Darts and laurels
Laurels to Salisburyís tradition of ringing in the new year at the old Bell Tower, which will continue tonight. No, it wonít be quite the same this year because the towerís bell will have to remain silent as a result of safety concerns. But that shouldnít put too much of a damper on the festive occasion that traditionally draws a throng to the site off West Innes Street. A fire bell will serve as a rousing substitute, and revelers have been told itís a BYOB event ó thatís Bring Your Own Bell. However, it would be a shame if the old bell never rings again. As one of the cityís best known landmarks, the Bell Tower is too integral a part of Salisburyís history to languish in silent dilapidation. So hereís a community resolution for the New Year: Letís resolve to make sure the towerís structural problems are addressed so that the New Year can get a proper ringing in come Jan. 1, 2013.
Dart to a disturbing trend in crime reports as 2011 comes to a close. Although violent crime has declined overall, the number of law-enforcement officers killed in the line of duty has risen for the second consecutive year, according the Justice Department. The total number of officer deaths as of this week was 174, the third highest toll in the past decade. That includes 65 firearms-related deaths, 62 traffic-related and 47 from other causes. This is the first time in 14 years that firearms deaths have risen above traffic-related fatalities, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Authorities say many of the firearms deaths involved ambush-style attacks in which the officers had little or no warning beforehand, which can make body armor less effective.
Laurels to the Sam Moir Christmas Basketball Classic, the high-school hoops extravaganza that first tipped off 40 years ago. The tournament named in honor of legendary Catawba College coach Sam Moir seems to gain in popularity each year. As one of the countyís most popular sports events, itís our own local version of March Madness, only three months earlier and on a somewhat smaller but no less enthusiastic stage. Longtime local basketball fans may note, however, that while the first tournament was held in 1971, this was not the 40th edition. The 1988 event had to be canceled because of a measles epidemic. Given the packed crowds at Goodman Gymnasium over the past week, itís hard to imagine that even a health crisis could deter fans caught up in high school basketball fever.