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Making change at the shelter

Laurels to Christine Morykwas, a Winston-Salem philanthropist who has pledged $500,000 to build a new, state-of-the-art feline wing at the Rowan County Animal Shelter. Morykwas learned of the space issues — and the resulting difficulty in keeping cats healthy — through social media. That’s also where she met local animal advocate Barbara Hart. She began donating money to cover adoption fees, and really didn’t have to do more. Morykwas and her husband already support causes including the Forsyth County Humane Society, and she built a 25,000-square-foot no-kill shelter in California. Even so, she said, after seeing the problems in Rowan, “my opinion was that you really shouldn’t sit there and complain. … You need to try to make those changes.” And she is literally putting her money where her mouth is.

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Laurels to the possibility that historic preservation incentives may have life, after all. The General Assembly left Raleigh last week having passed a budget that does not include an extension of historic preservation tax credits set to expire at the end of this year. But the legislature didn’t adjourn, and when lawmakers return later this month, they could address the issue in one of two bills. A Senate bill (S763) includes a modified version of a revamped incentives program proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory. A House bill (H1224) would create a committee to study historic preservation incentives. Preservation North Carolina is asking supporters to contact legislators and urge them to pass one of the bills. If it’s the study bill, the organization seeks an extension of the current credits through the end of the fiscal year. This isn’t just about saving old buildings. The N.C. Department of Commerce reports state historic preservation tax credits contribute $124.5 million annually to the state’s gross domestic product and approximately 2,190 jobs. In Rowan County alone, historic preservation tax credits have been used to generate $28 million worth of investment since 1976.
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Laurels to the N.C. Local Government Commission, which asked for more information before it rules one way or the other on a controversial local measure. The state commission is charged with helping local government units — cities, counties and other public authorities — stay fiscally healthy. A major part of that means those governmental units must get the state commission’s blessing before taking on debt. In this case, Rowan County officials want to borrow $3.95 million, most of it to cover the cost of buying the former Salisbury Mall. There’s a lot of emotion, and some hostility, on both sides of this issue, as evidenced during yet another public hearing on the matter this week. The state commission did the right thing by waiting at least 60 days, and seeking clarity, before deciding if it’s best to approve a loan on a mall that a majority of the sitting Rowan board says is the best deal for the county’s future space needs or waiting until a new majority is elected in November that could include candidates who say it’s a bad investment.

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