Summer Newsletter, June 2013 
Dear Neighbor:


Recent flood warnings, along with near-constant forecasts calling for severe thunderstorms, keep us focused on what is most precious: friends, family, and community.  And thanks to a boost from taxpayers, Orange County Emergency Services is now better prepared than ever to help us face such challenges, when they occur.

In this summer issue, we'll give you the final tally on county budget discussions and provide details on local projects and services that may be of interest to you.
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
No Property Tax Increase for Orange County Residents
Plans for Carrboro Library Under Scrutiny
New Community Center in the Works For Cedar Grove
A Step Closer to Century Farm Recognition
Triangle Transit Reaching Out to Residents
Landfills and NC Senate Bill 328
Project Engage Designed to Help Seniors
Summer Months Bring a Surge of Break-ins
County Manager Frank Clifton to Retire
Upcoming Events 
  • Orange Grove Fire Station 3 Groundbreaking, Sunday, July 7, at 2:00pm, 4901 Nicks Road.  Orange Grove Fire Company will break ground for their new fire station on Nicks Road.  Fire Station 3 completes the fire company's plan to assure that every homeowner within its boundaries has insurance coverage.
  • Cedar Grove Community Center Planning Meeting, Tuesday, July 9, at 7:00pm, 306 Revere Road.  This will be the first formal meeting for the proposed Cedar Grove Community Center.  (See article below for more details) 

No Property Tax Increase for Orange County Residents 


Following weeks of discussion, Orange County commissioners voted to avoid a county-wide property tax increase and, instead, dig deeper into reserves to fund schools and other expenses. Taxpayers in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District will face a 2-cent increase in the special district tax.  Residents of Chapel Hill will pay an additional 2 cents to fund town services.


The county will raise fees for recycling and convenience centers by $30.   Most rural fire districts are increasing their fire rates to cover the costs of improved insurance ratings.  Once the ratings are approved by the state, savings in insurance premiums are expected to more than offset the tax increase.  All county property and fire taxes, also known as ad valorum taxes, are based on 2009 property values.


OCV leaders raised concerns about the magnitude of plans for new office buildings and expansions over the next few years.  Before investing in more county offices, work is needed to explore how cooperation with towns and outside agencies, and increased use of technology can improve and streamline services. 


The commissioners deferred plans to place a new $8 million office complex at the future site of Blackwood Farm Park, at the intersection of SR-86 and New Hope Church Road.  At the insistence of Commissioner Gordon, and with the support of Commissioner McKee, the county will develop a "space needs" plan by looking at all of the county's facilities and considering options to further consolidate staff and office space.    


Interested in another look at county taxes?  Click here to read an article published June 19, 2013, in the Chapel Hill News.

Plans for Carrboro Library Under Scrutiny 


Orange County commissioners are slowing down plans to build an $8 million library in Carrboro.  As part of Orange County Public Library's long-term strategy, commissioners are asking for alternatives to building a 20,000 square foot, full-service library within four miles of the newly-expanded Chapel Hill town library.


Currently, the county operates a small branch library at McDougal Middle School - albeit one with restricted hours and limited space - and an Internet-based service, referred to as the Cybrary, housed in a room within Carrboro's Century Center.  


The main county library is located in Hillsborough, and some rural residents are asking that Internet, book-request, and book-drop services be provided at community centers in Efland and Cedar Grove, partially restoring services that were lost when the Cedar Grove Library closed. 


After hearing an initial report from the Orange County Public Library, commissioners asked for more specifics.  What complicates matters is that the Chapel Hill town library does not figure into the current plan; it operates independently from the county and has experienced ongoing issues concerning sufficient funding and integration with the county public library system.  It has considered charging Orange County residents for the use of a library card if they live outside the town limits.    


Wake County, by comparison, operates twenty libraries seamlessly.  A single library card can be used at any Wake County public library, and library users have access to the entire countywide collection.  Resources not stored in your home branch are delivered, free of charge, to that branch within three days.


Before investing in land and design services, a renewed and more dedicated effort must be made by county and town officials to sort out differences concerning a long-term plan for library services within Orange County.   

New Community Center in the Works for Cedar Grove 


What once was Cedar Grove Elementary, then Cedar Grove Library, now a property within the new Cedar Grove Park, will soon become the Cedar Grove Community Center.  The county has launched plans to renovate the building, located on SR-86, into a 10,000 square foot community center whose space will include a gymnasium, kitchen, and both meeting and study rooms.  The project budget has been set for $2 million.


OCV is encouraging the Efland community to work with Cedar Grove in determining how to best and most fully make use of this facility.  Community leaders see it providing rural residents with access to computers, the Internet, and library services, as well serving as a gathering place where area Seniors could receive services, hold meetings, be entertained, and socialize.


It has yet to be determined how strictly the county will control community access to and use of the center.


If you would like to contribute thoughts, ideas, and/or suggestions regarding the development of the Cedar Grove Community Center, please contact Donna Baker to be placed on the mailing list for meetings concerning the center. 
A Step Closer to Century Farm Recognition


Peter Sandbeck, Cultural Resources Coordinator for Orange County, has completed the Century Farm application for Anilorac Farm, located on Dairyland Road.  As part of the process, Peter collected land deeds and wills dating back to 1760, and then prepared the Century Farm application for the signature of a rightfully-proud Charles Snipes.  The Snipes Farm joins a distinguished list of Orange County farms - the Neville, Roberts, and Pope farms, among them - in being recognized by the state of North Carolina as a Century Farm. 
snipes land deed 1803
Land Deed for Anilorac Farm dated 1803

The Century Farm Program honors farms that have been continuous ownership by the same family for 100 years or more.  It is intended to acknowledge the long-term commitment of these families to agriculture in the county and the state.


Peter has ready access to information found within titles, deeds, and wills required for application to the Century Farm Program.  He is available to assist Orange County families who wish to be recognized by the state.  Please contact Peter if you would like help with your Century Farm application.
Transit Outreach to Rural Residents

Orange County, in partnership with Triangle Transit, will host a set of public outreach sessions this summer to develop options for existing, expanding, and new bus service for the rural community.  The public is invited to comment on both rural and regional service routes, as well as the Hillsborough Circulator.


More specifically, the county is seeking input on:

  • WHO these services should be designed for
  • WHERE these people want to go
  • WHEN people want to make trips
  • HOW OFTEN services should be provided

Please keep your eye open for upcoming notices regarding these public outreach sessions. 

Landfills and NC Senate Bill 328 


As Orange County's landfill closes (click here to learn more), S328 looms large in the North Carolina General Assembly.  The bill, written by Waste Industries, has passed the Senate, but is slowing down in the House.  Senator Kinnaird has been a fierce and vocal opponent. 

S328 removes many of the environmental and social justice controls that were placed on landfills in 2007, including controls that prevented landfills from
being placed near minority communities.  Since 2007, no new landfills have been sited in NC.  If S328 passes, that is likely to change.

OCV leaders Nick Davis and Bonnie Hauser published this response in the News and Observer.

Please write to legislators, those representing Orange County as well as other districts within the state, and let them know how you feel about landfills and other bills that are working their way through the legislature.  For a list of names and contact information for members of the NC Senate, please click here.  For a list of names and contact information for members of the NC House, please click here.

"Project Engage" Designed to Help Seniors 


The Advisory Council on Aging has acquired rights to Project Engage, a program meant to encourage rural citizens to engage in supporting Seniors within the community, assuring that they have access to appropriate and available resources.  Project Engage was developed by residents of Haywood County and has been active for years. 

The Advisory Council is looking for volunteers and community leaders interested in representing the interests of Seniors.  Please contact Alex Castro if you would like more information about this program or are interested in becoming a Project Engage leader.

Summer Months Bring a Surge of Break-Ins 


Sergeant Butch Clark of the Orange County Sheriff's Office would, again, like to remind us that break-ins are typically higher during the summer months of June, July, and August.  Please be extra vigilant in watching what's going on in your neighborhood.  Active Community Watch groups have proven to be a strong deterrent to crime.


The sheriff also welcomes adding Seniors or neighbors needing special support to the Sheriff's Office SALT list.  Seniors and Law Enforcement Together is a county program where sheriff's deputies check in on Seniors, especially during hot or dangerous weather.       

County Manager Frank Clifton to Retire 


After five years of service to Orange County, County Manager Frank Clifton will retire.  Mr. Clifton has served during the county's most challenging economic period.  By restructuring operations, employee benefits, and debt, Mr. Clifton was able to avert property tax increases and protect the county's staff from layoffs or furloughs.  Mr. Clifton is also credited with putting water and sewer infrastructure improvements in place, to advance the development of the county's Economic Development Districts at Buckhorn and Eno.


OCV thanks Mr. Clifton for his service to both the BoCC and the citizens of Orange County.  We wish him well in the future.


For more, click here.
We hope that you and your family enjoy a safe and safe and delightful summer.  Please take a few minutes to occasionally check in for important events taking place this summer.  If you hear of anything you'd like us to report, please let us know. 


Thank you for your support to Orange County Voice and the rural community.



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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