Laurels: Stay involved in community after election

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2021

Laurel to the many candidates running for municipal office in 2021.

More than 60 candidates are running for spots on the governing boards of the county’s 10 cities and towns. None are doing it for the fame or fortune. If candidates are, they should know there isn’t enough of either on a city council or board of aldermen to justify the long hours and difficult conversations that will come.

The Salisbury and Kannapolis city councils receive the highest pay of any offices on the ballot, but they will not fully compensate for what will become a part-time job or a full-time job for the most dedicated. At last check, the Salisbury mayor, which is certainly a full-time gig, receives $15,894 per year.

People who run for city council or town board do it because they want to make a difference. They are police officers, workers in the court system, pastors, business owners or retirees who want to devote their spare time to serving the town or city where they live.

Many of them will win elected office on Tuesday — some for the first time. But all should stay involved in their community on a board or commission of some type. Salisbury has boards for historic preservation, community appearance, planning, parks and recreation, transportation and police oversight. Multiple towns have boards that focus on local parks. Planning boards help decide whether new developments are a good fit for the community.

In towns and cities where civic engagement is strong, it’s easier for the community to be, too. Candidates deserve thanks for putting their name in the ring for 2021 elections.

Laurel to the town of Cleveland for making public art a centerpiece of its efforts to improve its look, feel and resident involvement.

On Saturday, town leaders unveiled a massive barn quilt mural on the side of the Cleveland Community Volunteer Fire Department. A trail of barn quilt-inspired cubes also dot the roadside.

Public art can help create an identity for a community and reflect its surroundings. In western Rowan County, barn quilts are a perfect way to reflect a part of the community’s history and character. Often, the wooden squares contain colored, simple shapes that create images like flowers or patterns. But Cleveland’s display takes things to a different level, with cows, cardinals, guitars, farms and first responder tributes.

As other towns think about ways to differentiate themselves, public art may be a good starting point.

Laurel to big financial news for local colleges.

Catawba College announced transformational news last week when it said an anonymous donor had given $200 million to the school’s endowment. That gives Catawba one of the highest endowment per student ratios in the country and will allow it to pursue projects that otherwise could have been difficult or impossible.

The donor’s name may be private, but students will benefit from the contribution for generations.

While much smaller in scale, Livingstone College also announced the receipt of a grant for the college that will allow it to create a new program for science, technology, engineering and math. The $2.24 million grant from the National Science Foundation is the largest grant ever received by the school.