Rowan County student wins 2012 county government essay contest

Elizabeth Weaver, a sophomore at East Rowan High School, is the winner of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners' fifth annual essay contest on county government for 9th or 10th grade students. The topic of the essay is, “How does my county government improve the lives of its citizens?”

Students were asked to write a 500-word essay on the topic, “How does my county government improve the lives of its citizens?” Elizabeth and her teacher, Elizabeth Walters, each won $500.

In 2004, the Association Board of Directors adopted five strategic goals. One of these goals is to inform the public and the media about the role of county government. In 2008, as part of the Association’s Centennial Celebration, the Board of Directors approved the annual essay contest to encourage students and teachers to focus on county government in the classroom. Previous winners have been from Cleveland County, Onslow County and Pender County.

Elizabeth's winning essay was chosen from among the more than 160 entries that were received – the second-highest total of entrants in the five-year history of the contest. Her essay focused on the many roles that Rowan County government plays in improving the quality of life for its citizens, including protecting the environment, providing for parks and recreation and public safety. She also interviewed Rowan County Chairman Chad Mitchell for the essay. The winning essay will be printed in the June edition of CountyLines, the NCACC’s monthly newspaper.

For more information about the contest, please contact Todd McGee at the NCACC at todd.mcgee@ncacc.org.

Improving the lives of 140,000 people

Rowan County lies in the middle of the beautiful Piedmont North Carolina and is home to nearly 140,000 citizens. In this fiscal year, Rowan County Commissioners oversee a budget of $124,848,522. Despite the current economic crisis in our country, the five commissioners in our county government manage these funds to provide services for Rowan County’s citizens.

The basic services provided to citizenry begin with the Environmental Management Department which supervises landfill and recycling programs throughout Rowan County. Another primary service is providing safe buildings where people live, work, and visit. Through inspection and permitting procedures, the Building Code Enforcement Department ensures safety in all phases of construction, such as plumbing, electrical, and mechanical areas. Another safety area is the Emergency Services System, which consists of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS), Fire Security, and Emergency Management/Homeland Security. Also, through the Health Department, Rowan County improves the health of citizens through identifying, providing, promoting, and developing health sciences. The Rowan County’s Sheriff’s Department ensures safety providing professional law enforcement to all of the citizens. A significant area of personal safety, provided for less fortunate Rowan County citizens, is support available through the Department of Social Services. Rowan County also offers services to war veterans and to others through both the Rowan Transit System and the Rowan County Airport.

According to Chad Mitchell, Chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, one of the most important services the county government provides is economic development assistance. Rowan County’s budget includes over $2,000,000 for areas such as planning, tourism authority, agriculture extension, soil and water conservation, and industrial parks to help promote economic development. The Board works closely with the County’s Economic Development Commission to help recruit businesses and industry to Rowan County.

Chairman Mitchell believes that providing quality cultural and recreational activities is another essential service Rowan County provides. The County’s 2011-2012 budget includes over $5,000,000 for recreation and libraries. The Parks and Recreation Department provides a selection of scenic parks, such as Dan Nicholas Park, Sloan Park, Dunn’s Mountain Park, Ellis Park, and the Eagle Point Nature Preserve that ensure everyone’s enjoyment. Most people think Dan Nicholas Park is a state park, when, in reality, it is operated entirely by Rowan County. According to The Chatham Journal, in 2005 Dan Nicholas Park was the ninth most visited field trip attraction in the state. Rowan County also has its own public library in Salisbury with branches throughout the County for easy access. Whether it is a child looking for a picture book or a college student conducting research, the library satisfies the reading needs of a wide variety of people.

Rowan County ensures cleanliness of the environment, safe buildings, strong medical services and police departments, sound social services, economic development assistance by providing jobs, and recreational activities to thoroughly improve the lives of its citizens. Thankfully, Rowan has strong county government leaders, like Chad Mitchell, that strive to provide these important services.

Works Cited

"NC Museum of Natural Sciences tops 2005 NC field trip attractions list." Chatham Journal. Big Medium, 22 Sept. 2005. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

Rowan County. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

"Rowan County, North Carolina." State & County QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau, 31 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.