Letters to the Editor

12/21 What you’re saying: Elliott Davis, and Chatham County Council on Aging

Arctic wildlife at risk

Hidden deep within the Republican tax bill is a provision that deals a devastating blow to wildlife, the environment and human rights advocates nationwide. The Senate voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling in the vulnerable coastal plain. Proponents argue it would generate vast sums of money. In reality, the revenue wouldn’t even cover a single day of the federal government’s expenses.

The Arctic Refuge is home to an incredible array of biodiversity. Polar, grizzly and black bears reside there. Nearly 300,000 porcupine caribou roam the refuge, with the coastal plain serving as their calving ground each spring. Birds from every state migrate to the Arctic Refuge every year. Because of Arctic’s significance, President Obama issued a formal recommendation to Congress to designate the entire refuge as wilderness – the highest level of conservation protection.

The Gwich’in people have lived on this land for thousands of years. They consider the coastal plain the sacred place where life begins and rely on caribou for subsistence. Preserving the refuge is a human rights issue.

Unfortunately, there have been dozens of attempts to authorize drilling before. In 2005, the refuge’s destruction was about to become law, but some Republican senators voted their conscious to preserve the refuge; we need their support today.

The Arctic Refuge belongs to us; members of Congress represent us, so it is up to take a stand. Please call Senators Burr and Tillis today – lives depend on it!

Elliott Davis

Durham

The future of aging

Our state and local population aged 65 and older is markedly on the rise.

As of 2016, 15 percent of our state’ population of about 10,156,000 were age 65 and older. By 2036, it is projected that this age cohort will make up 21 percent of North Carolina’s more than 12.44 million people. The group growing the fastest will be those age 85 and older.

Chatham is among the 76 of North Carolina’s 100 counties with more people age 60 and older than 17 and younger. By 2025, we will see 89 of our 100 counties with more older adults than youth.

In 2016, Chatham had an estimated 23,258 persons aged 60 and older (32 percent of the county’s population) as compared to 14,136 of those aged 17 and younger (19 percent). By 2036, it is projected that more than 4 of every 10 Chatham residents (41 percent) will be 60 and older while 16 percent will be 17 and younger. Much of this change is due to the aging of the baby boomer population.

Chatham is also among the top eight counties measured by its projected growth for the population 65 and older between 2016 and 2036. Joining Chatham with this distinction are Cabarrus, Currituck, Hoke, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Union and Wake.

“These data emphasize the importance of the aging plan for Chatham that is currently being developed,” says Dennis Streets, director of the Chatham County Council on Aging. “It is vital that we identify and address the opportunities as well as challenges that our growing older population presents.”

The Steering Committee, which is guiding the Chatham Aging Plan, has selected five focus areas based on community input: transportation; health care; housing; social connectedness, community engagement, and opportunities for fullfillment; and care services and caregiving.

Each area will have a work group to make recommendations to help shape the future of aging in Chatham. If you are interested in participating on one of these work groups please contact Dennis Streets at 919-542-4512, dennis.streets@chathamcoa.org.

For information about Chatham’s aging plan, visit http://chathamcouncilonaging.org/chatham-aging-plan/.

Melanie Girard

Chatham County Council on Aging

What you’re saying

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