Editorial: 2020 could be pivotal for community
This year could end up being a pivotal one for Salisbury and Rowan County, particularly for the economy and schools.
Chewy.com’s massive fulfillment center will open and quickly employ hundreds, with employment numbers eventually reaching more than 1,200.
At some point in the year, road construction is expected to wrap up in southern Rowan. All eight lanes of Interstate 85 were opened last year, but work continues in the China Grove area. Any person who’s driven on U.S. 29 and/or N.C. 152 lately can describe the headaches construction has caused.
Years ago, Cornerstone Church also said it planned to build a multi-million dollar, mixed-use complex on N.C 152 after road construction ends. So, local should look to see whether the church moves forward with its prior plans. Businesses looking at expanding in the Charlotte area might also see Rowan as a more attractive location without a traffic bottleneck on I-85 and road construction elsewhere over.
Kannapolis plans to start and finish construction of water and sewer lines at Old Beatty Ford Road’s interstate exit. That could also mean the start of construction on a 700,000-square-foot, mixed-use development, which will come with somewhere between $250 million and $500 million in investment. Kannapolis will annex the site.
What’s more, public officials will still be on an economic development mission. And we expect more announcements will come in the new year.
On the education front, the school system is set to launch its new accountability model this year, replacing school performance grades (letters grades release annually for every school) and further develop its vision of public education under the “renewal” system.
We don’t expect immediate, positive results from the accountability model, but the Rowan-Salisbury School System is moving in the right direction. The model and further fine tuning of curriculum will bring the district closer to a school system that works for its students and community.
With $75 million in promised funding from Rowan County commissioners, the school board must finally choose to make bold investments in new facilities and tough decisions to close and/or consolidate schools. Delaying action further means wasting more taxpayer money on aging facilities that are under capacity.
If the board has paid attention to the support for a K-8 school for Knox and Overton, it will vote to invest $50 million or more on the facility. That would certainly make 2020 a pivotal year.
None of the aforementioned items are intended to downplay the 2020 elections. Voters will choose new legislators, county commissioners and school board members.
But results of the county commission election will not fundamentally change the direction of the board. Democrats are heavy underdogs in their bids to defeat Republican incumbents in red districts. And we won’t know the landscape of the school board race until after the primary — when candidates will file. Josh Wagner, who recently relinquished his chairman title, says he’s not running again.
Most folks will be paying attention to the presidential, U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races. But none of those will affect locals to the same degree as a transformed school system or improved economy.
For years, public officials have forecast that growth would spill over Rowan County’s boundaries from Charlotte. That’s still possible. If it’s going to happen, however, this will be the year we’ll see the first signs.
There’s no need to forecast that public education will change in Rowan County; it’s already happening.
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