News Briefs


Free Weekly Virus Testing

Orange County is now offering free coronavirus testing every Wednesday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the R7 Parking Lot at 725 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Chapel Hill.

Registration for the tests will occur on-site. Those wanting to be tested can meet with an on-site provider prior to testing.

The tests will be nasal swabs and results will be available on average in three days. Providers will contact patients via text message with positive or negative results. 

Bus Route Change

Beginning Monday, Sept. 21, Chapel Hill Transit will no longer serve the Friday Center South Park and Ride Lot (formerly the NC 54 Park and Ride Lot).

The bus S route will begin and end at the Friday Center Park and Ride Lot and will follow the normal routing and continue to serve all stops along NC Highway 54. There will be no changes to the schedule and the Friday Center South Park and Ride Lot timepoint will be used at the Friday Center Park and Ride Lot.

Applicants Needed

The Town of Chapel Hill is seeking volunteers to serve on various standing boards and commissions that advise the Town Council on a wide range of issues.

Appointed members to the boards and commissions meet approximately once or twice per month and are eligible for a three-year term.

No experience is necessary to apply. For more information, eligibility requirements or to complete an application, visit

 The council will make appointments in October and November.

Animal Services Launches Assistance Program

Orange County Animal Services is now offering a new Veterinary Care Assistance Program.

The program was created to assist county residents who are having difficulties affording veterinary care, especially due to challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and to help keep more pets in their homes with their families.

The veterinary care fund will be available to Orange County residents based on their needs and ability to meet income criteria. Obtaining this assistance would require collaboration with local veterinarians or specialists, and may cover full or partial expenses for treatable, non-emergency care, such as skin and ear conditions (including allergies and flea/tick treatment), dental issues, arthritis and other painful conditions, upper respiratory infections, vomiting and diarrhea, urinary tract infections, minor surgeries, etc.

Due to time constraints, time-sensitive, life-threatening conditions will not be considered (such as emergency surgery for foreign bodies, emergency orthopedic issues, etc.). Currently, these funds are not available for routine, preventative care such as yearly visits to a veterinarian.

Visit for more information and to fill out a form to apply for assistance. Animal Services is currently asking for help to fund the program by encouraging donations online at Monetary donations can also be mailed to the Animal Services Center at 1601 Eubanks Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

Feedback Sought on Corridor Study

The public can give feedback on proposed highway, transit, bicycle and pedestrian improvements in the US 15-501 corridor between Durham and Chapel Hill.

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization is seeking that public feedback through Oct. 15 on the US 15-501 Corridor Study, which integrates land use, public plans and a transportation vision for the corridor. Members of the public can provide a comment via email or speak directly to the DCHC MPO Board at an Oct. 14 public hearing.

Those needing assistance to access documents or to provide feedback should request it by email or contact Andy Henry, 919-560-4366, ext. 36419.

CHPD Reports Vehicle Break-ins Increasing

The Chapel Hill Police Department says it has seen a sharp increase in break-ins to unattended motor vehicles this year, and that three simple steps could help reduce those crimes.

Residents have reported 215 cases of breaking and entering to a motor vehicle since mid-March 2020. That is a 74-percent increase compared to the same time frame last year (123, from March 13 to Sept. 15, 2019).

The CHPD says it has received numerous reports that the vehicles were entered, with the suspects going through the center console, glove box, and other areas looking for valuables. Even spare change is often reported stolen.

“The most concerning larceny from a motor vehicle that we saw was that of two handguns over the weekend,” said Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue. “Firearms should be secured at all times. Period. Leaving a gun in a vehicle, unlocked, is not adequately secured.”

Blue urged local residents to “please lock your doors, roll up your windows and store your valuables out of sight.” These are, he said, “quick, easy steps. In most of these cases, subjects are walking vehicle to vehicle and pulling door handles. If they’re locked — as long as they don’t see something that appears to be valuable — we hope they will move along.”

Task Force Seeking Applicants

Applications are now being accepted from Chapel Hill residents wishing to serve on the town’s Reimagining Community Safety Task Force that is scheduled to be appointed by the Town Council in October.

The council announced its intention to establish this task force on developing new community approaches to improve racial equity and safety in a resolution at its June 24 virtual meeting ( The council established two subcommittees at its Sept. 9 virtual meeting (, one to finalize the charge of the task force and the other to select 13 members and two alternates to serve on the task force.

For more information about the Reimagining Community Safety Task Force, visit Applications will be accepted through Sept. 28. Apply at

Towns Reopen Some Facilities

As of Sept. 11, a number of Carrboro’s recreation facilities have reopened.

They include: Park pavilions/picnic shelters, playgrounds, the dog park at Hank Anderson Park and the bicycle pump tracks at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

For facilities like pickleball courts and soccer fields, reservations are now being accepted, but are limited to a maximum of 25 people.  All other reservations remain suspended until further notice, including all reservations for the Century Center.

Indoor town facilities remain closed.

In Chapel Hill, also as of Sept. 11, now open are playgrounds, picnic shelter reservations, the bocce court, the sand volleyball courts and tennis and pickleball courts.

Food Drive Volunteers Needed 

The Town of Chapel Hill needs volunteers to help with the weekly food bank distributions. As the number of weeks in pandemic continue to grow so does the need for more volunteers.

Community members in need of food assistance can view the weekly food distribution schedule.

If you’re able to volunteer a few hours (up to 4), sign up at The food bank distribution takes place at the Eubanks Park and Ride lot.

New Phase for County Reopening

Orange County is moving into Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase 2.5 of the statewide reopening plan — but with a few exceptions.

In the county, the limit on mass gatherings will remain at 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, as opposed to the governor’s new limit of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors. According to county officials, this limit will be reconsidered when the county’s positivity rate for COVID tests decreases to 5 percent. It is currently at almost 10 percent, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“We need the community to partner with us in order to get the positivity rate down to 5 percent for a sustained amount of time,” said Penny Rich, chair of the Orange County Commissioners.

State restrictions under the governor’s executive order will remain in effect in Orange County through Oct. 31 despite the state expiration date of Oct. 2.

 Meanwhile, playgrounds in the will open Sept. 11, along with some picnic shelters, dog parks and tennis and pickleball courts.  

An Easier Way to Request a Ballot

Not sure about how to request an absentee ballot for the November election?

You can now request one completely online.

You don’t have to print it, scan it in or mail it on to the Orange County Board of Elections. All you have to do now is go to where you fill out a simple form to request your ballot. It takes only a few minutes.

The Orange County Board of Elections will begin sending out absentee ballots beginning Friday, Sept. 4. The board is encouraging those who went to vote absentee to send their requests in early.   

Voters who receive a mailed absentee ballot may still vote in person on Election Day or during early voting as long as the mailed absentee ballot has not been returned.

10by10 Ready to Stream 

Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s OdysseyStage is offering a new approach to the annual NC 10by10 Play Festival.

Odyssey and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum are each producing five ten-minute plays by North Carolina playwrights and then all ten will be presented in a single production. The plays, which will be streaming online Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26, have been adapted for online performance. This year, with a new performance platform, the productions are expected to reach fans of ten-minute plays across the country and around the world.

OdysseyStage, along with the forum, reviewed script submissions from across North Carolina. Playwright Mike Brannon, whose work “The Kindness of Strangers” will be one of the plays presented, said he appreciates the professionalism of Odyssey and the forum from previous festivals. “It’s fantastic to see them fighting to keep theater alive through this presentation of the NC10by10 festival,” Brannon said.

The play festival maintains the summer tradition of the original 10X10 in the Triangle, a staple at the Carrboro ArtsCenter for 15 years. Since 2018, the two theater companies have collaborated to engage more than 100 artists and crew from across the Triangle.

Each ticket provides access to the festival for 24 hours. Suggested donation is $5; see for more details and tickets.

ArtsCenter Offers In-Person Classes

The Carrboro ArtsCenter is now offering select ArtSchool classes in-person.

These classes are conducted with minimal class size, social distancing, mandatory masking and outdoor settings where possible.

Among the new in-person classes are a ceramics glazing workshop and a continuing watercolor painting class.

For more information about ArtSchool, contact ArtSchool Director Jenks Miller at

Eno River Group Revises Fall Programs

Due to safety concerns stemming from the ongoing global pandemic, the Eno River Association is re-imagining several of its popular in-person fall events and programs. The association will focus its efforts on small group and individual programs that highlight the natural, cultural and historic resources of the Eno River basin in Orange and Durham counties.

The association plans to provide environmental education programs for individuals, small groups and families throughout the fall, and supplemental STEM educational programs for local students and learning pods. Additionally, to offset the cancellation of large group stewardship and trail workdays, the association will be supporting small group service projects for workplaces, families and pandemic pods.

“Having access to safe, outdoor activities has never been more essential to the health of our community,” said Jessica Sheffield, the organization’s executive director. “Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, citizens have flocked to our parks for recreation and respite in record numbers. Never has the need for open spaces and safe, outdoor activities been more apparent.”

On Oct. 3, the association will host an education event at their Confluence Natural Area. The program will feature some of the popular activities from their Eno River Field Station and iWalk the Eno Summer Camp program and will support youth and adults of all ages. Attendance will be limited, and participants will be required to sign-up for specific timeslots.

The association’s education team has also created a catalog of available programming ranging from hands-on STEM activities to local history topics to cultural arts. Learning pods are encouraged to use these resources, as well as online educational videos and other self-serve
content, to create physical or virtual field trips to the Eno River this fall.

For more information, go to

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