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Here are five of the most important, most interesting or most entertaining stories that appeared in the Salisbury Post over the past week, with links:

1. Where is Erica Parsons?

On July 30, the older adoptive brother of 15-year-old Erica Lynn Parsons reported her missing, saying she hadn’t been seen in Rowan County in nearly two years. Over the past week, the story has unfolded and evolved. Authorities say Erica’s adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, initially cooperated but hired an attorney after two days and have provided inaccurate information. The Parsonses say they Erica went to live with her biological grandmother in Asheville, but they don’t know how to contact her. Read the latest story here.

2. Commissioners go the prayer closet
Facing a lawsuit by the ACLU and a injunction against religion-specific prayer from a federal judge, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners chose to recess their meeting Monday and go behind closed doors to pray. Commissioners said while they don’t believe the judge’s order is constitutional, they won’t violate it while the U.S. Supreme Court considers another lawsuit involving prayer at public meetings. Read the story here. Later in the week, the administration of President Barack Obama endorsed prayer before such meetings.

3. Walking man

Over the past year, 42-year-old Russ Roakes has logged more than 1,000 miles in evening walks around downtown Salisbury. In that time, he’s lost 30 pounds and a T-shirt size. That’s just from the walking; he hasn’t changed his diet. Roakes said the health benefits keep him motivated to walk every day after work. “I don’t miss,” he said. Read the story here.

4. Graduation rates rising

Graduation rates rose for the fourth straight year in the Rowan-Salisbury School System and increased in Kannapolis City Schools after dipping last year. Both school systems also topped the statewide graduation rate. Dr. Richard Miller, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said the system is “headed in the right direction.” Read the story here.

5. Standoff

Police say Jacob Dobbins doused himself and the interior of his parents Corbin Hills home in gasoline Friday afternoon, then threatened to light a match. That started a tense two-hour standoff with officers surrounding the home and Dobbins, armed with a machete and baseball bat, refusing to come out. Neighbors watched from their lawns as the bizarre situation played out. Eventually, Dobbins did leave the house and police took him into custody. Read the story here.

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