The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday December 7th

Officials Tour Sites That Might Benefit From Bond

Members of the Orange County Board of Commissioners organized and invited local officials, including the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County school boards, to take the tour.

Commissioner Stephen Halkiotis said the board organized the tour to highlight the facilities that would benefit if the $75 million county bond referendum is approved Nov. 6. "We wanted to show there were problems and needs and how the facilities plan to amend the situations," he said.

There are four separate bond packages, each of which will be voted on individually. The total package includes $47 millions for schools; $20 million for parks, recreation and open space; $4 million for senior centers; and $4 million for low- to moderate-income housing.

Commissioners took officials to sites that represented each of the four bonds.

The first stop of the day was the Richard Whitted Human Services Center in Hillsborough.

At the center, Jerry Passmore, the executive director of Orange County's Department on Aging, said the senior center has existed since 1980 and that all three rooms in the center need expansion.

If the bond passes, the $4 million allocated toward senior centers will be used to build two new centers. "We love what we have here, but it is inadequate, and we are paying a lot of money for it," Passmore said.

The next stop on Tuesday's agenda was Hillsborough Elementary, where Principal Jean Swainey said the school does not presently have adequate bathroom facilities. "There is one bathroom on the 5th and 6th grade hall, and one kindergarten room does not have a bathroom," she said.

Karen Wallace-Meigs, director of support services, said the school psychologist was forced to test and meet with students on the stage in the schools gymnasium.

Participants also had a chance to see the impact a previous bond referendum had in the community.

In 1997, Richmond Hills, a low-income housing development in Orange County received enough bond money to build 23 new homes.

"Without county support, none of this would have happened. We are very appreciative," said Susan Levy, the executive director of Richmond Hills.

Levy said the families who live in the development sometimes come from mobile homes or public housing. With the help of Habitat for Humanity volunteers, residents are able to assist in building their own homes.

Other locales the group visited included Fairview Park in Hillsborough, C.W. Stanford Middle School, Chapel Hill High School, Seawell Elementary School in Chapel Hill and the Homestead Aquatic Center.

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