March 2013 Newsletter
Dear Neighbor:

It has been awhile since we were last in touch with you, but that is not to say that we haven't been busy, in part, considering better ways to improve communication among and between rural Orange County residents and community leaders.  One result is that we have invited leaders throughout the rural community to share information with you.  In this issue, you'll hear from Orange County Schools, Orange County Animal Services, and New Hope Audubon. 
First, some upcoming events:
  • The 68th Annual Central Piedmont Junior Livestock Show and Sale will take place April 10-11, at the Central Carolina Holstein Barn, located behind the Orange Grove Fire Station, on land donated by Anilorac Farm.  As part of the event, a dinner, followed by the Auction Sale and Awards, will be held at 5:00 pm on April 11.  For more, click here.
  • The 2013 Piedmont Farm Tour, an opportunity to tour local farms in Orange, Alamance, and Chatham counties, is scheduled for April 27-28, from 1:00-5:00 pm.  For more, click here.
In This Issue
High Marks for Orange County Schools
Transit Planning, Taxes, and Fees
Share Your Knowledge of Rural Orange County's Rich History
Change in the Works for Rural Recycling and Trash Collection?
Cane Creek Reservoir Soon to Open on Fridays
Coyote Management in Orange County
Be Aware of Dog Laws
Will Barn Owls Return to Orange County?
Emergency Services Work Group a Model of Cooperation

High Marks for Orange County Schools

As Orange County Schools (OCS) Superintendent Patrick Rhodes prepares to retire after 30 years of service, he has much to be proud of.  With a diverse student body numbering 7,400, the district met 98.4% of its targets in academics and grade performance during the 2011-2012 school year.  Graduation rates exceeded 85%, with a dropout rate of 2.37% being the lowest on record.  The achievement gap continues to drop, as well.

The district has made the largest investment in technology since the district's first computer labs were installed in the late 1990's.  In the fall of 2012, the district began implementing a 1:1 laptop program, after research showed that districts with similar programs experienced a 10-12% increase in test scores within one year.  Such programs bring with them the added bonus of increased attendance and graduation rates, together with an improved academic climate.  OCS' new Family Academy is helping parents learn how they can use new technology to work with schools and teachers.

For access to the district's entire 2012-2013 Annual Report to the Community, click here.

OCS's Central Elementary, has adopted Engineering is Elementary (EiE), an initiative of Boston's Museum of Science, as a model for their school's curriculum.  It is the fourth school in North Carolina to adopt this approach to learning, whose end goal is:  students who can think creatively, solve problems, communicate well, work effectively in teams, and use technology to their advantage.  For an article published in the News of Orange on March 6, 2013, which includes this information and more on Central's EiE approach, click here.        
Transit Planning, Taxes and Fees


This April, the new transit tax approved by Orange County voters in November of 2012, goes into effect.  At their December 2012 meeting, county commissioners voted 6-1 to levy an additional half-cent sales tax for transit, with Commissioner McKee being the lone dissenting vote.

Commissioners also voted 5-2 to increase the vehicle registration fee, starting this summer.  The new fee brings the annual cost of registering a car in Orange County to $43.  Commissioners McKee and Price delivered the dissenting votes. 

According to the plan, half of the $7 million in new taxes and fees will go towards light rail studies.  The rest will fund Park 'n Ride, local bus service, and an Amtrack station in Hillsborough.  


There is growing awareness among some elected officials that the commuter projections used to justify light rail are too high and need to be adjusted downward.  Furthermore, members of local advisory boards and citizen groups have asked that transportation monies be used to increase local ridership and provide more services to seniors and disabled residents who are unable to drive.  For the first half of a three-part series, click here.


The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCC-MPO) is seeking public input.  The DCC-MPO controls federal and state funding for local transportation and is hosting a public hearing with elected officials on Wednesday, March 13 at 9:00 am.  It is being held in the Committee Conference Room, on the 2nd floor of the Durham City Hall, located at 101 City Hall Plaza.  In addition, written comments will be accepted through April 10, and should be sent by mail or email to:


       Andy Henry 

       101 City Hall Plaza

       Durham NC 27701

       919 560-4366, ext 36419


Please add your voice to this important discussion by sending a short note or statement.

Share Your Knowledge of Rural Orange County's Rich History  


 Peter Sandbeck meets with Snipes family of Anilorac Farm (Susan Nichols, Allison Nichols-Clapper, and Charles Snipes)

Does your family own a century-old farm in Orange County?  Do you know of a site of possible historic or cultural value on or near your property or in your community (i.e., a former mill, church, stagecoach stop, or country store)?  Does your faith-based or civic organization have deep roots in rural Orange County?  Consider sharing your heritage by contacting OCV's Bonnie Hauser or Peter Sandbeck, Orange County's new Cultural Resources Coordinator.


Orange County has offered to assist farmers in determining whether their farm is eligible for Century Farm recognition by the State of North Carolina and, if so, in preparing the necessary application.  For information about the state's Century Farm program, click here.    

Change in the Works for Rural Recycling and Trash Collection?

With the closing of the landfill and improvements to convenience centers now underway, county officials are exploring the possibility of both privatizing rural recycling and franchising trash collection.  If pursued, each of these programs would be voluntary, allowing households to opt out and, instead, deliver their trash and recyclables to county convenience centers.
Since a decision on this issue may impact rural services and fees, rural residents should be part of the discussion.  An information session is planned for the April 9 Board of County Commissioners meeting, to be held at Hillsborough Commons.  A public hearing on this issue will be held April 23. 
We will update you as information becomes available.
Cane Creek Reservoir Soon to be Open on Fridays

OWASA's Board of Directors voted to begin opening Cane Creek Reservoir on Fridays along with Saturdays, for boating and fishing.  The season will run from March 23-November 10.  University Lake will be open two days a week as well, but Saturdays and Sundays.  The board will review this decision at the close of the 2013 season.  For more, click here.
Coyote Management in Orange County
Orange County Animal Services recently hosted Lynsey White Dasher of the U.S. Humane Society, to inform the public about the growing number of coyote-sightings and offer suggestions for managing these newcomers.  Co-exist, rather than kill, was the key watchword of the presentation.

Those attending learned that coyotes rarely attack humans, but Dasher cautioned residents that pets or pet food, if left outdoors, can attract coyotes to your home.  Small pets, such as cats and rabbits, are particularly vulnerable.

To keep coyotes away from your home, the Humane Society recommends hazing techniques such as yelling, waving your arms, or banging with pots and pans.  If you find a coyote den - a foot-wide hole burrowed into a hillside - on your property, spreading cat litter at its entrance will often encourage coyotes to abandon the den and move on.

For more from the Humane Society on Solutions for Coyote Conflicts, click here.
Be Aware of Dog Laws
Do you own a dog?  If so, please be aware that North Carolina statues, along with Orange County's Animal Control Ordinance, require a 10-day quarantine if your dog happens to bite anyone, regardless of whether this takes place on or off your property.  State law requires that all dog bites be reported.  This is standard practice across the nation for protection against rabies.

While quarantined, your dog must remain in the county.  The quarantine may take place at your home, provided that your dog has no history of violence  and all vaccinations are current - although this is at the discretion of Animal Services.

In addition to facing quarantine, your dog may be classified as a danger to the public, requiring that it be securely confined when unattended on your property, and be leashed and muzzled when in public.  In the event of repeated offenses, Animal Services may require that your dog be euthanized.

OCV has asked the county's Animal Services Board to clarify existing policies regarding quarantine, including conditions under which your dog might be classified as "dangerous" or "vicious."  We have asked that county policy specify home quarantine as the preferred course of action, as long as vaccinations are up to date and the dog has no history of violence.  In the event that shelter quarantine is required, we have asked that the dog's owner(s) be provided with a clear explanation.

We anticipate hearing back from the Animal Services Board shortly, but, in the meantime, encourage you to be careful if you allow your dogs to run freely on your property - or elsewhere.     
Will Barn Owls Return to Orange County?
New Hope Audubon
New Hope Audubon volunteers install a barn owl box at Maple View
New Hope Audubon is working with Maple View and Anilorac farms to bring Barn Owls back to Orange County.  Barn Owls play an important role in integrated pest management by consuming large numbers of mice, rats, voles, and other rodents.  Barn Owl boxes are in place at Maple View Farm and will be installed at Anilorac Farm within the next month.  These are in addition to boxes already in place at the Mason Farm Biological Reserve.  For more, click here
Emergency Services Work Group a Model of Cooperation

The Orange County Emergency Services Work Group came to a close, amidst a new-found spirit of camaraderie and cooperation.  Over the course of the past year, the work group has made great progress toward improving ambulance response times, eliminating radio outages, and building a coordinated countrywide emergency response network.  Jim Groves, the county's new Director of Emergency Services, is quickly building a positive working relationship with fire, sheriff, and police departments throughout the county. 

The work group agreed that leaders from fire, sheriff, and police departments will continue to work with the county to monitor progress on important initiatives.  The standing committee will report annually to the Board of County Commissioners.

With the support of the work group, most issues related to insurance coverage and costs have been resolved or are in the process of being resolved.  Additionally, many rural fire districts have improved their insurance ratings; some are still waiting for approval from the North Carolina Department of Insurance.  Please check with your local fire department to learn the status of insurance ratings for your local fire department.  For a listing of local fire departments, click here. 
Special thanks are due to Commissioner Earl McKee for creating a new model for dialogue and cooperation between town and county leaders - and with citizens.  To read a recent column on the work group, click here.        
Many thanks to those of you who contributed to this newsletter.  If you have news or an event you'd like to share with the community, please let me know.  Contact me, as well, if you'd like to be added to our new community leaders network.

As always, your support for Orange County Voice and the rural community is much appreciated.



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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