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Darts and laurels

Dart to rude awakenings. For all its service to the community over the past century, W.A. Brown Co. seemed like a stranger last week when it suddenly locked its doors. Most employees of the refrigeration company received letters Monday telling them Brown was closing immediately. The few who didn’t get their letters arrived at work Tuesday to find the bad news posted on the front door.
There’s a lot behind this story: a much-anticipated merger that fell through in the 11th hour, orders that turned out to be much smaller than originally bid and, of course, the Great Recession. And that’s just what we know about.
Still, the employees themselves have to see the contrast between this sudden change of fortune and the notice workers at the Coca-Cola warehouse on South Main Street received about its March 2010 shutdown. They have a few months of employment to count on and the offer of employment with the company in Greensboro or Charlotte.
These are totally different businesses, one purely local, the other a small cog in a multinational operation. But they have both been here for a century, proof that longevity is no promise of prosperity. Workers have good reason to be nervous about the future.
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Laurels to Operation Christmas Child, the outreach ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that sends gift-filled shoe boxes to children all around the world. The organization’s annual collection campaign kicks off next week, continuing through Nov. 23. For information about local dropoff sites and an account of how a Christmas gift changed one girl’s life, read the story on page 2A in today’s Post.
– – –
Dart to the environmental time bombs lurking underneath North Carolina soil. Salisbury got a glimpse of one of them last week when a defunct underground fuel oil tank apparently began leaking during heavy rains, contaminating the creek that runs through Hurley Park. City and state workers were able to contain the spill and are working with the property owner to remedy the situation, but no one knows how many other abandoned residential storage tanks are out there. Any of them that still hold fuel oil will eventually leak, contaminating creeks and groundwater sources. Old residential tanks are only a small part of the problem, however. Leaking commercial tanks, such as those at old gas stations, pose a much greater environmental hazard around the state. Although the state launched a program in 1985 to clean up those commercial sites, headway has been slow. A recent legislative report noted that while 10,700 underground tank leaks have been addressed, 6,500 more tanks are still on the to-do list. The final cleanup may take another 25 years.

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