Include the seniors
The Douglas County Economic Vitality Plan was introduced to the public on Sept. 13. Twelve priority projects were presented, all of which had merits, but the two largest economic sources for Douglas County were not addressed. They are ranching/agriculture and our senior population. Our seniors make up 30 percent of our population and they pay approximately 50 percent of the residential real estate tax. The average retired senior has an income comparable to most local workers. Most of the plan projects had an estimated increase of less than 20 jobs, yet the senior population of our county is declining at a rate of several hundred per year. This problem is unique to Douglas County since the senior population of the United States is escalating exponentially due to an increase in life longevity and the “baby boomers” entering the senior ranks.
Most seniors do enjoy the fantastic scenery and the distinctive towns in Douglas County, but most potential residents want to be assured that the area offers them meaningful activities in which they can participate. Contrary to some opinions, most seniors do not sit and watch TV all day long. One of the priority projects is a new multigenerational community center but from previous experiences and proposals, most seniors are skeptical that this will satisfy their activity requirements. If the county administration and businessmen are truly interested in recovering from our current economic recession they should start taking action to stop the hemorrhage of losing our senior population and begin by including seniors in the planning process.