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Darts and laurels (1-17-15)

Laurels to Darryl Bego and everyone who makes possible the LIFT After School Academy at Livingstone College. Bego grew up “poor, on welfare and in the projects” and says that history has given him a passion for helping at-risk teens. And that’s what LIFT does. The program is funded by the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, and its participants are referred by their school resource officer or the juvenile justice system. The program gives them a place to go after school where they can get help with homework and tutoring, as well as a time for recreation. Just as importantly, they are mentored by Livingstone College students majoring in criminal justice and social work, and they receive life skills training. And if they stick with the program, the students can get paid summer internships and become mentors themselves. They have a great role model in Bego, who went to Davidson College and whose own life shows them what they can achieve.

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Dart to the history that allowed our community to be the focus of the PBS documentary “Klansville U.S.A.” The program premiered earlier this week as part of the “American Experience” series. Although the title refers to the entire state of North Carolina, the documentary centered on Bob Jones, a salesman from Granite Quarry who in 1963 — during the prime of the civil rights movement — “chartered what would become the largest Klan group in the country, which, under his leadership, grew to some ten thousand members,” promotional copy for the program says. It’s important that we don’t forget this terrible time in our past, and the program is certainly worth watching (it’s available at pbs.org and will likely be rebroadcast on PBS stations), but we wish someplace else — or better yet, no place — had earned the nickname in the title.

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Laurels to the Rockwell Rural Fire Department and firefighter Bobbi Thomas for their efforts to make homes safer in Rowan County. Thomas has gotten the department grants the past two years to buy smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors. And she paid out-of-pocket for a four-month training course to become certified to install the monitors and teach fire and life safety to the public. Thomas said this week she has already installed 120 smoke detectors and is on her second batch, and Rockwell Rural Fire Chief Alan Shinn can get more smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors if it needs them. And there is no cost to homeowners for the devices. To schedule an appointment or get more information, call the fire department at 704-279-2171 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or Thomas at 704-223-4881.

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