News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS

For previous news briefs, click here to read the News Briefs Archive page.


May 11, 2021

County Holds Hearings on Budget and Capital Investment Plan

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners will hold its next public hearing on the general operating budget and Capital Investment Plan on June 7 and 7 p.m. Residents may weigh in on the spending plan recommended by the county manager for the next fiscal year, from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

Included in the budget and CIP are recommendations to fund an emergency management services substation at Waterstone; maintain the same level of per-pupil spending for the two school systems; and increase the property tax rate. There are also plans for parks, housing, climate change mitigation, the arts and more to consider.

Members of the public are asked to contact the clerk of the BOCC at ocpubliccomment@orangecountync.gov no later than 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Please indicate that you wish to speak at the budget public hearing, along with your name, address, email address and phone number you will use to call in from, if you plan to speak via phone. You may also mail your comments in a letter to: Board of County Commissioners, P.O. Box 8181, Hillsborough, N.C. 27278.


Memorial Day Service 2021

A Memorial Day service will be held on Monday, May 31, at the Veterans Memorial site on Homestead Road, Chapel Hill. In case of inclement weather, it will be inside at the Seymour Center Theater, 2551 Homestead Road. The guest speaker will be Nick Palmisciano, CEO of Diesel Jack Media, founder of Ranger Up, former Army captain and ranger. Please arrive at 7:45 a.m. for the Posting of Colors promptly at 8 a.m.
 
To learn more about the memorial and to make a donation to make this become a reality, please visit https://ocveteransmemorial.com/memorial/.


Kashara Lavonda Lyons

Missing Person

The Chapel Hill Police Department is seeking assistance locating Kashara Lavonda Lyons, 38, of Dobbins Drive, reported missing since 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 5.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 at any time or Chapel Hill Police (919-968-2760) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


May Is Bike Month in Carrboro

Carrboro is celebrating Bike Month in May, proclaimed by Mayor Lydia Lavelle. Established in 1956 and promoted by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Month has been celebrated in communities from coast to coast. 

The Town of Carrboro and community partners are planning events open to all to encourage new riders by showcasing the many benefits of biking, such as enjoying the outdoors and using active transportation to commute.


Carrboro Bike Month Activities Include:

  • May 14 – Taco Truck Tour – 7 p.m. at The ReCYCLEry, 108 N. Graham St., Carrboro 
  • May 17-23 – Bike to Work Week 
  • May 18 – Bike to Work Day Afternoon Snack – 4 to 6 p.m. at Libba Cotten Bikeway (endpoints Roberson Street near Sweet Bay Place and S. Merritt Mill Road near W. Cameron Avenue)
  • May 21 – Salute Heroes & Bike to Work/School – decorate your bike 
  • May 21 – Full Moon Ride – Queer Ride Carrboro Cruiser Ride – 8 p.m. – meet at ReCYCLEry, 108 N. Graham St.

For more information about bike month events being held across the Triangle, visit https://gotriangle.org/bikemonth.


Mental Health Awareness Month in Carrboro

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month. 

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is “You Are Not Alone.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness will share stories on its website, www.nami.org, about using this time to focus on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, prioritizing mental health and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be okay.

The purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses; to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses; and to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.


May 8, 2021

Chapel Hill Celebrates Bike Month 2021

The Town of Chapel Hill encourages COVID-safe cycling by asking cyclists to wear helmets and follow state and local mask and distancing guidance. Check out the following videos for more information:
• Chapel Hill Police Department bicycle safety video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91BmVwAKbG8)
• Traveling on the bus with your bike (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk65tikP8Go)
• Bike fix-it stations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmQLRZ24Bmc)
• Orange County greenways (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmQLRZ24Bmc)

For important N.C. traffic laws applicable to cycling, see https://www.bikewalknc.org/important-nc-traffic-laws-applicable-to-bicyclists/.


Chapel Hill Public Library

Library Indoor Pickup Begins May 13

Beginning May 13, Chapel Hill Public Library users will be able to come into the library to pick up materials they have requested to be held for them. Library users should continue to electronically place a hold on materials they want, then put on a mask and go inside for pickup. Users will no longer have to call in advance. Once someone has gotten an email letting them know that their materials are ready, they are welcome to come by anytime the library is open.

The library will be closed May 11 and May 12, so staff can prepare for library users to come inside. After that, library hours will be:

Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed Wednesday and Sunday

A limited number of people will be allowed inside at once. Everyone will be asked to follow the “3Ws,” wearing a face covering, watching your distance and washing hands. Masks will be required for everyone over the age of 5 at all times inside the building.

To ensure a smooth transition and orderly operations, library staff encourage everyone to bring their library card or have their library card number ready.


Town Hosts Public Information Meeting on E. Rosemary Redevelopment

The Town of Chapel Hill will host a virtual public information meeting at 6:30 p.m. on May 10 on the upcoming East Rosemary Redevelopment Project. The meeting will include a project schedule, visuals, communication plan, opportunities for further information and a question-and-answer session.

The public is invited to register and attend via Zoom at us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2VXdKL-_RcSyvWqV5MCkHQ. Registrants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar in listen-only mode.

For further information on the project, see https://www.townofchapelhill.org/businesses/east-rosemary-street-redevelopment-project#ad-image-0.


Carrboro Listens to Immigrants Virtually

As part of the Town of Carrboro’s ongoing comprehensive planning process, Carrboro Connects, community members from Myanmar participated in a listening session with Mayor Lydia Lavelle on Tuesday, May 4. Hear what they had to say at https://www.facebook.com/100048787422845/videos/304592711176974

The conversation, which was assisted through interpreters in the Burmese and Karen languages, addressed housing, transportation and jobs/economy.

In March, Carrboro Connects held a similar listening session with members from the Latino community. In this bilingual session, Lavelle and Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Foushee heard ideas and concerns of residents. It aired live on El Centro Hispano’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/elCentroHispanoNC/videos/vb.132854053415670/451022346331770/?type=2&theater.  

Common themes shared in both sessions are the desire for quality affordable housing, expanded transit service, workforce development, translated materials, jobs and services.

Register at carrboroconnects.org to learn more about the project, stay up to date on future events and news, and share your ideas.


May 2, 2021

COVID Restrictions Eased

Effective Friday, April 30, masks are no longer mandated outdoors in North Carolina but are strongly recommended outdoors by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in crowded areas and higher-risk settings where social distancing is difficult. Masks are still required indoors in all circumstances. 

The number of people who may gather indoors has increased from 50 to 100, and the number of people who may gather outdoors has increased from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place remain the same.

The state continues to strive for two-thirds of adults to be at least partially vaccinated. Orange County Health Department offers self-scheduling of COVID vaccine appointments at https://myspot.nc.gov/.


Photo courtesy TownofChapelHill.org

More Riders Allowed on Chapel Hill Buses

Chapel Hill Transit buses will remove capacity restrictions on buses starting May 3. All customers are still required to wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth, and customers should not ride if they feel ill. The majority of the bus fleet has been outfitted with an enhanced air-purification system that will improve air circulation and the air-replacement rates on vehicles.

Chapel Hill Transit will continue to run reduced weekday service until further notice.


CHPD Announces May Traffic-Safety Initiatives

The Chapel Hill Police Department will perform four special traffic-safety initiatives in May: May 7 and May 28, 4 to 8 p.m., and May 13 and May 20, 1 to 5 p.m. The goal is to improve safety for pedestrians.

Efforts will focus on areas with heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic, including near schools, downtown and midblock crosswalks. CHPD urges drivers to limit distractions and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrians should walk against traffic; cyclists should ride with traffic.


View Greene Tract Environmental-Assessment Presentation

An environmental assessment for the Greene Tract has been completed, and the video presentation is available for viewing at https://chplan.us/Greene_Tract. The 104-acre tract is jointly owned by the Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Orange County. 

In January 2020, the Town of Carrboro, Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County adopted the Greene Tract Resolution for a Path Forward. This resolution initiated the drafting of an environmental assessment to obtain site-specific information on environmental and cultural conditions present on the Greene Tract. Following a request-for-proposal and bid process, SynTerra was selected to complete the Environmental Assessment. Beginning in May 2020, SynTerra reviewed background information, conducted fieldwork and completed an environmental analysis of the Greene Tract. The final assessment was presented to the local governments in July 2020.

Comments and questions regarding the environmental assessment and video presentation can be submitted at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7QB7L9M. All questions are due by May 23. Following this date, local government staff, in partnership with SynTerra, will provide additional informational materials, including frequently asked questions and a second video presentation to answer questions from the public.

Residents who have limited internet access are welcome to schedule a reservation to view the video, within COVID-19 protocols, at the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association Community Center, 101 Edgar St., Chapel Hill, or to learn about other viewing options.

Reservations can be scheduled by email (amoncado@orangecountync.gov) or by phone (919-245-2589).

For further information, contact Craig Benedict, Orange County Planning and Inspections director,
cbenedict@orangecountync.gov, 919-245-2592; Judy Johnson, Chapel Hill assistant planning director,
jjohnson@townofchapelhill.org, 919-969-5078; or Trish McGuire, Carrboro planning director,
pmcguire@ci.carrboro.nc.us, 919-918-7327.


Carrboro Joins Criminal Justice Debt Program

Carrboro residents needing assistance with fees and costs imposed due to criminal justice or traffic court involvement are now able to apply for relief through the Criminal Justice Debt Program. 

The Carrboro Town Council voted on April 27 to officially join the program established in 2020 by the Town of Chapel Hill. The Town of Carrboro is providing $7,500 for the program through the end of the fiscal year, with future appropriations to be determined through the annual budget process. 

The program provides criminal justice-related debt relief to community members who are taking steps to reintegrate into the community but whose ability to do so is hampered by debt from court fees and costs.

Court fees and costs have greater impact on the poor, and these costs and fees create barriers to seeking to reintegrate into the community. African Americans are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system due to historic and structural racism, making this a racial-equity issue.

The program pays the outstanding court debt for low-income residents of Orange County. Relief is considered for post-conviction court fees and costs, deferred prosecution court fees and costs, and license-restoration fees. Fines and restitution payments imposed as part of sentencing are not eligible for the fund. Program applications are available online at https://form.jotform.com/201253950662048. Paper applications are also available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Burmese and Karen.

To be considered eligible for relief, applicants:

  • Must live in Orange County
  • Must meet court indigency standards
  • Cannot be currently incarcerated
  • Must have outstanding criminal justice or traffic fees or costs 
  • Must demonstrate that they are on the road to stability
  • Must have already pursued other avenues for debt relief (e.g., driver’s license restoration program)
  • Must demonstrate that assistance will have an immediate impact on their stability or successful reentry into the community

For questions about the application or program requirements, contact the Chapel Hill Police Crisis Unit Supervisor Megan Johnson at 919-968-2806; or Savannah Allred, with Carrboro Police Department, at 919-918-7397.


April 28, 2021

Orange County Bail/Bond Justice Expands Assistance

In the first quarter of 2021, Orange County Bail/Bond Justice expanded assistance program and issued a special report on citations versus arrests for 2020.

The OCBBJ board voted to donate 20 percent of its Bail Fund to provide other types of assistance to those ordered detained pretrial in Orange County. OCBBJ will help pay court costs and fees, transportation costs to court and some jail-related fees (telephone calls and commissary costs at the detention center) for people unable to afford them.

OCBBJ assessed local law enforcement agency data on citations and arrests for the year 2020. To better focus on enforcement situations in which the officers’ arrest choices are more discretionary, only those arrests not involving a warrant or indictment were assessed. For citations, traffic infractions were excluded. Key findings include the following:

  • For cases involving only misdemeanor charges, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough issued citations in most cases (55 percent and 65 percent, respectively). Carrboro issued arrests in 56 percent of misdemeanor cases.
  • The overall percentage of citations given in 2020 declined. The most significant change in police practices due to COVID-19 was the drop in police citations and arrests in 2020 compared to 2019, not the proportion of citations given during the COVID lockdown or COVID post-lockdown period in 2020. OCBBJ has called for maintaining the decreased detentions seen in 2020, which means a need to sustain the decreased police citations and arrests. It also shows an opportunity to increase the use of citations over arrests when taking enforcement action.
  • Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough had a higher percentage of police cases involving citations and arrests for Black residents compared to their portion of the community. In Carrboro, this was also true for Hispanics. There are aggregate differences between white and Black residents in the total number of citation and arrest cases, and for Hispanics and Asians in the likelihood that a case will result in arrest, suggesting some racial disparity in our criminal justice system.

The assessment did not evaluate causation. More complex study would be needed to show racial bias or discrimination in practice. These findings indicate a need for further study by police and the community into policies, practices and biases that may contribute to inequities in our local criminal justice system.

For more information about Orange County Bail/Bond Justice, visit ocbailbondjustice.org.


Carrboro Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources Updates

The Carrboro Recreation, Parks & Cultural Resources Department will reopen the Carrboro Century Center at 100 N. Greensboro St. for limited indoor programming and reservations beginning the week of May 17.

All activities/rooms will operate at 30 percent and follow all state and local health guidelines. Modifications include reduced class sizes, increased social distancing, mask requirements and increased hand sanitizing. More modifications may be made depending on the nature of the activity. Rooms will be sanitized between activities.

Facility access will remain limited to enrolled activity participants and approved reservations. Doors will remain locked, and staff will be on hand to facilitate access to the building. Residents wishing to conduct business in person will need to make an appointment by contacting the department at 919-918-7364 in advance. All participants and visitors to the facility will be required to answer health-screening questions and receive a temperature check.

Outdoor programming will operate in the manner in which it has since last summer/fall, complying with current state and local guidelines as above.  

All park facilities, including pavilions and athletic fields/courts, are open and available for reservations. Events and reservations are considered on a case-by-case basis. All state and local guidelines must be followed and may require an approved COVID plan from the Orange County Health Department.

Town-sponsored special events — Carrboro Day (www.carrboroday.com/), Freight Train Blues Concert Series (freighttrainblues.com) and Carrboro July 4th Celebration (www.carrborojuly4th.com) — will be presented virtually. Continue to check the event websites and www.carrbororec.org for COVID-related programming and facility updates.


Comments Sought on Changes to Long-Range Bike/Ped and Transportation Plan

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization is seeking public feedback on a proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The CTP identifies future highway, transit, rail, bicycle, pedestrian and other transportation projects for this region over the next 30 years and beyond. The DCHC MPO is amending the CTP to add a network of bicycle/pedestrian paths along major roadways, identify high-capacity transit (such as bus rapid transit) along the region’s major travel corridors, ensure that the CTP supports local bicycle plans and improve roadways in fast-developing rural areas.

Residents and other stakeholders are asked to provide comments by reviewing the proposed Amendment #3 at the http://www.dchcmpo.org/programs/ctp/default.asp#tabs4 and provide comments directly by email to andrew.henry@durhamnc.gov by Tuesday, May 25. Residents and stakeholders may also directly address the DCHC MPO Board on Amendment #3 on Wednesday, May 12, beginning at 9 a.m., during the virtual board meeting (http://www.dchcmpo.org/about/board/agenda/default.asp).


Freight Train Blues 2021. Photo courtesy of Music Maker Relief Foundation.

Freight Train Blues Rolls in to Carrboro

The Town of Carrboro, the Carrboro Tourism Development Authority, WUNC, Music Maker Relief Foundation, Soul Bag and Artarie will present a livestream version of the annual Freight Train Blues Music Series each Friday at 6:30 p.m. beginning May 14. Featured concerts include “artist on the rise” (NPR Music) Amythyst Kiah, “enchanting new Appalachian voice [that] sounds like the soul child of Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton”; Alexa Rose; sacred soul guitar master Johnny Ray Daniels; Grammy-nominated trio The Hamiltones; and Harvey Dalton Arnold of Southern rock legends The Outlaws.

The series is hosted by the Hillsborough-based nonprofit Music Maker Relief Foundation, whose mission is to tend the roots of American music. The series, which typically takes place at Carrboro Town Commons, was filmed at The Fruit in Durham and will be broadcasted on Facebook and YouTube. It will also be streamed on Soul Bag (https://www.soulbag.fr/) and Artarie (https://www.artarie.com/).

Each installment of the series will open with a rare archival performance from one of North Carolina’s Piedmont blues masters. These legends have either been showcased at previous Freight Train Blues performances or performed in Carrboro over the years.

For more information, see http://townofcarrboro.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1684.


Black Summit Urges Protecting The Vote

The N.C. Black Alliance held its Annual Black Summit virtually on April 22 and 23, with the theme “Focused on the Fight, Facing the Future.” N.C. Senator Valerie Foushee, president of the NCBA board of directors, served as mistress of ceremonies. Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey Jr. was among the honorees and offered words of wisdom from his career in public service and community engagement.

One major takeaway of the summit was the importance and significance of protecting the vote, particularly for Black women and men, as efforts to disenfranchise specific sectors of Americans are underway. Participants were urged to register to vote; be informed about the candidates and issues; and then make a promise, “I will vote.”


Input Sought on Buckhorn Area Plan

Residents interested in keeping abreast of the Buckhorn Area Plan can offer their input at a community outreach meeting on Monday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., hosted by Orange County Planning Department staff, who will provide the materials and Zoom link. Email Tom Altieri (taltieri@orangecountync.gov) with questions about the plan.

Information about how to join the meeting will be posted on the Current Interest Projects page of the website (https://www.orangecountync.gov/1722/Current-Interest-Projects) once it is available.


April Marks Financial Literacy Month

At a time when an examination of wealth in the U.S. finds evidence of staggering racial disparities, the NAACP is working to promote economic development.

Gaps in wealth between Black and white households reveal the effects of accumulated inequality and discrimination, as well as differences in power and opportunity that can be traced back to this nation’s inception.

The net worth of a typical white family ($171,000) is nearly 10 times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150), as of 2016. The Black-white wealth gap reflects a society that has not and does not afford equality of opportunity to all its residents.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP branch organized its Economic Development Committee in 2021 in part to address this wealth gap. The committee seeks to explore issues related to these disparities as well as ways to close the gap in line with the programs of the national NAACP. In addition to promoting support of minority businesses and advocating living wages for all workers and reparations, the committee will promote financial literacy and education.

Join an Economic Development Committee meeting (https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpdeutpzMuGdW5lyiFgQNNfSbKuD_EvCMM) on the third Monday of every month, or email the co-chairs (economicdev5689@gmail.com) for more information.


Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides

On May 4, 1961, 13 Black and white civil rights advocates boarded a Greyhound bus in Washington, DC, bound for New Orleans. Riding side by side on interstate highways through the Jim Crow south, they sought to test the 1960 U.S. Supreme Court decision that segregation of interstate transportation facilities was unconstitutional. From May to December 1961, over 400 women and men challenged segregation, despite the danger of refuting white supremacy at the time.

On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition, in collaboration with Carolina K-12, will present a free virtual program to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.

The featured speaker will be David J. Dennis, JD, who will recount some of his experiences among the fearless and determined Freedom Riders on the bus and also his work as co-director of Council of Federated Organizations, Mississippi Director of the Congress of Racial Equality, and a coordinator of the Mississippi Freedom Summer.

Also speaking will be Dr. Freddie L. Parker and Dr. William Sturkey, with a facilitated discussion by young leaders Derrick Davis (UNC-CH student) and Joyah Horton (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council).

In addition to elevating this important history, the program will explore the ways in which the struggle for civil rights continues, via discussion with local activists Braxton Foushee, LaTarndra Strong, Jerdene Alston and Ajamu Dillahunt-Holloway, as well as local “artivists” Cortland Gilliam and Jerry Wilson of Black Out Loud. In addition, Chapel Hill Poet Laureate CJ Suitt will deliver a special tribute to Bayard Rustin.

The event is free and open to the public. Attending K-12 teachers can receive continuing education credits, and lesson plans will be provided. Teachers are encouraged to invite their students to attend as well.

Suggested pre-viewing: https://www.pbs.org/video/american-experience-freedom-riders/.


Carrboro is Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community

Mayor Lydia Lavelle has proclaimed the Town of Carrboro to be a 2021 Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community. The local designation supports parents and childcare staff to continue breastfeeding and offering expressed milk when returning to work or school and supports childcare staff with on-site breastfeeding facilities or spaces.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and other leading health organizations, breastfeeding is the optimal food for infants. 

The Carrboro community has attained broad support and direct community actions. The UNC Women’s Hospital and a birthing center, Women’s Birth and Wellness Center, have attained Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative designation; the Orange County Health Department has received the N.C. Breastfeeding Coalition Mother-Baby Clinic Award; and childcare programs in the community have been designated breastfeeding-friendly. 

To learn more about how the Town of Carrboro is helping families to thrive by ensuring that they receive community support to develop and sustain healthy lifestyles, see the proclamation at https://www.townofcarrboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/9062/2021-Breastfeeding-Friendly-Community-Proclamation.


Centers for Disease Control Updates Guidance for Vaccinated People

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people. Some of the changes include the following:

  • Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except in certain crowded settings and venues.
  • Fully vaccinated workers do not need to stay home from work after exposure, as long as they do not have any symptoms.
  • Fully vaccinated people living in a non-healthcare congregate setting no longer need to quarantine after an exposure.
  • Fully vaccinated people who have not been exposed to COVID-19 and do not have any symptoms may be exempted from routine screening testing.

The CDC adds that immunocompromised individuals should check with their doctor about these recommendations.

For more information, read the full CDC document at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html.


Housing Advisory Board Seeking Applicants for the Board

The Town of Chapel Hill is currently seeking three members to serve on its Housing Advisory Board. The three open seats are Affordable Housing Advocate, Homeowner/Tenant and Non-market Rate Housing Resident.

Submit an application online at www.townofchapelhill.org/boards or call 919-968-5014 to request a paper application.

The Housing Advisory Board is made up of nine members appointed by Town Council, including three homeowners or tenants; one non-market rate housing resident; one affordable housing advocate; one non-profit housing provider/professional; one for-profit developer; one real estate broker; and one housing, planning or public policy expert.

Housing Advisory Board members are appointed by the Town Council to serve three-year terms. The Board meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The average time commitment to serve on this board is about 2-4 hours per month. No previous board experience is required—new members will receive training and guidance to support their success.

For questions, call 919-969-5014 or email advisoryboards@townofchapelhill.org.


April 23, 2021

Town of Carrboro Achieves High Financial Ratings

The Town of Carrboro was recently assigned a credit rating of Aa1, the highest of high quality and only one notch below the highest possible rating of Aaa, by Moody’s. Additionally, the Town of Carrboro is rated AAA, the best rating possible, by Standard & Poor’s.

The ratings are key indicators of the town’s financial strength and allow the town to borrow funds at the best possible interest rates, saving taxpayers money.

For more information about the Town of Carrboro budget and debt management, visit http://townofcarrboro.org/175/Finance.


Cary and Greensboro Playwrights’ Forums Present Radio Play Festival

A collaborative audio play festival co-produced by the Cary Playwrights’ Forum and the Greensboro Playwrights’ Forum will present two plays each week, May 8-29, on CPF’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. The plays also will be fully produced on the CPF Radio Hour podcast site, https://cpfradiohour.podbean.com/. In keeping with the season, the theme is “rebirth/renewal.”

Links to the premieres on the CPF Facebook page and YouTube channel will be added on or slightly before each of the four Saturdays. Viewing is free with no required pre-registration; donations are appreciated and can be made by clicking the Donate button at the CPF home page, https://www.caryplaywrightsforum.org/.

The names of directors/editors and cast and information about how to watch the premieres will be available at https://www.caryplaywrightsforum.org/?p=4699.

For questions, contact one of the producers, Christian O’Neal at (christian.b.oneal@gmail.com) or Mike Brannon gsomojo@gmail.com.


Orange County Offers Vaccine Walk-In Clinics

The Orange County Health Department has switched to walk-in clinics for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. No appointment or pre-registration is necessary.

Walk-in clinics will be held every week at the Whitted Building, 300 W. Tryon St., Hillsborough, on Mondays and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The county will host pop-up clinics at other locations throughout the county. For a full schedule of pop-up and walk-in vaccine clinics in Orange County, visit www.orangecountync.gov/getyourshot.

The vaccine is free, and no identification or insurance is required.

If you would like to be notified when clinics are available, you can still register with Orange County at https://redcap.link/OCHDvax or by calling 919-913-8088 seven days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spanish and other languages are available.

To find out when shots are available with the Orange County Health Department or other providers close to you, visit www.myspot.nc.gov and search for your zip code. You can register for an appointment through the website, or you can just arrive during clinic hours and receive a shot. The website will show you other vaccinators within your area and times they are available.

Questions may be directed to covid19vaccine@orangecountync.gov.


County Honors Community Partners in Preventing Eviction

The Orange County Housing and Community Development Department has recognized the exceptional contributions, collaboration and partnership from community organizations in administering eviction and homelessness prevention funds through the Emergency Housing Assistance program. The organizations receiving recognition are Community Empowerment Fund, El Centro Hispano, Family Success Alliance, Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness and Refugee Community Partnership.

These agencies work closely with Orange County residents in need of resources and services, support them throughout the process of seeking assistance, and advocate for housing opportunity and racial equity in the community.
 
In 2020, in partnership and investment from the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, the EHA and Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) programs assisted 1,245 Orange County households and provided more than $4 million in financial assistance, preventing eviction and homelessness and ensuring that residents had stable housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.


HOME Consortium Seeks Public Input on Annual Action Plan

The Orange County HOME Consortium is seeking public input on its draft Annual Action Plan for the fiscal year 2021-22 HOME Program. Each year, Orange County receives funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the HOME Investment Partnerships Program. The county creates an annual action plan that lays out how HOME funds will be spent in the upcoming program year to address the county’s affordable housing needs and priorities. 

For FY 2021-22, Orange County proposes funding projects carried out by three local nonprofit organizations, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County (assistance to low-income households to purchase affordable homes); Pee Wee Homes (funds to develop three units of affordable rental housing for low-income households experiencing homelessness); and EmPOWERment Inc. (funds to acquire two units to be preserved as affordable rental housing).

To see the full draft plan, visit: http://orangecountync.gov/2336/HOME-Program (under “Plans, Reports and Forms”).

The public comment period is open through April 28. Comments may be submitted by mail (P.O. Box 8181, Hillsborough, N.C. 27278), email (ebrandt@orangecountync.gov) or telephone (919-245-4331).


April 22, 2021

Deadline Monday for Artists to Create Vaccine Posters

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro and Day One Relief will pay a local artist or designer $150 to create original poster art that spreads awareness about and encourages COVID-19 vaccination. Artists and designers residing in North Carolina are invited to apply with their portfolio of past work, especially poster design work, as well as a short, written description of the poster and tagline they would create if selected. One applicant will be selected and paid a $150 artist fee to create the poster design, which will be printed by The ArtsCenter and distributed by Day One Relief as part of vaccine rollout. Posters will be distributed to vaccine clinics and providers and community partners across the state, including Elizabeth City State University, NAACP North Carolina and Sunshine Station for Pasquotank/ECSU. As vaccine rollout continues into the summer and fall, applications will reopen to commission more artists to design more posters for more locations.

The request for proposals is available at https://artscenterlive.org/vaccine-poster-project/ in both English and Spanish. The deadline for the first round of proposals is Monday, April 26. Application materials should be emailed to marketing@artscenterlive.org. Artists who are seeking guidance on how to prepare an application or anyone with questions about this project are invited to contact marketing director Patrick Phelps-McKeown at marketing@artscenterlive.org.


Feast on Poetry, Virtually

Carrboro Recreation, Parks and Cultural Resources invites you to celebrate National Poetry Month with a menu of local poets reading from their works. Log on to the virtual event and bring your own your water, wine, or coffee and dessert as you feast on poetry. There will be time for discussion and questions.

Featured poets include: Chris Abbate, Bartholomew Barker, Dan Boehl, Marrow Dowdle, Tara Lynn Groth, Maura High, Jonathan Hopkins, JeanMarie Olivieri, Gary Phillips and Anna Weaver.

To access the event via Zoom, go to https://bit.ly/3arHR9h.


Composting Expands to Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market

The Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market will begin accepting residential food waste at University Place on Saturday, April 24. Coming on the heels of Earth Day, this new drop-off program will divert organic waste from the landfill to create compost, thereby reducing potent greenhouse gas emissions like methane. Residential food waste that is free of plastics, produce stickers and other non-compostable materials can be dropped off during Saturday market hours from 8 a.m. until noon.

A very wide array of organic materials is acceptable, including all food; food-related uncoated paper products, like paper napkins and paper towels; and certified compostable serving-ware that has been approved by Biodegradable Products Institute or other certification organizations. Be sure to remove all stickers, labels, plastic, rubber bands, twist-ties and other contaminants from the food before tossing it in the bin, the rule of thumb being, “When in doubt, leave it out.” Read more about what is — and isn’t — compostable at https://www.orangecountync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2382/Commercial-Composting-Poster-PDF?bidId=.


Carrboro Day Program Online

The annual Carrboro Day Event is scheduled for Sunday, May 2. This year’s event will be presented in a virtual format with activities via YouTube and Zoom. Content will also be shared via the Carrboro Recreation, Parks, & Cultural Resources Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/carrbororec.  

Events this year include music with Saludos Company; an open poetry reading in the round; Storytime with Mr. Keith; a historical presentation on schools in the Carrboro area by local historian Richard Ellington; a historic downtown walking tour; and a virtual art exhibition with Carrboro artist Renzo Ortega.

Visit http://www.carrboroday.com/301/Carrboro-Day for the schedule and details of all of these events.


April 18, 2021

Photo courtesy TownofChapelHill.org

Take the Bus to Vaccination Clinics

Chapel Hill Transit provides service to two UNC Health vaccination clinics and the Orange County Health vaccination clinic, at the RR Lot, 1071 Estes Drive Extension, Chapel Hill.

Routes FCX, S and N provide service to the UNC Friday Center on N.C. 54. From Friday Center Drive, customers can walk to the back of the center to access the UNC Health vaccine clinic. GoTriangle’s routes 800, 800S and 805 also stop at the Friday Center.

GoTriangle’s 420 route provides service to the UNC Health vaccine clinic in Hillsborough. 

Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents who are unable to access fixed route service or need to access the RR Lot can use EZ Rider to get to these vaccination points (you don’t need to be an EZ Rider customer). Book your trip by calling 919-969-4979 or completing the online form at https://www.townofchapelhill.org/government/departments-services/transit/ez-rider/online-reservations.

Chapel Hill Transit asks that customers do not ride the bus if they are sick or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. Face coverings are required on Chapel Hill Transit vehicles. 


CASA Breaks Ground on Perry Place

CASA (Community Alternatives for Supportive Abodes) has broken ground on its newest affordable housing community in Orange County. The site is located along South Merritt Mill Road and straddles the border of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. When completed, the community will be named Perry Place in memory of Northside leader and activist Velma Perry. 

The community will consist of 48 one- and two-bedroom apartment units for individuals and families living at under 60 percent of the Area Median Income. A portion of the apartments will be reserved for people living with disabilities. 

CASA was awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency for this community, as well as an interest-free Workforce Housing Loan. Additional funding for the land and predevelopment costs for Perry Place were provided by Orange County, the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and Strowd Roses Inc. 

Velma Perry was a community leader and activist who lived in the same home in Chapel Hill for 98 years and was a passionate affordable-housing advocate.


Carrboro Seeks Volunteers for Racial Equity Commission

The Town of Carrboro is recruiting for the newly established Racial Equity Commission, a volunteer board empowered to make short-, mid- and long-term recommendations that will make significant progress toward repairing the damage caused by public and private systemic racism, boosting economic mobility and opportunity and creating generational wealth in the Black community. The commission was established by the Carrboro Town Council on Jan. 19.
 
Commission members will serve two-year terms. Interested potential volunteers can find and submit an application at townofcarrboro.org/AdvisoryBoards. An informational flyer is accessible at https://www.townofcarrboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/8721/Racial-Equity-Commission-Flyer.

The mission of the Racial Equity Commission is to educate, provide leadership and facilitate ongoing equitable engagement with the immediate and greater Carrboro community. The focus is to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment that enhances the overall social, physical, mental and economic well-being of Carrboro. The town seeks to incorporate equitable policies, procedures and practices for real change based on both short- and long-term strategies to address disparities. Necessary resources and budgetary appropriations can start immediately to build greater equity within the community.

The commission will comprise nine members who complete race and equity training provided by the town’s core team. Members will include four representatives from the community (two who have lived in the community for at least 20 years and two for at least 10 years and should have a lived experience based on being a person of color); one youth representative between the ages of 15 and 18 years old who lives in Carrboro and works in or attends public, private or homeschool classes; and one representative each from the Affordable Housing Advisory Commission, the Environmental Advisory Board, the Economic Sustainability Commission and the Farmer’s Market Board. There will also be three non-voting town representatives — two Town Council liaisons and one staff liaison, the Town Race and Equity Officer.

For more information, contact the Town Clerk’s Office at cdorando@townofcarrboro.org or 919-918-7309. 


Grant to Animal Services Aids Kittens

Orange County Animal Services has received a grant of $25,000 from Petco Love to fund its kitten foster program. The grant will be used to provide medications, vaccines and medical care for kittens in the foster program at OCAS. The grant will also be used to increase the amount and quality of care provided in order to help even more kittens in the program grow strong and remain healthy in their foster homes.

For more information about the kitten foster program at OCAS, visit http://www.orangecountync.gov/290/Kitten-Foster-Program.


Orange County Program Supports Sexual Assault Survivors

The Orange County Local Reentry Council will host “Understanding Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence and Trauma” on Tuesday, April 27, at 10 a.m. The Orange County Rape Crisis Center will present on sexual violence and tools to be used by service providers when interacting with survivors. Join the meeting at www.orangecountync.gov/Survivors.


County Fosters Understanding of Reentry Challenges

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper has declared April as Second Chance Month to recognize the hurdles many formerly incarcerated people face as they reacclimate to society. Several virtual events are being held this month to bring greater awareness to the issue and highlight support programs available in the Orange County.

The Orange County Local Reentry Council Stigma & Recovery Support Services is hosting a free virtual event at 10 a.m. on April 21. Troy Manns, the statewide manager of advocacy and education for Recovery Communities of North Carolina, will present on stigma and recovery support services. Join the meeting at www.orangecountync.gov/stigma.

The Coordinated Local Reentry Council for Orange County will host its regular meeting on April 23. The public is invited to participate in this live virtual event hosted by the Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Department and the Orange County Health Department. Join the meeting at www.orangecountync.gov/ReentryMeeting. For more information, contact Keith Patterson, local reentry council coordinator, at 919-245-2064.


Carrboro Roundabout Traffic Shifts on April 20

The N.C. Department of Transportation contractors plan to shift traffic between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, onto a new roundabout at the intersection of Greensboro Street and Estes Drive.

Once open, approaching drivers will yield to any vehicles or bicyclists already in the roundabout. Drivers should also use turn signals when exiting and yield to pedestrians using crosswalks at the roundabout.

A short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6uYbj7Gtyo will show how easy it is to maneuver through a roundabout.


Carrboro Town Council

Carrboro Grant Helps Affordable Housing on Cobb Street

The Carrboro Town Council granted $100,000 from its Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund in support of the construction of four new units (two duplexes) on Cobb Street in the Northside neighborhood. These homes will be energy efficient and affordable to households earning between 30 percent and 80 percent of the Area Median Income. The two ground-floor units will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. 

The project is the culmination of a collaboration among the Compass group, Northside Neighborhood Initiative, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, Self Help Ventures Fund, Habitat for Humanity and the Town of Carrboro.


April 14, 2021

Property Tax Assistance For Elderly and Permanently Disabled Residents

The N.C. General Assembly offers three programs to help low-income elderly and disabled homeowners obtain tax relief: the Elderly and Disabled Exclusion, the Disabled Veteran Exclusion, and the Circuit Breaker Tax Deferment. To obtain any of these, complete the application found at https://www.orangecountync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/14227/2021-PROPERTY-TAX-RELIEF-APPLICATION-PACKET.

In addition, those totally and permanently disabled need to complete a Certification of Disability (https://files.nc.gov/ncdor/documents/files/av9a.pdf).

The Homestead Exclusion Program assists homeowners 65 and older or who are permanently disabled on Jan. 1 and have income below $31,500. Applicants must have owned the home as of Jan. 1 and use it as their permanent residence in order to receive an exclusion of the taxable value of their residence of either $25,000 or 50%, whichever is greater. Apply with the Assessor’s Office between Jan. 1 and June 1.

People applying for the Homestead Exclusion Program may also qualify for payment assistance with their Solid Waste Programs Fee (https://www.orangecountync.gov/1797/Solid-Waste-Programs-Fee-Financial-Assis). Submit the application with the Homestead Exclusion Application.

The Circuit Breaker Tax Deferment creates a lien on property and is a tax-deferment program that caps the current property tax obligation for eligible taxpayers at a percentage of their income. Taxes, interest, penalties and fees in excess of the circuit breaker tax “ceiling” are deferred and are not payable until a disqualifying event occurs, such as if the owner transfers the residence, dies or ceases to use the property as a permanent residence. Multiple owners of a permanent residence must all qualify for the circuit breaker.

For questions about any of these programs or to schedule an appointment to speak to a staff member, contact the Orange County Tax Office at 919-245-2100, option 2.


Spring Green Home Tour a Hybrid Event

The High Performance Building Council of the Triangle, a joint council of the Home Builders Associations of Durham, Orange and Chatham counties and of Raleigh-Wake County, will hold its 2021 Spring Green Home Tour on April 24-25 and May 1-2.

This year’s tour will have some homes open for in-person touring, and all 18 homes will have their own online tours. A 3D virtual tour will stay live through the end of 2021 (SpringGreenHomeTour.com). The tour will showcase a variety of excellent examples of green home construction at various levels of national certification, with links for the public to reach out to building professionals with questions.

Attendees will be able to interact with the builders and onsite representatives (whether online or in person) to learn more about what’s involved in meeting stringent green building requirements. Homes entered in the tour may be in various stages of construction or owner occupied.

According to Home Innovation Research Labs, North Carolina continues to be ranked first in the country in the number of National Green Building Standard-certified single-family homes.

For more information about the tour, call (919) 493-8899, email julie@hbadoc.com, or visit the Tour pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Chapel Hill-Carrboro Creek Cleanup Ends April 17

The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro are inviting residents and businesses to help clean our urban streams this spring (https://www.townofchapelhill.org/government/departments-services/public-works/stormwater-management/public-education-and-participation/annual-cleanup-with-carrboro#ad-image-0).

So far, 60 residents in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have removed over 1,500 pounds of trash from our local watersheds. The goal is to top 2,000 pounds.

Participants can enter to win prizes by completing the Litter Cleanup Data Sheet on Survey123 (https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/3f7db8f6d3df41cc974c86b09ebf6ea8). The data sheet will be open to the public until April 17. Prizes include reusable straws, cloth grocery bags, water bottles and more.

All trash should be bagged and put into your trash can. If you have more trash than will fit in your trash can, take it to one of the Waste and Recycling Centers, 1514 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill or 1616 Ferguson Road in Chapel Hill.

Learn more at http://bit.ly/JointCleanup, or contact Sammy Bauer at 919-968-2715 or sbauer@townofchapelhill.org or Heather Holley at 919-918-7426 or hholley@townofcarrboro.org.


Memorial Day Ceremony Planned at Orange County Veterans Memorial

The Veterans Memorial Planning Committee will hold its annual tribute to the women and men in our armed services who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, beginning at 7:45 a.m. The special ceremony will be held at the site of the future Orange County Veterans Memorial near the Orange County Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road. To learn more about the planned memorial, visit https://ocveteransmemorial.com/.


Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused for Review

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services sent a message to health care providers around the state advising that they follow the federal recommendation to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration review data about an extremely rare type of blood clot that has been reported in six people who received that vaccine in the United States.

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving a rare and severe type of blood clot that was reported in six people after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. For people who got the vaccine more than a month ago, the risk to them is very low at this time.

There are three vaccines available. These events have not occurred with the other two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.


Parks and Recreation Releases Summer Recreation Programs and Summer Camp Guide

Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation is releasing its summer recreation program guide titled RECREATE. It will also contain a six-page Summer Camp Guide.

A mix of summer programs and activities for all ages and skill levels will be offered. The numerous indoor, outdoor and virtual programs this summer include Trivia Nights, Glow in the Dark Archery, Art In The Park, virtual Drawing for Comics, and much more.

Chapel Hill residents may register for summer recreation programs and specialty camps beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 4, and for summer day camps at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12. Nonresidents may register for the programs and camps beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 11, and for day camps at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 19.

All summer camps will be running at a limited capacity this year, and everything possible will be done to make sure as many kids as possible still get to go to camp.

Recreation programs and summer camps can be viewed and downloaded at https://www.townofchapelhill.org/home/showpublisheddocument?id=48633. The printed edition will be available at recreation centers and the Chapel Hill Public Library on Monday, April 19.
For more information about Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation, visit www.chapelhillparks.org.


Share Your Input on Community Celebrations in Chapel Hill

Over the next two weeks, residents are invited to share their personal thoughts about Chapel Hill celebrations by completing an online survey and/or participating in a virtual open house.

The 5-minute online survey is available in both Spanish and English at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7ByOIPD0CRCKPAzxuu5lXfrNlLANnA7pLe6ieoKaaDpxOOA/viewform. The survey is open until Sunday, April 25, and is anonymous.

On Thursday, April 15, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., community members are invited to drop into various Zoom breakout rooms to discuss festivals and events in Chapel Hill. Topics include location and family-focused, adult-centric and uniquely Chapel Hill events. Registration is not required but appreciated. Email artsandculture@townofchapelhill.org to receive the Zoom link or visit chapelhillarts.org/communityinput.

The Community Arts & Culture division of the town is coordinating this project. Project findings will be shared with the community in early summer. To learn more about the project, visit chapelhillarts.org/communityinput.


April 10, 2021

Celebrate Earth Day All Month Long

The Town of Chapel Hill has created a month-long guide of fun (and COVID-friendly) activities, workshops and challenges to inspire love for our local environment. Called April Is for the Earth, the program invites residents to get outside, appreciate natural spaces and learn about local sustainability efforts. Go to chapelhillarts.org/earthday for the full schedule of programming.


Mayor Lavelle Signs Monarch Pledge

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle has signed the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, a step aimed at protecting the iconic butterfly, which has experienced a 90 percent decrease in eastern population.

Through the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, U.S. cities, municipalities and other communities are committing to create habitats for the monarch butterfly and pollinators and to educate community members about how to make a difference at home and in their community.  

Actions to increase pollinator habitat throughout Carrboro include a proclamation to raise awareness about the decline of the monarch butterfly and the species’ need for habitats; a public communication effort to encourage residents to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their neighborhoods; native seed or plant sales, giveaways or swaps; monarch neighborhood challenges to engage neighborhoods and homeowners’ associations within the community to increase awareness and create habitats for the monarch butterfly; an invasive-species removal program that will support the re-establishment of native habitats for monarch butterflies and other pollinators; and educational signage at monarch gardens and pollinator habitats beyond monarch demonstration gardens.

Learn more about the Monarch Pledge at https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Extended Through May 6

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) has extended its assistance through May 6. Volunteers provide free federal and N.C. state income tax preparation to eligible individuals with low-to-moderate income regardless of age or county of residence. The Internal Revenue Service and N.C. Department of Revenue have extended the tax filing deadline to May 17.

As of April 1, VITA closed its virtual service and now provides only a do-it-yourself program and drop-off services. 

Drop-off VITA is by appointment only on Thursdays through May 6 at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill and on Wednesdays at the Passmore Center in Hillsborough.

For DIY VITA, certified volunteers are offering assistance by email through May 7. The DIY service is powered by TaxSlayer, free software to prepare and e-file your own taxes.

Unfortunately, VITA is not able to assist foreign students this year.

Go to http://www.orangecountync.gov/254/Tax-Assistance to learn more and schedule an appointment.


Frank Porter Graham Bilingue PTA president Alana Argersinger, dressed as the school mascot, a flying lion, welcomes fourth graders Daniela Schwartz, left, and Alma Lee on the first day of full-time in-person classes. Contributed photo.

Schools Reopen for Full-Time Option

On April 5, elementary school students throughout Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools entered their school buildings and saw their teachers in person for the first time in more than a year. The welcome back at Frank Porter Graham Bilingue included health screenings and temperature checks in the drop-off lane, traffic backups along Smith Level Road and a creative hello from the PTA.

Some students began in-person classes in mid-March after the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board offered a hybrid model of teaching that opened schools to in-person classes two days a week. Few parents chose that option. Then on March 11, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill requiring schools to offer optional full-time in-person instruction. Many parents who turned down the part-time model chose to send their children back to school full time.


April 7, 2021

Chelsea Theater photo courtesy VisitChapelHill.org

Open House at Chelsea Theater

The Chelsea Theater is hosting a public open house Saturday, April 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Attendees will be able to see the renovated theaters and test the new seats, pick up membership materials or sign up for a membership, and purchase posters and Chelsea Theater T-shirts. There will also be fresh Chelsea popcorn.

The Chelsea is located in Timberlyne Shopping Center, 1129 Weaver Dairy Road, Suite AB, Chapel Hill.


Where to Get Free COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 testing is available in Chapel Hill every weekday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road. Testing will take place in the large conference room inside the front entrance. Preregistration is encouraged and may be done online at https://lhi.care/covidtesting

In Hillsborough, COVID-19 testing is available every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Whitted Human Services Center, 300 W. Tryon St. Preregistration is encouraged and may be done online by going to https://unityphm.com/campaigns/starmed; select Orange County.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, has been around people outside of their household, or thinks they have been exposed to the virus should get tested. 


Everyone 16+ Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine

Everyone 16 and older in North Carolina is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

To register with the Orange County Health Department to get your vaccine, complete the Vaccine Interest Form at https://redcap.link/OCHDvax or call 919-913-8088. The phone line is operated daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spanish and other languages are available.

To see a full list of other places to get the vaccine, go to myspot.nc.gov or call 888-892-1162.


Fordham Side Path Public Information Meeting

The public is invited to join a virtual public information meeting on Monday, April 12, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. to review the current plans and next steps for the development of the Fordham Boulevard side path.

The Town of Chapel Hill is in the design phase for a multi-use side path along Fordham Boulevard between Cleland Drive and Willow Drive. At this meeting, team members will share the construction plans, including the layout of the side path, landscaping, traffic calming mechanisms selected for Hickory Drive and two intersections with Fordham Boulevard. There will also be on-site information meetings with the project manager and other team members to review the path’s alignment.

Attendees may register in advance for this live webinar to ask questions and to provide input. For more information, contact Marcia Purvis, project manager, at mpurvis@townofchapelhill.org or by phone at 919-968-2750.


PORCH Certified as Living Wage Employer

PORCH (People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes) has been certified by Orange County Living Wage as a living wage employer. PORCH strives to “alleviate hunger and promote better nutrition in the community,” according to executive director Sarah Dudzic, who notes: “As an organization whose mission is to provide hunger relief, we don’t want our own employees facing food insecurity.” Find out more about PORCH’s mission and how to get involved at ChapelHill.PorchCommunities.org


Exhibit Documents Black Women in Local Civil Rights Movements

In partnership with the Chapel Hill Public Library, Chapel Hill-area historians launched a new online exhibit on the Chapel Hill Community History website (https://chapelhillhistory.org/) to document the role of Black women in local civil rights movements. 

Led by community historian Danita Mason-Hogans, the exhibit, “I Was Still Singing,” presents the perspectives of Black women who have shaped the town’s history, telling previously untold stories in the community. The stories of the exhibit center on policies that impacted the Black community in Chapel Hill, Mason-Hogans said. Black women could not afford to focus on just one issue, she said, because the policy issues were and continue to be so fundamentally interconnected.

Community members may directly engage with the exhibit through a “community journal.” Through June, community members may submit their reflections — written pieces, artwork and more — to the CHPL, which will create the journal. Submissions can be made in person at the CHPL or online at https://chapelhillhistory.org/.


HDC Adopts Revised Design Principles & Standards

On March 18, the Chapel Hill Historic District Commission adopted the final draft of the Principles & Standards. The HDC and town staff apply the Principles & Standards to the Certificate of Appropriateness review process. COAs are required for exterior alterations to buildings, sites and structures in the local historic districts of Franklin-Rosemary, Cameron-McCauley and Gimghoul. The revised document ensures that alterations are compatible with the historic character of these districts.
In summer 2019, North Carolina’s Historic Preservation Office awarded the Town of Chapel Hill a federal Historic Preservation Fund grant of $10,000 to revise the historic district’s design standards. The town allocated another $15,000 to the project.


Police Seek Help in Armed Robbery

The Chapel Hill Police Department needs your help identifying a suspect in connection with an armed robbery that occurred at the PNC Bank located at 841 Willow Drive. 

On April 3, at 12:46 p.m., the suspect entered the bank, displayed a weapon and stole cash. The suspect, described as a black male about 5’10” tall, weighing about 150-160 lbs., was last seen leaving the bank and running toward Conner Drive. He was wearing a dark blue UNC hat, sunglasses, a blue shirt, green jacket, dark-colored blue jeans and purple surgical gloves. 

If you have information, please call the Chapel Hill Police Department Watch Commander at 919-612-8240, Orange County Communications by calling 911 or 919-732-5063, or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.


April 3, 2021

Mayor Hemminger Signs Monarch Pledge

On March 30, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger joined mayors and other leaders from across the United States, Canada and Mexico in signing the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, a step aimed at protecting the iconic butterfly, which has experienced a 90 percent decrease in eastern population.

Through the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, U.S. cities, municipalities and other communities are committing to create habitats for the monarch butterfly and pollinators and to educate community members about how they can make a difference at home and in their community.  

Information on how to plant a pesticide-free monarch habitat garden can be found at https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly

Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation will lead the town’s involvement in this new initiative. For more information or to get involved, contact department staff at parksrec@townofchapelhill.org, or call 919-968-2784.


All Adults Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine Beginning April 7

All adults will become eligible to receive a COVID vaccine on April 7. Orange County Health Department offers online registration at https://redcap.link/OCHDvax. Individuals who cannot access the Internet or need assistance filling out the form can register by calling 919-913-8088 seven days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spanish and other languages are available. The call center is closed April 2-4 for the Easter weekend.


Economic Development Provides Almost $1M in Assistance to Small Businesses, Farmers During Pandemic

Orange County Economic Development awarded 188 grants totaling almost $1 million to local businesses and farmers from various financial-assistance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Out of 509 grant applications received, 188 were awarded, including to 94 women-owned businesses and 27 minority-owned businesses. The value of the grants awarded totaled $954,759.58.


2021 Property Tax Revaluation Complete

Notices of updated property values have been mailed and reflect the value of your property as of Jan. 1, 2021.

A revaluation is required by N.C. statutes at least every eight years, and Orange County follows a four-year schedule. The last revaluation in Orange County was effective Jan. 1, 2017. The purpose is to redistribute the tax burden based on current market data and maintain equitable and uniform property values among property owners throughout the county. As time elapses between revaluations, properties may increase or decrease in market value at different rates.

If you believe that the Jan. 1, 2021, value of your property is not correct, you may file an appeal. An informal appeal form is included with your revaluation notice. Appeals may be mailed, put in the drop box at the front door of the Tax Office in Hillsborough, emailed or submitted online. To appeal online, use the Online Appeals Tool at https://appeals.spatialest.com/nc-orange.

You can contact the Tax Office by phone, email or mail or chat online, https://www.orangecountync.gov/842/Chat. Although the office is restricting entrance due to the pandemic, you can make an appointment for assistance in person as needed by calling 919-245-2100, option 2, or emailing reval@orangecountync.gov. Masks must be worn.

Review property information at the Property Record Card Search at https://property.spatialest.com/nc/orange/#/. Review sales in your area at https://nc-orange-citizen.comper.info/template.aspx.

If you have not yet received your revaluation notice, you may contact the Tax Administration office for a duplicate copy.

For previous news briefs, click here to read the News Briefs Archive page.

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2 Comments on "News Briefs"

  1. Thank you for local news. I didn’t realize I was hungry for local news until I found you. I come from a small college town in Ohio and I was accustomed to having local news available in our weekly town newspaper. Now I see what I’ve been missing since moving here. Thank you!!

  2. Could you please do an article on the occupancy rate at the new apartment buildings around town—on Legion Rd, on Fordham Blvd, on Estes? They don’t appear to have many residents. Thanks.

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