Orange County Public Library Buys New Equipment with Grant Money

Orange County Public Library received two grants from the State Library totaling to a little more than $68,000.

The library will use the money from one grant to buy assistive technology and the money from the second grant will go to developing their strategic plan for the next three years, which plans to build off the 2013-2016 plan.

The new equipment will allow library visitors to have more access to the library’s collection. Currently the library’s offerings are only six percent of its entire collection.

The new technology includes a stationary text-to-speech magnifier, a portable video magnifier, three high-definition handheld video magnifiers and assistive headsets for those who have trouble hearing.

Jason Richmond, the technology support and instruction librarian, said that the library’s conversations with disability advocacy groups gave them the direction to prepare for the grant proposal.

“Focus groups were very excited to hear that visitors with visual challenges may soon have access to an expanding number of library resources,” Richmond said in a release.

For more information on the Orange County Public Library visit here.

This Weekend: “Vitamin O,” Summer Reading, Art Against HB2

There’s a lot to see and do in Orange County this weekend!

Friday evening, head downtown for Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s 2nd Friday ArtWalk. Highlights include an opening reception for “Vitamin O,” a series of photoessays about Orange County residents by photographer-writer Alicia Stemper. Stemper has conducted more than 40 interviews (so far!) with local folks from all walks of life – and through June, her photographs will be on display at the Orange County Visitors Center at 501 West Franklin Street. Everyone’s invited to the reception Friday from 6-9 pm.

Stemper spoke this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck (and interviewed him on the air for a possible future “Vitamin O” segment). 


You can see more than 20 “Vitamin O” pieces online, at this page on Orange County’s website.

On Saturday morning, the Orange County Public Library kicks off its annual Summer Reading Program with a party for the whole family. Festivities begin at 8 am with a 5K fun run along Hillsborough’s Riverwalk, then the party heads to the main library on West Margaret Lane from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm.

Aaron Keck spoke with Libbie Hough of the Orange County Public Library; Hough says this year’s summer reading program focuses on physical activity as well as mental activity.


Then on Sunday, the town of Carrboro is hosting an afternoon of artistic expression against North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom” law, House Bill 2. If you’re an artist or a wannabe artist, come to Carrboro Town Commons from 1-4 pm: there will be an open mic for poetry, spoken-word performance, dance, music, and more for anyone who wants to speak out against the bill. (Only thing not allowed is speechifying: artistic expression only!) Even if you’re not an artist, everyone’s invited to come out and watch; there will be chalk for sidewalk drawing and a misting station to keep cool – and naturally, Town Hall’s bathrooms will be open to everyone.

Carrboro Alderman Jacquie Gist spearheaded the event and Aaron Keck will serve as MC; they spoke on WCHL earlier this week.

Orange County Public Library holds 5K

The Orange County Public Library is holding a noncompetitive 5K run-walk at Riverwalk and Gold Park on Saturday, June 11.

The event begins at eight o’clock Saturday morning near the downtown Riverwalk entrance. Parking is available at the Eno River Parking Deck and at the end of Nash and Kollock Street.

Traffic is expected to be higher than usual on the trails. Volunteers will be present to direct foot and bicycle traffic. Motorists should expect additional traffic near the intersection of Churton and Nash and Kollock Streets.

The event will be followed by the library’s summer reading program sign-up party.

For more information or to sign up visit the library’s website here.

Health, Safety, Schools, Libraries, And Hillsborough

If you still haven’t signed up for health insurance, the Chapel Hill Public Library is holding an all-day Affordable Care Act enrollment session on Monday, March 24, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The library is holding the session in partnership with UNC Healthcare, the League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood, and UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition.

The deadline to sign up for health insurance in 2014 is March 31.

For more information or to reserve a time, call the Chapel Hill Public Library at 919-968-2780.


Are you a veteran or connected to the military? Orange County’s Department of Social Services is inviting you to a new event called “Military Monday,” geared especially toward veterans to make sure they have access to benefits and other federal, state, and local resources.

The first Military Monday event will take place on March 24, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at Hillsborough Commons on Mayo Street. It will be a Career/Resource Fair, with benefit assistance, career assessments, education resources, the Mobile Vet Center and more.

For more information, contact Betsy Corbett at 919-245-2890.


Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will deliver his annual State of the Town address on Monday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m. in the Orange County Public Library.

Among other things, the address will include an update on the town’s Riverwalk project as well as a discussion of Hillsborough’s future population boom. The town is expected to grow by 31 percent in the next four years.

Members of the public are invited to attend. Before the speech, from 5:30-6:30, planning staff will host a public information meeting on the status of downtown access improvements.


If you’re a parent in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and you’d like more information on the district’s dual language program, the district is offering four information sessions this spring, beginning later this month and running through May.

The Dual Language program gives students the chance to become proficient in two languages, English and either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. The district says Dual Language students, on average, outperform their peers on standardized tests and other student growth measures.

The first information session will be for the Spanish program on Thursday, March 20, at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School. The session will be offered in Spanish from 6-7 p.m. and in English from 7-8 p.m. Two more sessions on the Spanish program will take place—at the same times of day—on Thursday, April 24 at Carrboro Elementary and on Thursday, May 22, again at FPG.

There will also be an info session on the Mandarin Chinese program on Tuesday, March 25, from 6-7 p.m. at Glenwood Elementary.


Are you excited about the proposed new Southern Branch Library in Carrboro? What do you want to see there? What do you NOT want to see there?

If you have thoughts and ideas about the library, come out to a Community Engagement Meeting hosted by Orange County. The county is actually holding two meetings: the first is Tuesday, March 25, at 6:00 at Hickory Tavern; the second is on Saturday, April 12, at noon in Carrboro Town Hall. The first 50 participants at the March 25 meeting will receive gift certificates to Hickory Tavern.


The Hillsborough Arts Council has announced a partnership with a new charter school coming to Hillsborough this August.

The Expedition School will be taking part in the Art Council’s ArtCycle program, a program that collects new and used art supplies to be used in local schools.

The Expedition School is scheduled to open its doors in August. It’s a STEM-focused school for grades K-8.


Driving around this month, you might see some new signs on the road – all part of a local campaign to remind people to pull over if they see emergency vehicles coming their way.

The campaign is called “See the Light, Pull to the Right.” The idea came from a town employee, Fire Equipment Operator Luis Rodrigues. Six new signs are being installed near major intersections in Chapel Hill.

If an emergency vehicle is approaching you from behind, take your foot off the accelerator, merge to the outside lane if possible, and pull off the side of the road to allow the vehicle to pass.


Homeownership, Scholarship, Taxes And Snow Days

Are you thinking about buying a home? Wondering how you can afford it?

Chatham Habitat for Humanity and EmPOWERment are co-hosting a two-part Home Buyer’s Education Workshop in Pittsboro, on Thursday, March 6 and Thursday, March 13 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. You’ll learn tips for shopping for homes and mortgages, how to financially prepare, and how to maintain your home after you’ve bought it.

The workshop takes place at 467 West Street in Pittsboro. It’s free and open to the public; dinner, door prizes and child care will be provided. To RSVP, contact Amanda Stancil at EmPOWERment by calling 967-8779, or Anna Schmalz Rodriguez at Chatham Habitat by calling 542-0794.


Congratulations to Casey Rimland, a medical and doctoral student in the UNC School of Medicine who was recently named as a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Created with a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship provides students with a three-year full scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England. Between 80 and 100 Gates Scholarships are awarded annually; Rimland is the second honoree from UNC.

Casey Rimland is originally from Charlotte and graduated from UNC-Charlotte in 2011. She’s also a thyroid cancer survivor, having been diagnosed in her first year of medical school.


To compensate for all the snow days, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board has updated the district’s class schedule for the rest of the school year.

There were three remaining days on the district’s calendar that were set aside as delayed-opening days, but all three have now been changed to regular school days. Those three days are March 13, April 10 and May 8 – all originally delayed opening, but now functioning as regular, full school days. Students should report to school at the regular time.


Congratulations to the AVID students from Smith Middle School, winners of this year’s sixth annual Black History Knowledge Bowl!

The event is sponsored every year by the Mu Omicron Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. It’s a competition between students at Culbreth, McDougle and Smith Middle Schools who participate in the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination). This year’s Knowledge Bowl took place at Culbreth Middle School on February 22; Smith took first and Culbreth took second.


Results are in for the Town of Chapel Hill’s Community Survey, and the numbers indicate that—for the most part—residents are extremely happy with the town’s services.

More than 90 percent of residents who responded say they’re satisfied with the town’s fire department, library, and trash collection services; more than 80 percent say they’re satisfied with Chapel Hill’s park maintenance and police department. Those numbers are “well above regional and national benchmarks,” according to a release from the Town.

On the down side, residents said they were most concerned with traffic congestion and “how well the Town is preparing for the future,” and also said the Town could do a better job providing affordable housing and “access to quality shopping.”

You can check out the full results at


It’s tax season—and if you need tax forms, the Orange County Public Library is offering select forms for free. Those forms include the 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, Schedule A, Schedule B and Schedule SE.

In addition, the Orange County Department on Aging is offering its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program—VITA for short—which provides free income tax preparation for qualifying individuals with low- to middle-incomes, regardless of age or county of residence.

For more information or to find out if you qualify, visit


UNC has received a grant of more than $40 million from the National Institutes of Health, to fund a global clinical trials unit working to treat and prevent the spread of HIV.

The grant will fund five clinical research sites through the year 2021. Three of those sites are located in North Carolina; the other two are located in Africa, in Malawi and Zambia.

UNC received $430 million in external funding for HIV research between 2008 and 2012. The university is ranked as one of the top 10 programs in America for HIV/AIDS research.


Honor For Moeser; New UNC Seminar Director; Financial Fitness

Hill Hall’s auditorium will be renovated and named after former Chancellor James Moeser and his wife Susan.

The $15 million renovation will begin in 2015 and take two years to complete. The “James and Susan Moeser Auditorium” will include a climate control system, new acoustics, a professional grade stage, and a new piano and equipment lift.

Hill Hall is home to UNC’s music department, so the honor is fitting: James Moeser is a well-known organ recitalist and church musician; and Susan Moeser is the University Organist, a doctor of musical arts from the University of Kansas, and a lecturer in the music department.


UNC sociology professor Andrew Perrin has been named the new director of the Carolina Seminars Program, a program on campus designed to bring together scholars across disciplines to collaborate on issues that bridge many departments.

Perrin will take the position on February 1, succeeding anthropology professor James Peacock.


The Orange County Public Library is hosting a three-part financial literacy workshop series, beginning on Saturday, February 1 with a workshop called “Budgeting: How to Stay Financially Fit?”

The second workshop, on March 1, will focus on how to “Take Control of Your Credit,” and the third workshop on April 5 will discuss how to prevent identity theft. The library is presenting the series in conjunction with the Compass Center for Women and Families.

All three workshops will run from 10:00 a.m. to noon. They’re free, but registration is required: visit to register.

Anniversaries, Wellness, And “Coffee With A Cop!”

ORANGE COUNTY – The Carrboro Police Department is inviting you to come have “Coffee with a Cop!”

“Coffee with a Cop” is a chance for community members to connect with police officers, ask questions and learn more about the department. It’s part of a national initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, to break down barriers between police departments and community members—“one cup of coffee at a time.”

“Coffee with a Cop” will take place on Friday, January 31, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Looking Glass Café on West Main Street. Everyone’s invited to attend.


St. Thomas More School is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 with a year of festivities—beginning with a Golden Jubilee Celebration on Friday, January 31. Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford—a St. Thomas More alum—will serve as guest speaker at the event, which begins at 7:00 p.m. at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, just off Fordham Boulevard at 940 Carmichael Street.


The Orange County Department on Aging is inviting you to help them celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Central Orange Senior Center, which opened five years ago on January 29, 2009.

The free event will take place on Friday, January 31, at 10:00 a.m. at the Central Orange Senior Center, located at 103 Meadowland Drive in Hillsborough. There will be food and music, plus a special performance by the Prime Time Players senior actors group.


The Orange County Public Library is hosting a free wellness workshop called “Make It Stick!” on Wednesday, January 29. Local wellness coach Marit Weikel will talk about how to change your habits to live healthier—and how to make those changes last.

The class will run from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the main library in Hillsborough. Everyone is welcome.


The Friends of the Downtown is holding its monthly meeting on Thursday, January 30, at 9:00 a.m. on the second floor of the Franklin Hotel. It’s free and open to the public. Local architect Phil Szostak will be the featured speaker; he designed the DPAC in downtown Durham and he’s currently working on the Carrboro ArtsCenter.


The Orange County 4-H is inviting everyone to a Community Forum on Thursday, January 30. The forum is designed to identify the needs of local kids and teens, and 4-H officials will use data from the forum to develop programs for kids ranging from 5-19 years old.

The Community Forum will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Orange County Center, located at 306 E. Revere Road in Hillsborough. Dinner will be served.

To RSVP, visit this News Around Town page on our website,

<…call Sheronda Witter at 919-245-2057.>


A study out of the UNC School of Medicine last week is contributing to a greater understanding of schizophrenia. UNC genetics and psychiatry professor Dr. Patrick Sullivan co-authored the study, which uncovered evidence that schizophrenia arises from the combined effects of certain minute mutations distributed across many genes.

The study was published in this week’s issue of Nature.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is providing the North Carolina Partnership for Children with a three-year, $3 million grant to expand a program called Shape NC.

Shape NC is an early childhood initiative designed to increase the number of children who start kindergarten at a healthy weight, by promoting physical activity and good eating practices. Shape NC is already being implemented in 19 child care centers across the state; the grant will enable the program to expand to another 240.

This Weekend In OC: Arts! Concerts! Tax Relief?

With tax season officially upon us, Orange County is once again offering the RSVP-VITA tax preparation service for low- to middle-income residents in need of assistance this year.

“VITA” is short for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. It’s a free program sponsored by the IRS. It begins in February in Orange and Chatham Counties.

You can find out if you’re eligible and make appointments either online or by phone. Visit, or to make an appointment by phone, call:

Orange County: 919.245.4242 (English)
Orange County:  919.245.2010 (Spanish)
Compass Center for Women and Families: 919.968.4610 (English only)
Chatham County: 919.542.4512 (Angel Dennison)
Chatham County: 919.742.1448 (Spanish)


From now through March, the Hillsborough Arts Council is offering walking tours of the town’s sculptures. The guided tour is called “Take A Closer Look”; it will focus on four of the six sculptures that have been on display since last April.

Tours begin at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery on N. Churton Street, at 1:00 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. The tours are free (though donations are accepted), and they last one to one and a half hours.


This weekend brings the third annual “Mixed Concrete” art auction to Chapel Hill, with proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Featuring local artists working with a variety of materials, the show runs from Friday to Sunday, January 24-26, at TRU Deli + Wine Bar on the corner of Rosemary and Henderson. There will be an opening reception on Friday at 7:00 p.m.

To see some of the art online or to donate to the cause, visit


If you’re still unsure about the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace, UNC Family Medicine is holding a “Health Insurance Enroll-A-Thon” on Saturday, January 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Officials will be on hand to answer questions and help you enroll.

The event will take place in the UNC Family Medicine Center at 590 Manning Drive. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit


The Orange County main library in Hillsborough is hosting an exhibition of folk art from January 24-March 24. It’s called “Road Trip: Folk Art from Mike’s Art Truck”—and it’s comprised of 20 pieces all created by self-taught artists.

Curators Greg and Karen Mack of Hillsborough will be on hand for a reception at the library on Saturday, February 1, from 2-5 p.m.


Orange County’s Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center are inviting you to attend a Celebration Concert honoring the memory of Pearl Seymour on Saturday, January 25.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road; admission is free. Immediately following the concert, there will be a reception and a silent auction, with proceeds going to benefit the Department on Aging and the Friends of the Seymour Center.

For more information about the concert, visit


Saturday, January 25, you’re invited to a free performance of actor Mike Wiley’s “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till” at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel Hill Public Library. The performance is co-presented by the library and the UNC Program in the Humanities, part of a community dialogue on the legacy of Jim Crow and its impact today.

There will be an audience discussion following the performance.

New NC House 50 Representative To Be Named Thursday

CHAPEL HILL – Thursday we’ll know who our next state representative will be.

When former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird resigned in August, it set in motion a chain of events that has led up to filling the now vacant North Carolina District 50 House of Representatives seat.

Someone will be chosen from a field of seven candidates to fill the position vacated by Valerie Foushee, which represents parts of Orange and Durham Counties.

In September, Foushee was appointed to the Senate District 23 seat, which was formerly held by Kinnaird, who resigned after 9 terms.  Kinnaird said that her time could be better spent outside the legislature lobbying for issues she feels strongly about, such as voter registration.

Five Orange County residents announced their intention to seek the House: Tommy McNeill; Chapel Hill Town Council member Laurin Easthom, who is not running for re-election to the Council; attorney Drew Nelson; Orange County Commissioner  Bernadette Pelissier; and Graig Meyer, Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System.

Two residents from Durham County are up for consideration: Travis Phelps, Foushee’s primary opponent from the House race last year; and Danielle Adams, a soil and water conservation supervisor.

Adams is currently seeking the North Carolina 6th Congressional District nomination as well.

A selection committee made up of four Democratic officials is charged with nominating the new House Representative on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Orange County Public Library at 7:00 p.m.

WCHL’s Elizabeth Friend will be there to speak with our newly-named Representative.

You can tune into the WCHL Friday Morning News for a full recap.

Time To Dig Into Reading, Hillsborough Arts Council Accepting Last Fridays Applications

ORANGE COUNTY-The Orange County Public Library is welcoming local residents of all ages to use the summer months to dive into a new book.

On June 1, the library will begin registration for its “Dig Into Reading” summer program. Different literary selections are available for childrens, teens, and adults. All participants must have a current Orange County Public Library card, and any OC resident can obtain one free of charge. The program will also include the opportunity for its younger readers to earn prizes such as bookmarks and stickers. Teens and adults will also be able to enter drawings for prizes, such as gift certificates and Kindle Fire e-reader tablets.

Registration for “Dig Into Reading” will run through the end of July. For more information, click here.


Members of the Hillsborough Arts Council would like to remind local residents that their meetings are open to the public. During the meetings, local residents have the opportunity to learn about what the Council does, give feedback on its current programs, or suggest new programs. The Council meets on the first Tuesday of each month, and the next meeting is set for the evening of June 4 beginning at 6:30 at 102 N Churton Street in Hillsborough.


The Hillsborough Arts Council members would also like to announce that they are accepting applications for those who would like to set up vendor booths during this season’s Last Fridays events. On the last Friday of each month from April to September, the Council hosts a gala event on the front lawn of Hillsborough’s historic Old Courthouse, including a different local band each week. Non-profit organizations are eligible to participate as vendors, along with local artists. All applications for a particular month’s Last Friday event must be submitted by the 21st of that month. To fill out an application, click here.