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Darts and laurels

Laurels to all of those who participated in early voting this year and to the elections workers who have patiently answered questions, resolved registration issues and made sure the process went smoothly. The number of early voters has been growing each year, and this year’s election produced a dramatic surge. In Rowan County, almost 3,000 early voters had cast their ballots as of late last week, and about 100,000 had participated statewide. While part of that increase can be attributed to the high interest in the presidential race, the numbers also are proof that people like the flexibility of choosing when they vote, rather than being locked into having to fit Election Day voting into work and family schedules. But remember: If you still plan on casting an early ballot, today is the deadline. You can vote at the Rowan County Board of Election office from 8 a.m.-1p.m. Polling sites at the Rowan Library’s East and South branches will be open from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Otherwise, you can join the lines on Tuesday.- – –
Dart to the latest news on the college tuition front. A report by the Washington-based Delta Cost Project says that as tuition costs keep shooting up, too little of that additional revenue may be going toward improved classroom instruction. Instead, the fastest growing operating expenses for colleges are research, public outreach and financial aid. In addition, the study indicates that rising enrollment and revenue aren’t reflected in a higher percentage of students graduating with college degrees. “What we see across a broad range of indicators is that states and institutions are spending money in areas that may not be in line with the public priority of preparing more graduates,” according to report author Jane Wellman (quoted in USA Today). Many colleges are struggling to meet the demands of rising enrollments and greater reliance on technology ó both of which entail significant capital outlays ó but the report underscores the importance esuring that quality instruction remains at the forefront of the academic mission.
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Laurels to an increase in the number of new moms who are breast-feeding their infants, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is good news on two fronts. Breast milk is better than formula at helping babies develop strong immune systems, as well as helping protect against childhood obesity, medical experts say, and it also has benefits for nursing moms. In addition to promoting healthier infants, the increase in breast-feeding signals that cultural attitudes are shifting to encourage breast-feeding and better accommodate the practice. While overall rates are up, however, the relatively low rate of breast-feeding among poor, single mothers shows there’s still need for improvement in giving infants a natural, healthy boost at the beginning of life.

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