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Columns

  • Remembering N.C.'s most determined journalist

    A salute with a cramped, arthritis-ridden writing hand for the 150th anniversary of the first publication from the man the N.C. Press Association calls the state’s most determined journalist, John McLean Harrington.

    I stumbled upon the story of this remarkable writer, reporter, editor and publisher while perusing the association’s Web site and learned his unique story.

    According to a story Michael Ray Smith, Harrington (1839-1887) produced 299 newspapers in his lifetime, and get this—all by hand.

  • The Civil War years at Ocean Isle Beach (1860 to 1865)

    Ocean Isle Beach saw a good deal of Civil War naval action between blockade-runners of the Confederacy and gunboats of the Union Navy.

    Confederate solders were stationed along Ocean Isle Beach to protect blockade-runners using Tubbs Inlet or Shallotte Inlet. If a blockade-runner had to be beached to avoid capture, the ship’s crew would frantically unload cargo while the land soldiers held off Union gunboats.

    North Carolina provided more troops to the Confederacy than any other state, and many of these soldiers came from Brunswick County.

  • You got to have heart to find out what will make you a successful person

    In the 1960s, a leading sports commentator spoke these piercing words about the 26-mile marathon race.

    He said, “There are many things that can break the body, a tragic wreck, a prolonged illness, a natural disaster. But the marathon breaks the heart.”

    Courage is synonymous with the heart because the heart is the center of life. The Bible says it is from the heart that precedes all thoughts of envy and strife. Negative and positive thoughts originate in the heart.

  • Weighing the facts about the Republican vice-presidential candidate

    A woman? From Alaska? But who is she? What has she done? What about Mitt?

    These were the thoughts swirling around my head Friday when Sen. John McCain announced his running mate for his presidential bid, a woman, from Alaska, who was clearly not Mitt Romney.

    After my initial reaction, which wasn’t exactly elation, I took a deep breath and switched out of voter mode and dove back into reporter mode.

    It was time to find out who this woman from Alaska was and, more importantly, what she stands for. That’s what we do, after all.

  • Mentoring is an essential process for democratic nations

    Movie celebrities and sports champions come and go, but we long remember our teachers and mentors because they reached into our lives and made a lasting difference.

    Since 2000, I have been a mentor for police officers in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq—cultures much different than ours. I will share some important principles I have learned along the way.

    Setting the stage

    My work as an International Police Officer with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) began in the fall of 2001, just as Ramadan was under way for adults in the Albanian Muslim population.

  • Journalism integrity is worth its weight in gold

    Here it comes again.

    This time, I was eating lunch, minding my own business and trying to complete the word jumble when I couldn’t help but overhear a nearby group of lunch buddies utter the words that make most journalists’ skin crawl: “The media is just so negative about everything.”

  • Lessons from the end of a paddle left lasting impressions

    My teacher made it very clear. She was leaving the room. We were to work on our assignments and should not speak a word while she was gone.

    Knowing my penchant for jabbering—reflected in the “Stacey talks too much” that often appeared on my grade-school report cards—my teacher looked right at me.

    “Don’t talk,” she said as she headed out the door.

    I tried hard to do my work, but with the teacher gone, the impulse to talk was much bigger than my third-grade body could contain.

  • Olympic victories unite the world, give us something to cheer about

    The Olympic Games provide a brief respite from all of the turmoil going on in the world around us.

    It’s an opportunity once every four years to focus on the truly great accomplishments of our own, and others’ countrymen and women.

    It’s a time when the political conversations (save the Edwards/Hunter drama) cease for a few weeks, and we focus on what is great about this world instead of what’s not.

  • Being a mom is a tough, but fun, rewarding job

    The dump truck rolls along the bumpy ground, spilling some of its sandy load. The driver toots the horn. I study the truck’s unique paint job—bright green cab with orange around the front fenders, and a black bumper.

    Suddenly the truck goes a little off course and crashes into my beach chair.

    “Whaaaaaa,” my son cried. “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma,” he said, gesturing toward his truck.

    “OK, here you go baby,” I said as I set the truck beside him.

  • Impaired driving invites your sudden death or worse

    Among the worst traffic accidents I investigated early in my police career was a tragedy that came my way one quiet afternoon.

    Unfortunately, the conditions that prompted it are duplicated daily right here in Brunswick County, short distances from my home.

    As I turned my police car into my neighborhood one quiet Sunday afternoon, the watch commander’s voice came over the radio assigning me to what was reported to be a routine traffic accident investigation in an intersection near my home.