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April 1 editorial: Great day for Rowan

As stalwart proponents of greater cooperation between our county and city governments, weíre exceptionally pleased with the latest result of our officialsí joint efforts to boost the local economy, beef up marketing campaigns and increase tourism.
As officials announced this morning, SmokeOut is returning to Rowan County this September. Even better, the biker gathering that left under a cloud of controversy a few years ago will set up camp at a new and more convenient location ó Hurley Park.
While itís become a cliche to speak of win-win deals, we think itís entirely apt here. SmokeOut will bring thousands of visitors to the city. These fun-loving and free-spending motorcycle enthusiasts will patronize restaurants. They will buy gas and make other liquid purchases. They will visit our local bookstores, art galleries, gardens, public sculpture displays and perhaps the hospitalís new emergency department. Weíre confident they will come away impressed with the cultural and intellectual aspirations of Salisbury and Rowan County. They will spread the word about what a happy and hospitable place this is. (Speaking of hospitality, we especially commend city officials for relaxing the usual restrictions so that SmokeOut participants can ride their motorcycles on the greenway. Ditto for the decision to provide live-streaming of the wet T-shirt contest on city and county websites. This is the kind of transparency that citizens and taxpayers appreciate.)
This was not an easy deal to broker. It required delicate negotiations involving county and city leaders, the EDC, tourism and marketing staff, Historic Salisbury Foundation and, of course, ěIronhead Eddie,î who represented SmokeOut. (Eddie, we hold you in our thoughts during rehab.) The projectís successful conclusion speaks to our leadersí longterm vision and commitment to progressive government.
In closing, let us also acknowledge the nearby residents who were initially opposed to the change in venue. City officials did an excellent job of dispelling their fears ó and the promise of 150 Porta-Johns and deep discounts on Fibrant subscriptions didnít hurt any, either. Also, the cityís turf management specialist, Milo Greenleaf, played an important role by pointing out the horticultural advantage of holding SmokeOut in Hurley Park in early autumn. ěNormally, thatís when we aerate,î he said. ěWe figure between all the tent poles and the burnouts, the soil will be well prepared for overseeding.î
The fellowship of bikers, economic dividends, national exposure and environmental benefits ó whatís not to like?
Mark your calendars now for this exciting event ó and you might want to note todayís date, too.

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