Tuesday, June 30, 2009

H1N1 update

According to the Orange County Health Department, confirmed cases of novel influenza A, aka H1N1, aka "swine flu," are now up to 19 from 18.

The health department has the following to say about the disease:

* According to the CDC, the novel influenza A (H1N1) flu spreads in the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread, which is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person travel through the air and enter the mouth or nose of people or land on objects nearby. Infectious droplets may also be spread when a person touches another person or a contaminated object and then touches their mouth or nose before washing their hands.

* The public is encouraged to prevent disease spread and protect their health. The health department recommends practicing consistent respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes with tissue) and proper hand washing. Clean commonly touched surfaces often. Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms.

* Individuals with flu-like symptoms should contact their medical provider and avoid contact with others. Stay home from work, school, church or social gatherings for 7 days after start of illness or until at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved whichever is longer

preliminary EOG results for OCS (science)

So sorry for not getting the rest of these results up sooner, but it's been a bit crazy over here, and this requires (for me) long periods of concentration (and a lot of coffee!).

Here are the preliminary results on End of Grade tests for science.

Since there are fewer categories here (only students in grades three and eight are tested in science for the EOG), I'll be able to go into more detail per school.

With retesting, every elementary and middle school was able to increase their students' level of proficiency. The district increased proficiency by 2.3 percent before the retest and by a whopping 16.1 percent after it from the 2008 school year levels. For the middle schools, that meant a total of 72.3 percent of students in the district being proficient in science (achieving at least a Level III on the EOG). At the elementary school level, the district achieved a 13 percent increase pre-retest and a humongous leap of a nearly 40 percent increase in proficiency from the 2008 levels after the retest.

Grade Three

Before the retest, Central achieved the biggest percent increase in proficiency of 31.9 percent more students over 2008 levels, with 34.3 percent reaching proficiency. After the retest, Central increased by 53.9 percent the number of students who were proficient, to 40 percent.

Cameron Park had a decrease of 3.1 percent the number of students who achieved proficiency before the retest compared with 2008, with 55.7 percent of students proficient in 2009. However, with the retest, they achieved a 20.2 percent increase in the number of students achieving proficiency, with nearly 70 percent proficient.

Efland Cheeks saw a 28.7 percent increase in proficiency from the 2008 levels, to 36.8 percent of students proficient in science in 2009. ECES experienced the highest percentage increase of students reaching proficiency: There was an 80.1 percent increase in students reaching proficiency after the retest, to 51.5 percent proficient in 2009.

Grady A. Brown achieved a 9.2 percent increase over 2008 levels, to 64 percent proficient before the retest. After the retest, nearly 80 percent of students were proficient, a 34.8 percent increase.

Hillsborough achieved a 14.5 percent increase over 2008 levels, to nearly 65 percent proficient before the retest. After the retest, more than 72 percent of students were proficient, a 27.6 percent increase.

New Hope suffered a .5 percent decrease in proficiency from 2008 to 2009 levels before the retest, to 56.8 percent proficient. However, retesting boosted the number of students considered proficient to 70.3 percent, a more than 23 percent increase.

Pathways achieved a 29.3 percent increase over 2008 levels, to 64 percent proficient before the retest. After the retest, more than 73 percent of students were proficient, a 66.4 percent increase.

Grade Eight

A.L. Stanback was the only middle school to increase the number of students who were considered proficient before the retest, to 70.6 percent, a 16.5 percent increase over 2008 numbers. After the retest, 78.2 percent of students were proficient, a 29 percent increase.

C.W. Stanford suffered a 2.1 percent decrease in the number of students who were considered proficient compared with 2008. Post retest, nearly 73 percent of students were considered proficient, a 9 percent increase over 2008 numbers.

Gravelly Hills experienced a 6.4 percent decrease in the number of students who were considered proficient compared with 2008 during the first round of testing. After the retest, more than 66 percent of students were considered proficient, a 14.3 percent increase over the 2008 numbers.

Phew! The reading EOG analysis will be up sometime this week.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Let me be the 1,234,784,576,393rd person to make an homage to Michael Jackson today. Vanessa and I were throwing around our favorite Jacko-related memories, and somehow his songs with Eddie Murphy and Rockwell stick out more to me than any of his major hits (not for the same reasons, though — I implore you to watch the "Whatsupwitu" video and think about how long ago 1993 looks).

Anyways ... I am working on two things for certain for next week, with many photos to be thrown in the mix because we receive many more than we can run each week.

• Residents working to stop Brady bypass — A group of residents who I spoke to last fall are continuing to pursue ways to stop the Elizabeth Brady Road bypass from being built. Public officials have in recent months said they would rather the money be spent on smaller projects that could achieve the same level of traffic mitigation. You can read about what the residents are trying to do while the project is being processed at the state level.

• Going back in time — A project in Cedar Grove is taking aim at an old general store, viewing it as a way to turn back the clock when the corner store was the local gathering place. I'll have some details on their work.

Last Fridays is tonight, and organizers are already marking vendor spots. More info here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

preliminary EOG results for OCS (math)

Sorry I didn't get this up yesterday, but Josh and I were producing the Woodcroft Gazette.

So, here's a bit more detailed analysis of the preliminary End of Grade (EOG) exams in math by school. Reading and science will follow, as this is a lot of math to do in one sitting (for me, anyway).

Dr. Mary Calhoun, district director of accountability, was kind enough to give me numbers from each school by grade all the way back until 2006.

Elementary Schools
(Again, here I'm using 2009 retest number versus 2008 numbers).

Out of the elementary schools, Efland Cheeks saw the biggest improvement from last year to this year, with a 16.6 percent increase in scores. Hillsborough's scores were the highest, with 90.2 percent of students proficient in math. Close behind were Cameron Park (87.9 percent), Pathways (85.9 percent), New Hope (85.7 percent) and Grady Brown (85 percent). The district saw an 85 percent proficiency rate this year.

Still, as Dr. Calhoun said, comparing last year's fourth-graders, for example, with this year's fourth-graders is like comparing apples to oranges. She suggested comparing last year's third-graders to this year's fourth-graders to follow what is likely mostly the same students.

(This is where the math part came in. Hopefully, my numbers are right!)

More of this year's fifth-graders at Grady Brown increased their proficiency in math over when they were in fourth grade, by about 23 percent. Close behind them with a nearly 22 percent increase in proficiency were New Hope fifth graders. Cameron Park fourth-graders in 2009 increased proficiency in math over their third-grade selves by 14.1 percent.

Still, some students lost proficiency in math. More than 11 percent (11.4) of Central fifth-graders lost proficiency in math when compared with third-grade scores of 2008, as did Pathways 3.7 percent of Pathways fifth-graders and 2.5 percent of Cameron Park fifth-graders.

Overall, however, the trend is positive. Most elementary schools saw improvement in math, and grades three through eight as a whole saw improvement after the retest over last year's scores. State scores are not yet out for the 2009 school year.

Middle Schools

Onto the middle schools now.

Gravelly Hill had the most dramatic increases across the board in straight grade-to-grade (i.e. sixth-graders from '08 to six-graders from '09) comparison. As a school, they achieved a 25.5 percent increase over last year's EOG result.

Still, none of the schools saw dips in proficiency, which is really great news.

In the apples to apples comparison, Gravelly Hill again saw great gains: 35.7 percent of this year's seventh-graders (again, last year's sixth-graders) achieved at least a Level III (which indicates proficiency) on their EOGs. Nearly 22 percent of '09 eighth-graders at the school did the same, followed by 14.4 percent of C.W. Stanford seventh-graders and 14.2 percent of A.L. Stanback seventh-graders.

This is really great news for the district. To paraphrase something Bruce Middleton, coordinator for K-12 math and science in the district, said at a parent meeting, We wouldn't allow illiteracy in reading, so why do we allow it in math? Hopefully, these scores show that students in Orange County Schools are gaining math literacy.

More tomorrow (or maybe later today) on science and reading.


According to the Orange County Health Department, confirmed cases of novel influenza A, aka H1N1, aka "swine flu," are now up to 18 from 14.

The health department has the following to say about the disease:

* According to the CDC, the novel influenza A (H1N1) flu spreads in the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread, which is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person travel through the air and enter the mouth or nose of people or land on objects nearby. Infectious droplets may also be spread when a person touches another person or a contaminated object and then touches their mouth or nose before washing their hands.

* The public is encouraged to prevent disease spread and protect their health. The health department recommends practicing consistent respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes with tissue) and proper hand washing. Clean commonly touched surfaces often. Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms.

* Individuals with flu-like symptoms should contact their medical provider and avoid contact with others. Stay home from work, school, church or social gatherings for 7 days after start of illness or until at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved whichever is longer

Some changes in the WTS siting process

In this week's edition, I wrote what I hoped was a wrap-up of where things stand on the solid waste transfer station siting process. We enter the summer with two sites actively in mind: Millhouse Road and West 54. In talking with Gayle Wilson this morning, some of the county's "summer reading" (my words, not his) has changed.

Because Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy said late last week the Town Council would not discuss officially offering the Millhouse Road site until September at the earliest, the county is in limbo. Wilson said he has been told to stop any further investigation on the site for now.

"I've been told officially to do nothing this summer on Millhouse Road," Wilson said.

The reason is that there is no real indication the town will actually offer the site, so money and time shouldn't be wasted on investigating the site if nothing will ultimately come of it.

As for the West 54 site, the Army Corps of Engineers recently completed a delineation study on the site (looking at potential affected wetlands), and information will be sent to the county, then to the state, then back to the county planning board for a final call on whether the site is permittable for a station. Residents in the area have made the case that a station would impact wildlife not identified in the county's initial assessment.

So, Wilson said, the chances of more information on that site being back to the county in August is "about 50/50." He said he would be "slightly surprised" if anything is ready by then. There is then a chance that nothing is back by August.

Olver clearing up tax issues
On a (somewhat) unrelated note, Olver, the consultants tasked with helping select and manage a transfer station, are working through some tax issues with the state. In a letter given to commissioners before this month's final regular meeting, C. Mark Blaylock, CFO for Olver Inc., writes that the company has not been certified with the state since 2004 because of back tax issues.

"We have recently learned that the corporate certification for Olver Incorporated has been suspended by the Secretary of State of North Carolina," he wrote in a letter dated June 16. "This suspension has been in effect since February 2004."

The suspension was in place because the state Department of Revenue has no record of the company's 1997 corporate tax return. That year was the company's first operating in North Carolina, Blaylock writes.

The company is working with the state to resolve the issue and file a 1997 return. Wilson said he doesn't foresee the suspension having any effect on the county's relationship with Olver.

"As long as they proceed deliberately with solving it, I don't see it affecting their present relationship with the county," he said.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

fairview park master plan

As promised, here is the master plan for the Fairview Community Park. (Click on the image to see a large version of the plan.) At the meeting last week, there was definitely optimism in the air from most of the people there. Cautious optimism — which is understandable after around 30 years of waiting — but optimism nonetheless. I think the plan for the park looks great. Contractors are due to break ground in August, if lawyers give the OK on the deal.

Friday, June 19, 2009

By the way, Hog Day(s) start(s) tonight

In case you didn't notice, many of the cars coming in tonight are here for Hog Day (6-9 p.m. tonight, starts at 9 a.m. tomorrow). Hillsborough just sent out this notice as well:

Three streets in downtown Hillsborough will be closed Saturday, June 20, for Hog Day, and no parking on street shoulders will be allowed near the venue.
The 27th annual Hillsborough Hog Day takes place Friday and Saturday in Cameron Park behind Cameron Park Elementary School. The following streets will be closed to traffic during the second day of the barbecue festival, pending N.C. Department of Transportation approval:
• St. Mary’s Road between Thomas Ruffin Street and Cameron and King streets
• South Cameron Street between King Street and Margaret Lane
• Tryon Street between St. Mary’s Road and Cameron Street

Motorists who usually drive St. Mary’s Road to reach downtown Hillsborough are encouraged to drive U.S. 70 west to Churton Street. No parking will be allowed on any street shoulders near the Hog Day site as parking is prohibited on the rights-of-way of local streets.

Motorists may park in marked parking spaces, the Eno River Parking Deck and in parking lots, with the exception of parking lots for the Post Office and medical offices on South Cameron Street.

A free shuttle will run twice an hour from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday from the parking lot of the former Wal-Mart, in the Hillsborough Commons shopping center off Mayo Street. Look for “shuttle parking” signs. A pedicab service also will be provided for a fee. Shuttle drop-off and pickup at the event will be at the Orange County Visitors Center, in the Alexander Dickson House, at 150 E. King St. Designated handicap parking is available. A map of public parking options in downtown Hillsborough is available on the town’s Web site, www.ci.hillsborough.nc.us. Click on “About Hillsborough” and then on “Parking.” The parking deck is located off Churton Street on the Gateway Center campus. A fee of $3 will be charged for all-day parking.

For more information, contact Sgt. William L. Parker at 732-2441. Parker is in charge of Special Enforcement and Special Operations for the Hillsborough Police Department.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What's coming

Usually we start to hit a slower few weeks after the budget is passed and before schools are back in session. That does not seem as likely this year, though we do hope to share some interesting feature stories in the next few months. We just have so many ongoing stories — things we have been trying to keep tabs on but don't really have set dates attached to them — that our plates are largely full.

To wit, we'll have updates next week on the UNC hospital plans (we have more details), Fairview Park (a bid to build starting later this summer came in lower than many people expected, meaning more at the park) and the Elizabeth Brady Road bypass proposal (now going on 40 years old). The Brady Road story mght wait a week, because we also have more on the waste transfer station site search, both town and county board happenings, information on some neat camps and oh, yeah, that Hog Day thing.

That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what I'll be looking into over the next few weeks: Some things you won't be seeing because of budget cutbacks, some things that will change in the next fiscal year and a few development/revitalization efforts on which I will, for now, withhold information.

Suffice it to say, there is a lot to explore this summer. If I'm missing anything from my "story radar" in northern Orange County — Vanessa has her own list, too — let me know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

orange county schools classified staff awards

So, because I had so much education content I was trying to get on the Ed Page (and I didn't even get all I wanted), I was unable to run a second picture of the OCS Classified Staff Brunch and Awards Ceremony with the nominees and all their names. So, here it is. Congratulations to everyone:

The 2008-2009 nominees of Orange County Schools classified staff employees of the year awards are: for Bus Driver of the Year, Kay McPherson, Mary Baldwin, Albert Clayton, Renee Brown, Wanda Bain and Teresa Daniel; for Custodian of the Year, Gloria Cheeks (New Hope Elementary School), Eddie Snipes (Gravelly Hill Middle School) and Robert Richmond (Orange High School); for Teacher Assistant of the Year, Beverly Apple (Cameron Park Elementary School), Pamela Chapman (Central Elementary School), Shari Latta (Grady Brown Elementary School), Cassandra Williams (Hillsborough Elementary School), Beatrice Gregory (Pathways Elementary School), Patricia Horne (New Hope Elementary School), Lori Merritt (C.W. Stanford Middle School), Marquis Beasley (Gravelly Hill Middle School), Dawn Brown (Cedar Ridge High School) and Marcia Compton (Orange High School); for Child Nutrition Manager of the Year, Bonnie Pettiford (Cameron Park Elementary School), Bernice Walton (Cameron Park Elementary School), Barbara Robinson (Central Elementary School), Berthinia Brown (Central Elementary School), Yvette Miles (Efland Cheeks Elementary School), Kathy Walker (New Hope Elementary School), Kim McBroom (New Hope Elementary School), Lela Copeland (New Hope Elementary School), Anne Neville (Gravelly Hill Middle School), Christi Riley (A.L. Stanback Middle School), Jenny Smith (A.L. Stanback Middle School), Pamela Enoch (A.L. Stanback Middle School) and Mildred Davis (C.W. Stanford Middle School); and Office Professional of the Year, Carolyn Moore (Cedar Ridge High School), Cyrena Gentry (Gravelly Hill Middle School), Debbie Kimball (Cedar Ridge High School), Della Putney-Lewis (maintenance), Diane Wilson (Cedar Ridge High School), Holly Nichols (office), Jan Cain (Central Office), Joy Toellen (New Hope Elementary School), Karen Riley (Gravelly Hill Middle School), LaTonya Fields (Cedar Ridge High School), Piper Flynt (Orange High School), Portia Holman (Hillsborough Elementary School), Sucovis Hester (Grady Brown Middle School), Tamara Long (Central Office), Vickie Rich (Central Office) and Zevalda McPherson (Hillsborough Elementary School).
Orange County Schools board member Ted Triebel likened classified staff to the “unsung heroes” of his 30 years in the Navy. “We couldn’t do it without you,” he said.
District Superintendent Patrick Rhodes agreed. “From the bottom of my of my heart, I really, truly appreciate what you do everyday.”

County leaders on summer break; Millhouse site survives

I realize this isn't local news, but I just wanted to throw this out there: 85 percent.

That's the estimated turnout of eligible voters in Iran's contentious presidential election. Given the uproar over the results, who knows how reliable that number is, but it gives you some perspective of the difference between American elections with large turnouts and the turnout in other parts of the world. (There wasn't much of a point here; I just was amazed at the number.)

Anyways, Orange County Commissioners held their last public meeting of the fiscal year before their summer break, meaning we have about two months to look into some of the particulars of the new budget. They left with a cliffhanger moment, approving by a 4-3 vote the continued study of the Millhouse Road site for a potential waste transfer station.

Over the summer, we can expect official environmental and engineering reports to be made of both the Millhouse site and the West 54 site. Representatives from both communities filled the meeting room last night, though those that spoke came mainly from the northern Chapel Hill (or the rural buffer) and Emerson Waldorf communities.

Residents' concerns centered around impacts of the station, which some said would be within 200 yards of the school grounds. Others were concerned the county would be placing a transfer station in a community historically linked with the Rogers Road/Eubanks community. Commissioners' pledge to reopen a stations search, after initially focusing on the current landfill site, has led them back to within two miles of where they started, and residents packed last night's meeting to ask that the county find another site.

Commissioner Mike Nelson, who voiced his discomfort with the way the search has gone before voting against further exploration of Millhouse Road (Valerie Foushee and Alice Gordon also voted against it), saying he couldn't support a site that has not been officially offered to commissioners yet.
"Where this got off track was this last-minute, 11th-hour [proposal] that may not actually be an offer," he said.
"It meant something to me that we'd be transparent. I wanted this to be different."

Now, over the two months between last night and the Aug. 18 meeting that should yield a next step (or perhaps a final site selection), residents of two communities will no doubt continue to scrutinize the two options. Both communities think historical action by the county has burdened their community more than enough. We'll have something in the paper about the meeting as well.

How do you think this will end? How should it end? We've got a few months to think about it.

Small error

On the front page, Vanessa's story says, "see BUDGET page 2". If you flip to page two, you won't find "BUDGET." Instead, look for "ADJUSTMENTS," as in the thing I did not do with page 2 last night that I should have done. Sorry for the mistake.

Also, both Vanessa and I are out for a decent part of the morning, so the Web should be up midday to early afternoon. Thanks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Budget tenatively approved

Commissioners voted 6-1 last night to tentatively approve the county's $177.6 million budget, a reduction of more than $5 million from last year's $183 million. The ad valorem tax rate would be 85.8 cents per $100 valuation, a revenue-neutral rate that is 14 cents lower than last year.

The big discussion last night centered on the balance of library and solid waste convenience center hours. Faced with four main options, commissioners voted to keep all library branches open, to limit the main library branch to 54 hours per week, and to close all solid waste convenience centers on Sundays. Beginning in late September, convenience centers will be open 42 hours per week — Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Other line items were deleted to make the math work and prevent the county from spending any more than it did when it proposed to close the Carrboro McDougle and Cedar Grove library branches. There's more, but I'm still trying to confirm numbers.

A motion to keep the main branch open for 62 hours failed to receive a majority vote.

Oh, and they hired Frank Clifton as the interim county manager. His last manager job was in Onslow County.

As always, we'll be putting the pieces together from this week's meeting for 2.5 or 3 stories in next week's issue. It is going to be full of developing news stories; who said the summer was going to be dull?

Family Fun Day takes place all over Hillsborough tomorrow. For more weekend events, read this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Orange H1N1 cases up to 11

Via Vanessa. More as we know it ...

Update on water main break

A seven-foot crack in a water main opened up early this morning, leading Hillsborough officials to declare a boil water order for two apartment complexes on the west side of town.

Water department employees responded shortly after 6 a.m. to a report of a burst water main running through Heritage and Cedar Creek apartments on Orange Grove Road on Thursday, said Will Baker, assistant utilities director for the town.

The rupture was caused by wear over time, he said, and the main was among several the department sought funding to replace in the near future.

“It just popped, and it was one of those that, when it goes, it goes,” Baker said.

The department responded within minutes and sealed of the leak so that only residents in the two apartments were affected.

The boil water order is a standard measure when water pressure drops in a residential source, he said.

Baker said he expects water samples to test negative for any type of contaminants Friday, allowing the town to lift the order.

Tonight's county budget meeting

The Orange County Commissioners will meet again tonight to settle on an FY10 budget (Complete agenda here). On tap are some final decisions on issues dominating previous meetings, including libraries and the Carrboro High School arts wing.
Based on comments at previous meetings, commissioners intend to keep all library branches open but to limit the number of hours the Hillsborough branch remains open (54 hours per week). According to tonight's background material, the cost of keeping all of the branches open under this plan is $1,567,542, almost $437,000 more than was originally recommended. Tonight, commissioners and staff will discuss a funding plan to cover increased costs.
Commissioners also committed to building the high school arts wing, though no money needs to budgeted in the upcoming fiscal year.
Also, solid waste convenience center hours will be discussed, as will various collection schedules. We'll have more tomorrow, and of course, more in next week's paper.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Letter from the mayor

Ah, Wednesday. We just get done with a 22-page paper in which we formatted 450+ graduation photos, and next week we have Hog Day. That means another few pages next week with all of the info you need for next weekend's annual event.

We reported on Tom Stevens' announcement that he will seek re-election in today's paper, but here is the full text of his announcement posted to his campaign Web site:

"Dear Friends & Fellow Citizens,

It is a privilege to serve as Mayor of Hillsborough, and I am pleased to announce I will run for a third term.

In my initial 2005 campaign for office, I pledged “to be a passionate spokesperson for this town that is my home,” and to offer “strong leadership so our town board and citizens together can create a vision and action plan for Hillsborough’s future.” I wrote about our town’s potential to be a “showcase of what is right about small town America.”

We are moving in the right direction. I believe a widely shared vision of our town has emerged, a vision that emphasizes small-town character, celebrating our heritage, sustainable prosperity for folks from all walks of life, and community vitality you can feel walking down the street. As a community we are taking action to fulfill that vision, as evidenced by new parks, new businesses, new events, and new neighborhoods that contribute to the community. No less important is the growing interest in celebrating and preserving our natural and cultural heritage. A steady stream of local, state, and national attention highlight great things that are “happening” in Hillsborough. Our small town gives us much to be proud of and enjoy.

While we can point to many achievements, we can’t afford to be complacent. Especially in these current times, our decisions have far-reaching impact in shaping our quality of life both in the near future and for generations to come.

It takes many heads, hands, and hearts to preserve the Hillsborough we love while shaping the Hillsborough we envision. As your mayor I will continue to be a passionate spokesperson for our town and community, and offer seasoned leadership aimed at bringing the efforts of many people together for the benefit of our town.

Tom Stevens

June 10, 2009"

No word yet on town board members Frances Dancy or Michael Gering, whose seats are also up this fall, nor on any challengers; in fairness, election filing won't even begin for almost four weeks. But, in a political culture that has produced 24-month national races (you can read about 2010 Senate races already), it would not be surprising if we know most of the field before July arrives.

As always, post your rumors on who's running below or send them to editorial@newsoforange.com. Please keep it clean.

little error

Somehow, the page 7 story about Grady Brown and Paws 4 Ever included incorrect attribution for Sharon Harkovy's dog, Tibby. It's right on the page, but it got in the paper wrong. So sorry, Sharon, but we'll have a correction next week.

But, here are some pictures from the event that didn't make it into the paper:

Once we put up the Web, I'll put some more photos up in the photo gallery. Just click on the blue and yellow button.

Monday, June 8, 2009

walkable hillsborough

With summer fast approaching, there are still tons of events to attend in the schools and out in the community.

I was at Saturday's Walkable Hillsborough event at Gold Park, which looked like it was an unqualified success. People of all ages came out — some even brought their dogs and made use of the dog park — and everyone looked like they had a great time.

Polly Beere, of Hillsborough, with pooch Timbuktu, came out to the park to enjoy Walkable Hillsborough, she said. She said she was having a great time at the event, which featured booths from local groups, games and even cupcakes (yum!).

To see more pictures, check out tomorrow's News of Orange County or the Web site on Wednesday.

Dispelling some rumors

With Hog Day fast approaching (June 19-20) and the town's Gold Park an apparent hit with residents, I figure I should share something that was brought up at both town and county meetings last week.

Apparently, rumors have been spreading that Hog Day was going to be moving to Gold Park either this year or in later years. This is not true, Mayor Tom Stevens said last week. It's going to be held in Cameron Park (the land between Cameron Park Elementary and the Board of Education building off Cameron/St. Mary's).

Ditto on the rumor it will be relocated behind the new courthouse, near where the Occaneechi Village was previously located. In a budget discussion last week, commissioners mentioned in talking with Parks Director Lori Taft the event would not be moving to that location after River Park is opened. (River Park will be the land behind the buildings on West Margaret Lane and will be opened after the Justice Facility expansion is complete.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Colonial Inn and other Monday happenings

In addition to possibly approving the budget next week, the town board will talk about improvements at the Colonial Inn, which has been undergoing renovations since earlier this year.

The town will consider paying for a new sidewalk in front of the Inn, according to the town's meeting agenda. To facilitate repairs, the right-of-way in front of the building, which includes the Inn's front porch, could be closed.

Also on the agenda are the potential approval of Bellevue Mill changes and the Forest Ridge development, consideration of a solid waste contract and talk of tourism grants.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Town weighing second fire district

Later this year, Hillsborough town board members will consider creating a second fire district in town.

According to a release from the town, the primary district would include the downtown core and the second district would include the rest of the town under Orange Rural's jurisdiction.

The move could improve Orange Rural's future insurance ratings. Orange Rural is the primary fire agency for the town.

Each district would have certain restrictions. In the first (downtown):

• No open flame devices could be used inside a building or outside in a parking lot or other open space. Homeowners, however, would be allowed to use approved outdoor fireplaces.

• A sprinkler system would be required in all new construction — commercial and residential. Existing commercial buildings would be required to install a sprinkler system when a building’s square footage or occupancy increases.

• The use of pine straw in landscaping would be prohibited.

In the secondary fire district:

• Open burning of landscaping and vegetative debris originating on site would be permitted when materials cannot be transported to the road for pickup due to undue hardship.

• The same sprinkler system rules would apply.

• The use of pine straw in landscaping would be prohibited within 10 feet of any building except single-family dwellings.

To create the two districts, the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners would need to adopt the fire marshal’s proposed ordinance. The proposal will be presented this summer to the board. A date has not been set.

Also for next week's paper:

— County budget talks continue tonight, and the town could adopt its budget next week.

— County commissioners approved the Efland Sewer System rate increase.

— We'll have some trial updates.

— And a story about a dog kennel in the rural buffer that neighbors say they will continue to fight.

Oh, and don't forget the "Meet the Grads" section. We've been spending many hours fixing photos today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Open House at Breeze Farm

From the "things that come in on Tuesday afternoons and take place this week" file:

Orange County Cooperative Extension and Economic Development will host an open house for the farm enterprise incubator, Plant@Breeze, from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 4. The W.C. Breeze Family Farm Extension & Research Center is located at 4909 Walnut Grove Church Road in Hurdle Mills.
This is the second year for The People Learning Agriculture Now for
Tomorrow (PLANT) program, a farm enterprise incubator for the Piedmont
Region. The program helps to introduce apprentice farmers to the basic
how-to's of small scale, sustainable vegetable and fruit production.
Those attending can learn about this innovative effort to grow new farmers in the Piedmont, take a tour of the production area and meet aspiring farmers.
For more information contact the Orange County Cooperative Extension
Office at 245-2050 or visit www.orangecountyfarms.org.

This week's page 14

I made a simple yet wide-ranging mistake with this week's pages, and several of the pages in the back end of the print edition were published in error. Below is the PDF of page 14 as it should have appeared. All news from the missing page is available or will be available online.
We regret the error.