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Jun. 23, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

THUMBS UP: Bond referendum vote

There will be contested Sanford City Council races later this year, but the council this week gave city voters one more reason to go to the polls come November: the chance to say “yes” or “no” to four different bond issues totaling $14 million that, if passed, would make Sanford more aesthetically pleasing.

The bulk of that total comes in the form of a $6.5 million referendum for streetscape and pedestrian improvements in downtown Sanford and Jonesboro. Another $4 million bond would help bring the city’s greenway program closer to completion, and two separate $2 million bonds would be allocated toward sidewalks and parks and recreation.

Only one person spoke during a public hearing this week about the bonds. Former Lee County Commissioner Richard Hayes, a railroad buff who serves on the board of directors of the Railroad House Historical Association, talked in favor of the streetscape bond. Two councilmen voted not to place the bond issues on the ballot, but putting the measures to a vote of the people made sense: they are, after all, the ones who will foot the bill.

Bond issues pass or fail based on their merits, the timing of the vote, and how the bonds are marketed to the voters. Many bond issues supporting perfectly good and much-needed projects (and these certainly qualify) fail when the economy’s not hitting on all cylinders, and we suspect that will happen this time. But giving city residents the decision was the right move. The projects are worthwhile and will add to Sanford’s quality of life, but also add strain to the city’s fiscal picture.

We look for someone from the city to champion the projects between now and the vote, and we look forward to more discussion about how the bond issues will impact the city — and the debt load the citizens shoulder.

THUMBS UP: MDA lock-up participants

The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s “lock up” comes round once a year, and if you haven’t been asked to go to jail for the cause, you’ve almost certainly been asked to help bail someone out. Those who volunteer to raise bail money — all of which goes to the MDA’s effort to fight the disease and help those afflicted by it — seem to always be good sports about it. Not many people enjoy soliciting donations, but muscular dystrophy can imprison its victims in cruel ways, so it’s a worthy cause. Advances have been made, but perhaps one day research will lead to cure and prevention.The Herald’s own Jennifer Gentile was among the 50 or so local people who answered the call to try to raise $2,500 from friends to get them out of “jail.” That’s a tall order for anyone, but working together, the group collected more than $20,000 in donations. We thank them for their willingness to serve time for the MDA, and also thank those who contributed.