Your letters, Jan. 12: Military spending, Green burials and promises

January 10, 2014 

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    Please send letters of up to 300 words and guest columns of up to 600 words to Submissions may be edited for space and clarity.

Ike, Ellie and Abraham

In Ellie Kinnaird’s My View column (CHN, Jan. 5,, “Ike Was Right,” she is right about the unjustifiable outlay for the military. Eisenhower spoke from his depth of experience when he warned, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

About a century earlier Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in few hands and the republic is destroyed.”

When will we ever learn?

Nancy Elkins

Chapel Hill

Go green when you go

Kudos to Sally McIntee and her comments raising awareness about green burial! (CHN, Jan. 5,

As a member of the National Home Funeral Alliance and the Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Piedmont, I invite readers to learn more about the practice of green burial as well as the burgeoning movement within this country to bring the care of our dead back to a home setting. Green burial briefly defined refers to going back to the earth, usually in a biodegradable container or shroud, with no embalming and no cement vault. It's legal in North Carolina but not currently an option in all cemeteries. 

While natural burial is a somewhat unusual choice in the United States, it’s hardly a new concept. Until the mid-19th century, most people were buried in plain wood coffins, and embalming was rare. That changed with the Civil War, when the bodies of soldiers who died far from home needed to be preserved for transport and viewing.

Natural burial methods remain common in some cultures, including the Jewish and Islamic religions.

I have talked to so many people, locally and nationally, who are very interested in and want this option. I hope that more towns like Chapel Hill will have advocates like Sally who are raising awareness about the practice of green burial since it is a growing trend across the nation. And I hope that we will indeed figure out how to accommodate young and old, the living, dying, and the dead in a manner that doesn’t use prime real estate that the living also need.

Sara S. Williams

Chapel Hill

Who promised what

The writer of the letter “A promise not to be broken” (CHN, Jan. 5, seems to have missed something.

As the writer says, the promise that land adjacent to his future gravesite would not be developed was made by the representative of the cemetery, not by the town. In other words, he was lied to. The town has no responsibility to make good on someone else’s claims.

Anyway, what better neighbor for the departed than a lively neighborhood full of kids and activity and new life?

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

Traffic data first

The Obey Creek Compass Committee (OCCC) report to the Chapel Hill Town Council provides an excellent framework for the council’s upcoming deliberations on the Obey Creek development. This project will have a major impact on residents and business owners in southern Chapel Hill, and the OCCC report rightly notes that there has been insufficient analysis of how the development will increase traffic on U.S. 15-501 and nearby streets.

The council should therefore follow the OCCC recommendation and request detailed “traffic analysis data” before moving forward with approval of the project. The proposed frontage road would give safe access to the new stores and offices that will face toward 15-501, and it offers an attractive plan for managing traffic and assuring the proper scale for commercial buildings within the development; but the plan should also emphasize the future use of public transportation.

Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods are urging the council to look very closely at the appropriate scale of both the retail and residential development in this big project. The development needs to be commercially viable, but well-designed, “smaller footprint” stores (for example, a compact two-floor department store rather than a very large big box) are likely to be most successful in the long run – especially as shopping evolves in this era of online consumerism.

Finally, the OCCC recommendations for “human scale development” with lots of “publicly accessible open spaces” and a pedestrian bridge across 15-501 to Southern Village are excellent. The principle of “defending the public realm” is essential for all commercial development in Chapel Hill. The OCCC report describes this principle in clear language that should guide the council as it moves forward on a project that must protect the environment and manage traffic flows at the same time that it facilitates commercial development and new tax revenues.

Lloyd Kramer

Gwynne Pomeroy

Chapel Hill

Become a Bike Friendly Business

The Carrboro Bicycle Coalition (CBC) has opened the second round of applications for Chapel Hill and Carrboro businesses interested in being recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Business. The applications are open until Feb. 15, and the winning businesses will be announced by March 15.

The Carrboro Bicycle Coalition also has $7,500 worth of bike racks to give away, funded by grants from Specialized Bicycle, The Clean Machine, N.C. Active Transportation Alliance, and the Carolina Tarwheels. All businesses that apply to be a Bicycle Friendly Business will be eligible to receive a bike parking rack.

In addition, the coalition would like to let businesses know that if they have employees who commute by bike and who need lights, the CBC will come and install lights for free while the employees are at work.

To apply to be a Bicycle Friendly Business, or to learn more about it, go to and click on the Bicycle Friendly Business logo or look under the tab: What We Do. If you have any questions, contact me at

Heidi Perov


Aging attention

Sally Keeney's article on builder's remodel creating a home for aging in place was fun to read. I enjoy reading about people's creative changes to their homes and their experiences and challenges.

It would be interesting (and would serve as an example to others) to find out specifically what Woody and Gayle Claris did to make their remodeled home suitable for aging. The one-story feature is a big one for aging in place, but did they do other changes to support aging needs?

I hope you will continue to publish articles about the aging in place and aging in community concepts. We all need to learn more and understand what contributes to successfully remaining in our homes and communities. What does a dwelling need to support aging changes in mobility and skills? What changes in a home minimize the disabilities and losses many will experience as they age? What can the built-environment in the surrounding neighborhood and community do to support independence and well-being for all ages?

I am focused on gerontology and the current aging population demographics and especially aging in community so I especially appreciate the Chapel Hill News' focus on this important and current social and community issue.

A Yvonne Mendenhall

Chapel Hill

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