Thursday, December 31, 2009


I just wanted to alert everyone to a few changes I've made to the blog. There are some local links at the side now. If you know of a link we should add, let me know! Drop us a line or a comment.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Contact change notification

I will be leaving The News of Orange County after Thursday, Dec. 31. E-mails to my inbox will still be monitored, but as of Jan. 1, if you want immediate attention from somebody on the editorial staff, send your correspondence to editorial(at) All other relevant department e-mails will remain functional.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday and can avoid the airport or long car trips, if possible.

Thanks for reading.

Josh Kastrinsky

Monday, December 21, 2009

ho ho ho

A bit of Christmas cheer, just a couple of days early:

That's our Northern Orange Xtra cover picture, and that little girl — Kaylee Faison — was just so cute, I had to share. She's talking to Santa at the Hillsborough Police Department on Churton Street on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saturday closings

The county has just sent out notices about Saturday closings because of "inclement weather." They are:

• The Orange County Landfill will be closed and all associated services (mulch sales, household hazardous waste, etc.) will be on hiatus for the day. It will open at 7 a.m. Monday, Dec. 21, weather permitting.

• Solid Waste Convenience Centers will follow the same schedule, closing Saturday but re-opening at 7 a.m. Monday.

• The library branches, animal services and Seymour Senior Center will also be closed Saturday. Orange Public Transportation will operate the dialysis route Saturday, and emergency services will still operate 24/7.

There's fluffy white stuff falling from the sky

Word is there's more snow north and west of us than there is here in Hillsborough, but when you faithful readers are done picking up milk, bread and peanut butter, we'd love to see your snow pictures.

Send them to editorial(at); include information about what's going on in the picture, who you are and how we can reach you, and I'll try to work them into next week's paper.

In the meantime, stay safe and warm.

what's next?

So, because of school closings in advance of today's winter weather, what I've got for this week is kind of up in the air; two of the four events/interviews I had planned have been canceled, while I'm not sure about the third and the fourth went on without a hitch.

But, I should have some school pictures, teacher recognition, Santa, chocolates and Educator of the Week.

So stay tuned!

DTCC library patrons not affected by security breach

This just came across my e-mail:

Durham Tech Library Patrons Not Affected by Security Breach

(DURHAM, N.C.) – Durham Technical Community College’s library patrons
are not affected by the library computer security breach the North
Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) recently announced. The breach
was caused by unauthorized access to a computer server that hosts
library patron information. When the Community College Libraries in
North Carolina (CCLINC) recommended that all of the state’s community
colleges cease storing Social Security numbers in patron records in
2007, Durham Tech followed the recommendation and discontinued using
them. The college has never recorded driver’s license numbers for
library use purposes.

According to Irene Laube, assistant dean for the Durham Tech’s library
services, college staff members examined every patron record and removed
all Social Security numbers before July 1, 2007. “Because of the
measures we had already taken, Durham Tech’s library patrons were not at
risk of having any personal information compromised by this incident,”
she said.

Although some of the state’s community college libraries stored Social
Security and driver’s license numbers in their patron records, NCCCS
officials do not believe this data was accessed. The NCCCS library
server provides a data entry system for cataloging and tracking library
materials for 46 community college libraries. The server is accessed by
more than 270,000 patrons. NCCCS officials think the recent compromise
was limited to the operating system and the installation of “chat”
software. The affected colleges are notifying 9,000 patrons of the
security breach.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's coming next week

Yeesh, the holidays sneak up. We've reached that time of year when stories are being wrapped up for two of the slower news weeks of the year (the two weeks in late July usually being the others). But, not to fear — we are flush with photos and fresh content for next week, and the annual Year in Review package will be in the Dec. 30 issue. As for what I am working on for next week:

– End-of-year awards continue, with the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce and the Orange-Durham Cattleman's Association handing out the hardware.
– A few items remain from Monday's 3.5-hour town board meeting, including discussion of possible development in Fairview and on the northern end of town limits. I'll have some more details.
– I'll also have a recap of what is changing with the Bradshaw Quarry Solid Waste Convenience Center.
– I am working on a story about the county's shifting spaces and one property that's in high demand.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What's coming next week

Amidst all my other musings, I neglected to tell you what we were working on for next week. Vanessa is out today, but I'll speak for her and say we have been holding on to many school-related items because of space. We'll be printing about twice the normal amount of education content because it has been waiting and it needs to be read.

I am attending the town board meeting Monday, which includes discussion of the downtown parking study, the town's official stance on Elizabeth Brady Road and discussion of the cemetery proposal discussed last month.

I will also have several end-of-year award announcements ('tis the season); we'll have basketball and swimming stories from Preston Spencer; and we'll have Letters to Santa.

Thanks for reading and have a warm, safe weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 is starting early

It's everyone's favorite season - if by "everyone," you mean media types looking for stories to get us through the winter, and "favorite," you mean filled with announcements of "running," "not running" and "may have an interest in running and will hold a press conference at 3 to say whether or not they are running."

That's right, the 2010 election cycle is upon us. Within 10 days of the November election, three people — Renee Price, Greg Andrews and Earl McKee — all announced they would seek the District 2 county commissioner seat next year. Since that announcement, campaigning has already begun.

At Saturday's Hillsborough holiday parade, Andrews walked down Churton Street between two giant banners with his face and campaign slogan, along with a few dozen supporters. The following Monday, Renee Price formally announced her candidacy at the Hillsborough/Orange County Visitors' Center and was met by 10 or so supporters and a film crew, which filmed "endorsements" which I gather will soon be broadcast in some form.

The Board of Elections' Web site isn't posting filing information for the 2010 election yet, and I have not noticed any of the three candidates' campaign Web sites so far, but that's probably just around the corner. The primary race is in May, and if the last BOCC election is any guide, that means the field will be largely decided in that round of votes.

To review, since we're entering the final leg of a transition to a districted board, one candidate will be elected to District 1, one to District 2 and another will be At-Large. Mike Nelson has said he will not run again, and he would have been either D-2 or At-Large. Barry Jacobs (D-2 or At-Large) and Alice Gordon (D-1 or At-Large) are the remaining potential incumbents. (Since all three announced candidates have said they are after a D-2 seat, and Price explicitly said she would not challenge an incumbent, it's a good bet that Jacobs would run as an At-Large candidate).

And I haven't even touched school board elections. Come January, you can expect that to heat up in a hurry. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The cutting room floor from Monday night

And that's how the gym looked at the start of the hearing.

At Monday's Brady Road public hearing, I sat behind a woman who did not give her name and said she was not planning on speaking, but who had a very personal connection to this road project. A resident of Riverside Drive, she told me Alternative 4 could take her house. Though she wasn't a speaker — she told me she only speaks out on things where she knows all the facts — she sat in the front row, so I'm sure she was as interested as the several hundred others who packed the auditorium that night.

Some other quotes and tidbits that were cut from the long story appearing in this week's paper (I cut about 600 words' worth of other speakers, keeping those I thought best represented the viewpoints on the bypass issue):

Mary Fox, a resident of Buttonwood Drive, said she supported Alternative 3.
“It’s the only thing that will get the traffic off Churton Street,” she said. “The others are too costly.”

Jane Gaede, a resident of Ivey Drive in the road study area, said the timing of streetlights and the ban on large trucks through downtown has helped calm traffic issues foreseen in the 1980s.
“I cannot imagine that saving a few minutes is worth destroying the homes of 24 families and [impacting] the Eno River,” she said.

Holly Reid of the Walkable Hillsborough Coalition said she supports a DOT initiative to look at transportation beyond new roads and looking at multi-modal transportation plans for Hillsborough.
“Our town wants to be a leader in North Carolina and supports this model of transportation,” she said.

Joanie Alexander, who said she moved to Riverside Drive one year ago, said the DOT should support the town’s proposed alternatives to solve smaller issues instead of one large project.
“We have to start thinking outside the box, have to do things differently, to make things different,” she said.

Resident Renee Price delivered to DOT a petition with almost 1,000 names of residents who oppose any of the road construction alternatives. What started as a neighborhood petition grew into a community effort, she said, drawing in NASCAR fans who wanted the Speedway preserved and to others beyond the affected area.

(If I misspelled a name, please let me know and I will correct it. My request for the DOT's sign-in sheet has so far not yielded the document.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

bocc: waste transfer station

Alright, everyone. I'm at the Board of County Commissioners meeting at the Southern Human Services Center in Chapel Hill. I figured I'd post some nuggets as the meeting progresses, for those who couldn't make it but also can't wait until the news reports of the event come out.

So, stay tuned!

UPDATE (6:38 p.m.): Community activist group Orange County Voice and their supporters have arrived in force. They are handing out and wearing stickers that say "CHOOSE DURHAM" and "STAND UP FOR SMART TRASH" in support of their proposed solution to the waste disposal problem: use Durham in the short-term and find a better idea than a waste transfer station in Bingham Township or the Paydarfar site.

UPDATE (6:46 p.m.): Mini update: Commissioner Barry Jacobs is wearing one of the "CHOOSE DURHAM" stickers. Huh.

UPDATE (7:55 p.m.): County Manager Frank Clifton going over the options. He recommends using Durham's transfer station for 3-5 years while towns, county and UNC come together to find a better option, IF a WTS is deemed necessary.

UPDATE (8:09 p.m.): Public comment time. BOCC gave 1 hour for that.
Bonnie Hauser of OCV says: The situation is changing. We're all better informed, and with Mr. Clifton as manager, the staff now has the leadership to correct the missed opportunities of the past.

Clifton: Thank you, I think.

UPDATE (8:39 p.m.): Public comment still going on. The Rev. Campbell talked about meeting with White House and Cabinet staff, including Dept. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and EPA administrators. He said he received a letter from the EPA saying the complaint with the Dept. of Justice is moving forward and if the BOCC sites a waste transfer station in Millhouse, the EPA may launch an investigation into the county.

UPDATE (8:52 p.m.): Public comment over.

UPDATE (9:09 p.m.): Barry Jacobs makes a motion to ship trash to Durham. Mike Nelson adds a friendly amendment to remove the Eubanks Rogers Road community from consideration.

The motion passes, 6-1.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Man. Learning Gregg shorthand sure isn't easy, but I think it will make me a faster — and most importantly — a super accurate notetaker if/when I master it.

But, in the meantime, here's some of what I've got coming up this week:
• I talked to someone at Orange High School for the newly-restarted Educator of the Week feature. If you've got someone you think is doing great things for students, drop me a line at v.shortley (at)
• The Little School is having an open house this weekend, and I'll be there.
• Hands for Habitat is having their first community build this weekend, and I'll be there for that, too. Hopefully, the weather is better than today!
• I'll be at the BOCC meeting with the Waste Transfer Station siting on the agenda. If for some reason the date on that gets changed, I'll be at my regularly-scheduled BOE meeting instead. This will only be the second one I've missed in the 1 + years I've been here.

I've got other features and photo ops in the pipeline, but as always, let me know what's going on at the schools! Call me up at 732-2171 or send me an e-mail to v.shortley (at)

Back in the habit

Thanks to the holidays and the dreaded post-holiday publication, we have been away from this blogging thing for awhile. We've got a busy week coming up, with no fewer than four things taking placing Monday night with two reporters (and the GM) to cover them. There's a slew of weekend activities (see the paper or Word for some of them), and plenty of major issues to be covered in the coming weeks. On tap for next week's paper:

• Pictures of this weekend's activities: The town parade and tree-lighting; the Daniel Boone craft fair, gingerbread house contest and home tour; a Habitat home build event; and some education items.

• I will have a look at crime numbers over the past year in Hillsborough, which have taken a turn in a surprising direction.

• I'll have a story on another county non-profit hoping to keep its key programs viable.

• On Monday night, we have 1) The Elizabeth Brady Road bypass public hearing, 2) County commissioners' decision on a waste transfer station and 3) The first school board meeting in a month.
The Brady meeting will be my hangout, and judging from Monday turnout at a town information session (I was there but stuck in the back hallway because of a lack of seats and a stomach bug), it will be a doozy. Vanessa will be at the commissioners' meeting, and we'll figure out how to clone someone to cover the other things that night.

As part of our Year-in-Review issue, we want to know what you thought the biggest local story was in 2009 (a few nominees might not have happened yet). Send your thoughts to me at josh.kastrinsky(at) or editorial(at), and I will keep them jotted down as we compile the list.

Enjoy this lovely day and thanks for reading.