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Editorial: After prayer suit’s end, commissioners must shift full attention to business development

As the prayer lawsuit draws to a close, what’s next for Rowan County commissioners?

The suit, which started in 2013, was an issue in election campaigns and public policy debates. Now, however, there’s no major divisive policy matter looming over commissioners. Because, whether they were debating it at a particular meeting or not, the prayer lawsuit was a significant item upon which voters judged the performance of county officials, candidates discussed when running for office and incumbent commissioners spent mental and physical energy on.

The prayer lawsuit was resolved last year when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case. A vote on Monday to pay attorney’s fees to the ACLU officially marks the end.

The end of the case is probably for the best, as commissioners can now devote their full attention to matters of business development, projects that improve the quality of life and the daily operations of local government.

Rowan County has grown at a healthy clip since incumbent commissioners took office, but the kinder, gentler commission that came into office in 2014 has yet to produce any economic wins on the same scale as our southern neighbors. An important caveat is that Cabarrus County, Concord and Kannapolis have a number of advantages in capitalizing on America’s strong economy, making it tougher for Rowan County to land the same large logistics warehouses and other businesses. So, it’s especially important that Rowan County commissioners devote their full attention to further creating an environment in which businesses can thrive.

Meanwhile, as commissioners and business leaders look to lure prospects to Rowan, there are many ways in which county government can use tax revenue from growth seen already to enable quality of life projects across our community. One such example that should be relatively low in cost is a swimming beach on High Rock Lake that must be built as a condition of Cube Hydro’s license for dams on the Yadkin River.

The good news is that oversight of the daily business of government doesn’t require much more than an occasional check, as Finance Director Leslie Heidrick’s department shows in annual financial audits that the county’s finances are strong.

Since joining Rowan County government in 2014, County Manager Aaron Church also appears to have put the right people in department leadership positions.

In 2019 and beyond, we’re looking forward to a Rowan County government that sets its sights on capitalizing on the nation’s ever-improving economy and increasingly making our community a place in which people want to move their families and businesses. Putting the prayer lawsuit behind us, allows for that.

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