News Briefs: Week of April 21

CN+R STAFF REPORTS
Posted 4/21/21

News Briefs

Chatham COA offers new volunteer opportunity

The Chatham County Council on Aging is conducting a pilot project to use technology to increase participation in the COA’s virtual …

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News Briefs: Week of April 21

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Chatham COA offers new volunteer opportunity

The Chatham County Council on Aging is conducting a pilot project to use technology to increase participation in the COA’s virtual programming and reduce a sense of loneliness among seniors.

The COA has placed Claris Companion tablets with 11 participants and would like volunteers to connect with a senior one-on-one through the tablets (through video calls and emails). The volunteer can also help the senior choose and access virtual programs at the Council. If you would like to virtually visit with a senior and are able to use a computer or phone app, then you would be a great fit. Please reach out to Allison Andrews at allison.andrews@chathamcouncilonaging.org.

New policy will expand internet access across N.C.

RALEIGH — More North Carolinians, especially in rural areas, will be able to access affordable, high-speed internet service, thanks to the new state Dig Once Policy spearheaded by Gov. Roy Cooper.

“The pandemic has highlighted the critical need for high-speed internet in our daily lives,” said Cooper. “Making it easier to install broadband will help people from all corners of our state get connected to online health care, education and business services they need.”

The Dig Once Policy, which took effect March 1, will help expand broadband access in the state by making it less expensive and easier to install broadband conduit along state-maintained roads. Cooper issued a 2019 executive order directing the state departments of Information Technology and Transportation to develop the policy.

“Too many North Carolinians cannot access the high-speed internet service they need for school, jobs and other daily necessities,” said Jim Weaver, secretary and state chief information officer of the N.C. Dept. of Information Technology. “By making it easier and less costly to install broadband, this policy will provide much needed incentives to expand broadband to unserved or underserved areas of our state.”

North Carolina’s Dig Once Policy requires internet service providers who are installing or relocating facilities within a state road project to advertise their project so other internet service providers can install their fiber optic cable when the trench is dug for the conduit.

“We’re very excited about putting this policy to work,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “It will save people money, reduce the risk of cutting utility lines, protect the environment and require fewer traffic disruptions on state road projects.”

One of the most expensive parts of installing broadband comes about when companies dig an open trench to install the fiber. The policy will enable multiple internet service providers to collaborate, disturb the ground just once to install conduit and share the costs for fiber installation.

— CN+R staff reports

Mountaire announces $80,000 in scholarship funds

MILLSBORO, Delaware — Mountaire Farms, the country’s fourth largest chicken processor, has dozens of $2,500 scholarships available for the children and grandchildren of employees, poultry growers, and grain producers.

The deadline to apply is June 7.

“This is another great benefit of working for or with Mountaire Farms,” said Phillip Plylar, president of Mountaire Farms. “It’s an honor to meet these families and see the commitment these students have to their education. We are blessed to be able to help them succeed.”

Mountaire Farms has a facility in Siler City.

To be eligible, a student’s parent or grandparent must be employed by Mountaire Farms, or grow broilers, breeders, or grain (10,000-bushel minimum) for Mountaire. Applicants must enroll as a full-time college student carrying a minimum of 12 credits per semester in the current school year.

Successful applicants must be involved in extracurricular activities at school and in their community. Preference will be given to an industry-related course of study. A copy of the student’s transcript must be attached to the application.

Students can apply online at our company website at www.mountaire.com/scholarships/annual-mountaire-scholarship-program.

The company will be announcing scholarship winners on July 15.

— CN+R staff reports

Litter sweep pushes roadside collection past 4 million pounds

RALEIGH — As part of its litter removal efforts, including the ongoing Litter Sweep, N.C. Dept. of Transportation crews, contractors and volunteers have now collected more than 4 million pounds of litter from roadsides this year.

“Only a week in, and already the Spring Litter Sweep has helped tremendously in keeping our roadways clean,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “Keeping North Carolina clean requires everyone to do their part, whether that’s volunteering in the ongoing Litter Sweep or simply securing your load when you drive.”

NCDOT reports that the agency and its partners have removed 4 million pounds of litter since Jan. 1 and more than 1 million pounds since April 1.

North Carolinians who wish to help keep roads clean can volunteer for the ongoing Spring Litter Sweep, which runs until April 24.

NCDOT’s litter management programs are multifaceted. The department makes use of state-owned forces and contract services statewide. NCDOT’s Sponsor-A-Highway Program allows businesses, organizations and individuals to sponsor litter removal along roadsides. NCDOT is also proud to partner with the more than 120,000 participants in the Adopt-A-Highway Program, where volunteers pledge to clean a section of our highways at least four times a year.

Litter is unsightly, costs millions of dollars to clean up and can hurt the environment, tourism and the state’s quality of life.

Everyone should do their part by:

• Securing their loads before driving. Unsecured trash can fly from a vehicle and end up as roadside litter.

• Holding onto trash until it can be disposed of properly. Keep a litter bag in your vehicle so you can properly dispose of trash later.

• Recycling when possible. Recycling protects the environment, saves landfill space and keeps the community clean.

USDA reopens signup for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency has announced that signup has reopened for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative.

The initial CFAP 2 signup ended on Dec. 11, 2020, but USDA has reopened signup for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days beginning April 5 for producers to apply for CFAP 2 assistance. CFAP 2 program provides direct financial relief to producers due to market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19.

Many of the crops and livestock raised in North Carolina, including many of them raised in Chatham County, are eligible commodities for this program. If a producer missed getting an application in last fall, they may now have the opportunity to apply for assistance. The FSA staff will help producers through the application process.

Row crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, aquaculture and more all are eligible for the CFAP 2, including the recent addition of pullets and turfgrass sod. Producers are encouraged to visit farmers.gov/cfap to review eligible commodities and learn about the payment structure for each. CFAP 2 is a separate program from the first iteration of the program (CFAP 1) and interested producers must complete a new application to be eligible for payment for CFAP 2 if they had not already done so in the fall of 2020 signup period.

Payments for swine producers and contract growers under CFAP Additional Assistance remain on hold and are likely to require modifications to the regulation as part of the broader evaluation and future assistance; however, FSA will continue to accept applications from interested producers.

The Chatham County USDA Service Center is currently open for business by phone appointments only. FSA staff continues to work with agricultural producers via phone, email and drop off box. When using the FSA drop box, customers should be aware that the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center is being used for COVID vaccinations on Mondays and Fridays for the foreseeable future. There is heavy traffic flow those days and customers cannot easily access the drop box then.

We suggest that customers avoid physically coming to our office for drop box use on Mondays and Fridays. We can still assist you by phone, email, or regular mail on any weekday. Please call us at 919-542-2244, ext. 2, for one-on-one support on any FSA program Monday through Friday. More information related to USDA’s response and relief for producers can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

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