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Letters to the editor — Friday (10-31-14)

Chairman refuses information to board

No one on the Board of Education, including the chairman, has the authority to tell a board member that they can’t view information. Unfortunately, this is happening.

I have asked to see preliminary bid information for the new central office project multiple times. Each time I have been given a reason why I should not view this information. Wednesday, after requesting it for the third time, Chairman Miller responded and said that I would not have access to this information until the next meeting. This is unacceptable!

This project has been handled largely by keeping some board members in the dark. We are all now well aware of the secret meetings that took place between Dr. Miller and outside voices. I am unsure why there is such a strong fight to keep this information hidden.

Furthermore, we currently do not have the funding to cover all planned projects based on our agreement with the county. Regardless, we have continued to push certain pieces forward without asking to meet with county officials to address this funding deficit. The estimates I am being given for the central office may now exceed $8 million. That price does not include potential scope changes and property purchases that many board members want to add to the project.

Furthermore, due to the process almost all local companies have been eliminated from the project. This hurts our project, and our county. Something must be done to address the dictatorial leadership we have seen on our board. We can no longer afford to see the system run by the chairman and a few administrators. Please urge your system chairman to utilize all board members, not just those who raise their hand when they are told to do so.

— Josh Wagner


Communal effort

Last Sunday, I attended a candidate forum sponsored by The Chamber, a group of mostly African American citizens of Rowan whose focus is “Consciousness-raising, Issue Awareness and Community Advocacy.” Around 16 candidates came, along with a full audience in a large room at Ryan’s Restaurant.

Questions were submitted from the public. Some answers were direct and pertinent, others not so much. Politics is politics, after all. Some issues led to more heated responses than others. The most important aspect of the more than two-hour meeting was the size of the audience, their intense listening and the clear intention to participate in a system that, more often than not, leaves the margins of our community unconsidered, uninvolved, uninformed.

How all these “un’s” come about is moot. The fact remains that it does. Heretofore, two segments of Rowan County have ended up in adversarial positions, accomplishing nothing but encyclopedic disappointments and  failures — failures of our community, of our local governments, but most importantly, of us as individuals.

Ideally, governmental bodies represent us and our wishes, mediated to bring the best to the communal effort — not to bring the best to one zip code or another.

The Chamber has created an opening for us to come together in real discussion about what is needed to become a healthy and vibrant community, one with economic opportunities, not just for the select, but for those now at the margins —people too often dismissed as unemployable, disengaged, un- or under-educated, or less than literate in the language of capitalism.

The Chamber is igniting interest and, best of all, curiosity. I, for one, want to engage with them in this time of need for discussing how we can create a healthy community where all our citizens share in the efforts and successes we strive so hard for.

— Whitney Peckman


An assessment

Let’s look at major races here in Rowan County, U.S. Senate and County Commission.

In the Senate race, what have Hagan and Tillis actually done?  Senator Hagan has been a fairly typical freshman, serving on the Armed Services Committee, chairing a subcommittee. She differed with the administration, urging support for Syrian rebels, supporting the Keystone Pipeline and helping get affordable health coverage for the uninsured.

Mr. Tillis has no national credentials and must be judged on his performance as Assembly speaker.  There his tax reform gave a lower rate to upper- and middle-income families while lower-income and retired families often saw increased taxes, according to the Legislative Research Division. $500 million cuts in education hurt experienced teachers.  Millions more were wasted on voter ID and Amendment One.

At the county level, let’s go down the ballot:

Greg Edds is a local Tea Party leader who supported Jim Sides straight down the line. Lacking a business plan or a space needs analysis (his words, not mine), he still supported buying the Salisbury Mall. He would continue the Sides/Tea Party agenda.

Jim Greene would probably support Pierce and Caskey on most issues.

Judy Klusman, experience as a legislator, got in the race as a rebel Republican.

Leda Belk previously served on the commission and brings education and law enforcement experience. A moderate.

Richard Locklear, an attorney who opposed the mall from the start, seems level-headed and willing to compromise to get things done.

Chris Cohen follows the Tea Party/Sides line on the mall and would support Pierce and Caskey.

Raymond Coltrain, a moderate who served previously as a common sense commissioner, opposed Jim Sides, Pierce and Caskey.

Gene Miller opposed buying the mall.  Generally middle-of-the-road, he opposes Pierce and Caskey.

One man’s assessment of the candidates. Think about and vote!

— Jack Burke



“I am absolutely mortified that you are against a new central office. Have you been in the one on Long St.? It is in such disrepair the balcony is going to fall any day now. Not to mention the mold issues. I agree that a new central office will not teach the children but do you care nothing about the health and safety of our teachers and administrators? That is what it sounds like to me. And to suggest that staff are being bullied by Dr. Moody! I am appalled!! She is the best thing to happen to Rowan-Salisbury Schools in many years. She has cleaned house and even gotten rid of one of your running mates who had the technology so restricted Dr. Moody’s jaw hit the floor when she found out. If you want to know why morale is so low perhaps you should talk to Thom Tillis. He is, after all, responsible for cutting our teacher’s pay. Give them their much deserved longevity pay and assistants back and I assure you morale will increase significantly. You, Mr. Allen are out of touch. God, help us if you are elected.”

That is an exact quote of a post I made to Travis Allen’s campaign Facebook page. Instead of answering my concerns or giving his side of the argument, what does he do? My post is deleted.

Is this the kind of leader you want on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board? The kind of person who, when faced with difficult situations and questions, runs? The kind of person who refuses to engage someone he does not agree with? I hope not.

Being on the Board of Education takes very thick skin. Mr. Allen proved he does not have the thick skin needed for the job.

Travis Allen will certainly not get my vote.

— Leslie Birch

China Grove

A man for all reasons

In this very important campaign for Rowan County Commissioner, I urge you to vote for Gene Miller. I have known Gene for almost 20 years and he has always been a man of integrity, intelligence and compassion. There were times during my tenure on the Board of Education when what I wanted Gene to do and what he could do were in conflict. Gene always afforded me the opportunity to express my opinion and, I believe, respectfully considered what I had to say. He would also respectfully enlighten this School Board member with no background in construction as to why certain things were or were not possible. I appreciated Gene’s honesty with me and his complete dedication to accomplishing the tasks assigned to him in ways that were the most fiscally responsible.

To be honest, Gene’s politics are a bit more conservative than mine. But Gene has my vote because I believe in his commitment to bring jobs and prosperity back to Rowan County. I believe in his ability to analyze issues and make decisions based not on his political party affiliation, but on what is best for citizens and families in Rowan County. I trust Gene to work collegially and cooperatively with his fellow Commissioners, Salisbury City Council members, elected officials in our municipalities, the Board of Education, current and prospective Rowan County businesses, and the citizenry at large. I believe Gene Miller will make an excellent member of the Board of Commissioners and I encourage you to vote for him.

— Karen South Jones


An obvious choice

It appears that a common theme has surfaced in this year’s county commissioners race. It centers around integrity, cooperation and displaying a positive attitude.

These traits are consistently displayed by Raymond Coltrain. I have never heard anyone question Raymond’s integrity, character or sense of fairness. This is quite a compliment considering that Raymond completed a career in public service.

Our residents are eager to elect a leader who can put partisan politics aside and focus upon creating cooperative change. Raymond chose to run as an unaffiliated candidate because he believes that as he makes important decisions he should not be influenced by political partisanship. To me, this is a very refreshing stance.

I have been fortunate to have known Raymond for the past 25 years. He has always impressed me with his caring, mature and pleasant personality. Most of us will agree that Rowan County has recently experienced some decisions being made that were embarrassing for us all. I am confident that Raymond displays the maturity and wisdom to make sound decisions that will help us regain confidence in our commission.

This year the voters are fortunate to have several candidates from which to choose. Raymond is obviously the one candidate we all should support. I respectfully invite you to join me in voting for Raymond Coltrain as an unaffiliated candidate for our county commission.

— Jay Whittington


Character, ethics

Almost a year ago I asked county commissioners for particulars of the (then) pending purchase of the Salisbury Mall. When finally received, the details were frightening: price way-too-high, due diligence way-too-little, and a solid plan for its use non-existent.

Since then, thousands of Rowan County citizens have engaged in county political discussions at phenomenal levels. Admittedly the backlash from those supporting the commission’s actions included ill-conceived rumors, evil epithets and personal intimidation tactics. The number of citizens who quietly thanked me and then became active participants in public discourse far outnumber the rest. Responding to those who’ve lately asked, “Where have you been? When are you going to write another letter to the editor?” here is that letter.

In the past 11 months, I’ve stood shoulder-to-shoulder with many who continued to ask the hard questions of our elected leaders. It takes courage and fortitude to steadfastly greet the public, one-on-one, when folk start a conversation with, “I heard you (fill-in-the-blank-here) and I don’t want no part of you.” (sic) Only a person of fortitude can look such voter in the eye, speak to the real issues, and win that vote.

To know and endorse two such persons for public office is an honor and privilege. These two have faced each and every stink-bomb lobbed their way without giving an inch of character. If you want for leaders who turn nasty when challenged, read no further. If, however, you want to vote for candidates remaining true to public duty and personal ethics in the midst of the cesspool that has become Rowan County politics, mark your ballot beside the names of Judy Klusman and Raymond Coltrain.

— (Eva) GeoRene Jones


Two for commissioner

I believe there are a number of viable candidates for County Commission, but I particularly want to encourage voters to vote for Greg Edds and Jim Greene.

Edds and Greene are businessmen who understand the importance of business-friendly policies, attracting (and wanting to attract) quality businesses which will produce jobs and pay good wages, and adding to our tax base so the county can maintain services while holding the property tax rate or possibly reducing it. They understand the necessity of strong and reasonable economic development incentives as we compete with other communities for industry. These men will work diligently and intelligently to make sure that Rowan County positions itself to attract and retain high-caliber businesses.

I know Greg Edds and Jim Greene personally. They are men of integrity, character and faith. I trust them to keep the best interests of Rowan County and its citizens in mind. They will make the tough decisions that produce the greatest benefit. They are collaborative and hard-working. They will make every effort to pull groups together to work in partnership for the best solutions.

I have read with interest as some have painted Greg Edds as another Jim Sides or assert that Edds would be a puppet of Sides. It is not my intention here to criticize our current County Commission chairman, but I can assure everyone that Greg Edds is no Jim Sides and he certainly will not be a puppet of Sides or anyone else. Edds has strong convictions and plenty of backbone.

Edds and Greene are gentlemen, they will conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, they are genuinely nice people, they are compassionate, and they will treat everyone with respect. I encourage readers to vote for Greg Edds and Jim Greene for Rowan County commissioner.

— Pete Teague


Picking two

Please remember to vote Raymond Coltrain for Rowan County Commissioner on November 4th. Raymond’s prior four years of experience gives him the knowledge on how to work with large budgets and staff. As a person, Raymond is fair, honest, and compassionate. I can’t think of any better traits for a Commissioner.

When voting for the next Rowan County Clerk of Court, remember how important experience is to the job. There is no Democrat or Republican way to file a judgment or set the court docket. There’s only the right way. With 25 plus years on the job, there’s really one choice. Please vote for Jeff Barger Clerk of Court on November 4th.

— Gary Page




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