News Briefs


Pittsboro adds public information officer, emergency management coordinator

PITTSBORO — Colby W. Sawyer has been named public information officer and emergency management coordinator for the town of Pittsboro, and will be responsible for issuing and posting press releases.

Prior to this role, he served as the emergency management specialist for Chatham County and the emergency management coordinator for the North Carolina Ferry System. He is a General and Specialized Instructor for North Carolina Emergency Management and qualified to teach for FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. Sawyer has a B.A. in Criminology and Psychology and Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and serves on the North Carolina All-Hazards Incident Management Team.

—CN+R staff reports

SDA Bio cancels plans for Pittsboro facility

PITTSBORO — A company that makes ingredients used in vaccines has scrapped plans to build a research and laboratory space at Deegan Drive.

SDA Bio purchased a .4-acre tract of land in March 2020 for a facility, according to a report in the Triangle Business Journal, but notified town officials in February it had abandoned the plans.

TBJ said SDA Bio’s Shawn Zhang wrote a letter to notify the town about the change on Feb. 23 and to seek reimbursement from Pittsboro for $23,073.50 worth of development fees the company had put into the site. Pittsboro’s Board of Commissioners approved the reimbursement March 28.

Zhang’s letter provided no reason for the change in plans.

—CN+R staff reports

Candidate forum set for April 24

SILER CITY — The Concerned Citizens of Siler City will hold a District 4 Chatham County and Siler City Municipal Candidate Forum on Sunday, April 24, at First Missionary Baptist Church in Siler City. The purpose of this candidate forum is to give Siler City and Chatham County voters an opportunity to hear candidates discuss the issues of importance to them in this election. The event is free and open to the public.

The church is located at 914 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Martin named new COA executive director

The Chatham County Council on Aging has named Ashlyn Martin as its new executive director.

Martin, who began work at the COA on April 18, comes to Chatham from Senior Resources of Guilford, where she served in a variety of roles since August 2014, most recently as assistant director. In that span, Martin has been the access to services program director/family caregiver support coordinator and the assistant director of home and community-based services.

With experience in a wide number of aging services roles, Martin has worked with or supervised social work staff, access to services staff, integrated services, nutrition services, senior center management, volunteer coordination, SHIIP, geriatric/adult mental health specialty teams as well as rural outreach and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

Martin holds a bachelors and masters degree in social work from UNC Greensboro and is certified in options counseling with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She is a certified community resources specialist with the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems and is certified in the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

She succeeds Dennis Streets Feb. 1.

Medicare alcohol abuse screenings available

As part of Alcohol Awareness Month, Medicare beneficiaries who struggle with alcohol addiction and excessive misuse can receive an annual screening, and those who screen positive may receive up to four counseling interventions annually.

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. Alcohol addiction and excessive alcohol misuse affects people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. For more information, contact Lynn Parks, the human services team leader/family caregiver specialist at the Chatham County Council on Aging at 919-742-3975 or by email at

—CN+R staff reports

Gov. Cooper proclaims April 17-23 ‘National Volunteer Week,’ encourages North Carolinians to assist in local communities

RALEIGH — Governor Roy Cooper has declared April 17–23 as National Volunteer Week in North Carolina to celebrate the important work volunteers do across the state and encourage more North Carolinians to volunteer.

There are many opportunities for people to mark the week.

“When we work together, we build a stronger state for all,” Cooper said in a statement. “I am grateful for all the volunteers across our state and encourage North Carolinians to spend time volunteering. Whether you’re donating to a local food bank, assisting with disaster recovery, giving blood or helping seniors, there are many ways to help out your community.”

VolunteerNC, an agency within the Office of the Governor, promotes community service and volunteering across North Carolina. The agency has more information on volunteer opportunities across the state including volunteering onsite, outdoors, from home or virtually. Volunteer needs vary across the state from working at a local food bank to helping rebuild homes damaged by severe weather.

“National Volunteer Week celebrates the year-round impact of volunteers in our community. Volunteers are true change makers: dedicating their efforts to causes they care about, including disaster recovery, COVID response, food drives and more,” said Briles Johnson, executive director of VolunteerNC. “North Carolina is the great state we love because so many people volunteer their time and talents to serve their neighbors and communities.”

More than 2.8 million North Carolina volunteers have contributed over 265 million hours of service in 2021, meaning 35% of North Carolinians volunteered last year. More than 30% of North Carolinians participated in local groups or organizations, and over 50% of North Carolinians donated $25 or more to charities.

In 1974, National Volunteer Week was established by presidential proclamation to acknowledge and promote the value of community service across the country. National Volunteer Week has been federally celebrated each year since then as well as through many states across the country.

Visit VolunteerNC’s website to learn more about volunteer opportunities in the state.


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