Your letters, Jan. 1

December 31, 2013 

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    Send letters of up to 300 words and guest columns of up to 600 words to editor@newsobserver.com. All submissions may be edited for space and clarity.

Jordan Lake agitation

Rather than taking measures that reduce nitrogen flowing into Jordan Lake, as required by the EPA, our legislators would rather experiment by installing agitators on the surface of the lake for the next several years (CHN, Dec. 17, bit.ly/1cudLOg).

I understand that the cost of reducing nitrogen directly is quite costly compared to this “magic bullet” solution, and for those living in Greensboro, Jordan Lake seems quite far away, but this is an extremely short-sighted vision and treats nitrogen as solely a local issue, which it is not.

Agitating the water in Jordan Lake may prevent the growth of algae in the lake, making our water safer in the Triangle, but it does nothing to the nitrogen, which will continue to flow downstream. The EPA regulates nitrogen because of the growing problems associated with hypoxia and eutrophication along our coast. Excess nitrogen entering the ocean causes algal blooms which leads to the plummeting of oxygen levels, killing fish and upsetting coastal ecosystems. We all have a responsibility to protect our fisheries and coastal wildlife.

The good news is that while we wait for our legislators to do the right thing, we can all help by eliminating the use of nitrogen fertilizers on our lawns and gardens. Better yet, replace some or all of your lawn with a native flower garden. This garden makeover not only reduces nitrogen in our waterways, but also reduces runoff, helping to prevent the kind of flooding that we have experienced lately.

Water quality is extremely important for everyone. We all live in a watershed and need to understand that our actions have consequences for everyone downstream. Solutions to local problems should not pass these problems along to someone else.

Stefan Klakovich

Chapel Hill

Apartheid opponents

In criticizing Pearce Godwin’s commentary on marriage neutrality, Katherine Ayers unfairly maligned a brave group of people by making a broad generalization (CHN, Dec. 17, bit.ly/1btGr5o).

I agree with the overall sentiment of her letter but take issue with one statement. She wrote: “White church leaders in South Africa were firmly committed to apartheid until the very day it was abolished.” That may have been true of most of the leaders of the Afrikaner churches (various Dutch Reformed denominations). But South Africa was divided along more than just racial lines. Whites were also divided, albeit not legally though in some ways more bitterly, along language lines.

English- and Afrikaans-speaking South Africans to a large extent went to separate schools, worshipped in separate churches, read different newspapers, and voted for different political parties. Leaders of the mainstream English-speaking churches, particularly Anglicans and Catholics, tended to be outspoken opponents of apartheid. Many of them were probably more opposed to apartheid than the majority of their congregations. As just one example, do an Internet search on the late Philip Russell, immediate predecessor of Desmond Tutu as leader of the Anglican church in South Africa.

The mainstream English and Afrikaans churches used essentially the same Bible to arrive at diametrically opposite views on apartheid.

South Africa also has a small, but influential, Jewish community and a number of members of that community were prominent in the opposition to apartheid.

David Couper

Chapel Hill

Learn from a Peer

Three new spring courses will be offered by Peer Learning of Chapel Hill, a nonprofit group for seniors and retirees. Located at Binkley Memorial Church, next to University Mall, the classes are taught by peers, often retired professors or professionals in their field, who discuss, lecture, or use videos.

Participants will discuss ethics from daily newspaper stories, or learn about the origins of ancient civilizations, or discover ballet’s history, language, and training. Five additional classes and a monthly social-speaker meeting, a Book Club, and a Stepping-Out Luncheon provide the opportunity to meet new people.

The spring semester begins with the social-speaker meeting at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, in the Binkley Church Lounge. Classes start the week of Jan. 13. Free and ample parking is available. The cost of $25 /semester includes the membership fee and all classes. To learn more about the classes and to fill in a registration form, go to peerlearningofchapelhill.com or call Sonia Hanker at 919-942-7215.

Yvonne Schmidt

Chapel Hill

 

Magnificent book

Don’t we all want to give our young children gifts that are both fun activity as well as educational? Well our local Bank, Wells-Fargo, has made this possible for their customers by giving them a gift for their young school-age children free (to their customers anyway).

The book, “Shamrock the Great Delivery Horse,” is delightfully true to the early 1900s. No small thing is this book, but a good-size and fine quality 24-page coloring and answer-question section.

Magnificent! Is all I can say.

Anjanette Vail Van Horn

Carboro

Aging in place

Sally Keeney's article was fun to read (as a fellow-Summit Park resident), but I especially appreciated her sharing information on aging in place in community (CHN, Dec. 22). With the changing aging population demographics, aging in our homes needs more public attention.

Sally pointed out some important features of live-able communities and homes. The availability of services (especially transportation, food, and socialization) and the importance of an effective home design to minimize disability and maximize safety and efficiency are vital to successful aging in community.

Several Chapel Hill neighborhoods are forming aging in place projects now and I hope to see many more forming and developing in the near future. Thanks to the Chapel Hill News for sharing information on this important aging option.

A. Yvonne Mendenhall

Chapel Hill

Fair-housing class

The Orange County Disability Awareness Council is holding a class on fair housing laws at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road on Feb. 14.

“Fair Housing: It’s the Law” will teach local and statewide housing providers how to properly serve people with disabilities. The council, a local nonprofit organization, has created a curriculum that educates citizens about the compliance with fair housing laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The training will offer new strategies for accessible housing for people with disabilities and help develop an action plan to expand on existing programs for orienting and assisting persons with disabilities. All landlords, housing providers, Realtors, and housing advocates concerned with excellence in customer service for disabled people should plan to attend.

The training will include remarks by guest speaker Richard Duncan, the executive director at the Universal Design Institute and a pioneer for fair housing and the ADA compliance.

The Orange County Disability Awareness Council is located at 503 W. Franklin St., Suite 113, Chapel Hill. Our e-mail address is ocdac@co.orange.nc.us, and the fax number is 919-969-3038.

Timothy Miles

Orange County Disability Awareness Council

Oppressive law

The so-call Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is the most oppressive law ever forced on the American people.

When the government forces its citizens to purchase insurance or anything else, it infringes upon citizens’ individual freedom and liberty as Obamacare has done. Obamacare is destroying America’s health care system. Liberal Democrats in Congress, Obama, liberal Justices Sotomayor, Breyer, Kagan, Ginsburg and Chief Justice John Roberts who lost his reasoning, refuse to dismiss Obamacare; they are all responsible for this loss of freedom and liberty of Americans and the financial hardship forced on many Americans by Obamacare. Liberalism is slowly but surely abolishing American freedom and liberty.

Obama lied when he told Americans they could keep their health insurance they had and that Obamacare would reduce their health care insurance premiums $2,500 a year. Not so. Obama lied about his lies. What else has he lied about?

James R. Hardy

Hillsborough

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