Friday, December 10, 2010

Home for the Holidays

During this time of year, we enjoy spending time with family over the holidays. In fact, when most of us think of Christmas, we think of family togetherness.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is the old time favorite "I'll be home for Christmas." That has even more meaning to me as I have moved away from my family, and about the only time of year I can see them is during Christmas.
But for so many families around the U.S., they will not have every member of their family home for the holidays. For those who have a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, brother or sister serving in the military, Christmas will not be the same this year if their family member is serving overseas.
As a way to bring families a little closer this year, the SNAP has been given those family members still here at home the opportunity to write a Christmas greeting to their loved ones who cannot be home. The greetings will be published in Sunday's edition of the SNAP for all to see, so be sure to pick up your copy.
And don't miss one Marine's account of what it was like to serve in the military as a female nearly 50 years ago.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Big decision in water quality case

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) has decided to revoke APGI's 401 Water Quality Certificate on the grounds that APGI withheld information in the application for the certificate.
The Division of Water Quality, which is the division responsible for the decision, expressed that they were surprised to discover the missing information, though County officials believed from the start that APGI was being untruthful. APGI, however, is surprised by the state's decision and plans to contest it.
For more details, check out Thursday's SNAP.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fun times to be had by all

Be sure not to miss out this week on all the fun events going on in Oakboro. This is the 52nd annual Oakboro 4th of July festival, and so many things are planned for the up coming days.
Today (Tuesday), the Little Miss Fourth of July pageant will be taking place at 6 p.m. on the Union Power Stage behind the Oakboro Fire and Rescue department. Today is also the first day the rides on the midway will open to the public; also at 6 p.m.
Tomorrow, the rides will again open at 6 p.m., but the highlight of the evening will be the talent show at 8 p.m. This is a newer event to the festival, but it has become a hit in recent years, so be sure to check it out.
Thursday begins the first night a live entertainment when SuperGlide will be taking to the stage at 8 p.m. Prior to the free concert, though, area fire departments will be going head to head in a three-event competition at 6 p.m. This event has proven to be a success in recent years and everyone- from the participants to the spectators- seem to have a good time.
The rides on the midway will also be open at 6 p.m.
On Friday, Atlantic Groove will be performing at 8 p.m., and the rides open at 6 p.m.
Saturday is the culmination of a year's worth of planning as the parade, fire queen pageant and fireworks will all be held then. The parade, with Paul Schadt as the grand marshal, will begin at 9 a.m., and the pageant will follow at 12 p.m. Big Sam will perform at 8 p.m. and the festival will wrap-up with the fireworks at 11:30 p.m.
The rides on the midway will first open at 10 a.m., will close for a short break at 2 p.m., and will re-open at 5 p.m.
Come out a be a part of what has become a tradition for so many. You're sure to have fun!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Eye Opening Experience

The following is a repost of a blog from Jan. 24. 2010:

I've got to be honest. I was not at all prepared for what I experienced last Wednesday when I took part in the poverty simulation at First Presbyterian Church in Albemarle. After first arriving, I and everyone else who were participating were divided into groups of varying sizes. Each group was given a folder containing all the information we would need for the simulation, but there was one catch. We couldn't open it yet. It wasn’t until everyone had been assigned to a group and Laura Marett, who was directing the simulation, gave the go ahead that we were able to open the folders. Each folder contained an information sheet that explained that the group we were assigned to would be our family unit for the remainder of the simulation. And each family unit was a varied as possible. Some were single parent families with school age children, while others were families with both parents. There was even a single person family that consisted of an elderly woman living on social security. The common denominator in the entire program, though, was that each family was living at or below the poverty level. The goal of the simulation was for each family to live through a month and experience paying bills, buying food and clothing, and taking care of other expenses based on the low income the family made. In my family group, there were five of us; a father- that was me, Ben Boling; a mother, Betty Boling; and three children. All three children were school age, though the oldest, a girl, was eight months pregnant. Betty worked 40 hours a week making $9 an hour while Ben was laid off and his unemployment had run out. The family had $200 in savings but they had more money going out than what was coming in. Once everyone was given a role and understood their situations, the simulation began. The family had to survive one month, but take it one week at a time. Each week lasted 15 minutes, and the goal was to get everything accomplished for that week within those 15 minutes. In our family, since Betty had a job, she went to work, while Ben (that's me) had to run around "town" paying bills and trying to find another source of income. The first trip I made was to the pawn shop to try to get money for a t.v. and a stereo that were not essential items. Next, I went to the Department of Social Services to try to get food stamps, but it was the second week into the month before we were able to buy food for the family. Since we owed about $500 to the bank, Betty decided to cash her pay check at the check cashing location instead of the bank, but she was ripped off when the cashier short changed her by about $20. To help try to make ends meet, we withdrew our entire savings, but still barely squeaked by. It was the third week of the simulation before we could pay our rent and we were facing eviction. When all was said and done, though, we were able to pay all the bills, but we were left with only $100 to our name. We were only able to get food two of the four weeks, and the children were not able to pay for some of their school supplies. If the simulation were to have kept going, Ben would have had to find a job because the $100 that was left over would not have been able to stretch past another week. Each family unit, though, faced many of the same struggles that mine did, but it was interesting to see how many of the groups pulled together to make their situation work. I don’t think there was a single family that was “evicted” from their home, though there were many, like my family, who waited until the last minute to pay the rent. One of the biggest things I took from the program, though, was that, though this was fictional to my personal situation, there are many out there who do face similar scenarios. And to them, it’s not a game. To them, they have to fight from paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet. I don’t know how I, personally, would be able to handle it if I were placed in that kind of real situation, and it makes me want to try to do more to help others that do face it on an every day basis.

Overcoming Fear with Knowledge

The following is a repost of a blog from Dec. 14, 2009:

Until a few weeks ago, I never thought I'd be one to want to own a handgun. I mean, I was on the Marine Corps JROTC rifle team in high school, but it was just that- a RIFLE team. We shot .22s. And to me, a rifle always seemed a little safer. It is larger and harder to move around quickly, so in my mind, it would be more difficult to (accidentally) point it in the wrong direction. Handguns always seemed, to me, to be less safe. They are smaller, can fit in one hand and can quickly be turned on someone. The thought of that just scared me. With all that in mine, I was a little leery when I agreed to take a concealed handgun course. Kent Myers, captain of the patrol division with the Sheriff's Office, had contacted the SNAP to see if someone would like to take the course and write an article about it. I was asked to take on the assignment, and I, maybe just a little reluctantly, agreed. I really was getting a little worried about the class that morning when I was getting ready to leave the house. Thoughts like- “What if I screw up and point it the wrong direction and it goes off accidentally?” “What if I forget something that was mentioned in the class and something goes seriously wrong?” There were a lot of thoughts going through my head as I drove towards Albemarle, the least of which was that it was raining and chilly and I'd be outside in a few short hours shooting in the rain. The class was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m., so I arrived at the Marvin Smith Driving School at about 7:45 a.m. The nerves still weren't going away, though. I kept thinking about the end of the class and when we would have to shoot a real gun. The class got started though, and my nerves began to calm down. Capt. Myers made sure that we all fully understood what carrying concealed meant. We learned the ins and outs of when- and where- you can carry a concealed handgun, and when deadly force can be used. See, I didn't know that you can possibly be charged with manslaughter if your trying to defend yourself but you started the confrontation. Some of the other scenarios in which can't use a deadly force like to stop simple assault and when someone uses threats and violent language. What I found to be interesting, though, was that you can use deadly force to stop an intruder from entering your home, but deadly force to prevent entry does not automatically allow deadly force against anyone who is already unlawfully inside the home- only if the intruder is imminently threatening death. We also learned about the parts and types of a handgun, as well as how to hold one. Capt. Myers also demonstrated for everyone (and had them practice) how to present the handgun and how to aim it. All of this was done before we ever set foot on the shooting range. Within a few hours of sitting in the class, I was really beginning to enjoy it. I don't think I'll ever forget one of the comments Capt. Myers made, which kind of touched on how I had been feeling. He mentioned about someone who had said they didn't like handguns because they scared them. Capt. Myers said that fear wasn't necessary. He said that you shouldn't fear a gun of any kind. You need to learn about them- learn how they should be used and what makes them tick. And I guess that makes sense. Knowledge is a very powerful weapon in and of itself. The more you know about something, the more you stand to gain. So when it came time to actually fire the handgun, I was ready. Though I didn't have a handgun of my own, Capt. Myers let me and a few others in the class use some of his handguns for the qualifying rounds. Since we had to “take turns,” I got to watch some of the others, and it was interesting to see. But man, when it came time to fire the handgun myself, I was not at all prepared for the recoil from the gun, but after a few rounds, I was really enjoying myself. I can't say now, after taking the class, that I will going out and get a handgun, but I do have a new appreciation for them. And I would definitely recommend the course to anyone interested in buying a handgun, or even if you're like me and just a little scared of them. It is amazing what you learn.

Dancing the Night Away

The following is a repost of blog from Aug. 20, 2009:

I did something recently that I never thought I’d do. I took dance lessons. But not just any kind of dance- it was ballroom dancing. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but just never thought I would. And I enjoyed every minute of it, too. My husband came with me, and we started by meeting Ryan Knight, who owns Let’s Dance! Carolinas, LLC and is an instructor, as well as to Samantha Parker, who is a fellow dance instructor. We then got to choose which style of ballroom dance we wanted to learn. Ryan first asked what kind of music we like to get a feel of what kind of dance we might prefer. Being as that David, my husband, loves Country music, the first dance we learned was the Texas Two-Step. Ryan started by explaining the counts for the dance, and then demonstrated for us what it was supposed to look like. Then it was our turn to try. And try we did. We started off okay, but then Ryan added steps to teach us how to turn while dancing. This was quite amusing as David and I tried to count steps while remembering which way to turn, but after a few tries we were able to successfully make the turn. By now, the class had been going on for about 20-25 minutes. I never thought it would take such a short time to learn how to dance. I thought we’d learn the fundamentals and review them during the first class and that we wouldn’t actually start dancing until at least the second class. But Ryan said, before we started, that he could have anyone dancing within 10 minutes- and he was right. After a few more successful attempts of turning, we put our steps to music. Though it was very basic (being as that it was only our first class), it felt good to be dancing to music with something other than the slow dance you do in high school. When the music stopped, it was time to move on to the second dance we were going to learn- East Coast Swing. This dance was much simpler to learn. Even the turns came easier. Within just a few short minutes, we were dancing our second dance to music. By the end of the lesson, we had learned two dances in just 45 minutes. And the good part was, our class was scheduled right before the 8 p.m. practice session, so we were able to review the steps we learned while watching other couples who had learned other dance styles. This is definitely an experience that I would like to try again, and with the lessons located at the Academy of Dance studio in Locust, it is feasible for me and anyone around the area to do.

A Community of Support

The following is a repost of a blog from June 3, 2009:

Often times, people think of a community as the area where they live, but Webster defines a community as “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” So a community is the people, not the location. It is the people who coexist with one another and interact on an everyday basis. It is not the place where the interaction occurs. But what makes a good community? Shared values and reaching common goals while still incorporating diversity. People can live together and not be a community if they do not share the same interests and values. But there is no need for clones, either. Everyone, and every family, is different, but they need to be working towards the same, common goal. And what makes a good community better? The answer- communication. There is no progress without communication. And this is not only true on the neighbor to neighbor level. It also needs to be true for the government to public level. Residents need to feel comfortable bringing concerns to their local governing boards, but that also need to feel like their leaders are listening and share the same concerns. We hear a lot about shopping locally, which helps to support local businesses- large and small alike. This in turn helps the local economy. But we need to show the same kind of support for our local governments. Our towns and county government work hard to support the areas in which they live. We need to show them that they have our support. No, this is done by paying taxes. Yes, paying taxes helps to support the functions of the towns, but it does not support the actions of our leaders. They need to see that people care about the work they do. Each town within the county, as well as our county leaders, meet on a monthly basis. During these meetings, decisions are made that effect our daily lives. Yes, there are concerns that residents have that are not always discussed during these meetings, and it is necessary for these residents to voice their concerns. Often times one of the best places to do that is at these meetings. But that need not be the only reason for attending a meeting. As a newspaper, it is our job to inform the public of what is taking place in the area, and we pride ourselves on being local- on presenting the people of the community with the topics that most influence their lives. But that is not to say that you need not attend the meeting even though we will present the information to you. One reporter writing what occurs does not take the place of a community of people showing their support. So I encourage everyone to check with their local town or city halls and find out when the meetings take place. Then attend the meetings. Show your support. You’ll be amazed at how much of an impact you can have on your local leaders and how much you’ll learn.