Roses and raspberries, Nov. 6

November 5, 2013 

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Roses to the late Ray deFriess for his lifelong dedication to making southern Orange County a friendlier and safer place to live.

DeFriess, who died Oct. 28 at age 60 from cancer, was a 1971 Chapel Hill High School graduate and one of the founding members of the South Orange Rescue Squad.

He served as the squad’s chief from 1984 to 2004, retiring earlier this year.

Friends and colleagues said last week that deFriess was more than just an emergency responder. He took the time to care about people and show up at every event – whether it was an emergency or on standby at UNC and high school sports events, Halloween and town festivals. He mentored younger crew members and mustered volunteers, they said.

Carrboro firefighters, police and emergency responders honored deFriess on Friday with a convoy, lights flashing, through downtown Carrboro and to Cane Creek Baptist Church for his funeral.

“Loss of a great one. Heaven’s grass will be cut, a/c will be working perfectly and God will suddenly notice that things are just working better in general after today,” former South Orange volunteer Billy Mason wrote on the department’s Facebook page.

DeFriess’ family is asking folks to make donations in his name to the Youth Group of Cane Creek Baptist Church or to South Orange Rescue Squad.

Raspberries to security system owners whose false alarms are costing the town of Chapel Hill $200,000 a year.

The town will require business and property owners to register their systems and will start a three-strike rule in 2014, issuing fines with a fourth and subsequent false alarm.

The Town Council sensibly backed the policy last week, as it should whenever it can save money. About 95 percent of the 1,200 fire alarms and 3,600 burglar alarms the town responds to each year are false or accidental. But the response has to be the same regardless: two police officers to a security alert, up to 10 firefighters and three or four trucks to each fire alarm.

Unfortunately, an already stretched public safety force will require a new full-time staffer to implement the new program, Police Chief Chris Blue and Fire Chief Dan Jones say. Let’s hope after a smooth introduction, those job duties can be absorbed into the existing departments’ budgets, or at the least be paid for with fines so this savings doesn’t end up costing taxpayers and growing the size of town government.

Roses to county Commissioner Mark Dorosin who’s followed through on his campaign promise to make an Orange County fair happen.

Dorosin and fellow Commissioner Renee Price have been working with a group to establish a fair that would celebrate the county’s culture: its agricultural heritage, but also its art, food and history. They are looking at a one- or two-day event that could begin in 2015.

At a meeting last week, the work group got more ideas, including a suggestion for pony rides and a beer tent, which would seem to span the potential audience for such an event. They even have a potential site in the old Blackwood Farm the county owns off N.C. 86, with parking across the street at New Hope Elementary School and satellite lots.

The work group will report back to the commissioners next week. If you’d like to offer your suggestions, or for more information, call the Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks & Recreation at 919-245-2510 or email countyfair@orangecountync.gov

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