Carrboro Commons

CodeRED improving consistency during emergencies

Posted on February 18th, 2009 in Carrboro Connections,Growth and development,Latino Issues,Lifestyles,owasa by jock

By Kelly Esposito
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Local residents should pay attention to their ringing phones—one call can provide vital information in the event of an emergency.

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Carrboro fire Chief Travis Crabtree is in charge of the CodeRED telephone emergency notification system for Carrboro. Numbers listed in the phonebook are automatically included in the system, but cell phones and unlisted landlines need to be registered independently.

Staff photo by Kelly Esposito

CodeRED, a service of Emergency Communications Network, sends automated phone messages in emergency situations to numbers in its database, which is created from local phone listings. Phone customers whose numbers are not listed or use cell phones as their primary phones must register independently to be included.

In 2007, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority decided they needed an emergency notification system
similar to the ones Hillsborough and Durham already had in place. As a result, CodeRED was implemented in late November 2007. Later, Orange County joined the system, ensuring that everyone in the county was covered.

Emergency messages can be about anything from weather advisories and boil water announcements, to warnings about a shooter in a neighborhood. Carrboro fire Chief Travis Crabtree said the system can pinpoint areas to call in many ways, such as by ZIP code or by drawing a map on a computer.

“The messages are anywhere from 12-30 seconds long so you’re not hung up on the phone going, ‘do I need to run for my life?’” Crabtree said.

Community helps people pay water bills

Posted on February 4th, 2009 in Carrboro Connections,Town government,inter-faith council,owasa by jock

by Allison Miller
Carrboro Commons Co-Editor

An increase in rates from the Orange Water and Sewer Authority, paired with national economic troubles, means that the Inter-Faith Council is seeing more clients who are having trouble paying their water bills.

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Kristin Lavergne, community services director for the Inter-Faith Council, poses inside the organization’s building at 110 W. Main St. in Carrboro.
Staff photo by Allison Miller

In response, the council and OWASA are telling more people about Taste of Hope, an option for OWASA customers to help those who can’t make ends meet. Although OWASA made the option available 11 years ago, the organization is still spreading the word.

“We did a fairly intense campaign in the fall,” said Greg Feller, public affairs administrator at OWASA. “We’re glad we gained over 150 donors (since August).”

As of December, the program had 1,147 donors, about 6 percent of OWASA’s accounts, said Feller. These donors give about $7,000 per year, he added.
The publicity effort included newspaper advertisements and endorsements from the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, the Chapel Hill Town Council and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

Feller said the program began in 1997, stemming out of an idea at an OWASA board meeting.

When customers join Taste of Hope, their monthly OWASA bill is rounded up to the nearest dollar; so $38.25 becomes $39, with the extra 75 cents going into a fund managed by the council. With 12 months in a year, the maximum annual donation for an OWASA customer is less than $12.

Bigger donations can also be made directly to the council.