Our Opinion: Health foundation makes investment in Wilson’s future

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THUMBS UP to the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson and the 17 worthy benefactors it supported with roughly $1.1 million in community grants awarded during a Tuesday luncheon.

If wealth brings health and health leads to happiness, Wilson County has plenty of reasons for optimism. Since 2016, the foundation has extended an eye-popping $4 million-plus in grants to local nonprofits and government agencies.

Funds are designated for projects that address Wilson’s greatest health concerns, which include teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases. With help from the Healthcare Foundation and its community partners, Wilsonians can slim down, conquer addiction and form stable, healthy romantic relationships.

Just one nifty project we’ll highlight here has the potential to be a game-changer for young people and tech-savvy folks of all ages. Wilson County 4-H received a $5,000 grant to develop a local fitness app that will connect users to exercise, nutrition and transportation resources right here in our community. The dedicated 4-H’ers will also lead health and fitness classes for low-income residents.

Wilson County Schools and the county health and social services departments were among this year’s grant recipients. Thanks to the Healthcare Foundation, these government agencies will be able to perform more specialized outreach without any additional burden on taxpayers. It’s a prime example of public-private partnerships working to everyone’s benefit.

THUMBS DOWN to Attorney General Josh Stein picking the losing side in a federal feud that pits gun control advocates against a venerable opponent — the First Amendment.

Stein made North Carolina one of nine states suing the Trump administration to block a settlement that allows nonprofit group Defense Distributed to post online blueprints for 3D-printed guns. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday that halts printing instructions from appearing online, but when the dust settles, attorneys general are likely to be disappointed.

The case isn’t about whether it’s lawful to make, possess, use or sell 3D-printed firearms. It’s merely about access to information. Stein and company are arguing for government censorship of the internet and prior restraint on American citizens’ First Amendment right to publish, and they’re doing it on your dime.

Current 3D printing technology is too crude to construct durable, sophisticated weapons that would justify the high cost of materials. Killers, robbers and gangsters won’t spend tens of thousands to craft a plastic pistol that may fire a few rounds before it’s rendered useless when they can simply steal production-grade handguns or buy them on the underground market.

Regardless of public controversy, First Amendment jurisprudence protects access to information that can potentially be used for ill. A fitting parallel is “The Anarchist Cookbook,” first published in 1971, which includes bomb-building instructions. Many of us may wish this book didn’t exist, but the government can’t stop people from printing, buying or reading it.

If censors are allowed to take such heavy-handed authoritarian measures, could book-burnings on the courthouse square be far off?

THUMBS UP to two events planned today that will bring Wilson residents and local law enforcement officers together.

The Wilson Police Department’s homicide and street task forces and Wilson County EMS medics will put their grilling and seasoning skills to the test during the Bibles and Badges Barbecue Throwdown planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wilson Community Church.

The youth of Bethel Baptist sponsor the annual cook-off and will collect $10 for each barbecue plate sold along with cash donations. The first $3,000 raised will benefit the Wilson Pregnancy Center.

Due to the threat of rain, today’s National Night Out will be a local night in, but Wilsonians can still meet police officers and first responders, discuss community safety and crime prevention and enjoy free food and live music.

National Night Out and 1st Friday on the Lawn festivities will start at 6 p.m. inside Bill’s Convention Center at Bill Ellis Barbecue on Downing Street. The annual outing is meant to foster positive relationships between residents and police and started as a way to “take back the streets” from criminals. Even though it’s indoors, the goal of bringing cops and citizens together and making neighborhoods safer remains the same.