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Darts and laurels: They deliver more than meals

Laurels to Meals on Wheels of Rowan County and all of its volunteers. Year-round, they deliver 220 meals each weekday on more than 27 routes. And they do this without fanfare, largely unnoticed except by those who benefit from the nonprofit’s mission to “provide a meal and friendly visit to the homebound of Rowan County.” Those are people like 96-year-old Louise Richardson, who got a surprise visit from Spencer Mayor Jim Gobbel this week when he accompanied volunteer Chris Laxton on his route as part of the annual March for Meals campaign to raise awareness and funding for Meals on Wheels. Richardson told Gobbel, who took part along with other elected officials in getting a first-hand view of the organization’s work, that she looks forward to the visits because “they’re always pleasant, smiling, and I know I’ll get something good to eat.” In addition to providing meals and some regular companionship in what can be a lonely existence, the volunteer visits serve as a safety check for folks who may not have anyone else looking after them. All that makes Meals on Wheels very deserving of all the support it can get. March for Meals continues Tuesday with a barbecue fundraiser at First Presbyterian Church in Salisbury. For more information, go to the agency’s website at www.mowrowannc.org or call 704-633-0352.

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Dart to Duke Energy for continuing to drag its feet on the issue of coal ash. State environmental regulators issued new violations to Duke on Friday concerning a dozen coal ash basins across North Carolina, including the ones at Buck Steam Station here in Rowan County. Officials with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said they are considering civil penalties for “unauthorized discharges of wastewater from the area around the subject facility’s coal ash basins.” In response, Duke argues it told the state about “seeps” from coal ash ponds nearly two years ago and has been “doing everything the state has asked” to address them. Clearly, Duke and environmental regulators are not on the same page. The state says it could issue more violations and has given the company 30 days to submit information that could mitigate the findings. The basins at Buck are no longer being used, but they still contain coal ash and water from now-defunct coal-fired power plants there. Meanwhile, residents in the neighboring Dukeville community have been warned by the state not to use their well water because of contaminants found in it. Although a link between the Dukeville water issue and the coal ash basins has not been proven, it’s indisputable that coal ash has caused problems elsewhere — big problems. Duke is moving away from coal. That’s great. But it benefitted from using it to generate power for decades. Now it needs to clean up the mess that left behind.

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