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Darts and laurels

Laurels to the birth of Rowan County, which officially took place 255 years ago today. That’s when acting governor Mathew Rowan signed a bill to divide Anson County. The petition prompting the bill was signed by 348 people and described the extreme hardships they underwent to get from this part of the state to the Anson courthouse near Wadesboro. According to “The Rowan Story,” by James Brawley, the act called for “erecting the upper part of Anson County into a County and Parish by the name of Rowan County, and St. Luke’s Parish; and for appointing a Place for County Court.” The acting governor no doubt liked the new county’s name. Though Mathew Rowan faded into history, his name has lived on ó albeit in a smaller county than was originally carved out in 1753. But not everything got smaller as other counties took bites of Rowan. Newly appointed justices ordered a two-story courthouse in Salisbury that was 30 feet long and 20 feet wide and a jail that was 18-by-14-feet. The county has been adding space ó and needing even more ó ever since.
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Dart to the increasing difficulty of making ends meet, to which you might say, “no kidding.” Beyond anecdotal evidence, though, the N.C. Budget and Tax Center offers the latest results of its periodic study on the living wage in the state. According to the center, the average family of four needs $42,841 annually to meet basic needs, which is more than double the federal government’s standard for poverty. That’s OK if you live in a place like Anson County, the lease expensive place to live in the state, where $36,817 will provide the basics for a family of four. But in Wake County, the family would need nearly $52,000, the center estimates, and Mecklenburg is worse than that. More to the point, the majority of families that fall below the living income standard are not layabouts; they do so despite working, which says something about the jobs and wages that are available. “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country,” President Franklin Roosevelt said. If only.
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Laurels to the Piedmont Research Station for literally sharing the fruits of its labor with the needy. Rather than compost the leftover produce from experimental crops such as strawberries and blueberries, the research complex on Sherrill’s Ford Road is donating the bounty to local nonprofits like Rowan Helping Ministries. It wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of the Society of St. Andrew’s, a non-profit group that gleans leftovers from farmers’ fields to distribute to the needy. There’s a double bonus here: Ultimately, the research work will yield improved varieties of plants for local growers, while the harvests at the station will put some fresh, nutritious food on the table for some very appreciative people.

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