Opinion: Columns

May. 31, 2014 @ 11:32 PM

Column: Context changes everything

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.”

May. 25, 2014 @ 08:44 AM

These moments cannot be replaced

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.

May. 25, 2014 @ 04:23 AM

Column: Reflecting on a week full of local news

This past week has been a most interesting week involving education in our county.

May. 05, 2014 @ 11:42 AM

Column: Don’t be like my dad!

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.

Apr. 27, 2014 @ 01:31 AM

Column: Local food is fresh and better for you

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.

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 10:30 AM

Column: The sky is the limit

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.

Apr. 19, 2014 @ 04:04 PM

Column: Facebook's too much in my face already

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.”

Apr. 13, 2014 @ 01:47 AM

Column: New Bern shows potential for downtowns

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.

Apr. 12, 2014 @ 11:46 AM

Column: Word spreads quickly now

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.

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 05:30 PM

Column: Be one of the most valuable citizens

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.

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 05:29 PM

Column: America's most miserable news site is ...

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.

Mar. 30, 2014 @ 01:31 AM

Column: Details lost in sands of time

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.

Mar. 23, 2014 @ 05:11 PM

Column: Spring is springing up

Yes, spring has finally, and with it comes a forecast of possible snow this week. Who said life was fair?

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 05:10 PM

Column: In this case, I do care

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.

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 04:48 AM

Column: North reminds me why I love South

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?”

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 01:44 AM

Column: Election season hits the letters page

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.

Mar. 02, 2014 @ 01:41 AM

Column: A great day in Caldwell County

This past Tuesday really was a great day to do business in Caldwell County.

The Caldwell County Economic Development Commission hosted its annual celebration, and like last year there was a great deal to celebrate. Seventeen companies, or the Class of 2013, were honored for their growth and expansion in 2013, with millions and millions of dollars invested in the county and hundreds of new employees added.

Mar. 03, 2014 @ 11:04 AM

Column: What it was wasn't Indiana

Now just a cotton-pickin’ minute here.

Do you mean to tell me that someone is trying to move Mayberry out of North Carolina to some spot way up North?

Uh-uh, naw sir, that won’t do. That won’t do ay-tall.

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 08:35 AM

Column: What color is the sky in your world?

I’m much less worried about an endless academic study of newsroom behavior (which, believe me, is more seat-of-the-pants than anyone on the right or left would like to believe) than I am the complete separation between the reality I live in and the one that some others live in.

Feb. 24, 2014 @ 08:34 AM

Column: Coal ash spill should bother us all

Like many other North Carolinians concerned about our environment, I have been watching the news of the Dan River with great interest.

Environmental tourism is a large contributor to the economic vitality of our state, whether it’s the mountains, the beaches or our many winding rivers. People choose to visit here and live here because of the beauty of our state, and all of our companies need to be outstanding stewards and protect our resources.

Feb. 07, 2014 @ 03:30 PM

Column: Time for this guest to leave

Winter has worn out its welcome.

The brief spell of spring-like weather at the beginning of last week drove home that my body is ready for winter to be over. A couple of days after the high temperature peaked in the 60s, we had high temperatures in the 40s and lows in 20s. In January that would have felt positively temperate. Not now.

Feb. 03, 2014 @ 04:15 PM

Column: News is whatever people want to talk about

“The paper is mainly full of bad news.”

A reader, or maybe by now it’s more accurate to call her a former reader, included that in a letter this week. News, as defined by what most news organizations write about, was at the very bottom of the list of things she wants in a newspaper.

It’s a complaint that editors have heard at times literally for decades. It’s not true, though.

Jan. 25, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

Column: Like the Terminator, the cookies are back

The Girl Scouts frown on selling cookies in front of liquor stores, tattoo parlors, pawn shops and Hooters.

Or so I’m told by a friend with a daughter in the Girl Scouts.

If at least one of those places would take up selling groceries, I’d stand a decent chance of achieving my goal of entirely avoiding Thin Mints.

Jan. 19, 2014 @ 01:31 AM

Column: The year has sped past

The past year has been a whirlwind.

On Jan. 20 last year, I moved into a garage apartment in Oak Hill. The next day I started work at the News-Topic.

Now I’m a homeowner in Lenoir, and I have been working here four months longer than I did when this place gave me my first reporting job in 1987-88. It doesn’t feel like it has been a full year.

Jan. 12, 2014 @ 01:29 AM

Column: How cold was it?

You can go to our Facebook page and share some of your favorite winter stories. I’ll share a few of mine today.