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armed socialists; Medicaid expansion goes ahead and COVID tests

Good news on a normal Wednesday morning.

After a while, those rectangular Adopt-a-Street signs, scattered as they were along Winston-Salem’s roadsides, tend to become part of the landscape.

Their design, set against a silhouette of the city skyline, intentionally mimics street signs, and their green, black and white color scheme seems meant to blend in.

Often Adopt-a-Street signs are posted on utility poles or placed in the ground near other ubiquitous signs — speed limit, yield, crosswalk — that most of us barely notice.

And when was the last time anyone noticed the names of individual sponsors? Other than civic-minded members of service organizations who are willing to spend Saturday mornings picking up trash?

But one such sponsor tag line, on an Adopt-a-Street sign in the 1400 block of North Liberty Street, deserves a second (or third) look: The Triad NC Socialist Rifle Association.

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You don’t see it every day.

The gun-loving socialist, at first blush, seems like a classic oxymoron right up there with giant prawns, old news, and working holidays.

It must be a joke, right? Someone is making a quick move against the good guys at Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful who are running the Clean Street program.

“Well no. They are an active bunch,” said George Stilphen, the coordinator of Keep Winston-Salem Beautiful.

Stilphen, in charge of sifting – and approving – the applications does not deal with refusing willing volunteers. He won’t let personal feelings, political leanings, unintentional bias, or a strange-sounding name get in the way.

“Well, we wouldn’t approve an application from the Klu Klux Klan,” he said.

Stilphen did a quick check, learned that the Socialist Rifle Association is a recognized non-profit organization active in at least half a dozen states, and approved the application.

“Aside from that, I know as much as you do about them,” he said.

Which, at this point, isn’t much.

Leaders do not use their legal names on their promotional materials. Instead, they opt for first names or nicknames: Killashandra, for example, is listed as the national president of the group, which was founded in 2017 in Wichita, Kan. And so far, they’re not big on replying to messages.

“We don’t need to know your dead name if this is your situation,” reads a FAQ section of its website dedicated to prospective new members.

The Socialist Rifle Association, per its promotional materials, bills itself as “a welfare organization dedicated to education and advocacy in all aspects of self-defense and community advocacy.”

The SRA charter goes one step further: “We recognize all aspects of self and community defense to include topics such as firearms, disaster relief, medicine, logistics, agriculture, general survival skills, and other activities necessary to unify and strengthen communities against the hardships of life under capitalism. We seek, support, and promote an inclusive, safe, and healthy gun culture in America to combat the toxic, right-wing, and exclusionary gun culture in place today” .

On the upside, the Socialist Rifle Association has never fomented an insurrection or attempted to kidnap a governor of a large Midwestern state.

Locally, since the Social Rifle Association’s Triad chapter adopted a stretch of North Liberty Street that can use all the help it can get, the SRA has effectively fulfilled its end of the bargain.

“I’m out three or four times a year,” Stilphen said. “They do a good job.”

Medicaid vote possible

RALEIGH — Don’t look now, but North Carolina is finally getting ever closer to expanding Medicaid and, by extension, access to health care statewide.

The state House of Representatives rules committee is expected to vote later this morning on moving a bill that would expand Medicaid to the debate room, a vote that could happen as early as this afternoon.

If passed, the bill has the potential to provide health care to as many as 600,000 North Carolinas who cannot afford private plans.

The state Senate, by the way, approved it in 2022. The blocking in the House also has nothing to do with the costs. The federal government foots the bill.

Rather, the objections are mostly about relaxing the unrelated (and some would say arbitrary) certificates of need regulations that determine where health care facilities can be built.

The kudos are due to State Representative Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, who has been pushing him for years.

Test times have changed

WINSTON-SALM – The Forsyth County Department of Public Health has changed the hours of operation of its walkup COVID-19 testing program.

A state contractor offering testing at the Health Department at 799 N. Highland Ave. will now offer testing Wednesdays only from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm No insurance or ID is required, and testing is free.

Free at-home testing kits are still available from the Department of Health and Forsyth County Library branches. Vaccines and booster shots are also available from the health department.

With widely available vaccines, improved treatments, and COVID-19 seemingly a part of everyday life, have you ever heard of a virus that disappears once it has traveled the world? Perhaps some reduction in testing was inevitable.

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