Editorial: Four Christmas gifts for Salisbury-Rowan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 5, 2021

Children are making their lists, and checking them twice to make sure Santa and gift-buyers know what to put under the Christmas tree. Salisbury and Rowan County could use some Christmas gifts, too.

Here are a few ideas:

• The Rowan County United Way could use a last-minute lift over the finish line to reach its $1.5 million campaign goal.

The Rowan United Way raises money to fund projects in mental health, substance abuse, healthy lifestyle behaviors and basic needs. Among other things, it has funded treatment programs and services, created an aquaponics garden and provided money for an emergency shelter at Families First NC. When the organization held its campaign finalize last week, the money raised came up a little short — $1.23 million.

Whether you’re an employer who hasn’t organized a workplace campaign before or an individual who’d like to help an important local institution carry out its mission, consider helping with the organization’s campaign. Find out more at rowanunitedway.org or by calling 704-633-1802.

• The city of Salisbury has placed the Empire Hotel on its Christmas list for a number of years, but it would appreciate some movement in the near future.

In September, the city selected a Charlotte-based developer, Brett Krueger, to oversee the project after breaking off exclusive talks with the prior pick. The new plan is to build about 40 apartments as well as a spa, gym, health club, retail space, restaurant and hotel bar. It’s an exciting set of possibilities that could transform downtown for the better.

After fits and starts, even a little movement would bring some much-needed energy to the historic building.

• The public would appreciate knowing in more finite detail how local government entities and Rowan-Salisbury Schools will spend COVID-19 relief money.

By nature of its name, the American Rescue Plan, the funding isn’t intended to fund run-of-the-mill priorities. Aim for something ambitious that will have a significant impact on the Salisbury-Rowan community.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners picked a good idea — distribute $1.2 million equally among non-municipal fire districts to supplement their budgets. For many of the rural fire departments, the $50,000 coming their way receive will be critical toward purchasing equipment. But that project is just a small part of the expected $27 million county government expects to receive.

The city of Salisbury expects to receive about $7 million. Council members already voted to use $1.7 million to give one-time bonuses to full- and part-time employees who worked during the pandemic.

Both are good projects. But if the challenge is to think bold, local officials should consider whether it’s possible to pursue extending fiber-optic service from Hotwire (formerly Fibrant) to towns and communities where service is more expensive and competitors are few and far between. Are there places in the county where a water or sewer extension is needed? Could American Rescue Plan money help solve the city of Salisbury’s flooding problems at its water intake?

• The world may not avoid another spike in COVID-19 cases from the new omicron variant, but it would certainly appreciate a variant that’s less severe than previous ones.