Mandan News

Organization dissolves

A long-time North Dakota organization has decided to dissolve. At a November 12 meeting in Bismarck, the Silver-haired Education Association’s Steering Committee voted to dissolve the organization effective immediately.

The association’s main purpose, for its 32-year existence, has been to educate North Dakota’s senior citizens on the legislative process. That was accomplished mainly through a biennial Silver-haired Legislative Assembly at the State Capitol during each even-numbered year since 1982.

“As time has passed, the number of seniors who are able to, or are interested in, serving as Assembly delegates has declined considerably. In the early years of the Assembly, there were two delegates from each North Dakota county,” Marlow Nelson, SHEA Steering Committee Chairman, said,

At the 2012 Assembly, fewer than half of North Dakota’s counties were represented. Of the 31 counties that had elected delegates, only 23 actually attended.

“SHEA has lost much of its effectiveness because of the lack of grassroots support from local senior clubs and county senior organizations,” Nelson said.

The delegate shortage is partly because SHEA is unable to cover individual delegate’s travel, lodging and meal expenses to attend the Assembly.

“Several bills that came out of the 2012 Assembly were passed on to the 2013 State Legislative Session, including those on skilled and basic care for senior residents, full mill levy match for county services, strengthening of guardianship programs, housing assistance and other concerns,” Nelson said.

During the 2013 State Legislative Session, SHEA assisted in getting the mill levy match raised from 75 to 85 percent, and North Dakota now has a guardianship program that more adequately meets the needs of North Dakotans who are in need of guardian services.

After a six-month survey process, during which SHEA’s Steering Committee members contacted the county and local senior organizations in their regions, results showed insufficient funding for SHEA and limited Silver-haired Legislative Assembly delegates for 2014.

“Because of the reduced support from the state and the Older Americans Act over the years, SHEA has struggled financially for the past 15 years. County and local senior entities have chosen not to support, or have been financially unable to support, SHEA on an annual basis,” Nelson said.

Questions regarding the dissolution of SHEA should be directed to Marlow Nelson at 701-464-5730 or marjoy@nccray.com or Cathy A. Langemo, SHEA project coordinator, at 701-527-7948 or cathyl@bis.midco.net.