Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bernadette Pelissier elected chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners

On Monday, Dec. 5, during the annual board organizational meeting, the Orange County Board of Commissioners elected Bernadette Pelissier as chair for 2012. Immediately afterwards, Pam Hemminger was elected vice chair.
This is Pelissier’s second term as chair of the Board of Commissioners. Hemminger is replacing commissioner Steve Yuhasz as vice chair.
Both the chair and new vice chair have served on the board since 2008.

Column: Greetings from Ellie Kinnaird

Dear Friends,
I always enjoy my readers’ responses to my newsletters. What is so rewording is that readers add their own comments and experiences and often give me information I didn’t have on an issue or good ideas for future legislation. An economics reader informed me that Canada does not have a tax deduction for mortgages, therefore they avoided the bank misdeeds and meltdown. However, I think most people buy a house not because they want a tax deduction but because they want to realize the American dream, so we’re prey to the predatory lending tactics of U.S banks. According to the source I read that promoted my original comment, Canada also doesn’t have the financial instruments that led to our bank failures, and they separate their banking from investment activity which led to the pushing of questionable loans to those who couldn’t afford them, bundling them up into securities, selling them and then betting against their own customers that bought the securities. But I am always willing to have more information from readers.
Continuing with a review of programs that are funded by the legislature, Smart Start is a nationally recognized, Public Private Partnership initiative that serves children from birth to age 5. It took an $80 million cut in its budget this year, in addition to large cuts in the last two terms. But because of its outstanding track record, Smart Start was able to leverage $28 million in other private and federal funds last year. Smart Start emphasizes quality day care through a star rating system to ensure that every child reaches his or her potential and is prepared to succeed in a global community.
We know that the early years are crucial for child development that can shape success throughout school and life. Smart Start raises the quality of education and care by providing qualified, educated teachers with additional subsidized training—including college credits—that affects thousands of children in their care. About 39,000 children of low-income, working families received subsidies for child care. Around 85 percent of developmentally disabled children were screened, which helps give them the early services they need to keep up with their peers in school. All Smart Start children are provided with access to health care.
The Ready Schools program that uses literacy preparedness for children who are behind when they enter kindergarten served 29.000 children, 70 percent in low-income schools. Smart Start has been audited for financial and performance standards every year to assure its value to the community and the state taxpayer. This is one of the most important programs to serve our children and families for success.
If we want to know what elections have sadly become, The John Locke folks (part of the Art Pope empire) gave a party and insurance, banking, beer distributors, accounting firms and other corporations donated up to $10,000 each as sponsors. This is not to say they don’t do the same for both parties, just that citizens are increasingly left out of the picture because for the most part, they simply can’t give on that scale. Democracy for sale and on a scale unseen before because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to give to “issue” ads against candidates, skews and taints the democratic system.
But to end on an upbeat note, on my morning walk, I passed a fire hydrant decked out in a Santa beard and hat. Have a wonderful holiday, whatever your plans and whereever you are this season.
Ellie

Hillsborough’s assistant town manager to head to Ohio

Assistant Town Manager Nicole Ard has accepted a position as city manager in Sandusky, Ohio. Her last day with the Town of Hillsborough was Friday, Dec. 16.
“Not only have we lost a key position in the town due to the reduction of force that took place in the fiscal year 2012 budget, we’ve also lost an excellent assistant town manager who provided amazing customer service to the citizens of Hillsborough,” Town Manager Eric Peterson said. “There is no doubt that Hillsborough’s loss will be Sandusky’s gain as they have just hired an exceptionally dedicated, fair and professional person to be their new city manager.”
A farewell reception in Ard’s honor was held Friday, Dec. 16, in the Town Barn.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to serve Historic Hillsborough, a great town manager and Town Board, and a fantastic, hard-working staff,” Ard said. “Their support—as well as support from community members, businesses and nonprofits—made Hillsborough a wonderful place to call home”
Ard, who also served as Hillsborough’s public works director, began working for the town in October 2007. She supervises the planning, utilities, public works, fire inspections and fleet maintenance operations. In addition, she serves as the acting manager in the town manager’s absence.
Her position was slated to be eliminated in January due to budget cuts for the current fiscal year, which started in July. The town’s Reduction in Force Policy allows employees in good standing to serve an additional six months if a position is eliminated.
Effective at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, Public Works Supervisor Ken Hines began serving as interim Public Works director. Ard’s other supervisory duties will be reabsorbed by the town manager, with the exception of fire inspections, which will be supervised by the planning director.
Ard began work Tuesday, Dec. 27, in Sandusky, a Great Lakes port and tourism community of more than 25,000, with a population of 112,000 within a 15-mile radius. The city is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, midway between Cleveland and Toledo. It has been ranked by Site Selection Magazine as the 25th best small town in the nation for corporate expansion activity and was on Fortune Magazine’s 2011 list of “100 Great Things about America” and Forbes’ 2011 list of affordable places to live.
“I am honored and excited to work with the City Commission, staff and community to help fulfill their goals and to continue to advance Sandusky, Ohio, as a great place to live, play and do business,” Ard said.
She will oversee Sandusky’s day-to-day city operations, including traditional municipal services; a utilities system; a 5-acre nursery and city greenhouse; more than 113 miles of city-owned and maintained streets; a nine-hole golf course; and more than 265 acres of parkland with waterfront parks, piers and a marina. There are 218 employees.

Friday, December 30, 2011

UNC to recieve funds to improve access to education and health care in rural areas

U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that North Carolina will receive more than $1.5 million to improve access to health care and educational services in rural communities.
“Nearly half of all North Carolinians live in rural areas,” said Hagan. ”We need to make sure that people in all corners of our state have access to the same educational opportunities and medical care available in metropolitan areas. This funding will help rural schools prepare students for success in the 21st century economy and ensure that residents in these areas have access to the quality, affordable health care they need and deserve.”
The USDA funding will support six distance learning and telemedicine projects across the state, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which will receive $81,324.
James Sprunt Community College in Duplin County will receive a $192,870 grant that will enable faculty to offer college-level and advanced placement courses to a network of five surrounding high schools.
The East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine will receive $392,748 to expand their rural residency program by implementing a telemedicine system. The system will allow dental residents to receive academic lessons via teledentistry equipment while working at four rural clinics in underserved areas of Eastern North Carolina.

A full list of North Carolina grant recipients is:
• East Carolina University – $392,748
• James Sprunt Community College – $192,870
• The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – $81,324
• Mission Healthcare Foundation, Inc. – $419,351
• Easter Seals UCP North Carolina & Virginia, Inc. – $251,235
• Sampson Regional Medical Center, Inc. – $169,852

Funding is provided through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program.

Column: Missing someone special at holiday time

By: D.G. Martin
UNC-TV host

Harder, isn’t it, when the loss of a best friend or a loved one comes at holiday time?
Maybe we already had a present picked out. And we are left wondering what gift for us might have been in the plans of our lost one.
Harder still, isn’t it, when an accident or health crisis suddenly shatters the expectations of a long, happy, comfortable, supportive association.
Gone. No time of reunion, no laughing with and at each other, no exchange of secret hopes and worries. Just an empty chair at the table, an unused bed in the guest room and an unopened bottle of a shared favorite beverage.
Thirty years ago, Robert Whitton first gave me the unwelcome news that old age was chasing me down. He and I were teaching at UNC-Charlotte, riding together from our nearby homes in the morning and then to downtown Charlotte to our regular jobs when our classes were over. That day, after my last business law class, I walked to his math classroom to meet him for the ride downtown. He was not there. “We’re taking a test. He will be back in a few minutes,” one of his students told me.
Later, when we were in the car, Whitton asked, “Do you know what that student told me?” Then, without waiting, smiling devilishly, “She said that some ‘gray-headed’ man had come by the classroom looking for me.”
Until then, I had not noticed my fast-developing grayness. Whitton enjoyed reminding me of my early decline into old age. Back and forth to the university, such freewheeling conversations about aging, students, politics, people and ourselves built the foundations of a trusting friendship.
He was a skeptic, but an optimistic one. If I outlined a political program or theory, he would poke holes in it, asking question after question to show why it would not work. I learned not to take offense at his probing. He was a mathematician. It was his obligation to challenge every theory. It was a compliment to a theory if it was worth his time to challenge it.
We watched and enjoyed each other’s families. He shared his famous family breakfasts and homemade biscuits with friends and students. I followed his passion to solve problems into classes on small engine repair and framing houses. I watched him set up a sawmill to turn downed neighborhood trees into useful lumber. I listened to his provocative ideas about how we could make the world better.
Twenty-some years ago, we both left our Charlotte neighborhood. Fortunately for me, he moved to Davidson, my hometown. He and his wife Amy gave me a home base for my frequent visits.
So our friendship continued. But teaching math at Davidson and teaching students to love math was his calling and became, after his wife and family, his first love.
His students and his colleagues loved him back. Last month, we found out how much. When he died after a car stuck him while crossing a street, the campus community packed the large college church and its adjoining chapel. As the beginning of the service, I noticed a young man in a football jersey standing in the aisle. Then, I saw that both aisles were full of the Davidson football team in uniform. They had come to pay tribute to the skeptical optimist who made math’s problem-solving fun.
His friend, Cole Barton, quoting and adding to songwriter Guy Clark, said this: “I’ve seen the David, I’ve seen the Mona Lisa too—and I have heard Doc Watson play Columbus Stockade Blues—and I got to see Robert Whitton teach mathematics, too.”
Even in sadness, I am glad he taught me, too.
And so many others.

Note: A video of Robert Whitton’s memorial service and other information about him is available at http://www3.davidson.edu/cms/x44518.xml

D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s "North Carolina Bookwatch," which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m and Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs, visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Column: Winter reading suggestions from North Carolina Bookwatch

By: D.G. Martin
UNC-TV host

It is time to talk about books again.
If you are looking for some special holiday gifts for some hard-to-give-to friends, I may have some help for you, thanks to UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch’s programs during the next few weeks.
Here is a book for lovers of history or politics: One of North Carolina’s most popular speakers about European history and the history of ideas is Lloyd Kramer, chair of the department of history at UNC-Chapel Hill. He makes complicated topics understandable and interesting. That is what he has done in his new book, “Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775.” I always thought of nationalism as our collective loyalty to our country, a good thing that binds our country’s people together. But Professor Kramer challenges those ideas in his book and in his conversation with me on Bookwatch on Friday, Dec. 9.
For those who love down-to-earth stories about North Carolina people, I recommend Ruth Moose. She is widely admired as an author, storyteller, poet, teacher and supportive reviewer of the works of other writers. What grabs my attention are her stories about farmers, townspeople, preachers, teachers, handymen and regular people struggling to get to the next day. Most are set in and near the Uwharries, where Moose grew up. Her book of short stories, “Rules and Secrets,” was the subject of conversation on North Carolina Bookwatch on Dec. 16 and 18.
If you know someone who ever wanted a career on Broadway or wanted a child to have such a career, “Broadway Baby” might be a perfect present. The author, Alan Shapiro, is a nationally acclaimed poet. “Broadway Baby,” his first novel, follows the life of a woman whose hopes for fame in show business for herself and later for her son end in disappointment. Publishers Weekly writes that Shapiro is “an acute observer of moments, people, art and language [who] packs even seemingly simple stories with many layers of meaning.”
Here is a book for those who love a pet so much that cloning would be an idea to consider. Pulitzer prize-winning reporter John Woestendiek tells that story in “Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.” While entertaining his readers with the tale of how a former beauty queen and other Americans pushed scientists in Korea to make duplicates of their favorite pets, Woestendiek gently explains the science of cloning.
History lovers may like “The Resurrection of Nat Turner Part One: The Witnesses,” even though it is fiction. Durham author Sharon Ewell Foster’s novel is based on groundbreaking historical research into the Nat Turner rebellion in Southampton County, Va., in 1831. Ever since, people have argued whether Turner was a terrorist, an early version of Osama bin Laden or a hero of an unsuccessful—but justifiable—effort to liberate slaves. This will be on Bookwatch Friday and Sunday, Jan. 6 and 8.
Don’t give your doctor friends “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them” by world-famous North Carolinians, Joe and Terry Graedon. Their new book’s title gets your attention and gives notice of serious warnings about risks associated with medical procedures. This will be on Bookwatch Friday and Sunday, Jan. 13 and 15.
Bookwatch’s current season ends Sunday, Jan. 15. But encore showings will begin Sunday, Jan. 22. If we are able to have one more season of Bookwatch, it will probably begin in July 2012.

D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s "North Carolina Bookwatch," which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m and Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs, visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

North Carolina state parks offering First Day Hikes on Jan. 1

State parks in North Carolina are creating a new tradition for New Year’s Day by offering First Day Hikes on trails across the state, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
First Day Hikes guided by rangers and volunteers will be held at 28 state parks. All state parks and state recreation areas will be open on the holiday with cold-weather recreation opportunities as well as warm visitor centers with exhibit halls presenting cultural and natural history.
“Connecting with the outdoors brings a sense of rejuvenation that’s especially appropriate on New Year’s Day, and state parks are the perfect place for that experience,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “We would hope that exploring our natural areas on Jan. 1 will become a tradition for every citizen.”
Detailed information about scheduled hikes in North Carolina’s state parks can be found under “Education” on the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation website.
First Day Hikes are being promoted in North Carolina in concert with a national effort by America’s State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors. News about hiking opportunities in all 50 states, along with tips on winter hiking, can be found on the America’s State Parks website. The effort promotes a healthy lifestyle as well as appreciation of natural resources.
“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Phil McKnelly, NASPD executive director. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

Pilot Mountain State Park will conduct prescribed burn

The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will conduct a prescribed burn at Pilot Mountain State Park in Surry County between mid-December and mid-January, when conditions are suitable, according to Park Superintendent Matt Windsor.
The burn will be conducted in upper elevations of the park’s mountain section. The public will not be allowed to enter this mountain section during the burn event, although the river section and corridor trail will remain open.
Prescribed burns are used as a resource management tool by the state parks system. Some plant communities and animal species rely on periodic fire for their existence. The prescribed burn will also reduce the amount of potential wildfire fuel. The prescribed burn will help protect the park’s resources and neighboring landowners if lightning, arson or carelessness sparks a wildfire.
In order to minimize smoke and assure the fire is controlled, the low-intensity, prescribed burn will only be carried out under strictly defined weather conditions of a fire management plan. On the selected day, the burn will begin in the late morning and will likely end on the same day, though smoke may be visible at high elevations in the evening.
On the day when the fire is to begin, safety signs will be posted on area roadways to alert motorists and an alert will be posted on the Pilot Mountain State Park page of the division’s website. For further information, call the park office at (336) 325-2355.

Deadling extended for emergency services work group applicants

The deadline for applications for resident volunteers for the Orange County emergency services work group is now Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2012.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners is recruiting two resident volunteers for the Orange County Emergency Services Work Group. The work group will provide recommendations on improving emergency medical services including ambulance response time, fire department issues such as items impacting home owner insurance ratings, and radio communications improvements for medical, fire and law enforcement personnel. Community applicants represent someone who may need to call 911 at any time during an emergency. Applicants do not need a background in emergency services.
This work group will address issues related to improving public safety for the residents of Orange County, such as:
• E911 Communications Center Improvement Plan;
• Discussion with the Board of Commissioners regarding plans to improve the EMS delivery system;
• Review of Fire Department issues relating to fire protection districts, fire insurance districts, and fire tax districts as related to property insurance ratings;
• Review of the VIPER ( Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders) original design and implementation and strategies to improve coverage and capacity.
If interested, apply online.
For additional information, select "Orange County Emergency Services Work Group" under "Boards and Commissions Listing" or call Donna Baker at (919) 245-2130 or Jeanette Jones at (919) 245-2125.
The Board of County Commissioners plans to make appointments for both positions at the Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 meeting.
With more than 30 different boards and commissions, volunteers appointed by the Board of County Commissioners have an opportunity to influence the way of life in Orange County.

Apply to join Orange County's Emergency Services Work Group by Jan. 4

One major way residents can have a positive impact on the future of Orange County is to volunteer to serve on the various County advisory boards and commissions.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners is currently recruiting two resident volunteers for the Orange County Emergency Services Work Group. This work group will address issues related to improving public safety for the residents of Orange County, such as:
• Review of the VIPER ( Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders) original design and implementation and strategies to improve coverage and capacity;
• E911 Communications Center Improvement Plan;
• Discussion with the Board of Commissioners regarding plans to improve the EMS delivery system;
• Review of Fire Department issues relating to fire protection districts, fire insurance districts, and fire tax districts as related to property insurance ratings.
If interested, apply online.
For more information, select "Orange County Emergency Services Work Group" under "Boards and Commissions Listing" or call Donna Baker at (919) 245-2130 or Jeanette Jones at (919) 245-2125.
Deadline for applications is Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012.
With more than 30 different boards and commissions, volunteers appointed by the Board of County Commissioners have an opportunity to influence the way of life in Orange County.

Eno River hosts New Year's Day hike

The Eno River New Year's Day hike is as traditional to the Triangle's first day of the year as black-­eyed peas and resolutions.
Each year on Jan. 1 the Eno River Association sponsors a fun-­filled afternoon of guided hikes, refreshments and merriment. This year we will offer two hike options, a longer 4-­ or 5-mile hike as well as a shorter, approximately 2-mile route.
There will be something for everyone, so come one, come all and enjoy New Year's Day at the Eno.
The New Year's Day hike starts from the Eno River State Park Headquarters (Few's Ford Access area, 6101 Cole Mill Road in Durham) at the very end of Cole Mill Road northwest of Durham.
Hot chocolate, marshmallows and popcorn will be served around the fire at the end of the hike. Celebrate with us as we walk together in the beautiful and protected trails at the Eno River State Park, a place that volunteers and conservationists have worked to help protect over the past four-and-a-half decades.
For more information visit www.enoriver.org or contact the Eno River Association at (919) 620‐9099 or email association@enoriver.org.

Hillsborough and Orange County's office/garbage schedule for New Year's

Town of Hillsborough offices will be closed Monday, Jan. 2, to observe New Year’s Day.
Residential garbage normally scheduled for collection on Monday will be collected the following day, Tuesday, Jan. 3.
Residents should place rollout carts at the curb between 7 p.m. the day before and 6 a.m. the day of collection.
The 2012 Residential Curbside Collections Calendar was mailed to Hillsborough residents in the fall. The schedule also is available on the home page and Public Works Department page of the town website.
The Orange County Landfill and all associated services—such as mulch sales and the Household Hazardous Waste Collection—will maintain their normal schedule.

Orange County solid waste convenience centers will be closed Sunday, Jan. 1. The Orange County Solid Waste Management administrative office will be closed Monday, Jan. 2.
Ten corrugated cardboard boxes at a time may be recycled at the curb. Boxes must be empty, flattened and no larger than 3-feet-by-3-feet. Larger amounts of cardboard should be taken to drop-off sites or held until your next recycling collection day.
Residents may recycle any day of the week, any time of day, at one of the county’s 24-hour recycling drop-off sites. Hillsborough’s site is located off N.C. 86 in the Hampton Pointe shopping center behind The Home Depot. Other sites in the county are:
• Carrboro Plaza, behind the ABC store in Carrboro
• Cedar Falls Park, off Weaver Dairy Road in Chapel Hill
• Meadowmont, behind the Harris Teeter in Chapel Hill
• University Mall, off Estes Drive and behind the Texaco gas station in Chapel Hill
Be sure to properly sort items into the labeled containers and to remove plastic bags and Styrofoam packaging. If the site is overflowing during this busy time of year, please do not leave your recycling on the ground. Take the recyclables to another drop-off site or wait a couple of days.

ArtsCenter changes will change its exhibition model in 2012

The ArtsCenter Gallery is changing its exhibition model in 2012. The center space will now become a collective gallery. The gallery is now accepting applications for January through March 2012.
The ArtsCenter is a vital resource for local art exhibition. Our mission is to support artists by giving them a high quality space to exhibit their work that is readily accessible to our diverse art-loving audience. We are changing our model to offer longer exhibits to more artists.
The ArtsCenter’s Center Gallery space will become a collective gallery representing multiple artists at one time. Instead of month-long exhibitions of one artist’s work, the gallery space will be divided into a series of independent artist’s stores that will rotate on three- or six-month cycles. This will exclude a three-month period from April-June in which The ArtsCenter will use the space for its annual student show, faculty show and photography show. The East End Gallery will remain the same, hosting single exhibitions that rotate on a monthly basis.
Artists function as independent businesses in many ways: through personal websites, direct selling and open studios. Together, we can maximize the success of our exhibition program. Artists will control their own space at The ArtsCenter while still operating under the guidance and support of our established exhibition program. This will allow both artist and venue to receive more visibility, more support and reach a wider network in the art community.
The shift to a collective model has proved to be an effective model for several other art spaces in the Triangle area. The ArtsCenter would like to extend special thanks to John Pelphrey and Kelly Dew at LabourLove Gallery in Durham for their guidance in this endeavor.

Details
• Artists rent the space monthly and are required to commit to a three-month time period at the start of their contract. Artists keep 90 percent of sales from all items. Space may be shared among artists in any way as long as the spatial parameters are established and paid for and adhere to the contract.
•Artist spaces are defined as follows:
Two-Dimensional work—6-foot-by-6-foot area of the gallery wall for $95 per month
Three-Dimensional work—3-foot-by-6-foot table or three shelves at 3 ft long each for $95 per month
Clothing—3 feet of clothing rack space for $45 per month

The ArtsCenter will:
• Provide access to all of our marketing resources, including a link to each artist’s website on our exhibition page through www.artscenterlive.org, inclusion in our printed and virtual marketing materials and a listing on the 2nd Friday ArtWalk maps and website.
• Provide a staff person to process sales during regular box office hours.
• Host a reception on the 2nd Friday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Artist will:
• Take an active role in promoting the gallery and its events through their existing contacts and social networks.
• Be present or have a representative present for at least two of the three ArtWalk receptions during their rental period.

To Apply:
• There is a $10 application fee for all interested artists. Artists only have to pay this fee once per three-month cycle.
• Each artist must fill out an application for consideration. Please follow the directions on the application carefully. Applications should be sent to gallery@artscenterlive.org or mailed to Laura Ritchie, The ArtsCenter, 300-G East Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510.
• Upon approval from the Gallery Coordinator, artists will be contacted and are required to fill out our exhibition contract and adhere to all terms specified therein.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get a jumpstart on taxes—some tips from the IRS

Plan now and be ready for tax time, the Internal Revenue Service says.
“During the final month of the 2011 tax year, you may want to set aside a moment during the busy holiday season to consider some quick IRS tips that may give you the gift of time and money saved next year,” North Carolina and South Carolina IRS Spokesperson Mark Hanson said.

Get your tax records together
With the current tax year winding down, the Internal Revenue Service is encouraging taxpayers to gather and organize their tax records now to reduce stress at tax time. Generally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents—for example, records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRAs and business or rental property—should be kept longer. For more information see IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals.

Get help estimating how much money you should have withheld each pay day
Go to IRS.gov for the IRS Withholding Calculator. This online program will help employees ensure that they don’t have too much or too little income tax withheld from their pay. It’s especially worthwhile to check your withholding if your marital status, number of dependents or employment status changed in 2011.

Get proper documentation for your contributions to charities
To deduct any charitable donation of money, a taxpayer must have a bank record or, in the case of cash contributions, a written communication from the qualifying charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. A bank record includes canceled checks, bank or credit union statements, and credit card statements.

Get the most out of your retirement accounts
Are you maximizing your contributions to your retirement accounts? This year, you can contribute up to $5,000 in an IRA, as well as another $16,500 to a 401(k) employer plan. If you’re 50 or older, those numbers go up to $6,000 and $22,000, respectively. The Saver’s credit for low- and moderate-income workers helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and to 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs.

Get credit for qualifying home improvements
Did you make some energy-efficient home improvements like adding insulation, new windows or an energy-efficient heating or cooling system in 2011? If so, you may qualify for up to a $500 tax credit.
Note: Qualifying improvements must be placed into service to the taxpayer’s principal residence located in the United States before Jan. 1, 2012.
You can learn more at www.irs.gov KEYWORD: “Energy.”

Get your guard up against tax scams
The IRS does not send out unsolicited email messages. Email messages claiming to be from the IRS are probably phishing scams. Recipients of such emails are urged not to open attachments, click on links, reply with personal information or complete any other activity that could compromise their computer’s security and lead to identity theft or worse.
“Remember, if the IRS needs to contact you, we’ll probably do it the good, old-fashioned way by sending you a letter via the U.S. Postal Service. Taxpayers have the right to confirm that any correspondence they receive claiming to be from the IRS is legitimate--just give us a call at 1-800-829-1040” Hanson said.

Get ready to e-file and learn how you can do it for free
E-file is the safe, accurate way taxpayers to quickly complete their taxes and make certain to take advantage of credits and deductions that may apply.
“More than 70 percent of taxpayers in the Carolinas (adjusted gross income less than $58,000) can use free online software to prepare and e-file their return using the Traditional Free File program. All taxpayer, regardless of income, can use Free File Fillable Forms, the other IRS Free File program. For more information, simply go to IRS.gov and click on the ‘Free File’ logo,” Hanson said.

Get information about the Earned Income Tax Credit
Wondering if you might benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is available to low- and moderate-income workers? Use the “EITC Assistant” at IRS.gov to determine if you are eligible, your filing status and if you have any qualifying children for EITC purposes.
Taxpayers who earn less than $44,000 in 2011 may be eligible for a refundable tax credit of up to $5,751.
Four of five eligible workers claim and get their EITC. The IRS wants to raise that number to five out of five.
“If you qualify, make sure you don’t miss out,” Hanson said.

Get information about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program’s free services and volunteer opportunities
If you earn less than $49,000 in 2011, you may be eligible to have IRS-trained volunteers prepare and e-file your tax return free of charge. VITA centers are sponsored by community groups throughout the Carolinas. To learn more, visit www.irs.gov KEYWORD: “VITA” or call 1-800-906-9887.
Interested in helping out in your community by preparing taxes free of charge? The VITA program is seeking volunteers. To help at a VITA location near you, send an email to the IRS at taxvolunteer@irs.gov indicating the city and state where you want to become a volunteer. Training is provided.

Get the services of a reliable tax professional (if necessary)
If you plan to pay someone to do your tax return, choose a tax preparer wisely. You are legally responsible for what’s on your tax returns even if they are prepared by someone else. So, it’s important to find a qualified tax professional.
New regulations effective in 2011 require all paid tax return preparers—including attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents—to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
Reputable preparers will ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify and remind clients that they need to keep careful and complete records in order to substantiate information on their tax return. By doing so, they have your best interest in mind and are trying to help you avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes that could result from later IRS contacts.
The IRS offers other tips for choosing a tax preparer at www.irs.gov KEYWORD: “Choosing a tax preparer.”

Get connected with the IRS using social media sites and smartphone apps
The IRS is on Twitter and YouTube. For IRS news and guidance for the public, the press and practitioners, follow @IRSnews on Twitter. For IRS news and guidance for tax professionals, follow @IRStaxpros on Twitter. To watch videos produced by the IRS on various tax administration topics, visit the IRS YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/irsvideos.
Want mobile IRS info? There’s an app for that. Download “IRS2Go” for Android or iPhone. It’s free and you can use it to check your refund status after you file.

Get an email subscription to IRS Tax Tips
During the tax-filing season, the IRS provides daily tax tips. You can sign-up to have these delivered directly to your email inbox. The IRS also provides summertime tax tips and special edition tax tips on important tax topics. To learn more, visit www.irs.gov KEYWORD: “Tax Tips.”

Campus Y to open Social Innovation Incubator in January

Budding social entrepreneurs soon will have space to nurture their initiatives in the heart of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. The Social Innovation Incubator will open in January in the third floor of the historic YMCA building, home of the Campus Y. The incubator will provide physical space and equipment to its resident teams as well as important resources such as legal, tax, communications and other expert advice.
Applications for residency in the incubator, which can be found on the Campus Y's website, are being accepted now through Jan. 6 at 5 p.m.

To be eligible, teams must:
• Pitch an idea that is an innovative solution to persistent social problems that creates social value through sustainable, systemic change and
• Be UNC students who have thought through short- and long-term challenges, including required resources and sustainability measures.

The top three teams selected for residency in the incubator for the spring semester will be announced Jan. 21 at TEDxUNC: Global Initiative. This conference based on the concept of creation through connection—generating new thought on global issues by connecting existing resources—will be held at the FedEx Global Education Center.
The Social Innovation Incubator supports the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC's plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching University-born ideas for the good of society. The incubator is made possible through strategic campus partnerships with the Minor in Entrepreneurship, the Center for Global Initiatives, the Community Development Law Clinic at UNC School of Law, and BASE (Business Accelerator for Sustainable Entrepreneurship), a program of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at Kenan-Flagler Business School. To learn more about the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, visit http://innovate.unc.edu/.

Friday, December 16, 2011

President honored troops returning from Iraq at Fort Bragg

On Wednesday, Dec. 14th, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Ft. Bragg where they delivered remarks to troops. As the country ends America’s war in Iraq this month, the President wanted to speak directly to the troops at Ft. Bragg and to members of the Armed Forces and their families everywhere. The President spoke about the enormous sacrifices and achievements of the brave Americans who served in the Iraq War, and he spoke about the extraordinary milestone of bringing the war in Iraq to an end. Like many other military installations across this nation, during the war in Iraq, service members from Ft. Bragg—and their families—have provided remarkable service to the country through their deployments to Iraq.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Steve Harvey's comedy tour coming to Durham Performing Arts Center

Radio and TV personality, stand up comedian Steve Harvey will make a stop at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Feb. 11, 2012.
Tickets are on sale at the following locations:
• Online at DPACnc.com
• DPAC TicketCenter—(919) 680-2787, 123 Vivian Street in Durham
• Ticketmaster.com / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at (800) 745-3000
• Ticketmaster outlets including Crabtree Valley Mall
“Most of Steve Harvey’s live appearances these past few years have been in large arenas. To have this chance to see him in the intimate atmosphere of DPAC is an incredible opportunity. At DPAC we love to laugh and this is going to be another fantastic night for Triangle comedy fans at DPA,” said Bob Klaus, GM of DPAC.
Harvey is a media conglomerate personified in a man whose career began as a stand-up comic in the mid-1980s. His success in stand-up eventually led to a long stint as host of It’s Showtime at the Apollo. That led to multiple TV shows and movies, serving in various roles—acting, hosting, writing and producing. He starred on TV in ABC’s Me and The Boys, the WB shows The Steve Harvey Show for six seasons and Steve Harvey’s Big Time Challenge for two seasons. Harvey also hit the big screen in movies such as Love Don’t Cost a Thing, You Got Served, Johnson Family Vacation and Madea Goes to Jail. Recently, Harvey celebrated his 11th year as longtime host of BET’s Celebration of Gospel.
Currently, Steve Harvey is the new host of the long-running syndicated game show Family Feud. His presence since his debut as the new host in September 2010 has rejuvenated the series and increased Family Feud’s TV ratings this season by more than 40 percent.
In September 2000, Harvey created the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show, which currently airs Monday through Friday from 6 to 10 a.m. EST in more 60 markets and has approximately 7 million weekly listeners. Syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, the No. 1-rated show celebrated its 5-year anniversary with Premiere Radio on Oct. 3, 2010.
His first book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" was released on Jan. 27, 2009. The widely-acclaimed book was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for 64 weeks. On Dec. 7, 2010, HarperCollins released Harvey’s highly-anticipated second book, "Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man," which quickly became another best seller, debuting at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List (December 26, 2010).
Long dedicated to philanthropy, Steve Harvey believes that “dreaming is more important than anything.” Harvey continues his unending pursuit to further uplifting educational opportunities with youth through the Steve Harvey Foundation. As a partner with Walt Disney World, Harvey has created the annual Disney’s Dreamers Academy, a program mentoring 100 teenage boys and girls, inspiring and exposing them to a number of job skills and career opportunities. He launched The Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men in 2009, a camp for teenage boys from around the country who are without fathers, to share insights and skills to navigate manhood. Hosting 100 boys annually in Dallas, Harvey also continues to expand the initiative, to create satellite programs in 10 additional cities, his 1st Annual Steve Harvey Foundation Gala was held in New York in May 2010 and raised more than $1.5 million dollars. Honored by the Trumpet Awards in January 2010 with their highest honor, the Pinnacle Award, Harvey continues to break new ground in creating and supporting programs that will make a difference in the lives of everyday people. For all that he continues to do in the community Harvey was named Humanitarian of the Year at the 2011 BET Awards.
Born in West Virginia, Harvey was raised in Ohio the youngest of five children. A dedicated husband and father, together with his wife, Marjorie, they are parents to seven children ranging in age from teens to twenties. With a wide range of fans from kids to adults of all ages—whether reaching people as a comedian, radio personality, author, TV host, actor, entrepreneur or philanthropist—Harvey remains true to making personal connections through faith, uplifting words and actions, and everyday life, all while sharing laughs and good times worldwide. Steve Harvey, well-known for his side-splitting comedy, has broken the mold, reinvented himself, and is widely known for his strong family values, savvy business sense, and genuine passion for helping others. This is a man that lives life to its fullest, thanks God for every new day, and always believes in the power of a dream – the future shows no signs of slowing down in the life of Steve Harvey. For more information please visit http://www.steveharvey.com.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hillsborough has fill dirt to give away

Need some fill dirt? The Town of Hillsborough may have some for you.

The town is looking for sites that can accept multiple loads of material—dirt, rock and sometimes broken asphalt and concrete. The material comes from various excavations of the Utilities Department and the Streets Division of the Public Works Department. Sites that may need only one or two loads of fill dirt will be considered.

For more information and scheduling, contact Assistant Utilities Director Will Baker at (919) 732-9459.

Hagan votes for National Defense Authorization Act

Hagan/Portman combat Casualty Care Amendment aims to provide troops better care and increase mortality

U.S. Sen. Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.) on Thursday, Dec. 1, voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and all military and defense related activities. Hagan’s Combat Casualty Care Amendment was included in the final NDAA bill. Hagan also voted in favor of provisions under NDAA that would clarify the applicability of requirements for military custody with respect to detainees. The NDAA bill passed the Senate by a vote of 93 to 7.
“I am committed to ensuring our servicemembers, veterans and their families have all the resources and support they need and deserve,” Hagan said. “This bill provides our troops those resources, support, protections and authorities they need to carry out their missions.”
The Combat Casualty Care Amendment that Hagan introduced on Nov. 17 with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) requires the Department of Defense to carry out a study on measures to improve combat casualty care and increase the number of lives saved on the battlefield.
“This amendment will help guarantee those serving in combat zones receive the very best combat casualty care, and could help save lives on the battlefield,” Hagan said. “It is our duty to do everything we can to provide our the men and women serving on the frontlines with the absolute best care. They deserve nothing less.”
To view the Hagan/Portman Combat Casualty Care Amendment in full, please click here.
Hagan also voted in support of amendments to the NDAA introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein that would clarify provisions related to detention of terrorists. Feinstein Amendment No. 1456 passed the Senate by a vote of 99 to 1 and was included in the final NDAA.
"My top priority is to provide our country with the authority and flexibility needed to guard against terrorist threats," Hagan said. "I believe that these were reasonable modifications to ensure that the provisions only applied to individuals captured outside the United States and upheld existing U.S. law."
Hagan hails from a strong military family—her father-in-law was a two-star Marine General; her brother and father served in the Navy; her husband, Chip, is a Vietnam Veteran who used the GI Bill to help pay for law school; and she has two nephews who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and, as the chair of the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, Hagan is working to keep it that way.

Hillsborough to receive updates related to commercial solid waste service

The Hillsborough town board will receive an update Monday, Dec. 12 on information related to possible changes to the commercial solid waste service in town.
In early October, the commercial solid waste services provider—Waste Industries—asked the town to consider some proposals as alternatives to rate increases:
• The request to extend the current service agreement for an additional two-year period would continue the agreement through July 31, 2014. In exchange, Waste Industries would not request a Consumer Price Index adjustment through July 31, 2013.
• The other request to allow Waste Industries to use the transfer station it operates in Durham for solid waste disposal would require Hillsborough to exit an intergovernmental agreement that requires the town to use the Orange County Landfill. If approved, Waste Industries would rescind a 5-percent increase in rates that was approved in September. The rate adjustment was to help cover an increase in tipping fees at the county landfill.
At the Town Board’s 7 p.m. Monday meeting in the Town Barn, the board members will receive an update on what it will cost for the town to exit the intergovernmental solid waste agreement: $260,884. The amount is Hillsborough’s portion of the landfill system’s debt.
The commissioners also will receive results from a survey on the solid waste franchise. Eight businesses completed the survey intended to help town staff and business representatives review the current solid waste service and consider any change in 2012.
Under the franchise agreement, the town must provide notice of franchise renewal or discontinuation to Waste Industries in April—within 90 days of the agreement’s expiration.
Since 2004, the town has pursued commercial solid waste franchise agreements at the request of the business community to leverage better pricing and services as a community. Each business pays the franchise operator directly, with rates based on service level and frequency. All businesses—including multi-family complexes—churches and nonprofits are required to use the service provider.
The Town Barn is located on the Town Hall campus, 101 E. Orange St. Parking is accessed from East Corbin Street.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A letter from Ellie Kinnaird

Dec. 4 2011

Dear Friends:
Last week the legislature met for one day (with two skeleton sessions where only a few people attended to open and close the session). The Senate passed a bill sent over from the House that essentially repealed the Racial Justice Act (RJA). The RJA was passed last term to allow death row inmates to challenge their sentences when their trial might have been tainted by racial bias. It let them use historical statistics to show racial bias may have existed because no or few persons of color were on their jury. A study by the University of Michigan Law School showed that blacks were rejected from the jury by prosecutors by a two to one ratio. The new bill requires the inmate to show that the prosecutor acted in a racially biased way intentionally when they removed jurors of color. That is, of course, impossible to prove without a “smoking gun” statement by the prosecutor.
I pointed out in my remarks that North Carolina has long been known for its progressive measures. After the Senate passed the moratorium on the death penalty, which didn’t pass the House, the legislature prohibited the execution of the mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld this ban, calling it “the evolving standard of decency” and pointed to states passing the measure, including North Carolina. In order to assure fairness in meeting out the death penalty, the legislature also passed requirements including experts for the defense, two experienced defense attorneys, all evidence over to the defense by the prosecution and allowed the District Attorneys’ discretion to not seek the death penalty but rather life without parole. As a result, death penalties have plummeted. We hope next May to pass a bill that will prohibit the execution (not the trial, conviction and sentencing) of the mentally ill who would get a life imprisonment without possibility of parole
The opposition of the District Attorneys to each of these measures has been significant. But the requirements have worked well to provide fairness and prevent the miscarriage of justice, such as the seven innocent people who were released from death row after wrongful convictions. Do we know how many innocent people were put to death in the past? One of the facts about the death penalty is that it costs the state millions of dollars to seat a jury, try, sentence and appeal each case. It also ties up courts for months, slowing down the other cases that need to be heard. This often keeps those waiting trial in jails for months, costing the counties millions.
The session also produced a minor, non-controversial bill that allows all breweries to have on-site beer tastings. Prior to this bill, tastings were limited to North Carolina breweries, but this expands it to out of state, unique, small breweries to share their fare with customers as well.
A broad coalition of citizens from across North Carolina filed a lawsuit last week challenging the constitutionality of the legislative and congressional redistricting plans passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. The suit challenges the maps on a number of grounds, including violation of voters’ rights regarding racial segregation and the excessive and illegal division of counties and precincts.
Under the Republican-passed maps, about half of the African-Americans in the state will be packed into fewer districts which diminishes African-American influence outside of the districts, effecting elections, the lawsuit contends.
The State House redistricting plan divides 49 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, while the State Senate plan splits 19 counties, despite provisions in the North Carolina Constitution requiring counties to remain whole to the greatest extent possible. Forty counties were arbitrarily split in the congressional map. Additionally, 395 precincts (containing nearly 1.9 million people) at the State House level and 257 precincts (containing 1.3 million people) at the State Senate level were split. This splitting of precincts often leads to voter confusion, lower voter turnout and higher election costs.
Under North Carolina law, the lawsuit will be tried before a three-judge panel comprised of one Superior Court judge from Wake County, one from Eastern North Carolina and one from Western North Carolina, selected by The Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Any appeal of the panel’s decision would go directly to the NC Supreme Court.
On the Occupy scene, the Chapel Hill Friends Meeting provided Thanksgiving dinner for the Chapel Hill group. The homeless have, of course, found Occupy, so presumably some of them enjoyed it too. At NC State, the CEO of Wells Fargo, newly arrived in North Carolina having bought our historic Wachovia Bank, had his speech interrupted by various students and Occupiers. I wrote him a letter suggesting the protesters have a valid message and that he could take an important step by reducing his $18.9 million compensation to no more than 100 times his lowest paid worker. Japan’s ratio is 12:1 and after the U.S., the highest is Venezuela’s at 50:1; the U.S.’s ratio is a startling 475:1. He could also set a policy to only award bonuses for stellar performance (as opposed to driving the economic bus into the ditch and ruining the lives of families).
I had a lovely Thanksgiving with my family, including the Oregon branch with my seven- and ten-year-old grandchildren. I hope you also had a good holiday.

Ellie

Price co-sponsors bills to protect voting rights

Rep. David Price (NC-04) on Nov. 30 co-sponsored three bills designed to stop efforts in North Carolina and other states to obstruct voting rights and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.
“Half a million North Carolina residents—including many minorities, seniors, women and young people—do not have a photo ID,” Rep. Price said. “The General Assembly is trying to make it harder for these citizens to vote. It is an attack on voting rights, plain and simple.”
The bills Rep. Price is co-sponsoring would prohibit photo identification requirements to register to vote or cast a ballot, require same-day registration and protect “no excuses” absentee voting by mail. This summer, General Assembly Republicans passed legislation instituting a voter ID requirement in North Carolina. The legislation was vetoed by Governor Perdue, but Republicans have continued to push for passage of the measure in a series of short, abruptly-called sessions this fall.
“The right to vote is the very bedrock of democracy," Price said. "We must reject any attempt to restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise that right, especially when the clear motivation is political gain.”
Proponents of voter ID have raised the specter of voter fraud, but voter fraud is already a felony offense. That penalty appears to have a significant deterrent effect. According to Democracy North Carolina, between 2004 and 2008—a period encompassing multiple national, state and local elections—the State Board of Elections found only five votes per million cast were fraudulent.
The bills Price is co-sponsoring are:
H.R. 3316 (Rep. Keith Ellison-MN)—prohibiting election officials from requiring photo identification to register to vote or cast a ballot.
H.R. 3317 (Rep. Keith Ellison-MN)—requiring states with a voter registration requirement to make same-day voter registration available at the polling place on the election days (or on the day of voting for early voting)
H.R. 2084 (Rep. Susan Davis-CA)—prohibiting a state from imposing additional conditions or requirements on the eligibility of and individual to cast a vote in federal elections by mail, except to the extent that it imposes a deadline for requesting the ballot and returning it to the appropriate state or local election official.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hagan introduces coin legislation to commemorate the March of Dimes’ 75th anniversary

U.S. Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were joined by Senate co-sponsors Chuck Schumer (NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) on Thursday, Dec. 1, in introducing bipartisan legislation to commemorate the work and legacy of the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act of 2011 would mint coins in celebration of the organization 75th anniversary in 2014. Proceeds from the commemorative coin will be used to support the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Campaign, an intensive multi-year initiative to find the causes of prematurity and raise awareness among health professionals and the general public.
“I cannot think of a more appropriate way to recognize the March of Dimes than to mint actual coins honoring its work,” said Hagan. “From its efforts to help end the polio epidemic to its work today to prevent birth defects and the number of babies born prematurely, the March of Dimes has made a difference in the lives of our families for more than seven decades. A commemorative coin will serve both as a celebration of the March of Dimes’ 75 years of accomplishments and a reminder of the work we still need to accomplish to combat diseases that strike our youngest children."
Collins agreed.
“Since its beginning, the March of Dimes has made monumental vaccine breakthroughs, invested in research to study and prevent premature births and provided essential aid to mothers-to-be,” she said. “This coin, which will be minted at no cost to American taxpayers for the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes, is a fitting tribute to the organization’s truly outstanding work.”
The March of Dimes was founded in 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at a time when polio was on the rise. The foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for the vaccines that effectively ended epidemic polio in the United States. Since that time, the March of Dimes has focused on preventing birth defects, prematurity and infant mortality.
“For 75 years, the March of Dimes has done critical work in protecting the health of our nation’s children,” Schumer said. “This commemorative coin would help mark the invaluable role that March of Dimes has played in our country’s history, starting with its work to end polio up to today’s fight against birth defects and premature births. What’s more, this commemorative coin would help fund new research into the causes of premature births and would allow March of Dimes to continue its incredible work for years to come.”
The March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint 500,000 $1 coins in recognition and celebration of the founding of the March of Dimes. The design of the coin will be selected by the Treasury Secretary in consultation with the March of Dimes and the Commission of Fine Arts.
“Once again, a coin has the opportunity to help this nation fight a threat to its children,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “During the Great Depression, citizens sent their precious dimes—four billion of them—to the White House to fund research in the successful fight against polio. This time, the sale of these commemorative coins will help fund research and programs to identify the causes of premature birth. A dime defeated polio; this special dollar will help fight premature birth. We thank Sen.s Kay Hagan and Susan Collins for introducing the March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro holiday parade this Saturday

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro holiday parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. until around noon. Presented by the Chapel Hill Jaycees and the Town of Chapel Hill, the parade this year promises to be a celebration of our community spirit.
More than 60 entries ranging from commercial floats sponsored by local businesses to local church and community organizations. Many of your local favorites will be back this year, with some new and exciting entries as well. We will also have crowd favorite, Santa Claus riding his sleigh.
The parade will start on W. Franklin Street at the intersection of W. Franklin and Henderson streets and make its way down Franklin Street into Carrboro, ending at the Carrboro Town Hall.
The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro will provide assistance with securing the route for the parade, traffic diversion and the parade line up in the morning. The Town of Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation will also be proving audio-visual support for the television production produced by the People’s Channel. Parents and children from the Parks & Recreation athletic programs will be riding a float sponsored by the Town of Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation Department.
For more information visit www.chapelhilljaycees.org.

Tar Heel Express shuttle to UNC vs. Long Beach State men's basketball game

Chapel Hill Transit will provide Tar Heel Express shuttle service on Saturday, Dec. 10, for the North Carolina men's basketball game against Long Beach State, which scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Tar Heel Express shuttles will begin at 5:30 p.m. from the park and rides located at the Friday Center, Southern Village, University Mall (next to Dillards) and Jones Ferry. Shuttles will also be available from the Carolina Coffee Shop located at 138 E. Franklin St. (no parking provided). The shuttles will provide continuous and fully accessible service, running every 10 to 15 minutes between the park and rides and the Dean E. Smith Center. The shuttles will operate for approximately 45 minutes following the game.
Shuttles drop off and pick up on Bowles Drive in front of the Dean E. Smith Center. Shuttle rides are $5 for a round-trip or $3 for a one-way trip. Rides from the Carolina Coffee Shop are $2 one-way or $4 round-trip.
For additional information on the Tar Heel Express Shuttle, visit CHT's website or call a customer service representative at (919) 969-4900 (press 1).

Volunteer with the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army still needs volunteers to ring bells at its Red Kettles in Durham, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. Opportunities are available Monday through Saturday at locations including Southpoint and Northgate malls, Walmarts, Krogers, Harris Teeters and the Durham K-Mart. Volunteers may sign up online at any time or call (919) 688-7306, ext. 112, between 8 a.m. and noon and 1 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Nickels for Know-How referendum passes with overwhelming vote

Described as a self-help program for farmers, Nickels for Know-How is a 60-year-old voluntary assessment on feed and fertilizer produced and purchased in North Carolina. On Nov. 16, the Nickels referendum passed with a whopping 96 percent of the vote.
Nickels for Know-How raises about $1.3 million annually to support agricultural research, extension and teaching programs in the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services collects Nickels funds from the manufacturers of feed and fertilizer. The manufacturers build the extra cost—three nickels per ton—into the price of their products. The funds are then deposited with the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc., based in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“Virtually every significant advancement in our state’s agriculture in the last 60 years has received Nickels funding at some point,” said Dr. Johnny Wynne, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Without Nickels, our college would not be able to serve the citizens of North Carolina as well as we do.”
All users of feed and fertilizer in North Carolina, along with their families, are eligible to vote. This year’s vote passed overwhelmingly in all 100 North Carolina counties and by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The Nickels program creates opportunities for students by helping raise funds for more than 550 endowments that provide $900,000 in scholarships each year. These endowments also bolster faculty efforts, county extension programs and agricultural commodity research efforts.
The program supports college fundraising efforts by generating $20 million annually in private contributions. This is a $50 return on every $1 dollar invested.
Nickels funds also provide operating support for entities such as the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Foundation and the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund.
“These are just a few of the ways Nickels for Know-How has helped advance efforts in the college and the university that, in turn, support North Carolina farmers and bolster agribusiness in our state,” Wynne said. “By passing this referendum, the state’s voters have played a key role in creating opportunities that will benefit all North Carolina citizens.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

President Obama taps Rimer to lead national cancer panel

President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate Barbara Rimer, dean of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health, to chair the President's Cancer Panel.
The three-member panel monitors the development and execution of the activities of the National Cancer Program. It reports directly to the president on barriers to program implementation. Members serve three-year terms, and at least two of the three panel members must be distinguished scientists or physicians. The panel meets in public sessions at least four times each year.
"The President's Cancer Panel has the potential to be one of the most influential bodies shaping national policy regarding cancer," said Dr. H. Shelton Earp, director of UNC's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. "With the appointment of Barbara Rimer, President Obama and National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus have sent a message: they want the best.
"Barbara's outstanding accomplishments as a population scientist and leadership roles in the federal government, cancer center and public health make her an exceptional choice. She and her panel colleagues will provide an extraordinary synthesis of the nation's research output leavened by an understanding of the human impact of cancer on patients and their families. This and Barbara's commitment to solving the issue of minority cancer disparities will inform this nation's approach to a disease that touches one in three Americans."
Rimer has been on the Carolina faculty since 2003. She is a member of the Lineberger Center and was its deputy director until she was appointed dean of the public health school in 2005. From 1997 to 2002, she directed the division of cancer control and population sciences at the National Cancer Institute. She has held leadership positions at Duke University Medical Center and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Common Ground Theatre presents 'A Trailer Park Christmas'

What: "A Trailer Park Christmas"
Opening: Thursday, Dec. 8 at, 7:30 p.m.
Running: Dec. 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 and 18 at 2:00 p.m.
Where: Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Road in Durham
Website: www.cgtheatre.com
Tickets: Call (919) 698-3870, $17 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors

Common Ground Theatre presents "A Trailer Park Christmas" by Jeffrey Moore & Rachel Klem Dec. 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11 and 18 at 2:00 p.m. at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Road in Durham. Tickets are $17 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. For more information or to make a reservation, call (919) 698-3870 or visit the website.
Local filmmaker Jeffrey Moore and Common Ground Theatre owner Rachel Klem team up to present this interactive holiday entertainment. Set in West Durham, "A Trailer Park Christmas" follows the Dodson/Hussy family as they grapple with crazy neighbors, ghosts, fruitcakes and a holiday tornado.
Common Ground Theatre is a performance and teaching space located in west Durham offering performing arts and educational groups a flexible, well-equipped alternative space. The theatre provides a convenient venue for Triangle audiences to experience the diversity of our area’s arts and educational offerings. For more information on these events or Common Ground Theatre, contact Rachel Klem at (919) 698-3870 or rachel@cgtheatre.com.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bring a new dog or cat Home for the Holidays


Orange County Animal Services is holding Home for the Holidays. Select dogs are available for only $60 and select cats are available for only $50 as part of a national Holiday campaign to put shelter animals in forever homes.
See available animals online or at the animal services center, 1601 Eubanks Road, Chapel Hill.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dr. Philip van Vleck to speak Dec. 10

Burning Coal Theatre Company’s Lobby Lectures series will present Dr. Philip van Vleck, North Carolina State University history professor, speaking on Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 6:00 p.m. at the Murphey School, 224 Polk Street in Raleigh. Tickets are $5 or free with any admission to Burning Coal’s production of Henry V (on Trapeze), which runs Dec 1 through 18. Reservations for the play may be made by calling (919) 834-4001 or at www.burningcoal.org. Tickets to the Lobby Lecture with Dr. van Vleck may be obtained at the door only.

ABOUT DR. PHILIP VAN VLECK
Dr. van Vleck grew up on a farm in Tulsa County, Oklahoma. He received his MFA in acting/directing from the University of Oklahoma School of Drama and his Ph.D. from Duke University in reformation studies and the history of early modern Europe. Dr. van Vleck is currently a lecturer on Europe in the Middle Ages and early modern Europe in the NCSU history department, where he has taught since 1990. Dr. van Vleck lives in Cary and has three daughters.

ABOUT THE LOBBY LECTURER
The Battle of Agincourt was one of the greatest military victories of all time. The lecture focuses on Henry V's tactical brilliance in the face of a French force that outnumbered his army by about six to one. The English should have lost this battle. Instead, they triumphed by virtue of their personal courage and the leadership of Henry V.

For further information about this lecture or about Burning Coal Theatre Company, please contact managing director Simmie Kastner at (919) 834.4001.

Chapel Hill: Sitterson Hall bus stop relocated Dec. 5

Effective Monday, Dec. 5, the bus stop on S. Columbia Street at Sitterson Hall in Chapel Hill will be permanently relocated between Sitterson Hall and the Navy ROTC building (approximately 300 feet south of the current location).
View a map
For more information, email chtransit@townofchapelhill.org or contact a customer service representative at (919) 969-4900 (press 1).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bennet Place State Historic Site depicts Civil War-time Christmas traditions

The smells and tastes of seasonal delights of smoked ham, potato and sausage soup, biscuits, mincemeat pie, and other period pleasures will greet you at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources' Bennett Place State Historic Site. The Christmas in the Carolinas During the Civil War program—held Saturday, Dec. 10. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.—will showcase a traditional Christmas observance of North Carolina farm families in the 1860s.
Costumed interpreters will represent civilians and soldiers on furlough and demonstrate holiday cooking, decorating and the preparation of packages and letters for soldiers at war. The roasting of a hog's head and apple pressing, unique to the Bennett Place celebration, will again be a focal point of activity on Saturday. Only the Saturday appearance of Old Saint Nick could be more special.
Banjo and fiddle music of the 1800s from well known musicians Morrison, Boggs and Weems will fill the air on Sunday. Visitors can warm up with hot apple cider and enjoy holiday cookies on both days. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Hagan cosponsors bill to get medical devices to market more quickly

U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (N.C.) in November cosponsored the bipartisan Patient Access to Medical Innovation Act to get innovative medical devices to market more quickly and safely. Hagan cosponsored the bill alongside Sens. Al Franken (Minn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and John Kerry (Mass.).
“This bipartisan legislation will cut unnecessary red tape in the medical device industry, helping to get innovative treatments to the patients who need them most,” said Hagan. “North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park is a national leader in developing these life-changing tools. Passage of this bill will ensure these products reach patients as quickly and safely as possible.”
The Patient Access to Medical Innovation Act would:
· Promote the development of devices to treat patients with rare diseases;
· Help improve the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for medical devices by allowing the agency to more easily consult with experts;
· Lift the current profit cap on "humanitarian use devices"-- devices that treat rare conditions-- that go through a special approval process. Eliminating this red tape will support the development of treatments for people with rare conditions.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

NCDOT model bridge building competition for middle and high schoolers

The N.C. Department of Transportation invites all North Carolina middle and high schools to participate in the annual NCDOT Model Bridge Building Competition. The competition is designed to create a greater awareness of transportation careers and the services provided by NCDOT. The deadline for registration is Friday, Dec. 9.
The event challenges student teams to design and build a model bridge. Teams will first compete in regional competitions on March 9, 2012, with the winners traveling to Raleigh for the state competition on April 20, 2012.
The NCDOT Model Bridge Building Competition gives students an opportunity to learn problem-solving strategies and use critical thinking skills while making the connection between what is taught in the classroom and real world applications. Working in teams, students will brainstorm ideas, design a diagram and construct a model bridge using balsa wood and glue. A panel will judge the entries.
NCDOT believes students will best experience tomorrow's career opportunities by working with industry professionals today. The NCDOT Model Bridge Building Competition is sponsored in part by the Carolinas Associated General Contractors.
Teachers may register online at the competition website. Students must be sponsored by a teacher. For more information, contact Gail Herring via email at gherring@ncdot.gov or by calling (919) 707-4442.

'Grinch' saga told in Latin—and English

'Grinch' classic to get classical twist
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" ... in Latin?
Don't worry, it will be read in English, too, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at The Bull's Head Bookshop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The shop's annual bilingual reading of the Dr. Seuss classic will be free and open to the public. Tom Stumpf, professor emeritus of English and comparative literature, will read boomingly in English, and UNC Student Stores' George Morgan will read soothingly in Latin.
"This event is a favorite for young, old and in-between, with free cookies and hot chocolate for all," said the Bull's Head's Kyle McKay. "Show up early to get a good seat; there have been large crowds in the past."
The Bull's Head Bookshop is inside the UNC Student Stores off South Road. Call (919) 962-5060 or visit the Facebook event page at for more information.

Caldwell Hunting Club held Handicapped Hunt

About Noon on Thursday, the 17th of November, nineteen Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune wounded warriors and family members gathered at the Caldwell Community Center. They were guests of the Caldwell Community Hunting Club, invited to the club's latest in an ongoing series of Handicapped Hunts.
Experienced deer hunters and first-timers alike had a chance to help thin the overstocked whitetail deer population in the North-Central Triangle area of North Carolina's farming country. The hunters' ages, ranging from 12 to 72, were as diverse as their hunting experience. The youngest successful hunter was Diana Carkeet, the 13-year-old daughter of Army Sergeant First Class Tim Craver. Diana downed a nice three-point buck.
In all, 26 Whitetails were brought in—to be dressed out by the Hunting Club's competent volunteers. Other folks in the Caldwell Community brought and prepared magnificent meals for everyone involved in the hunt.

Fire department sells Christmas trees for fundraiser

New Hope Volunteer Fire Department has Fraser firs and wreaths for this holiday season. Firefighters will staff the tree lot at Station No. 1 on Whitfield Road just north of Chapel Hill from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Kids of all ages can also learn more about fire safety, tour the station and see fire trucks up close.
For more information, contact New Hope Fire Department on Whitfield Road at (919) 493-1001.

Chapel Hill safe rides stop for winter break

Chapel Hill Transit (CHT) safe rides end today (Saturday, Dec. 3) due to UNC's winter break schedule. The safe rides will resume on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.
For more information, email chtransit@townofchapelhill.org or contact a customer service representative at (919) 969-4900 (press 1).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Improv company's holiday show on Saturday

Transactors Improv Company presents its annual salute to the holidays on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. “Transactors Improv: Holiday Extravaganza!” is a two-act performance that explores the ups, downs and sideways of the holidays. As with all Transactors Improv shows, everything is made up on the spot and based on audience suggestions.
The first act will offer up a series of three-scene sets that present a particular aspect of the holidays in various scenarios and situations.
“There are so many recurring themes around the holidays, from gift giving and special meals to feelings of excitement and even anxiety,” said company co-director Dan Sipp. “Tackling a single theme three different ways gives us a chance to explore it more fully and from different perspectives.”
The second act will use theatrical storytelling to create a brand-new holiday special along the lines of those televised favorites featuring Frosty, Rudolph, and the Grinch.
“I think the Christmas TV special is a part of our holiday psyche,” Sipp said. “And the standard style of those—with a narrator, adventures, and a few songs—provides a fun structure for us to play in.”
The cast for “Transactors Improv: Holiday Extravaganza!” includes Anoo Brod, Greg Hohn, Nancy Pekar, Sipp and Annie Zipper. Glenn Mehrbach provides piano accompaniment, while Mike Beard improvises lighting and sound effects.
Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $14 in advance or $16 day-of ($12 for ArtsClub Members); students and seniors are $7 in advance or $9 day-of. The ArtsCenter is located at 300-G E. Main St. in Carrboro. Call (919) 929-2787 or visit online for tickets and directions. For more information on the company, please visit the website or call (919) 641-3575.

Transactors Improv: If you laugh we’re doing comedy; if you don’t we’re doing drama.

WHAT: Transactors Improv: Holiday Extravaganza!
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 3, at 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: The ArtsCenter, 300-G East Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510
TICKETS:
• ArtsClub Members: $12
• General admission: $14 in advance; $16 day-of
• Student/Senior: $7 in advance; $9 day-of
PURCHASE: (919) 929-2787 or http://bit.ly/tFC1ZN
INFORMATION, DIRECTIONS: (919) 929-2787 or http://www.artscenterlive.org

Southern Village holds holiday craft and gift market

The businesses of Southern Village and the Southern Village Farmers Market are pleased to announce the Farmers Market’s last hurrah—the annual Holiday Craft & Gift Market. The special holiday shopping event will take place on Sunday, Dec. 4, from 1 to 4 p.m., and will feature the hand-crafted gifts of 20 vendors. The event will take place in the usual Farmers Market location on Aberdeen Drive at Market Street in Chapel Hill.
Holiday shoppers who want to find unique gifts while keeping their money in our local economy will be pleased to find an appealing assortment of items, ranging from hand-crafted food gifts to goats milk soaps & shampoos, to wood cutting boards, jewelry, dog and cat accessories, children’s clothing, tutus and accessories, and birdhouses. There will also be books by local authors and music CD’s from local musician Danny Gotham. Valley View Farm will be here with their Angus beef & pork products for your holiday menus. Big Bundts will have an assortment of freshly-baked, holiday-themed baked goods and will provide pick-up of previously placed special orders.
Honeycutt Trees will be on the Village Green again this year selling Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands, fresh from the North Carolina Mountains.
We’ll be providing KidsZone fun for children, complimentary light refreshments for our shoppers and a free gift bag or basket to shoppers spending $25 or more (while supplies last.)
The event will also be a benefit for PORCH, the local non-profit organization that provides food to hungry families in our community. Collection baskets will be on-site at the market, and visitors are encouraged to bring canned goods or other non-perishable food items to donate.
Visit us online at www.southernvillage.com/events for a complete listing of vendors and what they’ll be selling at the market. Visit www.porchnc.org to learn about this organization. Visit www.bigbundts.com to place an order for baked goods.

Location: Aberdeen Drive at Market Street, Southern Village, Chapel Hill, NC
Date & Time: Sunday, December 4th, 1 – 4 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact bcarr@mcarolina.com with any questions.
Inclement weather announcement: In the event of a weather cancellation, an announcement will be posted on our website and on our Facebook page (Market Street Southern Village.)

Orange County Department of Social Services seeks assistance for annual Toy Chest event

Last December, an Orange County mom braved the cold and joined hundreds of parents and guardians in a long line that snaked around the Orange County Department of Social Services Center. They had lined up—some as early as 5 a.m.—to participate in DSS’s annual Toy Chest event, which gives county parents an opportunity to choose Christmas gifts for their children. To say she was grateful for the opportunity is an understatement.
“I was amazed and humbled by the number of people who walked through the rooms full of gifts,” she wrote in a letter to the department. “As a result of your generosity, my son received several gifts that remain his favorites—including a book that we’ve read together hundreds of times, sometimes more than six times a day.
“I wanted to take the chance to say thank you to everyone who helped give huge smiles to hundreds of Orange County children.”
This year, the department plans to continue giving smiles to thousands of underprivileged county children. But we need your help. The Toy Chest, which is coordinated in partnership with the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program and local community donors, last year collected more than 6,700 toys for almost 3,200 children. This year, given the current economic climate, the department anticipates an even greater need. Your involvement could mean the difference in one family’s holiday.
The department is seeking organizations that will collect toys, donate money or volunteer at the Toy Chest event, which will run from Dec. 17 to 20 at the Orange County Department of Social Services Center in Hillsborough. DSS representatives will make arrangements to drop off and pick up any donation boxes.
Monetary donations using credit or debit cards can be made on the Toys for Tots website, and individuals who want to drop off a gift can find Toys for Tots box locations on the site as well. You can also submit a check or cash donation to the DSS Center, P.O. Box 8181, Hillsborough, NC, 27378. If you would like more information or would like to volunteer, please call Rebekah Clairmont or Sharron Hinton at (919) 245-2800.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Annual performance of "A Christmas Carol" held at High Point Theatre

The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival offers a wholesome and powerful family theatre experience this December with its professional production of “A Christmas Carol,” the Charles Dickens classic that brings legendary Scrooge face to face with a series of ghosts and, ultimately, a profound revelation that captures the heart of the season.
The festival’s production, a perennial favorite of Piedmont Triad and North Carolina audiences, runs Dec. 2 through 20 at High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave., in downtown High Point.
Tickets are available at the theatre’s box office from noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and one hour before curtain time for that performance only. Tickets may be ordered by phone at (336) 887-3001 and online at www.highpointtheatre.com. For group and SchoolFest tickets, call the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival’s administrative offices at (336) 841-2273 during business hours. Home school and church groups are welcome.
For the performance on Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., audience members who each bring one new toy will receive one free seat in the theatre balcony. Toys will be donated to the Salvation Army Family Shelter in High Point. It is not necessary to wrap the toys.
Beyond Dickens’ moving tale and cast of unforgettable characters, the production features rousing music, beautiful costumes and a stunning set—all designed to transport theatergoers into a 19th century London full of fog, ghosts and an overwhelming spirit of Christmas and love.
Pedro Silva, the festival’s managing director and artistic director, who played Scrooge for many seasons, will direct the play for the ninth time. Silva will also appear as Scrooge for the first time since 2002 in a special encore performance on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 7:30 p.m.
The play is suitable for children 8 and older. Babes in arms and toddlers are kindly discouraged. For more information about the play or the professional theater company, visit www.ncshakes.org.

Rape Crisis Center holds fundraiser auction Sunday

The Orange County Rape Crisis Center will hold its 24th annual Holiday Auction presented by Sports Endeavors on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m. at the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel. The event will include a silent auction followed by dinner, a live auction and a dessert auction. Items will include art, jewelry, beach vacations and many other gifts and services. The event will be hosted by Drs. Adam and Beth Goldstein, and entertainment will be provided by local jazz and blues band Equinox, featuring Chancellor Holden Thorp on keyboard. All community members are welcome; tickets are on sale now.
A drawing will also be held for “A Night on the Town” in Chapel Hill, including cocktails at The Crunkleton, dinner for two at Lantern and a night stay at the Siena Hotel.
“Hosting the Holiday Auction gives us the opportunity to bring together new and long-time supporters, community members, and local businesses to share the valuable programs and education that the Center provides for our community," Board of Directors President Lucy McMillan said. "It also provides essential financial support for the Center, allowing us to continue our active involvement in the community.”
The Annual Holiday Auction serves as the center’s primary special event fundraiser for the year. Last year’s auction raised more than $80,000 towards the center’s mission to stop sexual violence and its impact through support, education and advocacy. The money raised in this year’s auction will allow for program sustainability throughout the community.
The event will be open seating, and tickets cost $65 for individuals, $560 for a reserved table of eight and $700 for a reserved table of 10. Guests can purchase tickets by visiting the center’s website or by calling the center at (919) 968-4647.
Founded in 1974, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit agency, provides services to survivors of sexual violence and offers prevention education to the community. Its programs include a 24-hour help line (1-866-WE LISTEN), support groups, therapy referrals, Latino outreach and educational programs. The OCRCC is a United Way of the Greater Triangle Member Agency of Excellence.

Michael Talbert appointed assistant Orange County manager

Orange County Manager Frank Clifton announced the promotion of Michael S. Talbert to assistant county manager, effective Monday, Nov. 21, 2011.
Talbert has served as interim assistant Orange County manager since May 5 of this year when the previous assistant county manager, Willie Best, was out on medical leave; Best has since retired.
Talbert served in a dual capacity as he continued his role as deputy financial services director, a position he has held since Sept. 20, 2010. Talbert started with Orange County in December 2009 in a temporary position with Financial Services.
Talbert will assist the county manager in directing departments and programs in Orange County government. Immediate focus for Talbert will be to provide guidance during the transition of solid waste landfill services and infrastructure upgrades in the Emergency Services Department. Talbert will also provide leadership and guidance to a variety of county departments that provide either direct citizen service or internal support to departments.
Talbert has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from Elon College as well as specialized training including the Public Executive Leadership Academy from the University of North Carolina School of Government.
Before joining Orange County’s leadership team, Talbert served as county manager of Polk County and finance director of Catawba County.
“Michael’s professional knowledge and experiences elsewhere in North Carolina county governments provide Orange County with a great resource,” Clifton said. “Michael has been a valuable asset to the county, especially during the last six months working double duty."
Talbert is excited about the new position: “I look forward to new challenges and working together with local elected officials with the county, towns and schools and with the Orange County management team to make a positive impact on the quality of life for the people of Orange County.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Calling all artists—Artists' Salon will be held Nov. 18

The next Artists' Salon, sponsored by the Orange County Arts Commission, will be held Friday, Nov. 18, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the West End Theatre at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Light refreshments will be served. Salons are free for artists of all kinds—performing, visual, literary, whatever. Come to meet, network and build a better arts environment for all area artists.
The topic for November will be “Exploring Resources, Leveraging Assets, Crafting Your Path.” Guest presenter will be John Parker of Good Work. John will help artists learn how to manage their time more effectively and work smarter. There will be time for questions.
The purpose of the salon is to bring together artists of all disciplines in a casual setting to share ideas, concerns and information. The Orange County Arts Commission works to not only bring the artistic community together but to facilitate closer ties between artists and the general community. One of the goals of the Orange County Arts Commission is to better serve the needs of artists. Artists often work in isolation, and salons can serve as a place to get feedback from peers as well as to share all of the problems and pleasures of being an artist.
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to the Orange County Arts Commission at (919) 968-2011 or email us at arts@co.orange.nc.us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Town to hold public hearing on food trucks Monday, Nov. 14

Hillsborough leaders want to hear the public’s thoughts on allowing mobile food vendors in the town limits.
The Hillsborough town board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, in the Town Barn as part of its regular monthly meeting. The board is considering a proposal that would create a permit process for mobile vendors who want to set up a fixed location or route in town.
The proposed ordinance makes no change to how mobile vendors are allowed at special events like Hog Day or Last Fridays, and the hearing is not required for the ordinance to be enacted.
Under the draft ordinance, the town could issue up to 10 active food vendor permits at any given time, with qualified applicants receiving permits on a first-come, first-served basis. Vendors would be allowed to operate from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on private property with written permission from the property owners. The property would have to be zoned for nonresidential uses and could not be located in the historic overlay zoning district—from the Eno River north to Corbin Street; from Nash Street east to Cameron Street; and from east of Cameron Street to the town limits in the area north of St. Mary’s Road.
Vendors would serve walk-up customers only and would not provide customer seating. Only one vendor at a time per parcel would be allowed unless vendors were participating in a special event that was separately permitted under event provisions.
“The Town of Hillsborough recognizes that the diversity of prepared food options can be enhanced by allowing mobile food vendors to serve prepared food within the city limits,” the draft ordinance states. “The Town further recognizes that mobile food vendors have the same responsibilities to their customers and the community as do food service establishments with fixed locations and should be required to abide by local permit and tax requirements in the same manner as facilities with fixed locations.”
The draft ordinance may be viewed here. The Town Barn is located on the Town Hall campus, 101 E. Orange St. Parking is accessed from E. Corbin Street.