Darts and laurels

  • Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, October 12, 2012 2:49 p.m.

Laurels to a significant drop in the juvenile crime rate in North Carolina. The News & Observer of Raleigh recently reported that the number of juveniles charged with violent crimes has dropped almost 37 percent in the last decade. The rate for property crimes committed by the same age group has declined 40 percent. Youth crime has also declined nationally, but only by about half the N.C. drop.
Connecting crime trends to causative factors is never an exact science, but juvenile justice experts point to initiatives the state adopted emphasizing treatment and education programs over "tough on crime" incarceration programs. While we'll need to see where the youth crime trends head in future years, this more balanced approach to intervention and detention alternatives appears to be paying dividends in lower crime rates and fewer young lives lost to cycles of crime and violence.n n nDart to a noxious pest invading homes this fall - and that's not a reference to political robocalls. We're talking about stink bugs - or more specifically, the brown marmorated variety that has been spotted in at least 38 states this year, including North Carolina. While the small, gray bugs don't do much damage to property, infestations can be a smelly, annoying scourge, and they can cause costly damage to crops such as apples, peaches, peppers and soybeans. Entomologists fear North Carolina's mild climate could mean a heavy invasion of the bugs once they get established. The best deterrent for homeowners is to caulk and seal openings where the bugs can get into foundations or behind siding.n n nLaurels to the North Carolina mountains' gorgeous fall leaf displays, which are expected to be near their peak this weekend at higher elevations. Leaf experts say some of the best panoramas will be along portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially around Boone and the Highlands/Cashiers area. Fall foliage is also showing up in the foothills, north and west of Hickory, Lenoir, Morganton and Rutherfordton. (And in case you're wondering, yes, there's an app for that. Just in time for the fall tourism season, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association has released a free "travel planner" app with information on hiking trails, historical information, visitor services and lodging. Download it at www.blueridgeparkway.org/mobileapp.)

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