Duke Energy’s Work Continues During Stay-at-Home Ordinance

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-Information courtesy Tanya Evans, District Manager, Duke Energy

The health and safety of Duke Energy customers, our employees and the communities where we operate is our top priority. As one of the many essential services responding to this national emergency, our work continues even while there is a stay-at-home ordinance.

We continue to respond to power outages and other emergencies. Our company technicians are also completing service orders such as new electric connections, lighting repairs and tree trimming around our lines and substations, but we are doing it in ways that follow the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s safety guidelines.

Here is how one of our lineworkers explains the changes in their routine as a result of the virus. Click here to see it on our Twitter page or you can find it on YouTube.

Equipping Nonprofits to Weather the Pandemic

The NC Center for Nonprofits and Duke Energy have teamed up with the Nonprofit Risk Management Center to offer a FREE four-part webinar series, Building Organizational Resilience, to help nonprofits take the necessary steps to prepare for a crisis. The webinar series begins on April 8. Click here to learn more.

Also, in addition to providing support to hunger relief efforts across the state, the Duke Energy Foundation is reaching out to our non-profit grant recipients and providing flexibility in using existing grants to respond to their changing needs as a result of COVID-19.

Working in Your Community

As one of the many essential services responding to this national emergency, our work continues – even in those areas with stay-at-home ordinances. You may still see some of our field technicians working in and around your neighborhood. Their work is helping to ensure that residential communities, businesses and critical facilities have the power they need throughout this time.

As a precaution, if you do see our workers, please avoid approaching them and their work areas. If there is a need to speak with them, be aware that they will be maintaining at least 6 feet of separation. We’ll also be keeping this recommended distance anytime direct interaction for essential services is required on customer properties, inside homes and businesses, consistent with CDC and other public health guidelines.

Financial Relief for Customers

We realize that many of our customers are facing unusual financial hardships as a result of the pandemic. That’s why we’ve taken several measures to help lessen the strain on those most vulnerable. We’ve suspended disconnections for nonpayment and we’re waiving fees for late payments, credit card payments and walk-in pay centers. We’ve also relaxed our timelines for payment extensions.

We encourage all customers to stay as current as possible with their payments to avoid building up a large balance that may be difficult to manage later. If you or anyone you know needs help paying, a number of assistance programs may also be available.

Finally, if spending more time at home is affecting your budget, consider these quick tips to help keep energy use in check:

  • Wash full laundry loads rather than multiple, small loads. You’ll save water, detergent and energy.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods before putting them in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and force your appliance’s compressor to work harder.
  • Choose “sleep” over “screen saver.” While effective in preserving your computer monitor, screen savers require the same amount of energy as when a computer is in full use.

Throughout this challenging time, we will continue to provide you with more energy-saving ideas and ways to save. And remember, customers with smart meters can monitor their daily consumption online to gain better insight into new usage patterns.

Customer Service

You can take care of most routine service and account issues via our automated phone system and pay your bill online or through our mobile app.

If you have a more complex issue and need to speak with a customer service representative, we are available to help you Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In an effort to keep our employees healthy and safe without compromising availability, our specialists are now working remotely and are able to provide all the same services as usual.

Stay Alert to Scams

Sadly, we all must stay alert to the possibility of criminal activity, especially during times of uncertainty. Remember that Duke Energy never asks for personal information over the phone and never demands payment using money orders or gift cards. If you are unsure if a call or visit is legitimate, hang up or decline service and call us directly.

We will continue to look for ways to help you negotiate these difficult times. You can keep up with our preparations as circumstances change by visiting dukeenergyupdates.com.

H-V Rec. & Parks Offering Free At-Home Egg Hunt to 25 Families

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-Information courtesy Tara Goolsby, Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Program Superintendent

Are you looking for an “EGG-citing” opportunity? The first 25 families to contact the Henderson Vance Recreation and Parks Department and meet the requirements will receive a FREE egg hunt at their house on Thursday, April 9, 2020.

You must live in Vance County, have two or more children, live in a single-family home and sign up by Wednesday, April 8, 2020, by 12 p.m. There is no fee to participate, but you must complete a program evaluation after the event.

If interested, or with additional questions, please contact Crystal Allen at (252) 431-6091 or [email protected]

VGCC Small Business Center Offering Eight-Part ‘Doing Business Remotely’ Series

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-Information courtesy the VGCC Small Business Center

The Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center is offering an eight-part series to teach small business owners and employees how to use the various tools needed to make working remotely easier and more efficient.

Sessions will be led by Kristen Taber, founder of the local Warren County business Tabletop Media and members of her professional team. All sessions are from 10 – 11:30 a.m., including time for Q & A.

Sessions include:

April 7 – Zoom Video Communications

April 9 – Google Suite

April 14 – Basecamp & Other Project Management Systems

April 16 – Dropbox & Other Storage and File-Sharing Tools

April 21 – Scheduling Tools

April 23 – Mailchimp, Constant Contact & Other Contact Management Tools

April 28 – Slack & Other Collaboration Tools

April 30 – Virtual Team Building

Register no later than twenty-four hours prior to each session at www.vgcc.edu/coned/small-business-center/#schedules

H-V Rec. & Parks Announces Closure of All Playgrounds, Outdoor Basketball Courts

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-Information courtesy Tara Goolsby, Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Program Superintendent

As a result of the Executive Order issued by Governor Roy Cooper, which went into effect on Monday, March 30, 2020, at 5 p.m., the Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Department has closed all playground structures and outdoor basketball courts.

We will monitor the situation and make an assessment on when it is safe to reopen some or all of the affected facilities.

Updates about facilities, classes/programs and events will be available on our social media platforms and website at http://ci.henderson.nc.us/departments/recreation_and_parks/.

Vance Board of Commissioners to Hold April Meeting With Limited Public Access

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-Information courtesy Kelly H. Grissom, Clerk to Board/Executive Asst., County of Vance

Please be informed that the Vance County Board of Commissioners’ meeting will be held on Monday, April 6, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room, 122 Young Street, Henderson, with a few changes.

In order to protect the public and County staff while complying with the Governor’s order limiting gatherings, public access into the meeting room will be very limited. An onsite viewing area with limited capacity will be established for the public who attend the meeting.

For those making public comments, signups must be received on April 6 between 5:15 and 5:45 p.m., as usual. Speakers will be allowed into the room as space allows.

The public hearing for a rezoning request on Bullocksville Park Road has been postponed until the May 4 regular meeting.

Agenda Items for the April 6 Meeting:

1. Public Comments (for those registered to speak by 5:45 p.m. – speakers are limited to five minutes)

2. Water District Board

a. Water Committee Report

– Water Connection Fee

– Phase 1B USDA Funding

b. Monthly Operations Report

3. Committee Reports and Recommendations

a. Properties Committee

– Lease Extension – Alliance Rehabilitation Center

– Eaton Johnson – Final Plan Review and Hold of Bid Release

b. Public Safety Committee

– First Responder Medical Requirements

– COVID-19 Protocol Change for Dispatching First Responders

– Community Paramedic Program

– Redistricting

– Combination Fire Department

c. Human Resources Committee

– Workers’ Compensation Leave Policy Amendment

– Manager’s Evaluation Format

– Families First Coronavirus Response Act

4. Finance Director’s Report

a. Surplus Property

5. County Attorney’s Report

a. REO Property – Bid Acceptance Resolutions

– Nicholas Street Lot – Parcel 0111 03022

b. REO Property – New Offer

– 404 Whitten Avenue – Parcel 0098 04006

– W. Chavis Road – Parcel 0479 01018

6. County Manager’s Report

a. Proposal for Addressing Jail Deficiencies

7. Consent Agenda Items

a. Budget Amendments and Transfers

b. Tax Refunds and Releases

c. Monthly Reports

d. Minutes

8. Miscellaneous

a. Appointments

Click here to view current and prior Board agendas.

Town Talk 04/02/20: NCAFP’s Greg Griggs Discusses Coronavirus Challenges

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Greg Griggs, executive vice president of the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians (NCAFP), appeared on WIZS Town Talk Thursday at 11 a.m.

With a membership of over 4,200 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students, the mission of the NCAFP is to advance the specialty of family medicine to improve the health of patients, families and communities in North Carolina.

In light of the current COVID-19 health crisis, the NCAFP’s communication with its members is more important than ever. “It’s certainly unprecedented times in healthcare – for the physicians as well as the patients,” said Griggs.

One of the greatest challenges physicians are facing with coronavirus, according to Griggs, is knowing who to test and when to test, especially with recommendations and testing capabilities changing almost daily.

“Initially, the protocol was to test as many people as possible,” Griggs explained. “With community spread increasing, that recommendation changed. Now, if you have mild symptoms and think you have it, you’ll be told to stay at home, not get tested and to treat it like any other virus.”

The reason for the change is two-fold: if you are not infected with COVID-19, physicians and hospitals do not want you to become exposed to the virus from others via an in-person visit; if you do have it and come in-person, you risk exposing other people who may not have it.

For those showing symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath, Griggs recommended contacting your doctor’s office for guidance, “but don’t be surprised if they say you don’t need to get tested; that’s part of the CDC and NCDHHS guidelines. It’s taking social distancing to the nth degree.”

Another challenge for patients with existing health conditions is to know when to keep doctor appointments, when to reschedule and how to get the medical help they need while minimizing their exposure risk.

Even with Governor Cooper’s Stay At Home Executive Order in place until at least April 29, NC residents are still able to visit their healthcare provider, pick up medication from a pharmacy, buy groceries and engage in other travel deemed “essential.”

The general rule of thumb for rescheduling procedures and appointments during this national shutdown is to consider the long-term health consequences. For example, many patients and physicians are rescheduling elective surgeries that are not life-threatening.

“Putting off surgeries and procedures where the health risk of postponement is minimal keeps you healthy and keeps resources available for the sickest,” Griggs stated.

What physicians are most concerned about, he said, are patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart conditions.

“We don’t want people with chronic conditions to ignore or put off their appointments,” said Griggs. “Before being seen face-to-face, call your doctor’s office and talk about alternative methods such as telehealth virtual visits or even the possibility of being assisted in the parking lot.”

For more information on the NCAFP, please visit www.ncafp.com.

To hear the interview with Griggs in its entirety, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.

Dept. of Justice Makes $850 Million Available to Address Pandemic

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-Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice

The Department of Justice announced that it is making $850 million available to help public safety agencies respond to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump, will allow eligible state, local and tribal governments to apply immediately for these critical funds. The department is moving quickly to make awards, with the goal of having funds available for drawdown within days of the award.

“Law enforcement at every level remains on duty and vigilant in the Eastern District, even in the face of this contagious illness,” said U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr.  “These funds made available through the Department of Justice will provide critical support to our vital law enforcement partners.”

“This is an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and an especially dangerous one for our front-line law enforcement officers, corrections officials, and public safety professionals,” said Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “We are grateful to the Congress for making these resources available and for the show of support this program represents.”

The solicitation, posted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), will remain open for at least 60 days and be extended as necessary. OJP will fund successful applicants as a top priority on a rolling basis as applications are received.

Funds may be used to hire personnel, pay overtime costs, cover protective equipment and supplies, address correctional inmates’ medical needs and defray expenses related to the distribution of resources to hard-hit areas, among other activities. Grant funds may be applied retroactively to Jan. 20, 2020, subject to federal supplanting rules.

Agencies that were eligible for the fiscal year 2019 State and Local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program are candidates for this emergency funding. A complete list of eligible jurisdictions and their allocations can be found at https://bja.ojp.gov/program/fy20-cesf-allocations.

For more information about the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, please visit https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/opportunities/bja-2020-18553.

For more information about the Office of Justice Programs, please visit https://www.ojp.gov/.

Nine of Granville’s 18 COVID-19 Cases in Prison Facility; 6 Confirmed in Vance Co.

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-Press Release, Granville Vance Public Health

UPDATE: As of April 1, 2020, there are 10 additional known confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Granville County bringing the total number of cases to 18. Nine of the cases in Granville County are inmates at the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Butner, NC. Vance County has two additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of six known confirmed cases.

All Granville and Vance county cases of COVID-19 are considered to be community spread. That means we do not know the exact point of exposure of the virus for any of the individuals who are positive. The communicable disease team at your local health department continues to perform contact tracing for individual cases with known positive test results.

For the 24 cases in the two-county district, local health department staff have notified hundreds of individuals who may have been in direct contact with someone who has been confirmed positive for COVID-19. It is clear that widespread transmission is occurring, and other than the outbreak at the federal prison, there is no concentration of COVID-19 cases in any one specific area.

Not all persons with COVID-19 will have severe symptoms, some individuals may only develop mild symptoms or show none of the symptoms at all. Individuals who are positive for COVID-19 are most likely to spread the virus when symptomatic (coughing) but those who are not coughing may also spread this extremely contagious virus.

Granville Vance Health Department strongly encourages everyone to adhere to the Governor’s Executive Orders by staying at home unless absolutely necessary to leave. While COVID-19 is a novel virus, studies show for any highly infectious disease the best way to stop the spread is to drastically limit human interactions. This will help protect you from exposure to individuals who have coronavirus, whether they are symptomatic or not showing any symptoms at all.

Additionally, this will help protect our community in the event that you may be carrying the coronavirus unknowingly. It will take our entire state working together to make the greatest impact and stop the spread.

Call your doctor if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to see if you should be tested or need medical care. If you have mild symptoms such as fever and cough without shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, you may not need to be tested, but instead, should isolate yourself at home and monitor how you are feeling. This will reduce the risk of making the
people around you sick.

Testing is most important for people who are seriously ill, in the hospital, people in high-risk settings like nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and healthcare workers and other first responders who are caring for those with COVID-19.

Granville Vance Public Health will provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for COVID-19 in our district online at https://gvph.org/covid-19.

Vance Co. Reports Five Confirmed COVID-19 Cases; Increase Expected

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-Information courtesy Brian K. Short, Director of Henderson-Vance County Emergency Operations

As of today, we now have five (5) confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Vance County. The number of cases will likely continue to increase as we move further into the Coronavirus worldwide pandemic.

We continue to coordinate with public health agencies, Maria Parham Health, Department of Social Services, State Emergency Management and our local emergency services response partners.

Please keep in mind this continues to be a very fluid situation and the information provided and included could change at any time. The confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase not only locally but throughout the state, the nation and the world.

Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 121, advising North Carolina residents to stay at home remains in effect. This is an attempt to reduce the number of individuals being infected with the COVID-19 virus in our state.

211 has established a hotline and we ask that our citizens contact their local physician or take advantage of the hotline if they have medical-related questions. There is also a toll-free Coronavirus hotline manned by trained individuals that can answer questions that you may have. The number is 888-892-1162.

To reiterate, as of the creation of this situation report, Vance County has five (5) positive cases of the Coronavirus. At this time, we are not implementing any changes to our current response posture nor are we altering our recommendations to the general public.

Testing is ongoing through Maria Parham Health, our local Health Department and private institutions. There are currently 1,584 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in North Carolina and thus far ten (10) deaths. Please visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus statistics page at the following link to stay current on the number of cases in our state: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc

Tomorrow (Thursday) we will begin our local medical surge coordination meetings with Maria Parham Health, our local Health Department and EMS to try and stay ahead of this as much as possible as additional cases are reported.

Vance County and the City of Henderson continue to operate under a local State of Emergency.

Our office will continue to monitor this event very closely and will continue to issue informational releases as the situation develops.

Town Talk 04/01/20: Pearson Addresses Importance of Online Security, Avoiding Scams

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Dr. Stephen Pearson, co-owner and operator of Sadie’s Coffee Corner in downtown Henderson, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Pearson, who teaches classes online at UNC-Chapel Hill and Utica College, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration with a specialization in global business organization leadership, followed up on his Town Talk interview from last week.

While Thursday’s Town Talk focused on tips for working efficiently from home, Pearson utilized today’s segment to address the importance of employing proper online security measures when working remotely.

Much like the current social distancing model is being encouraged to help prevent human illness, Pearson explained similar practices should be used to protect computers and other electronic devices from viruses.

“Make sure you aren’t migrating viruses into your corporate network while you are working from home,” said Pearson. “You want to make sure you are using a platform that you have some control over.”

To have control over your technology and what your company’s network may be exposed to, Pearson suggested the creation of separate user profiles for each individual on a shared computer. “This ensures your work profile and your children’s gaming profile are separate, for example, and lessens the chance of interaction between the two.”

Other suggestions, per Pearson, include keeping corporate files on an external storage unit connected to your computer and installing a good antivirus program that updates daily.

Another suggestion to protect both your computer and your bank account is to beware of scams related to COVID-19. Much like disasters of the past, including 9/11 and hurricanes, the coronavirus pandemic is bringing out fraudsters who prey on peoples’ fears and generosity in a difficult time, said Pearson.

Pearson suggested not opening emails from institutions that you did not initially contact for information and doing some research before donating to any online site as primary ways to protect yourself from fraud.

For businesses looking for loans during the shutdown, Pearson suggested sticking with known and trusted sites such as www.SBA.gov or contacting the VGCC Small Business Center for further assistance.

Fake loan sites with “requirements” such as a $2,500 loan application fee are already being reported and trusted sources can help determine the legitimate from the fraudulent.

To hear the interview with Pearson in its entirety, including additional security suggestions, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.