Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CWS boys and girls basketball games canceled

This just came across my e-mail: The C.W. Stanford Middle School boys' and girls' basketball games originally scheduled for today, Tuesday, Dec. 14, are canceled and they have not been rescheduled at this time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

hands for habitat build day

The Hands for Habitat house on Harper Avenue in the Fairview community is coming along nicely. Hands for Habitat is a partnership between Orange County Schools and Habitat for Humanity of Orange County that started last year. The gist is this: Students from the Orange High School construction program build a Habitat house; students learn about homelessness and affordable housing throughout the district; and students and teachers may fund raise, though this year, the project is being funded by Sports Endeavors. A few weeks ago, Sports Endeavors' employees had a chance to lend a hand. Here's a few snapshots from that day; there will be more information in Wednesday's paper.

and we're back

Sorry for the long radio silence; we had a few technical difficulties, but they have all been resolved and we are back in business.

Look for more posts from us in the near future!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stanback takes inspiration from Orange County, Fla. middle school

At the literacy pep rally last week, A.L. Stanback Middle School literacy coach Joyce Gilbert played the following video, created by Ocoee Middle School in Orange County, Fla.:

Ocoee Middle School Gotta Keep Reading from Michael Cardwell on Vimeo.

Pretty incredible, right? Gets you all pumped up about reading.


Monday, September 27, 2010

flood alert

Careful, everyone: Yesterday's and today's much-needed rain have brought with them an unwanted side effect in potential floods in Orange and the surrounding counties.

From the National Weather Service in Raleigh:
346 AM EDT MON SEP 27 2010













Thursday, August 19, 2010

emergency training at C.W. Stanford Middle School

A head's up from the school district:
On Saturday, August 21, 2010, from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., Orange County school personnel, law enforcement and emergency responders from Orange County will be conducting an emergency training exercise on the campus of C.W. Stanford Middle School.

During the exercise, you may hear simulated gunfire.  This is part of the exercise and does not represent a threat to the participants or members of the adjacent community.  Live ammunition will NOT be used during the exercise.  This is a necessary part of the training experience for the participants and is not a cause for alarm.

As a part of the training exercise, there will be police cars, sheriff’s deputies, N.C. Highway Patrol cars, ambulances, fire trucks and possibly television news trucks in the general area of the school.

You may also experience traffic congestion on Orange High School Road, near C.W. Stanford, during this time.  Every effort is being taken to reduce or eliminate delays and to ensure that everyone traveling in the area remains safe.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:

Orange County Schools    919.732.8126
Orange County Sheriff    919.644.3050

For more information please consult the Orange County Schools website @ www.orange.k12.nc.us

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!
I'll be there, so look for pictures in Wednesday's paper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Donna's Coffey Break

I just added a new link for school board vice chair Donna Coffey's blog. Though she doesn't have a whole lot of posts yet, the ones she's written so far are very detailed and insightful. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

excessive heat warning in effect until 8 p.m.

From the National Weather Service in Raleigh:

1118 am EDT Fri Jul 23 2010

...Excessive heat warning in effect until 8 PM EDT this evening...

The National Weather Service in Raleigh has issued an excessive
heat warning...which is in effect until 8 PM EDT this evening.
The heat advisory is no longer in effect. 

The combination of very high humidity and temperatures near 100
degrees will produce dangerous heat indices at or above 110
degrees this afternoon. Additional heat advisories or warnings will
likely be needed through the weekend as the heat wave continues.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

An excessive heat warning means that a prolonged period of
dangerously hot temperatures will occur. The combination of hot
temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous
situation in which heat illnesses are likely. Drink plenty of
fluids...stay in an air-conditioned room...stay out of the
sunshine...and check up on relatives and neighbors. Heat of this
magnitude can be particularly deadly for the elderly...those with
illnesses...and for outdoor workers such as farm laborers.
Stay safe, everyone.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

this week

Summer's starting to wind down now. Before you know it, kids will be back in school.
But, here's what we've got in the paper for this week.

Monday, July 12, 2010

7 July paper

Sorry about the delay on this one; I was out last week on vacation to my first trip since I've lived in the state to the Outer Banks. I have to admit, they lived up to the hype!

But anyway, here's what we had in last week's paper:
We also had a ton of Fourth of July photos and pictures from the production of "The Ugly Duckling," among others.

I hope everyone had a great week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

first issue in July 2010

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Here's what made it into this week's paper:
  • CELEBRATING THE FOURTH OF JULY. We've got photos galore from Independence Day events in Caldwell and Schley.
  • SCHOOL BOARD ELECTS CHAIR. Tony McKnight was elected school board chair, while new member Donna Coffey was elected vice chair.
  • DTCC 'A BRIDGE,' DIRECTOR SAYS. Carlo Robustelli is settling in as director of Durham Tech's Orange County campus quite nicely.
  • FAMILY FUN DAY TO OFFER EDUCATION, HISTORY, FUN ALL IN ONE. This summer's second Family Fun Day is set for this Saturday, July 10, in Hillsborough.
  • Plus, photos from "The Ugly Duckling," and much more!

Monday, June 14, 2010

anonymous comments

I just wanted to give everyone a quick heads-up about our comment policy because I've had some questions about it.
Just as we don't publish anonymous Letters to the Editor, we don't publish anonymous comments, especially if they make accusations (true or not) about those in the community. Similarly, we don't publish anything libelous.
I hope that clears the air. If you have any questions, just let me know.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

online ordering at the Eno River Farmers Market

When I heard the Eno River Farmers Market was offering online ordering, I was super excited. I love getting fresh, local produce, but I can't often make the Saturday market hours offered by the bevy of local farmers markets. But ordering what I'd like Sunday or Monday and picking it up during the Wednesday market between 4 and 7 p.m.? That sounds perfect. So, once ordering opened, I decided to give it a try. Well, that's not quite true. I waited until almost the last minute Monday evening to give it a whirl.

But it was awesome.

It was super easy to just look at what the market producers were offering — everything from purple scallions and tons of summer squash to fresh eggs and meat — and just plop it into my online basket. Once you've decided on what you want, the site tallies everything up and gives you a rough estimate. Since some of the produce is priced by weight, the estimate may be a bit off. I have to say that, for me, the pricing was spot on.

Then, all I had to do was wait for Wednesday at 4 p.m. to arrive so I could head down to the Public Market House on E. Margaret Lane to pick up my produce. Even that was easy! For now, I just found Leila Wolfrum, market manager, and she rounded up all my purchases for me. I paid her and that was the end of it. Fresh, local produce in a way that fits into my schedule. I couldn't ask for more.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

9 June 2010 paper

Here's some of what we've got in the paper this week:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

poem read at Hands for Habitat dedication

Orange High School construction teacher Mat Hamlett read a really great poem at the Hands for Habitat dedication by Edgar Albert Guest called "It Couldn't Be Done." I really enjoyed hearing him read it, so I hope you will enjoy reading it:
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
    But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
    Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
    At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
    And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
    Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
    There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
    The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
    Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
    That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.
(via Old Poetry.)

first paper of June 2010

As many I'm sure are aware, school is winding down for those on the traditional calendar, while HES students are getting ready for their summer intercession. Even so, there's still lots going on in the schools and in the town and county. So, here's what we've got for this week:
  • PERDUE VISITS STANFORD. Gov. Beverly Perdue came to C.W. Stanford Middle School last week to tour the outdoor eco classroom and talk about literacy. On Facebook? Visit www.facebook.com/NewsofOrange to see photos from her visit.
  • BOARD APPROVES ALCOHOL PERMIT. For the first time in its nearly 30-year history, alcohol will be served at Hog Day.
  • THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT. The Hands for Habitat home dedication ceremony was late last week, with students, teachers, administrators, the homeowners and community members coming out to celebrate the partnership between Orange County Schools and Habitat that resulted in a beautiful home being built for two Orange High School grads.
  • LOCAL SOLDIER INJURED IN WAR. Pvt. 1st Class Matthew Evans was injured by a roadside bomb near Kabul last month.
  • MOTION WITHDRAWN AGAINST TOWN, BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT. Orange County withdrew a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed against Hillsborough and the Board of Adjustment on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Plus, tons of photos from Last Friday (see our Facebook page or the paper), an overview of the construction happening at Partnership Academy, remembering the Rev. Herman Ward and more.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama administration seeks to keep NC teachers working

From the White House:
Obama Administration Presses to Keep North Carolina Teachers Working

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With state and local budget shortfalls threatening the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators in North Carolina and across the country, the Obama Administration is pressing Congress to approve emergency funding to keep them on the job.

“It is crucial that we keep our teachers in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.  “Our teachers are vital to our students’ success, our economy’s success, and our nation’s success.  We must act now to prevent teachers from being laid off and ensure that America’s students have the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century.”

The economic downturn has placed massive strain on state and local budgets.  As education makes up one of the largest single items in state budgets, schools, classrooms, and teacher jobs have been targeted for significant cuts.  Such a massive loss of jobs will impact students through reductions in core class time, overcrowded classrooms, shortened school calendars, cuts to afterschool programming, fewer early childhood opportunities, and reduced access to college counselors and school nurses.

In response, the Obama Administration is pressing Congress to approve $23 billion in emergency support to preserve education jobs across the country.  This funding will keep teachers in the classroom at all levels, including post-secondary, while helping to sustain meaningful and necessary reforms underway in public education.  The President also is urging Congress to approve $1 billion to preserve early childhood education jobs to ensure that young children do not lose services critical to their learning and well-being.

According to provisional estimates by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, this funding will support the jobs of approximately 300,000 educators, including approximately 10,340 in North Carolina.

“As state lawmakers and school districts across the country are finalizing their budgets for the coming year, we must act quickly and responsibly to offer the assistance they need – to keep our teachers teaching, keep our students learning, and keep our economy growing.  Investing in education now will help tens of millions of students become more productive citizens and positively affect America’s long-term fiscal health,” Secretary Duncan said.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

26 May paper

What a week! We've got some great content, including:
  • RESIDENTS SPEAK ON BUDGET. County commissioners held the first of two budget public hearings last Thursday. Many of those present spoke about K-12 education. There will also be a public hearing June 1 to give residents a chance to comment on a potential 1/4-cent sales tax increase that could be on the ballot in November.
  • BOARD TO MAKE ALCOHOL DECISION. The Hillsborough Town Council held a public meeting to allow residents the chance to make their voices heard on wheter to allow a beer garden at Hog Day.
  • NINTH ANNUAL RELAY FOR LIFE. We've got a few pictures on the Relay for Life event held last weekend.
  • MOTHER KILLED IN WRECK. Ann Thrash of Rougemont was killed last Wednesday in a car accident on Guess Road.
  • TWO JAILED ON FELONY DRUG CHARGES. Jonathan Beamon and Marquise Kingsbury were charged with felony drug charges after more than 16 grams of heroin were found in their vehicle.
  • Plus, Orange High School wrestling coach Bobby Shriner inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame, a local teacher donates a kidney to her husband, Cedar Ridge students plan to bury a time capsule and more!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

12 May paper

What a week! Even with the primary in the past, there is still plenty going on in Orange County. Here's a taste of what we have in the paper this week:
  • Town budget presented. Town manager Eric Peterson gave town council members and the public a look at what the proposed Hillsborough budget is for next fiscal year, FY2011. Of note, Peterson asked department heads to come up with a list of priorities, which were compiled into a top 10. Seven of the 10 were funded, at least partially.
  • Election results all in. Provisional, one-stop and absentee ballots have all been tallied, but no candidate got enough to overturn previous Election Day results. As an aside, Cal Cunningham has called a run-off against N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate a face Sen. Richard Burr in the fall. Locally, school board chair Anne Medenblik did not get the number of votes she needed and could potentially face Central PTSA president and OCS Parent Council president Laura Nicholson should Nicholson decide to call a run-off. She has until Thursday to decide.
  • Season 'came in fast and furious.' Local farmers are saying the strawberry season, which can be harmed by cold weather or spurred on by warm weather, is going well so far. This season may be shorter than normal, though. 
  • Board to study sewer rates. Community activist group Justice United and Efland residents asked county commissioners to rethink the sewer rate increase that, if implemented, could leave residents with a bill that is 300 percent higher than what they're paying now.
We've also got tons of pictures from Carillon's version of the Kentucky Derby, a Cub Scout visit to our office, a county building getting a facelift, the Future Problem Solvers at Grady A. Brown Green Living Fair and an introduction to Grady Brown's new principal, among other things.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

fire hazard

The National Weather Service issued a fire warning early this morning. Dry ground conditions combined with low humidity and wind result in increased fire danger today, according to the NWS; if a fire does start, it could spread very rapidly. The area includes Orange, Durham, Alamance and Person counties, among many others.

So, be careful out there today if you're going to burn something.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

UPDATE: Blue Bayou

Here's a link to the Blue Bayou's newsletter, which provides and update on what's happening with them. The short of it is they raised enough money to stay open through June 30, but they're looking for buyers to take over the club. Here's a link to the venue's blog that gives more information about the sale.

air quality could be dangerous today

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (based in Raleigh) issued a code Orange air quality alert today. It will be in effect until 9 p.m.

"An air quality action day means that ground level ozone concentrations within the region may approach or exceed unhealthy standards," according to a release from DENR.

The alert includes Orange, Alamance, Chatham, Person, Durham and Johnston counties, among others.

For additional information, visit the North Carolina division of air quality website at www.Ncair.Org/airaware/forecast/.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

blue bayou

Apparently, the Blue Bayou is in a bit of a financial jam and will have to close unless they can raise $4,000. Here's the note we got, unfortunately too late to put in the paper:
 Hello! Well the time has come for the Blue Bayou to say Goodbye unless we can come up with $4000. in donations to stay open. We have some great acts this week trying to help us out:

 Wednesday Apr. 28th Crossover Blues Band w/ Will McFarlane 9 pm $5 Donation to save the Bayou!
 Thursday Apr. 29th Whiskey Trail Outlaws (Rockabilly) 9 pm Free show!
 Friday Apr. 30th ***Delta Moon*** 9:30 pm (Adv $12/14 Dos $14/16)
 Sat. May 1st Jo Gore & the Alternative Video Release Party! 9:00 pm ($6/8)

 If you want to know where the blue bayou stands in the donation pool please visit our website at bluebayouclub.com
 I hope the community can come together to save the Bayou. It's definitely an institution in town!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

paper this week

What beautiful weather we've been having! I hope everyone's enjoying it as much as I have been. Yesterday, I was even lucky enough to open the doors and windows in our place and enjoy the afternoon sunshine.

This weekend, I hope to see some of you at the town's farmers markets. I'm planning on hitting both of them, and I'll be out taking pictures at the Hillsborough Farmers Market's Easter events.

But now, onto what's in this week's paper:
  • THREE CHARGED IN TEEN'S DEATH. Three Hillsborough men are facing first-degree murder charges in the death of 19-year-old Paylor James Daniels.
  • ACTING POLICE CHIEF NAMED. Lt. Davis Trimmer will assume the command of the town police department April 2 at 5:01 p.m. until a permanent replacement for  Chief Birkhead can be found.
  • BIRDHEAD: 'I CAN'T DO BOTH.' The decision to step down as Hillsborough's police chief to concentrate on his hid for sheriff was one Clarence Birkhead has toyed around with since last month.
  • 'THEN IT JUST GOT LOUDER.' A tornado touched down along Bushy  Creek Road last week.
  • STAFF DECIDES BOOK'S FATE IN MIDDLE SCHOOLS. School officials previously misspoke about a decision made by a committee on the fate of 'My Sister's Keeper.'
  • MEETING FOCUSES ON COMING TOGETHER, MOVING FORWARD. Hillsborough and northern Orange County residents came together Saturday, March 27, for a  meeting to discuss the  future of their community and to talk about ways  they can be more involved.
  • Plus, Educator of the Week, Illusions of the King, Panthers  get their first win of the season, Eno River Farmers Market Easter photos and more!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

coming up!

IN THIS WEEK'S EDITION: • Birkhead to resign April 2. • 'Egg-citing' events and photos from the Burwell School's Easter egg hunt. • Book will stay in high schools. • Local frame shop honored. • Plus, Cameron Park girl beats school record, middle schools students learn about biotechnology at Durham Tech and this week's Educator of the Week and more!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

this week

Here's a taste of what's coming out in today's edition:
  • WAR CLAIMS LOCAL RESIDENT. Josiah D. Crumpler, 27, of Hillsborough, was killed March 1 in Afghanistan.
  • ROOM TO GROW. Volunteers helped plant trees in Gold Park over the weekend.
  • ORANGE STUDENT BEE WINNER. Orange Charter School student Jessia Connelly won the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee over the weekend. She'll represent the region in the national bee in Washington, D.C.
  • FIREFIGHTER KILLED HAS LOCAL TIES. A Durham firefighter who died last week after falling out a tree grew up in Hillsborough.
  • BOARD DISCUSSES PARKING PROBLEMS AROUND TOWN. The Hillsborough Town Council discussed parking issues in town at their regular meeting Monday.
Plus, a special visitor to Central Elementary, dashed hopes as CRHS dream season comes to an end and the local day of prayer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

releases from Joe Phelps and Keith Cook

Final two presses releases for the filing season. I'm sure we'll get more statements, though, as the election cycle heats up!

Here's one from former Hillsborough Mayor Joe Phelps, who is running for the Board of County Commissioners:
Today I filed to run for The Orange County Board of County Commissioners, at large seat. After the constant urging from many voters over many years, I believe now is the time to offer my service to the residents of Orange County as a candidate for County Commissioner.  It would be my honor and a true privilege to serve the citizens of Orange County as their commissioner.

I was born in 1950 to Margaret Walker Phelps and the late Marvin Phelps , both native to Orange County. My Father was a farmer and mother taught in the Orange County school system for over 25 years. I have 2 sisters Elaine Marinucci and Rachel Hawkins. Rachel still lives in the Hillsborough area.  I feel very fortunate to have grown up on the family farm,  located on Hwy 57, north of Hillsborough.  In 1968, I graduated from Orange  High School.  After attending Campbell College and the Technical Institute of Alamance earning a degree in business, I came back to my love of the family farm which I managed for over 15 years. I also owned and operated a concrete delivery company serving Orange County.  After obtaining my real estate license, I worked for several local companies before starting Phelps Realty which I own and operate at the present time.

I have been active in public service on volunteer boards both at the county level and for the Town of Hillsborough. I was elected and served as the Mayor of Hillsborough for two terms from 2001 to 2005.

As a successful business owner, I understand what it takes to succeed even during the current economic downturn. Like a private business, strong county government requires strong business practices. I would bring a fresh face with more than 30 years of business experience to the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

I am concerned about the ever increasing property tax burden on Orange County citizens. Almost every year for the past 20 years the county commissioners have increased our property taxes.  Rather than continuing to increase taxes on Orange County homeowners, our commissioners need to focus on creating a strong commercial tax base.  We need to focus on creating a detailed plan for economic development.  The Orange County Economic Development Department is the vehicle through which this could be accomplished. In order to make this important goal a reality, I pledge to work closely with and direct the Economic Development Department to aggressively pursue environmentally friendly, sound economic development opportunities. 

The Orange County School System and its excellent teachers deserve a great deal of credit for my success in life.  I appreciate the high level of funding that our county passes along to our school systems.  Despite this high level of county funding, our school systems face ever shrinking budgets.  With more resources from sound economic development, maintaining and improving our school systems would be a much easier task.

I believe my daily interaction with county residents will help me bring to the Board the concerns and problems facing our citizens.  I look forward to the chance of helping Orange County become an even better place to live and raise a family.
Here's former Board of Education member and NOETF supporter Keith Cook's statement:
After receiving many calls from friends and supporters to run again for the Orange County Board of Education and spending time deliberating and praying about the future and how this would impact my life, I decided to move forward with my candidacy and file for one of the four school board positions.

For 10 years, beginning in 1994, I was a dedicated school board member who worked hard to improve the future of our children in the Orange County school district.

As most people know, I lost my re-election bid in 2004 as an incumbent member of the Orange County Board of Education because of the graduation speech I used at Cedar Ridge High School. That fateful night is one that will never be forgotten by me or my supporters.

If I could turn back the hands of time to reverse my actions that night I would----It was never my intent to hurt the first-ever graduates of Cedar Ridge High School, their families, the school district or our community.

What I did cause this great school community a lot of embarrassment and for that I am truly sorry. I'm not perfect, but who is? I have indeed grown from that experience.

I am passionate about the Orange County Schools and I love this community and what it stands for with all my heart. For those reasons, I continue everyday to demonstrate my commitment through my words, my deeds and my service.

Over the years, I've been a strong advocate for children and I am extremely passionate about ALL children getting a sound, quality education and the skills they need to be successful adults.

As a potential school board member I want to see continued focus on the district's efforts  to reduce the dropout and suspension rates. Furthermore, I believe we need to have more meaningful  deliberate ways to raise academic performance for ALL children, and close the  achievement gap among our minority students. Hiring highly qualified teachers and support staff from diverse backgrounds and giving our current professionals  the administrative backing they need to do their jobs well is also a priority.

Helping the district achieve fiscal accountability in these tough economic times is a challenge. I will work diligently to help our schools find the needed funds to continue moving forward.

As a candidate for the Orange County Board of Education, I promise to be dedicated and committed to educational excellence through my experience, my leadership and my service to all and not a few, and through collaboration with anyone who wants to improve the future of our students.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

bball game postponed

The Cedar Ridge boys basketball game for state sectional playoffs scheduled for tonight postponed until tomorrow at 7 p.m. at home.

(more) election press releases

Here are some more press releases from school board hopefuls.

From Donna Dean Coffey, former budget director:
On Tuesday, February 23, 2010, Donna Dean Coffey announced her plans to run for a seat on the Orange County Board of Education. She released this statement.

"As a society, we are facing some of the most challenging times in history — balancing ever increasing needs with strained financial, capital, and human resources. The County County Board of Education is no exception. To that end, we must be wise and informed stewards with what is available to  us. With almost thirty years of experience in local government budgeting, finance, and policy development, I believe I will be a very valuable asset to the District on this front."

"Other key priorities for me include:
    • Proactive, open, and clear communication
    • Provide avenues that encourage more students to stay in school and graduate
    • Ensure students, teachers, parents, and staff have access to tools necessary for future
         success in a diverse world and ever-changing economy
    • Provide safe, modern, and health learning environments
    • Strengthen collaborative relationships with local, regional, and State partners

"We are fortunate to live in a community that places great value on education. Over the last several months, I have listened as many Orange County residents, parents, teachers and students have spoken to me about our school district. It is clear everyone places a high priority on providing the best possible educational opportunities for all our children. It is also clear Orange County Schools faces many challenges. I believe my experience, desire to learn, willingness to listen, and dedication to our children and community will allow me to contribute a great deal to the Orange County Board of Education.

"Excellent school systems are the backbone of fruitful communities. I believe the Orange County School District has all of the components to be successful — excellent students, dedicated teachers, committed parents, and a professional administration. I would be honored to serve as a leader on this education team. Feel free to contact me at coffey4ocs@gmail.com."

Donna  Dean Coffey, 50, recently had the opportunity to retire from Orange County Local Government after almost thirty years of public service. During her tenure, she served in a number of positions with her must recent appointment being Budget Director — a position she held for more than twelve years. As she transitions into this news chapter of her life, Coffey is interested in opportunities that allow her to make the most of her life experiences and professional knowledge, skills and abilities.

Long time residents of Orange County, Coffey and her family live in the Efland/Cedar Grove area. Her husband, Kevin, is a retired Army veteran. Her oldest children, Kasey Dean and Austin Coffey, attend Orange High School while her youngest daughter, Korie Dean, is a fifth grade student at Hillsborough Elementary. She and her family actively participate in various church, school, and community events.

Additional Information

    Education and Professional Development
    • Completion of Orange County's "Leadership Challenge," March 2008.
    • Municipal and County Administration Class, School of Government, Chapel Hill,                 North Carlina, May 1992.
    • Attended North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina 1988 though             1990. Public Administration.
    • Graduated, Alamance Community College, Graham, North Carolina, 1977 though                 1979. A.A.S. Accounting.

    Professional Memberships
• Former Member and Treasurer, North Carolina Local Government Budget Association
    • Former Member, North Carolina Government Finance Officers Association
    • Former Member and Budget Reviewer, Government Finance Officers Association
    • Former Member, Public Education Steering Committee, North Carolina Association of         County Commissioners
    • Former Member, Taxation and Finance Steering Committee, North Carolina                         Association of County Commissioners
    • Former Member, Municipal and County Administration Alumni Association

Community Involvement• Parent Volunteer, Hillsborough Elementary School and Orange High School
• Youth Group Volunteer, Walnut Grove United Methodist Church, Hurdle Mills
• Youth Leader, Hummingbirds 4-H Club
• USO, Raleigh Durham International Airport

Here's one from Central Elementary School PTSA president Laura Nicholson:
PTSA president to run for Orange County School Board, sees fiscal responsibility, increased communication, community involvement and transparency as key issues.

Local community volunteer and parent advocate Laura Nicholson announced Monday that she is seeking a spot on the Orange County School's (OCS) Board of Education.

With the challenges that the district and the community face in light of the current economy and resulting tightening budget, Nicholson believes that she can bring to the table a fresh voice and new perspective on how best to handle these challenges.

Laura draws from her experience working throughout the Northern Orange County community. Most recently, she started the OCS Parent Council, a group that unites individual school PTA's and advodates for children throughout the district. Nicholson currently serves as PTSA President at Central Elementary School and has worked tirelessly to start an afterschool science club for K-2 students and other programs aimed at helping all students succeed at CES. Laura has been instrumental in increased Parent Involvement at Central, uniting parents, and boosting PTSA membership. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the CHTOP Headstart/More at Four programs and has held events to benefit local fire departments and other non-profit organizations.

Nicholson's work as a business manager for a pharmaceutical wholesaler means that she is no stranger to dealing with complex issues and a multi-million dollar budget. She is also a proud parent of three children, two of which attend Orange County Schools.

Laura Nicholson is running for OCS School Board on a platform of fiscal responsibility, increased communication, community involvement, and transparency. She is committed to uniting parents throughout the community and to ensuring that all parents have access to the information and decisions made by the School Board.

For more information, please visit Laura's website at www.lauranforschoolboard.com or email lauranforschoolboard@gmail.com.

Here's one from current board chair Anne Medenblik:
Anne Medenblik, chair of the Orange County Board of Education, has filed to run for a second term to fill one of the four vacant seats on the school board. She resides north of Hillsborough with her husband and two children who attend high school in the district. She states she is running for this public office because she remains committed to public education in Orange  County. “It’s a great place to live. We love the schools in the Orange County district, and I am willing to make a commitment to give back to a community that provides a quality education for my children. Serving on the board has allowed me to honor that commitment.”  
As a school volunteer she has served on PTA’s, coordinated read-a-thons and book fairs, and recently coached a Battle of the Books team at Central Elementary School. Her experience as a teacher and parent has provided an understanding of the character and academic development of children, while her background in accounting has been helpful in analyzing the district’s $60 million dollar budget.

 She has served as a Girl Scout leader, member of the district’s Middle School Task Force and School Health Advisory Council, and is familiar with the time commitment and learning curve necessary to be an effective board member.

She believes in:

•       Promoting excellence in education by recruiting and retaining excellent teachers
•        Continuing support for the purchase and implementation of technology in our schools
•        Engaging the community in support of schools
•        Continuing the progress in closing the achievement gap
•        Improving the learning climate to elevate student achievement for every child

“We have to provide a quality education for each and every child in our school system while at the same time face a shrinking budget. It is a challenge, but not an impossible one. The data shows we are making progress and experiencing many successes along the way. I look forward to seeing that trend continue.”

Last but not least, here's one from former library director and Board of Education member Brenda Stephens:
"I want to serve on the Orange County Board of Education because I want to be a part of a process that will make a difference for our young people. We all know that education is one important predictor of future success and I believe that most parents want success for their children. This is our common ground. I have the skills, leadership abilities, life experiences, and desire to help make this a reality for our community.

Our attention should remain on the fundamentals which has brought us success in the past and will continue to provide success in the future.

what's happening: 24 Feb. 2010 paper

So, despite a few last-minute changes to the paper, we got it out relatively hassle-free. So, here's what's inside:

  • TOWN 'STILL HAPPENING'. Mayor Tom Stevens gave his annual State of the Town address. He said 2010 will be a year of planning and residents should get involved.
  • SHERIFF RACE UP TO 3. HPD Sgt. Buddy Parker filed this morning to run for Orange County Sheriff as a republican. The others running are HPD Chief Clarence Birkhead and incumbent Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass.
  • 4 MORE FILE FOR SCHOOL BOARD. Incumbent Board chair Anne Medenblik, former county library director and school board member Brenda Stephens, former county budget director Donna Dean Coffey and Central Elementary PTSA president Laura Nicholson all filed for the Orange County Board of Education. (I'll post their press releases in just a bit.)
  • SLAVERY ON TRIAL. Orange Charter School held a mock trial on slavery at the Old Courthouse.
  • PETS SPAYED/NEUTERED THROUGH EVENT. Orange County Animal Services held a Spay/Neuter Day to mark National Spay Day.
Also inside, photos from Revolutionary War day and Las Vegas Night, the Educator of the Week, a Black History Wax Museum and a profile on a basketball referee.

Friday, February 19, 2010

paper for 17 Feb. 2010

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, but this week's been kind of crazy. I've taken over the Woodcroft Gazette — a free. monthly pub that goes out to a few neighbourhoods in Durham — as my pet project, and I got a bit caught up in that.

But, better late than never! Here's what's in this week's edition:
  • BUDGET CYCLE CHALLENGING FOR OCS. Orange county Schools is preparing for the challenges provided by the recession in their upcoming budget. Superintendent Pat Rhodes will present his recommended local budget (first version, an at the next Board meeting, March 1.
  • SHERIFF TO RUN AGAIN. Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass announced Monday he will run again.
  • 'A LOVE CHAIN.' Fifth-graders at New Hope Elementary School raised more than $200 in three days for relief efforts in Haiti.
  • MAYOR TO GIVE TOWN ADDRESS. Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will give the State of the Town address at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Central Orange Senior Center.
  • ENGLISH IVY PROJECT JUST A DAY'S WORK FOR GOATS. Alix Bowman's goats tackled the English ivy around town buildings last week.
Look for coverage of Orange's down-to-the-wire loss in wrestling, a forensic mystery and Parks and Rec's Daddy/Daughter Dance.

foray into social media

Ask and you shall receive! Robin and I have started Facebook and Twitter pages, for those of you on the social media sites. Our Twitter handle is @NewsofOrange and the Facebook page is under The News of Orange County.

UPDATE (24 Feb. @ 11:03 a.m.): Here's a link for the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/newsoforange.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


We have a  great group of Cub Scouts here. Here's a shot of Robin showing them the paper.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

02102010: this week's paper

Well, here's what's in this week's paper:
  • FILING BEGINS FOR LOCAL RACES. Filing began Monday for 2010 races. Be sure to check out Robin's sidebar on HPD Chief Clarence Birkhead filing for the county sheriff's race.
  • 12TH ANNUAL ORANGE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SUMMIT. This year's Ag Summit had some interesting speakers.
  • TOWN SETS GOALS FOR BUDGET. Replacing vehicles and giving merit raises are at the top of the  Hillsborough Town Council's list.
  • DTCC NAMES NEW DIRECTOR. Carlo Ribustelli began work as the Durham Tech Orange Count Campus' new director Feb. 1. He replaced Dina Logan, who resigned last year.
Don't miss our sports content, Educator of the Week and C.W. Stanford students learning about HIV/AIDS.


Since we ran out of space in the paper, here are some photos from around noon Monday at the Orange County Board of Elections.

Rep. Bill Faison and Orange County Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams look over Faison's election papers Monday. Faison was the first candidate to file in Orange County. (Photo by Vanessa C. Shortley)

Clerk of Court James Stanford files for re-election as Orange County Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams looks over the paperwork. (Photo by Vanessa C. Shortley)

Deborah Brooks files to run for Register of Deeds as Orange County Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams looks over the paperwork. (Photo by Vanessa C. Shortley)

election 2010 press releases (so far)

Here's the press release from Deborah B. Brooks, who is running for Register of Deeds:
I am please to announce that I am filing today (Feb. 8, 2010) for the office of Register of Deeds of Orange County.

I have lived in Orange County all of my life (53 years) and have worked in the Register of Deeds Office since 1975 (34 years). The Register of Deeds is one of the most important elected positions in local government with high standards and high responsibility. The safety and integrity of your land and vital records depends on an experienced and competent leader in the Register of Deeds office. I pledge to every citizen of Orange County that I have the experience, competency and integrity to maintain and enhance this office. I would be honored to serve as Register of Deeds of Orange County.

We face a time when every service offered by local government must be cost efficient while meeting the needs of citizens. Staffing and technology must provide effective opportunities to enhance our service while saving the taxpayer money, and that's the strategy I will use, along with a total commitment to protect the integrity of your records.

If you have any questions or concerns about our office or my candidacy, please feel free to contact me. (E-mail: dbrooks16@nc.rr.com)

Rep. Bill Faison also released a statement about his candidacy:
Bill Faison filed Monday, February 8, 2010, for a fourth term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Bill lives on in Cedar Grove located in northern Orange County with his three sons.  He has represented House District 50, which is all of Caswell County and approximately 75% of Orange County, following redistricting six years ago.

Bill is very active in the Legislature currently serving as Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means – Broadband Connectivity Committee, Vice Chairman of the House Committees on Agriculture, Public Utilities and Judiciary III, and a member of the House Committees on Insurance and Finance. Moreover he is the Chairman of the House Select Committee on High Speed Internet Access in Rural and Urban Areas, and the Chairman of the House Democrats Business Caucus. Additionally he serves on the House Select Committees on 911 Funding Use and Coyote Nuisance Removal.

Bill says, “I am very proud to represent all of the people of our District in the Legislature. I have introduced and gotten passed a number of laws that help both our community and our State. Moreover I have steered good legislation through and have blocked some bad legislation that would have hurt folks”. Bill has either sponsored or cosponsored new laws that improve and promote education and healthcare, raise teacher and state employee pay, promote new jobs, increase the minimum wage, protect the community from sexual predators, expand elder care, protect the environment, and make sure that folks who are disadvantaged have an opportunity for education and State contracts. He has voted for legislation that prohibits illegal aliens from holding State jobs. Bill says, “I have worked hard to promote education while fighting those who try to raise taxes.”

Bill says, “I am committed to representing our community in the Legislature. These are tough times. We need someone in Raleigh who understands our needs and can fight for change to help the folks in our community. This is why I am running again for my seat.” 
Two candidates for the Board of County Commissioners released statements. Here's Alice Gordon's:
Today (Feb. 8, 2010) Alice Gordon announced her re-election campaign for Orange County Commissioner in District 1, representing the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area.

She said she is running because she would like to build on her contributions to county government, and cited environmental advocacy, regional transportation, and school excellence as three areas in which she has made a difference.

She will work on these and other county issues in a fiscally responsible way and strive to maintain important county services that support our core values, while recognizing that the county has significant budget constraints.  The county must increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations, and strive to streamline county services to reduce expenses.

Commissioner Gordon is a dedicated advocate for our environment.  To date, the county's award-winning "Lands Legacy" resource conservation program, which she was instrumental in creating, has protected over 2500 acres, including land for parks, farmland preservation, and protection of our water and other natural resources.  Her focus now
will be the wise use of our water resources, so that we have clean water that is fairly allocated.  She will also work for the completion of planned recreation and park facilities when financially possible.

As chair of both the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro metropolitan transportation planning organization and Triangle Transit, she has advocated for improving public transit in the region.  The TTA bus route between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, which she helped to
develop, is one of Triangle Transit's most successful routes. Recently she helped lead the effort to create the award winning regional long range transportation plan for the Triangle, which has received national recognition.  In the future she will continue this work to promote effective public transit, and other efforts to achieve clear air and energy efficiency.  This work on transportation will also complement her other efforts on behalf of our older and younger residents.

Commissioner Gordon will continue her strong commitment to excellent schools.  She supports the Schools Adequate  Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO), and also believes that more attention should be directed to improving older school facilities.  She believes the most
pressing public education issue is to continue school excellence in a climate of scarce resources, and she supports our public libraries and their role in life long learning.

She will encourage and support green businesses for the county, "Buy Local" efforts, and sustainable development, building on the county's assets as a great place to live.  She believes that working for a vibrant economy in a socially and environmentally responsible way is an important part of her job as a commissioner.
 Commissioner Barry Jacobs also sent over a statement:
Serving as an Orange County commissioner has been an honor and a privilege. After careful consideration, and at the generous urging of friends, supporters, and colleagues, I have decided to seek re-election in that capacity.

We face a tremendously unsettled economic landscape and a period of significant transition within Orange County government. I believe my experience, willingness to listen, and commitment to seeking collaborative, creative solutions are well suited to guiding us through these challenging times.

I remain firmly committed to quality public education and environmental stewardship; to social justice and a compassionate safety net for those least able to help themselves; to government that is cost-effective and customer-oriented; to meaningful support for sustainable economic development; and to proactive partnerships within and beyond our county in education and library services, transportation and national resource protection, agricultural enhancement and solid waste management, land-use planning and improved service delivery.

Over the coming weeks and months I will share fresh ideas on how to approach the challenges  and opportunities that confront us, just as I have through 25 years of leadership as a citizen-volunteer and public servant.
For the Orange County Board of Education, two candidates also sent over releases. Here is incumbent Debbie Piscitelli's:
Debbie Piscitelli will seek a second term on the Orange County School Board. She is a long-time OCS volunteer who is a mother of two boys currently attending CW Stanford Middle School.
I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to serve our community as a member of our school board.  It has been a wonderful experience meeting and working with the talented and committed people in this district and I would like to continue this work as we prepare our students for the future.
Dr. Piscitelli, a pharmacist and medical writer, completed post-doctoral training at Duke University Medical Center. She has stressed the use of data to guide decision-making on district issues.
“Over the past four years, I have brought a scientific view to the board.  We have improved our use of data to evaluate student performance and district programs. In these economic times we must continue this approach to assure the taxpayers we are wisely using our limited resources.
As we make those difficult decisions, we need to remember that we are educating the whole child while educating all children.  Academic performance is paramount; additionally, we must remember our students are learning valuable skills participating in co-curriculum programs such as athletics, cultural arts, and agriculture. We have over 7000 students:  all with individual needs. We have students who struggle academically, students who have special needs, students whose native language is not English, students who are part of an achievement gap, and others who are academically advanced and need additional services to be challenged.  We must be committed to all our students.
Piscitelli also believes that communication is critical and this is an area where the district must improve. With the technological advances in communication, our responsiveness to our parents, guardians, and the community should be better. If a parent requests information or has a concern, we should acknowledge them and promptly respond.
She can be contacted at dapocs@nc.rr.com or on Facebook at Deborah Piscitelli.
Hillsborough Elementary School PTA member Will Atherton also threw his hat in the ring:
Will Atherton has announced that he will run for Orange County School board.  Will, along with his wife Allyson and two children, has lived in Orange County for over 8 years and reside in Hillsborough.  Both children attend elementary school in Orange County and are active in community events and local sports organizations.

In December 1997, Will completed his Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Technology at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Will received his Master’s degree in Network Engineering from North Carolina State University in May 2003.

During his twelve years of employment with IBM, Will has been named Master Inventor, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Senior Member, Senior technical staff member, and has received numerous outstanding technical achievement awards. Will is a Microsoft Certified System Engineer, A+ industry standard certified for computer support technicians and currently holds eleven U.S. patents.  With his experience, Will brings a unique view to problem solving, data analysis and a deep technical background that will benefit the Orange County School system’s current financial and educational challenges.

Will’s background in education, as a student, instructor and higher education teacher, would allow him to bring a more defined focus on the overall education of all the children in Orange County, focusing on accountability in the classroom, school administration and Central Office practices.

Community involvement has always been a high priority for Will.  For the past 8 years he has served on board of directors for the Churton Grove Homeowners’ Association.  He was recently named as a chair-member for the Sportsplex Community Advisory Committee for the Orange County Board of Commissioners.  Will is an active participant in Orange County Schools as a volunteer in the classroom and at school events, and is a member of the Hillsborough Elementary School PTA.  Outside of school sponsored events, Will is also involved with local sports organizations as a volunteer and coach in HYAA and Upward sports.

Key areas of interest include:

Education accountability
Accountability with regular assessments & reviews
Fostering proven programs
Focusing on closing the achievement gap
Evolve programs for at-risk kids
Cultivate educational environments for all children and staff
Promote policies to ensure a safe and secure learning environment
Commitment to quality
Develop policies that address changing needs of all children
Listen, be responsive and proactive to all citizens’ concerns
Focus measurable results in the classroom and in the Central Office
Fiscal responsibility
Realistic budget planning
Ensure focus on education for all children
Ensure sustainability

Willforschools.com (website will be running soon)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hog Day 2010

From the Chamber:

For the past 27 years, the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce has presented Hillsborough Hog Day. Hog Day is the Chamber's largest fundraiser and provides nearly half of the Chamber's annual operating budget.  While the Town of Hillsborough and Orange County provide assistance by way of public safety, trash pickup, and recycling and other services, all liability for Hog Day is assumed by the Chamber.

 Hog Day has also become a community event, looked forward to and attended by local residents as well as out of town visitors.  While Hog Day is a good event, it, like anything else, can be improved upon.  But we need YOUR help to make Hog Day a better event. 

 Please click on the link below and take a few minutes to complete this short survey.


Please feel free to pass this link on to others.  The more feedback we get, the more information we'll have to work with.  We also welcome you to join us in planning or volunteering for Hog Day.

 Thank you for your support of the Chamber!

paper for 020310

Whew! What a crazy few days it's been.  I hope everyone has been staying safe and warm with this snow and ice. The roads finally look like they are clearing up today; hopefully, the sun makes short work of what's left. I know my street still looks like a sheet of ice!

Thanks, as well, to everyone who submitted photos. We used quite a few of them in the paper on pg. 1 and 5.

But, here's what else is in this week's paper:
  • OFFICIALS UP FOR RE-ELECTION. The filing period begins Feb. 8 for this year's election. There are several local positions up for grabs, including school board, county commissioners and state legislators.
  • DOT: 'NO' TO BRADY ROAD. The town received unofficial confirmation that the DOT would not be pursuing a Brady Road extension.
  • WALKIN' IN A WINTER WONDERLAND. The snow was piled high — or relatively so — for many Orange County residents.
  • FUNDS MAY INCLUDE STATION. Hillsborough's rail station may be included in the state's allotment of Recovery Act funds.
  • PISCITELLI SEEKS RE-ELECTION ON SCHOOL BOARD. Dr. Debbie Piscitelli, pharmacist, medical writer and mother of two boys in Orange County Schools, will run for her second term as a school board member.
Also, look for our Educators of the Week (three this time!) and a business opening a local office.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

OCS closed Monday

Orange County Schools — all schools and district offices — will be closed Monday because of the weekend's snow.

Stay safe.

Friday, January 29, 2010

27 January paper

Sorry for the late posting on this one, but here's what's in this week's paper:
  • COUNTY BANS DOGGING DEER. The Orange County Board of Commissioners banned the practice of hunting deer with dogs last week.
  • FORMER COUNTY LEADER DIES. Orange County's first manager, Samuel Gattis II, died last Saturday. He was the county manager from 1963 to 1981.
  • 'GIVING WHAT YOU HAVE.' A local woman is spearheading an effort to get backpacks sent down to Haiti to use in carrying supplies from one location to another.
  • EVENT WILL REVISIT OLD DAYS. This Sunday at the Senior Center several locals will tell what Hillsboro was like in the days before the extra "ugh."
  • PROGRAM USES REAL LIFE TO TEACH TEENS ABOUT DRIVER SAFETY. The VIP for a VIP program uses real-life situations to encourage teens to be safe drivers. Local law enforcement agencies are hoping to use this program in area schools.
See also stories on a planned daddy/daughter dance, budget issues facing the school district and our Educator of the Week.


The following press release just came across our e-mail. I imagine it means all evening and weekend events are canceled in the district. I know for sure the Hillsborough Elementary School movie night is postponed until next Friday. Let the cancellations begin!
   Due to the INCLEMENT WEATHER coming into our area tomorrow, the OCS Board of Education has CANCELLED ALL PRACTICES and ATHLETIC EVENTS for Friday, January 29th & Sat., January 30th (entire weekend!) 

**ALL of OHS & CRHS Basketball Games are CANCELLED for Friday, Jan. 29th  -  and are NOT Rescheduled at this time.  [Please watch the OCS Athletic Calendars (on the OCS Website), and all updates & rescheduled athletic events will be posted on each schools’ Jan. & Feb. Calendars, …as soon as the Final Rescheduled information is received.

**Sat., Jan. 30th – ‘CAROLINA 9 – 1A/2A Conf. Wrestling Tournament is also CANCELLED & IS Rescheduled for Sat., February 6th, @ CRHS – Weigh-Ins start @ 9:00 a.m. & the Wrestling will start @ 10:00 a.m.

   Thank for your Patience!!
    …We are terribly sorry for any inconvenience that this might have caused for you and your family!  Have a Nice & Very Safe Weekend ahead!
UPDATE at 10:10 a.m.: The Eno River Farmer's Market will not hold a market Saturday. They'll be back next Saturday at the Public Market House from 10 a.m. to noon.

UPDATE at 10:14 a.m.: The Hillsborough Town Board's retreat will be postponed until next weekend.

UPDATE at 12:40 p.m.: Via OCMLibrary's Twitter feed: "Friends of the Library has rescheduled the Bargain Book sale to February 6th 10am - 4pm due to weather. More info: http://bit.ly/bFU2KD"

UPDATE at 12:42 p.m.: The following just came across our e-mail, from the IRS:
GREENSBORO- Due to the forecast calling for possible severe winter weather conditions, the IRS has cancelled special Saturday hours at 5 of 7 locations in the Carolinas this weekend.

These special hours were originally scheduled to provide help to taxpayers who earned less than $49,000 in 2009 by determining if these taxpayers are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and offering them free tax preparation assistance and electronic filing.

“In the interest of both the safety of taxpayers and our employees, the IRS has cancelled Saturday hours at locations in the Carolinas where there is a potential for hazardous winter weather,” said Mark Hanson, IRS spokesperson for the Carolinas.

The following offices, previously scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, will be closed:
Charlotte,  NC
Greensboro,  NC
Hickory,  NC
Raleigh,  NC
Greenville,  SC

The following IRS offices will be open as originally scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday:
            Wilmington,  NC
            Charleston,  SC

The address for IRS offices may be found here: http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html.

All seven IRS locations listed above are scheduled to be open for special Saturday hours again Feb. 6 and Feb. 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to provide the same free services to qualifying taxpayers who made less than $49,000 in 2009.

Eligible taxpayers who are unable to get free services from IRS offices during normal business hours or during special Saturday hours held at some locations may want to consider using the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.  Community organizations throughout the Carolinas participate in VITA where IRS-trained volunteers help prepare and e-file tax returns for qualifying taxpayers.

To find the nearest VITA site, call the United Way at 2-1-1, the AARP at 1-888-227-7669, or the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Taxpayers eligible for EITC may also want to consider using IRS Free File to prepare and e-file their federal income tax return online at no cost.  Visit www.irs.gov/freefile for more info.
UPDATE at 2:13 p.m.: The Hillsborough Visitors Center will be closed Saturday and Sunday.

UPDATE at 4:41 p.m.: Here's Hillsborough's emergency preparedness site, for more information: http://www.ci.hillsborough.nc.us/content/emergency-information.

Also, our advertising manager just came back from Home Depot, and she said the whole Hampton Pointe shopping centre is a hot mess, with a line to get out the goes passed the traffic circle. Good luck if you have to get in or out of there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

HES winter carnival

The Hillsborough Elementary School Dynamic Dolphins jump-rope group before their performance Saturday at the school's Winter Carnival. (Photo by Vanessa C. Shortley)

So, I went to the Hillsborough Elementary School Winter Carnival on Saturday, and I have to say, it was jumping! It looked like there was great turnout, and tons of kids having fun. I'm glad I was able to make it out this year.
For more photos, of course, see this week's News of Orange.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

e-mail outage for OCS

Apparently, e-mail is down for Orange County Schools users. It should be back sometime today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

in the 0120 edition

Despite a long night, Robin and I managed to put out a pretty nice paper, if you ask me.  So here's what you can find in this week's edition:
  • COUNTIES DISCUSS LINE SOLUTION: This one comes from our sister paper, the Mebane Enterprise, about what Orange and Alamance county managers Frank Clifton and Craig Honeycutt are proposing their respective boards do about the county line. This is on the agenda for this week's Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting, so Robin will have more on that next week, too.
  • 3 OCS VETERANS RETIRING: Orange County Schools is losing three more veteran administrators: Dr. Greg Hicks, assistant superintendent for human resources and finance; OHS principal Roy Winslow; and CRHS principal Gary Thornburg. 
  • KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE: There is plenty of coverage on this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemorative march and other festivities in Hillsborough.
  • LOCAL OFFICERS TAKE PART IN CRISIS INTERVENTION TRAINING: Hillsborough Police Department was among several area departments that took part in a crisis intervention training that taught them how to deal with someone who has a mental illness.
Plus, check out our Educator of the Week, Lynne T. Gronback, a science teacher at Cedar Ridge who has much love for her subject and her students.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19 Jan. Board of Ed meeting

Hey everyone: I'm at the meeting.

7:21 p.m.: We're at the Board comments now. But before, PIO Mike Gilbert recognized Central Elementary School, which was one of five schools in the state to win the award this year. Central came out in force to participate in the recognition.
That's Central principal Clara Daniels to the left of the woman in black.

7:31 p.m.: Superintendent Patrick Rhodes said he was impressed with Central's award, and he thanked Dr. Denise Morton for writing the nomination.
The American Heart Association is using the Natalie Hough story, he said, for AED promotion.
All 115 districts in NC signed the North Carolina Race to the Top letter of support, Rhodes said. As much as half a billion dollars could come to the state.
 As part of planning for the Orange County Agricultural Summit, which the Orange High FFA is a part of, Cedar Ridge students are making a living history about what it was like to be a farmers in older times. The theme of the summit is "Back to the Future."

7:38 p.m.: The Consent Agenda has been approved. It contained minutes, personnel report, school trip approval request and several policies.

8:01 p.m.: Five schools in the district use Positive Behaviour Support, specialist Sheila McDonald said. It seeks to replace negative behaviour with positive behaviour. Eighty percent of school staff must "buy-in" before the system may be completely put into place.

8:28 p.m.: Kay Ringer and Bruce Middleton are giving a presentation on science and math throughout the district. Some really interesting stuff about the new textbook adoption for K-5 and how they're increasing other kinds of learning with math and science, like writing and inquiry-based science.

8:50 p.m.: Well, my laptop charger has gone MIA, so unless I find it, this is it for tonight. I'll add more tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

gold park

Picture by Vanessa Shortley
Boy Scouts and other community volunteers help Stormwater Resource Officer Terry Hackett create a stormwater wetland at Gold Park on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

This press release just came across our e-mail. It's a shame for anyone who uses the park, but hopefully it will be cleared up soon.
Help Hillsborough Build a Better Field

The Town of Hillsborough needs citizens’ help in building a better field at GoldPark.

For safety reasons, the multi-use field at the town park will close for about one year. The field’s rough surface and the debris that is being uncovered make the play space unsafe.

“The multi-use field at Gold Park is very important to the community and the Town wants to ensure that it is a high quality playing surface that is safe for all kinds of recreational uses,” said Stephanie Trueblood, Hillsborough Planner and Parks & Recreation Board staff person.

When the weather warms, the field will be re-graded and crowned with soil. It also will be reseeded with native, drought-tolerant Bermuda grass.  This maintenance is “sure to greatly improve the field by creating a more sustainable and tolerant turf surface,” Trueblood said.

Citizens can help ensure the field reopens as a superior playing surface by staying off the field until repairs are made and the new grass is grown. The field will not be fenced off but will be posted with signs.

GoldPark is located at 415 Dimmocks Mill Road, just east of Nash Street. It is in the sharp curve of Dimmocks Mill Road, just south of the railroad trestle.  The park is open from 8 a.m. until thirty minutes after dusk daily.

For more information, contact Stephanie Trueblood, Planner, 732-1270 Ext. 74 or Margaret Hauth, Planning Director, 732-12

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 census road tour heading to chapel hill

Just in case anyone was interested:
National 2010 Census Road Tour Heads to UNC vs. Ga. Tech Game
Fans Invited to Participate in Interactive Experience that Brings 2010 Census to Life

What:    The nationwide 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour will stop in Chapel Hill, N.C., for the North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech men’s basketball game. Fans are invited to learn about the census through an educational, engaging and interactive experience that brings the 2010 Census to life — creating a “portrait of America.”

               The Road Tour’s national vehicle, nicknamed “Mail It Back,” began its cross-country tour last week from New York City to exhibit at more than 800 events nationwide. The Road Tour will attempt to motivate America’s growing and increasingly diverse population to complete and mail back the 10-question census form when it arrives in mailboxes March 15-17.
When:    Saturday, Jan. 16, following the basketball game, approximately 4 p.m.

Where:   Adjacent to Dean E. Smith Center on UNC campus on William Blythe Drive
                Chapel Hill

For more information about the 2010 Census and the Road Tour, please visit 2010census.gov
and follow us on Twitter (@2010Portrait), Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and YouTube (/uscensusbureau).

scenes from the ocpl

Here are some photos that didn't get published in the paper of last week's Orange County Public Library opening:

Board of County Commissioners Chair Valerie Foushee speaks to a standing-room-only crowd at the opening of the new Orange County Main Public Library on W. Margaret Lane on Friday, Jan. 8. Foushee acknowledged the many public officials who came out to the event, including fellow commissioners Alice Gordon, Mike Nelson, Barry Jacobs, Steve Yuhasz, Bernadette Pelissier and Pam Hemminger, former commissioner and current Orange County school board member Steve Halkiotis and Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens.

Henri Nadworny listens to speeches during the Orange County Public Library's opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Jan. 8, while Virginia Nadworny takes advantage of the library's services to read a book.

The Chamber of Commerce's large scissors stand at the ready, waiting to be used to cut the ribbon at the new library's opening ceremony.

The Friends of the Orange County Public Library present Lucinda Munger, left, library director, with a $20,000 cheque.

A wreath made of pages from books adorns the wall by the children's librarian's desk.


A fish sits atop the juvenile non-fiction stacks at the Orange County Main Public Library.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

legislative breakfast with orange county schools

At a breakfast meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12, members of the Orange County Schools Board of Education talked with state legislators Sen. Ellie Kinnaird and Rep. Verla Insko (Rep. Bill Faison was unable to attend due to "an emergency conflict") about the impact of the budget on the district, upcoming budget concerns and their stance on certain bills making their way through the legislature.
George McFarley, district chief operating officer, gave a recap of how decreases in the state's budgetary allotment affected Orange County Schools.
The district received $3.7 million less than they had the previous year. But that wasn't all.
"In addition to the reduction, we had to revert another $1.1 million back to the state," he said. "Of course, we did received some stimulus money for Title I and Exceptional Children services to the tune of ... $1.5 million."
Those stimulus dollars, however, had strings attached: They could not be used generally to plug the holes left by fewer state and local dollars. They had to be used in their specific area. Title I schools are high-poverty schools, while the Exceptional Children program supports children with special needs.
Certain budget line items were "zeroed out" — or completely unfunded —such as at-risk funding, which went from about $247,000 in 2008-2009 to nothing, McFarley said.
Textbook funding was almost halved: from nearly $472,000 to a little more than $280,000.
But non-instructional support — mostly salaries for people such as custodians, media assistants and secretaries — had one of the most dramatic reductions: From more than $1.9 million to a little less than $5,000.
"So, what did you do?" Kinnaird said.
District Chief Instructional Officer Denise Morton said the district received stimulus dollars and stabilization dollars; they used the latter to fill the whole left in non-instructional support.
Morton also said with textbook and other funding there are upcoming worries.
"As they call it in [the Department of Public Instruction], there's a big cliff we'll fall off at the end of next year," she said. "... After this year, we will no longer receive dollars for any kind of textbook purchase."
Insko asked whether the use of the Internet and online learning tools could help fill that gap.
Morton said that is difficult because "in northern Orange, there's very little Internet connectivity." That would make it hard for some students to access learning materials from home.
"We know some children would not be able to access it," she said.
Board member Debbie Piscitelli said in school, teachers are using the Internet more, but there are still issues with that: connectivity, making sure the technology is functional and making sure clases have access to the computer labs among them.
Morton said another way the state has tried to stretch limited textbook dollars is going to a seven-year — instead of a five-year — textbook adoption cycle.
Kinnaird said that concerned her because of the wear and tear on textbooks. Board Chair Anne Medenblik said it could also cause some books — especially history — to become out-of-date before new books are adopted. For example some are showing former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as still in power, mentioning nothing that has happened since the early 2000s.
As for the at-risk funding, Morton said the people running those programs need the funds they lost and used every last stimulus dollar they received.
"The schools needed every bit of [that money] to support students who struggle with learning," she said. "... They really missed that money. It was zeroed out.  ... The Board of Education tried to plug some holes with local dollars, but that is something that we'd like to see returned if possible."
Students served by Exceptional Children have grown in the district, too, making those dollars ever more necessary.
In 2004, there were 15 children identified with autism in the district. In 2009, there were 100.
"Those students, their disabilities range from mild to very severe, so they require additional services," Morton said. "... We want to provide the best education we can for those students. ... The stimulus has helped, but it will go away."
There are similar problems with Limited English Proficiency and Academically and Intellectually Gifted programs as well, Morton said.

Next year's budget
Board member Ted Triebel said as terrible as the cuts they already had to endure were, the worst is probably yet to come.
"One of the scariest parts for us is ... there's going to be a 35 percent increase in budget reductions" according to some, he said.
Insko said there have been some increases in revenue, such as from corporate taxes, which she hoped would help fill the gaps.
"I guess I'm probably foolishly optimistic," she said. "Everybody's talking about what we're going to have to do. We are going to have some reductions, but I just hope they won't be as bad."
Triebel said he was also concerned about losing stimulus funds, which have buffered the blows landed by budget reductions.
Kinnaird said the long-term solution is more economic development to change the tax base.
"Orange County's taxes are already way too high," she said. "... My answer to that is we've got to get out there and get more commercial. We've got to change our balance."
Insko said she wasn't sure how much more the district could cut.
"You all have already cut all you can," she said. "And you've got to cut more."
Piscitelli agreed, saying theirs is a diverse district with gifted students and EC students and everything in between, for a total of nearly 7,100 students.
"It's very hard when you keep cutting to meet all of their needs in public education," she said.

Legislative issues
Board members also told their legislators their stances on four legislative issues: their opposition to HB 1292, Employ of Non-Certified Personnel, which "ties the hands of superintendents, principals, and other hiring-level personnel by stripping them of the power to suspend, demote of dismiss a non-certified employee," according to background materials; their support for calendar flexibility; their desire to retain governmental immunity; and their desire to allow LEAs (local education agencies) to include students who earn their high school diploma from a community college in graduation rate calculations.