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Now that so many people have spoken up for the Smoke Out biker rally, let’s put those sentiments to the test. Who will volunteer to rent out his or her own property for this grand event next year?
All the moaning and groaning about Rowan County Commissioners driving away the Smoke Out misses a key point. Commissioners simply decided not to make the Rowan County Fairgrounds ó public property ó available for the Smoke Out after this year. Yes, a couple of commissioners are trying to legislate morals, at least on county property. Other commissioners are more concerned about the liability of indirectly hosting such an event; damage can be done when bikers and booze mix in a relatively confined space. However, commissioners have yet to pass ordinances prohibiting the Smoke Out elsewhere in the county. Chances are, the not-in-my-backyard reflex would kick in wherever the Smoke Out tried to set up shop in a community like Salisbury-Rowan. But maybe there’s a biker-friendly neighborhood that would embrace it.
Another detail being lost in the broad strokes of this controversy is which political body has been involved. An editorial in a biker magazine railed against Salisbury City Council, which had nothing to do with the Smoke Out’s fate and probably is glad of it. Let’s hope Rowan County residents at least can keep that straight.
There’s no question Rowan County commissioners could have bowed out of the biker rally business more gracefully and diplomatically. The decision got tangled up with the issue of the fairgrounds’ management, and some aspects of how this all unfolded are a puzzle. In the end, the Smoke Out went more smoothly than the debate that led up to this year’s event. May it move on to greener, private pastures.

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