News briefs

Posted 5/1/20

April: Child Abuse Prevention Month

PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. While social distancing measures and other public …

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Posted

April: Child Abuse Prevention Month

PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. While social distancing measures and other public health protocols are in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.

“Now more than ever, communities across the country, North Carolina and Chatham County, are reminded of the importance of meaningful connections in our lives and how those connections can help protect against abuse and other negative life outcomes,” said Chatham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Karen Howard. “Due to our current health crisis, individuals and families are isolated from one another and their usual places of gathering such as schools and extended family get-togethers. So we want to take this opportunity to spotlight the issue of child abuse and encourage everyone to be more aware.”

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network and Prevent Child Abuse NC both provide resources for families related to the impacts of child abuse and neglect and have added information about coping with COVID-19. They recommend keeping a regular daily routine, limiting media exposure, and maintaining connections with friends and extended family through phone calls, texting or online platforms.

“What we have come to learn about child abuse prevention is that it’s really about making connections, providing help to your neighbor in need and making available services and programs in the community that provide treatment and support,” said Chatham County Department of Social Services Director Jennie Kristiansen. “We also know that in order for children to be safe, healthy, and well, families need access to the basics like housing, electricity, employment opportunities and childcare.”

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

COVID-19 Impact on NCDOT revenues forces delays

Department anticipates significant impacts to all programs and services

RALEIGH — As people across North Carolina have taken lifesaving measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, traffic volumes have plummeted, causing at least a $300 million budget shortfall for the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) for this fiscal year (ending June 30).

Because NCDOT revenue is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees, this significant impact has forced the department to notify local governments, stakeholders and the general public that all but about 50 major projects scheduled to start in the next 12 months are delayed.

Projects moving forward are funded by GARVEE bonds, BUILD NC bonds and federal grants.

A list of the projects that are still scheduled to be awarded in the next year is available on the NCDOT website. The list of projects that have schedule changes is attached.

These changes do not affect construction projects already underway or that have already been awarded.

The department is taking other significant steps to decrease expenditures, including:

• Allowing only mission critical purchases

• Laying off temporary and embedded consultants

• Suspending or decreasing many programs and services

• Hiring freeze (except for positions that impact public safety)

The department is in the process of developing plans for potential furloughs and a Reduction in Force (RIF). Those plans are not yet complete and no decision has been made at this time to enact them.

— CN+R staff reports

Virtual programs available for Alzheimer’s caregivers

RALEIGH — While the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the health of millions in this country and around the world, the novel coronavirus presents unique challenges for more than 5 million Americans, including 180,000 in North Carolina, living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

The Alzheimer’s Association, Eastern North Carolina Chapter and the Alzheimer’s Association, Western Carolina Chapter are offering free virtual education programs and online support groups in the coming weeks to help all North Carolina caregivers and their families. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a number of education programs that can help those living with Alzheimer’s and their families understand what to expect so they can be prepared to meet the changes ahead and live well for as long as possible.

“During this challenging time, it’s critical that all North Carolina caregivers have access to Alzheimer’s Association resources even if they cannot venture out,” said Lisa Roberts, Executive Director of the Eastern North Carolina Chapter. “The COVID-19 crisis is altering Americans’ daily lives, but the needs of Alzheimer’s caregivers cannot be put on hold. These online programs allow us to connect with caregivers and provide necessary information even amid the current crisis.”

Each virtual education program is approximately one hour and allows the audience to ask questions and engage with others going through the journey online.

Upcoming virtual education programs include:

• 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

• Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia

• Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behaviors

• Effective Communication Strategies

• Dementia Conversations: Driving, Doctor Visits, Legal & Financial Planning

• Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body: Tips from the Latest Research

For a complete list of upcoming virtual programs, visit alz.org/nc. Attendees are invited to join via video/webinar or through a toll-free number. There is no charge to participate, but registration is required at alz.org/nc/helping_you/virtual-offerings-(1) or by calling 800-272-3900. Participants will be sent conferencing details prior to the date of each virtual program.

In addition to the virtual education classes, the Alzheimer’s Association offers online community resources at alz.org including ALZConnected®, a free online community where people living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, family and friends can ask questions, get advice and find support.

More than 16 million family and friends, including 479,000 in North Carolina, provide unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias in the United States. To help family caregivers navigate the current complex and quickly changing environment, the Alzheimer’s Association has also offered additional guidance to families at alz.org/COVID19.

The Alzheimer’s Association free, 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900) offers around-the-clock support for caregivers and families impacted by Alzheimer’s and all dementia.

— CN+R staff reports

Chatham County Solid Waste, Recycling events canceled

Out of an abundance of caution, Chatham County Solid Waste & Recycling has cancelled all events scheduled for May 2020.

“While North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s Stay-at-Home Order is set to expire on April 30, we do not know whether it will be extended or what the re-opening process will look like,” said Kevin Lindley, Chatham County Environmental Quality Director. “In order to have enough time to get the word out to residents about these changes, we needed to make this decision now.”

Details on the cancelled events are as follows:

Earth Day Event

The May 16 event has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled this year. Solid Waste & Recycling will have a document shredding event on Saturday, November 21. The next Earth Day Event is planned for April 2021.

Household Hazardous Waste

The May 16 event has been cancelled. The next Household Hazardous Event is scheduled for June 20, and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office will be onsite for medication disposal. Future HHW events will be the third Saturday of the month from June through November.

Mulch Sales

Saturday mulch sales have been cancelled for the month of May. Solid Waste & Recycling will have weekday mulch sales in the summer. Check the department’s website www.chathamnc.org/recycle for more details on future mulch sales.

“Residents will be able to purchase mulch and bring their household hazardous waste to future events,” Lindley said. “Cancelling our Earth Day event, which includes free paper shredding, was disappointing. However, we had already decided to schedule a second shredding event later this year. So, while residents will need to hold onto their items a while longer, there will still be shredding options available to them.”

The Collection Centers remain open and operating with normal hours. The Swap Shops are closed and the Electronics Program is suspended. Programs at the Main Facility remain suspended or with limited access. Please check the website for details www.chathamnc.org/recycle. Residents can call the Main Facility at 919-542-5516 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or email anytime at recycle@chathamnc.org.

As this is an ever-changing situation, please check the website for any future updates- www.chathamnc.org/recycle.

Pandemic food program available for children

PITTSBORO — North Carolina has received approval from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to begin a new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program. This program will enable Chatham County families who have been impacted by school closings due to COVID-19 to purchase food for their children.

The program provides benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to North Carolina families whose children would receive free and reduced lunch as part of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. There is no application process to receive P-EBT benefits. The P-EBT card will function like a standard EBT card, and the same guidelines will apply.

Eligible families will not need to apply for the P-EBT program. P-EBT eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card in the next few weeks. P-EBT eligible families not already enrolled in FNS will be mailed a new EBT card in the next few weeks. Families who receive a new EBT card will first receive a letter from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) in the mail explaining how to activate and use their card.

“North Carolina was one of the first states to gain approval from the USDA to operate a P-EBT program, and we are thankful it was approved so quickly,” said Karen VonCannon, supervisor for the Food and Nutrition Program at the Chatham County Department of Social Services. “We know that many Chatham County families have had to absorb additional food expenses without warning and this will provide much needed assistance.”

Families will receive approximately $5.70 per weekday equaling $257 in total P-EBT benefits per child, provided over two installments, with the possibility of an additional benefit if North Carolina schools are closed beyond May 15, 2020.

“With recent developments and information announced regarding issuance of P-EBT cards to help families in this unprecedented time, School Nutrition Services is working with our state agencies to assist families in this process. More information and guidance for families will be forthcoming,” said Jennifer Özkurt, school nutrition director for Chatham County Schools.

Unused benefits will rollover month-to-month and must be used within 365 days. Families who do not wish to use P-EBT benefits may destroy the P-EBT card when received. If the family changes their minds, the benefits will be available for 365 days and the family may contact the call center to request a replacement card.

If parents have questions about their benefit, they can contact Chatham County DSS at 919-542-2759 or through email at askdss@chathamnc.org.

Families are encouraged to continue utilizing feeding programs at local school and community meal sites for free, nutritious meals for children. Families can text FOODNC to 877-877 to find local meal sites. The service is also available in Spanish by texting COMIDA to 877-877.

— CN+R staff reports

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