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Darts and laurels

Laurels to North Carolina’s many contributions to music, which will now be showcased at the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis. While we might consider barbecue and stock-car racing to be the most widely recognized cultural icons of the Tar Heel state, it also has left its mark on the world of tunes. The original inductees into the hall range from big-band music (Kay Kyser) to opera (Victoria Livengood) to jazz (Loonis McGlohon) and country (Charlie Daniels), and a partial list of possible future inductees includes musical artists such as James Taylor, Thelonius Monk, Randy Travis and Dizzy Gillespie. That’s quite a play list ó and one worthy of permanent enshrinement. The hall, which will open to the public later this summer, came together through the work of Doug Croft, Joe Carroll, Bill Kopaid and Mike Curb, with a final assist from David Murdock, who helped supply the site. Gentlemen, take a bow.
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Dart to outrageous towing bills from wreckers summoned by the N.C. Highway Patrol, and to legislative attempts to protect those engaging in price gouging. The patrol recently brought this practice to light, through a report in the News & Observer of Raleigh. It said a survey of rates showed that towing firms, responding to patrol calls on a rotating basis, charge much higher rates on the patrol calls than for similar towing provided to private parties or municipal police. When they’re called out on weekends or late at night, towing companies ó like plumbers ó might have grounds for charging a premium for their services. But when the towing bills exceed $800 ó as documented by the patrol ó the car owners aren’t simply being towed. They’re being taken for a ride. In most cases, the cars are wrecked or otherwise disabled on an interstate highway or major thoroughfare; it’s an emergency situation leaving the driver in no position to shop around for a lower price. “They are using the patrol’s name to justify these ridiculously high fees,” patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said. “We’re not trying to put anybody out of business, but we need to make it fair for citizens.”
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Laurels to groups and individuals that work to make their towns and cities more inviting places to live, work and visit by improving the look of streetscapes and public spaces. The Spencer Community Appearance Commission certainly deserves to be on that list after its members planted more than 1,000 flowers along South Salisbury Avenue last week. While plantings of flowers, shrubs and trees please the eye with vivid colors and artful forms, the benefits extend beyond aesthetics. By making downtowns more appealing to pedestrians, colorful streetscapes are also good for local businesses. Think of it as economic flower power.

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