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Josh Bergeron: Temporary break from county’s optimism-inducing period

It came with a sigh of relief.

After months of hard work on the Post’s annual Spirit of Rowan publication, we had finally sent it to the printer. We call the publication “Progress” internally because that’s exactly what it includes stories about — good things happening in our community. We try to take a step back from the daily grind of the news cycle in telling stories in Spirit of Rowan.

So far, we’ve published five editions. Those sections have included stories about unique products made here, 21st-century manufacturers, a roundup of projects underway or planned and 12 people who make the county a better place to live. This year, we’ve written about things being built here that are improving the local quality of life, whether that’s a building or a softball dynasty.

Our 2020 Spirit of Rowan publication is included with today’s print edition. We also have extra copies at the Salisbury Post’s office that we’ll place on a newstand outside of the building during business hours.

But in the two weeks since we sent Spirit of Rowan to the printer, the world around us has changed massively. The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed what life looks like. Workers across Salisbury and Rowan County are suddenly without jobs or furloughed — still with a job but without pay until the outbreak subsides. Businesses have been forced to close.

Events have been canceled, too. That means the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers will no longer start their season at 6:30 p.m. on April 16, as one story describes. The Railwalk Pavilion may not be filled with people for weeks because social distancing is America’s collective modus operandi. New retail additions HomeGoods and Burlington won’t be able to open their doors to the crowds they hoped this month. Rowan County’s Little League softball dynasty may not be able to start its championship run as planned this year. The list goes on.

A once-in-a-lifetime, global pandemic tends to dash even the best-laid plans. Things have changed so rapidly that it’s been tough to keep up even for folks whose job is to report the news.

The changes we’ve seen, however, do not eliminate progress we’ve seen. The stories inside of Spirit of Rowan 2020 are still a great example of the fact that Salisbury and Rowan County are good places to live. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the outlook on daily life, but our long-term future still looks bright.

We should all think of the pandemic as a temporary break from what’s been an optimism-inducing period.

When it’s safe to do so, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers will mark a significant milestone in the city’s downtown redevelopment with large crowds of people at the first home game. The Railwalk Pavilion will bring crowds of people that spill out of its canopy to the farmers market. HomeGoods and Burlington will give locals more shopping options, keeping their hard-earned dollars here. And the Rowan County Little League softball team will be back in the world series before we know it.

In an opening letter at the start of Spirit of Rowan, I wrote that times are different in Salisbury and Rowan County that just a few years ago. The quality of life is improving.

That’s just as true today as it was two weeks ago. Economic growth has come to Rowan County from Charlotte, as business leaders and public officials long hoped.

It’s critical that all of us, no matter our age or health conditions, do our part to follow social distancing guidelines and stay at and around our homes, unless performing an essential service, buying food or enjoying a nice day outdoors at a safe distance from others so that we can resume local growth, continue to attract people to live here and keep our community a nice place to live.

Josh Bergeron is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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