Friday, November 20, 2009

H1N1 vaccines by appointment

I just got this via e-mail from the Health Department:
Hillsborough-- Orange County residents can now call 1-888-252-3001 to reach a scheduler to make an H1N1 vaccine appointment. Utilizing H1N1 implementation funds, appointment scheduling was outsourced to Global Response to set up a professional appointment call center for greater public access to appointments.

Operators screen callers according to the Centers for Disease Control priority group guidelines and have up to ten lines active from 8:00am-5:00pm Monday - Friday. Callers will be offered appointments at the health department's Chapel Hill or Hillsborough clinic locations. Global Response will post a message for callers once all appointments are full, but will re-open as vaccine supplies are replenished.

Global Response is an appointment service only, for medically related questions the public can call the health department's H1N1 Nurse at 919-605-2051 or post an email to

Currently, half-day H1N1 clinics are being held daily Monday through Friday by appointment. The health department estimates that 400 appointments will be available weekly with additional appointments becoming available as more vaccine is shipped.

For general information about seasonal and H1N1 flu and updated information about vaccines visit the health department's website at or the Flu Information line at 919-245-2479.

Whatever happened here, the giant, neon pink bird lost

This is the scene down East King Street the morning after Ladies' Night Out. Look for pictures in next week's edition.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brady meetings, recapped

Man, another post ... The Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce this morning sent out a good recap of the meetings being held on the Elizabeth Brady Road bypass in the next three weeks. To wit:

"Dept. of Transportation Official to Speak At November Government
Affairs Meeting
Mike Mills, NCDOT Division 7 Engineer, will be the guest speaker at
the Chamber’s Government Affairs meeting on November 24, at 8:30 at
the Chamber office. Mike will be speaking about the status of the
Proposed Elizabeth Brady Road Extension."


"Hillsborough to Discuss Alternatives to Elizabeth Brady Road Bypass
Special Town Board meeting on alternatives to proposed
Elizabeth Brady Road extension
7 p.m. Nov. 30, 2009
Town Barn, 101 E. Orange St., Town Hall campus. Parking
lot is accessed from East Corbin Street.

The Hillsborough Town Board will hold a special meeting Nov. 30 to
discuss possible support of smaller, alternative road projects over
the proposed Elizabeth Brady Road extension, which would alleviate
traffic on Churton Street through the downtown.

The meeting — at 7 p.m. in the Town Barn, 101 E. Orange St. — is one
week in advance of a public hearing that the N.C. Department of
Transportation will hold on the Elizabeth Brady Road bypass project.

The Hillsborough board members will discuss the DOT’s draft
environmental impact statement on the bypass and the projects they
would like the DOT to build instead with the nearly $30 million
allocated for the bypass."

and then,

"DOT to Host Open House, Public Hearing on Proposed Hillsborough Bypass
NCDOT pre-hearing open house and public hearing on proposed Elizabeth Brady Road Extension
Dec. 7, 2009
Open House: 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria
Presentation/Public Hearing: 7 p.m. in the gymnasium
Cameron Park Elementary School, 240 St. Mary's Road
The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a pre-hearing open
house and corridor/design public hearing Dec. 7 on the proposed
Elizabeth Brady Road Extension.

The open house and public hearing will take place at Cameron Park
Elementary School, 240 St. Mary’s Road.

NCDOT representatives will be available from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the
open house, in the school’s cafeteria, to answer questions and receive
comments regarding the proposed project. An opportunity to submit
written comments or questions will be provided.

A formal presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium.
The presentation will explain the proposed location and design of the
project, the state-federal relationship, and right-of-way and
relocation requirements and procedures. Citizens will be able to
comment or ask questions. The presentation and comments will be
recorded, and a transcript will be prepared."

So, if these are meetings you plan to attend, plan on seeing me a lot in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Town push for increased occupancy tax hits a potential snag

Last week, the town board was discussing the next move to adopt up to a 3 percent additional occupancy tax on people staying at local hotels/motels, which is the preferred method among elected officials and other town leaders to pay for rising costs for special events.

The town says it is incurring greater costs than before with the sheer volume of events on public property (i.e. on town streets, parking lots, parks, etc.), and they are looking for a way to minimally impact event organizers, who have said the are operating on the razor's edge in terms of financing their events.

Town Manager Eric Peterson said the town’s plan to fund public services at events has run into a legal precedent. Similar bills establishing occupancy taxes for tourism purposes have been dedicated to fund tourism initiatives, he said, but he sees little evidence a tax would be approved to compensate for town services.

“We don’t think we can use this money to reimburse expenses,” he said.

Based on bills passed recently in other communities for a similar tax creation, the town would have to create another tourism advisory board, with roughly two-thirds of money raised through the tax benefiting tourism campaigns. One-third of the proceeds, Peterson said, could be used toward “tourism expenses.”

This would mean the town could use the money to offset other tourism-related costs, like its wayfinding signage plan, but using proceeds for event management costs “would be a stretch,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t ask for something special,” he said.

Peterson said town staff will bring back more information on what the town can request authority for in a General Assembly bill. They aren't tied to the bill language used by other towns, he said, but the town might have to make a compelling argument to use the tax income for so general a purpose. The bill was likely written to avoid potential abuses of the income, he said.

That will be something to watch. As for things coming up over the next issue or two (and around the holidays, we plan for two papers at a time and see what surfaces each week):

• I attended a rail station task force meeting this week, and the plans for the Collins property - which would include a train station, HYAA fields and perhaps a performing arts center - were much further along than I realized. More details next week.

• I'll finally have excerpts from my talk with Mayor Tom Stevens on what the next few years have in store for Hillsborough.

• I'm told there will be an update on the Colonial Inn repairs.

• Also, very likely we'll have Brady Road news/analysis.

• I have a feature or two in the pipeline for either this week or next.

As always, tips, story ideas and feedback are welcome at josh.kastrinsky(at) or editorial(at) (both go to me).

Technical updates

A quick programming note or two before we launch into our regular programming:

• The office is closed next Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. We'll open next Monday, same time. Ad deadlines will remain unchanged. Home delivery will also be somewhat delayed for the holiday. E-mail is probably the best way to contact us editorial folks over the holiday, though I will not be checking my e-mail messages until Saturday after the holiday, when I return from the Great White North of Indiana.

• Our eEditions our going live, with the kinks worked out, next Wednesday. Basically, the entire paper is going to be available in PDF format on Wednesday mornings, either as downloads or in your browser, depending on your settings. It's a free addition for subscribers, same price as a print subscription for new folks. We'll have more details about how you sign up, etc., in next week's paper.

This is something I have been hoping for since several months ago, and I hope/think it's going to be a welcome addition to how we get you the news. Our Web reader numbers continue a solid upward trend, and the eEdition is a great tool for a weekly to offer, in my opinion. Again, more next week.

Back in a second with some more updates.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Central visits downtown

A quick production day post: First-graders from Central Elementary School took a field trip to downtown Hillsborough, visiting businesses. We were lucky enough to have them stop in.
In the picture, Josh talks to the last group to come in about what we do here at The News of Orange County.
It was great of them to stop by, and a blast talking to the students, many of whom I had photographed or talked to in my trips to the school.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tethering ordinance changes in affect next week

From Orange County Animal Services:

A tethering amendment to the Orange County Animal Ordinance, which restricts the tethering of dogs to a maximum of three hours within a 24-hour period, becomes effective Thursday, Nov. 19. During the first six months of the amendment's enforcement, only warning notices will be issued for tethering violations.

The amendment was approved by the Orange County Board of Commissioners at its Nov. 18, 2008, meeting. The amendment includes numerous exemptions to the limitations, including dogs that are within the visual field of a responsible party and those accompanying people in camping or other recreational areas.

The amendment also included 12 months of public outreach and education between Nov. 18, 2008, and Nov. 18 of this year.

The ordinance change is based upon a report and recommendations by the Tethering Committee, appointed by the commissioners, working in conjunction with the Animal Services Advisory Board, along with public input.

The ordinance only applies to the unincorporated parts of the county and Hillsborough. Chapel Hill has adopted its own tethering amendment, which differs from the County's and becomes effective in March 2010.

For more information on Orange County's amendment, including a full list of changes and exemptions, visit the Animal Services Web site at or call Animal Services at 942-7387.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flu vaccine updates

We have a few items to share regarding flu vaccinations (H1N1 and seasonal) via the Orange County Health Department and the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce.

• The Orange County Health Department is sponsoring a Youth Flu Clinic for children ages 4-18 years old from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, or until the vaccine is gone, at Cedar Ridge High School in Hillsborough. Seasonal shots and H1N1 (mostly mist) vaccines will be available. The event is free, walk-in, rain or shine. People should be prepared to stand in line outside and dress according to the weather, according to the department.
The health department is expecting additional H1N1 vaccine shipments. When the department has vaccine hand, H1N1 appointment only clinics will be announced.
For H1N1 vaccine updates monitor the department's Web site at or the Flu Info Line at 245-2479.

• The health department will hold appointment-only seasonal flu clinks each Friday starting Nov. 13 through Dec. 18.
Clinics are open to adults and children. The clinics will be held from
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the department's Chapel Hill and Hillsborough locations.
To make an appointment for a seasonal flu shot in Chapel Hill,
call 968-2022, ext 0. To make an appointment for a seasonal flu shot in
Hillsborough, call 245-2400. The clinic will be closed Friday, Nov. 27,
for the Thanksgiving holiday.

And, via the Chamber:
"Hillsborough Pediatrics, located in the Meadowlands, has both the H1N1 and the seasonal flu vaccines and can give them to anyone in the appropriate category (children 6 months to 24 years old, especially those under 5 and those with asthma or other illnesses; parents and caretakers of children less than 6 months old; health care workers).

You do not have to be a patient of Hillsborough Pediatrics and do not have to transfer to the practice, if you'd like to get the vaccination. Melissa Clepper-Faith, MD, and her staff believe that these are very important vaccines that can save lives in the community.
For more information, call Hillsborough Pediatrics at 919-245-3344."

This week

And a happy Veterans Day to you. We had plenty of material related to the holiday in this week's edition, from our interviews with local veterans to coverage in the schools of their celebrations. And, amazingly, we're only a few weeks from the holidays, though Christmas season apparently starts sometime in early October in grocery and department stores.

This week, I will be working on the following (not including anything newsy that happens in the next few days):

• I sat down with Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens to discuss the future of the town, being unopposed for the job and some of what residents can expect in the coming months. Portions of the interview will be in next week's issue.

• I will have updates from this week's town board meeting regarding the Colonial Inn, events fees and a potential cemetery arrangement that could be a good deal for town residents. (Hopefully not included in that story: A gratuitous use of the phrase "put this issue to rest" that was favored by some town board members.)

• I'll have some community news on an award-winning designer and other odds and ends.

• Look for an announcement on a new Web feature we'll be rolling out.

I will be working on another publication, the Woodcroft Gazette, this week, so I'll be in and out. As always, send an e-mail is you don't catch me here — josh.kastrinsky(at)

Monday, November 9, 2009

SIP: Partnership Academy

So, here's the next School Improvement Plan, for Partnership Academy, though for them the first option is not needs but the local ABC options:
1. (ABC option:) To improve students' grades.// (target:) Sixty-three percent of students enrolled will increase their percentage of passing grades at PA when compared with their percentage of passing grades while attending their most recent school, as evidenced in report card grades.// (strategies:) a) Using Mind Ladder Learning Guides, evaluate the intellective and non-intellective knowledge construction functions each child possesses, determining strengths and areas to be further developed. Mediate the learning gap using the adviser program and the dynamic assessment tool kit; b) All permanent full-time certified staff for core academic areas (English, math, science and social studies) will evaluate NovaNET and choose supplemental materials and lessons to enhance online instructions in the areas of the NCSCOS that are not covered; c) All permanent full-time certified staff for core academic areas (English, math, science and social studies) will provide direct instruction to students and will assist students in preparation for End of Court tests and the NC Writing Tests using printed and Internet resources, as well as materials provided on NovaNET.

2. (ABC option:) To increase parent involvement.// (target:) Eighty-five percent of PA families will take an active role in their children's education by participating in at least three planned school activities per semester in which their student is enrolled at PA during the 2009-10 school year, as evidenced in meeting minutes, sing in logs and STEP plans.// (strategies: a) Host two or more parent events that involved a parent networking opportunity and educational component; b) Assess family strengths and needs through the Mind Ladder Assessment and Family Interview and provide information and resource referrals as indicated; c) Publish a monthly student produced newsletter.

3. (ABC options:) To increase community involvement.// (target:) a) Collaborate with community members to facilitate two or more parent events that involve a parent networking opportunity and educational component; b) Invite community members to be guest speakers in the Personal Development Course; c) Update school Web site to include school activity information, school newsletter, and links to relevant resources for students and parents.

Budget info: Total of $7,298.11.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Finally, an update on Liz Brady Road

We received notification this morning that the Environmental Impact Statement draft on the Elizabeth Brady Road extension options will be available to the public, and a public hearing will be held locally on Monday, Dec. 7.

A "pre-hearing open house" will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Cameron Park Elementary, and a public hearing on the corridor and design details will be held at 7 p.m.

These meetings are a sign that, after some changes to the project plans and environmental assessments, the project is lurching forward to the public comment stage. Public officials, both on the town and county levels, have essentially said they'd like to shelve the project in favor of smaller road improvements to fix traffic flow through downtown Hillsborough.

But the process is tricky — almost $30 million is already available for the project (which, could cost close to $50 million, depending on which route is chosen), and local officials don't want to see the earmarked money disappear into the ether.

I'll have more on what comes next in the coming weeks, with more on the public hearing in next week's paper. For more on what we've written in recent months, you can click here and here and here.

SIPs: high schools

Sorry for the delay in posting these, but I was off yesterday packing. I'll be getting the School Improvement Plans up as quickly as I can, starting with the high schools. Here's some background from information disseminated at the last Board of Education meeting:
North Carolina statutes require School Improvement Plans to be developed on a three-year cycle [VCS: soon to be two-year cycle due to recent legislative revisions] with annual updates. The School Improvement Plan Team must include administrators as well as elected representatives.


The comprehensive process includes regular monitoring of progress as the building level and district level. The plan is a result of careful examination of existing goals, data, strategies, programs, and resources with appropriate evaluations built into the cycle.

Cedar Ridge High School:

[The categories are as follows: Our school's three most significant needs are/ present status/ target status/ most promising strategy(ies) to address the needs)

1. (Needs:) Revisit our Professional Learning Community efforts in order to maintain high academic growth, implement "Closing the Gap" committee recommendations, and utilize common assessments to measure student mastery of the essential curriculum in a timely manner// (Present status:) Met 100 percent of AYP goals; 87.2 percent graduation cohort rate; Improved 5 EOC test areas; 78.7 percent Level III & IV; decreased achievement gap in five areas; 80 percent proficiency on state writing test.// (target:) 100 percent AYP; 80 percent ABC proficiency; 90 percent grad cohort rate; decreased achievement gap in all EOC areas.// (strategies:) a) Each PLC will utilize the strategies learned in Diversity Training to develop methods to decrease the achievement gap; b) Each PLC Team wil develop, analyze, and share outcomes of short-term Smart Goals; c) Each PLC will continue to revise common assessments and use assessment results as EVAAS Data Analysis to identify at-risk students.

2. (Needs:) Develop and implement SmartBoard lessons and utilize other 21st Century technology resources in the classroom.// (present:) SmartBoards installed in all classrooms.// (target:) Train all staff in additional technologies; Technology IGP Goals; each PLC will share SmartBoard activities.// (strategies:) a) All PLC members will participate in SmartBoard training, NC Wise Gradebook training, and share sessions to enhance the implementation of technology resources in the classroom; b) Staff share sessions will be conducted to demonstrate and exchange strategies and SmartBoard activities; c) Staff will utilize shared drive folders to post Smart Goals, Student Watch lists, Wolf Buck Incentives, and other data reports.

3. (Needs:) Realign Pyramid of Intervention strategies to address priorities identified through student, parent, and staff surveys, shared sessions, roundtable discussions, and monthly parent sessions.// (present:) Pyramid of Interventions.// (target:) Revise Pyramid; implement PLUS Period Bell Schedule; Monthly PLC roundtable and departmental meetings; review PEP guidelines.// (strategies:) a) Create PLUS Period in order to provide remediation and re-teaching during the day; b) Develop appropriate PEP intervention strategies for all designated students; c) Conduct monthly PLC sessions, parent share sessions, and Roundtable Discussions to improve student success.

Budget: Total budget $88,593.01

Orange High School:

1. (Needs:) Improve student achievement among all student populations; reduce the Achievement Gaps between White and Black and White and Hispanic students in all EOC courses.// (present:)OHS met 15 out of 19 AYP target goals (78.9 percent); 43.9 percent of Exceptional Children scored proficient on EOC exams; OHS had a composite score of 75.2 percent on EOC exams; The graduation cohort rate for students entering high school in 2005 was 77.9 percent; OHS performance on the SAT averaged 1039 in 2008, but dropped to 995 in 2009; OHS proficiency scores by ethnicity: white = 81.7 percent, Hispanic = 68.9 percent, black = 57.5 percent.// (target:) 100 percent of No Child Left Behind AYP target goals; percentage of EC students proficient on EOCs will increase by at least 20 percent; OHS will have a composite score of 80 percent proficient on EOC exams; OHS will increase the graduation cohort rate to 80 percent for students who entered high school in 2006; OHS student will meet or exceed the state average on the SAT; OHS will reduce the achievement gap of those students deemed proficient on all EOC exams between white and black and white and Hispanic students by at least 20 percent.// (strategies:) a) Panther Period will provide time to review NCSCOS concepts in all course; b) Key vocabulary words for each content area will be taught using various literacy strategies; c) The Panther Assistance Report (PAR) will be compiled and peer tutors will provide targeted instruction in individual areas of needs.

2. (needs:) Increase use of best practices by teacher participation in a minimum of three professional development activities and implementation of at least one new instructional strategy.// (present:) School-wide survey data indicated teacher need for staff development in PLCs and 21st Century Learning Skills. // (target:) 100 percent staff participation in at least three professional development activities with a minimum of 1.5 CEU credits; (strategies:) a) Staff will attend a variety of self-selected staff development activities to include High Five, SIOP, Whole-to-Part, EVAAS, Pyramid of Intervention, SmartBoard training, etc.; b) Teachers will implement at least one new instructional strategy as evidenced by lesson plans, classroom walkthroughs and observations, and PLC meeting minutes; c) Teachers will utilize 21st Century Skills in instructional practice as evidenced by lesson plans, PLC meeting minutes and classroom observations.

3. (needs:) Reduction in the number of students who fail English I and Algebra I.// (present:) We will establish a baseline for this data at the end of the first semester. Our graduation cohort is 77.9 percent. Many of the 20.1 percent who did not graduate with their cohort did not get promoted from ninth grade. The core courses for ninth grade include English I and Algebra I.// (target:) 20 percent reduction in the number of students who fail English I and/or Algebra I. In the three year SIP progress, an improved passing rate in English I and Algebra I will strategically reduce the number of students who do not graduate with their cohort.// (strategies:) a) Guidance counselors will participate in PAR, PEP, use EVAAS, and after school EOC tutorial processes for early identification of students who are having difficulty in these core courses. Guidance will make parental contacts and collaborate with teachers on various strategies to improve student performance in these gateway courses; b) OHS faculty will conduct full revision and adoption of the Pyramid of Interventions. Faculty and staff will use EVAAS and work through the various levels of interventions to ensure that students have a successful transition to high school; c) English I and Algebra I teachers will coordinate peer tutoring and review during Panther Period and provide, as required, after school EOC tutorials that begin no later than the sixth week of the semester. The EOC tutorials will also be content specific to help students perform well on the EOC and in the classroom setting as well. Teachers will use ClassScape to create common assessments.

Total budget: $110,499.67

Whew. Middle schools in a bit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Web update

This morning, I am a solo act coming off an election night. So, the Web will be up somewhat slower than usual given those circumstances. Expect it by 11 a.m. Thanks for your patience.