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Arts Commission hosting tours of Eno River Mill arts space

The Orange County Arts Commission (OCAC), in collaboration with The Gold Family and its partner, Hedgehog Holdings, seeks to activate Hillsborough’s historic Eno River Mill through the arts, providing a critical need for the creative community of Orange County, as well as generating economic impact for the surrounding area.  This undertaking will take place in phases, beginning with artist studio spaces, and eventually providing possible spaces such as performing arts space, arts-retail space, and a variety of maker spaces.

Phase One: Art Mill Studios

The Art Mill Studios are located in a 2,970 square foot, former office space. It features private and communal studio space for up to 13 artists at affordable prices. The beautifully restored exposed brick and hardwood hallway just outside of the space will allow for exhibit space for tenants.

Following our first round of tours in December, improvements have been made based on feedback we received from artists. These improvements include the following:

  • All carpet has been removed
  • An exhaust fan is being installed
  • The larger spaces have been divided into individual spaces with lockable doors
Additionally, the offices of the Orange County Arts Commission will be moving to the mill directly across the hall from the Mill Studios.

Tours for artists seeking studio space will be offered Jan. 30, 31 and Feb. 3. Tour registration is required. Please register for a tour here.
  • Click here for more information, including FAQ.
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Portrait of former N.C. Supreme Court Justice removed from Orange County Courthouse

Last week, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Carl R. Fox requested the removal of the portrait of former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin from the courtroom in the historic Orange County Courthouse “because of his racist past and his participation in slave trading and slave ownership.” The county manager’s office has complied with his request.

A Hillsborough attorney, Orange County farmer, and trustee of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ruffin joined the Supreme Court in 1829, serving as chief justice from 1833 to 1852. The portrait is a copy of one commissioned by an honor society at UNC. It had hung in the courtroom since a renovation in 1993.

Ruffin was nationally recognized during his lifetime for his keen judicial mind. Little mentioned after his death, however, was an opinion in recent years deemed to be among the most shocking in the entire body of slavery law. State v. Mann (1829), as Judge Fox wrote in a statement, “rivals the Dred Scott decision in its horror and inhumanity.”

State v. Mann gave enslavers virtually unlimited powers of discipline. In overturning a Chowan County’s verdict of assault against a man who had shot a young enslaved African American woman in the back as she fled from his chastisement, Ruffin wrote: “The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.” There was no legal or statutory precedent to justify the opinion. Its language was broadly circulated, licensing extreme physical abuse.

As a businessman, Ruffin trafficked in human lives: he secretly partnered with a South Carolina man in a speculative slave trading business. His personal life, too, indicates little respect for enslaved people: he once took a cane to an enslaved woman who had come on to his property without permission.

These facts are among those discovered in original research conducted by UNC law professor Eric Muller and Commissioner Sally Greene.

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Animal Services announces adoption process for seized dogs

Orange County Animal Services is pleased to announce that the adoption process for the dozens of dogs seized in October will begin Saturday, January 25, at 5 p.m.

Because of overwhelming interest in the dogs, the department has developed a special adoption process. Dogs will be available in batches ranging from 6-12. Interested adopters will submit applications during the viewing period. Once the viewing period has closed, an adopter will be randomly drawn.

The first batch of available dogs will be viewable online at 5 p.m. on January 25 and viewable at the shelter beginning Monday, January 27, at noon. Applications can be submitted online (the preferred method) or at the shelter until 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 30.
Interested individuals may apply for more than one dog each week. However, only one application per household per dog will be accepted. In addition, OCAS will impose a limit of one dog per family. Once a family adopts a dog during this process, applications for other dogs will not be considered.

Animal Services expects this process will continue weekly with a new batch available each Saturday at 5 p.m. until all of the dogs have been rehomed. More details about this special adoption process are available at

Interested individuals are urged to review all of the information provided on that page which includes information about how people are notified if they are selected to adopt an animal, and the timetable on which the process of adoption must occur.
  • Click here for more information.
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Orange County announces early voting schedule, new location for Super Tuesday

Voting by mail for the upcoming primary election started Monday, Jan. 13. Ballot requests must be mailed or delivered by the voter, the voter’s near relative, or the voter’s legal guardian. Requests cannot be faxed or emailed.

Have you received a bright orange postcard from our office? If so, your voting location has changed. Please review the card and contact our office with any questions.

Early voting starts Thursday, Feb. 13. Orange County has added a new early voting location at University Mall (see the graphic above for dates, hours and locations).

In December, a Federal court temporarily blocked North Carolina's Voter ID law from going into effect, meaning no photo ID will be required to vote for the primary election.

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Documentary addresses impacts of mental health from black male perspective

"I’m Good Bro: Unmasking Black Male Depression" is a riveting documentary about mental health and its struggles from the black male perspective. The Orange County Department on Aging will present a free screening and dinner on Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Passmore Center in Hillsborough (103 Meadowlands Drive).

The event begins at 6 p.m. and includes a complimentary dinner. Pre-registration is required by Wednesday, Jan. 29. Call (919) 245-2015 for information and to register.

This film addresses the historical impact of depression in its many forms, from the roots of slavery, those who were formally incarcerated, the impact on day-to-day personal and professional relationships, and the effects on and from the church. This documentary follows the journey of individuals with firsthand experience dealing with depression from the perspective of those who have personally dealt with or who have been diagnosed with the disease. This film also provides professional insight from counselors, licensed professional therapists and spiritual advisers.

Please join us for the showing and an in depth Q&A session with the producers of the film, 4C Visuals Group, immediately following.

In case of inclement weather, the makeup date is Thursday, Feb. 13.
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