Your letters, June 12

June 11, 2013 

Dangerous prescription

Prescriptive drug abuse, particularly among youths, has become a national public health crisis. The most commonly abused illicit drugs among high school seniors, 70 percent claim they obtain them from relatives or friends. The family medicine cabinet is a primary location many acquire these drugs.

Among adolescents abusing prescriptive drugs, many, likewise, report other associated high risk behaviors.

With such a serious public health problem locally, I want to thank local law enforcement agencies in our county for their concern for youths and the serious dangers associated with the abuse of prescriptive drugs.

In particular, I want to recognize and thank the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough police departments. Each has established a drug drop-box location at their respective headquarters. In addition, all local agencies, including UNC’s Public Safety and Hospital Police Department, join with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in conducting frequent community prescriptive drug take-back events.

I should also add that each department has been a great community partner in working tirelessly to prevent underage drinking and its many recognized harms.

Unfortunately, to date, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has declined to establish a drug drop-box or to participate in drug take-back events.

Dale Pratt-Wilson

Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Free Teenagers

Down-home thanks

I write to express my gratitude for Crooked Creek, a Chapel Hill a cappella quartet that has sung down-home country gospel with warmth and passion for the past 12 years.

The ensemble, which is reluctantly breaking up, gave its farewell performance June 10 to a large audience at United Church of Chapel Hill. One of its members, Prof. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, professor and chair of UNC’s Department of Religious Studies, has accepted a distinguished professorship at Washington University’s new Danforth Center on Religion and Politics in St. Louis, effective July 1.

The quartet’s appreciative audience has expanded well beyond United Church’s walls, but it is fair to suppose that Crooked Creek is not famous outside of this area. Yet the 12-year run of this fine ensemble stands as an example of one of this community’s great strengths, its urge to create art, music, theater and dance and to share it with everyone.

Thanks to you, Laurie and Peter Maffly-Kipp, Bill Siddall and Greg Travlos. You have made Chapel Hill a richer place these 12 years.

Raleigh Mann

Chapel Hill

Considerate change

We were unable to attend the Central West Steering Committee meeting. Like other neighbors in this area, our time and priorities have been dictated by raising family and our professions. Unlike developers, whose priorities are to carefully monitor and influence the town planning process, most of us need to dedicate our time and energy differently – yet we are fully invested in ensuring that the planning process is positively progressive. The cumulative effect on the lives of hundreds of families in this area, as well as the aesthetics of a major gateway to Chapel Hill, will be substantial.

We all bought property in this area under certain assumptions. Those who invested in undeveloped land assumed that major change would eventually occur. Neighborhood home owners also realized that change would likely occur. However, we also assumed that our elected and designated town governing bodies would uphold the principles of environmentally considerate change and neighborhood quality of life . Radical zoning change to high density may serve the interests of one of these groups, but ignores the greater impact on both the neighborhoods and the town as a whole.

We appreciate your willingness to consider maintaining the current zoning level for the Central West planning area. Clearly, there is no rational imperative to revise the zoning restrictions in the short term, with Carolina North development possibly several years away.

Liz and David DeLong

Chapel Hill

Editor’s note: This letter was originally sent to the Town Council and is reprinted with the writers’ permission.

Support local food

I am a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, and throughout my time at school I have found a lack of fresh, healthy food, especially in the dining halls. Fried foods and pizza dominate the college diet, because that is what is served to us. There is also very limited information about where the food comes from.

Expanding food options statewide and on N.C. college campuses would be beneficial not only to the consumers, but for the farmers producing the food as well. I know that my peers share my desire for increased access to healthy, local foods, and the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act seeks to improve their availability.

While North Carolina has more than 200 farmers markets and 150 organic farms, more than any other state in the Southeast, less than 1 percent of the food sold in the state is from local, clean sources, which is apparent in Chapel Hill.

Public support is key in ensuring that these changes are made, especially in an area of the country that is nourished by many organic farms, for example Eco Farm, and the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. Please call Sen. Kay Hagan to support Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which would expand agriculture in the community and increase employment for farmers.

Amelia Fisher

Chapel Hill

Tax base is unsustainable

I started the P.H. Craig Real Estate Economic Development Scholarships because the general populace is not aware that over 83 percent of our tax base is from homes, apartments and farms. That is really unsustainable. We need more diversity in tax base.

There are around 5,000 acres of very valuable property in Orange that is tax exempt; UNC, of course is a gigantic asset, but it also owns some of our most valuable property, including part of downtown Chapel Hill. Duke University owns several thousand acres that are also tax free. There are millions of square feet of office space that is tax exempt in this community.

Until Dwight Bassett came along, it seemed to me that Chapel Hill did not have an economic development plan that would solve any of these problems. These scholarships are an effort to augment the town’s present economic development plan.

Our tax problem is both county and town wide. Now the county has a new economic development director, Steve Brantley. I think they too are about to change the unsustainable policies of the past. I stopped by to talk with him and stayed for several hours. He is serious, and I believe the county is now serious about the abnormally high tax base of residential properties and the need for economic development.

The P.H. Craig scholarships given to graduating seniors are simply a way to start dialogue. Aaron Nelson, the president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, has been about the only advocate for many years. These scholarships are an effort to get schools and students and teachers, and newspapers to think and write about the impact that economic development can have.

Economic development can create jobs, can pay for higher education, can raise the standard of living, and raise the quality of life. These kids clearly understood that in the essays submitted to me. They have connected the dots; they don’t like going to Durham to shop and contributing tax money to Durham, Alamance and Chatham counties.

The Realtors requested I do this (they only suggested one scholarship), and were supported by the chamber. A committee of them ran this project. I just donated the money and judged along with the Realtors.

This community has been very good to me; and as a Realtor I can assure you that the schools are an important part of a successful real estate market over the years. And so I am now trying to return something to them.

P.H. Craig

Orange County

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