Darts and laurels

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2008

Laurels to the anonymous donor who provided $1,700 to keep Salisbury’s downtown trolley tours rolling. This is a reprieve for the trolley service, not a final solution for the operating expense shortfall, but it should buy several months for local officials to work out arrangements for longterm funding. The donation, made in honor of trolley guide and local historian Susan Waller, underscores the connection between Rowan County’s rich local history and the cultivation of a vibrant tourism trade. Tourists aren’t the only ones who hop aboard the trolley, of course; so do local patrons and those who rent the colorful cars for special events. But the trolley cars offer a memorable trip and a unique vantage point from which visitors can soak up the city’s atmosphere and get a leisurely view of community landmarks. Thanks to this donation, the wheels of tourism and commerce will keep turning.
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Dart to an unexpected offshoot of lower petroleum prices ó disputes over fuel-oil contracts as customers seek to take advantage of prices that have dropped substantially in recent weeks. Ordinarily, you’d think of falling fuel costs as a boon for buyers ó and they can be, unless those buyers are locked into delivery contracts that were signed back when oil prices were still near record highs. While oil prices have now dropped to five-year lows, many buyers are getting a rude shock when they attempt to either renegotiate contracts or get out of them entirely, according to an Associated Press story. Some delivery contracts do have “buy out” clauses. Even so, it can cost homeowners hundreds of dollars to terminate their agreement, and some fuel-oil dealers are worried about their own survival if a large number of contracts are negated. Back when many of these contracts were made, who could have foreseen the sudden plunge in oil prices? The buyers didn’t do anything dumb, and the suppliers aren’t trying to gouge anybody. It’s just a case where the price volatility has produced painful consequences on both sides.
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Laurels to West Rowan High’s Scott Young for being named North Carolina’s prep football coach of the year by the Associated Press this week. Young ó and his coaching staff and team ó richly deserved this recognition after the Falcons rolled over West Craven to win the Class 3A state championship earlier this month. Three players ó K.P. Parks, Tim Pangburn and Chris Smith ó were named to the AP All-State team. It takes commitment and hard work on the part of all of the players and coaches to rise to this level of achievement in a very competitive conference. The Falcons had that ó as well as the support of excited fans who cheered them on through the season and then traveled to Winston-Salem for the rousing finale.