Darts and laurels
Laurels and a tail wag to Salisbury City Council's approval of a new dog park to be created at the Civic Center. Canines and their human companions both need exercise, and the park should provide a well-controlled, enjoyable environment where safety is the obvious priority. This is the kind of pet project that can help bring citizens together, promote the wellbeing of our four-legged friends and strengthen partnerships between residents and city government. And lest any naysayers think organizers are barking up the wrong tree with this concept, dog parks are the fastest-growing park type in the country, according to the Trust for Public Land's annual report, "City Park Facts." The most recent report said there were 569 off-leash dog parks in the nation's 100 largest cities as of 2010, a jump of more than a third in five years.n n nDart to the deadly mayhem of tornadoes, which last year left stunning paths of destruction in the Midwest, the Southeast and other parts of the country, killing more than 550 people. The good news is that weather experts say 2012 is shaping up to be a much less stormy year if current trends continue. So far this year, storm trackers have recorded about 750 twisters, compared to 1,500 in the same period a year ago. While it's hard to find a silver lining in recent periods of drought, this may be one. Meteorologists say the same weather patterns that created drought in the central U.S. are a factor in holding down the tornado toll.n n nLaurels to the guys in striped shirts. That would be the "real" NFL referees who recently ended their labor dispute with team owners and returned to the field, sending home the replacements who had football fans on the verge of outright revolt. Whatever this episode may or may not have settled about labor issues, it should give fans at all levels of sport a higher appreciation for the importance of umpires, referees, line judges and others who officiate at athletic contests. Whether it's the high-stakes world of pro sports or rec league soccer, fair and competent officiating is a vital part of the games children and adults play. And unlike NFL umps, many officials of amateur events do it for a pittance, or even volunteer without compensation. They typically get little thanks while taking a heap of criticism. Keep that in mind next time you're inclined to read someone the riot act over a (supposedly) blown call.