Monday, October 31, 2011

Expect nationwide emergency alert system test on Wednesday, Nov. 9

NOTE: The following information was released by FEMA.

The first nationwide test of the emergency alert system will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Communications Commission and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The test may last up to 3½ minutes. The public will hear a message indicating, “This is a test.” The audio message will be the same for radio, television and cable.

The national-level emergency alert system is a public alert and warning system that enables the president of the United States to address the American public during extreme emergencies. Similar to local emergency alert system tests that are conducted frequently, the nationwide test will involve broadcast radio and television stations, cable television, satellite radio and television services and wireline providers across all states and territories.

As part of ongoing, national preparedness planning efforts, work to make the test a reality has been occurring over the past two years by FEMA; the FCC; other federal partners; state, local, tribal and territorial governments; emergency alert system participants; and others in the emergency alert system community.

While the federal, state, tribal, territorial and local governments prepare for and test their capabilities, the event serves as a reminder that everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities and businesses. Visit for more information about how to prepare for and stay informed about what to do in the event of an actual emergency.

For more information on the nationwide test, visit:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hillsborough to break ground on Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion

The Town of Hillsborough will officially break ground on the upgrade and expansion of the Hillsborough Wastewater Treatment Plant at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 11.

Mayor Tom Stevens will shovel the first dirt. Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2014. This first phase of construction, expected to cost $16.5 million, will bring much-needed upgrades to the plant, which was built in the mid-1970s. The upgrades by Choate Construction Company of Atlanta, Ga., include:

• New tertiary filters capable of removing nitrogen and phosphorous.
• New screenings (trash) removal system at the beginning of the treatment process.
• Installation of new clarifiers (settling basins).
• Upgrades to biological treatment basins.
• New solids treatment and handling facilities.
• New backup power generator.
• Updated plant security and controls.

The upgrade is being funded through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program. The $18.9 million loan — which also will cover some design costs, construction administration, inspections and contingency funds — will result in annual payments of $1.2 million for 20 years, beginning in Fiscal Year 2015. These payments will result in an 8.8 percent annual increase in sewer rates over six years, beginning with this fiscal year, which started in July.

A second phase of construction will provide extra flow capacity to accommodate planned land uses and projected population growth. Due to stricter state limits, the current plant already has reached its treatment capacity.

Both phases of construction will provide the plant with the capabilities needed to meet new, stricter state limits on discharged water. These new rules — called Falls Lake Rules — will become effective in 2016 and are intended to protect and restore the water quality of Falls Lake, which is on the EPA’s list of impaired waters. Planning for the second phase will begin when the first phase of construction is complete. The start of construction for that phase will be determined by the town’s growth rate, with a likely start in seven to 12 years.

The Wastewater Treatment Plant is located at 355 Elizabeth Brady Road.

Hillsborough to consider rate increase, franchise extension for commercial solid waste service

The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners has been asked to consider a 5-percent rate increase for commercial solid waste services as well as a one-year extension on the franchise agreement.

The two requests are on the agenda for the board’s regular monthly meeting on Oct. 10 in the Town Barn, 101 E. Orange St. on the Town Hall campus.

Waste Industries—which provides solid waste and recycling services to businesses, churches, nonprofits and multi-family housing communities in town through a franchise agreement negotiated by the Town of Hillsborough—made the requests on Oct. 3.

Per the agreement, the town has 60 days to respond to the rate request or the rate becomes effective. Rate adjustments are limited to no more than 10 percent per year, according to the franchise. This is the first rate adjustment that Waste Industries has sought since the current franchise agreement started in August 2009. The franchise expires July 31. Under the agreement, two one-year extensions are allowed and the town must provide notice of franchise renewal or discontinuation within 90 days of the agreement’s expiration.

Waste Industries is seeking the rate adjustment based on a 6 percent increase in the consumer price index in January and a $5 per ton increase in the tipping fees at the Orange County Landfill. Effective in July, the tipping fees increased from $52 to $57 per ton. Waste Industries indicated that it has been absorbing increased costs for some time rather than raising customer rates.

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 Waste Industries directly, with rates based on service level and frequency. All businesses are required to use the same service provider.

The town is in the process of issuing a survey to customers on the franchise. The survey seeks feedback on customer service and asks about future service needs and the willingness to pay rate adjustments. Results should be available by the end of October. To date, the town has not received any service complaints about Waste Industries.

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

Hillsborough seeking feedback on commercial solid waste service

The Town of Hillsborough needs businesses, churches and nonprofits to share information that will help town staff and business representatives review the current solid waste service and consider any change in 2012.

Refuse and recycling service currently is provided by a franchise with Waste Industries to businesses, churches and nonprofit groups within the town’s limits, including apartment and condominium complexes. The franchise expires July 31.

Businesses, churches and nonprofits are asked to take 10 minutes to answer basic questions in a survey about their current and future solid waste needs, any possible service rate increase and desired customer service response time. The information—which will be collected through Friday, Oct. 21—will be used to solicit interested firms. The goal is to renew the current franchise or award a new franchise in the spring.

The survey can be found online at

Those agencies that do not have Internet access may obtain a hard copy of the survey from the town. For a copy of the survey or for more information about the survey, contact Public Works Supervisor Ken Hines by email or by phone at 732-1270, ext. 78.

Since 2004, the Town of Hillsborough 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 provider directly, with rates based on service level and frequency. All businesses are required to use the same service provider.

Currently, Waste Industries is requesting a one-year extension on the franchise agreement and a 5-percent rate increase for solid waste services. Two one-year extensions are allowed under the franchise agreement, as well as a rate adjustment of up to 10 percent per year in response to the consumer price index.

October is adopt a shelter dog month!

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and Orange County Animal Services is reducing the adoption fee to $60 for select dogs throughout the month.
Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is a national event created by American Humane Association that aims to reduce the number of homeless dogs and puppies in shelters by raising awareness about adopting and about dog ownership and care.
In celebration of this annual event, Animal Services has reduced the adoption fee for most dogs by half, making the fee for a fully vaccinated, spayed/neutered and vet checked dog only $60. Once a dog is selected to be part of the celebration, its adoption fee will remain $60 for the entire month of October.
Visit us online to find out more about Dog Adoption Month, its events or to see photos and descriptions of adoptable animals—including dogs that are available for the reduced adoption fee. You can also visit us in person at 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NC to get funds to support small businesses

U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (NC) announced on Tuesday, Sept. 27, that North Carolina will receive $603,442 to fund trade and export promotion for the state’s small businesses. Authorized through the Hagan-backed Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the funds will help small businesses export for the first time to overseas markets and help raise the value of the exports of those small businesses that are already selling in other countries.

“North Carolina's small businesses are the key to our economic growth, and we have got to do all that we can to help them," said Hagan, who serves on the Senate Small Business Committee. "With this critical new funding, North Carolina's small businesses can expand production and hiring here at home by finding new customers overseas. I will continue fighting to ensure North Carolina's small businesses have the resources they need to be competitive in the global market."

Specifically, the funding awarded to North Carolina will allow small businesses to travel to overseas markets and attend foreign trade shows based upon best opportunities and best markets for the states’ firms. It will also help translate businesses’ websites into target market languages.

The grant is funded through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Proportion (STEP) Program. The STEP grants will help provide:

• support for small business participation in foreign trade missions and foreign market sales trips;
• subscription to services by the Department of Commerce;
• website translation fees;
• design of international marketing media;
• trade show exhibitions;
• participation in training workshops; and
• other export initiatives determined to be appropriate by the SBA.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Twilight star coming to Snow Camp

Twilight star Michael Welch—along with Johnny Pacar and Cassie Scerbo from ABC Family’s Make It or Break It—will be at The Original Hollywood Horror Show in Snow Camp on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. They will be promoting their new movie "Of Light and Darkness" as well as signing autographs for the fans.
During the event, there will also be a concert featuring Shayne Leighton, the author, star and original recording artist of the "Of Light and Darkness series," as well as Candace Charee, the producer of the series.
There will be free admission into the event, and the autographs will be on sale at the event.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shred-a-thons held Oct. 13 and 22

Orange County Solid Waste Management will sponsor two free fall “Shred-A-Thons” in cooperation with University Mall, the Chapel Hill Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Orange County residents or local government employees may securely destroy and recycle their personal confidential documents at no cost.
Both events are from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will take place:
Thursday, Oct. 13—at University Mall on Estes Drive in Chapel Hill, near the Wachovia Bank Building. Held in conjunction with the Chapel Hill Police Department and University Mall.
Saturday, Oct. 22—at Hampton Pointe Shopping Center, N.C. 86 in Hillsborough at the 24-hour recycling drop-off site located behind Home Depot. Held in conjunction with the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.
There is a limit of 10 banker-box sized boxes or large bags full of paper per person, and only one trip per person. Do remove all plastic bags, plastic binders, folders, computer disks and other electronic media, bulldog clips, laminated paper or any other non-paper materials prior to bringing loads to the Shred-a-thon to help keep lines moving efficiently. Incidental staples or small paper clips are OK. The shredded paper will be recycled.
Shredding will take place on-site in full view of people delivering paper. The events are limited to Orange County residents, residents who live in the part of Chapel Hill located in Durham County or those working for the County or Towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.

Quarter-cent sales tax increase on November ballot

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, registered voters in Orange County will have the opportunity to vote for or against the quarter-cent sales and use tax. If approved, every $100 spent by shoppers in Orange County will generate 25 cents for education and economic development. Around $2.5 million would be generated in one year based on current projections. The proposed sales tax would not apply to groceries, gasoline and prescription medicines.

If approved, one half of the revenues will be distributed to county and city schools on a per pupil basis for facility improvement of older schools and the purchase of technology. The other half of the revenues will help grow business through a sustainable and well-managed economic development plan that fits the unique and diverse Orange County community. The blueprint for attracting and expanding strong business in Orange County would include funds for entrepreneurs, small business loans, innovation centers for new businesses and support for agriculture businesses. Funds will also be used to improve vital county infrastructure that underpin a robust business environment such as utilities, water and sewer. The focus on directing funds for schools and jobs is a 10-year commitment by the Orange County Commissioners.

The proposed sales tax would apply to people who shop in Orange County including visitors, tourists and temporary residents. Annually, visitors to Orange County generate nearly 20 percent of the sales tax revenue. The proposed sales tax will help diversify the tax base and share some of the tax burden currently shouldered by home-owners paying property taxes. If approved, the quarter-cent sales tax is targeted to begin April 1, 2012.

The wording for the proposed quarter-cent sales tax on the Tuesday, Nov. 8, ballot will be: For or Against.
Local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other state and local sales and use taxes.

Voters are encouraged to learn more by going to the county website or calling the county office at 245-2307.