Rabid Bat Found on Hillsborough Playground

Orange County Animal Services reports a rabid bat was found at a Hillsborough elementary school last week.

Last Thursday, several children came across the carcass of the bat on the playground. Some reportedly kicked the dead bat around before teachers became aware of the situation. The bat was removed for testing.

A nurse from the Orange County Health Department is consulting with the families of the children involved to determine if they require post-exposure treatment.

The incident is the eighth reported case of rabies in Orange County so far this year, and the third to involve a bat. Last year, 23 cases were confirmed. The majority of those involved raccoons.


Hillsborough Hosts “Colonial Kids Day”

This Saturday, September 12, is Colonial Kids Day in Hillsborough!

The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough hosts the annual event, “a family-friendly day of free living history activities” at the Burwell School Historic Site on N. Churton Street. Activities include colonial dancing demonstrations, colonial games, and hands-on craft-making opportunities including butter churning, candle-making and quilt-making. There will also be spinning and weaving demonstrations down the road at the Orange County Historical Museum – and the Alliance will host a walking tour of colonial sites in Hillsborough.

Alliance for Historic Hillsborough executive director Sarah DeGennaro joined Aaron Keck on WCHL.


Colonial Kids Day runs from 11 am to 3 pm; the walking tour begins at 11:00 from the Hillsborough Visitors Center at 150 E. King Street. It’s $5 for the walking tour, but all other activities are free.

Get more info here.


Hillsborough Historic District Commission to Review ‘Confederate Memorial’ Sign

The Hillsborough Historic District Commission could decide Wednesday if the words “Confederate Memorial” should come down off 201 North Churton Street.

It’s a topic that’s been hotly debated in recent months, but Mayor Tom Stevens says the Commission’s discussion will likely focus on the aesthetics of the building more than the idea of heritage.

“I do think there will be a fair number of folks who will want to see how that turns out, but in terms of lots of discussion about the words “Confederate Memorial” and what that means to heritage, that’s not gong to be appropriate the what the Historic District Commission is going to be looking at,” says Stevens.

The building on the corner of Churton and West Tryon was constructed in 1934 by the Daughters of the Confederacy to serve as a whites-only library. It now houses the Orange County Historical Museum. Museum staffers in June asked town officials to take down the lettering, saying it made some visitors uncomfortable.

That request sparked outrage from those who said it was an attempt to erase Southern history. Five hundred people gathered last month in front of the courthouse for what they called an “educational rally about Confederate heritage.”

Mayor Tom Stevens says town leaders want to replace the lettering with a sign commemorating the 1778 Constitutional Convention that took place on that spot.

“We want to talk about the history of that particular corner, so what the Historic District Commission will be looking at is not about the content of the sign,” says Stevens. “It really doesn’t matter if it says ‘Confederate Memorial” or what it says. Are the materials appropriate? Is the signage appropriate?”

The Historic District Commission meets at 7 o’clock in the Hillsborough Town Barn. You can read the full agenda here.


Bat In Family Playroom Marks Orange County’s 6th Rabies Case

Orange County Animal Services reported the sixth case of rabies this year, following an incident in which a bat was found inside a house.

Hillsborough residents trapped a bat in an upstairs playroom of their home on Tuesday. Animal Services was called to remove it for testing.

Though no members of the household reported contact with the animal, officials say it’s possible they were inadvertently exposed if the bat was in the house overnight.

Bat bites can be undetectable, so people sleeping a room with a bat might not even know if they’ve been bitten. In this instance, no family members slept in the playroom and the door was reportedly left closed all night.

Nonetheless, a public health nurse is working with the family to determine if they should undergo post-exposure treatment.

In the United States, rabies in humans is very rare, but the few cases reported in recent years have been linked to bats. Officials say if you come in contact with a bat, it’s crucial to contain it without further contact and call Animal Services immediately. Outside of office hours, you can reach an Animal Control officer by calling 911.

You can learn more here.


Whooping Cough Confirmed in Hillsborough

A second-grader at The Expedition School in Hillsborough has tested positive for pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

“We have one confirmed case of pertussis and one suspect case of pertussis in Orange County. They are two children that are both of the same family,” says Stacy Shelp, spokesperson for the Orange County Health Department.

The Expedition School is a year-round charter school serving children from kindergarten through 6th grade.

Patricia Brummit is the school’s business director. She says administrators received word of the diagnosis Monday afternoon. Parents have been notified, and some children who came in close contact with the student are taking preventive antibiotics to limit the spread of the disease.

“We have sent out all the information from the Orange County Health Department and then parents have made their own decisions about taking their children to the doctor,” says Brummit. “We have sent home some children who are showing symptoms and coughing for a while, just to be cautious.”

Shelp says pertussis is highly contagious.

“It is spread through coughing and sneezing. The good thing is it can be prevented through vaccination, so we do recommend that children receive the DTaP, it is actually one of the required vaccinations for school unless you have either a religious or medical exemption from that.”

Symptoms include runny nose, congestion, watery eyes, fever and a cough that can worsen until patients are left gasping for air. Shelp notes it can be especially serious for infants and young children.

“They are a lot more susceptible to this and often times they either end up hospitalized or it can be fatal, so we want to make sure people who are around newborns, infants or those who are immune-compromised have received their vaccination.”

While Orange County has high rate of school-aged children who are fully vaccinated, Shelp says our area also has one of the highest exemption rates in the state.

For more on whooping cough, click here.


Confederate Flag Supporters Rally In Hillsborough

Hundreds of Confederate flag supporters gathered in downtown Hillsborough Saturday for the “Southern Heritage Ride and Rally.”

From the steps of Hillsborough Town Hall, Gary Williamson spoke to a crowd of about 600 people. There were old people, young people, families and couples. Most carried or wore the Confederate battle flag. Even toddlers waved their own pint-sized versions of the Southern Cross. Williamson’s message was that their beloved symbols were under threat.


“They are trying to take it away from us, they are trying to make it disappear,” Williamson warned. “No government, no liberal idiots, no crybabies, no anybody is going to take that away.”

The crowd cheered and gave rebel yells as drivers or motorcyclists roared by on the street below with the Confederate flag flying above their vehicles.

Photo credit: Jess Clark

Photo credit: Jess Clark

Thomas Holmes drove in from Orange Grove for the rally. His friend Jesse Britt carried a giant Confederate battle flag. But Holmes’ Southern Cross is tattooed on his arm.

“It’s where I’m from. It’s who I am. It’s my blood,” Holmes said. “My great-great-grandpa died in the Civil War. He was a prisoner of war in New York almost all the Civil War, and he escaped. And in the last six months he got killed.”

Like many in the crowd, Britt says he and his friends are frustrated that the use of the Confederate flag has come into question after the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston, South Carolina.

“We’ve had this flag for years, and nobody said anything about it until some nutshell comes out and shoots some people,” Britt said. “It makes no at all sense to me—why they’re putting it on the flag. It’s not us. It has nothing to do with us. It’s one nutshell that probably played video games too much and saw too much violence in his life.”

When pressed about the flag’s use by hate groups, Britt says he wouldn’t use it, while Holmes rejects the idea that the flag is associated with hatred.

“I was raised in the South, and we were never raised around that hate with the flag,” Holmes asserted. “We’ve never known the flag to have hate to it.”

Across the street, Christine Gattis disagrees. She’s beating a makeshift drum in a counter-protest of about thirty people. Many are wearing white t-shirts printed with the words “Black Lives Matter.”

“I understand that it’s their heritage,” Gattis said, “but they’re ignoring the fact of what their heritage really is. It’s about slavery. It’s what the Confederate War was about.”

To try to prove the Confederate flag is not a racist symbol, organizers of the “Southern Heritage Ride and Rally” brought in speaker H.K. Edgerton. Edgerton is a well-known supporter of the Confederate flag, and he’s African-American.

Edgerton tried to distance the Confederate flag supporters from the murderer of nine black worshipers at Emanuel A.M.E.

“If that baby boy had gone to the Sons of Confederate Veterans website, he would have learned about the place of honor and dignity that folks who looked like me earned under the Southern Cross,” Edgerton said.

“He would have learned about those trains carrying black folks on plantations all around the Southland of America who made all the implements of war for General Lee’s army. He would have learned about those black folks who made food stuffs for General Lee’s army. And while they weren’t there legally, he would have learned about all those black folks who went out beside our man and fought beside him—a man that he not only called ‘master,’ but a man he called ‘family,’ and ‘friend.’”

Edgerton is, surprisingly, a former president of the Asheville NAACP. He was a hit with the virtually all-white crowd, especially when he made this statement:

“The only people that ever cared for black folks is the Christian man in the Southland of America. White folks in the Southland of America care more for black folks than they care for themselves.”

But his words disturbed Hillsborough resident Robyn Davis-Ellison. Davis-Ellison is African-American and so are her two sons. They watched Edgerton speak from the edge of the crowd.

H.K. Edgerton conducts the crowd in singing "Dixie." Photo credit: Jess Clark

H.K. Edgerton conducts the crowd in singing “Dixie.” Photo credit: Jess Clark.

“I don’t think he believes what he’s spewing,” Davis-Ellison said, aghast. “I don’t know how he can believe it, because he watches television. He sees everything on. I’m sure he was raised by African-Americans. He seems older than me, so I know the stuff I was taught to believe. And I think he’s a token, and maybe that equals money.”

Event organizers did pay Edgerton 400 dollars to speak with money raised through a GoFundMe page. Edgerton says he makes a full-time job being an activist for the protection of Confederate symbols.

“I spend seven days a week fighting for my babies in the Southland of America and my flag,” Edgerton said. “My computer right now when I left this morning had 47,000 emails and 30,000 Facebook messages. My babies are crying out for help all over the land.”

While the rally drew people from as far as Virginia, it was not as large as the Town of Hillsborough anticipated. Protestors from both sides crossed the street to share their views. And while some had angry words, the rally appeared to be peaceful.


Hundreds Gather in Hillsborough to Support Confederate Flag

Several hundred confederate flag supporters gathered in downtown Hillsborough Saturday for a ‘Southern Heritage Ride and Rally.’

It was pitched as an educational event to learn more about the history of the flag and other Confederate memorials. WCHL’s Jess Clark was there, listen below:


Last Thursday, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, NC NAACP leaders held a press conference aimed to “promote the accurate history of ugly racist policies and symbols of hatred.”



NAACP Protests Hillsborough ‘Ride and Rally’

More than 150 people gathered in front of the historic Hillsborough courthouse for the North Carolina NAACP’s “Press Conference for Historical Accuracy.” The crowd included elected officials, local NAACP leaders and residents of many races, some waving small American flags.

North Carolina NAACP leader Rev. William Barber said his organization called the conference to mark 50 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and to protest the 2013 state voting laws and moves by the 2015 legislature to protect Confederate monuments.

“Our current legislature and governor will protect monuments and flags of our racist past that fuels racism in our present, but they refuse to protect voting rights.”

The NAACP press conference in Hillsborough came two days before as many as 1,500 Confederate flag supporters are expected to converge upon the town for Saturday’s “Southern Heritage Ride and Rally.” The rally was organized in response to efforts to remove the words “Confederate Memorial” from the Orange County Historical Museum.

“When we equate Southern heritage with pro-confederate rhetoric and symbols, we are falling victim to the lie of Southern heritage—a lie that so many of my white brothers and sisters have been fed for their entire lives,” said Laurel Ashton, field secretary for the North Carolina NAACP. She was one of many speakers at Thursday’s press conference who expressed skepticism about the history and values behind Confederate symbols.

“An accurate reading of history shows us that most Confederate monuments were erected 50 years after the war to celebrate a successful campaign of violent white terrorism to crush Reconstruction,” Ashton said. “An accurate reading of history shows us that it wasn’t until the 1950s when the Confederate flag became main-stream after a rise in white supremacy groups following the passage of Brown v. Board of Education.”

Rev. Barber called on Governor Pat McCrory and the General Assembly to repeal the monuments bill, saying the Confederate symbols it protects represent white supremacy.

“And if you push white supremacy to the nth degree, it means that you have the right to kill or destroy anybody that’s not like you,” Barber warned. “That’s dangerous. It’s dangerous yes, in the mind of Dylann Roof, but it is even more dangerous when it is supported by governors and legislatures of the state because it gives a legitimacy to it.”

The North Carolina NAACP will continue its protest of the state legislature and the removal of sections from the Voting Rights Act in a 170-mile march across North Carolina. The 170 miles are part of a larger march organized by the national NAACP. Like the historic march for voting rights in 1965, this summer’s march begins in Selma, Alabama, and ends in Washington, D.C.


Hillsborough Rally Planner Says Hate Groups Are Stealing Her Heritage

Kiley Mangum is a resident of Hillsborough and one of the organizers of the “Southern Heritage Ride and Rally” that’s expected to draw upward of 1,000 people this Saturday. Mangum says local and national events prompted her to plan the rally.

“One of the main reasons surrounded the Confederate Memorial building in Hillsborough, because they’re wanting to take the lettering off of it. From what I know, it has not been an issue until all this crazy stuff started going on and people started throwing up racism and tying it in with the Charleston shooting,” says Mangum. “I think we need to conserve that building. To me, it’s a big part of history; it goes all the way back to 1934. It’s really about conserving Confederate history.”

Some Hillsborough town leaders are pushing to remove the words “Confederate Memorial” from a building on Churton Street erected in 1934 by the Daughters of the Confederacy to serve as a whites-only library.

Today the building houses the Orange County Historical Museum. But some argue the inscription is a reminder of the injustices of slavery and the Jim Crow era. Members of the Historical Society say it deters visitors. They petitioned the town in June to take the lettering down.

As Hillsborough debated the fate of those few words, the Charleston, S.C. church shooting of nine black parishioners by an avowed racist white man who wielded the Confederate flag on social media set off nationwide controversy about the meaning of the flag. That debate resulted in the flag’s removal from outside the South Carolina state capitol. Across North Carolina, confederate monuments have been vandalized by those who see them as symbols of racist ideologies.

Mangum says that’s not right.

“It’s just not fair. They’ve been here so many years and it’s just all of a sudden there are so many complaints and so many people are upset by them. It’s all because of a few people want to use the flag for their own stupid purposes and not for what it really means. It’s not right. It ain’t fair.”

Saturday’s gathering is organized by a group called Orange County Taking Back Orange County. The rally will feature songs and speeches, with a focus on education. Mangum says her goal is to change the way people view the Confederate flag.

“We would love to,” says Mangum. “A lot of people have it set in their head that the Confederate flag is just nothing but slavery and racism and they tie it in with KKK groups. We’re nothing like that. We have nothing to do with any type of hate group whatsoever.”

When it comes to explaining what the Confederate flag means to her, she says it’s hard to put into words.

“To me it means, people fought and died for that, for what they believed in. It’s just like the American soldier today. They fight for what they feel is right.”

Mangum worries hate groups have stolen the symbols of her heritage.

“Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, you’re southern so you must be a racist or you must be a part of a hate group.’ It’s becoming a big deal now. The biggest part about it is, hate groups, they don’t only use the Confederate flag, they also use the American flag. But the American flag isn’t being talked about. It’s not being complained about.”

Despite this, she says she doesn’t see the need to go the extra mile to distance herself from those groups that do use the Confederate flag to promote racism.

“I know what’s in my heart,” says Mangum. “I know where I stand.”

The Southern Heritage Ride and Rally will feature a caravan of vehicles driving from Burlington to Hillsborough, followed by a two hour gathering at 2 o’clock on the lawn of Town Hall. Police are warning of traffic delays throughout the afternoon.


‘Southern Heritage’ Rally Could Bring 1,500 to Hillsborough on Saturday

The Town of Hillsborough is preparing for a rally in support of Confederate heritage this Saturday that’s expected to draw more than 1,500 people.

Billed as an “educational rally about Confederate heritage,” the event is organized by a group called Orange County Taking Back Orange County.

Members are hoping to draw attention to an effort by Hillsborough leaders to remove the words “Confederate Memorial” from a building built in 1934 that now serves as the Orange County Historical Museum.

The “Southern Heritage Ride and Rally” was inspired by a similar event in Alamance County last month that drew more than 1,000 supporters. Participants will drive from Burlington to Hillsborough then gather at 2 o’clock on the lawn of Town Hall for two hours of songs and speeches.

In a press release, Police Chief Duane Hampton says: “This is going to be a very challenging event for public safety to manage, and we are asking for and appreciate the community’s patience and help as this event happens.”

Multiple law enforcement and emergency management agencies will be on hand to direct traffic. Officials are asking “citizens who would like to express a counter view… to do so at another time.”

Police are also warning of traffic delays before and after the event. In addition to the rally, the Carolina Tarwheels Bikefest event is slated to come through Hillsborough on Saturday, with 850 cyclists visiting historic sites in and around town.

Police are reminding the public that weapons and alcohol are not allowed at the rally. You can learn more about parking options and street closings here.

In response to the planned “Southern Heritage” rally, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP is hosting an event Thursday morning in Hillsborough called a “News Conference for Historical Accuracy.”

Reverend William Barber will commemorate the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and address the Governor’s decision to sign a bill protecting Confederate monuments.

That gets underway at 11 a.m. in front of the historic Orange County Courthouse at the corner of North Churton and East King streets in downtown Hillsborough.