Our View: Hats off to downtown music, ECSU Founders Day

The Daily Advance

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Thumbs Up: “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” This line from a 1697 play, “The Mourning Bride” by William Congreve, may soon be put to the test in Elizabeth City by Arts of the Albemarle and Elizabeth City Downtown.

AoA and ECDI are each organizing musical arts projects for public display. AoA’s is a piano-turned canvas that will be set up outside the center for anyone to try their keyboard skills. ECDI, with City Council approval, plans to set up durable and colorful xylophone-like instruments, perhaps in Waterfront Park. Other locations are being explored. The projects promote artistic expression and represent another attraction in the local creative economy.

Thumbs Up: Congratulations to Elizabeth City State University on another successful Founders Day celebration. This year’s 122nd observance included an excellent call to action by convocation speaker Dr. Jeanette H. Evans, a 1963 graduate and former ECSU administrator, for alumni to support the foundation, which funds scholarships. The March 9 gala featuring Jasmine Guy drew a large crowd.

Thumbs Down/Up: The situation with Elizabeth City State University’s pharmacy school and its overall undergraduate science programs looks like a failure; however, it’s really more a challenge and an opportunity. University of North Carolina’s suspension of admissions to ECSU’s pharmacy program for 2013-2014 academic year due to low enrollment definitely is a bit embarrassing but both ECSU and UNC school officials seem to be taking the right attitude and looking at how to preserve not only the satellite PharmD program but also strengthen ECSU’s overall science curriculum. UNC President Tom Ross said the enrollment problem was not “institutionally created’’ but recommended ECSU needs to aggressively seek more research grants, focus on marketing and look to improve the science programs. He also said ECSU and UNC have a good partnership and that he hopes for the development of a rural health innovations center at ECSU, an exciting prospect both for the college and the community.

Thumbs Up: As the issue of how to improve school safety continues to inspire debate, Andy and Karin Montero have stepped up to offer one solution. The Monteros organized a campaign to raise funds to put enhanced security systems — hallway video cameras and front door access — in every middle and elementary school in the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank School District. Called Safety Assurance for Everyone, or S.A.F.E, the campaign has already received more than $8,000 toward a goal of $50,000. TowneBank, continuing to show its corporate commitment to community support, deserves a big thank-you for a $5,000 contribution.

Thumbs Down: Elected officials who don’t pay their taxes set a poor example for everyone else. Pasquotank County’s most recent list of delinquent taxpayers includes three Elizabeth City city councilors and a former state representative. Two of the delinquents, City Councilor Johnnie Walton and former state Rep. Bill Owens, had paid their taxes but not in time to be taken off the list. Councilor Lena Hill-Lawrence said she advised her bank to pay her tax bill after she appeared on the list. We hope her bank would accommodate, though the institution may require her to do the actual check-writing. Councilor Michael Brooks had no comment about his delinquent taxes. We urge all officials to set a good example by paying their taxes on time.

Thumbs Up: Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools earned praise from the state’s top education official for improving the district’s graduation rate, which exceeded the statewide rate. The district also reports a higher graduation rate for African-American students. This accomplishment merits more celebration. Kudos to ECPPS administrators and teachers for the turnaround.