hate having to make at a community newspaper — what can make it in, and what goes to the blog or straight online. We honestly do want to get everything in the paper in some form, and we're at a point in the year where picture-worthy events are inundating the inbox. Back Wednesday, most likely ...

Friday, April 24, 2009

marsville link-up

So, one of the things I did today was head over to Grady A. Brown Elementary School to take some photos of their Marsville Link-up.

Here are a couple for your enjoyment:

Here's a picture of Grady A. Brown students deflating their Marsville habitat.

A sign on Grady Brown's door lets people know they're entering a strange new world.

For more information on the project, you'll have to catch Wednesday's News of Orange.

This weekend and assorted other notes

As has become our custom, here's a rundown of a few of this weekend's events in greater Orange County. It's supposed to be in the high 80s or low 90s for much of the weekend; I mention this because here's what reader (and former sportswriter) Joe Zaengle sent us Monday:

That's his son, Jeff, showing some of the hail that hit the northern part of the county earlier this week. Just another strange juxtaposition with the summertime temperatures expected tomorrow.

Anyways, here's a sample of Saturday and Sunday (Last Fridays is, well, in a few hours outside of our office and all over downtown):

• The Orange County District's Boy Scout Camporee will be held from 2 p.m. Friday until late Sunday at Vista Wood Bison Ranch north of Hillsborough. This is expected to draw several hundred local scouts.

• The Eno River Farmers Market on Margaret Lane is having is official grand opening of the season from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, visit

• The Chamber of Commerce is holding its inaugural Battle of the Bands to determine who will perform at this year's Hog Days. It will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Moose Lodge Family Center at 202 Holiday Park Road. Children younger than 10 years old are admitted free. For more information, call 732-8156 or visit

• The Larry Talley Memorial Softball Tournament will be held at the Cedar Grove Ruritan Club’s softball field, 6116 Efland-Cedar Grove Road. There is a team entry fee, and proceeds will sponsor the Larry Talley Memorial Agriculture Scholarship Fund. For more information, call Shannon Talley-Bradsher at 451-1829 or e-mail

• Pops in the Park, the annual performance by the Durham Symphony behind Cameron Park Elementary and the board of education building on Cameron Steet, will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday. It's free. For more information, visit or call 491-6576.

• A Walk for Hunger, an Orange Congregations in Mission fundraiser, will begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Little River Park in Rougemont. For more information, call OCIM at 732-6194, Ext. 10.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not quite all on the same page ...

Well, nobody on the Board of County Commissioners is advocating pulling the Howell site out of consideration. That much, we know.

Commissioners Tuesday learned plenty of new developments, voted one out contingency plan almost immediately, and determined that all of their sources of information may not be on the same page.

Pam Hemminger and Bernadette Pelissier both asked that a work session be set so that commissioners could settle some lingering questions about cost projections, plans in case they can't build a transfer station by the landfill's capacity date and what exactly they're going to be building out on N.C. 54 if they approve the station site.

As other commissioners pointed out, three new commissioners — the aforementioned Hemminger and Pelissier, as well as Steve Yuhasz, faced a vote on the transfer station site in December as one of their first acts on the job. Pelissier said that she has been seeing so many numbers and spreadsheets that she's not sure what to make of sometimes conflicting claims.

There is a large cost difference in the conclusions made by consultant Olver and by Orange County Voice, a resident advocacy group. Also, commissioners learned Tuesday the landfill has at least an extra year of capacity then originally thought (part of that attributed to the "no cardboard" rule instituted this year, Solid Waste Director Gayle Wilson said).

What that means, commissioners said, is they have more time to vet the Howell site, but nobody is walking away from it yet. Read next week's edition for more on these issues, including the short-lived Eubanks Road temporary transfer station option.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Woodcroft Wednesday

Today is Woodcroft Gazette production day, so between that and yesterday's Production and Commissioners Meeting Tuesday, I've been off the grid and staring at design software for the last few days. I will be working on putting together my 30-something-ith pages of the week, so the Web will be up a little later than usual. We'll have an update to the blog other than just in-house ramblings, too. I promise.

Thanks for everybody pushing us over the 1,000-viewer mark. Hopefully this blog is picking up steam.

Monday, April 20, 2009

orange county schools public hearing

Anybody that wants to give feedback on the Orange County Schools proposed budget should head over to A.L. Stanback Middle School at 6 p.m. because the Board of Education is having a public hearing on the matter.

See you there.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I just got this e-mail from Orange High School's PTSO for their talent show:

This Tuesday, April 21st there will be a talent show called the Night of the Stars to be held in the OHS auditorium at 7 pm. Come out and support the PTSO sponsored event. It is sure to be a fun evening. Admission is $5.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hospital news and Relay events this weekend

This has been up on since this morning, but we finally have some concrete details on the hospital campus for Hillsborough: it is officially a proposed project, it is expected to cost $227 million and it will employ close to 600 people (300 new hires).

We'll have much more information in the next paper, including reaction from town board members and folks on the street (please answer our Perspective question and vote in our online poll).

State officials would first have to clear the plans before anything is finalized, and the town boards will likely see it, too. Mayor Tom Stevens told me that he'll make sure there's plenty of opportunities for residents to have their opinions heard as well.

The decision from the state is expected within a 150-day window (September at the very latest).

• Also, it's been obscured by the whirlwind of the waste transfer station/tax revaluation/budget cuts/hospital/lawsuits news that's keeping us busy, we should mention that Relay for Life is taking place May 1-2 at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont. We've been running their Relay Corner on page 4 or 5 for about a month, but here's a rundown on this Saturday's events:

— Relay for Life Golf Tournament: starts at 8 a.m. at Quaker Creek Golf Course in Mebane. Call 732-5177 for details.

— Team Eurosport hosts a Kids Carnival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cedar Grove Ruritan building, 6116 Efland-Cedar Grove Road. Games include soccer kick, darts, bottle ring toss and cupcake walks. Twety-five tickets cost $15 or $1 per ticket. They’ll also have hotdogs, cotton candy, snow cones and drinks. Call 640-6220 or 640-6071 for more information.

— Antioch Angels’ Car, Truck and Tractor Show and silent auction: from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the White Cross Recreation Center.Call 933-6819 or (336) 376-3396 for more information.

— Ride for Life Poker Run: registration begins at 11:15 a.m. at Carolane Propane Gas in Hillsborough; ride begins at noon. Prizes will be awarded for Best Hand, Second Best Hand, Third Best Hand and Worst Hand. There are also door prizes and a 50/50 raffle. Call 643-0371 for more.

CORRECTION/UPDATE: The date for a public hearing on the changes to the Bellevue Mill apartment project will be May 11, not May 21. We've corrected that in the online edition and will make sure to run a correction next week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party - currently slowing traffic at a courthouse near you.

Just a reminder, people will be gathering on the courthouse lawn at 5:30 p.m. today for a "Tax Day Tea Party," something that is happening all over the country.

Here's some shots from earlier today; this is what was causing all of the car horns to go off for 2 hours and was slowing traffic on Churton Street from Tryon to at least U.S. 70A, if you work downtown and were wondering.

In the works for next week ...

I have not been updating lately, so I apologize. Here's what we know about next week thus far (mostly government/meeting coverage right now; other items are in the works):

• I'll be attending a community meeting in White Cross tonight hosted by Orange County Voice on the waste transfer station siting process. The Solid Waste department's update to county commissioners will be next Tuesday, and I'm hoping to find out a little more about what the Bingham Township residents' next moves are before we find out what the county will do.

• I'll also be at a joint planning board/town board public hearing on Forest Ridge, a residential development on the site of the former Ashton Hall proposal (U.S. 70A, across from Meadowlands Drive). Neighbors north of the project and south of the project fronting U.S. 70A who spoke in January are not very happy with some parts of the proposal, which would include 233 homes.

• There are some holdover items from Monday's town board meeting, including an idea to open the future rail station site planning to the public in a contest format. Also, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Gering led the charge for a revaluation map of the town, showing (in broad strokes) how properties were revalued, percentage-wise, compared to 2005. When we have a copy of the final version, I'll make sure to post it (it will supposedly be on the town's site as well).

A disclaimer about that information, once it goes public — it's based on county tax assessor's office numbers, and it only includes Hillsborough. The town would rather people not call them to question the numbers residents see, as nobody from the town calculated them.

Also, a VERY preliminary number offered by Town Manager Eric Peterson: 61.4 cents. That's the projected revenue-neutral tax rate per $100 valuation for the town, based on the assumption that the county sticks to its 86 cents number. Last year, the town's ad valorem rate was 67 cents. Keep in mind, as we learned recently, that does not mean that everybody's tax bill will be the same as it was last year.

• Between Vanessa and myself (many of these are Vanessa), we'll also have pictures of school events, the Tax Day Tea Party on the courthouse lawn, the junior livestock show and two park openings this weekend.

That's not including the usual items that appear weekly. As always, comments/suggestions can be sent to us via the "comment" option below this post or by sending an e-mail to editorial or (both of those end up with me).

Monday, April 13, 2009

tax day tea party

A "Tax Day Tea Party" will be held at the Old Courthouse grounds Wednesday from 5:30pm-6:30pm. In case of rain it will be held at the Big Barn. For more information call 732-7445 or 218-5734.

wednesday preview

I spent a lovely Thursday morning out at Cameron Park Elementary School last week for their Earth Day celebration. I'm glad the weather held out for them because the kids I saw seemed to be having a lot of fun. I was able to take a whole bunch of pictures of the Cameron Park kids and the Partnership Academy students who came to help out.

Here are a few of my favourites (for more, click on the blue and yellow button on the right side of that says "Click HERE to See and Buy Photos!" or, better yet, pick up Wednesday's News of Orange):

This photo is of Megan Bishop, 8, Bobbie Fisher, Samantha Leija, 8, Max Norwood, 8, and Will Alexander, 9, playing marbles. A lot of the games they had going at Earth Day were a little "old timey." It was nice to see kids getting in to low-tech games, like jacks, marbles and hula hoops.

Here, Bobbie Fisher shows Partnership Academy student Brandon Allen, 13, how to shoot marbles, so he can teach the Cameron Park students himself. Brandon said he was having a good time.

This last picture shows Earth Day footprints students made. These ones led out to the outdoor activities on the blacktop.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Alright, we have our long-discussed photo site, through MyNewsPhotos, online. It's accessible through our site by clicking on the blue and yellow button on the right-hand side of the screen.

The site allows you to look through our photo albums since January and buy some that you like. Because we just got this up, we are going to be spending a few hours uploading our albums from the last 2.5 months over the next week and a half. So, check back frequently for the next few weeks as we upload all of the goodies from that timespan.

I know I said I wasn't back until Monday, but that was worth mentioning.

on my list

Well, I've got quite a few stories on my list for this week, but with schools and many others off tomorrow for Good Friday, I'm scrambling to get a lot of interviews done today. Here's what I hope to have for the next edition:
• Information on the Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
• A more in-depth story on the Orange County Schools superintendent's proposed budget for the 2009-2010 school year.
• I'll be heading over to Cameron Park today for their Earth Day celebration and taking some pictures.
• The Montessori Farm School is doing some interesting stuff as a fundraiser. I'll be heading over there to talk to some people about it.
• Max Carlin is having a speaker at C.W. Stanford to talk to students about life in Kuwait.

I've got a few other things on my list, but they're a little more up in the air. Read Wednesday's paper to find out if they made it in!

On a completely different topic, two deputies in the area I used to live and work where shot yesterday, one killed. They were and are great men — both of them — who went out of their way to help me on my beat and just had and have a great love of serving and protecting. Det. Pearson, who was killed, left behind a wife, and Det. Dawson, who is so far recovering well, has a wife and two children. If you could, keep them all in your thoughts today, that would be much appreciated. And, if you see an officer today, tell them thanks for doing what they do. They've got tough jobs, and they take a tremendous risk every day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Two more things

I wanted to mention two more things:

The first is that there is progress on the Bellevue Mill condo project. Tonight at 6 p.m., some modifications of the Special Use Permit for the former Flynt Fabrics mill will be discussed at a meeting in the Cloth Building on Nash Street. The town board will discuss it next Monday. From the town:
"The meeting — at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Cloth Building on Nash Street — will include potential modifications to the special-use permit that was approved in 2007 for the Bellevue Mill project.
That permit allows the renovation of the historic portion of the former mill building. The approved plan calls for 85 apartments and a 2,000-square-foot leasing office.
The owners, who had the Nash Street property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are seeking a development partner to complete the project. The approval is valid through Sept. 1 and may be extended upon request. Applicants have two years from the date of
approval to secure construction permits or to seek an approval extension from the Hillsborough Town Board.
The Town Board will discuss the developer’s proposed modifications during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. April 13 in the Town Barn, located on the Town Hall campus at 101 E. Orange St."
The second thing is that an article on the UNC General Almuni Association has mentioned that UNC Health Care will pursue a 100-bed hospital in Hillsborough. When I reached Karen McCall, VP of Public Affairs and Marketing with UNC Health Care, she told me, "We haven't submitted any plans to anybody yet. ... We're considering all sorts of things — hotels, motels."

That's the official word thus far. We should have something more by next week's paper.

No more from me today. FYI, I'm all over the place tomorrow and off Friday; so possibly expect something from Vanessa this week but otherwise I'm off the blog for a few days.


More Egg hunt pictures

Because the best lighting seems to come on sunny mid-mornings, last Saturday's shoot at New Hope Park yielded some great photos (as is typical, we had to cut many shots and some content from this week's issue because of space limitations). I am going to post a few shots that didn't make it into print below.

A quick story regarding the young man on the front page, Sam Trueblood. I was trying to find some good angles before the egg hunt started, because once the kids are off, the worthwhile shots happen in rapid succession, and I had maybe 4 minutes to get action shots. I took some shots of kids in anticipation outside the egg "grid," but once things got started, they were moving pretty fast and were difficult to get into frame.

I took a shot of Sam because, one, he was slower-moving (being younger than 2), and he had a look of pure, unadulterated joy that kids seem to get from a first of any given holiday event. After taking a first shot, his mother stood up and recognized me. I try to be as accommodating to parents with young children as I can, asking permission to use photos after I've swooped in and started snapping away. But I am a slightly-bearded guy, with no kids in tow, taking pictures of small children. Things can be misinterpreted.

Luckily, his mom, Stephanie, is a Town of Hillsborough planner who I've worked with on some Colonial Inn background, so all was well. There have been some instances where people have been less than enthused that "the newspaper" is there with a camera, so I'm glad I was able to keep a shot with a great facial expression.

Raw photos below:

Monday, April 6, 2009


On such a crazy day, I thought I'd take a quick moment to put up a picture from a family I interviewed Friday at their farm in Hurdle Mills. I had a great time talking to Renee, Mandi, Tiffany, Kendall and Martin. There's the Parker kids at left with Mandi's steer Red (so named because he had a red ear tag on. Her other steer is named White, for a similar reason.) At right is Martin with some hogs. That
boy clearly loves his animals.

I was talking with them about the 64th annual Central Piedmont Junior Livestock Fair, which is going on April 15-16 at the Central Carolina Holstein Barn on Orange Grove Road.

To find out more, read Wednesday's News of Orange.

Tourism board addressing special events fees

First of all, I just want to say that this week's issue will be a photo finish. There is plenty of news developing on a Monday (some we knew about, others we didn't until recently). We'll have some good weekend pictures — the weather cooperated on Saturday.

Vanessa also tagged along with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan at Gravelly Hill this morning, so expect a story from that event. I plan on having a story about the town's proposed changes to special events fees, but the town tourism board will meet tonight to discuss it, too. Not to fear, those of you who want to attend and also like basketball; it starts at 5:30 p.m. From the town:
"The Hillsborough Tourism Board will discuss the town’s draft special event permit policy at its meeting Monday.
The draft Town of Hillsborough policy aims to provide one-stop assistance with event planning. It would help streamline and enhance the planning and coordination of events conducted by nongovernment entities on Hillsborough’s public streets and public property or events that require town resources. The policy also would provide for standardized fees, charges and procedures, updating the permit process.
The draft policy reflects the Town Code and the current street event process that is administered by the Police Department.
Under the draft policy, activities requiring a special event permit would include events such as bike races, parades/marches, festivals, concert series, celebrations, tours, car shows, street dances, sidewalk sales and art shows that may impact town streets or require town staff
or equipment for support.
Applicants of events requiring the use of public services would be required to pay for services deemed necessary by the town, such as police, the fire marshal or the Public Works and Planning departments. Additional fees would include electrical, water and park usage as well as rental fees for equipment, including vehicles, trailers, barricades, cones, fencing, parks and meeting rooms.
The draft policy includes proposed provisions for potential fee waivers and/or reduction of fees for events related to tourism and charitable organizations.
... The proposed policy is part of an effort to respond to a variety of parties’ interests in the growing number and popularity of special events in Hillsborough, including concerns from merchants regarding information on events, blocked streets and parking, the need for advanced notification of traffic detours, noise impacting neighborhoods and post-parade litter.
... That information was used to draft the proposed fees for various services and equipment provided by the town during special events.
A copy of the draft policy is available on the town’s Web site,, on the News page. A copy also may be reviewed in the town clerk’s office on the Town Hall campus, 101 E. Orange St. The draft policy is expected to be considered by the Town Board later
this spring.
The Tourism Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 6, in the Town Barn on the Town Hall campus. The board also will review a report on meals tax collections and discuss evaluations for tourism grants."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gold Park update; load a backpack for weekend events

As promised, here's a rundown of weekend events. We'll be taking some pictures at a few of them, as this seems to be the official "warm weather event kickoff weekend."

Also, the Town of Hillsborough just announced that Gold Park will open, for real this time, on April 18. From the town:
"The Town of Hillsborough will open its first community park and a portion of Riverwalk with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. April 18.
The 24-acre Gold Park on Dimmocks Mill Road includes a multi-purpose field, playground equipment, picnic structures, a fenced dog park and a little less than half a mile of Riverwalk.
Riverwalk is a 1.5-mile greenway that will connect downtown Hillsborough with Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, off Orange Grove Road in western Hillsborough.
Stevens, as well as representatives of the Hillsborough Parks and Recreation Board and the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority, will speak briefly at the ribbon-cutting. Then Gold Park will be opened for play before 10:30 a.m.
The park was made possible through the donation of land from the Gold family and a $500,000 grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.
The park is located at 415 Dimmocks Mill Road, just west of Nash Street. It is in the sharp curve of Dimmocks Mill Road, just south of the railroad trestle."
And this weekend:

• The Eno River Farmers' Market kicks off from 8 a.m. to noon at the Public Market House along Margaret Lane. The Hillsborough Farmers' Market, which has been ongoing since March 21, will be held during the same time outside of Home Depot in Hampton Pointe.

• The Daniel Boone Merchants Association, Historic Speedway Group and Bull City Street Rod Association will hold the first of several cruise-in events from 1 to 4 p.m. at Daniel Boone Village. It'll have classic cars, special at the shops, live music and food (the music is live, not the food).

• Two Easter egg hunts will be held — the first at 10:30 a.m. at the future New Hope Park site (near New Hope Church Road), and the second at 2 p.m. at the Burwell School in Hillsborough.

• Yesterday and Today Frame Shop will hold a frame and mirror show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with creations by local crafter Edward Wright. Interestingly, his frames are made based on recognizable architecture from around town.

• Weaver Street Market begins its wine sale from 1 to 5 p.m., with proceeds benefiting local non-profits (includes snacks, live music).

• Hillsborough/Orange County Relay for Life is holding its annual Survivors' Auction at 7 p.m. at the Cedar Grove Ruritan Building (dinner and a viewing of items begins at 5 p.m.)

That's a busy Saturday. And there's only about seven months of warm weather left this year.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This week

As Vanessa mentioned, schools are off and so are most sports, so that's two of our normal pages. But fear not; we're chock full of spring feature and event picture potential to the point where we're bursting at the seams (and about 6 photographers short of being able to cover everything). If any faithful readers — or occasional ones, we're not that picky — are at an event and we aren't, please e-mail us a picture. At the very least, we can post some shots to the blog; optimally, we'll have enough space to run several inches worth of Saturday event shots.

Anyways, in addition to the things that Vanessa listed (and could also develop in the next few days), I am working on a few stories in addition to the standard calendar/Op-Ed/news briefs/working with the company computer sage tasks of the day:

— We've been sort of quiet on the waste transfer station happenings of late, but there are/will be a few Solid Waste Advisory Board meetings that will shed some light on the fiscal side of the county's short-term options. Basically, several concerned residents have asked the county to consider using private vendors to haul away county trash until a permanent, non-N.C. 54 transfer station solution can be found for the soon-to-be-full landfill problem. Olver, the county consultant, has raised several issues regarding the "interim" vendor solution and has projected costs for each of the county's options. More on that next week.

(For those wondering when commissioners are going to discuss this again as an agenda item, an update on the "parallel track" for waste disposal solutions will be presented April 21 (7 p.m., Seymour Center, Chapel Hill).

— I'm also going to find out a little more about the town's plan to have in-town events pay for their own security and public works expenses. What local events could be priced out under this proposal?

Tomorrow, I'll give a complete a rundown as I can on weekend events around town and the county (or check the calendar.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

for next week

Well, this week is a bit different for me. Since the schools are in spring break, I'll be concentrating on some other stuff for the next edition.

• I'll be attending the Relay for Life auction Saturday and taking some pictures.
• There's a Board of Education meeting Monday I'll be attending.
• I'll be talking to some people involved with the Livestock Show happening in mid-April.
• I'll be highlighting a community outreach program at Durham Tech.
• I hope to talk to the Cedar Ridge choir director this week about the honours they received recently.
• A round-up story on revaluations, with the total number of appeals from March. As Josh wrote, it's not nearly as bad as some surrounding counties.

I may have something else, too, but it's been embargoed as of yet. But that should be plenty to keep me out of trouble.

As always, please e-mail or call me or stop by the office and let me know of anything else going on in the area. Or, of course, leave a comment here.

More stats on tax revaluations

And, we're back. The pie chart in this week's issue came out clearly enough with distinctive colors, but what it didn't have was percentages tied to each color. That seemed extraneous for the size of chart we were running. Anyways, here's the raw numbers on what percentage of total county properties increased by "X" percent (from the tax assessor's office — percentages rounded to tenths of a percent):

Zero to 16-percent increase in real property valuation between 2005 and 2009: 19.5 percent (9,134 total)

More than 16 percent but less than or equal to a 24-percent increase: 35 percent (16,423)

More than 24 percent but less than or equal to a 33-percent increase: 24.6 percent (11,512)

More than 33 percent but less than or equal to a 40-percent increase: 9.9 percent (4,640)

More than 40, less than 50 percent: 6.2 percent (2,885)

More than 50, less than 100: 4.4 percent (2,052)

More than 100, less than 200: 0.4 percent (202)

More than 200 percent: less than 0.1 percent (40)

Since the number of appeals reported by the state are probably lower than the total as of this week, we'll have an update on the total number of appeals in Orange County next week. One of our sister papers, the Mebane Enterprise, reports that neighboring Alamance County has had more than 10,000 appeals. But there are a few important distinctions: Alamance has 68,000 taxed properties, compared to 55,000 listed for Orange by the state Department of Revenue; and Alamance last conducted a revaluation in 2001.

If Orange County waited another four years before raising property values, one could guess that the number of appeals would be exponentially higher, given the more extreme jump in valuations.

We'll be back with more news and notes later today or early tomorrow.

CORRECTION: The "refer" on the bottom of page 1 of the print edition said the letter from commissioners is on page 4. It's at the top of page 5.