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Darts and laurels (2-21-15)

Laurels to the firefighters who prevented a blaze at a downtown building from doing far more damage than it did. When flames broke out Wednesday at the Okey Dokey general store on East Innes Street, it was easy to fear the worst. Old buildings, shared walls — the fire could have taken out a big portion of the block. But firefighters responded quickly, and they quickly called out more alarms for backup. They contained the flames to the room where an electrical malfunction started the fire, averting a true disaster for Salisbury. It goes to show just how much dedicated and well-trained emergency personnel mean to a community.

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Dart to crazy weather. Local students got a week off from school, but it’s hard to take advantage of that when it’s coming one day at a time. This week began with freezing rain that coated local streets in a sheet of ice. While main roads were cleared quickly, secondary roads remained slick in many places, preventing school buses from traveling safely on them. Even if they had been able to, temperatures dropped so low later in the week, it could have been dangerous for kids to be outside waiting for the bus. The weather even threw a wrench into local high school basketball playoffs, causing confusion when league tie-breakers couldn’t be played because school was canceled. Even so, superintendents Dr. Lynn Moody of the Rowan-Salisbury School System and Dr. Pam Cain of Kannapolis City Schools — along with others around the region — deserve laurels for making tough calls to keep students safe.

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Laurels to the N.C. Department of Transportation for trying to help close the gender gap in engineering professions. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, fewer than 15 percent of engineers are women, and they make up only about 1 in 5 college engineering students. One reason for the disparity is that young girls aren’t encouraged toward science, math and other studies that lead to engineering jobs. The Transportation Department hopes to change that with “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” events such as the one taking place Feb. 24 in Winston-Salem.

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