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Govs fired up Smokies plan

Laurels to some interstate cooperation that got lost in the blizzard of media coverage about the end of the government shutdown. Before Congress resolved its stalemate Wednesday night, Gov. Pat McCrory and his Tennessee counterpart, Gov. Bill Haslam, worked out a way to temporarily reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for five days this week, primarily using their respective state funds for tourism advertising. That agreement made it possible for the park to reopen Wednesday, when the outcome in Washingon was still in doubt. As it turned out, national parks began resuming normal service Thursday after the last-minute shutdown/debt ceiling agreement. Still, McCrory and Haslam deserve some appreciation for their efforts to work around a D.C. debacle that cost both states about $33 million in tourism and related spending by one estimate, just as fall leaf season arrived.
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Dart to the hidden costs of America’s fast-food culture. Some of those costs, such as the health toll of a burger-and-fries diet, are already well known, thanks to the nation’s expanding waistlines. A new study reveals another expense — the amount we spend to subsidize fast-food industry employees who don’t make a living wage. Nationally, we pay about $7 billion a year in public assistance programs used by fast-food workers, according to a study by the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois. The study was funded by Fast Food Forward, a group lobbying for higher wages for these workers, who on average make about $8.69 an hour and typically receive few if any benefits. Fast-food employees and their children collect about $1 billion annually in food stamps and another $1.9 billion in earned income tax credit. Something to chew over next time you’re sitting at the drive-through.
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Laurels to the three groups collaborating on a free school supplies event today at the Elks Lodge in Salisbury. The supply giveaway incorporates the work of Smart Start Rowan, Safe Kids Rowan and the Elks, who provided funding through a grant. In addition to having school supply bags for pre-K and kindergarten youngsters, parents can also get a safety check of car seats to make sure their youngsters are being properly protected in the car. Some free safety and booster seats will also be available. The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge at 508 S. Main St.

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