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Laurels to Duke Energy for an expansion project that easily won Rowan County commissioners’ OK for a conditional use permit this week. Salisbury City Council has also expressed support for the project. This may seem like a mere formality, but power plants can be controversial, depending on the fuel they use. Duke Energy won state approval to build a new 800-megawatt coal-fired boiler unit at its Cliffside facility in Rutherford and Cleveland counties, but environmental groups have launched legal challenges to stop it because of the emissions coal units put into the air. Local officials also supported that project ó they saw jobs, not pollution ó but they won’t get the last word. Environmentalists and the courts will. The Buck Steam Plant project should not generate that type of opposition. Duke wants to add a 620-megawatt natural gas unit at Buck, and it is retiring two coal-fired units ó part of its agreement with the state concerning the Cliffside project. Rowan got the better end of this deal.
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Dart to the war of words over language and immigration. Here’s the latest on Geno’s, the Philadelphia cheesesteak shop that won fame ó or infamy, depending on your view ó for a sign declaring “This is America. WHEN ORDERING, PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH.” The city’s Commission on Human Relations decided on a 2-1 vote that the sign was not discriminatory, since it does not say service will be refused, withheld or denied. Owner Joe Vento’s concerns over immigration law violations prompted the sign, but time will tell how much of a victory this ruling is. As the economy slows down, heavy accents and jumbled English probably will become a lot less irritating ó as long as the customer can pay.
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Laurels to the decision by Landis aldermen to appoint Roger Safrit to a vacancy in their ranks. It’s a surprise ending to Safrit’s 2007 campaign. The November election was so close that Safrit asked for a recount. He was only five votes behind Dean Beck, who appeared to have won the seat. The recount upheld that five-vote margin, so Beck was sworn in. But Safrit wasn’t out yet. Early this month, Beck resigned from the Board of Aldermen, saying he needed to focus on his job as a Landis police officer and on a family health issue. In hindsight, trying to be both a town cop and an alderman looks like a conflict of interest waiting to happen. Still, you have to admire Beck’s willingness to serve. Let’s hope Safrit puts this opportunity to good use. With the N.C. Research Campus going up next door in Kannapolis, Landis faces an exciting, challenging future.

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