Monday, February 28, 2011

Note to taxpayers mailing paper returns: address change

The Internal Revenue Service today announced that taxpayers in North Carolina and South Carolina who file paper income tax returns will send them to different processing centers this year.
“During 2011, taxpayers in the Carolinas seeking refunds will send their tax returns to the IRS Kansas City Service Center, Kansas City, Mo. Those making payments will send them to Hartford, Conn,” said Mark Hanson, IRS spokesperson.
The IRS continuously monitors work flow at its centers and makes appropriate adjustments by altering the volume of returns to be sent to each. Taxpayers who use the envelope provided with the income tax instructions do not have to be concerned with the address change; their returns automatically will go to the correct center.
Taxpayers who e-file will not be affected by the address changes. Two out of three filers choose IRS e-file; it’s faster, easier, more accurate and more convenient than filing a paper tax return.
For taxpayers who file paper returns, the service center addresses are on the back cover of the instructions to Form1040, Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feb. 27 through March 5 is Severe Weather Awareness week

As North Carolinians eagerly await springtime, Gov. Bev Perdue cautioned residents to be on the lookout for severe weather that may include tornadoes and thunderstorms. Perdue declared Feb. 27 through March 5 Severe Weather Awareness Week in North Carolina and recommends that families have safety plans for home, work or school so they can respond quickly when tornados or severe storms threaten.
“Last year, North Carolina ranked fourth in the nation with the total number of severe weather storms reported,” Perdue said. “We know that these storms can strike very quickly, and you may only have a few minutes warning. That is why it is so critical to have emergency plans in place.”
In 2010, the National Weather Service issued approximately 90 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 26 tornadoes. Twelve of those tornadoes had winds around 100 miles per hour or greater. Combined, they caused at least $24 million in damages. In addition, the NWS issued more than 700 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded nearly 900 incidents of severe thunderstorms with winds of 58 mph, some with large hail. Only Kansas, Texas and Nebraska reported more severe weather activity.
Perdue urged all North Carolinians to take time now to discuss and rehearse family emergency plans so that when the National Weather Service issues a storm warning in their area, everyone can act quickly and take shelter calmly. Schools and government buildings statewide will hold tornado drills Wednesday, March 2, at 9:30 a.m. to rehearse emergency plans.
North Carolinians have experienced more tornadoes in the past three years than in the previous decade. March, May and November are the deadliest months for tornadoes in the state. However, residents should be equally prepared for other forms of severe weather, too, such as lightning, floods or hail.
Tornadoes usually form during heavy thunderstorms when warm, moist air collides with cold air. These storms can also produce large hail and strong winds. Damaging winds are equally as dangerous.
When severe weather is likely, people should listen to local radio, television, a weather channel or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio for information. If a tornado watch is issued, the conditions are favorable and a tornado is possible. However, if a warning is issued, a tornado has actually been spotted or appeared on radar. This is the time when people should go to a safe shelter immediately.
The North Carolina Division of Emergency Management recommends the safest place during a tornado is underground in a basement. If there is no basement, people who are at home should go to the lowest floor of the house and to an interior room such as a hallway, pantry or closet. School children should go to inner hallways, but stay out of gymnasiums, auditoriums or cafeterias where there is a large roof span. Office workers should take shelter under something sturdy like a desk or a table to protect from flying debris or a collapsed roof. Everyone should stay away from windows.
Mobile home residents are especially vulnerable to damage from high winds and should go to a prearranged shelter when severe weather is predicted.
Every family’s emergency plan should include information on what to do if severe weather happens while traveling to work or school. Drivers who see a tornado forming or approaching should leave the car immediately and take shelter in a low lying area. A tornado can easily blow a car off a road and many people have been killed while trying to outrun a tornado. Those who are on foot or a bicycle could encounter falling trees, downed power lines or lightning, and they should go to a safe place immediately. The basement of a sturdy building is best. Lying flat in a ditch or low area may also offer protection, but beware of possible flash flooding and flying debris.
In 2010 the National Weather Service redefined its definition of a severe thunderstorm for the first time in more than 50 years and began issuing hail warnings only if the storm was expected to produce hail of one inch or larger, roughly the size of a quarter.
Preparation for any type of severe weather also means having a family disaster plan and an emergency supply kit assembled and in a location that is easy to access during an emergency. More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness is available at

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Update on Nash Street sidewalk construction project

Construction is returning to Hillsborough’s Nash Street Sidewalk Project, which still is on track to be completed by this summer.
During the fall and winter, plans were revised and additional funding was approved by the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners to help address utility conflicts identified by the location and age of existing water/sewer lines. The revised plans include installation of new water and sewer pipes and additional stormwater improvements on Nash Street near King and Queen streets and Alma Avenue. Additional funds also were approved for construction inspection and engineering services. The estimated project cost is now $1.4 million.
When the utility and stormwater work is finished, S.T. Wooten Corp. will perform the remaining construction work, which includes establishing the form of the sidewalk, curb and gutter; preparing the sidewalk base; pouring concrete; and restoring driveway entrances, yards and the roadway.

Residents near Hillsborough and Central elementary schools, Hayes Street and sections of Nash Street between Hayes Street and Revere Road have new sidewalk, pipes, catch basins and other devices. The contractor worked to install new water service tie-ins Feb. 19 in the area.
In about two to three weeks, work will be performed on the water main on Nash Street between Corbin Street and Revere Road. About 12 properties will have their water service interrupted while the work is completed. Affected properties will be notified in advance by the contractor. Town staff will conduct water quality testing during the water outage. Any resident with questions or concerns following the outage should contact the Hillsborough Water Treatment Plant at 732-3621.
In the next few weeks, a separate project will replace existing storm drainage near Hayes and Nash streets. A similar project was successful at the intersection of Hayes and Foust streets. Both projects will help collect flows from the Nash Street Sidewalk Project’s curb, gutter and other storm drainage improvements.

The trench work seen at the intersection of Short Street, Revere Road and U.S. 70 are the next sections of sidewalk, curb and gutter. The work at Short Street will build a new handicap ramp.

Asphalt was applied in the trenches on Revere Road in preparation for the remaining concrete sidewalk to be constructed to Short Street. The asphalt work was expected to be completed by Feb. 19.

In addition to the utility and stormwater work under way, a separate project was conducted to grade and install new storm drain pipes at the intersection of Alma Avenue and Daphine Drive. The new improvements seem to have successfully stopped the flooding experienced for almost a decade in back yards on Nash, Alma and Daphine during severe rainstorms. The improvements also should help capture stormwater flows from the new curb, gutter and storm drain improvements on Nash Street and Revere Road.

Fencing adjacent to the new sidewalk on Allison Street is being investigated by the consulting engineer. Town and N.C. Department of Transportation staff also are evaluating the area of Nash and Calvin streets near the increasingly popular Hillsborough Station Center, which houses a mix of old and new businesses next to the historic Bellevue Mill. The town has received complaints of vehicles speeding, causing unsafe pedestrian crossing of the state-owned road. The current sidewalk plans include installation of a new crosswalk. However, review and contact with businesses may identify additional improvements. In the interim, motorists are reminded to please drive carefully in the area and obey posted speed limits.
Regarding another popular destination, the Town Board authorized staff on Feb. 14 to solicit proposals for design and research-related work for Riverwalk Phase II and the Calvin Street connection to Gold Park/Riverwalk Phase I. The effort will help plan for the next phase of this existing recreation and tourist destination. The town will seek grant funds to support Phase II of the Riverwalk project.

The contractor will work on one-half of a driveway entrance at a time. This provides access to half of the entrance while concrete cures on the other half. Property owners/occupants will receive notice of driveway work to help plan accordingly. Because the contractor may need time to connect the existing driveway and new concrete sidewalk, gravel will be added to driveway entrances to help drivers enter and exit. Affected occupants should contact Assistant Town Manager Nicole Ard or the consulting engineers if they have a problem accessing their driveways or if additional stone is needed.

For information on the Nash Street Sidewalk Project, visit the town’s Web site to view an electronic version of the approved plans. The plans are divided into sections by street name. Locate a street on the guide to find the related plan sheet number.
If you have questions or concerns about the project, contact Assistant Town Manager Nicole Ard by e-mail at or phone at 732-1270 Ext. 77 or Public Works Supervisor Ken Hines by e-mail or phone at 732-1270 Ext. 78.
The project engineer is Bobby Downes with Summit Consulting Engineers. He may be contacted at 732-3883 or If he is not available, ask for Engineer Mitch Connell.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hillsborough to disinfect water through March

The Town of Hillsborough will use chlorine instead of chloramines, a compound of chlorine and ammonia, to disinfect public drinking water through March, beginning Feb. 26.
In addition, town employees will flush and perform basic maintenance to fire hydrants in the town’s water system, beginning Feb. 28.

Chlorine Disinfection
The annual change to chlorine helps ensure a high level of disinfection in the community’s water mains. North Carolina regulations require Hillsborough and other utilities that normally use chloramines for disinfection to use chlorine for one month each year. The City of Durham, Orange Water and Sewer Authority and other municipal public water systems in the region also typically use chlorine instead of chloramines for disinfection in March.
Some customers may notice that Hillsborough’s drinking water will have a chlorine taste or odor in March. However, the water will be safe to drink.
Customers who use Hillsborough water for special purposes or for processes involving careful control of water characteristics are encouraged to get advice from an appropriate technical source, such as a filter vendor or service company, about whether and how to make adjustments to their use of Hillsborough water during the one-month period when chlorine is used for disinfection.
The town began using chloramines in July 2005. Disinfection with chloramines has improved the taste, odor and overall quality of the town’s drinking water. Before 2005, Hillsborough used gaseous chlorine for disinfection.
Customers are invited to contact the town with any questions or comments about the use of chlorine in March and about the characteristics of Hillsborough’s drinking water. Contact Water Plant Superintendent Russell Bateman by e-mail or phone at 732-3621.

Hydrant Flushing
Customers also may see Hillsborough crews releasing water from fire hydrants and some water system valves in March. This “flushing” of the water mains will ensure that water with chlorine goes through the entire water system. The town typically flushes hydrants twice a year.
Staff will open each hydrant to flush the water system. They also will lubricate hydrants and identify any follow-up repair needs. During the process, town personnel may be required to trim plantings or remove other items to ensure that adequate access to the hydrants exists during emergencies and for maintenance.
Citizens may be asked to relocate plants and other items in street rights-of-way where necessary to allow a clear area 3 feet wide around a hydrant. Even if a citizen does not receive a request to remove an item near a hydrant, the town encourages everyone with a hydrant in the adjacent street right-of-way and property owners with private fire hydrants to ensure that hydrants are accessible.
Care should be given to ensure that any plants which are relocated in the right-of-way do not interfere with visibility of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and traffic signs and do not interfere with utilities or street drainage. Property owners should obtain permission from the town before making landscape improvements, such as plantings, within the street right-of-way.
Opening the hydrants might cause some temporary cloudiness or discoloration of water. Discoloration can occur because small particles of iron and manganese that have settled in a water main may be stirred up. The discoloration does not make water unsafe to drink, but it could discolor fabric. Similarly, when air bubbles enter the water system during the hydrant flushing, they may cause cloudiness in drinking water.
If discoloration or air bubbles appear in the water, customers should run cold water in a bathtub for a few minutes until the water and/or air bubbles clear. If the water does not clear within five minutes, contact the town at 732-2104 during normal business hours or at 732-3621 for emergencies during nights and weekends.

Cultural arts exhibit in Chapel Hill

Residents and visitors to Chapel Hill’s East Franklin Street will be able to attend and experience the cultural arts of the Tibetan Monks of the Drepung Gomang Monastery now located in Southern India. The program will begin with the creation of a Sacred Sand Mandala at 523 E. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill on May 22, completing their mandala in five days with a deconstruction ceremony on May 30. 523 East Franklin St. will be open to the public from May 22 to 30 to allow visitors and residents to observe the construction of the mandala by the monks, sign up for arts workshops given by the monks and attend a cultural pageant performance scheduled for May 28.
The monks have been coming to the United States for the past eight years, sponsored by Drepung Gomang Institute, a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit educational institute, located in Louisville, Ky. Local sponsorship with help from the Town of Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation Cultural Arts Division and donations from Chapel Hill and Orange County public and private organizations have made this event possible. We will begin taking advance online reservations for arts classes and other events Feb. 25 at .

The arts workshops, cultural pageants and Mandala exhibit have been organized to be family friendly. Volunteer opportunities are still available for people of all ages. To learn more about volunteering, go to

Town Board workshop Monday night

Hillsborough Town Board will hold its regular monthly workshop meeting Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Town Barn after the State of the Town address.
Agenda includes:
  • discussion on possible amendments to the Waterstone master plan;
  • consideration of adoption of the Unified Development Ordinance;
  • consideration of adoption of a resolution requesting a local bill authorizing Hillsborough to enact a 3 percent Accommodations Tax on hotel and motel lodging.

Hillsborough Mayor to give State of the Town address Monday

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will give a State of the Town address the evening of Feb. 28 at the Town Barn, on the Town Hall campus.
This fifth annual event is open to the public. From 6:30 to 7 p.m., citizens are invited to meet with the mayor, Board of Commissioners and staff to ask questions and talk about services, projects, issues or concerns. Mayor Stevens will deliver his address at 7 p.m.
“This year’s address will be modest in length, to the point and in the venue where elected officials, town staff and citizens get our work done together all year long,” Stevens said. “I’m sure I’ll see familiar faces, but I hope there will be people there who have never been to the Town Barn before. One of the main objectives on our town strategy map is to increase citizen involvement. This is a great chance to come to Town Hall and find out what’s going on in your community.”
Following the mayor’s address, the public is welcome to stay for the Town Board’s monthly workshop, beginning at 7:45 p.m. During the workshop, Stratford Land will provide an update to the board on its efforts to make adjustments to the Waterstone Master Plan. Waterstone is a mixed-use business park located adjacent to Interstate 40, between N.C. 86 and Old N.C. 86. It is anchored by Durham Technical Community College, and UNC will start construction later this year on a hospital on 80 acres.
“Each year when I take this time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going, I’m astonished at how much is going on in our town,” the Mayor said.
The Town Barn is located at 101 E. Orange St. Parking is accessed from East Corbin Street.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Small town restaurant thinking big

Panciuto chef Aaron Vandemark was recently recognized via two national cooking wards—nominee for Food and Wine Magazine's 2011 People's New Chef, Southeast, and semifinalist for the James Beard 2011 Best Chef, Southeast.
Panciuto is a small Italian restaurant located on Churton Street in downtown Hillsborough. Gathering 80 to 90 percent of the food used in his dishes from local farmers, Vandemark adds a hint of the American South into his Mediterranean cooking, creating unique and delicious dishes that simultaneously help support local agriculture.
To vote for Vandemark in Food and Wine Magazine's 2011 People's New Chef, click here. Voting runs through March 1. Finalists for the James Beard award will also be announced in March.
For more information on the awards, Vandemark or Panciuto, see the Feb. 23 issue of the News of Orange.

Joint county and town meeting tonight

Orange County Commissioners and the Hillsborough Town Board will hold a joint meeting tonight (Thursday, Feb. 24) from 7 to 10 p.m. at John M. Link Jr. Government Services Center, 200 S. Cameron St.
Agenda includes:
  • discussion on the county's economic development activities;
  • Hillsborough policy and plans for vacant buildings and county facilities;
  • update on the rail station;
  • discussion of a memorandum of agreement for a circulator transit route;
  • Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization issues related to I-85 and I-40,
  • and an update on Riverwalk and the future of Fairview Park.

Monday, February 21, 2011

State reports more than 200 wildfires in past week

State officials say dry air and high winds in recent days have sparked an unusually high number of wildfires in North Carolina.

State and local firefighters battled 211 wildfires from the coast to the mountains last weekend. Those fires burned nearly 678 acres. The No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina is human carelessness.

“People need to use common sense if they intend to burn yard debris such as sticks and leaves,” said Wib Owen, North Carolina’s state forester. “Check the weather report to be sure that conditions will allow for safe burning and only burn when winds are light. Do not burn on windy days and if unsure, call your local fire department to see if they think it’s a good idea to burn that day.”

Help support Panciuto's chef!

Aaron Vandemark, chef at Panciuto—an Italian restaurant in downtown Hillsborough—has been nominated by Food and Wine Magazine for the People's Best New Chef 2011! See Wednesday's (Feb. 23) issue of the paper for more information on Vandemark, his awards and his restaurant.

To vote, visit

darkrooms and bright ideas

Let's get one thing straight right away: I am not an artist. I'm a writer, and I am most comfortable when I am scribbling away on a notepad or typing furiously on my computer.
So, when Jamie Hagenberger of Blue Nandina Studio offered me the chance to try my hand at what she does quite well—her beautiful photograms—I accepted, but not without some trepidation. And so one Saturday morning, I made my way to her lovely home off new N.C. 86 and into a shed she had transformed into a darkroom with the help of Kickstarter and the more than 70 backers who funded her project. (For more, here's an article I did last week.)
Jamie kindly walked me through the process before letting me have a go myself.
It was really interesting—as someone who enjoys digital photography—to play with one of the precursors to film, to make a photographic image without the use of a camera. It was kind of fun to fumble around in the dark, placing fern and tree leaves in what I hoped was an interesting pattern, waiting somewhat impatiently for the image to go through the processor so I could finally turn on the lights and see what it looked like.
It was a lot of fun to step outside my comfort zone and try my hand at something brand new. After trying it once, I can definitely see how Jamie could spend hours in her little studio, making photogram after photogram, trying to get one just so.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

DMV offices will be closed Monday

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles reminds drivers that all driver license offices will be closed on President’s Day, Monday, Feb. 21, for an update of the National Driver Registry. The system update will affect driver licensing transactions around the country throughout the President’s Day weekend, but is expected to curtail business in North Carolina for just one day.

Drivers requiring a new or renewed driver license, learner permit, commercial driver license, or ID card should plan visits to the driver license office at other times. Driver licenses may be renewed up to six months prior to the birthday renewal date. Appointments for driver improvement clinics will not be accepted on Feb. 21; however, hearings already scheduled to take place at driver license offices will be held.

During the closure, the state’s driver license examiners and other employees will report to work to undergo additional training required by computer upgrades and changes to federal requirements.

The closure will not affect license plate agencies that register and title vehicles, including the DMV-run agencies in Raleigh and Charlotte. Applications for duplicate licenses and ID cards, usually available by applying online, may continue to be submitted through the DMV website.

All offices are expected to reopen for business at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Questions about DMV services may be directed to (919) 715-7000.

Hagan's economic tour of North Carolina

U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC), a new member of the Senate Banking Committee, will travel across North Carolina next week to discuss the state’s economy. Hagan is working to create a better business climate in North Carolina for businesses to create jobs and grow. Hagan will make stops in Raleigh, Wilmington, Greensboro, High Point and Charlotte.
Hagan on Tuesday will deliver remarks at the Council for Entrepreneurial Development's Annual Biotech/Life Science Conference in Raleigh. Hagan will discuss how the state’s key investments in research and development, education and business have made North Carolina the best state in the country for the biotech industry.
Hagan on Thursday will address the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition at the Winter Meeting in Greensboro. The coalition, made up of North Carolina mayors from Asheville to Greensboro to Greenville, deals with national and state issues affecting local governments. Also Thursday, she will travel to High Point to tour Harland Clarke, one of the largest check-printing manufacturing facilities in the United States.

WHAT: Hagan to address the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s Annual Conference
WHEN: Tuesday, February 22; Hagan will speak at approximately 1:40 p.m.; She will also hold a press avail in the hallway outside the ballrooms at 12:45 p.m.
WHERE: Ballrooms 1 & 2, Raleigh Convention Center, 500 South Salisbury St., Raleigh

WHAT: Hagan to speak at the NC Metropolitan Mayors Coalition meeting in Greensboro
WHEN: 12 p.m., Thursday, February 24, Sen. Hagan will speak at 1:15 pm
WHERE: The Proximity Hotel, 704 Green Valley Rd., Greensboro

WHAT: Hagan to tour Harland Clarke in High Point
WHEN: 2:15 p.m., Thursday, February 24
WHERE: Harland Clarke, 4475 Premier Dr., High Point

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hagan will serve as co-chair of Third Way

U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) announced that she will serve as an honorary co-chair of Third Way, a prominent policy organization committed to promoting effective, moderate solutions to our most pressing national challenges.
“I am honored to work with Third Way and other moderate members of Congress to advance sensible, bipartisan solutions that will strengthen the economy and move North Carolina and our country forward,” said Hagan. “North Carolinians are sick of Washington partisanship. Working together, we can move away from the polarization that has caused so much gridlock on Capitol Hill to create a business climate in this country that allows for job creation and economic growth.”
Hagan, who recently joined the Senate Banking Committee, is also a co-chair of Third Way’s new Clean Energy Innovation Project, which supports investing in research and development for American-made clean energy.

Matthew Roybal to be Processing Center manager

Matthew Roybal will be the first manager for The Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center. The center located in Hillsborough is scheduled to open for business in April 2011.

Roybal, a resident of Hillsborough is a natural foods and culinary consultant. He was introduced to the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Orange County is fiscal agent for and acting on behalf of Alamance, Chatham, and Durham Counties, the partner counties in this effort. Bernadette Pelissier, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, welcomed Roybal and noted the importance of this project in developing the local food system and supporting local agricultural enterprises. The Orange County Economic Development Department has been working with Cooperative Extension staff in all four counties, together providing leadership and critical staff support while developing this multi-county project.

Roybal brings important skills to the food center, including experience in small scale farming, specialty food product development, natural foods marketing, and food processing facility management. He was a former ServSafe trainer and is currently ServSafe certified which enables him to ensure clients of the center follow food safety practices.

While working for a national retail grocer, Roybal developed recipes for their food commissary and managed their gift basket program through an online store. These skills are important to the entire project which seeks to serve as a food business incubator for local entrepreneurs and farmers. More recently, Roybal was a consultant to the establishment of a local artisan culinary production facility. In addition to his food entrepreneurship skills, Roybal also worked on his family’s small farm in Kankakee, Illinois. He was involved in all aspects of farm operation, from seed selection to harvest to marketing.

Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs, longtime advocate for the value-added shared-use commercial kitchen and horticultural processing facility, spoke to Roybal just before the Tuesday night meeting. “We are glad to have you working on this project,” Jacobs told Roybal.

The $1.4 million dollar project has been funded by competitive grants from the Tobacco Trust Fund, the Golden Leaf Foundation, the US Housing & Urban Development – Economic Development Initiative program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant, the USDA / NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Program managed by RAFI-USA.

At the formal groundbreaking for the center last fall, US Representative David Price and NC Representative Dan Ingle both noted the positive aspects of supporting local food entrepreneurs and adding value to local farm products.

Dr. Fletcher Barber, Agriculture Program Specialist with the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and former Orange County Extension Director, added that the project has been steadily progressing over the past 5 years. “From feasibility study to design and construction, we are almost there,” Barber said.

Roybal is ready to get to get started. “I look forward to working more closely with the regional community of farmers and food artisans,” Roybal noted. “The future of food is local,” he added.

For more information on the Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center visit and click on ‘processing center.'

Hillsborough goes green

The Hillsborough Town Board has gone paperless at meetings. Each commissioner has an iPad used to view agenda packets as opposed to printing the sometimes 500-page documents out for board members, staff and the press.
See further details in next week's issue, Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Friday, February 18, 2011

orange county schools board of education meeting

The agenda's up for Monday's school board meeting at the district's Central Office at 7 p.m. Some of the items on the agenda include continuing the discussion of the district's student transfer policy, a review of Exceptional Children's services and a budget work session. Wish you could be there? I'll be live tweeting the meeting on Twitter. I'm @NewsofOrange, and I'll use the hash tag #ocsboe.

Help us celebrate Black History Month

In honor of February being Black History Month, we're working on an article chronicling local black history (see next week's edition, Feb. 23). Share your stories here and help create a complete picture of history in Hillsborough and Orange County.

Smith Middle School has a perfect season

Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill took first at the Middle School Ultimate Championships held at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland on Saturday, Feb. 12. Smith beat Culbreth 7-6 in the final to end the season undefeated—a perfect record.
Gravelly Hill took fifth overall. The team lost 6-3 to Githens in the quarterfinals, beat McDougle Middle School B 8-4 and trounced Phillip Middle School 10-3 to win the fifth-place bracket.
Pictures: The final game between Culbreth (Duke blue) and Smith (mixed colors)

State of the Town address will be given Feb. 28

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will give a State of the Town address the evening of Feb. 28 at the Town Barn, on the Town Hall campus.

This fifth annual event is open to the public. From 6:30 to 7 p.m., citizens are invited to meet with the mayor, Board of Commissioners and staff to ask questions and talk about services, projects, issues or concerns. Mayor Stevens will deliver his address at 7 p.m.

“This year’s address will be modest in length, to the point and in the venue where elected officials, town staff and citizens get our work done together all year long,” Stevens said. “I’m sure I’ll see familiar faces, but I hope there will be people there who have never been to the Town Barn before. One of the main objectives on our town strategy map is to increase citizen involvement. This is a great chance to come to Town Hall and find out what’s going on in your community.”

Previous State of the Town addresses have been well attended. Following the mayor’s address, the public is welcome to stay for the Town Board’s monthly workshop, beginning at 7:45 p.m. During the workshop, Stratford Land will provide an update to the board on its efforts to make adjustments to the Waterstone Master Plan. Waterstone is a mixed-use business park located adjacent to Interstate 40, between N.C. 86 and Old N.C. 86. It is anchored by Durham Technical Community College, and UNC will start construction later this year on a hospital on 80 acres.

“Each year when I take this time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going, I’m astonished at how much is going on in our town,” the mayor said.

The Town Barn is located at 101 E. Orange St. Parking is accessed from East Corbin Street.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Water service may be interrupted Saturday on Nash St.

From the Town of Hillsborough:
Residents in about 15 houses on Nash Street may see their water service interrupted Saturday, Feb. 19, while utility work takes place for the Nash Street Sidewalk Project.

The town’s contractor, S.T. Wooten Corp., will confirm the schedule of the expected work by Thursday morning. If the work takes place Saturday, the contractor will hand deliver notices to the affected houses by this Thursday.

The work to complete water service tie-ins would be performed on Nash Street between Queen and Corbin streets, with a tentative schedule of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The contractor has recommended performing the work Saturday to prevent interruption of water service at Hillsborough Elementary School on a weekday. The affected houses are connected to the same water main as the school.

While the work will be performed by the contractor, Hillsborough utility staff will disconnect and connect the water at the main. Town staff also will take water samples and test for water quality. If residents in the project area have questions or concerns about their water after service is restored, please contact the Hillsborough Water Plant at 732-3621.

A similar interruption in water service is expected within the next few weeks. This second utility work would affect about 12 properties on Nash Street between Corbin Street and Revere Road.

The town apologizes for any inconvenience and appreciates residents’ cooperation.

The Nash Street Sidewalk Project length is about 3 miles and includes construction of sidewalk along Nash Street, Revere and Faucette Mill roads and Allison, Calvin, Hayes and Union streets. It is intended to improve safety for walkers and to serve as a north-south link, connecting neighborhoods, businesses and schools as well as Gold Park and Riverwalk in the future.

For more information, contact Assistant Town Manager Nicole Ard by e-mail or phone at 732-1270 Ext. 77 or Public Works Supervisor Ken Hines by e-mail or phone at 732-1270 Ext. 78.

Railroad crossing to be closed briefly in Hillsborough

From the Town of Hillsborough:

Rail crossings in Hillsborough are expected to be closed briefly Friday, Feb. 18, as Norfolk Southern Railway reconditions tracks, signals and bridges along the Raleigh-to-Charlotte corridor.

The crossing at West Hill Avenue and Dimmocks Mill Road is expected to be closed at least twice Friday for several hours at a time, with the actual time dependent on work performed in the field. Residents are advised to take alternative routes, such as Bellevue Avenue.

The mid-day service of North Carolina’s Amtrak Piedmont between Raleigh and Charlotte has been temporarily suspended Monday-Thursday through April 21 because of the reconditioning work. All trains are operating on adjusted schedules Friday-Sunday. Passengers may download adjusted schedules for the Piedmont and Carolinian trains at, or they may call 1-800-BYTRAIN for information.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Calder-Green / Orange County Schools suit settlement

Though we already ran a story on the subject, Orange County Schools spokesman Michael Gilbert today released a written statement on the matter:

The Orange County Board of Education has agreed to settle the case of Laurie Calder-Green and Emily Roberts v. the Orange County Board of Education, et al.  The Board and the individual defendants emphatically deny any wrongdoing.  However, considering the turmoil this matter has already caused in the school system and the further disruption that a trial would potentially create plus the time away from full attention to their school responsibilities a trial would require of staff, the Board determined that a settlement served the best interest of the school system, especially the students and staff of Cedar Ridge High School.  This settlement, funded in significant part by the Board’s liability carrier, will allow the Board and district personnel to dedicate their time and energy to their primary goal of educating students.

Terms of the settlement include the following:

--Ms. Calder-Green, Ms. Roberts and their attorney will receive $93,000 divided as follows:
$10,000 to Emily Roberts, a portion of which will be subject to tax withholding.
$50,770 to Laurie Calder-Green, a portion of which will be subject to tax withholding. 
$32,230 to the plaintiffs’ attorney. 

--Ms. Calder-Green and Ms. Roberts waive all claims against the school board and its employees.

--Ms. Calder-Green agreed to resign her employment with the school system no later than June 30, 2011.   In compliance with this settlement requirement, Ms. Calder-Green has already resigned as of January 21, 2011 and is no longer employed by Orange County Schools.

--Ms. Calder-Green and Ms. Roberts will not seek employment in the Orange County Schools in the future.

The Board and the individual defendants elected to settle this matter for the sole purpose of avoiding the expense and disruption of litigation to the school system at a time when the system is facing unprecedented budgetary challenges that require focused leadership.

Panther wrestlers headed to state duel sectionals and regionals

The Orange High School wrestling squad will travel to Nash Central High School, 4279 Nash Central High Road in Rocky Mount, tonight to face-off in the state duel sectionals and regionals. Weigh-ins start at 5 p.m. and the matches start at 6 p.m. For those who wish to attend, admission is $7.

Good luck, Panthers!

Be my furry valentine!

Paws4Ever—a no-kill animal shelter based in Mebane—will officially celebrate the grand opening of its thrift shop, Paws4Ever ReSale Store. The grand opening will be held at the shop located at 115 John Earle St. in Hillsborough on Saturday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events include an adopt-a-thon, a demonstration by the P4 Drill Team, and activities for children such as making Valentine's Day cards for the animals.
Come out and support Paws4Ever animal shelter!

Monday, February 7, 2011

school board meeting

There's a school board meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the district's Central Office. (Click on the link to see the agenda.) There's a lot of interesting items on the agenda, including a legal update, a slew of policies and a transfer policy update. I'll be live tweeting the meeting; you can follow @NewsofOrange for updates.

wind ensemble program at Cedar Ridge

The following press release was, unfortunately, sent in too late for us to put it in the paper. But it looks like it will be a great event, for those who can make it!

The Appalachian State University Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. John S. Ross will present a concert of wind band classics at Cedar Ridge High School on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 pm.  This concert will be held in the high school’s auditorium and is free to the public.

This performance is the first of seven performances on the ensemble’s tour of central North Carolina.  According to Dr. Jay Jackson, associate dean of the Hayes School of Music at Appalachian, “Touring serves several purposes.  It gives our ensembles the opportunity to showcase their abilities in venues other than our own. Tour performances allow the musicians and the ensembles to gain greater understanding of their music and performance skills through multiple performances of the same musical literature.”   Equally important, according to Jackson, is the opportunity for the School of Music to provide both an outreach to the public school music programs and showcase our program and curriculum to prospective students.

One highlight of Tuesday night’s performance will be the opportunity for the Cedar Ridge band students, under the direction of Patricia Quigley, to perform – side by side with the Wind Ensemble.  The two bands will perform Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in G minor” and John Philip Sousa’s “The Freelance March.”  Additionally, ASU faculty clarinetist, Dr. Andrea Cheeseman will perform Anton Weber’s “Concertino.”  These selections, along with others by Dmitri Shostakovich, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Richard Wagner, and Elaine Ross complete the program.

The ensemble, according to conductor Dr. John Ross, is excited about this tour and is looking forward to the performances.   They remember, when they were high school students, similar performances being given by traveling university groups.  This is now that same opportunity for them as the performers.  We look forward to tour, the audiences, and the experience.

OC Comprehensive Transportation Plan workshop

Orange County Planning Department, the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization and the North Carolina Department of Transportation will hold a public information workshop on the development of the Orange County Comprehensive Transportation Plan today (Monday, Feb. 7) from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the Orange County Public Library (137 W. Margaret Lane).
Public input is encouraged.
The Orange County Transportation Plan is a long-range, multi-modal transportation plan developed cooperatively with NCDOT, local planning organizations and representatives from Orange County. The plan will be used to select future infrastructure improvements funded through federal and state programs. NCDOT staff will give brief presentations at 5, 6 and 7 p.m.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

All life's a stage...but sometimes, you need a real one

C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough finally broke ground for its new free-standing auditorium—a nice change from using the school cafeteria. And it's been a long time in coming! In its 41-year history, the middle school has never had its own auditorium.
See next week's paper (Feb. 9) for more details about the upcoming theater and how it will affect Stanford Middle School students!
Preview picture—Orange County Schools Superintendent Patrick Rhodes gives applauding students the thumbs up after the ground breaking ceremony.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Home sweet home

Eno Haven Apartments is almost ready to open its doors! The senior living complex on U.S. 70-A will finish construction at the end of February and begin occupancy in March. The rooms are spacious with plenty of storage space and the natural view out the back is spectacular. Sherrod Banks, project owner, says he is committed to making quality affordable housing, and he's certainly added some great amenities that will enhance this apartment complex—light sconces in the walls? Window seats in the hallway? It's nicer than my place!
For more information or to apply, call 245-0700 or e-mail Also see the Feb. 2 issue of the News of Orange.
Banks is also looking into building affordable housing apartments (with no age restriction) on a lot near Walmart in Hampton Point. Though the project is still in its infancy, Banks has applied for government funds to help support the project and has brought his idea in an informational session before the Town Board. Stay tuned for more development on the currently dubbed Hampton Point Project!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Green and gold...or yellow and black?

The moment has come...that time of year when sports fans across the nation hold their breath in collective ecstasy for the beginning of the greatest game of the the opinion of one who hails from the Midwest, anyway.
It's Superbowl time! And it has something for everyone—football for sports-lovers and (supposedly) the best commercials of the year for non-sports-lovers. Now, I'm slightly biased, being a Packers' fan, but Green Bay and Pittsburgh battling it out in Dallas...should be a good game. A classic Superbowl, as I've heard it called.
So now, the million-dollar question: who's going to win? Let's hear what you have to say! My vote's already in on the green and gold, but let's be honest, it's going to be a tightly fought game. May the best team (or the Steelers :-D) win!

Holding onto the memories

John Jeffries, one-time volunteer at Orange County Rescue Squad and the man who circumstantially inherited the squad's memorabilia, continues to look for a place in the county to display it. John believes the collection—from trophies to plaques to photos to scrapbooks—carries too much of the county's history to just be tossed aside.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Improving the community one animal at a time

Paws4Ever, a non-profit no-kill animal shelter located in Mebane, works hard to ensure all abandoned animals have the opportunity to live happily ever. (Paws4Ever recently opened a thrift shop—Paws4Ever ReSale Store—in Hillsborough at 115 John Earl St., see today's paper for more details)
But a lot of work goes into that mission. The organization provides puppy and dog training to help smooth the transition for both dogs and humans after adoption. "If you want an adoption to work, the best way to do it is to make sure the human and animal have a bond," Caroline Green, Paws4Ever Board of Directors president, says. "That works if the dog is well-trained."
Paws4Ever offers free puppy training after adoption but also provides a variety of training levels complete with professional animal advocates available for assistance.
Paws4Ever also runs an extensive community education program, emphasizing the importance to spay and neuter your pets so no unwanted pregnancies occur. Bringing pets to the vet for spaying and neutering can be extremely expensive, but Paws4Ever offers low-cost procedure.
"The only way to stop needing to give homes to lovely dogs is to get people to plan neuter the ones they already have," Caroline says. "We try to push that in connection with trying to find as many homes for existing animals as we can."