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Editorial: Still good things happening in Rowan County

In a doom-and-gloom year dominated by COVID-19, here are some bits of news to remind you that there are still good things happening in our community:

People are still starting up and expanding local businesses during the pandemic and looking at the county for new investment. That includes people like Nancy and Stephen Black, who are Salisbury natives, avid kayakers and the proud owners of a business named Row Co River Adventures. There’s also Brent and Beth Engelhardt, who are looking to Kannapolis to expand Old Town Soap Co., currently based in China Grove. And on Monday night, Rowan County commissioners planned a public hearing to consider an incentive request for a yet-to-be-named manufacturing business that’s proposing to bring 142 new jobs to town.

Rowan Countians helped raise nearly $240,000 to help locals struggling with fallout from COVID-19. That money, donated to the COVID-19 Relief Fund created by the United Way and Salisbury Post, helped pay for services like the Y Academy, a program at the Rowan-Cabarrus YMCA for children and families navigating new school schedules. The fund also provided a grant to Capstone Recovery Center, which helps women struggling with drug addiction re-enter society.

People are finding ways to raise the spirits of their friends and family members who are looking for a silver lining while living in a nursing home or residential care facility. Joe Lancione is an example. He helped orchestrate a performance by Eric and Kolina Zander-Hussey, professional clowns from Salisbury, for Tom Wolpert, their neighbor who is staying at Trinity Oaks Health and Rehab. In April, as the Citadel became one of the worst nursing home COVID-19 outbreaks in the state, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, who has often performed at nursing homes and made a career out of singing, told all those within earshot to “lay back and listen as she performed. Mostly, she was there for her brother, Duke, but she was happy to serenade others, too.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools in September received a massive, $26.3 million grant to help accelerate implementation of renewal and create a new model for public education. With a total budget of about $192 million, the grant represents a sizable chunk of the school system’s budget.

While 2020 is a year everyone might prefer to leave behind on Jan. 1, there are still plenty of moments to smile about.

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