LEAD IN: The fun won’t end at the Farmer’s Market in the fall, but the hours will change.
The Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market is still open on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until noon, but the Tuesday hours are shifting. You can visit the market from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays.
And don’t miss out on the Halloween Harvest Festival on Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until noon. Come to show off your Halloween costume, to grub on local vendors’ freshly-made dishes, or to play games. Farmers will even tell you the secrets of their favorite recipes.
For more information about the Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market, click here.
The Orange Water and Sewer Authority has a new General Manager of Operations.
Todd Taylor is a professional engineer, and he just got the job. He is responsible for the drinking water and wastewater treatment plants, water pipe systems, laboratories, and maintenance.
Taylor has 14 years of experience in the engineering and utility fields.
Late Night with Roy is a tradition that attracts hundreds of UNC basketball fans every year. And Chapel Hill Transit has a plan to supplement the crowd.
Shuttles will run every 10 to 15 minutes from the FridayCenter to the Dean Dome Friday night. The increased shuttle operations run from 5:30 p.m. until 45 after the event is over.
Roundtrip rides are $5. A one-way trip will cost you $3.
For more information about the shuttle schedule, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/news-around-town/
The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department is holding another Shred-A-Thon Saturday in Hillsborough.
If you’re an Orange County resident or business, you can bring up to five “banker”-sized boxes of paper to be shredded, confidentially and at no cost.
Saturday’s Shred-A-Thon will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hampton Pointe Shopping Center on Route 86, at the 24-hour recycling drop-off site behind Home Depot.
Expect construction Saturday morning on North Churton Street in Hillsborough, as a PSNC Energy contractor will be working to install a gas line.
The construction will be taking place just south of Route 70. Town government is reminding drivers to be cautious if driving through that area.
Chapel Hill Transit will be providing additional bus service on the afternoon of Thursday, October 17, for people leaving UNC campus early in advance of the Tar Heel football game that night.
Allow extra travel time that day, as traffic congestion will be causing some delays.
Additional service will be provided on the CCX, CPX, JFX, PX and 420 Hillsborough Express routes, starting around 3:00 p.m. Thursday. Between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m., the F and J routes will be detoured along Rosemary Street to accommodate “Tar Heel Downtown.” Visit CHTransit.org for additional information.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/shredding-constructing-detouring/
CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill’s Festifall, an annual celebration of the arts, will once again transform Franklin Street on Sunday, October 6.
The event lasts from noon to 6 p.m. and includes numerous art activities along with free music. The event features a diverse market of artists with artwork from a variety of medias–fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, pottery, and more.
There will also be live entertainment on three stages. Festifall’s Home Grown Stage and West End Stage will showcase area musicians, including Hindugrass, Tokyo Rosenthal, and Tea Cup Gin. The Dance Evolution Stage will feature a variety of diverse dance groups ranging from clogging to tap–plus an appearance by UNC’s Dance Marathon and a performance by DSI Comedy Theater.
Whether to check out the local art scene or to enjoy a fun and active environment, be sure to visit Festifall on Sunday October 6. For more information click here.
Chapel Hill Transit will provide service to Festifall on October 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. The NU route will be rerouted to West Rosemary, the entrance to Festifall.
People can board the bus along the NU route or the park and ride lot at 725 MLK Blvd.
Regular NU customers should plan for an extra 5 minutes for their Sunday afternoon trip. For more information click here.
Orange County Cooperative Extension hosts its annual holiday program entitled “The Spirit of Elegant Holidays 2013: Home and Health Throughout the Year.”
This year’s program will emphasize food, crafts, and decorating ideas for the holiday season.
The event will take place on October 24 at 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Hillsborough United Methodist Church.
Registration is $5 until October 10; afterwards it will go up to $8. For more information on registering click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/festifall-oc-holiday-program/
Nelson and Chamber board chair Paige Zinn at Tuesday’s presentation. Photo by Donn Young, courtesy Orange County Visitors Bureau.
CHAPEL HILL – Town and county officials have talked for years about making Orange County a place where people can “live, work and play” all in one location—but despite the effort, recent data show we’re still more of a bedroom community than county planners would like.
“Every morning 43,000 people wake up outside of Orange County and drive in, and every morning 39,000 wake up in Orange County and drive out–and only 21,000 people wake up and work in Orange County,” says Aaron Nelson, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.
In all, about two-thirds of those who work in Orange County live outside the county lines—and about two-thirds of Orange County residents leave the county to work. Those percentages have been steadily increasing for at least a decade—and Nelson says it’s putting a strain on the roads.
“The transportation planners should be really concerned,” says Nelson. “The challenge is (that) we have one of the best transit systems in the nation, but these people live outside that transit service area. They’re (using) park-and-ride lots, they’re driving in from all sorts of other places.”
The trend even extends to municipal employees: as of 2010, only 22 percent of those who work for the Town of Chapel Hill actually live in the Town of Chapel Hill. (That’s down from 41 percent in 1995.)
The most obvious would-be explanation for all the migration is simple economics: the cost of living in Orange County is high, so presumably people with low-paying jobs in Orange County have to live elsewhere, while residents of the county commute to higher-paying jobs in other parts of the Triangle. Nelson says that’s what he thought too—but the numbers actually say otherwise.
“Now, I had believed–and had even used the rhetorical ‘hey, it’s BMW out and Oldsmobile in’–that we had been importing our unskilled and semi-skilled labor and we were sending out our white-collar workers in order to work in the (Research Triangle) Park,” he says. “(But) that is not what is happening.”
In fact—contrary to popular belief—the number of individuals commuting into town for jobs paying more than $40,000 is nearly identical to the number of individuals commuting out of town for jobs paying more than $40,000. And the same is also true for jobs paying between $15,000 and $40,000, as well as jobs paying less than $15,000.
“So the disconnect between worker and work opportunity is not about wage,” Nelson concludes. “Some of it’s just about work opportunity. Adding work opportunity in any of these ranges will lower the commute.”
Interestingly, despite the increase in the percentage of people who drive into and out of Orange County for work, the average commute time has remained fairly steady for the last five years: Orange County residents in 2011 spent an average of 21.9 minutes to get to work—up only slightly from 21.4 minutes in 2007. (The average American’s commute is 25.4 minutes.)
Nelson delivered these numbers on Tuesday at the Friday Center, as part of his annual State of the Community report. You can see the whole presentation at this link.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/transit-planners-should-be-concerned-about-long-commutes/
Photo courtesy of Litchfield’s alma mater, Wayne State College in Wayne, NE
CHAPEL HILL – Your local transit authority has been led by an interim director for the past ten months, and now, Brian Litchfield is taking over as the full-time director.
Town Manager Roger Stancil announced Friday that he has appointed Litchfield as Chapel Hill Transit’s director.
Litchfield served as the assistant director of the second largest transit system in North Carolina since 2008. With a 125-bus fixed route and para-transit system and an average weekday ridership of 35,000 people, CHT is second only to the Charlotte Area Transit System.
Before Chapel Hill, Litchfield was the chief development officer for the Des Moines Regional Transit Authority in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chapel Hill Transit has 235 employees and an operating budget of $19.7 million.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/brian-litchfield-announced-as-cht-director/
Ad Courtesy: StandWithUs and Voice For Israel
CHAPEL HILL – The local group behind the new pro-Israel ad set to be featured in Chapel Hill Transit buses says the timing is right to respond to a separate and controversial ad last that debuted last year, calling for an end to U.S. military support for Israel.
Michael Ross, Chairman of Voice For Israel, says the new ad is a grassroots effort to advocate for Israel in the Triangle. The group collaborated with the international organization, StandWithUs, to produce the ad.
“This effort is a local one. It was instigated by us, and it was organized by us. The only thing was, frankly, we are a grassroots organization, and we don’t have the where with al to produce an ad that would be of a very professional nature,” Ross says.
Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos reviewed the ad and found that it complied with the Town’s guidelines, according to an email from Town Manager Roger Stancil. Ross says they are waiting for the contract with the Town to be finalized.
The ad posted last year, shown below, was paid for by the Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill.
“It was percolating since the ads last year, and we just felt the time was right. It seemed to get a positive message out, and it seemed timely, given that negotiations are now going on,” Ross says.
Some Chapel Hillians opposed the ad, saying it was offensive, while others said it was free expression as part of the First Amendment. The ads were taken down 10 days after being posted because they did not include the church’s contact information. The ads were then rewritten to list the required information and posted again.
“The ads that were put up on the buses last year promoted that Israel did not have the right to defend itself, and we were offended by that. Actually many people felt very hurt by it,” Ross says.
Adding to the controversy, the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a group unaffiliated with StandWithUs, expressed interest to place five ads on the outside of town buses. It stated: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man, Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
Pam Geller, the Executive Director of AFDI, successfully sued to have the ad run in other cities and threatened similar action against Chapel Hill.
This prompted the Town Council to review its bus advertising policy. After several meetings and a public hearing, the Council voted to continue a policy of allowing bus ads with most religious and political views, as long as the subject matter was not offensive. This raised questions about how the Town would objectively determine if any ads were offensive. The council also voted to require clearly visible disclaimers on each bus that the town did not support the expressed opinions.
“I hope there will not be a negative reaction because I think that ad itself is very hopeful, and I don’t think it says anything at all that could be considered offensive to anybody,” Ross says.
He adds that, “We [Stand For Israel] don’t see the goals for Israel as incompatible with the goals for Palestinians. We wish them the best. We wish them to prosper and to live fulfilling lives and we think both sides can benefit from a peace.”http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/group-behind-new-pro-israel-bus-ad-speaks-out/
CHAPEL HILL – Next month, you will likely see ads promoting peace in the Middle East in Chapel Hill Transit buses. Ads promoting an end to U.S. military support for Israel were posted last year, causing controversy due to the message.
The ads, which will be featured inside Chapel Hill Transit buses, read “Imagine Peace… in a Middle East where Israel and her neighbors share technology and resources to create a future of peace and prosperity for generations to come. The possibilities are endless.” The ad states it was paid for by the Stand With Us and Voice for Israel Organization, along with contact information for the organization.
The ads posted last year showed Palestinian and Israeli grandfathers holding their grandchildren. The Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill, paid for the ads, which stated: “Join with us. Build peace with justice and equality. End U.S. military aid to Israel.” Some Chapel Hillians opposed the ads, saying they were offensive, while others said it was free expression as part of the First Amendment. The ads were taken down 10 days after being posted because they did not include the church’s contact information. The ads were then rewritten to list the required information and posted again.
The controversy also caused the Town Council to review Chapel Hill’s bus advertising policy. After several meetings and a public hearing, the Council voted to continue a policy of allowing bus ads with most religious and political views, as long as the subject matter was not offensive. This raised questions about how the Town would objectively determine if any ads were offensive. The council also voted to require clearly visible disclaimers on each bus that the town did not support the expressed opinions.
Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos reviewed the ad and found it complied with the Town’s guidelines, according to an email from Town Manager Roger Stancil. Two interior ads will be featured per bus.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/new-bus-ads-could-cause-controversy-again-in-chapel-hill/
CHAPEL HILL- The Chapel Hill Town Council is considering a two-cent property tax rate increase to balance next year’s budget. Half of that would go to fund transit, which makes up about 20 percent of the town’s expenditures.
Many on the council seem to support the plan, but at a budget work session on Monday, Matt Czajkowski pushed back against the idea that fare-free transit should be prepaid by property owners.
“Let’s just be real about what the alternatives are here. Can’t go fare-free? There are fare-collecting systems all over the world. Try Europe, “said Czajkowski. “But oh no, we could never do it because it would cost a million dollars and they don’t take quarters any more. There are different ways to do this but we don’t want to talk about about them.”
Ed Harrison said if the system reverts to charging fares, UNC would likely pull its funding, which makes up almost 60 percent of the transit budget.
“The reason we went fare-free is that the student body at UNC voted for that and the university went along with it,” said Harrison. “The statement from the [transit] partners is that if we stopped fare-free, UNC would pull its funding.”
Chapel Hill Transit expects to lose nearly $900,000 in state funding next year, due in part to service reductions made over the past two years to balance the budget.
Interim Director Brian Litchfield said the transit system, which is jointly funded by Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC, will see some new revenue from a vehicle registration fee that the county levied along with the half-cent transit tax, but he said the majority of the tax proceeds are earmarked for light rail, not bus service.
Chapel Hill Transit is in the process of hiring a consultant to evaluate the system’s long-term financial stability, but the council will need to sign off on next year’s budget long before that study is complete.
Gene Pease said he’s frustrated by the situation.
“We wait too damn long to start this planning. It’s been how many years? Twelve years before a long-term financial plan has been put into place?” asked Pease. “Now we would like to have those alternatives to talk about, but we’re at least a year away from that.”
There was one bright spot in Monday’s budget debate, as Town Manager Roger Stancil told the council that the county’s level of funding for the Chapel Hill Public Library would be increasing to an all-time high of $483,000, enough to slightly increase the library’s operating hours.
Currently the library is open 54 hours a week, down from 68 before the expansion. The council has heard from many residents angry with the service gaps, a sentiment echoed by Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.
“Four or five hours on a Saturday is nowhere near anything called best practice anywhere,” said Kleinschmidt. “I’m actually embarrassed that those were the hours that we chose to close, on the day that most people don’t work.”
The recommended budget would fund 58 hours of operation, and once Orange County’s contribution is factored in, that number could rise to 60.5.
But Sally Greene pushed fellow council members to come up with the additional money needed to restore the library to its full 68 hour a week schedule.
“My opinion is that we need to close that gap. It is $181,000. We need to find a way to close the gap to give the new director the hours she needs, the hours the community needs, and not undercut her ability to succeed,” said Greene. “We’re talking about setting the hours for the whole next year, not coming back in three months or six months. We’re setting the library’s hours for the year.”
Lee Storrow wasn’t so sure.
“Its hard to feel confident that moving to 68 is the right thing to do, without feeling like that we’re really considering all the options, not just from where we are, jumping right to 68,” said Storrow.
No decisions were made as the council asked staff to return with more detailed scenarios to consider at a work session on Wednesday.
The council is scheduled to formally adopt the 2013-2014 budget next week.
CHAPEL HILL- Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil’s recommended budget for next year calls for a two-cent property tax rate increase to cover transit budget shortfalls, increased library operating expenses and the transition of solid waste services to the Durham waste transfer station.
Stancil told the town council on Monday that none of this should come as any surprise.
“There’s nothing [the budget] that we haven’t been talking about for a year,” said Stancil. “So there are no topics in here that would cause you to say ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’”
The proposed hike would bring Chapel Hill’s property tax rate to 51.4 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. A two cent increase would generate a little less than $1.5 million in revenue for the town. Half of that would go to the general fund, while the other half is earmarked for the transit fund.
Chapel Hill Transit is facing increased operating expenses at a time when state and federal funds are being cut. On a local level, Chapel Hill Transit is jointly funded by Carrboro, Chapel Hill and UNC. Stancil says the partners are examining the long-term sustainability of the fare-free system.
“We are looking at a team to help us think at how to have a sustainable transit system, because our land use systems and everything else in this community are built upon a sustainable transit system,” said Stancil.
The 2013-2014 budget does include $100,000 for extra staffing to keep the library open an additional four hours each week. This brings the total number of library hours up to 58, still short of the 68 hours per week level that the library operated at prior to its expansion.
Stancil says the library will likely change its schedule to include the new hours in the fall, but some on the council including Jim Ward pushed for the changes to be implemented as soon as possible.
“We’ve heard an awful lot already about the travesty in some people’s minds of having this great library and it not being open at critical times during the week, and to let this play out another half a year just seems unnecessary,” said Ward.
The council will likely spend much of the next month hashing out the final details of next year’s spending plan. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for next Monday.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/ch-manager-recommends-two-cent-property-tax-rate-increase/
CHAPEL HILL- Although no vote was taken on Monday, the Chapel Hill Town Council made it clear: pay-to-park is coming to the park and ride lots.
“I certainly have come to the conclusion that we need to implement this, said council member Jim Ward. “It is not something I would choose to do otherwise, but we need to keep the playing field level for all the park and ride lots.”
As UNC switches to a fee system for its park and ride lots starting this August, Chapel Hill Transit officials say the town needs to follow suit to make sure town-owned lots on Eubanks Road and in Southern Village are not overcrowded.
“If they’re charging a fee and we’re not, most folks are fairly price sensitive and will likely go to the place where there’s not a fee,” said Chapel Hill Transit Interim Director Brian Litchfield. “We already have capacity issues at some of our park and rides that wouldn’t necessarily be able to handle additional folks just coming to them and using them.”
Under the fee proposal, UNC employees will be granted access to both town and university lots. In return, UNC will pay the town about $150,000 annually. The town will sell permits to non-university commuters for prices ranging from $2 per day to $250 each year.
Some, including Lee Storrow, said the town should consider subsidizing their parking fees to encourage bus ridership.
“I am 100 percent in support of […] for folks who have an annual pass to Triangle Transit or a weekly pass, offering parking free of charge,” said Storrow. “I think it’s a small enough number that for folks who are making that type of commitment to public transportation in this region, I don’t think they should be required to pay the fee.”
But others argued Triangle Transit should shoulder the burden.
“Effectively, the cost of providing park and ride is part of providing the Triangle Transit service, so somebody’s got to pay for it,” said Matt Czajkowski. “And if it is not the Triangle Transit riders, then let’s have it be Triangle Transit. It is not a trivial amount of money; it’s not a huge amount of money. It’s $17,500.”
The council postponed a vote on the fee plan until Triangle Transit officials have a chance to weigh in.
Once the council approves the fee system, Litchfield told the council Chapel Hill Transit staffers will begin working with neighborhoods adjacent to the park and ride lots to ensure that residential roads don’t become de facto parking lots.
The park and ride fee proposal returns to the council on April 10.http://chapelboro.com/news/chtc-puts-park-and-ride-fee-plan-on-hold/