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Darts and laurels

Laurels to the Salisbury Fire Department (and senior office assistant Tammy File in particular) for securing steel beams salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Centers to be used in two memorials here in Rowan County. The site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York is hallowed ground, and now the memorials here will have a tangible connection to the sacrifices made by firefighters, police officers and others on that day, as well as many other days. Authorities in charge of distributing the beams received more than 1,000 requests from agencies representing all 50 states and several foreign countries. Other North Carolina sites receiving beams include Chatham County; Jacksonville, near Camp Lejeune; and the town of Clyde, in Haywood County. At Fort Bragg, a memorial to soldiers who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq incorporates an eternal flame housed in a container cast from steel salvaged from the fallen towers.

Dart to predictions that gasoline prices could hit $6 a gallon by the summer vacation season. Thatís the assessment of some economists, including Richard Hastings, a strategist at Global Hunter Securities in Charlotte who sees a storm of factors driving up prices. ěIf you get weakness in the dollar concurrent with the strong driving season concurrent with the impact of one or two hurricanes in the wrong place, prices could go up in a quasi-exponential manner,î Hastings says in an article at CNBC.com. AAA reports the average price for unleaded has already hit $4 in half a dozen states, with noticeable effect on driving patterns. National demand for gasoline, which typically rises this time of year, has declined, the Associated Press reports.

Laurels to college students who set examples of environmental stewardship on their campuses. Livingstone Collegeís Stephen Graddick IV was recently recognized for his environmental initiative when he won Toyotaís Green Initiative Contest. The collegiate competition, designed to encourage sustainability on campuses on nearby communities, drew more than 200 entries from CIAA schools. For his organization of a green awareness week at Livingstone, Graddick won a yearís lease of a Toyota Prius and ó just in time for Arbor Day ó a tree park for the Livingstone campus. While the grand prize has been awarded, the initiative itself continues. College students and others can find information on sustainability, cost-saving tips and other green ideas at www.ToyotaGreen.com.

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