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Commission splits on offering DSS site to schools BY MARK WINEKA mwineka@salisburypost.com

An outright offer of the old Department of Social Services building off West Innes Street to Rowan-Salisbury Schools failed by a 3-2 vote Monday. Still, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners will ask a committee to study whether the DSS building could meet some of the central office goals of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education. Commissioners Carl Ford and Raymond Coltrain belong to the committee with school officials that has been looking into a new central office for the system. Ford, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said the committee

should reassemble as soon as possible. But he acknowledged the county’s ideas for meeting the school system’s needs and what school officials want were far apart in previous committee meetings. DSS is close to making a move from its longtime headquarters on West Innes Street to new accommodations next to the Rowan County Health Department off East Innes Street. Offering the old DSS building to the Board of Education “would not have a detrimental effect on the space needs of county departments,” County Manager Gary Page said in a report Monday. Commissioner Tina Hall said the old DSS location affords “a unique

opportunity” to offer the school system a safer location than its current offices on Long Street in East Spencer. She recalled the concerns school officials had about safe Sales tax increase ty and the soundness of will take effect on the building at July 1, 4A the Long Street location. While the DSS building’s 22,000 square feet might not meet all of the central office needs, it would accommodate the people working on Long Street, Hall said. “We have the opportunity to help with the safety issue,” she said. With the economy the way it is, a

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new building to house all of the school offices — other administrative offices are on North Ellis Street in Salisbury — may be out of the question, Hall said. Hall added that $7.5 million might be a conservative estimate for a new central office when the school system faces other pressing capital needs such as new schools, school additions and technological updates. “It’s a year later,” Hall added. “What other options do we have?” If the school system were not interested in accepting the county’s offer of the DSS building, then the safety issue must not be as critical as it was portrayed, Hall said. But if it is, then the county should move forward to help the school system now, she added.

Her motion to offer the DSS building to the school system was defeated with Commissioners Chad Mitchell, Raymond Coltrain and Jon Barber voting against it. Ford voted with her. Barber said he couldn’t support the motion because of the committee appointed last year to look at the central office issue. The proposal should have some study from that committee, he said. The building should not be offered up in an “all-or-nothing scenario,” Barber added. Mitchell and Coltrain agreed that the DSS option should be discussed at the committee level again. Mitchell reiterated his concerns

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Coping with cold Pipes vulnerable to icy blast, plumbers warn BY STEVE HUFFMAN news@salisburypost.com

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ANDY MOONEY/SALISBURY POST

The early North Carolina newspapers now available on the Web include editions of three Salisbury newspapers — the North-Carolina Mercury, Carolina Watchman and Western Carolinian.

Taking a page from history Old Salisbury papers among those available online BY KATHY CHAFFIN kchaffin@salisburypost.com

Three Salisbury newspapers are among 25 early North Carolina papers now available on the N.C. State Archives’ Web site. Digital images of North-Carolina Mercury, The Carolina Watchman and The Western Carolinian offer people a glimpse into the past. Already available on microfilm at the Rowan Public Library and the State Archives in Raleigh, the collection is now also available to history buffs and genealogists with

access to the Internet in the convenience of their home, 24 hours a day. Editions of North-Carolina Mercury are available on digital images for June 27, Dec. 5-16, 1799, as well as Jan. 2, 1800, through Aug. 13, 1801. Some issues within the 1800 to 1801 time period are missing. Digital images of The Western Carolinian are available from 1820 to 1842, with some issues missing, and The Carolina Watchman from 1832 to 1898, also with some issues missing. Gretchen Witt, librarian in the

Edith M. Clark History Room at Rowan Public Library, said although the early newspapers have been available on microfilm, “it’s just nice that you can just get them online.” North-Carolina Mercury was an earlier newspaper that didn’t stay in business for long, Witt said. “We have bits and pieces of it,” she said. Witt said genealogists and historians who are regulars in the History Room get a lot of information from The Carolina Watchman and The Western Carolinian. “They were the papers

for the western half of North Carolina for a long time,” she said. The Western Carolinian, published from 1820 to 1844 in Rowan County, was the first newspaper in the western part of the state. The weekly, fourpage paper, according to the N.C. State Archives Web site, was “a vigorous champion for the interests of western North Carolina, an opponent to the political dominance of the East and an advocate for better roads, education

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File this away: Election season on the horizon BY JESSIE BURCHETTE jburchette@salisburypost.com

The official start of the 2010 election season is little more than a month away. Filing with the Rowan County Board of Elections starts at noon Monday, Feb. 8, and continues until noon Friday, Feb. 26. Filing is required with the State Board of Elections in Raleigh for some offices. Local election observers expect a crowded field for several offices.

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Nancy Evans, Rowan’s elections director, said if the number of inquiries about offices is any indication, there will be a lot of candidates on the May primary ballots. The race for Rowan County sheriff is expected to draw a lot of contenders. And it’s a wide open race. There won’t be an incumbent sheriff on the ballot for the first time in nearly three decades. Republican George Wilhelm, who resigned in December, served three terms after ousting

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State Sen. Andrew Brock and Reps. Lorene Coates and Fred Steen are among area politicians up for re-election in 2010. Bob Martin, a Democrat who of Republican John Stirewalt, served three-terms. And Martin See FILING, 2A won in 1986 after the resignation Marvin ‘Wayne’ Fraley Carol Renae Gatton Charles Edward Jarrett Allan James Pletcher

Peggy Herrin Rary Ward C. Rhodes Randall Lee Smith Robert ‘Bo’ Clay Stegall

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Scott Benfield has been working as a plumber for decades, but he admitted that Sunday’s cold smarted about as much as any dip in temperature he could remember. Benfield, the owner of Scott’s Plumbing in Spencer, spent much of Sunday thawing frozen pipes. It was tough work, he said, labor that left his hands aching. “It’s bad out there and it’s going to get worse,” Benfield cautioned. Plumbers warn that the likelihood of home and business owners having to deal with frozen pipes will increase as the week progresses. North Carolina along with much of the rest of the eastern half of the nation is in the midst of a bitter cold snap. It’s expected to last through the end of the week. As Benfield and other area plumbers noted, the worst may be yet to come. While lows in recent mornings have fallen to the upper teens, the thermometer is expected to drop into the low teens by Friday. Wind chills will make things seem even worse. Benfield said area residents looking to keep pipes in their houses from freezing need to follow some simple precautions. Make sure crawl spaces are sealed, he said, protected from holes that allow in the worst of the cold. Remember to wrap pipes with heat tape whenever possible. Something, Benfield said, as simple as turning on a light in a well house can prevent pipes from freezing. Even leaving a faucet dripping overnight can make a big difference. “It’s the little stuff that pays off,” Benfield said. “This stuff doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.” Ken Bean, the owner of Spencer Home Supply in Park Plaza, said that as of Monday morning he hadn’t seen a lot of customers looking to buy materials to protect their pipes. Only a shopper or two had stopped by in search of heat tape or pipe insulation, he said. “I figured we’d be selling a lot of drop lights and heat tape,” Bean said. “Nobody’s come in for anything like that.” Bean said he worked with his brother-in-law, Billy Yow, in Guilford County on Sunday, the two traveling for miles to thaw numerous wells that were out of commission because of the cold. Yow is the owner of D&Y Well Drilling. “We must have thawed about a million wells,” Bean said, laughing as he spoke. Well, by the end of the day it probably seemed like a million. At Southeastern Plumbing Supply on South Main Street in Salisbury, Terry Hazlett, one of the firm’s owners, said business was hopping Monday as plumbers addressed a number of problems pertaining to frozen pipes. “We’ve been pretty slammed this morning,” he said. Demand for heat tape and other essentials was high, Hazlett said. Plumbers were also buying pipes to replace a handful that had already burst and stocking up on supplies they were likely to need as the cold lingered. Hazlett agreed with Benfield and other area plumbers that homeowners can save themselves

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