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March 2012 Newsletter
Dear Neighbor:

Feeling overwhelmed by political squabbling and income taxes?  Well, relax.  We'll open this month's newsletter with a preview of exciting community events that we hope you'll find to be both interesting and enjoyable. 
In This Issue
NCDA's Century Farm Program Coming to Orange County
Annual Junior Livestock Show Breeds Next Generation of Farmers
Piedmont Farm Tour Continues to be a Spring Tradition
Cyclists and Motorists View Safety as Common Ground
Residents of Rural Buffer Block Transfer Station Proposal
Transit Debate Heats Up
Filings Suggest an Active Primary Season
Budgets, Budgets, Budgets
Coming Soon: 10-Digit Phone Numbers, Even for Local Calls
NCDA's Century Farm Program Coming to Rural Orange County

Brian Long of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) is paying a visit to Orange County on Tuesday, April 10, to discuss the Century Farm program.   This state-run program recognizes farms that have remained in the hands of a single family for 100 years or more.  Statewide, 1,600 farms are currently listed as Century Farms.

Farms that qualify are presented with plaques that proudly display their heritage.  In addition, Century Farm families are regularly honored at the State Fair and other events.  For more about the program, click here.

The Schley Grange, in partnership with OCV, is inviting farm families and volunteers to meet Mr. Long and learn more about the program.  Mr. Long will explain the process for becoming recognized as a Century Farm, while OCV will discuss how such farms fit into its Rural Heritage program.

The meeting will take place at the Schley Grange and will open with a community dinner at 6:30 pm.  The Grange needs a headcount for dinner and setup.  If you plan to attend, please contact Bonnie or Kat Cheeks.
Annual Junior Livestock Show Breeds Next Generation of Farmers

The 67th Annual Junior Livestock Show and Sale will be held April 11-12, at the Central Carolina Holstein Barn on Orange Grove Road, adjacent to the Orange Grove Fire Department.  This event, co-sponsored by FFA and 4-H, features livestock raised and shown by children from Orange and surrounding counties.

The show opens on Wednesday afternoon and continues through Thursday.  A dinner is planned for Thursday at 5:00, and will be followed by an awards presentation and auction.  Please consider making a donation to help fund this community event,  Click here for forms.  For more information, call 919-245-2050. 
Piedmont Farm Tour Continues to be a Spring Tradition

 

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's 17th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour is scheduled for the weekend of April 28-29.  Click here for details.  
Cyclists & Motorists View Safety as Common Ground
 
Local citizens met with leaders from TarWheels, OUTBound (the county's transportation advisory board), and OCV to discuss a common concern:  how to make rural roads safer for cyclists and motorists alike.

Click here to view a draft of common sense rules resulting from this meeting.  Please 

Once these rules are firmly agreed upon and established, the working group will develop educational materials to be circulated throughout the county.  Local cylists are exploring means of expanding this program beyond Orange County.    
Residents of Rural Buffer Block Transfer Station Proposal

With support from OCV, residents of the rural buffer near I-40 and NC-86 joined together to block a last minute proposal by Carrboro leaders to site a waste transfer station within the rural buffer.  Created by a joint land use ordinance, the rural buffer surrounds the northern and western borders of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  It was put in place 20 years ago to prevent urban/suburban sprawl and clearly stated that water and sewer infrastructure remain within town limits.

By protecting communities and natural areas within the rural buffer from unwanted development, concerned residents are carrying out their responsibility of insuring that promises made by the towns years ago are honored.  Reasons for not siting the waste transfer facility in the rural buffer are many, but include the cost of providing the needed water and sewer infrastructure and the impact on the community from increased traffic.  The broader question remains:  Why didn't Carrboro suggest a site within their own jurisdiction?

For more on this issue, click here.
Transit Debate Heats Up

Years in the works, Triangle Transit is promoting a regional transit plan to connect the Triangle, centered around light rail.  The plan will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with hopes that state and federal grants will provide most of the funding.  The remainder would come from ridership fees and a proposed new -cent sales tax.  Orange County commissioners are considering placing this new sales tax on the November ballot.

On the surface, the plan sounds great--but a closer look reveals that the plan is in flux, and that important issues need to be worked out.  For example, planners just allocated a small amount of funds for a train station that Hillsborough has been planning for years.  For now, the light rail plan appears to be limited to connecting Durham with the UNC hospitals, following the busy NC-54 corridor.

The bigger issue is funding.  Durham voters agreed to a -cent sales tax on a ballot last November.  Wake County commissioners have yet to reach an agreement on the plan or the tax needed to fund it.  Wake has the largest potential user population by far, and its involvement is essential if the benefits of light rail are to be realized.

There will be more to report on this issue in the coming months, but these articles will get you started on the complexities of the debate:

Read Triangle Transit's view:  http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2012/03/17/70620/transit-future-riding-on-orange.html

Chapel Hill leader's view:   http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2012/02/01/69778/runaway-train.html

Wake County's view:  http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/17/1941180/wake-commissioner-joe-bryan-on.html

For TTA's full plan, click here.
Filings Suggest an Active Primary Season
 
The North Carolina Primary is scheduled for May 8.  In addition to contested races for state office and county commissioner, three non-partisan Orange County School Board seats will be decided by this election.  Voters will also be asked to weigh in on Amendment One--NC's ban on gay marriage.

Registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in their respective primaries, while Unaffiliated voters can choose a ballot for either party.  Early Voting begins on April 18.  For information about Early Voting sites, dates, and times, click here.

For a list of candidates who have filed for local contests, click here.

For a list of all primary contests, including President and Governor, click here.

For an informative guest column on Amendment One, click here.  

 
Budgets, Budgets, Budgets

The 2012-2013 budget season has begun, and OCV leaders are paying close attention, keeping an eye out for cuts to important rural services.  We remain equally vigilant for proposals that could bring unnecessary taxes and fees.  It is too early to predict what may happen with state and local budgets--but we'll keep you posted. 
Coming Soon:  10-Digit Phone Numbers, Even for Local Calls

As many of you already know, beginning March 31, you will need to dial the full 10-digit phone number (area code + phone number) to complete calls, even those within Orange County's 919 area code.  
 
As you're welcoming in springtime, with its balmy temperatures, flowering trees, and dusting of pollen, please find a wonderful local event to support and enjoy.  Reaffirm your own connection to the natural beauty and unique character of rural Orange County. 

 
Sincerely,
 

Bonnie

Bonnie Hauser, President 
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  - Margaret Mead
 
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