County workshop gives updates on childcare, nutrition and climate change considerations


PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Commissioner met at 2 p.m. on Monday afternoon at the Chatham Agricultural & Conference Center for their regularly scheduled workshop ahead of the evening’s business meeting.

The first item on the working agenda was to select a representative from the county to be a voting delegate and attend the annual North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ annual conference. The commissioners selected Katie Kenlan of District 4 unanimously to attend. 

An update for the Chatham County Early Childhood Community Assessment and Action Plan was discussed, with an alarm that a shortage of qualified personnel in the child caregiving field is affecting parents of Chatham County. 

Topics covered under the Early Childhood Assessment Action Plan were workforce shortage, parents struggling to find care, childcare businesses struggling to find qualified help and remain viable, Pre-K Discovery & Analysis, and other challenges for Chatham health officials.

A trailer for a short film about the Chatham County Early Childhood Action plan was shown to the commissioners Monday afternoon. 

This film will be available to the public and will be shown in Siler City and Goldston. The initial airing took place on Wednesday, Aug. 23 in Pittsboro. 

Tara Gregory, a Nutritionist and Extension Agent of Family and Consumer Sciences, presented the commissioners with an update on her food safety and nutrition programs.

She gave updates on the successful summer camp for kids the past summer, and spoke about her video series for Chatham County on YouTube. She also discussed food preservation, canning, fermentation and drying.

The commissioners also spent time discussing climate change as Robbie Cox, Co-Chair of the Climate Advisory Committee spoke to the commissioners in length.

The board spent time discussing electric school buses (EV), with Cox stating that as the county engages more and more into EV travel this committee wants the county to consider appropriate routes to be taken for ranges of EV charges.

Currently, 77 of the EV school buses have been ordered across the state from other school districts and 5 are currently in use.

Cox mentioned that the exhaust from the heavy diesel fumes have caused not only respiratory problems in children, but that it also affects their participation and learning ability in the classroom. 

The county has already installed 4 EV charging stations in Siler City and Pittsboro.  

Next, Cox talked about “climate resilient” homes.  

The commissioners were given information about how to weatherproof low-income homes to close the connection gap and that 17% of all air pollution comes from homes. Cox stressed the importance of the need to forcibly move to climate efficient appliances in a home, claiming it is more affordable to change to climate friendly appliances, which was not backed up with any price index research. 

“One-third of the amount of energy is used by a heat pump water heater than a regular water heater, helping residents save on energy bills,” said Cox.

The commissioners also learned about lower costs through climate-friendly appliances, and circling back around to EV buses for the county, but nothing was mentioned on how adding a fleet of EV buses would affect power grid performance.

The eagerness to push the county towards mostly EV vehicles, not just for school buses, was called an “exciting potential option” by Board Chair Karen Howard.

Commissioner David Delaney added that, “this is a good positive thing,” and touted the idea of EV school buses.