Your letters, June 1

May 30, 2014 

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Saunders name

That a proposal to abandon the name of Saunders Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill is in the offing is regrettable. Saunders may have indeed headed the KKK in this state for a time during Reconstruction, although there is no definitive proof that he did. If we undertake to eradicate the past memorializing of virulent racists, there will be a lot of erasures to come. When will The News and Observer cease displaying the name of its founder, Josephus Daniels, for instance?

Saunders’ greatest achievement is one that is too little remembered. His unsalaried editorship of the 10 volumes of “The Colonial Records of North Carolina” was (and still is) a monumental accomplishment in the preservation of this state’s history. The eminent historian, H. G. Jones, has written that Saunders’ name is likely more footnoted than that of any other North Carolinian. More than five decades of research in our past leads me to support Jones’ observation.

I’ll continue to honor Saunders for his greatest achievement and one still much in use today,”The Colonial Records of North Carolina.” That accomplishment alone should be demonstrably remembered by our flagship university.

William S. Price Jr.

The writer is the co-editor of “Discovering North Carolina: A Tar Heel Reader”

Civic disengagement

An organization called the Mayors Innovation Project (MIP) will be holding its summer meeting in Chapel Hill August 20-22. According to the organization’s website, “At each MIP meeting, we aim to send mayors back to their home cities with three to four new policy ideas they can implement immediately.”

It seems that at one such recent meeting, our own mayor Mark Kleinschmidt was sent home with the idea that adopting a form-based code in place of our existing land-use management ordinance would be an effective way to promote economic development in Ephesus-Fordham.

Unfortunately, the citizens of Chapel Hill did not share Mayor Kleinschmidt’s enthusiasm for this new policy, in part because he proposed to eliminate public participation in the review of rezoning and development applications. In these circumstances, a progressive, forward-thinking mayor would embark on an inclusive, respectful, non-hurried process of consensus building to ensure that the changes he wants to implement are both understood and supported by the citizens.

Mayor Kleinschmidt, however, did the following: He 1) launched an aggressive marketing campaign to try to sell the proposed changes to the citizenry; 2) engaged in bullying tactics to try to silence critics of the proposed changes; 3) criticized concerned citizens who raised legitimate questions about whether the proposed changes actually serve the town’s interests; and, finally, 4) forced the premature adoption of the changes despite opposition from many hundreds of concerned citizens, town advisory boards, and several elected officials.

At the upcoming MIP meeting there will be a session entitled “How Can Government Facilitate Meaningful Civic Engagement.” Let’s tell MIP that there are several hundred knowledgeable, articulate, and VERY motivated individuals right here in Chapel Hill who will be more than happy to share their thoughts on the lack of meaningful civic engagement in our town under the current mayor.

Jean Yarnell

Chapel Hill

‘Magic’ spreading

I was so happy to see Sally Keeney’s article, “Housing for the rest of your life,” in the Real Estate section.

Back in the 1990s I started working with The Charles House on various projects, mainly fundraising and cooking in those days, but more recently, on-site volunteering. I wish I could do more of that. The Charles House is a wonderful, uplifting place of love and caring and joy. At age 66 I was the senior volunteer on site. Students who volunteer at the Charles House come back and back and back. The rewards and joy of being there cannot be described! On Easter morning I called Lyn Griesemer, one of the original developers of the Charles House method in the early 1990’s. Lyn moved to Ohio in the early 2000s, and as always we loved talking about the amazing successes that are unfolding at the Charles House and reminiscing about Charles House progress!

In early April, I visited the Yorktown eldercare home. The “magic” has spread! The Charles House Method of caring is simple: sharing, caring, honesty, and respect. Everyone is equal, everyone is a team: participants, staff and family. The home, the Yorktown “family” is so amazing.

Paul Klever’s closing presentation for the 2013-14 Aging in Community series was outstanding. Paul gets it! We are all in this together. Community Matters!

Following on the Community Matters theme, the Orange County Department on Aging initiated Project EngAGE. Senior Leaders from 15 communities in Orange County were trained this year in the first class of Project EngAGE leaders. After this first group, each year, Orange County plans to train more Senior Volunteer Leaders from various Orange County Communities. Our job is to engage OUR communities, share services and programs available to seniors and to continue to work with our Project EngAGE Leader partners to make aging in community in Orange County NC healthy and successful.

The sustainability of the Orange County Department on Aging, paired with neighborhood aging in community projects offers so much promise for local Orange County “rising seniors” to continue living in their homes, being a part of, and giving back to their communities, well into the future.

Congratulations to Paul Klever and the Charles House and all the partners in the Aging in Community series: UNC School of Public Health, Carol Woods, Second Journey and the amazing Orange County Department on Aging. And, thank you to Sally Keeney and the Chapel Hill News for spreading the word that Community Matters. Well done!

Yvonne Mendenhall

Meadowmont Independent Seniors in Community (MISC)

Senior Leader, Orange County Project EngAGE

Chatham budget delivers

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners successfully passed the Chatham County 2014-15 budget on May 20. This is the fourth consecutive year they were able to focus on core functions, funding priorities without a property tax increase.

The Board of Education’s top priorities were funded, including one-to-one laptops for the high schools; a teacher incentive program that allows teachers to earn more, this on the heels of raising the local supplement for teachers in previous budgets; and, funding Carolina Works, a cutting edge program that will give every high school student the ability to earn a trade certification or two-year Associate Degree through CCCC at no cost to the student.

The new budget provides raises to bring county employees up to market rates, and does not impose any service reductions anywhere. In addition, the budget recognizes the importance and success of our EDC by increasing funds for marketing Chatham County; funds requests by Goldston and Siler City for improvements; and, increases public safety spending by nine percent.

Congratulations to the county staff, departments, boards and commissioners for working successfully together to deliver a budget that prioritized core functions, and provided Chatham’s citizens with positive momentum and a continued bright future.

Cathy Wright

Chatham County

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