Last updated: March 01. 2014 10:28AM - 1889 Views

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It is a bit counter-intuitive for Robeson County veterinarians to twice a year participate in a program that will mean fewer cats and dogs being born, but that’s what they do in a program called SNIP that begins on Monday and ends March 15.

Those unborn animals could mean future business at the county’s six veterinary clinics, but these veterinarians are seeing a picture bigger than a paycheck — the problem of thousands of stray cats and dogs roaming freely and causing problems in this county and then being euthanized at the Robeson County Animal Shelter.

During SNIP, all six veterinary clinics in Robeson County will offer spay and neutering for cats and dogs at a discounted price. The details of the program, including the costs of the procedure, can be found in a story on Page 1A of today’s The Robesonian by staff writer Jaymie Baxley.

This will be the eighth SNIP, and more than 2,000 animals have been spayed or neutered in the previous initiatives. When the math is properly done, that adds up to hundreds of thousands of unwanted dogs and cats that have not been born.

We hope pet owners whose dog or cat is not spayed or neutered will consider having that done while the price is right. The cost of the procedure is much less than the cost of an unwanted litter of puppies or kittens.

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We are told that there are probably enough votes on the St. Pauls Board of Commissioners to approve a conditional-use permit that Walmart needs to open a retail store in that town, even though the town’s Planning Board voted 6-2 to deny the request.

We understand the concern about what will essentially be a grocery store and pharmacy — that it will be located too close to a residential neighborhood and that it will eventually shutter mom-and-pop businesses that have been community stalwarts. But the store will increase the property tax base, create 90 jobs and give shoppers another option in finding the best deal.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a spirited and issue-driven public debate, which makes for good government.

If Walmart does open the store, those 90 jobs and the 25 to 35 jobs that an industry announced last week will be created when it becomes the first tenant in the St. Pauls Industrial Park, will mean a lot of people getting back to work in that part of the county.

That number of jobs represents about 5 percent of the total population of St Pauls.

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We know that plenty of readers of Saturday’s edition of this newspaper were angered to learn that our county government spent about $5,300 to hold a retreat in New Hanover County.

In fairness, however, that amount of money represents 1/120th of a single penny on the tax rate. You did not read that wrong. So the cost of the trip to the port city really was a drop of water in the Atlantic.

But the commissioners walked right into this punch.

There are plenty of county departments that could have done good work with that money, especially the chronically underfunded Parks and Recreation. And the commissioners should know that as long as they pay themselves so handsomely and our residents suffer under some of the highest property and sales taxes in North Carolina, that these kind of decisions will guarantee scrutiny first and then criticism afterward.

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