Darts and laurels
Laurels to Governor-elect Pat McCrory’s appointment of former Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz to lead the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. While it’s natural to speculate on local benefits any time a hometown product achieves a high-level post, this selection bodes well for the state as a whole. With Kluttz, McCrory gets a well-known colleague with whom he’s worked on regional initiatives. Kluttz has been a strong advocate for the arts, historic preservation and tourism in Salisbury, but this is a multifaceted department that will also draw heavily on her administrative background. The N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer will be under her supervision, of course, but it’s just one among a lengthy list that includes the State Library, the State Archives, 27 historic sites, seven history museums, historical publications, the N.C. Symphony, the N.C. Arts Council and the N.C. Museum of Art. This fiscal year, the department has an operating budget of $72 million, with about 750 full-time employees.
n n n
Dart to North Carolina’s mediocre ranking in a national health survey. The state placed 33rd in the Minnesota-based United Health Foundation’s report, which assesses several categories using 2011 health data. Areas where the state scored poorly include obesity (with a 29 percent obesity rate), infant mortality, low-birth-weight babies and public health funding. On the positive side, the state has a relatively low prevalence of binge drinking and a low incidence of infectious disease.
n n n
Laurels to our country’s decreasing dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Department recently reported that in 2012 the United States produced about 83 percent of the energy required to power its vehicles, planes and trains, and that’s projected to hit 100 percent in the near future. That’s largely due to new and improved extraction technologies that have expanded access to previously untapped sources of oil and natural gas, but more efficient vehicles and alternative energy sources also have helped. This is a remarkable turnaround from the days when the U.S. relied on imported oil, leaving it vulnerable to geopolitical instability and disruptions in the supply chain. The U.S. is still connected to the global energy marketplace, but in the future it’s more likely to be exporting fuel rather than bringing it in by the tanker load.