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Laurels to job growth

January 10, 2011

LAURELS
Laurels to area governments making wise investments into the addition and retention of jobs in out county.
First, laurels go to Claremont City Council which this week agreed to offer economic development incentives to Advance Pierre Foods. In exchange, the food manufacturing company will create 500 jobs at its Claremont operation.
The incentives, which mirror similar economic grants approved by Catawba County Commissioners, amount to a reduction in property taxes for the facility. As Advance plans to invest about $6 million in its Claremont facility, Claremont and county leaders are wise to offer a helping hand to a company that is willing to bring jobs to our county.
In the same vein, laurels to the city of Newton and Saarstedt Inc., which this week announced the news that a $14.2 million expansion project will create 20 new jobs and additional tax base in the city.
A world-wide company with a great reputation, Saarstedt already employs more than 200 people at its Newton facility. Now, as the company continues an expansion project that will add warehouse and production space, it promises to not only deliver more jobs, but also deliver important tax revenue to the city in years ahead.
Granted, Newton leaders will provide economic grant incentives in the form of tax breaks for the early years of the expansion’s operation. The city will install a generator that will produce reliable stand-by power, as well as delivering additional electric service to the facility. These investments are certainly wise.
Not only will this expansion offer new tax dollars in the future, as well as the promise of increased electricity sales for the city, it means helping a strong company continue to grow, while also delivering jobs to a community that is in desperate need of work.
Finally, laurels to two world-class companies — Advance Pierre Foods and Saarstedt — which are showing enough faith in Catawba County and its people to make a significant invest in their facilities here. Long-time county residents know that our areas is comprised of governments that are willing to offer incentives to companies looking to grow and a workforce of people ready to put in a hard day’s work. It is encouraging to get a little affirmation of those beliefs from a pair of companies that we can all be proud to have in our county.

LAURELS AND DARTS
Laurels to justice finally being delivered to the family of Tammy Wallis, who was killed by a drunk driver more than two years ago.
Darts to the painfully slow march of court proceedings that not only delayed closure for Wallis’ family, but which continues to affect crime victims throughout the county.
This week, Jonathan Caleb Burke pleased guilty to second-degree murder in Wallis’ September 2008 death. Wallis was outside her home — checking her mail — when an intoxicated Burke crossed the center line of N.C. 16, hitting and killing the 29-year-old mother, sister and daughter. Burke left the scene of the accident, but was later arrested and police say he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 at the time of the crash. In court this week, Burke’s attorney said that the drunk driver blacked out at the time of the accident.
Now, more than two years after the fact, Burke is remorseful and he has completed treatment, but that is not enough for him to avoid significant jail time, nor should it be. We now hope the punishment Burke received for his crimes will serve as a lesson to others tempted to drink and drive.
Unfortunately, because the prosecution of this case has been so painfully slow, this example comes too late to save other lives lost to drunk drivers on our roadways. This deterrent is further impaired when a drunk driver knows that he can commit a crime, live freely among law-abiding citizens for more than two years before facing any punishment — as this case illustrates.
Catawba County’s District Attorney, during his re-election campaign including a reduction of the criminal court backlog among his platform planks. While this may be the true, Burke’s prosecution, along with other high-profile cases waiting to be tried, perfectly illustrate that the county’s prosecutor is a long way from delivering swift justice. That is concerning, particularly when prosecution continues to loom for the twisted people responsible for the death and gruesome dismemberment of 10-year-old Zahra Baker.

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