Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.
Enrolling in the Voluntary Agricultural District program
PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Voluntary Agricultural District (VAD) promotes the agricultural values and general welfare of the county by raising awareness of the importance of our agricultural community and its way of life. This is accomplished by encouraging the preservation of agriculture, horticulture, and forestry through protection from non-farm development.
VAD is overseen by the Agricultural Advisory Board, which acts at the local government level to serve the interests of farmers in the county. The board includes nine appointed Chatham County residents who are actively engaged in agriculture. The Chatham County VAD, first adopted in 2001, had grown to nearly 30,000 acres of enrolled farmland by 2019, when the program was amended to comply with state statutes. The amendments added a conservation agreement and removed acreage restrictions, enabling VAD to include more farming operations.
Chatham County landowners who enrolled their farmland in VAD prior to August 19, 2019, are asked to re-apply to continue as a Voluntary Agricultural District. To date, efforts to re-enroll the original farms and invite new farms to participate in VAD have resulted in nearly 10,000 acres of enrolled farmland.
VAD enrollment encourages the preservation and protection of farmland. By participating in the program, neighbors, potential property buyers, and the public are made aware of the location of the working farm, discouraging possible nuisance complaints.
Enrolled landowners can receive a sign (while supplies last) to display at their farm to show that the property is working farmland. The property is also publicly designated as VAD on the county’s GIS website and on the property tax card. Additionally, farms belonging to a VAD will not be required to connect to county water or sewer. Any potential assessment fees are suspended without interest unless and until property is connected.
Farms enrolled in VAD may also benefit from higher ranking in Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District cost-share programs. Landowners enrolled in the Chatham County VAD voluntarily agree to protect their land from development for 10 years.
Who should enroll? Qualifying farmland includes property that is actively engaged in agriculture, is well managed to prevent soil erosion, is located in unincorporated areas of Chatham County, and can be kept in agriculture for at least 10 years. To enroll, interested landowners may request an application or apply for VAD. Please contact Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District at 919-542-8228 with questions or for assistance filling out the VAD application.
Chatham 4-H members compete at district activity day virtually
PITTSBORO — Members of Chatham County 4-H competed virtually in 4-H District Activity day on June 25.
Chatham County had four youth submit entries competing with 81 youth from across the North Central District. The pre-recorded presentations were submitted online and presented to a panel of judges. During this annual event, the 4-H presentation competition gives members an opportunity to practice public speaking skills while sharing their 4-H projects.
Stella Goolsby competed in the senior age division in the Careers and Entrepreneurship category, winning a silver medal for her presentation on “Building a Resume.” She has qualified to move forward and compete on the state competition level.
Zva Rodriguez also received silver at district with a presentation in the junior age division in the Animal Science category focusing on dairy and production with her presentation called “MOOVING, My Steps vs. My Cows.” Anna and Joseph Wetherell presented as a team presentation in the junior age division in the Animal Science Category with a concentration on dairy and production. Their presentation was based on their swine 4-H project on “Hog Rotational Farming” and received a bronze medal.
July Household Hazardous Waste event and medicine take back
PITTSBORO — Chatham’s July Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) event will be held from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m on Saturday, July 18, at the Waste & Recycling Main Facility, located at 28 County Services Road in Pittsboro.
HHW events are a way for residents to dispose of hazardous materials safely. Decals are not required, but residents will need to show their N.C. Driver License with their current address. HHW is only for households; no hazardous waste from businesses will be accepted.
At HHW events, the county accepts such items as oil-based paints, solvents, stains, bleach, aerosols, cleaners, pesticides, brake fluid, fluorescent light bulbs, propane tanks and more. For a complete list, please visit the Household Hazardous Waste webpage or contact the Solid Waste & Recycling Division at 919-542-5516.
Latex paint is only hazardous when it is in liquid form. Latex paint can be safely dried out and put in with your regular trash instead of bringing it to the Household Hazardous Waste collection. Approximately 60% of the material brought to the HHW collection is liquid latex paint. It is the most costly item the county collects, so residents are encouraged to dry it up for disposal. To dry it out, take off the lid and let it sit outside in a covered area. Add kitty litter or sawdust to speed up the drying process. It does not have to be completely solidified- more like a paste.
The Sheriff’s Office will also be on site to conduct a medicine take back as a way for residents to safely dispose of unwanted medications. No needles, sharps or liquids will be accepted.
NCDOT receives more than $6.3 million
RALEIGH — The State of North Carolina and FEMA have approved $6.3 million to reimburse the North Carolina Department of Transportation for debris removal costs following Hurricane Florence.
Funds for this project cover the removal hurricane-related debris in Brunswick, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Sampson counties. More than 14,500 tons of hurricane-related debris were removed from NCDOT roads and public property.
The approval brings the total to more than $44.2 million to reimburse the NCDOT for Hurricane Florence-related expenses.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides grants for state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations to reimburse the cost of debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent repair work.
Public Assistance is a cost-sharing program. FEMA reimburses applicants at least 75 percent of eligible costs and the remaining 25% is covered by the state. The federal share is paid directly to the state to disburse to agencies, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations that incurred costs.
FEMA’s total share for this project is more than $4.7 million and the state’s share is more than $1.5 million.
Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas warn of scammers’ latest tactics
CHARLOTTE — Scams targeting electric and natural gas customers are on the rise, with imposters implementing new tactics during the COVID-19 pandemic to trick utility customers out of money and personal information.
June 2020 was the highest single month on record for reported scam attempts targeting Duke Energy customers, hitting more than 4,000.
The total number of scam attempts reported by Duke Energy customers so far in 2020 — more than 15,000 — already is approaching 2019’s full-year total of 18,000.
Customers who suspect they have been victims of fraud or who feel threatened during an interaction with one of these scammers should:
• Hang up the phone, especially if it’s a robocall requesting personal information or requesting an immediate payment by prepaid debit card or gift card to avoid disconnection within an hour.
• Call the utility provider by using the phone number provided on the bill or on the company’s official website, followed by a call to the police.
• Never purchase a prepaid debit card or gift card to make an immediate payment to avoid a service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a payment, and they always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
Customers can learn about recent scams and how to recognize the warning signs on the Federal Trade Commission website at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.