Commissioners set to vote on final Ag Lands Plan draft, approve grant applications

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the final draft of the Rowan County Working Ag Lands Plan at Monday’s meeting.

Agricultural advisory board members Kim Starnes, Ben Knox and the director of the Rowan County Extension Amy-Lynn Albertson gave a presentation during the Jan. 17 commissioners meeting detailing the 60-page plan’s recommendations for continued support of the agricultural community in the county. Those recommendations include:

  1. Support measures to protect and promote working forest and farmland in Rowan County.
  2. Educate landowners on the benefits of enrolling Conservation Easement Program to keep land available for agriculture use.
  3. Expand Voluntary Agricultural district and Enhanced Voluntary Agriculture District programs.
  4. Develop and conduct programs to assist Rowan County farm and forest landowners with farm transition planning.
  5. Promote appreciation and awareness of the benefits of agriculture to Rowan elected officials and citizens.
  6. Expand and support youth agricultural programs.

“The success of this plans depends on the collaboration between local government, the agriculture sector and local citizens,” Knox said at the meeting. “We plan on evaluating it every year and giving recommendations every year as needed.”

In other action, the commissioners will vote on whether to apply for two grants and accept funds for a third.

The two grant applications concern the Rowan Public Library system.

The first being a collaborative project with the Salisbury Post to digitize archival materials owned by the Post for preservation and make them accessible to the public in the Edith M. Clark History Room. The library has already received grant funding in partial support of this project, according to a memo to the commissioners sent by Ann Kitalong-Will, the county’s director of grants, administration and government relations and Melissa Oleen, the director of the Rowan Public Library. Now that the 2023 grant cycle has opened for the Blanche and Julian Robertson Foundation, the library is seeking approval from the commissioners to apply for grant funds from the foundation for $145,500 to continue the project.

The second grant application would fund a proposed project from the library to create a “Podcast Production Studio and Instructional Space.” According to another memo, “the addition of a podcast production studio and instructional space will advance RPL’s digital inclusion initiative, providing more users the opportunity to participate in and benefit from our growing information society.”

If awarded, the funds would come from the North Carolina 2023-24 Library Services and Technology Act, which awards grants “in response to specific needs of public, academic and community college libraries. These federal funds are investments that help libraries deliver relevant and up-to-date services to their communities,” according to the State Library of North Carolina’s website. The library is is requesting $13,465 in grant funds with a county match of $4,488.

The commissioners will vote on whether to accept an agreement that provides over $141,000 for the county’s Nature Center. The funds were awarded by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Finally, the commissioners will consider a lease agreement of approximately 30 acres of county land located at the Rowan County landfill, 789 Campbell Road in Woodleaf. Bobby Waller wants to lease the land to grow corn, wheat, soy beans and barley. He will pay the county annual rent of $2,100 during the first term of the lease.