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Verner column: Predictions from cracked crystal ball

Here are some predictions for 2014. Warning: Purchased off Craigslist, my crystal ball is cracked, blurred by condensation and held together by duct tape and chewing gum. Nonetheless, here’s what it reveals for the coming year:
• In a stunning coup for the county, NASCAR adds the “Rowan Roundabout 500” to its racing schedule. Local leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory hail the event at the revamped intersection in west Rowan as proof Republican strategies are boosting growth. Moral Mondays vows to protest at the event.
• Amid signs of a breakthrough on the school office site dispute, the school board and county commission agree to hold a joint “working breakfast” meeting. Unfortunately, the meeting fizzles when commissioners adamantly object to putting a poached egg option on the menu.

To build statewide buzz for its first “Night Out” on the town event, Salisbury announces that Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus will be the featured act, performing their scandalous “Blurred Lines” number. Not to be outdone, Historic Salisbury Foundation announces this year’s October Tour will be part of the Jethro Tull Aqualung Reunion Concert Series.
• Still smarting from the outcry over last year’s “Defense of Religion” resolution, the local legislative delegation endorses a “Defense of Music Act,” which makes “Onward Christian Soldiers” the official state hymn.
• The county commission approves a resolution condemning the city’s “Blurred Lines” concert as a sly attempt to reignite the airport de-annexation issue. The resolution passes 4-0, with Jon Barber missing the vote because he “needed to go run off a few extra copies of the agenda.”
• In a stunning decision, the U.S. Supreme Court says it’s fine to open official meetings with predominantly Christian prayers, but communal foot washings should be limited to the public comment period. The ACLU and the America Society of Podiatrists bitterly condemn the ruling as trampling on the rights of people with dirty feet.

The county commmission announces that rather than simply rename the Salisbury Mall, it will sell naming rights to the highest bidder.
• Amid signs of warming relations, the school board and county commission agree to a joint luncheon meeting to resolve the school administration building issue. The meeting has to be canceled after participants deadlock on whether the menu should feature barbecue or quiche.
• In one of the most thrilling finishes in NASCAR history, Mt. Ulla resident Oswald P. Thugenbottom wins the inaugural Rowan Roundabout 500, driving a Cub Cadet GT 2100 garden tractor. Thugenbottom was not officially entered in the race. He accidentally careened onto the track while trying to dodge Moral Monday protesters marching in his front yard. He swept into the lead after wiping out Danica Patrick on the final turn.
• Surprised by constitutional objections to its “Defense of Music” resolution, the local legislative delegation endorses a substitute “Defense of Freedom on N.C. Highways Act,” making “God is my co-pilot” the official state bumper sticker.

The county announces that a statewide activist group has submitted the highest bid for naming rights to the mall, which would be known as “Moral Mondays Mall.” However, commissioners vote 4-0 to extend the bid period, with Jon Barber temporarily absent because he “needed to run off a few extra copies of ‘Roberts Rules of Order.’ ”
• Oswald P. Thugenbottom is treated for minor injuries after a violent post-race confrontation with Danica Patrick. “This is absurd,” seethed Patrick. “How are you supposed to bump draft a core aerator?”
• Envious of the county’s success in selling naming rights to the mall, the city of Salisbury announces it will sell naming rights to 329 South Main St. When a reporter points out it’s just a vacant lot, City Manager Doug Paris responds: “That’s the beauty of it. The winning bidder gets to start with a blank slate. Plus, we’re throwing in a really big sump pump.”
• In a special called meeting, the county commission announces a rival group’s upset bid has produced a new winner for naming rights to the mall, which will be known as “Tea Party Plaza.” The commission accepts the bid on a 4-0 vote, with Jon Barber temporarily absent because he “needed to run off a few extra copies of ‘War and Peace.’ ”

Following on the success of the Rowan Roundabout 500, Bruton Smith announces he will buy the new I-85 bridges over the Yadkin River, which will be redeveloped as the Yadkin River Memorial Dragway. Local leaders and Governor McCrory endorse the concept, saying it offers yet more proof that Republican strategies for privatization are not only boosting economic growth but will also cut highway maintenance costs.
• The city of Salisbury announces that naming rights to 329 South Main have been bought by Fibrant, which will henceforth be known as “Fibrant to the home — and to the hole.” When a reporter points out the city is buying the naming rights from itself, City Manager Doug Paris responds, “I’d call that a real win-win for taxpayers.”
• In a last-ditch attempt to resolve the school office dispute, special mediator Paula Deen persuades the school board and commission to participate in a joint supper meeting to “hash things out.” Unfortunately, the meeting has to be canceled when participants split over whether the beef hash should be corned or roasted. They agree in principle to meet for coffee and continue discussions sometime in 2015.
Remember, folks, you read it here first.
Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Post.

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