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Town Talk 04/06/20: NC811 Director Reminds Public to ‘Call Before You Dig’

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Louis Panzer, executive director of North Carolina 811, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Monday at 11 a.m.

Known for its “Call Before You Dig” slogan, NC811 has provided the public with a communications link between local utility providers since 1978.

With April being recognized as Safe Digging Month, Panzer said now is the perfect time to discuss the legal requirement of having utilities marked before digging.

Panzer explained that NC law requires anyone engaging in excavation or demolition activities to contact NC811 at least three working days prior to starting the work. NC811 will then notify the member facility owners within your area of excavation or demolition requests.

The member facility owner then has three working days to provide a response and to mark any underground facilities that may be in conflict with the work area. Only publicly owned lines will be marked by the facility owner; private lines will not be indicated.

NC811 services are provided to residents free of charge and are designed to protect both the safety of those digging as well as the integrity of the telecommunication and utility networks underground.

“So many people rely on services that we sometimes take for granted,” said Panzer. “Telecommunication has increasingly become important, especially during this time where more people are working from home. People are sheltered in place and their children are at home being educated online.”

With an average of five conflicting utilities around your home or business, Panzer said it is better to contact NC811 and ask questions before engaging in even commonplace outdoor projects such as gardening or planting shrubbery.

Steps in the 811 utility location process include:

  1. Call 811. Before calling, have information ready such as your address, property specifics, the area you wish to have located, any special considerations, etc. For a full listing of the required information, click here.
  2. Wait the required time. NC law requires that a three working day notice be given to the utility owners before you dig. Member facilities have three full working days, beginning the first working day after the notice is given, to mark the area requested for underground utilities or to notify the excavator of no conflict in the area.
  3. Check Positive Response. Positive Response is both a by-phone and online means for the utility members of NC811 to provide information regarding the status of your location request. Click here for more information.
  4. Respect the marks. The underground facilities located on your property will be identified by color-coded paint, stakes or flags and should not be disturbed.
  5. Dig with care. If damage occurs, notify the facility owner directly. You can also dial 811 to report damage to underground facilities. In the event of a gas release, remove yourself from the area immediately and call 911 to report.

For more information on NC811, call by simply dialing 8-1-1, download the 811 app or visit www.nc811.org.

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

SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses Launches

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-Press Release, U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza launched the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion emergency loan program created last week with the President’s signing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

The program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses left financially distressed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The loans, which will be administered at the local level by a national network of banks and credit unions, are designed to maintain the viability of millions of small businesses struggling to meet payroll and day-to-day operating expenses.

“These loans will bring immediate economic relief and eight weeks of financial certainty to millions of small businesses and their employees,” SBA Administrator Carranza said. “We urge every struggling small business to take advantage of this unprecedented federal resource – their viability is critically important to their employees, their community, and the country.”

The loans, which are 100% backed by SBA, are being provided to small businesses without collateral requirements, personal guarantees, SBA fees, or credit elsewhere tests. Those eligible for the program include small businesses, certain non-profits, veterans’ organizations, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and other businesses meeting size standards based on their North American Industry Classification System code.

The Paycheck Protection Program’s maximum loan amount is $10 million with a fixed 1% interest rate and maturity of two years.

The loans are available to cover up to eight weeks of average monthly payroll (based on 2019 figures) plus 25% and payments are deferred for six months (interest does accrue). The SBA will forgive the portion of loan proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated operating expenses for up to eight weeks, provided at least 75% of loan proceeds are used for payroll costs. Eligible expenses for the eight-week forgiveness include:

  • Payroll costs (excluding the prorated portion of any compensation above $100,000 per year for any person. Payroll costs include salary, commissions, tips; certain employee benefits including sick leave and health care premiums, and state and local taxes;
  • Mortgage interest (not prepayment or principal payments) and rent payments on mortgages and leases in existence after February 15, 2020;
  • Utilities such as electricity, gas, water, transportation, phone and internet access for services that began before February 15, 2020; and
  • Additional wages paid to tipped employees.

Visit www.SBA.gov/Coronavirus for additional resources about protecting your business, employees and customers.

Congressman Butterfield to Hold Teleconference for Small Business Owners

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-Information courtesy the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce

Congressman G.K. Butterfield will host a teleconference on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 10 a.m. for any small business owner in North Carolina’s First Congressional District.

Butterfield will provide a brief update on the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act designed to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from the Small Business Administration will also be available to answer any questions. The dial-in number for the teleconference is (646) 558-8656 and the access code is 257 939 448 #.

VCS Announces This Week’s Remote Learning Pickup, Meal Distribution Dates

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-Information courtesy Vance County Schools

Vance County Schools announces that the next remote learning packets are available for pick up for those students opting to use the paper/pencil version. Pick up will be on Wednesday, April 8 and Thursday, April 9, 2020, from 11 a.m – 1 p.m. and from 4 – 6 p.m. from your child’s school.

If students are completing their work through Google classroom, they may continue through that platform and will not need to pick up a remote learning packet.

It is time to begin the process of student course selections and registration for the upcoming school year. The High School Curriculum Handbook and Middle School Course Description Guides are on the Vance County Schools website. Students should begin reviewing these catalogs and making notes about course selections, as school counselors will be in contact.

Meal distribution sites have been added for this week. Meals will be available for pick up April 7 – 9 from the following sites: Aycock Elementary, Clarke Elementary, EM Rollins Elementary, EO Young Elementary, New Hope Elementary, Pinkston Street Elementary, Zeb Vance Elementary, Vance County Middle and Vance County High.

Pick up times will continue from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on the designated days.

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.