Editor, The Spotlight:
I am writing to urge people to attend the Bethlehem Seniors Summit, to be held Tuesday, October 25, from 9:00 to 11:00 AM in the Community Room at the Bethlehem Public Library.
Bethlehem has long had outstanding programs for seniors supported through a variety of funding sources, donations, and volunteers. These highly valued Town programs include transportation, recreational and fitness programs, counseling, information and referral, weekly shopping trips, and other services.
However, the Town’s elderly population continues to grow, and recent and anticipated budget cuts at the federal level may affect seniors programs, as could pressures on state, county and town budgets. In light of this, the Forum will ask what options can be considered to maintain the quality of life for seniors and preserve the option of “aging in place.”
For example, could we use more volunteers, seek additional grants or other new resources? At the Seniors Summit you’ll be able to hear about what may happen and share your thoughts. There will be a presentation on how Bethlehem seniors could be affected from Michael Burgess, the former Director of the State Office for the Aging, and local elected officials including State Senator Neil Breslin and County Executive Michael Breslin will speak. There will also be an opportunity for attendees to make statements.
Although the event is intended more as a policy discussion than a political event, it is being organized by John Clarkson’s campaign. As I reported in an earlier letter, I gave John his first job in State Government in 1980 and can attest that he is a highly talented person who is well qualified to serve as Town Supervisor, particularly in this era of economic uncertainty.
I have been impressed by the quality of Bethlehem’s town government and the many outstanding programs and services developed by our elected officials and civil service staff. For example, in my volunteer work as an advocate for older seniors in the Capital District, I have been constantly told that Bethlehem’s public-private senior van transportation system is regarded as the best in the area. The Foundation buys the cars and vans, volunteers are drivers, and Town staff members administer the program. We’ll need more creative approaches such as this if we are to preserve highly valued senior services.
Months before his victory in the primary, John had already asked me to help him gather information about programs for seniors. It is unusual for a candidate for public office to convene a policy discussion in the midst of a campaign. It is precisely this unusual quality of leadership that causes me to so strongly support John Clarkson for election as Bethlehem’s next Town Supervisor.
No reservation is required to attend the Seniors Summit, but more information is available online at clarkson2011.org or you can call 439-5418 and ask to have a flyer mailed to you.