Somewhere in Caldwell County lives a Hawaiian.
I can say this with certainty because of voter data from the North Carolina Board of Elections from 2013 voter registrations, which UNC Chapel Hill’s Program on Public Life has analyzed and posted online.
When a story idea about a recently adopted puppy training to become a therapy dog landed on my desk, I was all over it. It provided the perfect combination of two of my passions: animals and writing.
During the last week of June, I met the puppy, Raz, and his new owner, Peggy Hatley. We discussed doing a series of articles as Raz continued to progress in his training to his future certification.
As a young reporter covering courts in Caldwell County in 1987, I noticed what a high percentage of people facing charges were roughly my age. Sometimes what landed them in trouble was a situation similar to one I had been in, but a different choice here or a different starting point there made all the difference in the outcome.
There was not a lot about Sammy William Sturgill or his background that felt familiar to me, but we were both 22 – he was born in October 1965, I was born a couple months earlier. We were both slim. He appeared to be in better shape. He looked like a nice enough guy, and from the thumbs-up he flashed at the News-Topic’s photographer while being led out of the courtroom during his murder trial, he sure seemed to have a sense of humor.
Is it well-rehearsed or is it true? There are no easy answers for the recent crisis of illegal immigrants flooding our Southwest borders since last October. It is estimated that more than 50,000 immigrants, mainly children under 18, have arrived in the United States from Mexico and three Central American countries.
I can remember a time when my grandparents would joke about their forgetfulness. I can also remember my mother searching throughout her home for her glasses and muttering under her breath, “I am becoming my mother.”
But I also remember a few years later when no one in our family joked about my mother’s forgetfulness because like millions of other families we were living with Alzheimer’s, and our mother’s health was deteriorating rapidly.
A talented young reporter once seemed stunned to hear me say that one day most people probably would get all of their news, including their hometown news, from Web and mobile devices.
One of my favorite authors described the importance of George Washington as the "Founding Father" this way: “Fatherhood, as any society understands it, is the result of training and an act of will. A man who would be a father in name only as well as fact must go beyond what is merely natural. A father is a man who follows through.”
With summer thunderstorms rumbling through town nearly every afternoon or evening, it is important to have on hand several items in the house. Things like flashlights, candles and matches are all important, but I learned there is one more: nine-volt batteries.
Attention, single people: If you meet a reporter through online dating site eHarmony, run the other way.
Not because reporters make bad partners — not that I’m saying they make good ones, either — but because eHarmony put out a list last week of the “15 reasons to date a reporter,” and little on the list resembles the people in any newsroom I ever worked in or passed through, so I question whether the reporters on eHarmony are telling the truth about their occupation.
Superlatives are funny things.
Those are the words we use when we describe things that are extremes – the most, best, least, worst, first, last, highest, lowest, only, and on and on and on.
But superlatives are kind of like statistics. You can use them accurately, but without context they can mislead the listener.
For instance, consider the boast last week by Senate leader Phil Berger that “more North Carolinians are going to work today than ever before.”
Months before my graduation from Western Carolina University I was already counting down the weeks to crossing the stage and taking my empty diploma holder out of Chancellor David Belcher’s hand. Week after week, I wiped down my little chalkboard and wrote in the new number of how much time was left. I’d even snap a photo to display on Facebook and remind everyone else how I was already out the door mentally when it came to my schooling.
This past week has been a most interesting week involving education in our county.
When I was in sixth grade, an F1 tornado ripped through my neighborhood in Mount Holly, outside of Charlotte.
That evening, bulbous, anvil-topped clouds inched over the neighborhood while my family and I took our evening summer stroll. Already nervous of storms, I kept pointing out the clouds to my parents.
Today much is being discussed throughout the country when it comes to increasing access to healthier foods, and Caldwell County is no exception. Some refer to this as the “from the fields to the table movement,” which would seek to grow more food locally and increase access to healthier foods for everyone. Some counties, like Caldwell County, are trying to develop a Farm and Food Council.
First, let’s get the crazy out of the way: What would be great is if someone would build a six-story apartment building downtown with a rooftop-patio restaurant.
That’s not going to happen, but if you could see the view that place would have, you wouldn’t think the rooftop restaurant part of that idea was crazy.
Item in the news last week: “Facebook is rolling out a new tool that allows its users to track their friends in real time.
“Flipping on the feature in the Facebook mobile app lets you share your general or specific location with friends.”
Last week, along with Matt Underwood, Keith Nordan and Jenny Wheelock, I attended the North Carolina Main Street Conference in New Bern. This annual meeting was originally scheduled for January but had been postponed due to a winter storm.
New Bern itself is an interesting example of what can be done on Main Street.
After some students at Hudson Middle School mistook a knife in a man’s belt in the parking lot for a gun on Thursday, law enforcement officials recommended “soft” lockdowns (where the outer doors are locked but the school day otherwise is supposed to go on as normal indoors) of 11 schools.
And then we saw a demonstration of how information spreads today.
Who are the most important people in a community?
Some would say the company owners and company officials. Others would say government leaders, while still others would mention teachers, police and fire staff.
But I would venture to say the most important person in Caldwell County is a volunteer.
Let’s be 100 percent clear about this: There is no survey that designated the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area as one of the nation’s “most miserable cities,” no matter what you read on Facebook or in a newspaper or saw on the Charlotte TV news.
One part of history here that is written down in various places is that Lenoir used to host annual furniture market trade shows. I had forgotten about that until I interviewed Alex Bernhardt Jr. and Rountree Collett last week about the 125th anniversary of the founding of Bernhardt Furniture Co., and the topic of “the Market” came up.
You can find at least elements of the history online, though it takes some work. But much of the history you won't find.
Yes, spring has finally, and with it comes a forecast of possible snow this week. Who said life was fair?
You know why incorrect use of certain words has become common usage? Because not enough people have bothered to learn what’s correct. That isn’t a good reason to lower your standards. It's like the language equivalent of grade inflation -- if no one can earn an A anymore, just lower the bar so what used to get a B grade is now worth an A.
Winter has been with us a bit longer this year. In fact two weeks ago when it was snowing someone asked me if it reminded me of my time in Minnesota, and my response was, “Yes, spring in Minnesota.”
Last weekend, when I returned for a visit to my former home, I was once again reminded that a few days of snow in North Carolina hardly compare to winter in Minnesota. I was attending the wedding of a family friend, and it provided a wonderful opportunity to see other friends. The entire time I wondered, “How do these people stand the winters, and did I really do this for 10 years?”
Election season has barely begun, but the letters to the editor and phone calls tell me that primary season may be a rough one for local races.
That makes this a good time to brush up on the News-Topic’s guidelines for election-related letters.