The effort to study the potential consolidation of the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro went online recently.
Developed by North Wilkesboro Commissioner Andrew Palmer, the website “Bridge the Boros” went live at http://bridgetheboros.com/. The site’s mantra is “a stronger community for a better future.”
Consolidation has been talked about for ages, but Palmer rekindled the discussion in January 2020, when he wrote a guest column in this newspaper that promoted hiring a consultant to do an unbiased analysis of consolidation.
He also urged residents of the towns who supported forming a joint study commission for this purpose to sign the initiative’s petition at https://www.change.org, which as of this writing has 563 digital signatures.
“I quickly had a lot of people reach out to me (in 2020) who supported my message and wanted to get involved to help move the ball forward on the idea of doing a study,” Palmer said recently. “We had some cool ideas and put in a lot of hard work to get a plan in place for how we were going to engage the community moving forward, then the pandemic hit, and it changed everything.”
I haven’t met an elected official with more energy than Palmer, who was the top vote-getter when elected to his first four-year term in office in November 2019.
Why now for the website launch? I asked Palmer. “I believe the timing is right now because of the local elections going on in Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro. I believe that this is an important issue for the people of our community and that citizens and voters deserve to hear a candidate’s thoughts on it.”
The North Wilkesboro mayoral seat, two North Wilkesboro commissioner seats and two Wilkesboro council seats will be decided by votes cast from Oct. 14 to Nov. 2.
“I think it’s very reasonable to think that those coming into office for the next four years will have an official voice in the conversation on whether or not we do a shared services/consolidation study for our towns,” Palmer told me. “That’s what the timing (of the website launch) really comes down to.”
Palmer indicated that the website will serve several functions, mainly revolving around education, information and community support. “We hope it will serve as a hub for those who are interested in this discussion. We also hope to use it to get good, honest information out there for people, and to help stop the spread of rumors, myths and other misinformation out that come up.”
The “About” section of the site provides information on why Palmer and his team thinks a study should be done and how it might be carried out. Other main sections delve into the history of the two towns and past conversations on the subject of consolidation, frequent questions that Palmer has answered over the past 18 months, a volunteer section to get involved and help support the cause, and a support section—a not-for-profit shop for buying items such as car window stickers, yard signs, hats, T-shirts and more.
“We have partnered with a print-on-demand company to handle all of this,” noted Palmer. “We have also put no mark-up on the products, so we do not make a single penny from the sale of any items and do not have to handle any money.”
Palmer said the goal of the organization is pretty simple. “We believe a study should be done that investigates both the options of shared services and consolidation for Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro. We are working to educate and inform the citizens of both towns on the subject and doing what we can to help give them a voice within that discussion in regards to the elected bodies.”
The time and effort put into this new website by the indefatigable Palmer should be applauded. The issue of potential consolidation is important enough to warrant an independent study being done on the subject.
I agree with Palmer that it’s high time to study if the towns can benefit from municipal consolidation and the resulting unity and shared strength.