ROSES to Alice Schmidt, Shalane Flanagan and Blake Russell, former UNC athletes who have run their way into the Summer Olympic Games.Schmidt finished second in the 800 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., to earn a spot on the U.S. team going to Beijing. Flanagan will compete in the 10,000 meters, and Russell will run the marathon.Schmidt, who won two NCAA 800 titles and was a four-time All-America at UNC, has a chance to leave a better legacy than one of her former heroes, Carolina sprinter and basketball player Marion Jones, who won five medals, three of them gold at the 2000 Olympics. When Schmidt was a teenager being recruited by UNC, she prized Jones' autograph and had a photograph of herself and Jones on her fridge. Jones, of course, subsequently suffered a steep fall from grace when it was revealed that she had used performance-enhancing drugs. She's serving a six-month prison sentence for lying to federal authorities about her drug use. As Schmidt acknowledged, the Carolina contingent heading to Beijing may or may not come back with hardware. She knows, she said, that the most important thing is being able to hold your head up and know that, win or lose, you did things the right way.
ROSES to the Carrboro police officer who saved two newborn puppies from a grim fate during Saturday's monsoon.Officer G. Mayfield responded to a call on Broad Street and found two puppies -- so young their eyes weren't open -- lying in the mud. One was in a rising puddle, too weak to lift its head above water. Where was mom? Nearby, but she was tied to a tree and had gotten her tether wrapped around the trunk. She couldn't reach her pups. Mayfield rescued the little ones, and Emergency Animal Rescue Services took custody of all three.A humane act, certainly. Also one certain to be noted by the grassroots group pushing Orange County to adopt measures that would ban or limit the tethering of dogs.
ROSES to the town of Chapel Hill, for earning national recognition as a leader in energy efficient transportation practices. Chapel Hill was one of four small cities honored with Outstanding Achievement Awards during the 2008 Mayors' Climate Protection Awards Porgram. The awards go to municipalities that show innovative practices to increase energy efficiency and help curb global warming. Mayor Kevin Foy accepted the honor on behalf of the town. The jewel in Chapel Hill's crown? The fare-free Chapel Hill Transit system, which has helped dramatically boost ridership -- from 3 million riders per year to more than 6.5 million projected this year. With gas prices doing what they're doing, we'd look for even more people to turn to the buses for their commute.
ROSES, along similar lines, to Art Mines and the other citizens who seem to have built momentum behind a proposal to put a train station in Hillsborough.Mines wrote a petition seeking support for a rail station in town. He got some 400 signatures. Amtrak says it's open to the possibility of adding a stop -- four trains on two routes rumble through Hillsborough every day -- and the town is planning to buy land that could be used as a station site.There's a long way to go before a train station in Hillsbrough becomes a reality. But with gas prices sparking an increase in train ridership, the case for a station is likely to only get stronger.