News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS

Work Begins on BLM Mural

Artist Tyrone Small and a student artist team has begun work this week on a Black Lives Matter mural on the side of the CommunityWorx building facing West Main Street in Carrboro.

The team expects to complete the mural by Dec. 20. Work on the project will take place in the afternoons and weekends, and will be done with mask-wearing and social distancing protocols. 

“We are extremely excited for this new public art project,” said Anita Jones-McNair, the town’s race and equity officer.  “The Black Lives Matter mural highlights and advocates for values that are important to Carrboro. It expresses our community’s acknowledgment of and opposition to systemic and institutional racism.”


No Waffling: Shop is Finished

One of the oldest restaurants in town, Ye Olde Waffle Shop, is now, definitively, old and gone.

The long-time Franklin Street mainstay has announced on its Facebook page that it is closing permanently. A staple of downtown since 1972, the restaurant said it had been done in by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After much consideration, we have decided to close Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe,” the owners posted. “It is hard to imagine waking up in the morning and not heading over to Ye Olde to prepare breakfast for the town of Chapel Hill, as it has been our norm for over 48 years. However, from a public health perspective and due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, it is the right choice for us.”

The waffle shop joins a growing list of deeply rooted local restaurants that have been forced to close because of COVID, including Elmo’s and K&W cafeteria, among others. Newer places have closed, too, including Lula’s on Franklin Street and City Kitchen and in recent weeks, the 2nd Wind bar, in Carrboro.


Mark Chilton

Chilton Gets Award

The Chapel Hill Historical Society recently presented its first Community History Award to Mark Chilton, Orange County register of deeds.

The award recognized Chilton’s significant contributions to the acquisition, presentation and conservation of vital records in Orange County. Following the presentation of the award by society vice president Richard Ellington, Chilton talked about some of his work, focusing on his efforts to make records more accessible and searchable. This includes efforts to digitize and provide abstracts of handwritten deeds dating from 1752 to the 1870s.

A You Tube video of the award ceremony presentation is available here.


Small Business Saturday in Carrboro

Two days after Thanksgiving will be Small Business Saturday in Carrboro.  

“This year, more than ever, supporting our local businesses is even more necessary to their survival; support is easily accomplished in-person or virtually, and by purchase of items or by gift cards for future use,” Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said in a proclamation. “I urge all Carrboro residents to make an extra effort to support our local businesses in Carrboro on this day, especially during this challenging year.”

Advocacy groups across the country, including the Carrboro Business Alliance, have endorsed Saturday, Nov. 28, as Small Business Saturday.

There are more than 385 small businesses in Carrboro, making up 95 percent of all businesses in the town.  


Socks for the Homeless

The East Chapel Hill High School Benevolence Club is holding a sock drive for those who are homeless in Chapel Hill.

The club is collecting new socks which will then be delivered to various facilities, shelters and rehabilitation centers. The drive will run through Dec.18.  In the past, the club has donated to a women’s rehabilitation facility and several homeless shelters as well as directly to people living under bridges and overpasses.   

New socks in any size (with tags on if possible) can be dropped in the club’s collection boxes.  The boxes are located at Cha House, Purple Bowl and Rumors, all on Franklin Street, and Coco Bean Market on Environ Way.

For more information, see @east.benevolence.club on Instagram.


Trail Nearing Completion

The Bolin Creek Trail connector project is finally nearing completion.

Barring any significant rain or inclement weather events, the entire connector projects should be completed later this year, providing direct access to parks, schools, shopping districts, neighborhoods and the UNC campus by foot or bicycle from the community center.  

Work on the connector will continue this week, with the contractor replacing the old asphalt section of the greenway with a more resilient concrete path between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Bolinwood Drive. While this work is occurring, segments of the trail will not be accessible. Signs providing alternative routes are located at the greenway entrance on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Bolinwood Drive.  


Chilton Honored

The Chapel Hill Historical Society we’ll present Mark Chilton, Orange County register of deeds, with its first Community History Award. The presentation will be made Sunday at 3 p.m.

Chilton began his political career as a UNC student by serving on the Chapel Hill Town Council. He later served as an alderman in Carrboro and as mayor there. In 2014 he was elected as register, where he is responsible for taking care of Orange County’s historical records and vital records.


Thrift Shop Closing

The longtime thrift shop CommunityWorx will close its Chapel Hill location on South Elliott Road as it makes plans to open a new store online.

The CommunityWorx Online Thrift Shop “will showcase high end and unique merchandise,” starting in December, said officials with the Carrboro-based nonprofit in a news release. The organization formerly known as the PTA Thrift Shop will continue to operate its store on West Main Street. That store will expand its hours to seven days a week.

The Chapel Hill store, located near Whole Foods, will accept donations until Nov. 29, chief operating officer Erik Valera said in the release. CommunityWorx negotiated an end to the Chapel Hill lease with Regency Centers, which owns the Village Plaza shopping center.

The store has operated on South Elliott Road since 1981.


Crafts for Sale

Preservation Chapel Hill will host its annual local craft exhibit and sale from Nov. 29 through Dec. 24.

On display will be fine woodturnings, pottery and more. The exhibit will take place at the Horace Williams House, 610 East Rosemary Street, Thursdays through Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact preservationchapelhill.org.


Visitor Center Reopens

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitor Center has reopened its welcome center at 501 W. Franklin Street following an extended closure because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With new safety measures in place, the center is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to welcome visitors, offer information services and provide updates on local attractions, museums, hotels and walking tours. 

Visitor Center amenities include a public restroom, complimentary parking in the back (Bentley Building) parking lot and various gift items for sale by cash or check. 

Visitors are required to wear masks and maintain six feet of physical distance to provide a safe experience for all visitors. If needed, face coverings will be provided and disposable gloves will be available for brochure browsing.

For more information, visit VisitChapelHill.org, call (919) 245-4320 or email info@visitchapelhill.org.


OWASA Launches Campaign

OWASA’s second-annual Care to Share Day on Thursday will help raise funds for the Care to Share bill-assistance program administered by the water utility and the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service.

For this year’s day, OWASA is asking the community to get involved and help spread the message about the program on social media. Between now and Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, the utility is asking community members to imagine a day without water.

No drinking water from the tap. No water for making coffee or cooking. No water for a shower or clean laundry. Residents can post a short video to Facebook or Twitter about what a day without water would mean to them, tag OWASA and two friends, and use the hashtag #CareToShare with a link to the donation page.

More information is available about how to donate to the Care to Share program through an on-bill monthly donation or through a one-time gift.


A Time for Trees

The Town of Chapel Hill will celebrate Arbor Day at 9:45 a.m., Friday.

Students from Glenwood Elementary School have been invited to join Mayor Pam Hemminger, staff members of the parks and recreation department and the N.C. Forest Service to participate in the celebration. Community members can view the presentation virtually through Zoom at Arbor Day Celebration.

Hemminger will read an Arbor Day Proclamation and accept the Tree City USA Award from the forest service. Third-grade students from Glenwood will share poems they have written about trees. Also, a short video of the parks and recreation department planting five Emerald Arborvitae trees near Town Hall at the Stephens Street parking lot will be shared.


BIPOC Business on the Agenda

The Carrboro Department of Economic Development will hold a BIPOC Business Roundtable discussion at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

At the roundtable, the town seeks to hear the needs and challenges of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and People of Color businesses in Carrboro, and the role the town needs to play to help businesses start and grow.

Businesses interested in participating in the roundtable discussions are asked to pre-register. To register and for more information, visit www.townofcarrboro.org/152/Economic-Development


Jones to Take NAACP Helm

Dawna Jones, an assistant dean of students at UNC has been elected as the next branch president, of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP.

Diane Robertson, Joal Broun and Anna Richards were elected to vice-president positions. Paris Miller and Margaret Krome-Lukens were elected secretary and assistant secretary, respectively, while Deborah Stroman will serve as treasurer and Lonnie Merrick as assistant treasurer.

“Dawna Jones’ leadership and creativity were integral to operations during the last several years,” current branch President Richards said. “Those experiences ensure a seamless transition and position the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP for the next level. I congratulate her and all members of the team. I look forward to working together for equality.”

The officers will begin serving two-year terms in 2021


Affordable Housing Gets a Boost

The Chapel Hill Town Council has approved $513,395 in funding to support three affordable housing projects in Chapel Hill.

The approved funding plan will support construction of new affordable rental housing, predevelopment and site improvement activities, and provide rental housing subsidies. These projects should add around 125 affordable homes in Chapel Hill.

The projects receiving funding include the Community Home Trust’s master leasing program; the PEACH Apartments Development being developed by EmPOWERment, Inc.; and the 2200 Homestead Road Development.


Lane Closures on the Boulevard

Fordham Boulevard will have lane closures near the Glen Lennox project site — between Raleigh Road and Brandon Road — through Friday, Nov. 20.

Contractors for the project will reduce lanes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. Weekend hours for the work are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Work also will resume nightly between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.


Revaluation is Coming

Orange County is getting ready for the next property revaluation.

The effective date of the most recent revaluation was Jan. 1, 2017, and all current tax assessments for real property reflect a market value as of that date. The next planned revaluation will be effective Jan 1, 2021, and tax assessments will be updated to reflect market value as of that specific appraisal date.

State law requires each county to revalue all properties within its borders at least once every eight years. For more information about the county’s revaluation process, visit https://www.orangecountync.gov/878/Revaluation.


Comprehensive Plan Plans

Carrboro is looking for residents to participate in developing the town’s first-ever comprehensive plan.

The drafting of the comprehensive plan is an opportunity for residents to share their long-term vision on issues such as growth and development, race and equity, climate action, and economic sustainability.

A Carrboro Connects task force was appointed by the town council to guide outreach and development of the plan. The next meeting workshop for Carrboro Connects will take place virtually on Thursday, Nov. 19, starting at 7 p.m. To register for the meeting, go to carrboroconnects.org.


Climbing Wall Reopens

Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation department has re-opened the climbing wall at the Community Center. Open climb sessions, with limited capacity, will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m.

To maintain limited capacity, as well as provide an equitable opportunity for all to participate, climbing and belaying reservations will be accepted for one 75-minute session per day, no more than seven days in advance. Both climbers and their intended belayer must both reserve a 75-minute session and enter and check in together.

Register online at Activity #110324, or by phone at (919) 968-2790. Walk-up climbing is not permitted. Each 75-minute session is separated by a 30-minute disinfection period, so staff has adequate time to clean.

A handout and web page titled “What to Know Before You Go” gives more information on what the department is doing differently, as well as what patrons are being asked to do differently.


Picture This

The Town of Carrboro is creating a Carrboro People Photo Album

If you would like to be included, take a photo of yourself, your pod or your family (pets included), and feel free to add your name. 

“Many of us haven’t seen each other in a while, due to the pandemic,” said Mayor Lydia Lavelle. “This is a simple way to catch up by sharing a snapshot to show your community how you’re doing. The faces of our community at this moment in time will surely be interesting to look back on, much like photos in a family album.” 

Residents can choose how they’d like to be a part of the photo album:

Post to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag the Town of Carrboro and #IamCarrboro, email to clazorko@townofcarrboro.org or mail or drop off to Attn: Carrboro Connects, Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St., Carrboro, NC 27510. 

Photos are due by Monday, Nov. 16.   


 Celebrating ‘Libba’ Cotten

The UNC university libraries will present an evening of stories and music celebrating the life of legendary North Carolina musician Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten. The free online celebration —”When I’m Gone: Remembering folk icon Elizabeth Cotton” — will be held Nov. 12 from 7-8 p.m.

Born in 1893 in what is now Carrboro, Cotten wrote her signature song, “Freight Train,” about the train she could hear from her childhood home. Cotten recorded several albums and won a Grammy Award and a National Heritage Fellowship before her death in 1987.

The hour-long virtual program will feature guitarist Yasmin Williams, musician and scholar Alice Gerrard and Cotten’s great-grandson John W. Evans Jr.

To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/when-im-gone-remembering-folk-icon-elizabeth-cotten-tickets-127915100509.


Anderson Park Improvements

The Town of Carrboro has received a grant from the NC Urban Forest Council’s Legacy Tree Fund Program.

The grant will be used to plant trees and restore a stream buffer in Henry “Hank” Anderson III Community Park.  If you’d like to help with the work, come to the park on Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bring your own gloves and water bottle and wear a face mask and closed-toed shoes.

For more information, contact Laura Janway at ljanway@townofcarrboro.org or (919) 918-7342.


Bus Route Change

Chapel Hill Transit will adjust the routing of the S bus starting on Monday to help transport people between the Friday Center Park and Ride lot and UNC Hospitals.

After reaching the Pittsboro Street Credit Union, the bus will turn right onto South Columbia Street, turn left onto Mason Farm Road, turn left on Manning Drive, and then turn left back onto South Columbia Street. This will provide customers with an easier way to access the hospital.

The S route will operate this routing until further notice and the current schedule will remain in effect.


James Parise, U.S. Army, Vietnam; John Cocowitch, Captain US Navy Retired; Renee Price, Orange County Commissioner at 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony.

Celebrating Veterans

Orange County Commissioner Renee Price will offer remarks and special guest speaker Lt. Col. Daniel Hurd, U.S. Army, will speak about service to and by veterans at a live Veterans Day celebration Wednesday.

The celebration, at the Veterans Memorial site adjacent to the Seymour Center, kicks off at 11 a.m. and online viewing is also available through Orange County Veterans Memorial Facebook site, https://www.facebook.com/orangecountyveteransmemorial. The event is free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of events, see https://ocveteransmemorial.com/events

Following the ceremony members of the American Legion Chapel Hill Post 6 will gather at the former site on Legion Road and caravan to the new site, 3700 NC-54, via Rosemary Street, and give small group tours to new members.  For details on how to tour the site or arrange a visit, call (919) 537-8703 or email Regina Merritt at queenmerritt@gmail.com


Orange County Courthouse, Hillsborough, NC

Virus Closes Courthouse

Because of a case of COVID-19, the Orange County Courthouse will be closed through Friday, Nov. 6.

“We are following best practices to keep everyone who enters the courthouse safe, said Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour. “We will be ready to resume operations on Monday, Nov. 9, and we ask the public for their patience and understanding until then.”   

While the courthouse in Hillsborough will be closed, some operations will continue to occur, including first appearances for in-custody defendants and emergency filings. Emergency domestic violence matters will be heard remotely.

District Court matters in Chapel Hill will occur as previously scheduled, while traffic court and criminal district court will be automatically rescheduled.


Carrboro to Place Another Plaque

The Town of Carrboro will place a “truth plaque” at the site of the former Freedmen’s school by the border of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to recognize its historical importance.

The sign, on the side of St. Paul A.M.E. Church on Main Street, will read: “Green Cordal & Benjamin Craig, freed from bondage, purchased this land for a Freedman School and church. With funds from the Society of Friends, they built a schoolhouse that served hundreds of free Black children and adults.”

The Truth Plaque Community Task Force placed its first truth plaque last year at Carrboro Town Hall to recognize the background of Julian Carr, the white supremacist who is the town’s namesake.


Muralists Wanted

The Town of Carrboro is seeking student artists and a muralist to work together on the creation of a new mural to depict Black Lives Matter/End Racism Now.  The mural will be located on the east side of the CommunityWorx building located at 125 West Main St. in downtown Carrboro. 

Preference will be given to student(s) that reside in Carrboro and/or members of the Youth Advisory Board, Carrboro Youth Council or NAACP Youth Organization. Compensation will be $500 per student artist up to $1,500 for a team of three artists. The deadline to apply is Nov. 8.

For the coordinating muralist, preference also will be given to applicants residing in Carrboro. Once the mural is selected by the Town Council, the muralist will work with students to create the artwork and help ensure creation and installation of the mural is done in a safe manner and that social distancing is maintained.

Compensation will be $1,500 and the deadline to apply is also Nov. 8.

For questions, contact Anita Jones-McNair at amcnair@townofcarrboro.org or 919-918-7381.


Absentee Ballot Deadline

If you haven’t requested an absentee ballot already, it’s too late. The deadline to request an absentee ballot was Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.

But if you did request your ballot before the deadline, and want to vote by absentee, you must return it or mail it by Nov. 3. Ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted as long as they are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.

Orange County residents can return their absentee ballots to the Board of Elections office at 208 S. Cameron Street in Hillsborough. The office is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m-5 p.m.

Weather permitting, there will be a tent outside for staff to accept returned absentee ballots. On gloomy and rainy days, residents should come inside where staff will assist them in the hallway.

Voters who requested and received an absentee ballot may still vote in person on Election Day or during early voting as long as the mailed absentee ballot was not returned.


Greenfield Wins Award

The Greenfield Community in Chapel Hill has received North Carolina’s top honor for excellence in affordable housing. 

Greenfield was financed with town funding, federal low-income housing tax credits awarded by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, Orange County funding and land donated by the town.

Developed by DHIC, Greenfield Place and Greenfield Commons, which together make up the Greenfield Community, provide 149 apartment homes for seniors and working families. The community serves households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income, and renters can save more than 40 percent compared to market rate apartments in the area.


Leaf Pickup Has Begun

Loose leaf collection in Chapel Hill has begun.

This year’s collection might be slower due to limited staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The town asks residents to consider putting leaves in containers for collection this year.

Loose leaves and pine straw (no limbs or debris) should be placed behind the curb. Do not place leaves in the street, and avoid blocking travel and bike lanes, sidewalks, fire hydrants, mailboxes, storm drains or water meters, and interfering with sight distances at intersections. Don’t pile leaves near streams or storm drains.


Colleen Willger

Willger Named Planning Director

Chapel Hill’s next planning director will be Colleen Willger. Willger, who will begin her work on Nov. 16, was selected from a national pool of applicants.

“Colleen brings a wide variety of experiences to this position,” said Town Manager Maurice Jones. “She is committed to promoting and protecting vibrant neighborhoods while enhancing economic vitality in commercial and mixed-use districts.”

Willger has served as the acting deputy director for community planning + design for the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning. She played a key role there in advising government leadership concerning the long-term visioning plan called ReOpen DC. She also serves as the associate director for neighborhood planning in D.C.

Her most recent focus has been on developing small area, corridor and neighborhood plans that reflect the policies and actions outlined by the district’s Comprehensive Plan, with the goal of advancing equity, economic vitality and community vibrancy in diverse neighborhoods.


Phi Beta Kappa Inducts Local Students

Thirteen local students are among UNC’s latest class inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

The students include:

  • Collins Knight Alexander, a senior with peace, war and defense and global studies majors and a history minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Taylor Cox, a senior with Arab cultures and peace, war and defense majors and a Middle Eastern languages minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Daniel Fan, a senior with a business administration major and a Spanish for the professions minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Katherine Sijing Fesperman, a senior with psychology and sociology majors and a neuroscience minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Callum James Funk, a junior with a biomedical and health sciences engineering major, of Chapel Hill.
  • Angela Wei Guo, a senior with economics and public policy majors and a statistics and analytics minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Marichi Gupta, a senior with mathematics and computer science majors and a music minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Brett Michael Harris, a junior with English and comparative literature and contemporary European studies majors and an urban studies and planning minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Heidi Nicole Kreis, a senior with psychology and exercise and sport science majors and a neuroscience minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Brenna Everly Kuder, a senior with environmental studies and global studies majors and a Hispanic studies minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Joseph Vincent Osti III, a senior with a biology major, of Carrboro.
  • Samuel Benjamin Pritchard, a senior with political science and peace, war and defense majors and a philosophy, politics and economics minor, of Chapel Hill.
  • Robert Allen Winslow, a senior with a computer science major and a business administration minor, of Chapel Hill.

To gain admittance to Phi Beta Kappa at UNC, a student must have either completed 75 hours of coursework on the liberal arts and sciences with at least a 3.85 GPA or 105 credit hours with at least a 3.75 GPA.


County Gets Funds for Housing

The Orange County Department of Housing and Community Development has received a $797,133 grant from the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency to provide rent and utility assistance to county residents experiencing housing distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This funding will allow us to continue to provide eviction prevention services to the county and continue the work being done through the Emergency Housing Assistance program established by the Board of Commissioners,” said Emila Sutton, Orange County housing and community development director.

With the funding, up to six months of assistance may be provided to allow applicants to remain in safe housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applicants must live in Orange County, in a rental property and earn less than or equal to 80 percent of the area median income and be in urgent need.

Visit https://nc211.org/hope/ for more information and to apply. Eligible callers to 211 will be routed to the Orange County Housing and Community Development Department for application processing.


Carrboro Hopes to Get Grant

The Town of Carrboro plans to apply for $900,000 in Federal Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funds, to be used for emergency housing assistance.

If awarded the full $900,000 (the maximum grant amount), at least 90 percent of funds would be used as direct financial assistance for rent, utilities and other housing-related costs to town residents with low incomes and urgent need for housing assistance.

Two public hearings will be held to receive input on the town’s proposal to apply. The first hearing will be held Oct. 27 at 7 p.m., while the second will be on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.

Those interested in more information on the item or watching the meeting can find a link at https://carrboro.legistar.com/. Those interested in speaking at the meeting or submitting a comment for the public hearing should contact publiccomment@townofcarrboro.org or the Town Clerk, Catherine Dorando at 919-918-7309.


Arts Grants Available

The Orange County Arts Commission will host a virtual information session Oct. 19 at 5:30 p.m. on how to apply for North Carolina Cares for the Arts grants.

The commission is distributing $166,510 in grants to the local arts community and the application period is currently open but closes Oct. 30.

The primary purpose of the grant program is to assist the nonprofit arts industry that has been severely impacted by the pandemic. Nonprofit arts organizations therefore will receive funding priority.

However, other local organizations and businesses are invited to apply, particularly those whose operations have a high impact in our community through employment, tourism or services offered to county residents or artists.

Visit http://artsorange.org/nccares for more information.


Have you seen Aliane Urujeni?

The Chapel Hill Police Department is seeking help in locating Aliane Urujeni, a 25-year-old black female with black hair and dark eyes who is about 5’6” tall and about 140 pounds.

She was last known to be in the area of Umstead Drive on Oct. 9, 2020, and may have been seen in the same area on Oct. 12. She was wearing a white t-shirt, yellow cardigan, khaki shorts and no shoes.

If you have information concerning her whereabouts, call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 919-968-2760 or contact Orange County Communications by calling 911 or 919-732-5063 immediately.


Triangle Bikeway Study

Virtual public workshops focusing on the Triangle Bikeway Project will be held at noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 29. The project is studying the idea of a 17-mile bikeway that will link Chapel Hill with Raleigh, RTP and Durham. 

Focus groups also will be held the week of Nov. 9-13.

To sign up, text TriBike to 73224 or call 855-925-2801 (code 9843)


Sidepath Meeting Scheduled

A virtual public information meeting to discuss recent survey results and next steps for the development of the Fordham Boulevard Sidepath will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 22.  

The Town of Chapel Hill is in the design phase for a multi-use sidepath along Fordham Boulevard between Cleland Drive and Willow Drive. The recent survey outlined two options for traffic calming mechanisms for Hickory Drive as well as two intersections along the boulevard. In addition, the existing sidepath between Cleland Drive and Ridgefield Road will be upgraded, and a new section will be constructed between Ridgefield Road and Willow Drive.

To participate in the live meeting, those interested should register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xyMBw9wmS5aaXbwKjsN4wg. Residents may participate online via the Zoom platform or by telephone. After registering, they will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For more information, a project summary and copies of the two concept plans are available at Fordham Boulevard Sidepath Project. Contact Marcia Purvis, the project manager at mpurvis@townofchapelhill.org or call (919) 968-2750 for questions or comments.


County Looking for Volunteers

The Orange County Board of Commissioners is recruiting for an Elections Advisory Group. This advisory group will study alternative methods/districts to elect commissioners and make a recommendation to the board.
 
This is a newly formed group and there are currently 15 at large positions to be filled om the group. This will be a temporary group formation and will dissolve once recommendations are delivered to the BOCC.
 
If interested, apply at http://www.orangecountync.gov/1708/Boards-and-Commissions.


Chapel Hill Public Library

Library Receives Major Grant

The Chapel Hill Public Library has been awarded nearly $150,000 of competitive federal grant funds to bring computers, increased Wi-Fi and multilingual assistance directly to communities of need.

The project, “Whenever, Wherever, Whyever: Expanding Technology Access,” will address the community’s ongoing need for public computing services and the challenges of providing these services during a pandemic.

Over the course of two years, starting now, the funds from the CARES Act grant — which administers this technology grant — will allow the library to reimagine and redesign public computing access. The project will include a laptop lending program, increased Wi-Fi in communities of need and multilingual instruction and assistance.

The project will target historically marginalized populations, including black and immigrant communities in Chapel Hill, who are more negatively impacted by COVID-19 and its associated outcomes. It will also provide people who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic the tools they need to search for and apply for jobs, or learn new skills.

CHPL’s proposal was one of more than 1,700 submitted by museums and libraries nationwide.

“With this project, we will turn outward to communities most in need during this pandemic, giving them access to technology that is needed now more than ever,” said Library Director Susan Brown.


Vigil Set for Missing Teen

The family of a missing Chapel Hill teen will hold a vigil for her at the green in Southern Village Oct. 15.

The vigil, held by the family of Sydney West, will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/FindSydneyWest. The vigil is intended to bring together those who know Sydney to celebrate their love for her and talk about the help needed to keep up the momentum to find Sydney and bring her home. The program will begin at 4:30 PM ET.

The 19-year old, who had been a student at UC-Berkeley, was last seen Sept. 30, near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Anyone with any information is urged to call the San Francisco Police Tip Line at 415-575-4444.

The West family is also planning a “Vigil to Find Sydney” in the bay area of California. 


New Mural to Honor Cotten

A new downtown mural will celebrate legendary blues musician Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, a native of the Carrboro area.

Located on the Carrboro-Chapel Hill line at 111 N. Merritt Mill Road, the mural is part of a statewide project to honor famous North Carolina musicians in their hometowns. The mural will be painted by Chapel Hill artist Scott Nurkin, who also conceived of the statewide project.

Cotten was a folk-blues singer, songwriter and guitar player. Born in the early 1890s, she taught herself to play music on her brother’s banjo as a child, but only began publicly performing and recording in her 60s. Renowned for her distinctive musical style of playing left-handed on a right-handed guitar, she was best known for the song, “Freight Train.”  

Nurkin will begin work on the mural beginning Oct. 12 and is expected to complete it by Oct. 19. 


Chapel Hill Teen Still Missing 

The parents of a missing Chapel Hill teenager are “asking anyone who has any information about our daughter Sydney to please contact” authorities. “This is a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Nineteen-year-old Sydney West has been missing since Sept. 30, when she was last seen in downtown San Francisco, near the Golden Gate Bridge. Until recently, West was a student at UC Berkeley, but according to authorities had been living with friends in San Francisco since August.

“We are asking anyone who has any information about our daughter Sydney to please contact the investigators,” West’s parents said in the video. “We are anxious to have our daughter found safe and brought home.” 

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone in North Carolina who may have had recent contact with West to call Investigator Ashley Woodlief at 919-245 – 2909.


Aquatics Center Set to Reopen

The Homestead Aquatic Center will reopen for Chapel Hill and Orange County residents on Monday, Oct. 12, at limited capacity. Lap swimming and independent water exercise will be offered seven days a week, while recreation swimming will be offered on weekends only.

To maintain limited capacity, as well as provide an equitable opportunity for all to participate, the center will continue to offer reservable swim times for all swimmers. Each hour-long block is separated by a 30-minute disinfection period, so staff has adequate time to clean.

Reservations can be made online at https://tochaq.getomnify.com, in person or by calling 919- 968-2799 during business hours. Walk-up swimming is not permitted; you must have a reservation in advance. Reservations are limited to three reservations per person per week.


New Reopening Phase

We’re now in Phase 3.

Like the rest of the state, Orange County now has new regulations for reopening during the coronavirus pandemic. As of Friday at 5 p.m., Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order allows bars, movie theaters and outdoor venues, among others, to open with capacity limits.

“Current trends in Orange County allow us to move forward with the state, but should we experience changes in positivity rates, more clusters or outbreaks or an increase in the number of cases, we will not hesitate to reinstate stricter limits on gatherings and other activities,” said Penny Rich, chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

“We must remain diligent and continue social distancing and wearing masks while in public until a safe, effective vaccine is readily available.”

By aligning with the state plan, the county’s stricter limit on mass gatherings is lifted. State limits of 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors now will be in effect until further notice.


New Bus Routes

Chapel Hill Transit will be adding two new bus routes. The CL and N routes will begin Oct. 5. The addition of the routes was approved by the Public Transit Partners committee, comprised of members of the Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Town Council and UNC Parking and Transportation office.

“Providing safe and reliable service to the residents and visitors of Chapel Hill and Carrboro is our top priority. By adding these two routes we will be able to connect more of our customers to employment and healthcare opportunities,” said Brian Litchfield, Transit director.

The newly designed CL route runs between UNC Hospitals and Eastowne Drive, serving East Franklin Street, Old Sterling Drive, Sage Road, Dobbins Drive, Summerfield Crossing Road and Old Oxford Road. The CL route runs every 20 minutes between 6:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The newly designed N route runs between Estes Park apartments and the Northside neighborhood, UNC Hospitals and Meadowmont, providing service the discontinued V route used to provide. The N route provides hourly service from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.


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 www.townofchapelhill.org/boards.

 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 https://www.orangecountync.gov/2538/Veterinary-Care-Assistance-Program 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 https://gf.me/u/yny6qw. 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, andrew.henry@durhamnc.gov, or contact Andy Henry, 919-560-4366, ext. 36419.

The survey for the Corridor Study comments has been withdrawn. The Public Comments to date can be viewed here: http://www.dchcmpo.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=30485


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 (townofchapelhill.org/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/17548). The council established two subcommittees at its Sept. 9 virtual meeting (townofchapelhill.org/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/18008/15), 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 townofchapelhill.org/boards. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 28. Apply at chapelhill.granicus.com/boards/forms/146/apply.


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 https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904044FA8A922A1FA7-chapel1/. 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 https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/home 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 https://www.odysseystage.org/shows/2020-nc-10by10-play-festival/ 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 jmiller@artscenterlive.org.


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 www.enoriver.org.

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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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