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Darts & laurels: Welcome, sports scribes

Laurels to the National Sports Media Association’s annual gathering in Salisbury, which starts today and goes through Monday evening. The event is a plus for the local economy. Last year, a tourism official estimated the event’s 450 visitors generated about $175,000 in revenue for local businesses, not including money NSMA spends hosting three days of events. This year’s crowd may be even bigger.

This unique organization was the brainchild of local restaurateur and boxing promoter Pete DiMizio, who started holding an annual recognition banquet for the best sportscasters and sportswriters in North Carolina in 1958. DiMizio dreamed of expanding to the national level, but died before it could happen. The Chamber of Commerce, civic groups and a very determined Dr. Ed McKenzie picked up the ball, and the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association was born. Now called the National Sports Media Association, the group brings state and national winners to town — often with their families — to pick up awards and swap stories. Thanks to the work of NSMA and its volunteers, they leave with good feelings about Salisbury hospitality.

The public can meet some of the attendees during NSMA’s Sports Book Festival, to be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Literary Bookpost downtown.

Dart to the departure of Dr. Latoya Dixon, half of the co-principal team at Knox Middle School since June 2014. School supporters wish she had stayed longer.Put together by Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody, the team of Dixon and Dr. Mike Waiksnis has  brought new energy and ideas to Salisbury’s middle school. Before their arrival, Knox’s academic challenges were exacerbated  by constant turnover in the principal’s office. Dixon’s two-year tenure is a long time compared to several predecessors. Laurels to Waiksnis for staying on at Knox, which is transitioning to a magnet school called the Knox Center for Accelerated Studies. This initiative was a product of Dixon’s and Waiksnis’ teamwork. That and other successes at Knox may have helped Dixon land her new job as director of the Office of School Transformation at the S.C. Department of Education. As Waiksnis recently tweeted, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Let’s hope — fervently — that Waiksnis decides to be the person who sees Knox through this transition and into a bright future.

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