Orange County

Roadkill and Rabies: Enough!

As published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Saturday, January 20th:

Orange County won the state championship in 2005, finished a close second behind Guilford County last year, and is already well on its way to another state championship this year.

I wish I was talking about football or SAT scores or something of that ilk. Unfortunately I'm talking about the county's relative standing in the number of rabies cases it has compared to the rest of the state.

It seems like every day when I open up the paper there's been another confirmed rabies case. Most of the time I don't bat much of an eye. The vast majority of the cases are way out in the county, and since I live near downtown Chapel Hill, don't affect me.

But I kind of reached my breaking point when one of 2007's first pair of cases was a rabid fox that attacked someone walking near UNC Hospitals. I walk around there all the time, and that could just as well have been me.

Congratulations Speaker Hackney!

Joe Hackney, who represents Orange, Chatham, and Moore Counties was chosen by the Democratic caucus as its choice for Speaker of the House tonight. Barring some sketchy dealing making with Republicans, he'll be elected Speaker when the House convenes in two weeks.

I'm thrilled! Here's a column I wrote on the topic two months ago.

As printed in the Chapel Hill Herald on November 18th, 2006:

With Democrats increasing their majority in the legislature and Jim Black's re-election status still unclear as a recount looms in Mecklenburg County, it seems pretty clear that a new speaker of the House will need to be selected.

It's a decision not to be taken lightly for members of the Democratic caucus. I think hardly anyone is exactly sure what's been going on in Raleigh over the past few years but it sure doesn't smell right.

So the first attribute I want in a new speaker is that he or she be absolutely beyond reproach. The individual needs to be of impeccable integrity. Whether it's fair or not, the House doesn't have a very good image right now, and its new leader will need to inspire confidence among peers and the state's citizenry.

Agricultural Incubator to be Located in N. Orange

Big news in today's N&O on a farming incubator being established in Orange County by the county, the state Cooperative Extension, and NCSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This is very good news for Orange County as the continued vitality of local farming will be critical to our future sustainability.

Consider the following, according to Michael Pollan:

Food energy in a 1-pound box of prewashed organic lettuce: 80 calories

Fossil-fuel energy spent growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting box of lettuce from California to East Coast: More than 4,600 calories

That's a 57.5 to 1 ratio. And, there is nothing on the horizon to improve upon it. In fact, as gas supplies dwindle while demand rises, it is likely to get much worse. This means that the value of locally grown produce will continue to rise as will the value of farmland (and even garden space).

Orange County government gets elbow room

Local governments are practically salivating at the prospect of several new buildings that Orange County is planning to build in Hillsborough.

"What makes this different is we have 93,000 square feet of space in our inventory that we literally didn't have this time last week," Pam Jones, the county's purchasing director, told the board.

On Nov. 2, the commissioners approved an agreement of intent to build a central library, office building and parking deck off West Margaret Lane, as well as leasing the top two floors of the nearby Gateway Center. After one year and one day, the county has the option to buy those floors.
- heraldsun.com: County eyes department moves

This move will cause a lot of shuffling of departments, but also promises to serve the community by creating a new meeting room that will hopefully have more modern technology (for recording and broadcasting meetings). This and other new resourcs will be an asset to the whole community.

2006 General Election Maps: Commissioners and the Referendum

Here are some hastily assembled maps of the general election results based on unofficial data from the Orange County Board of Elections (November 7, 2006). The first maps below show the results of the county commissioner election. Individual candidate maps are available here. They include charts that show the five best and five worst precincts for each candidate.

The next map shows the result of the commissioner referendum as a ratio of "yes" votes to "no" votes by precinct.

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