Joey DeVito

Orange County Considers Agritourism Regulation

In a recent push to expand their businesses, farmers across North Carolina have been turning to agritourism, hoping to get additional revenue from their lands. Agritourism brings people who otherwise might not come to the countryside to visit farms for weddings, wineries or other non-conventional uses. “In our county, the primary concerns that have risen to the legislative level have been about wedding facilities and the use of farms for major public gatherings,” NC General Assembly representative Graig Meyer said. These types of gatherings can be loud and burdensome for neighbors surrounding the farms. In a meeting held September...

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Residents Protest Fluoride In OWASA Drinking Water

Michael Willock graduated from the UNC dental school and has been practicing for 30 years. If you visit his office there will be one thing unexpectedly missing – fluoride. “Fluorine is extremely toxic,” he said. “If you look at the periodic table where it sits, the pure fluoride will melt glass and eat concrete.” Willock was part of a group of about 20 that protested the addition of fluoride to the OWASA water supply. Fluoride is commonly added to drinking water in the United States to help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Daria Barazandeh founder of Fluoride Free Chapel...

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Orange County Schools Bans Confederate Flag

After nearly a year of debate and deliberation, the Orange County Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a new dress code that specifically bans students from wearing the Confederate flag, the swastika or other symbols of oppression. Board chairman Stephen Halkiotis said he was moved by the events at a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. “The tragic loss of a 32-year-old woman, an innocent human being,” Halkiotis said of Heather Heyer, who was killed when one of the white nationalists drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters. “The tragic loss of two Virginia State...

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Orange County Schools Continues Confederate Flag Debate

The debate over the Confederate flag in Orange County Schools will continue, as the school board referred a proposed change to the dress code back to the policy committee. Board member Donna Coffey, who made the motion, said she thought the draft as written was insufficient. “We’ve heard from many that there’s a need for protection for all,” she said. “In my opinion, while the proposed policy protects some, it shortchanges others.” Coffey said the policy does not specifically protect LGBTQIA or handicap communities. The proposed policy says would ban students from wearing anything that is “indecent, profane, or...

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Local Governments Take Hard Look At Fracking

Orange County commissioner Mark Marcopolos proposed a resolution aimed at stopping fracking in North Carolina, which is a method used to obtain oil and natural gas from the ground. “Natural gas was considered a ‘bridge fuel,'” he said. “As scientists have gotten a grip on what’s really going on, we found out the natural gas and the methane that’s released in the production and incineration of it is worse than coal.” The resolution calls for NC governor Roy Cooper to use his executive authority to shut down fracking in North Carolina by the end of 2018. It also calls...

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Orange County School Board Tentatively Approves New Dress Code Policy After Confederate Flag Debate

****UPDATE: At the second meeting, the policy was sent back to committee by a 4-3 vote.**** The Orange County Board of Education took a step toward banning students from wearing the Confederate flag on school grounds at its Monday night meeting. After a brief discussion about the language of the dress code policy, the board unanimously approved a new dress code that would prohibit students from wearing “racially intimidating” attire. This language was added after a campaign to ban the Confederate flag in Orange County Schools was organized by the Hate Free Schools Coalition. Founder Latarndra Strong spoke after...

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Town Council Pushes For More Affordable Housing In Budget

During Monday’s discussion of the proposed budget for Chapel Hill’s next fiscal year, one topic dominated the conversation – affordable housing. “If we as a community really want the teachers, the town staff, the public safety officers, the nurses, maybe even the young doctors to be able to live here, we need to do more than we’re doing,” councilman George Cianciolo said. The draft budget for 2017-2018 includes $2.3 million for 336 public housing units run by the town. This would be a five percent decrease from the current fiscal year. The decrease is a result of the completion...

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Orange County Passes Two Light Rail Agreements As Project Moves Forward

After negotiating with Durham County earlier in the week, the Orange County Board of Commissioners officially approved a new cost share agreement that would decrease their financial commitment to the Durham-Orange Light Rail project. Orange County will now pay 16.5 percent of the local cost of the project, down from 20 percent, as Durham County picks up 81.5 percent. A nonprofit associated with GoTriangle has stated a goal of raising $100 million in cash and land gifts to help the project. The renegotiation was done in part because the North Carolina state legislature cut its expected contribution from 25...

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Orange County Board of Commissioners Hold Public Meeting on Durham-Orange Light Rail

Approximately 70 members of the public spoke to the Orange County Board of Commissioners and gave their thoughts on Tuesday night regarding the Durham-Orange Light Rail project, which faces a critical decision in the coming weeks. The commissioners will vote next week on the proposed Orange County Transit Plan. John Tallmadge, director of regional services development with GoTriangle, said the transit plan well help the project move forward. “We are awaiting permission from the Federal Transit Administration to enter the engineering phase,” Tallmadge said. “Adoption of these plans and a cost-sharing agreement are part of that needed documentation in...

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UNC Fans Welcome 2017 National Champions Home

A packed house at the Smith Center welcomed the UNC men’s basketball team as they returned to Chapel Hill. With the 2017 NCAA championship in the books, UNC fans filled the Smith Center one last time Tuesday night to celebrate the return of their conquering heroes. The Tar Heels won Monday night, defeating Gonzaga 71 to 65 and bringing the school its first title since 2009. The team came up short of the championship last year, falling to Villanova on a buzzer-beating three pointer by Kris Jenkins. Senior point guard Nate Britt addressed the packed house. “Last year, when...

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