This Month, “The War Ends” In Hillsborough

In Hillsborough in April 1865, more than 90,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union General William T. Sherman. It was the largest surrender in the war, effectively ending the Civil War in North and South Carolina as well as Georgia and Florida.

This month, the town of Hillsborough and the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough mark the 150th anniversary of that event with a month-long commemoration called “The War Ends at Home: Hillsborough 1865.”

It begins on Saturday, April 4: from 10-11 am, local historian Steve Peck will lead group tours of the Old Town Cemetery near the corner of N. Churton and W. Tryon Streets. The commemoration continues all month long: highlights include an ongoing exhibit about one-room schoolhouses at the Orange County Historical Museum; a lecture on former slave and Mary Todd Lincoln confidant (and Hillsborough native) Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly on April 29 – and “This Unfaltering Faith,” an exploration of the role of churches in Civil War Hillsborough, with events at several churches in town that date back to the era.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke about “The War Ends at Home” with Alliance for Historic Hillsborough executive director Sarah DeGennaro and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church Rector Brooks Graebner.

For a full schedule of events, click here. The commemoration runs all through April, with some ongoing exhibitions continuing into May.

Hillsborough Police Search for Suspect in Shooting

Hillsborough police are looking for the gunman who shot someone in the wrist.

The incident happened around 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon on West Hill Avenue. The victim was treated at UNC Hospitals for non-life threatening injuries.

Police are looking for a black Chevrolet Malibu with tinted windows and factory wheels, but Lieutenant Simmons says they have little information about who was in the car.

“This is one of those ones where we have a vehicle description, but we don’t really have good descriptions of suspects, or descriptions of suspects at all really,” says Simmons. “There’s a white male driver and we’re unsure about the passengers.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hillsborough Police Department at (919) 732-9381.

Hillsborough PD Looking for Appliance Thieves

Hillsborough Police are seeking information regarding a series of break-ins.

Lieutenant Simmons with the Hillsborough Police Department says the string of incidents have a common theme.

“We’re seeing a rash of break-ins in new homes under construction,” he says. “They’re going into the new homes and stealing appliances.”

Nine dishwashers of various makes and models have been removed from new residences in three construction sites between February 23 and March 14. Damage from each occurrence is in excess of $35,000.

Police are seeking two suspects, one male (pictured above) and one female (pictured below).


Police have identified possible suspect vehicles as a newer model white minivan (possibly a Toyota Sienna or similar) and a white Ford F250/F350 Super Duty pickup truck with small lights on the roof and a toolbox in the truck bed.

Hillsborough_1 Hillsborough_2

If you see any suspicious activity, specifically around new construction sites, you are asked to notify authorities.

“Any suspicious activity that they see, even if it turns out to be something that’s legitimate,” Simmons says. “We’d like to be able to check on each individual instance to make sure that it’s not something going on.

“Construction sites are places that are typically dormant when the construction workers are gone. And if there’s just one random vehicle in there, we’d like to get a call on that.”

Simmons says they have no indication at this time the suspects have any connection to the construction crews that are working on the sites where appliances were stolen.

Apply Now For Hillsborough’s First “Citizens Academy”

The town of Hillsborough is inviting you to learn more about how local government functions – as part of its first-ever Citizens Academy.

The Citizens Academy is a six-week course designed to help you learn more about town government – and to get folks more interested in getting involved as well. It begins on Wednesday, March 11, and runs for six weeks, with classes from 7-9 pm every Wednesday through April 15 held mostly at Durham Tech’s Orange County campus. (There will also be one Saturday session – a tour of the town’s water and sewer system on March 28.)

Read the town’s full news release.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens says it’s part of a town-wide effort to “be more systematic” about transparency and getting people engaged – because, he says, that effort makes for better government.

“We want to make sure there’s a wide pool of citizens who are available to serve on advisory boards, or perhaps even run for office – or if nothing else, just give us feedback on the budget and some of the policies that we’re doing,” Stevens says. “It really does make a difference, we do listen to people, (and) it’s very important to get different viewpoints, (because) that helps us all arrive at better decisions.”

Read the course syllabus, including the topics for each week.

The deadline to apply for the Citizens Academy is Monday. Priority goes to Hillsborough residents, but everyone is welcome.

To apply for the Citizens Academy, click here.

In Hillsborough, Just Seven People To Clear The Roads

With more than an inch of snow expected to fall, plus a quarter inch of ice, local road crews were out all night trying to keep the streets drivable.

In Hillsborough, Mayor Tom Stevens says all that work is done by a skeleton crew of just seven people.

“These guys are unsung heroes,” he says. “We have seven in the department, and they’re doing good work out there.”

Stevens says about half the crew was out during the nighttime hours, and the rest will be out today. They’ll be clearing the roads of as much snow as possible – but Stevens says it still won’t be ideal.

“There’s very little we can do about the ice, if it gets to be icy out there,” he says. “We just have to wait it out like everybody else.”

The winter storm warning is in effect until 9 am.

Google Fiber Won’t Reach Hillsborough

Google Fiber is coming to the Triangle!

…Just not the entire Triangle.

In response to a flurry of questions following last week’s announcement from Google, the town of Hillsborough on Friday released a statement reminding everyone that Hillsborough is not one of the communities included in the program.

Google Fiber will be coming to Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Garner, and Morrisville. (Pittsboro is also not on the list.)

The full statement from the Town of Hillsborough is below.

The Town of Hillsborough welcomes the ultra-fast network connections that Google Fiber is bringing to the Triangle; however, the town is not among the communities receiving this service.

The town has been in communication with Google and is open to finding ways to receive a fiber-optic network for increased broadband service within the community. At this time, no plans exist for service from Google Fiber. Competitors offering ultra-fast Internet connections may be an option for the town.

Google Fiber will be provided in the following Triangle locations: Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville and Raleigh.

In Hillsborough, Orange County government is working with Time Warner Cable to provide wireless Internet service to a portion of the downtown. Service is planned for the Churton Street corridor between the Eno River and Tryon Street. The county and town also are discussing expanding the service to other common spaces around town that would benefit from public wireless access points.

Vote For Hillsborough As “America’s Coolest Small Town”!

It’s time to head online and vote once again for Hillsborough in Budget Travel’s “America’s Coolest Small Town” contest!

Hillsborough was the nation’s top vote-getter in the first phase of the online vote – but now the scores have reset to zero as the top 15 vote-getters move into the semifinals. The top 10 will get a write-up in Budget Travel magazine – but the leading vote-getter this time will be crowned “America’s Coolest Small Town” for the year 2015.

Click here to vote.

You can vote online once a day, every day, from now through February 25 by visiting; it takes less than a minute to vote. Right now Hillsborough is running third, with Grand Marais, Minnesota in the lead. (It’s on Lake Superior, an hour south of the Canadian border.)

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke with Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens, as the town starts working to get out the vote.


You can sign up for daily reminders to vote by visiting this page on the town’s website,

Photo via the Town of Hillsborough.

Photo via the Town of Hillsborough.

Hillsborough “Vision 2030″ Open House

Hillsborough Planning Director Margaret Hauth led an Open House, on Thursday evening at the Town Barn, to discuss the “Vision 2030” project.

The early stages of the project involved collecting Hillsborough-centric data.

“If you don’t know what the current situation is,” she says, “you don’t know whether you’ve made any progress.”

There are several lofty goals as part of the development project: town-wide wireless internet by 2025, increasing residential density without losing small-town charm, all while maintaining affordable housing options.

But one item grabbed community member’s attention on Thursday night, the construction of a train station to re-establish Amtrak service and be open to commuter rail. Hauth says they are in line to receive funding from the state Department of Transportation for construction of that train station in 2019.

“We are building the platform, the building, and access to the site so that Amtrak trains can stop,” she says. “Any other trains that are running on that line – that choose to stop – we will welcome.”

The Town of Hillsborough already owns 20 acres off of South Churton Street where the train station will be built.

This is the second time Hillsborough officials have developed a long-term planning document, and they have seen major solutions come during the process.

“In 1990, when we wrote the first Vision 2010 plan, we did not have a reservoir,” Hauth says. “We were at a point where really we couldn’t tie on new water customers for any kind of large-scale development.”

Hauth says that they will have annual reports to update the board, and residents, with progress being made on the “Vision 2030” project.

The public hearing for the development plan is scheduled for next Thursday, January 15.

“Vision 2030″ Public Information Session Thursday Night in Hillsborough

Hillsborough will hold a public information session, scheduled for Thursday night, concerning the vision town leaders have for Hillsborough in the year 2030.

Mayor Tom Stevens says they held the first meeting focused on “Vision 2030” more than a year ago. Now, town officials are ready to unveil a draft of their plan for Hillsborough and receive feedback from the community.

“We’re creating a guiding document that, in very broad strokes, talks about where we want to go as a community,” he says.

According to Mayor Stevens, this is an important step in the process because it allows Hillsborough residents to be involved in planning how the town grows.

“It’s a time where citizens can come in, they can talk to some planning staff, they can hear more details about what’s in that document, and they can ask questions,” he describes.

Stevens adds the vision being brought to residents through this project will focus on five major aspects.

“What’s our character of our town? How’s our community? What are we doing about our heritage? What about prosperity for everybody? And, what’s our overall vitality?” he lists.

Mayor Stevens adds they have recently updated the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, and the public was very involved voicing their opinion in that process. He adds this input is vital.

Stevens says the “Vision 2030” draft does have room to be flexible after input is brought in from the public, but he adds it is a key building block for managing growth going forward.

The Open House is scheduled to take place in the Hillsborough Town Barn, Thursday night from 5 to 7. Time is built in for discussion and questions. A public hearing is scheduled for next Thursday, January 15, regarding the project.

Common Themes Develop Among 2015 Priorities

Flipping the calendar to a new year can cause reflection over what happened over the previous 12 months. It can provide a clean slate for starting new. And it can present new challenges.

Managing growth and fighting poverty are two ideas that would seem to counter each other. But, throughout our community, this juxtaposed theme continues to emerge. The message from many community leaders is that we must continue to strive for growth, while lending a helping hand to those in need.

In that vein, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says he is excited about the two zones in Orange County chosen by the Family Success Alliance, aimed at helping children from low-income families continue on to higher levels of education.

Kleinschmidt adds that Chapel Hill, specifically, has to focus on the “Design 2020” development project and work toward a public transit solution.

“We’re going to be exploring some new ways of financing bus purchases,” he says. “The earmarks that David Price, our congressman, used to bring to us to buy new buses are gone, and we have to find new ways to do that.”

Meanwhile, in neighboring Carrboro, Mayor Lydia Lavelle says they will be focusing on bringing more projects to the town.

“As the economy continues to do a little better, we’re hoping to see some more projects come forward over the next year,” she says, “including projects like the library.”

Kristen Smith, with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, says that she believes there will be a reenergized spirit to help those that are less fortunate.

“I think some people are renewing their focus on poverty,” she says, with the goal of finding “how we can come together and collaborate around that.”

Smith cites the UNC Global Research Institute, whose focus will be on “Feeding a Hungry World” for the 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 academic years.

Mayor Tom Stevens says the Town of Hillsborough will be focusing on ways to systematically build citizen engagement and leadership throughout the community. He adds that promoting tourism will be a key, along with managing growth.

“We’re going to have two new neighborhoods,” he says, “so we’re going to have a lot of new folks in town.”

Stevens adds that he believes Hillsborough can welcome new residents and hold on to its “small-town character.”

Riding the tourism wave, Laurie Paolicelli, with the Orange County Visitors’ Bureau, says that they are working to continue bringing in higher numbers of visitors to the area.

“We’re trying to work with our partners to figure out: Do we stay open a little later? Do we offer night lighting, more way-finding, more marketing of the area?” she says. “We have a lot of opportunity and a lot of smart leaders.”

Paiolicelli adds that it will be important to continue bringing in visitors to fill hotels that are targeting our community.