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Darts and Laurels: Good riddance to 2020

Laurel to to the impending arrival of a new year on Friday. Good riddance to 2020.

There won’t (or there shouldn’t be) any large celebrations for the end of a terrible year. But there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about 2021.

Here are just a few of them:

• The new year will bring the opening of Bell Tower Green Park — a venue that everyone in our community will be able to enjoy. It’ll be a great facility for community events and a nice way to decompress and relax after 2020.

• It will be the first year in which Salisbury’s voters will have a direct say in choosing a mayor.

Previously, the mayor was chosen by council members, who usually went with the top vote-getter.

• There will be economic development in Rowan County building on momentum that’s continued in spite of a pandemic and providing tax revenue local leaders can use to improve the quality of public services.

To help, Rowan County will be able to use its tier one status to obtain grants and funding that were previously out of reach.

• Most importantly, 2021 should bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

The biggest factor in ensuring this happens will be whether a large-enough percentage of the public chooses to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The end to the pandemic, however, will mean a return to community events and some semblance of life as we remember it in February and early March. It would be a development worthy of a party on the streets of downtown Salisbury.

Dart to the fact that the country is still without a finalized coronavirus relief package after long negotiations and an agreement reached by Congress.

The package has been stalled following a demand by President Donald Trump that stimulus checks to individuals be increased to $2,000 and more for families and couples. Congressional Democrats are OK with the increase, but Republicans have declined to support Trump’s request.

Acknowledging that Republicans like Rep. Ted Budd, who represents Rowan County, have a point — the bill was too big and likely full of things lawmakers haven’t read — it’s best to get something to the American people that both sides in Congress already agree on than to hold out for more. Anything else will exacerbate existing problems.

Laurel to the ways in which Rowan County allocated funding from the CARES Act, the previous relief bill that Americans are still waiting for a sequel to.

County commissioners  gave each municipality a share of money to use for relevant projects, made progress toward improving broadband access in rural areas, made public-health focused improvements to facilities, provided free testing, started a grant program for small businesses and created a paramedic program that almost certainly kept some diagnosed with COVID-19 out of the hospital.

Other communities would do well to use Rowan’s projects as examples for what’s possible.

Laurel to the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Rowan County last week.

The Salisbury VA received both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine while the Health Department and Rowan Medical Center received just the Moderna vaccine.

The arrival meant health care workers and residents of the Salisbury VA’s Community Living Center took an important first step toward being protected from COVID-19 (both vaccines require a second dose).

First responders are also near the top of the priority list and expected to be vaccinated using the health department’s supply.

It’s important for the people who protect the public to be protected as well.

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