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Council on Aging moving to optional mask status

The Chatham County Council on Aging has announced that mask wearing for its participants and volunteers would become optional beginning Monday, April 4.

This change involves both centers, including the Eastern Chatham Senior Center in Pittsboro and the Western Chatham Senior Center in Siler City. It also includes any satellite site that is used by the Council for services, including but not limited to, Forest Hall at Chatham Mills and Chatham Grove Community Center. Persons who desire to wear a mask for their own comfort or safety are free to do so.

The decision was made following a decline of positive cases and hospitalizations in Chatham County and North Carolina at-large. Overall, 58% of the Chatham County population is fully vaccinated, while 75% of North Carolinians aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of that total, 51% have received a booster shot.

“We are pleased to see the numbers trending downward,” COA Interim Director Lacee Monte said. “It does not mean, however, that COVID-19 is no longer a threat. Our ability to remain in a voluntary mask status depends on all of us. Continue to respect people’s personal space, physically distance, take precautions in large gatherings and recognize that everyone’s comfort level may not be the same.”

Participants are reminded to stay home if they do not feel well and should not come to COA centers if they experience fever or chills, acute cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea in the last 10 days. Persons who have had close contact with someone suspected or known to have had COVID-19 in the past 30 days should also not come to the centers. Council staff will abide by identical guidelines.

Four CCS students earn honors at state Science Fair

PITTSBORO — Four students from Chatham County Schools earned honors at the recent state Science Fair.

In the elementary division, Elias Koshy (“Friction experiment”) from Chatham Grove and Anna Barsallo (“What is the best greasing agent for cooking eggs?”) from Pittsboro both received exemplary mentions.

In the middle school division, Jacob Hoopes from Margaret B. Pollard placed second in the Biological Sciences A category for his project “Body part ratios in Saturniidae: A Leonardo DeVinci style to the average Saturniidae.” He also received a nomination for the Broadcom Masters, the nation’s premier middle school STEM competition.

In the high school division, Kyle Hickey from the Chatham School of Science and Engineering received an Honorable Mention in the Physics category (“Does the shape of a car affect the drag coefficient?”).

“We are thrilled that our students did so well at the state competition,” said Sherri Homan, middle school instructional program facilitator. “Our students worked very hard on their projects, and we’re so proud of the work they have done.”

Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson agreed with Homan. “All of our competitors created really advanced, high-level projects,” he said. “I am tremendously proud of these students, and the instructors who helped them reach this level of success.”

— CN+R staff reports

Individual Income Tax Return filing deadline is Monday, April 18

RALEIGH — The deadline for filing calendar year North Carolina individual income tax returns is Monday, April 18, unless you request an extension. Electronically filed returns must be submitted electronically by midnight on April 18. For taxpayers filing via paper, returns must be postmarked by April 18.

The deadline to file and pay state income tax was extended to April 18 because state government is closed on Friday, April 15, to observe the Good Friday holiday.

A taxpayer who receives an automatic extension to file their federal individual income tax return will be granted an automatic extension to file their North Carolina individual income tax return if the individual certifies on their North Carolina return that they received an automatic federal extension.

If a taxpayer is not granted an automatic federal extension, the taxpayer may still request a State extension to file their North Carolina individual income tax return by filing Form D-410 by midnight on April 18. The extension, however, is only for filing a return and is not an extension of time to pay any tax that may be owed.

A taxpayer who does not pay the amount of tax due by April 18 may incur late-payment penalties and will be charged interest at the statutory rate. The late-payment penalty will not be due for taxpayers who pay at least 90 percent of their tax liability through withholding, estimated tax payments, or with Form D-410 by April 18.

For more information, please visit this website

Council on Aging receives NCSMP virtual capacity expansion grant

PITTSBORO — Clients of the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at the Chatham County Council on Aging will have their experience bolstered by a virtual capacity expansion grant recently awarded by the North Carolina Senior Medicare Patrol Program.

Valued at $1,500, the funding will allow the Council to invest in upgraded, modern computer equipment designed to exclusively service the SHIIP program, which provides free and unbiased information regarding Medicare to the growing senior population in Chatham County. During the 2020-21 fiscal year, a total of 208 individuals sought counseling through SHIIP at the Council, collectively realizing $97,111 in health care savings.

According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Chatham County’s 65-and-over population stood at 17,129 — or 24% of its total as of November 2021. That figure ranks inside the 20th percentile of North Carolina counties and makes roughly one quarter of Chatham County residents eligible for SHIIP services.

“The vital role of the SHIIP program at the Council on Aging will only expand as Chatham County’s population continues to age,” COA Director of Grants and Communications Jimmy Lewis said. “This funding will equip our SHIIP volunteers — the backbone of our work — with needed technology upgrades that will be returned to clients in the form of increased efficiency of service. In turn, we will be able to retire obsolete equipment in an expedient manner.”

—CN+R staff reports

United Way surpasses 2021- 22 campaign fundraising goal

The United Way of Chatham County’s 2021/2022 annual campaign generated $704,000 — the most in its 36-year history, surpassing its goal of $645,000.

Eighty-four percent of the campaign support came from Chatham residential areas, which is unique to United Ways across the state. In fact, the 2021 neighborhood campaigns are among the highest grossing residential campaigns of all time in North Carolina. Chatham businesses also showed their support, sponsoring the Day of Service, becoming United Way Corporate Donors, and by joining the $100 by 100 campaign challenge. UWCC also welcomed more individual donors, and more volunteers than ever before.

“I am so proud of our community and its commitment to improving the lives for all in Chatham,” said Katie Childs, United Way of Chatham County’s executive director. “Residents of all ages and stages of life see the United Way’s impact, and throughout the pandemic the support has been unwavering.”

Although the campaign has ended, UWCC is still hard at work. More than 50 volunteers are currently reviewing funding requests and meeting with agencies through the annual allocations process. UWCC staff and board are also in the midst of strategic planning, which will become a three-year roadmap to help navigate the ever-changing needs of Chatham County.

For more information about UWCC, or to get involved, please call 919-542-1110. For community resources or assistance, please dial 2-1-1.

—CN+R staff reports

April proclaimed ‘Child Abuse Prevention’ month

PITTSBORO — On March 21, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Chatham County Department of Social Services is calling attention to this issue that greatly impacts the lives of the county’s most vulnerable residents — its children. This year’s statewide theme is “Growing better together, we CAN prevent child abuse, North Carolina!”

“Children are vital to the future of our community, and we must do everything we can to foster their healthy growth and development,” said Chatham County Board of Commissioners chairperson Karen Howard. “Preventing child abuse and neglect is a responsibility that everyone shares, and I hope all Chatham County residents will do their part to ensure the children in their lives have safe, stable, nurturing homes and communities to thrive in.”

In 2021, the Chatham County Department of Social Services had 159 children in its care and accepted 299 reports of child abuse and neglect.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network and Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina both provide resources for families related to the impacts of child abuse and neglect. They recommend learning about, recognizing, and reporting child maltreatment; they provide online trainings for parents and community members; and they share an affiliation of agencies that develop a strong support network.

“Effective child abuse prevention strategies succeed because of collaborations among residents, schools, faith-based organizations, medical providers, and others,” said Chatham County Department of Social Services Director Jennie Kristiansen. “We encourage all Chatham community members to get involved by making connections, providing help to your neighbor in need, and making available services and programs in the community that provide treatment and support.”

Individuals who are concerned about the safety of a child, may contact the Chatham County Department of Social Services at 919-542-6988 or after hours at 919-542-2911. Everyone in North Carolina is mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect and all reporter information is confidential.

—CN+R staff reports

Soil and Water Conservation District announces resource conservation workshop for eligible students; application deadline extended

PITTSBORO — The Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District is accepting applications for the Resource Conservation Workshop scheduled for June 26 – July 1 at N.C. State.

The Resource Conservation Workshop is a weeklong program that involves study and hands-on participation in a wide range of conservation topics. Students are housed at N.C. State campus dormitories under the guidance of live-in counselors. Students will learn about natural resources and their management in today’s global environment. Awards and scholarships can be won and are presented to students under several awards programs.

The Resource Conservation Workshop is designed to accommodate up to 104 students. The Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District will sponsor at least one student to attend. Eligible students include rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school who have demonstrated an interest in natural resource conservation. Applications can be found online or by contacting Brandy Oldham, Chatham Soil and Water Conservation district education coordinator, at 919-545-8440 or brandy.oldham@chathamcountync.gov.

Applications must be submitted to Oldham no later than April 15. Applications should be mailed to 1192 US 64 W Business, Suite 200, Pittsboro, NC 27312 or emailed to Oldham.

2nd annual Found It! Chatham Rabbit Hunt set for Saturday

PITTSBORO — Main Street Pittsboro invites everyone to downtown Pittsboro fron 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, to participate in the 2nd Annual Found It! Chatham Rabbit Hunt.

Six embellished rabbit statues will be hidden outside along Hillsboro Street and in the immediate vicinity. The first 25 visitors to the Welcome Center at 37 Hillsboro Street who show a photo of themselves with four of the six statues will receive a voucher worth $10 at one of the participating downtown businesses. All participants will be entered into a drawing to win one of the rabbit statues during a raffle at 4 p.m. on April 16.

In acknowledgment of Pittsboro’s thriving creative culture, the six rabbit statues will be embellished by local artists Theresa Arico, Emily Weinstein, Nadine Zenobi, Darcy Szeremi, Emma Skurnick and Ashlie Campbell.

Additional raffle tickets to win the custom rabbit statues will be available for $5 each at the Welcome Center. Proceeds of ticket sales will go to Main Street Pittsboro, a 501(c)3 non-profit agency.

“Everyone had great fun last year with this event when we debuted it at the kick off of Chatham 250,” said Main Street Pittsboro’s chairperson, Maria Parker-Lewis. “Main Street Pittsboro is delighted to again highlight a historic aspect of Pittsboro and Chatham County, celebrate our creative community, encourage vitality in downtown Pittsboro and provide support for our businesses. The choice of a rabbit as an icon for the event refers to a chapter in our history from 1880–1920 when Chatham County was the source for the ‘Chatham Rabbit’, a delicacy served in the finest hotels and rail cars all along the East Coast.”

— CN+R staff reports

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