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Getting to know Salisbury better

Citizen George Benson presented these remarks to Salisbury City Council last month as a participant in the Salisbury Citizens Academy:

came to speak to give my opinion o the Salisbury Citizens Academy. The academy gives the average citizen a chance to see behind the scenes of how our tax dollars are used.

First, the opening program was outstanding. Thank you to Mayor Karen Alexander, Mayor Pro Tempore Maggie Blackwell, Councilman David Post and the various department heads for taking time out of your busy schedules to make us feel welcome that first night.

Special thanks to Kelly Baker for making sure we got where we were supposed to go for each meeting. Zack Kyles’ park bench scene with attendees talking one-on-one with each other was a great way to break the ice with citizens who didn’t know each other. We also received a great overview and history from Lane Bailey, city manager.

Thank you to Tony Cinquemani and the public works crews for teaching us about pothole repair, garbage and limb removal, signs, cemeteries, maintenance and storm waste water. Rodney Harrison and his transit crew provided an education on city transit.

Wendy Brindle, Vickie Eddleman and her engineering staff gave us great insight into traffic and its equipment, including the Salisbury 311 GIS presentation, which was awesome. I have already used Salisbury 311 several times.

What can be said about Preston Mitchell, Janet Gapen and Kyle Harris in their work in planning, including historical issues? Somehow I just always feel smarter when I listen to Preston. I didn’t say I was smarter, just felt smarter.

I didn’t make it to the Fire Department … with my limited mobility, but I understand it was a great class with lots of activity and fun. Thanks to Chief Bob Parnell and staff.

Nick Aceves and his whole crew at Parks and Recreation gave some great breakout sessions and now I know more about city event planning, the parks and general — especially Hurley Park — and, yes, now even the new rage, pickleball.

We had a very interesting night at Fibrant, thanks to Evans Ballard and his entire staff. Very educational, and I am firmly convinced now more than ever that Fibrant is the right entity for the coming times. I urge this council and future councils, do what you must to preserve Fibrant for the citizens of Salisbury.

Salisbury-Rowan Utilities was our last class to date. Jim Behmer and the SRU staff are well in control of our city’s water and sewer, and that is comforting to know, wtih what may happen with future pollution.

Still to come: police, then human resources and the rest of city staff. I look forward to learning more about these areas as well.

As a retired manager of people for more than 42 years, I can tell the citizens of Salisbury we have a great group of city employees behind us. I am sure we saw the very best, but they all have one thing in mind: keeping the citizens of Salisbury safe and serviced.

I hope future councils keep this program going, and I urge all Salisburians to give this a try. You are never too old to see your tax dollars at work. If given the opportunity, citizens should sign up and participae in this academy. You will gain great insight and you will learn about “The ’Bury.”

George W. Benson is a resident of Salisbury and now a graduate of the Salisbury Citizens Academy.

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