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Firework factory accident 6.29.2007 |

And when it goes horribly wrong...

Haunted Mansion Fireworks |

Halloween-y but an awesome fireworks display.

Happy Fourth! |

How Stuff Works! Fireworks - HowStuffWorks.com is a geek-fest to begin with but if you're one of those people who tore their Etch-a-Sketch all to hell to see how it worked, you'll fall in love with this fount of information.

The first fireworks were actually green bamboo that were thrown into fires to scare spirits away in ancient China, called "pas chuk."

Static electricity in synthetic clothing can ignite fireworks. Those who make fireworks wear cotton all the way down to their underwear.

Wagon Wheel -- Old Crow Medicine Show 6.28.2007 |

A great Carolina song with a classic sound. And if you hear this in any bar in Shelby, expect everyone to sing along.

Storms: All you ever wanted to know and then some... 6.26.2007 |

National Weather Service 7 day forecast -Not only is this a great Web site to get weather information from (no ads, very localized information) it has a geek factor unrivaled. Under the "Additional Forecasts & Information" click "Forecast Discussion." It's not exactly Vitale's color commentary, but if you're interested in the blow-by-blow of severe weather, it's kind of cool. And when severe weather isn't rolling though, NOAA and NWS both have a lot of content to browse through on each of their homepages.

Here's what the area looked like at 4 on Tuesday...

Storm Prediction Center - Another good bit of storm goodness...here you can see national trends.

Coast Guard Storm Center - In a boat? No Jonah to throw overboard? Take a few tips from the guys that KNOW weather and water the Coast Guard. (More about hurricanes and the high seas but still, good stuff to know.)

American Red Cross - A good resource that covers a lot of basic safety tips for being around severe weather.

Disaster Kits - Here's what you need in your home, workplace or car. Trust me, if you have this stuff on hand, you'll end up being someone's hero.

StormChaser's Code - If you're intrepid (or as my grandmother insists, stupid) enough to chase after these storms, this is a code to live by.

Weather on the Radio...on your computer... - Live streaming audio of NOAA's weather information.

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House fire... 6.24.2007 |

House on Barto Place is a loss after the second wave of severe weather rolled through the area. Lightining is a possible cause of the fire. Everyone got out of the house safe.

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What I'm up to... 6.23.2007 |

What an itch...
With the help of Emily Killian's graphics know-how, I'm putting together a package about poison oak and ivy. I've never been terribly allergic to it, but when a quick poll around the newsroom revealed that most of my college-educated, knowledgeable colleagues didn't even know what the two plants looked like, I thought it might be a good idea to give everyone a refresher course.

Robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul...
A Medicaid relief proposal is floating around the General Assembly. SB 1484 proposes to take all sales tax revenues from incorporated municipalities across the state -- Shelby, Boiling Springs, Forest City, etc. around here -- and give that money to the counties the cities and towns are in.
In the League of Municipalities Legislative Bulletin (read in full here) has the following to say about SB 1484:

Senate Majority Leader and SB 1484 sponsor Tony Rand was quoted in the Fayetteville Observer as indicating that municipalities could withstand the freeze on a significant portion of their sales tax revenues. He was quoted as follows: “Counties have to build schools, so we’re just not costing the cities anything. We’re keeping the cities where they are, but they don’t have to build jails and schools.”

We certainly support Medicaid relief as a part of an infrastructure funding package that will benefit counties, but cities must not be left by the wayside. Cities and towns also provide vital services to growing populations and have tremendous funding needs for building and maintaining municipal streets (and sometimes state system roads), water and sewer systems, storm water systems, and other infrastructure. They also provide police and fire protection for a large portion of the populace in the state.

What does our senator, Walter Dalton, and area elected officials have to say about this plan?

That's it for now...

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6.13.2007 |

Fire at house on Main Street in Lattimore.

Conan and Walker...you cannot go wrong... 6.11.2007 |

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Balloons? Sorry. 6.08.2007 |

Well-wishers at Burns HighSchool were told they couldn't bring helium balloons into the ceremony. The popping of a balloon in a crowded stadium could startle people already on edge because of recent threats.

A few notes... 6.05.2007 |

State writing test scores
  • Area schools are right at or a little above state average when it comes to the scores this year. Fourth-grade scores are down all over, seventh grade stayed pretty static as did tenth graders. The real standout is Kings Mountain High which saw a 20 percent increase in proficiency on the writing test. More in The Star later this week...

Uniform Fittings at Shelby Middle

  • Educational Outfitters will be at SMS Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help size students for their uniforms. The kids seem surprisingly upbeat about the whole ordeal. For all the possibly nay-saying, everything seems to be going smoothly... the real test will be the first day of school.


  • Graduation is nigh upon us and let me tell you... it may be a hassle to attend one graduation ceremony. The heat, the crowd...not always pleasant. I'm responsible for covering five graduation ceremonies. I'm proud of all the graduates but if I'm running around high school campuses looking a little sour, you'll have to forgive me.

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One jumpsuit away from being part of the air crew... |

Hospital staff and air crew tour the helicopter on CRMC's helipad.

The air crew was kind enough to let me try out the pilot's seat and helmet (which I actually tried to put on backwards first.) If I look a little excited, it's not a trick of the camera. You can't really tell from this picture but I would have been a lot more comfortable had I been about 4 inches shorter. Also, it's frightening how many dial and such are right in front of you... there's a lot of exposed wiring, too.

MedCenter Air by the numbers and some Dos and Don'ts |

By the numbers…
It takes 10 minutes for the helicopter to warm-up.
It’s an 8-minute flight from Morganton where the helicopter is housed.
Some pilots are nearing the 10,000-hour mark for flight time.
The MedCenter Air has 5 mechanics of staff — all former Marines.
The MedCenter Air averages 140 flights a month.
10 minutes is the goal for the helicopter to land, load and take off when transporting patients.

...wait until the pilot signals you with a thumbs-up signal before approaching the helicopter.
...just push the button on your phone that will dial up a communications specialist with MedCenter Air.
...remember that the pilots of these helicopters have at least 3,000 hours of flight experience and they know what they’re doing.

...forget that those rotors are going very, very fast (the top goes about 364 rpm and the back rotor hits about 1884 rpm) and if you’re not paying attention it’s easy to get too close.
(Remember that ER episode where Dr. Ramona got his arm cut off??)
...forget to strap down everything as if a hurricane was coming. When it’s landing at full throttle the helicopter can put out winds of 130 mph (which is the top speed of a category 3 hurricane.)
...be on the helipad if you aren’t trained staff and helping transport a patient. The helipad is a tempting place to hangout -- great views, nice sun and no one to bother you. All well and good until you're in the way of a very loud chopper and a very angry pilot.

Danger...this rotor can "Salad Shooter" you... |

A flying Ford Windstar |

This could save your life. When you think of these helicopters, you may imagine they are large and open inside. Truth is, the inside of this thing is more like the inside of a mini-van. With all the equipment to keep a patient alive, there is very little room for the patient.


Charlotte Thomas with MedCenterAir explains what paperwork will be needed to transport patients.

Medevac 101... 6.04.2007 |

Tomorrow at 11 a.m., I will be learning about Cleveland Regional Medical Center's helicopter. Along with hospital staff, I will be going through a classroom presentation, tour of the chopper and a safety check-off. Basically, I'll learn how to act around a helicopter.

And hey...God forbid, but if someone's life depends on me knowing how to remove them from a Medevac helicopter -- I'm set and a life is saved.

Look for video, updated blogs and pictures...