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Editorial: A fresh, united start

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.”

— Alfred Lord Tennyson

Rowan County needs only one goal for 2017: Improve education, starting in the home and going all the way through high school and beyond.

If parents at every socio-economic level started encouraging their children’s literacy skills from day one so little ones are ready for kindergarten and can read at grade level by third grade, the future prospects for Rowan County’s children would improve immeasurably. Meanwhile, thousands of children already in school need help catching up

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom,” said George Washington Carver more than 100 years ago. That door remains closed to young people who lack a meaningful education.

So education is The Goal.

Another crucial area begs effort in 2017, though: crime. Alarm over violent crime climbed with each shooting or stabbing in 2016, a year capped by the senseless killing of a 7-year-old girl asleep in bed. Salisbury and Rowan officials joined forces to offer a $20,000 reward and commit to finding the shooter. The need for Salisbury Police and the community to work together is well-known. Fighting crime must be top priority in the year ahead.

That makes two goals: education and public safety.

Then again, a rising tide lifts all boats. Growing more jobs where residents could earn a living wage with vital benefits could transform their families’ lives — giving children a better start in life and steering people away from crime. Rowan has not replaced textiles, the industry that fueled the middle class here for generations. But we have land, natural resources and a willing workforce. Jobs should follow.    

This, then, is the three-legged stool of Rowan County’s future — education, public safety and jobs. The three are equally important and interdependent. Two legs alone won’t do the job. A successful community must have all three.

Identifying needs is easy; solutions are harder to come by. Rowan and Salisbury are moving in the right direction by working together on common problems. Let’s learn from the tragedies and hardships of 2016. “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors,” Benjamin Franklin said. And let the new year find us a stronger community.

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