OCV Newsletter, January 2014   
Dear Neighbor:
We hope that you enjoyed the holidays and are inspired by the prospect of a new year.  For OCV, the opening of the New Year brought news that we had been awarded a grant by the Funds for Southern Communities to begin work on the creation of a rural community network.  We are also preparing for an upcoming discussion on a proposed rural recycling tax.  In this newsletter, we will bring you up to date on these issues, as well as other news. 
In This Issue
Community Groups Plan to Connect
Commissioners Considering New Tax for Rural Recycling
Orange Grove Completes Fire Station #3
Commissioner Alice Gordon Will Not Seek Re-Election
Birders Watch Chatham Park Development
Hogg Day Goes Belly Up
Open Heart...Open Home

Community Groups Plan to Connect   


The many voices of Orange County can be found in its neighborhoods, along with its civic and faith communities, but it's not always easy to connect them.  Such groups communicate effectively within their own circle, but rarely with other groups within the larger community.  That is about to change.


Leaders from community groups throughout the county have agreed to work together to begin sharing information and ideas.  What emerged from initial discussions was an agreement to create a community network built on three basic principles:
  • The network will link community groups throughout Orange County.  The initial focus will be rural Orange, although groups from the towns and from neighboring counties will be welcome to join.  The network will allow community leaders to share ideas and information, as well as inform each other of upcoming events.  Political issues may be raised, but lengthy discussions of such issues will be restricted to a separate forum.
  • The network will be created through the use of Facebook and will be supplemented with links to individual groups' websites.  Participating groups will each have a means of "getting the word out" to those without Internet access.
  • A steering committee made up of representatives from participating groups will establish policies concerning sponsorship and advertising, as well as participation in and use of the community network.

OCV is a founding member of the community network, but we will neither own nor control it.  Rather, the network will be owned and managed by the participating community groups.  Specific management policies are in the process of being formed.   


OCV worked hard to receive funding for the network's start-up, and continues to work on grant requests.  We received our first grant award from the Funds for Southern Communities.  Additionally, we welcome donations from individuals and organizations in the community.  To donate, click here, and please designate that your donation is for the community network. 


If your neighborhood or organization has an interest in connecting with other groups through this network, please contact Alex Castro or Nick Davis

Commissioners Considering New Tax for Rural Recycling    


On Thursday, January 23, Orange County commissioners will decide whether or not to "explore" a new tax for rural curbside recycling.  This ad valorem tax would be based on the value of your home and property - and would be in addition to fees that the county currently charges for recycling and convenience centers.  These fees are presently set at $87 per year, and increase annually.

The new tax would be levied on rural properties only, including unincorporated areas south of Chapel Hill.  The tax is expected to start at 1.5 cents per $100 valuation - or $45 for a $300,000 property.  If passed, the tax is likely to increase as the county continues to adjust to the loss of revenues due to the closing of the landfill.  If the commissioners pursue the tax, every household included in the district would be notified.  That could range from 13,700 to 21,000 households, depending on whether the commissioners decide to define the district as part or all of the rural community.  Commissioners expect to hold at least two public hearings on this issue.

As an alternative to such a mandated tax, the commissioners have the option to levy a simple subscription fee of $58 per year, while providing homeowners with the ability to opt out of the curbside recycling service.  OCV has joined 25 other groups in supporting this "opt out" option, one which could easily be implemented until the county and towns work together to sort out more pressing issues related to recycling services and fees.  For more, click here.

Please consider speaking out on this issue by either attending the BoCC meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 23, from 7:00-11:00 PM, at the Department of Social Services building, 113 Mayo Street, in Hillsborough, or by writing to the commissioners.  Let them know how you feel about rural curbside recycling, and whether you support funding it with a voluntary fee or with a mandatory tax on rural properties.  To find the commissioners' contact information, please click here.
Orange Grove Completes Fire Station #3


Orange Grove's Fire Station Number # 3, located on Nicks Road, is now open. The North Carolina Department of Insurance is expected to approve the station next month, after which homeowners can expect relief from high insurance premiums. 


Mark your calendar for the station's Open House, planned for Sunday, March 16, from 2:00-4:00 PM.  It's a great time to thank Orange Grove for their rapid response in assuring that most everyone in their district has access to affordable homeowners insurance.


To learn more or simply say "thanks", please contact Orange Grove Fire Company President Bill Waddell

Commissioner Alice Gordon Will Not Seek Re-Election    


After 20 years of exemplary public service, Commissioner Alice Gordon will retire in December 2014.  Commissioner Gordon represents District 1, which closely aligns with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District.  Her seat is up for re-election this year.

Dr. Gordon is best known for her commitment to education and the environment, and, in particular, for her groundbreaking Lands Legacy Program, which protected 3,000 acres of farmland in rural Orange County.  For more about this, click here.

We have been most impressed by Dr.Gordon's principled leadership and her willingness to engage with citizens.  She has worked tirelessly for every one of us, and is always prepared with the facts.  She listens carefully and assures that deliberations are open and transparent.

We have been honored to work with Dr. Gordon, and have been grateful to have her counsel on land use, the environment, and other issues.  She is leaving big shoes to fill - and we thank her for her leadership.

If you would like to offer a personal thank you to Dr. Gordon, click here.
Birders Watch Chatham Park Development
As most of you are aware, Chatham County is fervently debating the possible effects of a 7,000 acre development that will add 55,000 new residents to the county, along with a host of commercial and industrial businesses.  As proposed, Chatham Park is a massive project and will over time double the current size of the county's population.  Together with other issues, citizens are raising important concerns about the effects of this substantial development on already-impaired Jordan Lake, a source of drinking water for Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Northern Chatham, and the Wake County portion of Research Triangle Park.

Leaders from New Hope Audubon are asking whether constructed wetlands could at least partially mitigate the impact of treated wastewater that would be discharged directly into Jordan Lake.  Constructed wetlands could provide a water polishing process that improves water quality, along with a natural habitat for birds and other wildlife.  Audubon leaders believe that constructed wetlands could help restore habitats that were destroyed when Jordan Lake was created.

Constructed wetlands, of course, do nothing to solve the problem of sewage sludge.  But, a waste-to-energy facility and/or eco-industrial park could help with that particular waste stream.

To help us learn more, New Hope Audubon has provided links to the Brevard County (Florida) facility that is now (unbelievably) a tourist attraction for 60,000 visitors each year.  Click here to check out their website or view a video about the facility.
Hogg Day Goes Belly Up
After over 30 years - and tens of thousands of visitors - the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce has chosen to call an end to the community's Hogg Day celebration.  The event requires six months of preparation and began long before the town began sponsoring Last Fridays and other events aimed at attracting visitors.  So, come May, if you're hankering for great barbecue in Hillsborough, try Hillsborough BBQ, on Nash Street.

For more, click here
Open Heart.  Open Home.
Open Heart.  Open Home. is Orange County's program to recruit foster care families.  Today, there are over 100 children and teenagers in foster care, and foster families are needed, sometimes on very short notice.  Each child's situation is different; some require short-term foster care, while others need a forever home.  The kids come in all ages, colors, and backgrounds, and there is a particular need for families willing to help with teenagers or children with special needs.  Orange County's social workers work closely with foster families and children placed in their care.

Needless to say, the decision to be a foster family requires a major commitment, but often a rewarding one.  Each month, the county offers a 90-minute orientation for families interested in learning more about  foster care and licensing.  Upcoming orientations are scheduled for February 18, March 10, and April 24, from 6:00-7:30 PM, at the offices of Orange County's Department of Social Services, 113 Mayo Street, in Hillsborough.

To learn more, click here
As you can see, 2014 is off to a running start.  We're excited about our involvement in both community building and other advocacy work.  Again, please contact Alex Castro or Nick Davis to learn more about the community network, and please take a moment to write to the commissioners concerning your views on the rural recycling tax and other issues that may be on your mind.


Thank you for your continued support for 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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