News Briefs

Posted 5/17/19

The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners requested several small changes to the Chatham Park Tree Element on Monday, again delaying a vote on the document.

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Pittsboro requests changes to Chatham Park Tree Element

News + Record Staff

The Pittsboro Board of Commissioners requested several small changes to the Chatham Park Tree Element on Monday, again delaying a vote on the document.

The requests for changes resulted from an hour long work session that continued into the board’s regular session on Monday where board members reviewed aspects of the tree element again. The changes include increasing the height of canopy trees in tree protection areas from a minimum of 30 feet to a minimum of 40 feet as well as increasing the minimum height of under-story trees to 15 feet. The board also requested that all under-story trees have a required caliper, a measurement used in landscaping terminology that refers to the diameter of a tree’s trunk, of 1 1/4 inches, an increase from the initial 1 inch caliper.

The board also requested that the tree element include language similar to the Chatham Park Landscaping Element which notes a preference for using local growers for purchasing of trees as well as a listing of native trees from the N.C. Forestry Service to use as a reference. Chatham Park was also asked to edit the definition for tree coverage planning area, the development area that is used to calculate the required tree protection area to ensure clarity.

There is some contention as to one item the board requested. The board wanted Chatham Park or the eventual owner of any property developed in Chatham Park to be responsible for replacing trees in tree protection areas that may die due to natural causes or an act of God in perpetuity. Chatham Park had already agreed to replace trees in tree protection areas if losses occurred during construction and noted the difficulty in ensuring and enforcing that item decades from now.

The revised element will likely return to the board at either its May 28 or June 10 meeting.

Chatham County’s Erosion Control Program receives top state award for 2019

PITTSBORO — The N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality has announced that Chatham County’s Erosion Control Program earned the 2019 Outstanding Small Local Program Award. The annual award recognizes one large and one small local government most effectively ensuring compliance with the state’s Sedimentation Pollution Control Act.

“This is the third time that Chatham County has won this award since 2008, an amazing accomplishment,” said Chatham County Manager Dan LaMontagne. “With just four employees involved, they manage to consistently excel at their work. I could not be prouder of this great team. Our board of commissioners also has made erosion control and protection of water resources a top priority.”

Chatham’s Watershed Protection Department, led by Rachael Thorn, oversees the enforcement of erosion control for both the county and the Town of Pittsboro through an inter-local agreement.

“This is particularly important in the coming years, because the entire Chatham Park development is within the planning area of the Town of Pittsboro,” LaMontagne said.

Besides department director Thorn, the department includes three watershed specialists: Morgan DeWit Sr., Drew Blake and Justin Hasenfus.

The DEQ award presentation cited the Chatham County’s unique challenges in dealing with difficult soil types and topography. They lauded staff’s ability to adapt to the increased volume of required inspections, effective enforcement initiatives, and webpages that are easy-to-navigate, understandable, and thorough.

The presenter of the award noted that Chatham’s erosion control staff manage to respond to every complaint within 24-48 hours to instill public confidence that construction impacts are investigated.

Chatham County continues to be the eighth fastest growing county in the state and sometimes is in the top five. The county requires erosion and sedimentation control plans when land disturbances reach 25,000 square feet or more for residential construction and 20,000 square feet for commercial construction.

All erosion control projects typically must be inspected every 14 days. The plan checklist includes requirements for N.C. Dept. of Transportation permits and N.C. general construction site permits.

Seminar raises awareness about scams targeting seniors

Each year North Carolina recognizes Elder Abuse Awareness Month from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. Increasing awareness of one the most vulnerable populations is now more important than ever. The Adult Services Division of Chatham County Social Services Services, Cooperative Extension and the Council on Aging and NC Cooperative Extension jointly host a free event on the dangers of scams to bring awareness of elder abuse to you and your loved ones.

The seminar will be held fro 9:30 a.m. to noon on May 30 at the Council on Aging;-Western Senior Center at 112 Village Lake Road in Siler City.

The program will include such topics scams and fraudulent schemes through the internet, sweepstakes, lotteries, home repairs, phone and telemarketing scams, reverse mortgages and Medicare fraud. Presenters include Hugh Harris with N.C. Dept. of Justice and Stephanie Bias with N.C. Dept. of Insurance.

Smelt Gallery opens at The Plant

PITTSBORO — Smelt is not your conventional art gallery.

The building used to be an aluminum smelting plant for Inco Alloys, manufacturer of parts for fighter jets. Many years later it housed the reactor building for Piedmont Biofuels. Little by little it’s becoming a chic gallery with the vision of Gallery Coordinator and Curator Marcela Slade.

Slade moved back into the area in 2016 after living abroad for 16 years. In Barcelona, Spain, she owned and operated two galleries and most recently in Cumbaya/Quito, Ecuador, she owned xerrajeros galeria studio shop. In both places she represented and curated reknown and up and coming artists such as Zosen, Motomichi Nakamura, Carlos Echeverria Kossak and Washington Mosquera to name a few.

Slade is a local, multi-cultural, mutli-disipline artist-designer and an advocate for love and culture. She is ready to curate shows for local, national and international artists and designers. The current show, which ends May 31, is an equal mix of Chatham County and Orange County artists.

The gallery’s grand opening is from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. Featured artists include Joseph Pio Asterita, Michael Benson, Mandey Brown, Linda Collura, Mark Cool, Pam Fleischauer, Michael Galinsky, Alisa Esposito, Sonia Landwehr Hunt, Greg Lucas, Bronwyn Merritt, Christian Molina, Renzo Ortega, Peyton Sickles, Marcela Slade and Michael Snipes

Smelt Art Gallery is located at The Plant at 213 Lorax Lane in Pittsboro. Regular hours are 5-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, noon-8 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

Donate your used band instruments this spring

What happens in a school’s band when your student numbers double — or even more?

Students and staff are scrambling for instruments in many of our schools, and are asking for Chatham residents to help by donating instruments they are no longer using.

“We know there are many families in our community who have a band instrument or two in a closet that no one plays anymore,” said Sharon Allen, Lead Arts Teacher for Chatham County Schools. “And those instruments can make a huge difference for children studying music in our schools.”

Until June 13, you can drop off your used band instruments at Chatham Central, Jordan-Matthews or Northwood so they can be refurbished and repaired in time for next year’s musicians. The Peppercorn Coffee Shop in downtown Siler City is also a drop off location.

“There are so many kids in our schools who want to be in the band program, but buying an instrument is just outside their family budget,” said Bonlee School Band Director David Clark, “It would be amazing if I had instruments for all my sixth graders who are eager to be in band next year.”

Donating an instrument is easy. Just bring it to the front office of the school or to the Peppercorn coffee shop at 138 N. Chatham Avenue in downtown Siler City, and write your name, email address and instrument type on the donor form.

“We plan to send an electronic thank-you note to all of our donors,” said Allen.

What if your instrument is broken or missing a case? Bring it on down!

“We will be repairing all our band instruments this summer, so we’d love to get as many donations as we can this spring,” said Allen. “That way we can be ready to make music this fall!”

For more information, contact Allen at or call (336) 707-3220.

Chatham Community Library to host author Marion O’Malley

“Shopping with Mama: Write ‘Til the End” is Marion O’Malley’s humorous and and poignant memoir of time spent caring for her mother during her later years, and O’Malley will share thoughts about the book at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Holmes Meeting Room of the Chatham Community Library.

O’Malley and her mother Mena Webb both were writers and women of the South, but that’s where the similarities ended. The more traditional Mena often clashed with her unconventional, peace-educator daughter who dedicated every Thursday to her mother, taking her shopping, out to lunch, then increasingly to doctors’ appointments and funerals. “Shopping With Mama” is a beautifully rendered and often hilarious account of the challenges of caring for an elder that celebrates the love and respect the two shared for each other and their common passion — writing.

This event is free and open to the public.

American Lung Association warns about effects from floodwaters

RALEIGH — The destruction of homes and communities in the aftermath of severe storms and excessive rain is tragic, and the cleanup creates potential for serious and long-lasting threats to health, the American Lung Association warns. The Lung Association stresses the importance of beginning cleanup efforts as soon as floodwaters recede. Chemicals, sewage, oil, gas and other dangerous substances found in floodwaters can pose health risks to area residents.

“Standing water and dampness is a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and mold,” said American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D. “These can become airborne and inhaled, putting people at risk for lung disease. In fact, mold has been associated with wheezing, coughing, and in some cases asthma attacks, and evidence links mold with respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.”

People who live in areas that are prone to natural disaster should create emergency plans that include appropriate supplies of medication, food, water and shelter. This may be especially critical for those on oxygen therapy, according to Rizzo. Additionally, it’s important to have contact information readily available for your local public health office, fire department and your hospital or health provider in case of emergency.

After a flood, cleaning up affected homes and household items immediately once the water recedes is vital to protecting respiratory health. Mold can grow anywhere there is water or dampness. The American Lung Association offers the following guidelines to help you and your family stay healthy as floodwaters recede:

• Protect yourself before returning to your building. During cleanup, you risk inhaling dust, contaminants and microorganisms; which are unhealthy for anyone to breathe, but especially risky for children, older adults and people with lung diseases. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, rubber boots and a NIOSH-certified N95 mask to protect you from breathing these particles. NOTE: N95 masks must be fitted and are suited only for adults. Ordinary dust masks cannot provide adequate protection.

• Turn off the electricity and gas at the main location during cleanup. In addition, do not use portable gasoline- or diesel-powered generators, power washers, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane or charcoal-burning equipment and other devices inside. These produce carbon monoxide that can kill occupants if it builds up indoors.

• When in doubt, toss it out! Remove everything that has been soaked by water, including clothing, papers, furnishings, carpet, ceiling tiles and wallboard. Anything that cannot be cleaned and dried and anything porous (like drywall or carpet) that had been in floodwaters for 24 to 48 hours recede must be discarded. Simply drying out water will not remove the bacteria or toxins that can make people sick. Damp buildings and furnishings promote the growth of bacteria, dust mites, cockroaches and mold, which can aggravate asthma and allergies and may cause the development of asthma, wheeze, cough and other allergic diseases. Dangerous substances in floodwaters can include sewage, chemicals, oil and gas which can saturate materials in the home and give off harmful gases.

• Use soap and water for cleaning, especially to scrub mold off hard surfaces. Do not use bleach, which can make it hard to breathe.

• Consider hiring professional cleaners. Individuals with lung disease should seek help cleaning their homes and workplaces after floods. If more than 10 square feet of your home is flooded or if water has been in the building for more than one or two days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends hiring professional cleaners. Flood waters bring in nasty residue that may contaminate porous building materials. Mold flourishes in this environment. Attempting to clean without professional help may increase the risk of developing respiratory problems from these exposures.

• Do not burn debris or waste, which adds dangerous pollution to the air. Remove it to a designated disposal area.

• Keep an eye on symptoms. It is not uncommon for people to develop health problems after a disaster such as a severe storm, even if they’ve never had problems before. Be aware of any breathing problems that may arise, including:

• Coughing, especially at night

• Wheezing or feeling short of breath

• Chest tightness or pain

• Get immediate emergency medical help if fingernails or lips are turning blue or if there is severe chest pain. Both could be life-threatening.

If you are worried about your family’s lung health and have questions, call 1-800-LUNGUSA to talk to an American Lung Association respiratory therapist. More information on how lung health is affected by flooding is available at


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