Our Opinion: Teamwork benefits residents in Wilson and Wilson County

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When Wilson institutions serving different populations join forces, everyone stands to benefit. Three such current collaborations are proving that premise true.

Wilson Community College and Wilson County Schools are teaming up in an effort to move the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology — an early college high school with a technical manufacturing focus — from shared space at Beddingfield High School to its own building on the college’s Lee Technology Center campus.

Stakeholders considered two options for the new school, a two-story and a three-story footprint. College trustees met April 1 and voted to endorse the more compact three-story layout, which would preserve space for a planned expansion on the Lee campus. When the Wilson County Board of Education met Monday, its members signed on to the college’s preferred option, cognizant of the partner organization’s needs.

“Well, if they are being so generous to us, then I think we should absolutely do a three-story and let them continue to keep this building, which would meet whatever purposes they have,” school board Chairwoman Christine Fitch said.

Wilson County Schools will apply for $15 million in state dollars from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. If approved, Wilson County will pay the remainder of the building’s $20 million price tag. That cost could be substantially higher if the school system had to acquire land for a freestanding WAAT campus.

Since WAAT students take Wilson Community College classes, teamwork between the school system and college makes perfect sense. Preliminary site plans call for a gymnasium in the academy building, and school board members suggested the college could share that facility if it adds athletic programs in the future.

We’re proud of our school board and college trustees for working together on this project and urge state officials to approve the plans. A new WAAT building could serve as a monument to collaboration between our public school system and public community college.

City of Wilson and Wilson County governments are coordinating their economic development efforts to complement each other and avoid duplication of efforts. City Manager Grant Goings and County Manager Denise Stinagle shared project updates during Tuesday’s City and County Managers’ Breakfast hosted by another key partner — the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.

“What we have in Wilson doesn’t exist everywhere,” said chamber President Ryan Simons. “I think we can all be grateful and proud of the level of work that goes on.”

Goings discussed the Gig East Exchange, a small-business incubator and innovation hub, along with the Whirligig Station apartments, the Cherry Hotel redevelopment and other downtown projects. Stinagle mentioned public school improvements, the WAAT building and changes at several county departments.

Kudos to the city of Wilson and county of Wilson for working together for the good of our communities as a whole.

The Wilson County Democratic Women and Wilson County Republican Party may have vastly different views on politics, but they agree that Wilson could benefit from cleaner roads, streets and corridors. So the groups are partnering to sponsor a cleanup contest during the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Spring Litter Sweep.

The statewide litter campaign begins today and continues through April 27. In Wilson County, the group or club collecting the most roadside trash can win a $250 cash prize, with the second-place finisher earning $150 and third-place team receiving $100. The Democratic Women are sponsoring those prizes, while the county GOP will make a $100 donation to the Wesley Shelter in the winning group’s name.

Groups can pick up trash bags, vests and gloves from the NCDOT maintenance office at 509 Ward Blvd. or the city of Wilson’s Public Works Department at the Charles E. Pittman Operations Center, 1800 Herring Ave. E.

To enter the contest, groups can email a photo to roadsidecleanup@wilson-co.com along with the club or group’s name, the number of bags pictured, a contact person’s name and phone number and a list of streets, roads and areas where litter was collected. Entries received after April 28 will not be eligible. For more information, call 919-418-0967.

With partisan rancor swirling in Washington and Raleigh, we’re pleasantly surprised when Republicans and Democrats can find areas of agreement. We applaud our local parties for their bipartisan show of concern for their community, and we hope Wilson civic clubs, church groups, businesses and families will scour the streets for trash during the Spring Litter Sweep.