Darts and laurels

  • Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2013 12:35 a.m.

Laurels to the lives saved because of smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. But they only function if their batteries still hold a charge. As we turn our clocks back an hour this weekend for Daylight Saving Time, fire officials remind us that when we change the time, we also should change the batteries in smoke and CO detectors and make sure they’re operating properly. When a home fire erupts, residents often have only minutes to escape. A working detector is your family’s best defense against the potential devastation of a residential fire.

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Dart to the mountains of money pouring into state judicial races across the country. Special-interest groups and political parties spent more than $24 million in state court races in 2011-2012, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. Among the key findings:

n Non-candidate groups (including political parties) accounted for 43 percent of the total $56.4 million spent on state high court elections, compared to 22 percent ($12.8 million) in the previous election cycle.

n 35 percent of all funds spent on state high court races, or $19.6 million, came from just 10 special interest groups and political parties, compared to $12.3 million, or 21 percent, coming from the top 10 “super spenders” in 2007-08.

n A record $33.7 million was spent on state Supreme Court campaign TV ads, easily topping the previous record of $26.6 million in 2007-08.

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Laurels to some new hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway that have a Salisbury connection. Three new trails opened last weekend, representing nearly 1,600 acres between Linville and the Virginia line. As with so many other conservation projects locally and around the region, Salisbury philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback played a prominent role in the trail expansions, along with others who donated land. State support came from North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund and Natural Heritage Trust Fund. The trails are designed for casual hikers and families. Rose Creek Trail is a 1.3-mile loop rated as easy to hike. The Little Table Rock and Saddle Mountain trails are rated moderate. They’re well-marked and accessible from either the parkway or nearby roads. You can find more information about the trails, including directions, at http://www.appalachian.org/community/stanbacktrails.html.

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