Laurels to a positive Kiwanis project to remember Zahra

Laurels to four Kiwanis Clubs in Catawba County and the city of Hickory, which are partnering to create a special playground to honor the life of Zahra Baker.
The project aims to create a play space suitable for children with disabilities, who are like the 10-year-child who used a prosthetic leg and hearing aides until she died and was dismembered in 2010.
The Western Catawba, Newton, Hickory and Golden K Kiwanis Clubs plan to raise at least $85,000 to build a playground that features wheelchair access and special surface materials. The new equipment will add new amenities to the existing Kiwanis Park on Sixth Street Southeast off Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard.
Known for its commitment to children and their well-being, this Kiwanis Club project will create a park that welcomes both children with special needs and their able-bodied peers.
As many in our community continue to work to raise awareness of child abuse and other difficult topics in the wake of Zahra’s death, this is a great way for citizens to commemorate her life and help improve the lives of those who knew her challenges.
To contribute to the Kiwanis Playground Fund for Zahra, send donations to P.O. Box 9572, Hickory, N.C. 28603.

Laurels to the 44 men who have served the United States as president.
On Monday, the nation will observe President’s Day, a federal holiday that was originally celebrated to commemorate the birth of our first president, George Washington. Since that first celebration on Feb. 22, 1796, the holiday has come to be a time to recognize the service of other presidents — first, President Abraham Lincoln and now all of the men who have been Commander-in-Chief.
Whether you agree with the politics or the accomplishments, all of these people have been the elected leaders of the United States, and as such, they deserve a salute for their service.
Inside today’s edition, The Observer News Enterprise and businesses in Catawba County celebrate the 44 U.S. presidents with biographical sketches of each man. From George Washington and North Carolina’s own presidential sons — James Polk and Andrew Johnson — all the way to modern-day leaders like incumbent President Barack Obama, these profiles offer facts about the people who helped shape our nation. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read these presidential profiles and reflect on the service of these 44 leaders.

Laurels to Catawba Valley Community College, which successfully explored a cutting-edge way to bring new uses to a building that exemplifies the institution’s long history of innovation.
Forty years ago, CVCC’s furniture and textile technology center explored cutting-edge techniques in manufacturing industries that were integral to the county’s economy. Today, as students gain experience and education in new career opportunities emerging in the county, this same facility will continue to serve the college as its new student center. Meanwhile, as the building was converted from its original use into one that offers many new opportunities, many of the materials used to craft the student center were recycled from the 40-year-old building. As a result the college saved about $1 million. The building is even more environmentally friendly, with low-flow water fixtures and a high-efficiency HVAC system.
Plus, as the building is now able to consolidate services delivered to CVCC students — such as career counseling, a bookstore, a food service area and meeting rooms — more space is created for the college’s testing center. As this CVCC service’s space can now expand, so, too does the college’s ability to offer new services, such as GEDs, as well as graduate school admissions tests like the GRE and GMAT.

Darts to another grisly Catawba County death that is indicative of types of problems that continue to exist, hardly checked, in our community and our nation. Regardless of whether Michael Joseph Anderson over-dosed on cold medication — as he claims — suffered from mental illness or a host of other possible problems that drove him to brutally kill and mutilate Stephen Starr, clearly there is something wrong with a society that produces a person who can commit such an atrocity.
In light of this latest innocent death in the county, on top of other recent murders and people routinely killed by drunk drivers, there is plenty of evidence that problems must be explored, and solutions must be conceived. If our state and national leaders spent half as much energy addressing these fatal faults of our society as they spend in partisan bickering, maybe we can find a way to stop these senseless crimes from occurring.