It’s been a whirlwind week in Richmond County and across the state as lawmakers convened in Raleigh for the North Carolina General Assembly’s 2014 short session. We’ve watched some events unfold that have warmed our hearts and others that we find frustrating or disappointing. In a new feature that will appear periodically in your Richmond County Daily Journal, we take a moment to look back on the week’s news and share our impressions.
CHEERS to Richmond Community College, which set an all-time record for the highest number of graduates at the school’s 50th commencement last weekend. RCC had 302 students collecting diplomas, degrees and certificates — so many that the school had to hold two graduation ceremonies to accommodate all the families and friends who wished to attend.
We’re glad to see our community college growing. It truly is an asset to all of Richmond County and the state’s Sandhills region. We expect big things from the members of RCC’s 50th graduating class. Congratulations to the students and their school for a job well done.
JEERS to a mounting effort to shut down video sweepstakes centers in nearby Laurinburg. Outspoken opponents of the sweepstakes games have brought their concerns to the Laurinburg City Council, as is their right. They want local government and law enforcement to step in and shut the gaming parlors down. While we understand and respect their opposition to gambling, we think that’s the wrong move.
It’s fair to say that the sweepstakes machines’ legality remains in dispute. The N.C. Supreme Court decided in 2012 that a law banning the games is valid, but sweepstakes operators say their new games operate differently than the ones state law prohibits. With legal questions still up in the air, that leaves us with the opponents’ moral opposition to gambling.
We don’t endorse or support gambling itself and respect folks’ right to consider it harmful behavior. However, people who want to try their luck at games of chance always will find a way to do so.Folks who oppose gambling can and should keep their distance. Adults of legal age who wish to roll the proverbial dice on video sweepstakes should be free to do so without government interference.
CHEERS to our local North Carolina lawmakers, Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, Rep. Mike Goodman, D-Richmond, and Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Hoke, for standing against a misguided effort to keep folks in the dark on their local governments’ actions. All three Richmond County legislators said they oppose Senate Bill 287, which would allow certain cities and counties to hide public notices on obscure official websites instead of publishing them in local newspapers.
Allowing public agencies to exclude the thousands of residents without home Internet access from the notification process sends a discouraging message. Since city and county websites don’t tend to change on a daily basis and aren’t frequently visited, even those of us who are online would miss a lot of important information, such as announcements of special meetings and proposed land purchases. We’re glad our lawmakers want to keep public notices where the public can find them.
CHEERS to Dieffenbach GM Superstore, which handed Richmond County Senior High student Charles Duncan the keys to his own brand-new 2014 Chevrolet Cruze on Thursday. The local dealership gives away a new car every year in a drawing open only to students with good grades and attendance. We’re thrilled for Duncan and his family, and we’re glad to see a Richmond County business rewarding hard work and academic achievement with such a grand gesture.