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Darts and laurels

Laurels in the progress toward a new central office for the Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the board of commissioners, has spearheaded talks between the two boards in recent weeks about financing a new headquarters. The boards might split payments on a $10 million project 50-50. This is good news. Previously, commissioners seemed to consider a new central office an extravagance. Then they visited the buildings that house school offices, which are old and outdated. The safety of the building on North Long Street, in particular, is in doubt.The system has thrown good money after bad in that spot for far too long. It’s unfortunate that commissioners didn’t open their eyes to this need sooner. Chamberlain goes off the board in December, and the other commissioner involved in the process, Jim Sides, is a candidate this fall. An 11th hour conversion is better than no conversion, but the schools need supporters who can deliver after 2008.
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Dart to the inevitable tradeoff that comes with the growing popularity of more fuel-efficient cars. The price of those little cars is going up. For that you can thank our good friends, Supply and Demand, but that’s not the only priciple at work here. So is the need to make up for lost profits. USA Today reports automakers are raising prices on small cars to regain profits lost when truck and SUV sales plummeted. Part of the increase will be justified by extra features on new cars, such as navigation systems and leather seats. Cars that have been priced in the teens will climb beyond $25,000. People who have been paying more than $30,000 for gas-guzzling SUVs won’t flinch at that. But there will be more increases to come as the federal government finalizes rules requiring automakers to raise the gas efficiency of their products. Consumers will pay, one way or the other. Somehow, paying in a way that does not benefit the oil companies as much ó and that hurts the enviroment less ó softens the blow.
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Laurels to the swift evacuation of New Orleans and other cities along the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Gustav neared last weekend. Fortunately, the storm was not as destructive as feared, and some people might even consider the evacuation unwarranted, in hindsight. But this year’s evacuees by and large are not so young that they have forgotten Hurricane Katrina. People who escaped floodwaters by climbing on roofs, or who lost loved ones or otherwise suffered will not soon forget. Hours spent in slow-moving evacuation traffic and the inconvenience of temporary displacement are nothing compared to the horrors of that day in 2005. As for the chaos that followed, the Bush Administration and FEMA also learned lessons from Katrina. When hurricane victims’ needs were the greatest in 2005, the federal government’s attentiveness was at its worst. That also will stick in people’s memories for a long time.

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