Timely news for all of you Snowbirds out there.  CA will now sell Monthly Memberships for ALL classes of memberships (resident and non-resident).  This also includes swimming pools for those of you who head north during part of the summer.  The 20% Senior Discount for those 65+ has been received well with 71 sign ups through December.  This offer continues through April when the CA Board of Directors will reevaluate it.

The County Council passed Council Bill 28-2012, the “Livable Homes” tax credit, which provides a 50% tax credit up to $2500 for accessibility modifications.  The Livable Homes Tax credit, which was signed into law by the County Executive, went into effect on December 5, 2012.  It covers such modifications as widening doorways and installing grab bars, fixed ramps, stair glides, etc.  The application form and more information can be found here, at the web site of the Howard County Department of Finance.

The Senior Events Shuttle (SES) funded by CA continues to provide free evening transportation for groups going to cultural events (groups of 4 or more Seniors 60+)  Kudos to John Eberhard of Oakland Mills who coordinates the SES requests.

All of us are interested in aging in Columbia.   CA has established an “Older Adult Work Team” (OAWT) comprised of senior CA staff and myself and Rusty Toler (Vice-chair).  Its goal is to develop a 25-30 Year Plan for Aging in Columbia and is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2013.  Some of the issues to be addressed include: What’s popular in CA programs for Seniors? What are people not interested in? What are the holes in CA programs and services?  Leadership Premier of Howard County is to do the Benchmarking.  The next meeting will be held at CA headquarters on January 30 at 10 AM.  These meeting are open to the public.

A part of the OAWT is to analyze the demographics of Columbia and project out what the demographics will look like over the next 30 years.  Each village’s demographics are analyzed separately.  This analysis was presented to the CA Board of Directors in December.

Another CA Senior Advisory Committee effort is the fostering the “Villages Concept” similar to Beacon Hill Village in Boston and Capital Hill Village in Washington.. You are all invited to the next meeting at the Miller Library on Monday, January 28 at 1 PM. We had an initial informational meeting in November and about 100 persons showed up.  A nucleus of 15 people has met and is developing a survey and doing continued outreach.  To avoid confusion with Columbia’s “Villages”, folks agreed to use a “Hamlet” designation.  Next steps include forming a 501©(3) Non-profit.  The Hamlet will seek to do the following:

  • Help you stay in your home as you grow older,
  • Help you stay independent and self sufficient as you age, and
  • Help you to stay connected to your community and be an active participant in the Columbia community.

A Hamlet will seek to build a community of like-minded individuals who want to live as active and connected senior citizens of their community. This is a grassroots effort,

In order to support the OAWT effort, the Senior Advisory Committee (SRAC) requested $50,000 from CA from the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget to augment $25,000 in previously approved funding for a statistically valid survey of Seniors in Columbia.  This is a part of the 30 Year OAWT project.  The SRAC also requested $50,000 in start up costs for the Hamlet effort.  We also requested that CA grants continue to Neighbor Ride ($10,000), the Senior Events Shuttle ($6,000), the Howard County Office on Aging Home Repair and Acessability Program ($30,000), and continued CA sponsorship of the Howard County 50+ Expo.

Paul Verchinski is an Oakland Mills Resident and Chair of the CA Senior Advisory Committee (SRAC).