It is with great dismay that I, as chairman of the Uwharrie Regional Resources Commission (URRC), just shared with members of the commission that the soon to be adopted state budget eliminates this important body, and we will soon be disbanded.
This commission was formed by the General Assembly in 2010 in a bipartisan and broadly supported fashion to help address the many economic and environmental challenges of the counties in the lower portion of the Yadkin and Pee Dee River Basin.
A dedicated group of citizen volunteers began meeting shortly after formation and got to work identifying and trying to address some of the challenges this region faces, which is exactly what the authorizing statute instructed us to do. We have continued to work tirelessly on a broad array of issues that we believe will improve the quality of life and the economy for the citizens of this region.
It appears the effort to disband our organization came from a couple of legislators who have never come to one of our meetings nor read any of our official minutes. Evidently, they have a vendetta against us, or our efforts to try to improve the economic and environmental challenges of the greater Uwharrie Region of North Carolina. Adding to that is an apparent political feud between a prime sponsor of the bill and another legislator. How unfortunate that petty politics could potentially negatively affect the whole of the Yadkin River Basin. Make no mistake, the River is one of the most important assets we have going for us, our children, and future generations.
It is particularly disheartening in light of recent successes we have realized in bringing together counties to communicate with each other about infrastructure projects and recreational development opportunities that are beyond any single county’s ability to pursue on their own. We have invested time in identifying opportunities to clean up industrial waste sites along the Yadkin River, and begun to see interest in an upcoming regional dialogue that we intended to have in regard to how we might better market, protect, and utilize the invaluable resources of the Yadkin and Pee Dee River system.
What’s more, we have not used or even requested a direct appropriation from the General Assembly for our efforts to improve regional communication, marketing, and resource identification. It seems quite disingenuous that the elimination of the URRC was buried in the budget bill when no money was ever budgeted by the legislature for this organization.
As Thomas Jefferson observed, good government only works when the governed (1) are educated about the real consequences of their governance actions, and (2) are regularly involved in the political process. He could have added, it is important that those governing act in a common-sense, moral and ethical manner.
I sincerely hope the goals the URRC was pursuing will continue to be pursued by some other body or collaborative of organizations, or this region will have a less bright future as a result of this budget and action by the General Assembly.
Dr. Max Walser of Lexington is chairman of the Uwharrie Regional Commission.