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Babies’ health still an issue

Dart to the state’s second consecutive year of rising infant mortality rates. Statewide statistics for 2012 showed that about 7.4 babies out of every 1,000 live births died before their first birthday. That’s up from 7.2 in 2011.
Rowan County’s rate was lower than the state average, at 5.7 deaths per 1,000 births. Cabarrus also had a lower rate, at 4.4. However, area counties reflected one of the same persistent trends that shows up statewide — significantly higher infant mortality rates among African-Americans than for whites or Hispanics.
As with many other health issues, education and timely intervention are essential to improving these statistics. Local health departments and social-service agencies have programs designed to protect and improve the health of expectant mothers and newborns. They can have an impact, but only if they have the staffing and other resources to get out the word and work with groups within the community. One of those programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, is among programs that will be affected if the partial government shutdown isn’t soon resolved.
Laurels to the Cycle North Carolina Mountains to Coast ride, which rolled through Rowan County early Tuesday and concludes this weekend at Atlantic Beach. This year’s ride, the 15th, drew more than 1,000 cyclists who started out from the mountain town of Spruce Pine last Sunday. North Carolina is among several states that now host multiday cycling events like this. Participation in this event has more than doubled since the first cross-state ride in 1999. That’s a testimony to the growing popularity of cycling as well as to the state’s wealth of scenic byways and a well-organized event that draws repeat riders back for more. Ways to improve? Local media, organizers and law enforcement could do a better job of giving motorists advance warning of cycling routes and times, so that drivers can either give themselves extra time or choose alternate routes.
Laurels to some solid progress toward cleaning up the ugly, varmint-infested pile of rubble at the former Kesler Manufacturing Co. site in Salisbury’s Park Avenue neighborhood. The city and county have agreed to relax landfill fees and code violation fines to help the owner, FCS Urban Ministries of Atlanta, divest itself of the property, with the city probably taking ownership. The cleanup plan is welcome news for nearby residents who’ve worked hard to improve their neighborhood while contending with this lingering eyesore.

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