BY Lydia Tolley
Orange County governments came together to discuss county-wide development
Representatives from Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and Orange County discussed the arts, economic development and the light rail project at a joint meeting in Hillsborough Thursday night.
At the beginning of the Orange County Assembly of Governments meeting, new Orange County Arts Commission Director Katie Murray was introduced to discuss her plans for the future of the County Arts Commission. She has had this position for 3 months and is still currently assessing what should be done for the arts in the county.
Murray said the three areas of need within the arts community of Orange County include promoting and marketing the arts, improving unification and communication among artists and coordinating county-wide initiatives. She said it is important for the county to represent minorities through art.
Orange County has been proactive in representing more diverse groups through art.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said Chapel Hill will have a New Year’s celebration lantern festival in honor of Chinese citizens.
There was then an update on projects related to the county involving industry, retail and agriculture.
Bethany Chaney, a Carrboro Board of Aldermen member, said agricultural economic development proves to be successful for Orange County.
“Orange County is doing really well compared to some of the other counties that we actually consider to be more rural," Chaney said.
Chaney said this was due to the fact that Orange County residents were willing to pay for local food.
The funding for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project was the next topic.
Earl McKee, chairperson for the Orange County Board of Commissioners, was concerned about the amount of money needed to pay for the light rail.
“I’m concerned that we are going to spend $100 million of our and others' money and not get anything out of it," McKee said.
Chapel Hill Town Council member Maria Palmer supported the creation of the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit.
“Even if the bus stations are not mostly in Chapel Hill, there are thousands of Chapel Hillians and Orange County residents working in Durham County," Palmer said.
Steve Brantley, director of Orange County Economic Development, spoke about economic development involving the agricultural realm.
Brantley said the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is developing its first social media app that allows users to search for nearby fresh food markets, farm tours and “pick your own” produce farms.
"The King Street area is really alive," said Shannan Campbell, economic development planner for Hillsborough, about new business establishments in Hillsborough.
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