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"

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 or email

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:

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:

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 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 (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.