Darts and laurels

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2008

Dart to reports that fewer butterflies are fluttering in yards this summer than in seasons past. Local weather conditions affect butterfly populations, and periods of drought can hamper reproduction. But the National Wildlife Federation says lepidopterists are worried we may be seeing signs of longterm butterfly decline caused by loss of habitat and other environmental factors. Worldwide, many species have begun to falter and disappear. In this country, the Fish and Wildlife Service has designated 23 butterfly species as endangered or threatened. While butterflies are among nature’s most beautiful insects, this is more than an aesthetic loss. Butterflies play a key role in plant reproduction and provide food for birds and other insects. Looking for ideas about making your yard more butterfly-friendly? Check out the butterfly garden at the West End Community Park Horticultural Demonstration Garden, on Brenner Avenue adjacent to the railroad crossing.
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Dart to whatever disconnect has prevented many low-income seniors, veterans and people with disabilities in North Carolina from claiming their $300 economic stimulus payments from Uncle Sam. At one point this month, officials estimated that more than 175,000 people fit that description. If they all got checks, that would add up to $53 million dollars for the state’s residents and the economy. To bring it down to the local level, 2,993 residents of Rowan County had not filed yet, adding up to $897,900. The figures for Cabarrus are 3,084 people and $925,000. All is not lost; the final deadline is Oct. 15. Anyone with at least $3,000 in income may qualify. The catch is that a person has to file for the stimulus check on a tax form, and many seniors and others have so little income that they do not file. People who find the process intimidating can get help, starting with a call to the IRS rebate hotline, 1-866-234-2942. The messages are automated, but a caller may at least be able to get more details about eligibility. Then you’ll need to get a 1040A tax form and fill it out.
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Laurels, to continue on that topic, to the Rowan County Department of Social Services and the Charlotte office of the Internal Revenue Service for planning an event to offer assistance. On Wednesday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers and IRS representatives will be on hand at Rowan Public Library to help people file for their stimulus checks.