Community challenges need positive leadership

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 16, 2013

Recently, I have read letters to the editor from Paul Fisher, Dr. Tommy Carlton, Steve Blount, Pastor Rhodes Woolly and Shawn Campion (all of whom I greatly respect) regarding our community and its challenges.
I would like to add my comments. When I use the term community, I am referring to all of Rowan County. I wish to focus on issues and not people or politics. Here are the most important challenges that I believe we face as a community:
n Our population is not growing in spite of being in the I-85 corridor that is arguably the most vital economic corridor in the nation.
n The communities around us are growing and have lower unemployment and higher disposable income.
n The political impression we collectively create in the local media about the attractiveness of this county as a place to live and thrive with a business, profession or a family is not positive.
n The community appears to not value education, based on how we are leaving those in charge in dilapidated, out-of-date buildings spread around the county. Individual schools in our community are ranked among the lowest in the state and country. For instance, Knox Middle School — the sole middle school serving the county seat — is ranked in the bottom 6 percent of all middle schools in the state of North Carolina.
Keep in mind that North Carolina schools are ranked in the lower 10 percent of all schools in the nation by various performance criteria. I do not single out Knox because its students or teachers are failures. They are not. There are inspiring things happening there, and we should be helping them in any way we can. And Knox is not alone in its challenges. Many other schools in this county are facing unprecedented challenges. We — the community — are failing them. We should be rallying and building up, not squabbling and tearing down.
What, then, are we to do to positively change our situation? A Texas colleague of mine some years ago had a simple comment about things that stayed with me: “If you continue to do the things you’ve been doing, you will continue to get what you got!” If you don’t like what “you got,” it is time to change what you’re doing. If the people in office are not producing the results we want then it is up to us, as voters, to get out there and change things. If you don’t, then you’ve no right to complain. I think the time is right for three committed individuals to step forward and make an effort to change things and I believe there’s a growing will to support those who might step forward.
I would personally be willing to step forward were it not for some health issues that make it unfair to my family to engage in a political campaign but count me in as a willing participant to support those who might step forward.

Carl Repsher is a retired business executive and current chairman of the Salisbury Planning Board.

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