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


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

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News Releases

September/October 2006

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Past News Releases

 


BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2006

Contact: Barry Jacobs, Chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 732-4941  

Rod Visser, Interim Orange County Manager (919) 245-2300  
              

Orange County Campus Expansion Plans

The Orange County Board of Commissioners will devote a portion of its regular meeting on Thursday, November 2, 2006 at the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom in Hillsborough to a public hearing regarding the development of an expanded county campus in downtown Hillsborough. Action by the Board is scheduled subsequent to receiving public comment.

Analyses of Countywide departmental space needs have been ongoing for the past six years, and made clear the inadequacy of current County facilities to properly meet growing public demand for services and to accommodate staff in a safe, efficient environment. Yet the County has continued to defer addressing these matters until all pending school projects were funded, including a new, as-yet-unnamed elementary school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district. Thus, while the projected 2007 opening of Carrboro High School will mark the 11th school built in the county since 1994, the similarly timed Seymour Senior Center will be only the second Orange County government facility built during the same period.

The County’s space needs recommendations, developed with the direct participation of a number of different commissioners over the years, have included the need to create a new campus, or to expand the existing County campus, in Hillsborough.  

George Horton, the developer of the Gateway Center that was approved earlier this year by the Town of Hillsborough, has offered to expand the County’s downtown Hillsborough campus with new buildings roughly adjacent to the existing County courthouse, jail, and office complex in lieu of seeing a new campus developed at a less central location. 

The project site is located on the old Southern States property, the Gateway building property, and several other parcels.   Combined, the project sits on parcels of land totaling approximately 3.35 acres located at the southern edge of the Historic District of Hillsborough.  The combined parcels will have access to the proposed new Nash & Kollock Street to the south, Churton Street to the east, and Margaret Lane to the north.  

The proposed Project components include:

  • Phase I -  A two-story public library (23,454 sf) to be purchased by the County.
  • Phase II –  A three-story office building (46,716 sf) to be purchased by the County.
  • Phase III – A parking facility with 134 spaces licensed exclusively to the County and a minimum of 201 to be retained by the developer.
  • An auxiliary Project involving the Gateway Center Building (a condominium), with Floor 1 (11,423 sf) to be purchased by Weaver Street Market; and Floors 2 and 3 (22,846 sf) and 41 additional Project Parking facility parking spaces available for lease by the County for 366 days with an option to purchase at the end of the lease period at a predetermined price.

The developer intends to begin construction of the Gateway Center within the next few weeks, with completion anticipated by November 2007.  The Project, which includes the office building, library building, and parking deck will begin after regulatory approval from the Town has been received.  The current anticipated completion date for the Project is May 2008.   The County, in partnership with the developer, will program the interior of the buildings to accommodate the needs of the specific occupant departments. The buildings will be constructed consistent with County policy regarding incorporation of sustainable design standards.

"The proposal before us can extend, with minimal disruption, the core campus of Orange County government, and in one stroke improve public services, better working conditions for our staff, and sustain the economic vitality of downtown Hillsborough," said Barry Jacobs, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners. "The consolidation of functions, and the provision of a long-needed, new central library, potentially benefit all Orange County residents. What's more, we expect that the expanded core campus and attendant changes at other County facilities will satisfy the preponderance of County government space needs for years to come."

Debt issuance plans discussed and endorsed by the Board of Commissioners on September 14, 2006 contemplated the issuance of $25 million for a County Campus and Library project.  The fixed cost to purchase the Project, which includes the office building, library, and space for citizens and staff at the parking facility, is approximately $17.9 million. The Auxiliary Project has a cost of approximately $5.5 million, should the County decide upon purchase at the conclusion of the lease period.  

To further place this matter in context, the November 2, 2006 meeting materials will include documents regarding the County’s overall capital and debt financing plans, as discussed at various Commissioner meetings since August 31, 2006.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2006

Contact: Monica Evans, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2125  
              

BOCC Board and Commission Appointments

At its October 17, 2006 meeting, the Orange County Board of Commissioners appointed the following citizen volunteers to County Advisory Boards and Commissions.

Tammy Thacker

Advisory Board on Aging

Peggy Cohn

Advisory Board on Aging

Diane Henderson

Advisory Board on Aging

Ernest Dodson

Board of Health

Brian L. Crawford

Eno EDD Small Area Taskforce

Orlando Metcalf

Information Technology Advisory Committee

Joel Forrest Knight

New Hope Park at Blackwood Farm

Anne Winfield

Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee

Carol Hierman

Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee

Ingrid Medcalf

Recreation and  Parks Advisory Council

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 17, 2006

Contact: Commissioner Barry Jacobs, Chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 732-4941  

Donna Baker, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2130  
              

Commissioners Appoint Laura Blackmon as County Manager

The Orange County Board of Commissioners has agreed to hire Laura Blackmon as the next Orange County Manager. Ms. Blackmon comes to Orange County from Osceola County, Florida, where she has served as assistant, deputy, or acting county manager since 2001.

Ms. Blackmon is an Alabama native and has a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Florida at Gainesville.   She began her professional career as a high school Social Studies teacher before entering government administration.

She is married to Jerry Walters and she is 53 years old. 
 
Chair Barry Jacobs said: “We’re thrilled to hire as our manager a person of Laura Blackmon’s qualifications. She is highly skilled, service-oriented and people friendly. She promises to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to Orange County government. As Orange County’s first female manager, her presence also reflects the diversity that makes our government and our community special.”
 
Vice Chair Steve Halkiotis said, “ It is very exciting to have a person of Laura Blackmon’s integrity and skillset coming to Orange County to serve as our first female County Manager.”

Ms. Blackmon succeeds John Link, who served as Orange County manager for more than 18 years. Link announced his retirement on February 6, and stepped down on August 31, 2006.  Assistant County Manager Rod Visser has served as interim manager since that time, and will remain in that capacity until Blackmon starts work on November 30.

“I am delighted that Laura Blackmon will be joining us, and confident that she will be a great asset to Orange County,” Commissioner Gordon said. 

The Commissioners hired The Mercer Group Inc. as the consultant for the manager’s search process and conducted a national search that drew 90 applicants from across the country.

 Ms. Blackmon's starting salary will be $135,000.

The vote to appoint Ms. Blackmon was unanimous. 

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LIBRARY 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 12, 2006

Contact: Brenda Stephens, (919) 245-2525  
              

Friends of the Orange County Public Library Host Local Author, Doug Marlette

On Sunday, October 29th, area residents are invited to an author reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and local author, Doug Marlette. 

Marlette has provided years of excellent editorial cartoons and received many distinctions in his field.  In 1988, Doug received the Pulitzer – Prize, which is awarded, “for a distinguished cartoon or portfolio of cartoons published during the year, characterized by originality, editorial effectiveness, quality of drawing, and pictorial effect."  In 2002, Doug Marlette, published his first novel, The Bridge, to critical acclaim having been selected the best novel of 2002 by the Southeastern Booksellers' Association. 

Doug’s new novel, Magic Time, released this month, has been described as ‘ a powerful and eloquent novel filled with all the emotions and fury of the early Sixties,’ by Library Journal.   “In Magic Time, Doug Marlette does with words what we are used to seeing him do so masterfully with pictures.  He is a great writer of Southern fiction, and he understands that region as it was in the turbulent days of the Civil Rights Movement,” remarks Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University.

Please join Doug Marlette and the Friends of the Orange County Public Library for an afternoon of lively readings and book discussions on Sunday, October 29th at 3pm.

The Friends of the Orange County Public Library will have copies of Marlette’s new book, Magic Time, available for purchase and signing.

The Orange County Public Library is located at 300 West Tryon Street, Hillsborough, NC.  For information about this event or any other library programs, contact the library at 919-245-2525 or visit them on the web at www.co.orange.nc.us/library. 

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ELECTIONS 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 11, 2006

Contact: Jan Richmond, President, League of Women Voters - ODC (919) 408-0444  
              

District Elections Educational Forums

The League of Women Voters – ODC, with assistance from Orange County Government, will host two educational forums regarding the November 7, 2006 referendum on District Elections for Orange County Commissioners.  The forums will provide information related to possible changes in the way Orange County Commissioners are constituted and elected.

Each forum will include a general information presentation along with an opportunity for presentation of views on the ballot question.  There will also be a question and answer opportunity. 

The first educational forum will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. in the OWASA conference room, 400 Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro. 

The second educational forum will be held on Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom, 106 E. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 10, 2006

Contact: Donna Baker, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2130  
              

Orange County Board of Commissioners Meeting Notice

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 153A-40, the Board of County Commissioners provides notice of the following changes in the 2006 meeting schedule.   

The Board of County Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 8:00 a.m. at the BOCC office at Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, to consider qualifications of candidates for the County Manager position. This meeting is likely to be a closed session- only meeting.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 9, 2006

Contact: Monica Evans, Orange County Board of Commissioners Office (919) 245-2125  
              

Tethering Committee

The Orange County Board of Commissioners Office has created a new County advisory committee to facilitate further discussion concerning tethering and possible changes to Orange County’s ordinances regarding tethering.

The Tethering Committee is charged with:

§         Creating a report on tethering/chaining as a means of confinement, including the activities and efforts of other communities,

§         To obtain general public comment on any possible ordinance amendments from a cross section of the community through suitable mechanisms such as community meetings

§         Recommend to the Animal Services Advisory Board any appropriate or desirable changes with the understanding that the ASAB will itself make any final recommendations to the BOCC. 

Membership will include:

§         Two Animal Services Board Members,

§         One Law Enforcement Representative,

§         One Animal Behaviorist,

§         One Animal Health and Wellness Expert,

§         One Advocate for the Restriction of Tethering,

§         One Advocate for Tethering,

§         Three At- Large Representatives

All interested citizens are encouraged to apply.  For more information, please visit the Orange County Web Site at www.co.orange.nc.us where you may complete an application online, by clicking on the “Volunteer Boards” icon from the Orange County homepage.  You may also contact the office of the Clerk to the Board at (919) 245-2125 or email mevans@co.orange.nc.us to request an application, or for more information. We will send you an application immediately.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 29, 2006

Contact: Monica Evans, Orange County Board of Commissioners Office (919) 245-2125  
              

Recent Appointments

At its October 3, 2006 meeting, the Orange County Board of Commissioners appointed the following citizen volunteers to County Advisory Boards and Commissions.

Appointed Volunteer

Board Names

Adrienne Breaux

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Susan Elmore

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Pat Sanford

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Sharon Harkavy

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Haley Davis

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Elizabeth Garman

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Caroline Green

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Lynn Rehm

Animal Shelter Design Committee

Margaret Wood Cannell

District Election Education Committee

Jean Andrews Earnhardt

District Election Education Committee

Artie Franklin

District Election Education Committee

Peter Hallenbeck

District Election Education Committee

Dolly Hunter

District Election Education Committee

Cannie Bacon Lloyd

District Election Education Committee

Vern Miller

District Election Education Committee

Robert Nutter

District Election Education Committee

Joe Phelps

District Election Education Committee

Robert Strayhorn

District Election Education Committee

Louise Tate

District Election Education Committee

Keith Cook

District Election Education Committee

 

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 29, 2006

Contact: Commissioner Barry Jacobs, Chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 732-4941  

Donna Baker, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2130  
              

Finalists for Orange County Manager Announced

The Orange County Board of Commissioners has announced its two finalists for the position of County ManagerThe finalists are: Laura Blackmon, Deputy County Manager of Osceola County, Florida; and Tom Robinson, County Manager of Rockingham County, N.C.

            The candidates will be in Orange County next week to meet with the county commissioners, county staff, and the public. A public reception will be held on Tuesday, October 3rd from 6:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m. in the Jury Room on the ground floor level in the New Courthouse in Hillsborough (reached via the parking area east of the building). The BOCC meeting will convene at 7:00 p.m. in order to allow each candidate 15 minutes to make a presentation and/or take questions between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

            The Board of Commissioners, along with The Mercer Group, Inc. consulting firm, worked closely together in the manager’s search process. "We were fortunate to choose among an excellent field of candidates, many from North Carolina,” said Barry Jacobs, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “Orange County is a special place, and we believe we've found finalists who would fit well within our diverse and engaged community. We look forward to spending more time with the finalists, and to having them meet both the public and Orange County staff."

            Advertisements for the position were placed in a variety of publications, nationally and locally. The County received 90 applications from throughout the country for the position. The Commissioners met in August to select the group of finalists and, following interviews and exercises involving four candidates, on September 22nd narrowed the field to two.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 26, 2006

Contact: Commissioner Barry Jacobs, Chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 732-4941  

Donna Baker, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2130  
              

COME ONE, COME ALL

To Meet the Finalists for Orange County Manager

The Orange County Board of Commissioners cordially invites the public to attend a Reception to Meet the Finalists for County Manager on Tuesday, October 3, 2006 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Jury Room at the New Courthouse, 106 East Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, N.C. (prior to the BOCC meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom in Hillsborough).  Each finalist will be given a chance to make a presentation between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Battle courtroom.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 26, 2006

Contact: Donna Baker, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2130  
              

Orange County Board of Commissioners Changes in the Regular Meeting Schedule

  • The Board of County Commissioners will meet in closed session on Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at 11:45 a.m. in the BOCC office at Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, N.C. to consider the qualifications of candidates for the County Manager position. This meeting is likely to be a closed session- only meeting.
  • The Board of County Commissioners will host a public reception for the County Manager finalists on Tuesday, October 3, 2006 from 6:00pm-7:00 p.m. in the Jury Room of the New Courthouse, 106 East Margaret Lane, in Hillsborough, N.C.
  • The Board of Commissioners changed the starting time of the Board’s October 3, 2006 regular meeting from 7:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom, 106 East Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, N.C.
  • The Board of County Commissioners will meet in closed session on Thursday, October 5, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. at the BOCC office at Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, N.C. to consider qualifications of candidates for the County Manager position. This meeting is likely to be a closed session- only meeting.

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RECYCLING 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 25, 2006

Contact: Gayle Wilson, Director, Solid Waste Management (919) 968-2885
       

NCACC Recognizes Orange County Recycling Programs Manager

Rob Taylor, Orange County’s Recycling Programs Manager was a recipient of the Fifteenth Annual Ralph W. Ketner Employee Productivity Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Mr. Taylor oversees, among other things, the Toxic Reduction Improvements Program (TRIP).  Orange County recycling weights went up 22% during the past year. Most of that 107 ton increase was in electronics recycling, up from 187 tons to 290, raising Orange County’s collection rate per capita to the highest in North Carolina.  According to the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention, this was among the highest in the nation. The Orange County hazardous waste program saw 7% growth in tonnage and 8% in customer visits from 4,600 to almost 5,000 last year. Cost per ton declined 8% for TRIP overall. This bundle of programs includes motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze and battery recycling as well as electronics and hazardous waste.

Mr. Taylor was recognized for his oversight and hard work in creating these huge strides in efficiency and service to Orange County.

Ralph Ketner, a private citizen, initiated and funded these awards fifteen years ago to recognize productivity improvements by County governments in North Carolina.

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CONSERVATION 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 20, 2006

Contact:
David Stancil, Environment and Resource Conservation (919) 245-2590
Rich Shaw, Land Conservation Manager, (919) 245-2591
Brent Bogue, NRCS District Conservationist, (919) 245-2750  
David and Vickie McKee, (919) 732-8065              

Lands Legacy Program, USDA and McKee Family Protect Farm in Cane Creek Watershed

Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program, in conjunction with the USDA Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program and the local office of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), has agreed to acquire a perpetual conservation easement on a 92-acre farm in Bingham Township that lies within the Cane Creek protected watershed, the primary water supply for Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

The easement serves a dual purpose, 1) to protect prime farmland, and 2) to protect the water quality of streams adjacent to a farm with a long record of conservation management practices.

The farm is owned by David and Vickie McKee, and is located on Bradshaw Quarry Road. Cane Creek and its tributary, Hog Branch, serve as the western and eastern boundaries of the farm. For many years, the 92 acres was a part of a large dairy farm operated and owned by the late Robert and Merritt Kirk. Robert Kirk, Vickie McKee’s father, had initiated an inquiry about a conservation easement in 2004, and based on the discussions between Mr. Kirk, the McKee’s and the County, the Lands Legacy Program applied for and received a grant from the USDA Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program to pay for 50% of the cost of the easement acquisition. The purchase price for the easement is approximately $600,000.

"The McKees, and before them the Kirks, have carried on the best traditions of agriculture in Orange County,” noted Board of Commissioners Chair Barry Jacobs. “Their commitment to the land, and to the future of the county, is manifest in multiple ways, the latest the McKees' decision to place a conservation easement on their acreage in the fast-growing southern part of Orange County,” Jacobs added. “We are indeed fortunate to forge partnerships such as this with the longstanding stewards of private property in our county as we build upon the achievements of our trend-setting Lands Legacy Program.”

The McKee property features prime soils that had been farmed by several generations of the Kirk family.  The farm was used as a model for demonstrating soil conservation practices to other Orange County farmers until recent years when the land became fallow.  The McKees, who also operate a farm in Little River Township, have improved the land and intend to bring it back into active use.  The farm is surrounded on three sides by streams that will by protected by wide forested buffers.  

Conservation easements are a land protection tool that permanently protects land for natural or cultural resource values, while providing the owner a return on their investment in the land.  The land remains in private ownership. The McKee easement would be the County’s 14th conservation easement (totaling 950 acres), and the fifth of an eventual 10 easements to protect farms using local funds augmented by Federal or State grants.

Since 2002, Orange County and the USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (or FRPP), working through the local office of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, have worked together to acquire easements on 505 acres of prime agricultural land, ensuring that the land will be available for future generations to farm. Grants and agreements between the County, USDA and farm owners to protect another 600 acres have been approved and are pending completion later this year and in early 2007. Since 2002, FRPP has awarded over $2.2 million in farmland easement grants to Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program. The grants have been possible through the provision of $3.0 million in Orange County matching funds for conservation easements, approved by the Orange County Board of Commissioners in 2002.

Orange County’s Lands Legacy Program works with a variety of conservation partners to protect some of the most important natural and cultural resources through voluntary means. Since the program was established in April 2000, the County has purchased 800 acres for new parks, nature preserves and natural areas, and has worked with landowners to protect another 950 acres of prime farmland and stream corridors with conservation easements.

The USDA Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program provides federal matching funds for the purchase of conservation easements that protect topsoil by limiting non-agricultural uses of the land.  To be eligible, the farm must contain prime, unique, or other productive soil or historical or archaeological resources.   

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 19, 2006

Contact:
Monica Evans, Orange County Board of Commissioners Office (919) 245-2125  

              

Animal Shelter Design Committee

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners is actively seeking volunteers for a design committee to expedite the process of designing the new Orange County Animal Shelter.  The Design Committee will work with the architect and county staff to shape the design of the new facility.

All interested citizens are encouraged to apply.  For more information, please visit the Orange County Web Site at www.co.orange.nc.us where you may complete an application online, by clicking on the “Volunteer Boards” icon from the Orange County homepage.  You may also contact the office of the Clerk to the Board at (919) 245-2125 or email mevans@co.orange.nc.us to request an application, or for more information. We will send you an application immediately.

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BOCC 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 6, 2006

Contact:
Donna Baker, Clerk to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (919) 245-2130  

              

Orange County Board of Commissioners Meeting Calendar Update

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 153A-40, the Board of County Commissioners provides notice of the following changes in the 2006 meeting schedule.   

The Board added three meetings to consider the qualifications of candidates for the County Manager positions.  These meetings are likely to be closed session meetings. 

 - Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. in Room D at the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Rd. in Chapel Hill

- Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. in Room D at the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Rd. in Chapel Hill

- Friday, September 22, 2006 at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Services Center, 200 South Cameron Street in Hillsborough

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