How others see Laurinburg

By: Mark Schenck - Contributing columnist

If you have ever relocated within a state or moved to an entirely different state, as our family has on six occasions then you are aware of the traditional concerns most families have when moving into a new area.

If you have children your number one concern is quality of education available, then concerns about the level of medical care, shopping facilities, personal safety, local property taxes and nearby entertainment.

This very day there may be someone looking at Laurinburg’s demographics who is contemplating moving here to start a business, retiring or is being transferred to one of the area’s existing facilities.

Comprehensive web sites are available on the internet that contain the demographics of just about every size city in the country. This service helps supply businesses and just plain folks the information needed to make decisions involving relocation.

Naturally I was curious about Laurinburg and wondered just what first impressions others would form after reading our local deomgraphics.

First of all the article listed some basic information most of us have heard at one time or another: Laurinburg’s population – 15,799 with an average age of 40.3.

One interesting item, Laurinburg has slightly more women than men with the ratio .9 men to 1 female. So fellows, no matter what color, we are all minorities when we’re compared to the women.

An average of all positive and negative statistics establishes what is called the “Livability Rating” or how favorable is Laurinburg to live in.

On a scale of 0-100 Laurinburg ranked 58th, North Carolina rated 67th and the USA rated 66th. So Laurinburg isn’t really that much lower than the Nation’s Livability rating when all variables are averaged, however weather is a factor in this rating and it’s easy to see how Laurinburg would have a much higher weather rating than let’s say “Green Bay Wisconsin.”

Using the A to F grading system, Laurinburg rated “A-” in the area of amenities, that’s (restaurants, groceries, school buildings, entertainment) cost of living got a“B-” in Laurinburg. Although taxes were not discussed directly part of that B- could be due to our extremely high local tax rate.

The crime rate is where Laurinburg really drops the ball. Laurinburg has an over all crime rate twice that of North Carolina and almost three times that of the United States.

Murders are even worse, Laurinburg has over seven times that of NC and close to eight times that of the USA. It’s getting a little embarrassing when on two separate occasions out of town I’ve been asked how are things in Little Chicago?

Not looking good for the future either, even with a extra low teacher/student ratio in Scotland County of a low 12/1, compared to a national teacher/student ratio of 16/1.

Laurinburg’s educational system is still rated a low D-. One wonders if we are too concerned about the school buildings themselves and not enough about what’s going on in side.

Employment is another disappointing statistic with Laurinburg’s grade earning only an F.

Laurinburg seems currently on a slippery slope not uncommon in many older areas, first: so called “old money” or baby boomers either move to warmer weather, or God has called them home. In any case empty unsold houses on the market drive prices down. Then real-estate investors move in buy up unsold houses at below market prices and turn them into rentals.

With Laurinburg’s poverty level at 33 percent, Laurinburg’s government assisted housing and private rentals comprise 49 percent of all existing homes in Laurinburg, or in plain language half of all Laurinburgs homes are not owned by the resident.

Home ownership, we should all agree, adds a lot to one’s personal prestige and self confidence and it is a fact that more home owners take pride in their home’s appearance as opposed to renters who may consider the aesthetics of their rental residence the owner’s problem. Much of this disassociation with personal accountability and ownership could be part of the reason Laurinburg’s streets country roads, empty lots and even private property are strewn with litter. We seem to be lacking personal pride in our community. Have you noticed when traveling from Moore County into Scotland, you can tell you are in Scotland when you start seeing trash along the road?

Although a grade on community pride and appearance was not mentioned in this set of demographics our trashy streets and roads must surely have a detrimental effect on prospective businesses and individual relocation’s. Yet our philosophy toward this problem seems to be limited to merely picking up the trash over and over again or as they say, “Kicking the Trash Can Down the Road.

Still others believe a bright, shinning new City Hall is all we need for our area to prosper: trashy streets, a crumbling infrastructure, excessive murders, crime, a substandard educational system and excess poverty really don’t seem to matter.

So many different issues to consider when planning to relocate to a new area and what is important to some won’t matter to others. Personally I found the people of Laurinburg and Scotland County are one of the most inviting qualities of this area. Many of our friends and relation that have visited have expressed that same feeling. This area of the country has qualities difficult to measure yet these qualities are what made this country great: Love of God, country, and freedom. These qualities aren’t usually compared on any demographics list, but maybe they should be.

Mark Schenck

Contributing columnist

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party