Darts and laurels
Laurels to the volunteers who signed up for today's Big Sweep cleanup at High Rock Lake. This annual event, part of the statewide Big Sweep campaign, typically retrieves hundreds of bags of garbage from High Rock's shores. Much of that is the expected stuff - discarded cans and bottles, plastic bags, Styrofoam boxes, abandoned tires - but some unexpected items, like a rusty refrigerator or car hood, also have been removed. While it's important to ensure that High Rock remains an attractive recreational amenity, the cleanup also has environmental benefits by promoting the importance of maintaining healthy watersheds around the state. Water is the region's lifeblood. Although a single soda can or food wrapper might not seem like a big deal, it all adds up: Last year, Big Sweep events collected about 386,000 pounds of debris around the state.
Dart to the number of North Carolinians living in poverty. Almost 18 percent of the state's population lived below the poverty line in 2011 ($11,484 for an individual and $23,021 for a family of four), according to newly released Census data. Combined with Friday's jobs report showing that the state's unemployment rate ticked up to 9.7 percent, the statistics show that the economic recovery remains elusive for many unemployed and under-employed Tar Heel residents. Median household income in North Carolina declined 1.8 percent, Census responses indicate, and roughly a quarter of North Carolina's children are now living in poverty.
Laurels to the heroic mail carriers honored this week by the National Association of Letter Carriers. The NALC's Heroes of the Year, honored at a Thursday ceremony, included Tom Logue, a Cape Atlantic, N.J., carrier who saved a boy being carried out to sea by a rip tide; Charlie Rose, a carrier who over the years has detected numerous gas leaks along his route in Athens, Ohio; Celia Ruiz of Virginia Beach, Va., who applied CPR to children who had been struck by a drunken driver's car; and Mike Hollmann III of Phoenix, who rescued a woman who had fallen from her wheelchair and was being attacked by pit bulls. While there's concern about the postal service's future and its financial health, the nation's 180,000 carriers continue diligently going about their rounds - keeping watch on their communities and performing good deeds that may often go unnoticed.