Block: Council meetings better in person

Matthew Block - Contributing columnist

In view of the horrific shootings and deaths in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas, the most urgent issue for the city of Laurinburg is to review and examine what we are doing here.

To make sure we are doing our best to prevent any similar situations from occurring. To this end, Laurinburg Police Chief Darwin “Duke” Williams will be making a presentation at next week’s City Council meeting to outline what his department has done already and plans to do in the future to make sure that all citizens feel the police are serving the whole community in the best possible way.

I encourage any and all citizens to attend. While these terrible occurrences on the national stage are reasons to reflect on what we can do better here, I think it is also an occasion to congratulate our community on how progressive it has already been on this issue. By this I mean that Scotland County just had a two-term African American sheriff and our current sheriff is committed to trying to remove any communication or cultural barriers between law enforcement and the citizens they serve. Here at the city of Laurinburg, when Chief Williams assumed the top job, he was the second African American out of the last three police chiefs. In view of these facts, I think our community should pride itself on the diversity at the very top positions of our local law enforcement, which can only lead to progressive attitudes and practices. There is always room for improvement and we must be ever vigilant and intolerant of any and all racism in law enforcement attitudes or behaviors, and, I truly believe that our local law enforcement community has shown that they are committed to this.

Also on next week’s City Council’s agenda will be a public hearing for a new solar farm on the 401 Bypass. This issue of solar farms on the city’s main highways has been a recurring one over the past several years. There are some who think it’s a good thing and some who do not. What is clear, is that the city can either allow or deny more solar farms on the main thoroughfares. We have learned from the NC School of Government that the city can declare the bypasses as a special ‘entrance districts’ and put restrictions on the types of businesses that locate there, similar to how the historic downtown is a ‘special district’ and we don’t allow any more pawn shops etc. So, it will be up to City Council to decide whether solar farms on the city’s entrance ways are good for the city or not.

So, next week’s City Council meeting should be of considerable interest. I hope people will attend , not only to hear first hand what is going on, but also, should any citizen care to, to bring up any issue they want. We have developed a policy that each and every issue brought before City Council during the public comment period, which is held at the beginning of each meeting, will be researched and responded to within 30 days.

It was because citizen C.M. Parker came before council last month and asked if there was anyway the city could prevent more solar farms on main thoroughfares that we found out that, in fact, the city can zone them out if so desired. So, if it is your thoughts on police issues raised by recent national events, solar farm issues or any other issues, you are welcome and encouraged to come next Tuesday at 7 pm.

Lastly, I have been meaning to mention, City Council meetings can be viewed on-line at the city of Laurinburg’s website several days after the meeting. Viewing it online is good, but it is far inferior to actually going to the meetings in person. Hope to see you there.

Matthew Block

Contributing columnist

Matthew Block serves as mayor of Laurinburg. He writes a bi-weekly column on the city and municipal issues.

Matthew Block serves as mayor of Laurinburg. He writes a bi-weekly column on the city and municipal issues.

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