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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County BOCC discusses emergency preparation and climate action plan

Phyllis Portie-Ascott posed for a portrait in Hillsborough on Feb. 13, 2023. Portie-Ascott petitioned a resolution to the Reentry Act and the Due Process Continuity of Care Act at Tuesday's meeting.

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners met to discuss emergency preparation and the Orange County Climate Action Plan on Tuesday.

What’s new?

  • Orange County's attorney John Roberts received the state's Outstanding County Attorney of the Year award, presented by Amy Bason, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners deputy director.
  • The Board unanimously voted to proclaim September 2023 Orange County Preparedness Month. Board member Phyllis Portie-Ascott introduced the topic, reading the proclamation.
    • “It is critical for every community, business, family and individual in Orange County to be prepared for natural and man-made disasters, including tornadoes, flooding and hurricanes, as well as disease outbreaks, like COVID-19,” Portie-Ascott said.
    • The Board emphasized the importance of emergency preparedness for all, but specifically for older individuals.
      • Orange County has over 32,000 residents over the age of 60.
    • “Community members can take a few simple steps — creating an emergency supply kit, making a family disaster plan and staying informed, to help make preparedness a personal priority and improved health a goal in our community,” Portie-Ascott said.
      • The Board highlighted the monetary impact of the 2018 hurricane season — specifically Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael — and noted the area’s frequent severe weather. 
  • Portie-Ascott petitioned a resolution to the Reentry Act, which would allow Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals during the 30-day period before their release. Portie-Ascott also petitioned a resolution to the Due Process Continuity of Care Act, which allows states to decide whether or not to provide individuals in custody who have not yet gone to trial with Medicaid benefits.
  • During the public comment section, concerns were raised about a proposed landfill site in Bingham Township, which is in southeastern Orange County.
    • “You’ve kind of kicked the hornet’s nest out there in Bingham Township right now, and we’re kind of upset about this,” a local resident told the Board. “We feel that this is an internally-generated project, not a community-based need project.”
  • Amy Eckberg, Orange County sustainability programs manager, introduced the County’s 2023 Draft Climate Action Plan and updated Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report, which was expanded upon by project manager and Blue Strike Environmental CEO Kristin Cushman.
    • The plan began development in November 2022.
    • Cushman said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that there will be a 1.5 percent rise in temperature by 2040.
      • She added that the panel is urging municipalities to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.
    • Orange County has already made strides to achieve this goal, such as installing electric vehicle charging stations and receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification, Cushman said.
    • In 2019, 1,631,671 tons of carbon dioxide were produced in Orange County.
      • Currently, the County’s largest percentage of emissions come from transportation and mobile sources, as well as commercial energy — accounting for 77 percent of all emissions. 
      • Within the Orange County government, the largest source of emission was employee commuting.
    • “This is an iterative process, this will be updated every five years,” Cushman said. “We’ll be able to see what progress we’re being able to make, we’ll be able to tweak the plan accordingly.”
    • Cushman also emphasized the importance of state, local and regional collaboration. 

What’s next? 

  • There will be another BOCC meeting on Sept. 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Whitted Building at 300 W. Tryon St. in Hillsborough.

@DTHCityState | 

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