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Why I Love Iredell County...And Some Thoughts on How to Make It Better.

Write about your favorite place”, stated my English teacher as she stood in front of the classroom at Brawley Middle School. I still reflect back to that moment, in which each student was to share details of what made their specific place so special and to explain why it was so. I remember this assignment because I knew immediately what location I wanted to write about — right here in Iredell County.

But I also smile at my younger self and know how she would marvel to know all the places that are so special to me now — still right here in Iredell County.

My entire life, I have lived throughout Iredell County, growing up in the southern end and spending the majority of my adult life living in several yet all rural areas of the county. I frequently travel the entire county through my business ownership, with my husband Mike, and have grown quite familiar with it — but my passion for this county has never faded.

My life has certainly led me to embrace all that Iredell County has to offer. And over the years, I have watched with pride as positive change has continued to bless Iredell County. I cannot think of any where else I would want to live. But I can think of ways we can improve our beautiful county.

Let me further explain.

In 1979, living on Sundown Road, off of Williamson Road in the southern end of the county, my creative mind poured out my thoughts as I reminisced where I spent hours of my childhood. I wrote the paper while I was sitting in my favorite spot: listening to the sounds of small waves splashing by, an occasional fish jumping, and the not-so-far off sound of my dog, Taffy, panting in the distance. Taffy was not very fond of my favorite place, since her paws slid down the slanted ramp walk way just before the floating section. So patiently, she chose to wait at the top section of the pier. The pier — known to me as my thinking place — where I spent time fishing, reading, and hanging out with friends. For my younger self, it was my favorite place and therefore the topic of that assignment. For 18 years, I grew up on Lake Norman. And because of this, I will always have a fondness of the area. I still spend lots of time there.

When I reflect back to my time spent on the lake, I do become concerned with the vast popularity of the area — an admiration that while flattering, can also lead to an uncontrollable expansion of urban settings. This further raises my concerned on how this overcrowding has and will continue to have negative affects on Lake Norman such as loss of habitat, erosion, fuel and septic leaks into the lake, a decrease in native wildlife and vegetation. Plus, overcrowding can lead to large volumes of “traffic” on the lake, an issue that could lead to unsafe situations and accessibility challenges for Wildlife and Sheriff’s Office officials.

As an Iredell County Commissioner candidate, I hope to inquire more into planning efforts for the southern end of the county, but it seems that the southern end has out grown any past projections previously planned. Perhaps we should work on creating mandatory areas recreational or landscaped parks, areas that would encourage green space. I understand that grading is cheaper and easier but there has to be a way to find solutions that encourage and preserve the beauty and nature of our county — a balance.

Living in the Cool Springs/Elmwood area in the northern end of the county, my adult life has introduced me to an appreciation for the vast beauty of farmland.

If not familiar, I encourage others to take a drive through our local farm communities and really look at the beauty of nature that these hard-working folks have cultivated. The need for our local farmers is great. Farmers produce a variety of crops that are served and sold here locally, but as a revenue source, agriculture stands as the number one industry in Iredell County.

However, our local farmers face challenges with every passing year. Challenges such as rising property taxes, volatile commodity market, rezoning of land next to farms for heavy or polluting industry that impacts water supply or health of crops and livestock. Our own Iredell County dairy farmers have had some heart-breaking setbacks due in part to mega facilities in other states. There is one thing humans cannot make and that’s more land which in turn produces and encourages agriculture.

As an Iredell County Commissioner candidate, I believe that the county should work out some resolution to provide agricultural industries and farmers with tax incentives, similar to the way we provide tax incentives for new and incoming businesses. I think this would encourage and promote the agricultural culture of Iredell County even further. In turn, I believe it would renew an interest in our youth and attract them to agricultural careers as well.

I believe that Iredell County’s uniqueness is a large reason why so many are attracted to move here. Reasons range from the low tax rate, the accessible location of two major interstates, great schools, work force development, entertainment, and shopping.

As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate the ‘small town charm’ of our county while also appreciating the smart, compatible growth we’ve experienced throughout the years. I personally do not want to lose that small town feel. And I’ve heard this concern from the local communities, who also voice a need for growth within our county; a need which I believe can be fulfilled by proper placement of industry, which in turn, will insure jobs for our community.

I feel that the proper placement of industries who produce a large volume of heavy traffic would be a start in keeping our home town charm. I would suggest allocating site-ready plots near the interstate for incoming and new industry and manufacturing looking to move to Iredell County; this would both be in an effort to minimize noise pollution while also increasing accessibility for these industries, helping them to avoid downtown traffic and abide by various code requirements. There are also empty industrial buildings that I would like to see put to use — or re-use — in ways that continue to attract and create jobs.

After all, we do want to attract industry to Iredell County because that is what provides our residents with jobs and keeps them working here, in our county. I just feel we can do a better job at attracting that necessary business to provide our residents with the jobs they need while also maintaining the rural agricultural industry which makes Iredell County so special. With the unemployment rate at such a low point, it seems that the job market is very competitive right now for potential employees. It is crucial that that companies search for qualified candidates by making their opportunities know, through effective marketing and advertising.

Let’s also embrace our Iredell-Statesville and Mooresville-Graded School systems, as well as Mitchell Community College, who offer great resources to further a students’ interests into workforce-ready training — a skill needed and desired to fill these job openings. There are programs to train first responders, nurses, agriculture, culinary, and other various trades, but I feel like the general public does not seem to be aware of such opportunities. As an Iredell County Commissioner candidate, I’d like to find ways to better support our school systems, and they ways in which they are preparing our kids for the future, in addition to focusing on bettering the relationship between businesses in need of hiring and those who are in need of jobs.

As an active parent of high school students, I feel that there are so many choices and resources within our community to benefit our children and their futures. And resources like job fairs should be strengthened and popularized.

As an Iredell County Commissioner candidate, I also see room for investment in the Iredell County Fairgrounds. The fairground are such a central part of our county with two major intersections running so close by. This makes the Iredell County Fairgrounds a prime location for growth. with proper improvements and updates being made to the facilities, the fairgrounds could host a variety of events year round. This growth would generate tourism dollars which would benefit local businesses, restaurants and hotels — providing a positive impact for the entire county.

Unfortunately, in my adult life, I have also grown to feel that there is a divide among our Iredell County residents...

...with accusations and disagreements about those who live on either the northern or the southern end, concerns about the way money is delegated among the county, and why one end seems to be getting richer while the other remains in a rural state. I’d like to first say that we are all neighbors and we can all benefit from the progress of our county. As an Iredell County Commissioner candidate, I feel that we, as a county, must find the most fiscally responsible way to resolve our differences, and continue to move forward. All county residents contribute to the same tax base, and it is the responsibility of commissioners to ensure that those dollars are distributed throughout the area. Our current commissioners have worked to do so — but I would like to be a pair of fresh eyes, ensuring that we take care of the concerns at hand and those who are in need.

For example, I do feel that there is a concern that all jobs and growth tend to settle on the southern end of the county. However, it is important to me to ensure that there is a focus on the northern end of the county, while also keeping a focus on the agricultural roots that make our county so unique.

As an Iredell County Commissioner candidate, I can assure my fellow residents that I am always willing to learn and grow, to listen to others, and to display an utmost transparency in the process.

I am also concerned that we as individuals may sometimes reject information that we are not comfortable with, or that we disagree with. But I feel that it is healthy and necessary to ask questions, while respecting others thoughts, and in doing so — we can identify problems and concerns. This will be one step further in drilling down to a solution.

Voters can also be problem solvers themselves by doing their homework and choosing a candidate that will be the best fit for the position of Iredell County Commissioner. One who understands not just the issues — but the people. When issues are resolved, it makes way for new ideas which leads to positive changes.

I am very proud to be a resident of Iredell County.

Because of that, I know that I have the ability to understand the needs and wants of residents from all areas of the county, while keeping in mind the hard work that is behind every dollars spent.

This is your home, be proud and vote for 'A Leader Like Neader’ for Iredell County Commissioner on March 3 during the primary election.

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