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School problems on list of issues for Rowan Commissioners

By Jessie Burchette

Salisbury Post

Rowan County commissioners have set aside three days in February for their annual planning retreat.

The board will return to the South Rowan Regional Library — now named for the former longtime Commissioner Frank T. Tadlock who died Jan. 2.

For several years, the board made a trip to Pinehurst each February at a cost of several thousand dollars. For the past three years, the board has stayed in the county.

The retreat will run Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 21-23, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On a 4-to-1 vote, the board agreed to hire Larry Parks as facilitator. Parks has retired from the Centralina Council of Governments.

Parks, an east Rowan native who lives in Union County, facilitated the retreats for nearly a decade while working for the Centralina Council of Governments.

The board opted not to use Parks last year, going instead with a Catawba College professor.

Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, pushed to bring Parks back, saying he understands what commissioners do and how to conduct a retreat.

The facilitator keeps the discussion going, makes sure that no one dominates the session, while pushing for the board to reach a consensus or decision on each issue.

Commissioner Jim Sides objected to using Parks, saying he didn’t like him.

“(Parks) didn’t like me,” said Chamberlain, admitting he had talked with Parks recently. “He’s available. He’s a pro.”

Commissioners are continuing to work on the agenda for the retreat.

E-mails exchanged by commissioners list more than two dozen major topics including building needs of county departments, an incentive program for economic development, a review of the Rowan/Kannapolis ABC system, involvement with Salisbury-Rowan Utilities, the airport master plan and land-use planning.

At least one commissioner has requested a representative from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to discuss the testing situation of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools and explain what the state is doing to assist.

Commissioners will possibly vote on the agenda items later this month.

Commissioners also agreed Thursday night that any group making a presentation at the retreat should submit information in advance and have its representatives keep their presentations brief.

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