We chime in on a couple of issues this week that we think are important to county residents.

First up? Teacher raises in Rowan County. The Rowan County Board of Education has approved a 1% pay increase for all teachers and staff members.

The salary increase starts July 1. The school board met May 21 to approve the budget for the 2019-2020 school year, and Supt. John Maxey noted that due to a strong budget, money was available to give staff members a raise.

“I want to personally thank each of our employees for their commitment to excellence and hard work,” said Maxey.

Maxey thanked the board members for supporting the pay raise. We agree with this raise. We wish it could be far more. Our teachers and school employees deserve it. It is easy to forget how important a job this is.

In 2017-18, the average teacher starting salary was $39,249 across the nation, according to the National Education Association. Keep in mind that, in order to become a teacher, advanced education degrees are almost always required. Translation -- lots of student loans for this job. The nation has a significant problem on its hands in recruiting teachers. Anything our local districts can do to retain our teachers and staff members, within reason, is a wise investment.

Also this past week we learned that the U.S. Forest Service is inviting the public to an informal discussion with the District Ranger and agency staff. Participants will have an opportunity to provide input on the management of the Cumberland Ranger District Daniel Boone National Forest.

Probably high on the list for local residents who enjoy using these incredible natural resources is the recent proposal to charge new fees or increase fees at boat ramps, picnic areas, and other recreation sites on national forest lands. Park service staff will be available to answer questions about fee changes and other topics of interest. Fees are projected to be increased at 25 sites and implement new fees at nine.

Our view on this is of course, we would prefer to see fee rates remain the same but we also understand that maintaining these types of natural resource offerings is expensive. Thus, we understand if the case can be made that this is necessary. Our bigger picture view is we appreciate the opportunity the park service offers to get feedback from those who use these resources. Thus we encourage anyone interested in this to make sure you attend and have your voices heard.