Board of County Commissioners
200 South Cameron St.
P.O. Box 8181
North Carolina 27278
(919) 245-2130
Fax: (919) 644-0246

Contact: David Hunt
Information Specialist
(919) 245-2126
Fax: (919) 644-0246

Return to Orange County Home Page

News Releases

July/August 2007

Click on subject to read news release

Past News Releases



August 30, 2007

Contact: Fletcher Barber,  Cooperative Extension Director, (919) 245-2050

Public Market House Ribbon Cutting

The public is invited to join in the celebration of the construction of the new Orange County Public Market House.   The dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.  Located behind the Sheriff’s Office, 144 East Margaret Lane in Hillsborough, the Public Market House will be the future home of the farmers market. 

The Public Market House was funded through a $90,000 grant facilitated through Congressman David Price, who is scheduled to attend.

Current plans have the Public Market House opening in the spring of 2008. 

Additional information and photographs of the structure can be found in the construction projects section of the Orange County website.

# # #



August 23, 2007

Contact: Gwen Harvey,  Orange County Assistant Manager, (919) 245-2300

Human Services Advisory Commission's Forum on Domestic Violence

ORANGE COUNTY- The public is invited to attend the 18th Annual Human Services Advisory Commission Forum on Wednesday, September 12, 2007, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Forum 2007 will be held at the Chapel Hill Bible Church, 260 Erwin Road, in Chapel Hill. 

The theme for Forum 2007 is “Domestic Violence Hurts the Whole Community”.  Forum 2007 is a presentation of the Human Services Advisory Commission (HSAC) in partnership with allies and advocates from the Orange County Commission for Women, Family Violence Prevention Center, Planned Parenthood, UNC Hospitals’ Beacon Program, the Chapel Hill Police Department, the NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the departments of the Orange County Manager’s Office, Cooperation Extension, Health, Human Rights and Relations, and Social Services.  

The registration fee of $25.00 covers Forum 2007 materials, continental breakfast, boxed lunch, and snacks. Last year’s registration fees also provided a donation over $1000 to Senior Care of Orange County, Inc., an adult day health center, consistent with the Forum 2006 theme of “Communities Responding to an Aging Society”. 

Please register by September 7, 2007 by contacting Corinthia Barber ( in the County Manager’s Office at (919) 245-2301. 

# # #



August 21, 2007

Contact: Laura Blackmon,  Orange County Manager, (919) 245-2300

Orange County Manager Appoints Michael McGinnis as Orange County Human Resources Director

HILLSBOROUGH - Orange County Manager Laura Blackmon has appointed Michael McGinnis as Human Resources Director for Orange County.  McGinnis will begin work on Monday, September 17, 2007.

McGinnis joins the Orange County Personnel Department following 25 years of human resources experience.  This experience includes human resource positions of increasing responsibility with both the public and private organizations.  Currently, McGinnis holds the position of Human Resources Manager for the City of Durham, responsible for management of a division that develops, revises and implements systems to support three human resources functional teams serving the entire city government work force of over 2,000.

As a long time resident of Orange County and working in HR for about 25 years, having the opportunity to join the Orange County organization and help take it to the next level is one that I am looking forward to with great enthusiasm!” McGinnis said.  Everybody that I met in the process has exemplified what I already knew, that Orange County will be a great place to work.  I feel that I am joining an organization that is really making positive changes and I look forward to being involved in the process. 

McGinnis, a resident of Orange County since 1991, has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Eastern Michigan University and a Master’s Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  He also holds the professional certifications of Senior Human Resources Professional and Certified Human Resources Professional from the International Personnel Management Association.

“I am excited by the prospect of adding to the County’s Management Team an experienced professional with Michael’s exceptional vision and enthusiasm,” Blackmon said.  “He brings a spirit of collaboration and integrity that will serve our employees, and ultimately the citizens of Orange County, extremely well.  Michael shares my view of the central role that Human Resources can and must play in ensuring that the County provides its menu of core services in responsive, creative, and efficient ways.”

# # #


Fire Marshal 


August 21, 2007

Contact: Mike Tapp,  Orange County Fire Marshal, (919) 968-2050

Ban on Open Burning Prohibits Outdoor Fires

The state, through the Director of the Division of Forest Resources, has issued a ban on open burning for all 100 counties in North Carolina.  Any previously issued burning permits are immediately canceled.  The ban will continue until lifted. 

The Orange County Fire Marshal will work closely with the Orange County Office of the North Carolina Forest Service on enforcement. 

# # #

Human Rights 


August 14, 2007

Contact: Shoshannah Smith,  Department of Human Rights and Relations, (919) 960-3877

Orange County Human Rights and Relations Seeking "Community Civil Rights Educators"

The Orange County Office of Human Rights and Relations is continuing to offer the Community Civil Rights Educator Program, which was started earlier this year.  The program is designed to empower community leaders and help residents understand their rights and responsibilities.  Additionally, the support of community leaders will improve the level of trust that community members have in the process and in the Office, increasing the likelihood that individuals will seek to vindicate their rights.

Ten Orange County residents will be selected to engage in a comprehensive civil rights and human relations training program including the following topics:  fair housing, landlord tenant, predatory lending, employment discrimination, Title VI, wage and hour, hate crimes, violence against women, and “Race: The Power of an Illusion.”  This training will take place in Orange County over the course of two Saturdays.  The educators will receive a stipend and sign a memorandum of agreement with the Office to conduct community outreach on civil rights for the period of a year.

In order to be considered, applicants must be 18 years old or older, a resident of Orange County, not employed by Orange County Government, and not related to current members of the Orange County Human Relations Commission or the Commission for Women.  Educators will be selected based on their knowledge, community involvement, commitment, and interest in civil rights.

If you are interested in becoming a Civil Rights Community Educator, please complete an application and submit it to the Orange County Office of Human Rights and Relations by September 15, 2007. 

You may obtain an application via the Internet at under the What’s New section, by calling Jennifer Galassi at 919-960-3876 or you may pick up an application at the Government Service Center, Southern Human Services Center, or any Orange County library.

# # #

Social Services 


August 13, 2007

Contact: Felicia McLean-Torry,  Department of Social Services, (919) 245-2884

Orange County Updating Special Needs Registry in Preparation for Hurricane Season

ORANGE COUNTY-The Orange County Department of Social Services is currently accepting applications for inclusion in the Disaster Special Needs Registry in preparation for hurricane season.

The registry is a confidential database maintained by the Department of Social Services and used to contact individuals with special needs who may need assistance in the event of a disaster such as a hurricane or ice storm. 

Generally, those eligible do not require hospital care but may need assistance beyond what is provided in a standard Red Cross Shelter.  This may also include individuals who are homebound. 

Individuals with any of the following should consider submitting an application:

§         Minor health or medical conditions which require observation or monitoring ordered by a physician

§         Contagious health conditions requiring minimal precautions or isolation

§         Chronic conditions requiring assistance with activities of daily living, but not hospitalization

§         Medication and vital sign monitoring with professional assistance

§         Mental health or developmental problems that could not be handled by Red Cross Shelter Staff

The program will assist county staff in providing information vital to the safety and well being of registered individuals prior to or during a disaster.  Items in the database include contact information and health requirements.  Registered participants may be directed toward a facility or shelter that is most suited to meet their needs or provided with other arrangements for their care and safety.  The program will assist emergency services personnel and volunteers in providing support when time could be critical. 

Participation in the Disaster Special Needs Registry is voluntary and individuals will only be included with their permission.  Eligibility for the registry is determined on a case-by-case basis, and is not guaranteed.  Individuals on the registry decide whether to accept assistance and/or remain responsible for themselves in the event of a disaster.

For more information, please contact Felicia McLean-Torry at the Orange County Department of Social Services (919) 245-2884.

# # #

Social Services 


August 7, 2007

Contact: Yvette Smith,  Department of Social Services, (919) 245-2858

Heat Relief Available at the Orange County Department of Social Services

ORANGE COUNTY- In anticipation of the high temperatures predicted for this week, the Orange County Department of Social Services has received donations of window air conditioners from Orange Congregations in Mission, and purchased fans to help low-income citizens cope with the heat.

Orange County residents with limited resources and no cooling source in their home can apply at the Chapel Hill office located at 2501 Homestead Road, or the Hillsborough office located at 300 West Tryon Street.  Individuals and families need to be at or below 200% of poverty to be eligible to receive an air conditioner or fan.  For an individual, the income limit is approximately $1700/month, and for family of four, the income cutoff is about $3400/month.  Because of the limited supply, families or individuals requesting air conditioners must also have a medical need and the ability to pick-up and install the air conditioner.

In addition to providing fans and air conditioners to those in need, the agency also runs the county’s Emergency Assistance Program.  This program can help pay past due utility bills to keep a resident’s electricity from being turned off.

Yvette Smith, the Economic Services Director at the Orange County Department of Social Services, stated “we especially encourage families with young children and older adults to take advantage of this opportunity to receive a free cooling source for their homes.”

# # #

Economic Development 


July 30, 2007

Contact: Noah Ranells,  (919) 245-2330

National Farmers Market Week

The United States Secretary of Agriculture has proclaimed August 5 – 11, 2007 as National Farmers Market Week.  More than 4,300 farmers markets across the country offer consumers farm-fresh, affordable, convenient, and healthy products such as fruits, vegetables, cheeses, herbs, fish, flowers, baked goods, and meats. 

The popularity of farmers markets continues to rise and according to National Public Radio (NPR), farmers markets have grown more than 50 percent in the last decade.  These local markets offer consumers the opportunity to buy agricultural products directly from the farmer, products which, more often than not, were still on the vine less than 24 hours earlier. 

Farmers markets serve as integral links between urban and rural communities allowing farmers and consumers the opportunity to interact directly with each other. Each year, more than 3 million consumers make purchases from more than 30,000 farmers who sell at farmers markets.  This farmer to consumer direct marketing ensures that dollars spent at producer-only farmers markets significantly enhances local economic activity, reinvigorates rural agricultural communities, and keeps farmland in active production.

Products from Orange County farms, gardens, and kitchens can be found in both Carrboro and Hillsborough on Saturday mornings as well as Wednesday afternoons.  There is also a Thursday afternoon market in Southern Village. 

Locations for local markets have transitioned over time.  In earlier years local farmers markets were generally held in an available parking lot.  In Carrboro in 1996 a permanent market location with shelter was established next to the town hall.  A fixed market shelter is currently under construction in Hillsborough behind the Sheriff’s Office and projected to open late this summer. 

For additional information contact the Orange County Agricultural Economic Development Coordinator at 245-2330 or check the market websites. 

Carrboro -

Hillsborough - 

# # #



July 24, 2007

Contact: Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass,  (919) 245-2900

Trespassers Removed from Highway Right of Way

HILLSBOROUGH - This morning (7/24/07) Orange County deputies and Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass removed trespassers encamped in the area of I-40 and NC-86 just outside of Chapel Hill. 

In the highway right of way, there were a total of 12 individuals sleeping under trees, cooking on the embankment and soliciting at the intersection.  Two of the males stated they just arrived the previous night from Louisiana.

All of the individuals on the site were verbally trespassed, which means if they come back they would be charged with trespassing. The individuals were photographed and identification information was recorded for those that had identification.

“Yesterday, we contacted the Department of Transportation and asked if they would erect no trespassing signs on the site,” said Sheriff Pendergrass. “They agreed to if we would be there.”  This morning the signs were installed.

Seven deputies, the Sheriff and inmates from the Department of Corrections cleaned up two truckloads of trash by the intersection.  

# # #




July 6, 2007

Contact: Laura Blackmon, Orange County Manager or Gwen Harvey, Assistant County Manager (919) 245-2300

Shoshannah Smith to Head Orange County Human Rights and Relations

Laura Blackmon, Orange County Manager, announced the appointment of Hillsborough resident Shoshannah Smith to lead the Human Rights and Relations function of Orange County government starting July 9th.

As head of Human Rights and Relations Smith will be responsible for planning, organizing, and coordinating the County’s human relations work, including Civil Rights Ordinance enforcement.  Duties entail responding to issues of discrimination and human relations as well as supporting the programs and activities of the Human Relations Commission and the Commission for Women.  She will lead the development of community education, training and outreach programs related to civil and human rights, encompassing social justice initiatives and women’s issues.

Smith was chosen from a field of 38 human rights activists and administrators.  She is a graduate of the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Gender Studies from the New College of Saratoga in Florida. Smith served most recently as Director of Education Policy at the Center for Community Action in Lumberton. She brings experience investigating discrimination complaints and policy considerations in areas of gender and employment discrimination, community development, voting rights, and public education.

“We’re pleased that Shoshannah Smith has accepted our offer to serve the County and community,” Gwen Harvey, Assistant County Manager said.  “Her legal and policy expertise, practical experience working with diverse coalitions on a variety of social justice issues, and enthusiastic demeanor are what set her apart from all the rest. Ms. Smith has demonstrated - as an attorney, trainer, consultant, and organizer – a rich understanding and deep allegiance to human and civil rights.”

James Spivey, Senior Civil Rights Specialist has been serving as interim since Milan Pham left in January. 

“I am so excided to have this opportunity to work with Orange County Human Rights and Relations and further the goal of social equality in the region.  I can’t wait to get started,” Smith said. 

# # #