Last week started with Sunday’s always-inspirational annual Pauli Murray awards at the Central Orange Senior Center — a much-needed, multipurpose facility which I helped to design after leading efforts to secure bond funding for its construction.
The county attached the senior center to the Sportsplex after we bought the recreation facility and placed it under sound management. Attached too is an adult day health center named for Florence Soltys, an exceptional woman with a great heart who long championed the cause of seniors in Orange County.
The following evening the county held a quarterly public hearing at which the commissioners heard a proposal for the county’s second solar farm, this one in Efland; a zoning dispute involving a kennel and the apparently improper placement of a fence for its dog exercise yard near Durham; comprehensive plan and unified development ordinance text changes for Efland that reflect work done by a citizen task force over nearly a decade; and a proposal to advance an Agricultural Support Enterprises ordinance.
The joint hearing with the Orange County planning board took approximately 4 1/2 hours. The solar farm drew little opposition. The kennel had considerable citizen support for an adjustment that would allow it to continue as is. The ag support enterprises ordinance, first spawned when Maple View Farm had trouble locating an ice cream store in the rural buffer more than a decade ago, is a mechanism to simplify and expedite farm-related development. Two people spoke in favor.
All of those items were referred to the planning board for recommendation back to the commissioners.
The Efland plan – part of a larger effort involving Mebane on which I had worked since it started in the mid-2000s — drew protests from folks who had missed the numerous signs and notices touting a series of community meetings. To better accommodate residents’ questions and concerns, consideration of the item was deferred pending staff-led information meetings in the community.
The next morning at 8:30 I brought greetings from the commissioners to a full house at the 16th annual Orange County Agricultural Summit. The event, which was initiated at my instigation in 1999, brings together growers, vendors, and others interested in improving their businesses or promoting our local agricultural economy.
The summits, originated to meet the changing nature of N.C. farming in the wake of the tobacco settlement of the late 1990s, present fresh ideas and approaches, basic business information, individual advice and testimonials, and government and nonprofit support efforts. We had a full house (100?). There was plenty of enthusiasm and networking during breaks at the Maple View educational center. A lunch of locally grown foods capped the session.
Two days later, on Thursday night, the county commissioners met in joint session with the Hillsborough town board. These annual meetings have occurred for more than a decade and reflect the strong, collaborative relationship I’ve actively helped to promote, sometimes in the face of opposition from other elected officials and staff.
We discussed sidewalks, transportation (particularly local bus service and an Amtrak station to be built in town), our joint land-use efforts (I participated from the plan’s inception), planning for road patterns in economic development areas, and a joint agreement I had proposed to protect cultural and natural resources around town when governments disturb land.
The results strengthened our work together, reiterated a strong commitment to bus service in central Orange County, and reaffirmed the perameters of our joint plan while potentially moving about 400 watershed acres from town to county jurisdiction.
On Friday night the 2014 candidates in Orange County races, as well as their friends and families, packed Steel String in Carrboro at the generous invitation of OrangePolitics.org.
On Saturday morning, first thing, many of the same candidates were eating scrambled eggs, sausage, ham and biscuits with gravy at the Schley Grange.
Since September I’ve been writing a weekly column on sports for Raleigh’s News and Observer. Many of the articles also run in its sister paper, the Charlotte Observer.
Today the Orange County Human Relations Commission hosted the annual Pauli Murray Awards ceremony. The event commemorates the life and values of Pauli Murray, a courageous and trailblazing champion of equal rights and social justice whose family hailed in part from Orange County.
As I said in welcoming those in attendance, there are many good things about being a commissioner and a few even better things. Giving the Pauli Murray Awards to those who exemplify and/or articulate the values for which she fought are among the better parts of representing Orange County.
This year there were award winners at the elementary school level for best fair housing posters; at the middle school and high school levels for best essays on the importance of the Voting Rights Act of 1964; as well as awards in annually recognized categories honoring an individual, presented to Judith Blau upon recommendation of Margaret “Peggy” Misch; for a youth, presented to Desaray Rockett upon recommendation of Keith Cook; and for a business, upon recommendation of Alice Ammerman to Vimala’s Curryblossom Café.
The music by Diali Cissokho and John Westmoreland, the food by EB Catering Company, and the remarks by several articulate speakers rounded out two hours of heartfelt community feeling and pride at the Central Orange Senior Center.
Raleigh’s News and Observer has a story today (2-23-14) about the dangerous presence of coal ash holding ponds around North Carolina (not to mention the rest of the U.S.) A map accompanying the article by John Murawski appears to include a site on the Durham-Orange border. According to Mr. Murawski, that is a cartographical error.
Thank you to the voters of Orange County for their gratifying support in the recent Democratic primary for county commissioner at-large. Serving as your commissioner these past years has been an honor and a privilege, and I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of our community.
Now that the electoral cycle is over, candidates and our supporters are conscientiously taking down campaign signs around the county. If you see any of my signs lingering along the roadside, please let me know at email@example.com or at 732-4384.
The unofficial results (below and at the NC Board of Elections) show that Barry won over 50% over the vote in this three-way primary. With no opponent in the November general election, this means Barry will return to the Board of County Commissioners for another term. We greatly appreciate the support of everyone in Orange County!
Percent Votes Joe Phelps (DEM) 31.76% 3,689 Barry Jacobs (DEM) 52.74% 6,125 Joal Hall Broun (DEM) 15.50% 1,800 11,614
Barry Jacobs could have no better endorsement than the one written by Thomas Crowder, the chair of the Triangle J Council of Governments (CHN April 14).
The title of the letter, “Jacobs courageous, atypical leader” fits him perfectly. Mr. Jacobs’ involvement with the Council of Governments shows that he is not only working for Orange County but to meet the goals of all of us.
Barry Jacobs has my vote for county commissioner. I hope he will have yours as well.
Local blogger and activist Ruby Sinreich recently posted her personal endorsement of Barry on OrangePolitics.org. You can too!
I’ve known Barry since meeting him through a mutual friend and volunteering for his first campaign 12 years ago. Now he’s running for a fourth (and probably final) term on the Board of Commissioners. I don’t agree with every vote of ANY single elected official, and Barry is no exception. But I have found him to be smart, hardworking, and open-minded.
He brings a deep understanding of many critical issues facing the county such as smart growth, affordable housing, environmental preservation, economic development, and social justice. He has the experience to know the people and history on these issues, and knows how to get things done. There’s no part of the county that Barry doesn’t care about and hasn’t worked to improve, for example he has worked for the creation of a downtown Carrboro library in addition to helping to create the existing Cybrary and supporting increased funds for the Chapel Hill library.
Also, I helped to create his web site, so I hope you’ll visit it. http://barryjacobs.org
I am writing to strongly encourage my fellow Democrats to vote for incumbent Barry Jacobs for Orange County Commissioner (At-Large). In his three terms, Barry, who lives in the Hillsborough area, has been very supportive of economic development and agricultural policies that benefit this part of the county. He started the annual county Agricultural Summit, now in its 12th year. He worked to obtain federal funding for the local farmers market and has championed the farm easement purchase program, which allows farmers to stay on their land instead of selling for development. He was instrumental in the creation of the new Piedmont Agricultural Processing Center, scheduled to open later this year in Hillsborough, results of a collaborative effort involving four counties, plus the state and federal governments. He is also a supporter of the proposed Buckhorn Village project, which will create hundreds of new jobs for northern Orange residents.
Early voting starts this Thursday at the County Board of Elections. Vote Barry Jacobs, For Orange.