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Posted 9/27/19

NEWS BRIEFS

Chatham Tech Talk plans Cybersecurity Awareness Month forum

PITTSBORO — Chatham Tech Talk announced a new community learning event to help small businesses, local governments, and …

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Chatham Tech Talk plans Cybersecurity Awareness Month forum

PITTSBORO — Chatham Tech Talk announced a new community learning event to help small businesses, local governments, and individuals improve their cybersecurity posture.

The event will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Chatham Community Library. It is free and open to the public.

“Every business, government body, and home computer user needs a plan to stay safe online, recover from cyberattacks, and keep learning about evolving cybersecurity threats,” said David Delaney, co-founder of Chatham Tech Talk and former cybersecurity attorney with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which makes it a great time for all computer users to take stock and learn together.”

Two featured speakers will bring almost 40 years of cybersecurity experience to the discussion.

Kristof Pasternak is an army veteran who served in information security management roles with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Government Accountability Office before founding his own cybersecurity consulting company, Cyber Inspekt.

Mike Harrison, the senior network engineer for Chatham County MIS, has previously worked for numerous private IT companies and Durham County.

Pasternak and Harrison will provide an introduction to cybersecurity, discuss important laws and policies, and suggest best practices to counter evolving threats.

“Cybersecurity continues to be a critical national and state government election concern, and the recent ransomware attack on Texas government computer systems has prompted many public officials to ask important questions,” Delaney said. “Employee training is one of the best steps small businesses can take to avoid cybersecurity disasters. But every company and government also needs a team of experts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from successful attacks.”

Delaney and Zach Smith, also a Chatham resident, co-founded Chatham Tech Talk in 2018 as a community of tech enthusiasts to promote public learning, networking, and the sharing of ideas. Since then, Chatham Tech Talk has held numerous events on diverse topics, including biotechnology, precision medicine, diversity and inclusion in the technology workplace, and high-speed internet initiatives in Chatham County.

Future events will be announced on the group’s Facebook page and Google Group, which are open to all.

Academic growth continues upward trend in Chatham County Schools

PITTSBORO — Students in Chatham County Schools (CCS) are graduating at a rate of 88.4 percent, and every one of the district’s high schools either met or exceeded the state’s expectations for academic growth, according to data for the 2018-19 school year released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

That growth, in part, means even solidly performing schools showed improvement, such as the Chatham School of Science & Engineering, which moved from a B to an A. Science & Engineering is an early college that in June 2020 will graduate its first class of students who will have earned both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

Across the state, the graduation rate is 86.5 percent. In 2017-18, the graduation rate for CCS was 85.9 percent, marking improvement in the district.

The state uses another set of metrics to evaluate SAGE Academy, which provides alternative programming in CCS. According to the state, SAGE maintained its overall performance this past school year. SAGE stands for Students Achieving Greater Education.

Seventeen of the district’s 18 schools receive letter grades from the state. Nine of those schools earned Bs, six earned Cs and one earned a D.

While three of the district’s schools did not meet the state’s expectations for academic growth, four of them exceeded growth expectations, and 10 met that standard.

Grades for North Carolina’s school districts take into account, for example, the ability of students in middle and elementary school to read, do math and understand science proficiently at their proper grade levels. The measurements also track the preparedness of high school students to begin college or enter the workforce. Numerous testing categories such as those break down school performance, and CCS outperformed the state average in every one of them.

Donations needed to provide emergency assistance for Chatham seniors

PITTSBORO — A power outage during severe weather is something many people can anticipate and plan for; however, for some older adults, loss of power is a fear they often encounter with an overwhelming utility bill they cannot afford.

Through its emergency assistance program, the Chatham County Council on Aging recently approved $50 payments for two senior households who received final notices from their utility companies.

“Without this payment, made directly to their utility company, they could have lost power and faced the extreme heat we are still experiencing and other dire consequences of not having water, refrigeration and other essentials nearly all of us take for granted,” said Dennis Streets, director of the Chatham County Council on Aging.

Given the number of requests for assistance it received this summer, the Council on Aging has nearly depleted its emergency assistance fund. As a non-profit organization, the Council depends on individual donations for this fund – it receives no public funding for this service.

“Our appeal for support of this fund is normally a part of our December holiday Angel Tree campaign to help with winter temperatures, but we can’t afford to wait,” Streets noted.

When the Council on Aging receives a request for assistance, it asks the older adult what other resources have been pursued. Typically, this includes their family members, churches and civic organizations.

Fifty dollars is the maximum payment the Council makes for a senior household. A senior is eligible for this support – if funds are available – only once per year, unless the senior can reimburse the Council. While the $50 payment is usually only a fraction of the amount owed, it is generally enough to help the older adult stay living at home with power.

“I would hate to see the day when I cannot approve payment to help keep a senior’s home with power,” Streets said. “I hope we can see our fund boosted by donations to help us meet future needs.”

Donations can be made to the Council on Aging at chathamcoa.org or through the mail to P.O. Box 715, Pittsboro, NC 27312. Donations also can be made at either of the Council’s two senior centers, located at 365 Highway 87 N in Pittsboro and 112 Village Lake Road in Siler City.

Siler City churches take part in Love Life Youth Prayer Walk

Several Siler City churches/organizations were represented in Greensboro at the Love Life Youth Prayer Walk on Randleman Road on Sept. 14.

The leading cause of death in Greensboro, according to organizers, is abortion, not cancer and not overdoses.

On Sept. 14, nearly 600 people gathered to stand for life next to the largest abortion clinic in Greensboro. Ninety percent of those that gathered are the next generation — middle school, high school, and twenty-somethings. There were many children, too.

Over 50 different churches in the area are represented in the photos. The group picture is made up of First Wesleyan Church, Freedom Family Church, Loves Creek Baptist Church and The Hangout of Siler City.

You can find out more about the movement at lovelife.org. Love Life prayer walks are held every Saturday for 40 weeks in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte and pray for the unborn children headed to death at the abortion clinic. Every week mothers and fathers are choosing life. Only love is shown through prayer and worship. There is no condemnation, no interaction, no protesting. Mentoring and free ultrasounds are offered, along with alternative options of foster care and adoption for the babies.

Television personality to emcee talent show

Applications are still being accepted for a Chatham County talent show that will feature a regional television personality as master of ceremonies and one of the judges but the deadline for entering is fast approaching.

Ken Smith of television station WRAL-TV, Channel 5, in Raleigh will serve in that role for the first annual “Chatham’s Got Talent” event, set for Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 PM in the auditorium of Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City. Also judging the show are Leslie Brown, owner of the Liberty Showcase Theater, and Jacob Toth, Associate Artistic Director of the Temple Theater in Sanford.

Along with that announcement comes a change in registering for the event, which is being sponsored by Chatham Cares Community Pharmacy. Originally, acts were to go through an audition process but that has been eliminated. “We realized that we were getting close to the registration deadline,” says pharmacy board president Lynn Glasser, “and some folks told us they couldn’t do two performances. So, we decided to have an open registration and limit the number of acts to 15 or so.” Entries are now due at the pharmacy office by 4:30 on Friday, Oct 4.

“Acts can include individuals or groups of singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, anything like that,” Glasser says. “Chatham County is blessed with local talent and we think this is a good way to recognize it and raise some funds to help the pharmacy help our community.

“Our directors decided to do this,” Glasser says, “to help as a fund-raiser for what we do while letting folks see some of the really good local talent on display in a fun family atmosphere.” What the pharmacy does is to provide medications and other health-care needs at little or no cost to Chatham County residents who are under- or uninsured.

There’s a $20 entry fee for anyone wanting to perform in the talent show; tickets at the door are $10 for people over 13 while those 12 and under are admitted at no charge. A free adult ticket comes with the entry of a child in the competition. Top prize, to be decided by a three-judge panel, is $100. There’s also a second prize of $50 and a third of $25.

Applications are available at the pharmacy office at 127 East Raleigh Street, across from the Siler City post office. Hours are 10 AM until 4 PM on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 9 AM until 1 PM on Wednesday. More information on the talent show or services the pharmacy provides is available by calling 919-663-0177.

Chatham Cares has been a part of the county scene for almost 15 years. “We’re grateful we can help some of our neediest residents,” Glasser says, “but like practically everyone, we’re faced daily with meeting those needs while being financially responsible. We cut corners where we can – our pharmacists and board members are all volunteers; we have only two paid staff members but increasing needs and rising costs of many medicines are everyday issues for us.

“That’s why we sponsor fund-raisers, to help us keep going. In the past, we’ve had a Christmas tour of homes and this year we’ll again have our Christmas candlelight memorial service. We’re also working on events and information for the eastern end of the county. Chatham’s a big county and we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re thankful for the support given to us in so many ways. We just want to help our neighbors in need.”

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