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Let citizens be heard

Dart to the inability of citizens to voice their support for a principal at Thursday’s meeting of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education. Chairman Richard Miller says it’s been part of board procedure for years to prohibit public comments about personnel issues — not only from board members, but even from citizens taking advantage of the board’s public comment period. Fortunately, a few people fashioned general remarks, and several gave the board written comments that could be more specific. State law allows school boards to “adopt reasonable rules governing the conduct of the public comment period.” In a worst-case scenario, one supposes, someone might exploit the comment period to launch a personal attack. The school board would not want to allow that. Still, if citizens were stunned Thursday night to learn they could not use the comment period to praise or defend their principal, they are not alone.

Laurels to recent growth in Rowan County’s nascent solar-power industry. County commissioners have approved two smaller-scale solar farms this year, one in Gold Hill and another in Rockwell. These 3-4 megawatt projects will sell electricity to Duke Power and follow other installations in the region, including a solar panel array at the Freightliner plant in Cleveland. In 2011, SunEdison — in partnership with Duke Energy — brought a much larger, 17.2-megawatt operation online in Davidson County. North Carolina’s renewable energy mandate, which requires utilities to obtain a small portion of their power output from renewable sources, provided the early stimulus for expansion of solar power here. But growth is taking off now because renewable energy companies see the commercial viability of solar generation. North Carolina now leads the Southeast in growth of utility-scale projects, with 21 added last year. No wonder the governor decared June “solar energy month” in North Carolina.

Laurels to state legislators for throwing up a roadblock for a proposal to consider raising the speed limit. The measure voted down in the N.C. House would have directed the N.C. Department of Transportation to study raising the maximum speed limit to 75 on some interstates and restricted access highways. North Carolina has some serious problems to solve. People driving too slowly isn’t one of them.

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