NEWS BRIEFS for March 21-27, 2019

CN+R STAFF REPORTS
Posted 3/22/19

PITTSBORO — Chatham County’s Board of Equalization and Review is seeking applicants to fill an alternate board member slot. The alternate attends board meetings when regular members are unable to …

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NEWS BRIEFS for March 21-27, 2019

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County seeking applications for alternate vacancy on tax review board

PITTSBORO — Chatham County’s Board of Equalization and Review is seeking applicants to fill an alternate board member slot. The alternate attends board meetings when regular members are unable to attend. The board’s purpose is to hear and review property owners’ appeals of their property listings and valuations of real estate and personal property.

“The board has an important, complex role. It is the first level of review of appeals after staff-level reviews,” said Jenny Williams, the county’s tax administrator. “The board must apply state laws in a consistent, uniform and non-discriminatory manner so that all property owners receive a fair and impartial hearing.”

The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on April 5. Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • has lived in Chatham County for at least two years prior to appointment;
  • owns real estate property in the county;
  • be knowledgeable about real estate matters; and
  • have good moral character.

If appointed by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, the alternate would serve until December 31, 2021. Members of the Board of E&R receive a stipend of $15 per hour for their service, but the number of and length of meetings vary depending on the number of appeals filed.

New members are required to attend a training session to understand their roles under state law and the appeals process.

Except for revaluation years, most meetings of the Board of E&R are held in the spring, but a few may be held in the fall to hear appeals related to personal property. The county completed revaluation in 2017, but is gearing up for the next revaluation in 2021.

Most of the meetings are during the daytime, but some are held in the evenings to accommodate taxpayers’ schedules. On rare occasions, special meetings may be called on such issues as audit appeals or review of late applications for tax exemptions.

To complete an online application, visit https://chathamnc.seamlessdocs.com/f/ChathamERBoard. You also may contact Lindsay Ray at 919-545-8302 or lindsay.ray@chathamnc.org to obtain an email or printed copy.

If you have questions about the Board of E&R and its role, contact Karen Jones at 919-545-8476.

Chatham Charter cuts ribbon on new gym addition

Chatham Charter School has a new section on its gymnasium.

The school held a ribbon cutting Friday on the nearly 6,000-square-foot addition over two floors. The entire student body and staff attended the ceremony, according to a press release from the school.

The downstairs portion of the gym has a concession stand, locker rooms, a weight room, restrooms, athletic storage and a nurse’s office, while the upstairs has a large classroom, music room for grades six through twelve and athletic offices.

Walker aims to change NCAA rules on player compensation

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who serves Chatham County in the U.S. House of Representatives, filed a bill last week that he says will allow student-athletes to be paid for use of their image.

The Student-Athlete Equity Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana), “would amend the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code to remove the restriction on student-athletes using or being compensated for use of their name, image and likeness,” according to a press release from Walker’s office.

The congressman, serving his third term, said in the release that “it’s time” to “fix the injustices that exist in the current NCAA model.” The NCAA, the organization that governs collegiate sports, currently does not allow athletes to be paid for use of their image.

“Signing an athletic scholarship with a school should not be a moratorium on your rights to your name, image and self-worth,” Walker said. “After nearly two decades of discussions with players and leaders, we are introducing legislation that won’t cost the NCAA or our schools a single dollar, while empowering college athletes with the same opportunities that every American should have in a free-market.”

Chatham needs volunteers for committee of nursing and adult care homes

Chatham County seeks residents to apply for several vacancies on its Nursing & Adult Care Homes Community Advisory Committee. This committee helps protect the rights and safety of residents living in adult care homes and nursing homes by making unannounced visits to these facilities, as required by state law. The deadline to apply is April 5.

During quarterly unannounced visits of long-term care facilities, members talk with residents and family members about concerns or questions. While the committee members represent the voice of facility resident, they do not provide on-site guidance or direction to the facilities.

Adult care homes are long-term care facilities providing 24-hour personal care and supervision, which includes assisted living facilities, rest homes, and family care homes. Nursing homes are long-term care facilities providing supervision, personal care and skilled nursing care.

Interested applicants will first receive training before being recommended to the Chatham County Board of Commissioners for appointment. Appointees would have an initial term of one year and then would be eligible for appointment to a full three-year term.

After appointment, members will continue to receive training and staff support from the regional ombudsman based at the Triangle J Council of Governments to prepare for visits to the long-term care facilities in Chatham County.

All information shared during visits is confidential. Facility staff members are not allowed to interfere with the visits nor take any action against any residents for talking with the committee.

Besides the facility visits, the committee prepares reports to the state on concerns identified during the visits or long-term care in general; fosters community involvement in long-term care facilities; helps make the community aware of the needs of residents in long-term care facilities; and helps educate the public about general aspects of long-term care and the operation of homes in the county.

The application form can be completed and submitted online at https://chathamnc.seamlessdocs.com/f/CommitteeForm. To obtain a printed or email copy, contact Lindsay Ray at lindsay.ray@chathamnc.org or 919-542-8200.

Jordan Lake’s annual Spring Trash Cleanup set for Saturday

Disastrous flooding forced Clean Jordan Lake to cancel its annual fall cleanup because the shoreline was totally inaccessible to volunteers for months following Hurricane Florence.

More rain and storms, including Hurricane Michael, created additional delays in clean-up efforts, but Van Murray, president of Clean Jordan Lake, said the 200 volunteers expected for this year’s event “will be the largest turnout in our 10 year history.”

Fran DiGiano, a past president, said lake levels are “finally receding to normal this week after again having risen to 17 feet above in early February; the weather should be sunny and warm for our cleanup on Saturday.”

The clean-up will be held from 9 a.m. until noon. The target area is a one-mile stretch on the east side of the Haw River Arm just to the south of where Robeson Creek enters it.

Murray noted “a group of neighbors in the Ryan Road area of Pittsboro have reached out to us because they want to add to our totals by removing trash on a shoreline section near them, across the Haw River Arm from our cleanup.”

Clean Jordan Lake’s volunteers are from 11 to 80 years old. In response to this Spring’s call to action, new membership in meetup.com/helpcleanjordanlake, where volunteers RSVP to attend, brought enrollment to nearly 1,100. Since 2009 more than 6,500 volunteers have removed 15,000 bags of trash (about 150 tons) and 4,600 tires from 20 miles of shoreline.

“We’re grateful this year for financial support from a Syngenta Community Grant to make a large event possible and we’ll continue our traditions of coffee and biscuits to welcome volunteers and a Trash Treasure Hunt with merchandise prizes to make environmental stewardship not only satisfying but fun to do,” DiGiano said

Volunteers must register in advance at www.meetup.com/helpcleanjordanlake and bring a completed Liability Waiver Form to the registration table, located on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission Game Lands off the end of Seaforth Road in Pittsboro. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will assist by hauling trash by boat back to their headquarters on Jordan Dam Rd. and Chatham County will provide a dumpster and a recycle container for plastics and glass.

­Family fishing fiesta coming to Chatham County on April 7

APEX — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and Jordan Lake State Recreation Area are hosting a free family event 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 7 at the White Oak Recreation Area, located on White Oak Beach Road in Chatham County.

The Family Fishing Fiesta will feature more than 20 hands-on activities where participants can fish for free (free loaner fishing rods and bait are available), try paddling a canoe provided by N.C. State Parks, learn about lures, knots and casting with the NCSU Student Fisheries Society and more. Conservation and law enforcement professionals will be on-site to answer questions and talk about careers in natural resources. Two on-site food trucks, Chewy’s Smokin’ BBQ and El Molcajete, will have lunch items and snacks available for purchase.

The event features plenty of fun options for children, including bounce houses and wildlife exhibits featuring different species of fish, birds of prey and reptiles. Youths ages 11 and younger who participate in the Fiesta Quest scavenger hunt will be entered into a drawing for prizes such as fishing poles and life jackets.

During the event’s hourly raffles, attendees can win an outdoor package courtesy of Academy Sports, a lifetime freshwater fishing license, two family passes to N.C. State Parks, a one-year subscription to Wildlife in North Carolina magazine and more.

“Last year’s event brought a fantastic turnout of diverse families, including many first-time anglers,” said C.C. King, an educator with the Commission. “This year’s event brings even more to see, learn and do at our education and recreation stations. It’s going to be a great event for the family, light rain or shine.”

The White Oak Recreation Area is located in Apex off U.S. 64, diagonally across from the Jordan Lake Visitor Center. For more information on the Family Fishing Fiesta, visit ncwildlife.org/fiesta. The event is co-sponsored by the N.C. Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and North Carolina State Parks/Friends of State Parks.

Trespassing, taking photographs on railroads can have deadly consequences

RALEIGH — You wouldn’t take photos in the middle of an interstate, so why stand on railroad tracks to get that one shot?

That’s what the N.C. Department of Transportation’s BeRailSafe program is asking people to consider, especially during prom season. Standing on or near railroad tracks is trespassing.

“You put your life at risk by walking, playing or taking pictures on railroad tracks. It’s not only dangerous, it is illegal,” said Jason Orthner, director of NCDOT’s Rail Division. “We need people to understand the real dangers of taking photos on railroad tracks.”

Spring is the season for graduations and prom portraits. NCDOT is working with the state Department of Public Instruction by asking high school yearbook staff advisers to alert students and photographers of how dangerous it is to take photos on or near railroad tracks.

Last year, 18 people were killed, and 13 others injured, while trespassing on North Carolina railroad tracks.

“Those are 18 people who will not be returning home to their families,” added Orthner. “We want to remind everyone that these types of accidents are avoidable if you stay off and away from the tracks.”

Some important safety information for photographers and students to remember are:

  • railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property, and using them as photo backdrops is trespassing.
  • trains cannot stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the railroad tracks.
  • it is difficult to determine a train’s speed from a distance. Trains typically overhang the track by at least three feet.
  • never assume railroad tracks are abandoned or inactive.
  • because of new technology, approaching trains are much quieter than you’d expect, so don’t assume you’ll hear one coming.

BeRailSafe works with North Carolina Operation Lifesaver, railroads and other safety stakeholders to educate children, teens and adults on the dangers of trespassing on railroad tracks, property and equipment. BeRailSafe provides free rail safety information through presentations at elementary schools, civic groups and businesses, and distributes safety materials.

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