Fayetteville: From the display to the reporting and writing, the Observer does an excellent job examining the state child welfare system. And its report raises disturbing questions and tragic answers. “Fayetteville Observer investigation found more than 120 children have died in the state within a year of their parents or caregivers being referred to a DSS agency. Some of those deaths, which go back nearly a decade, were from undetermined causes or accidents. But 31 of the children were killed — beaten to death, shot, drowned, smothered or poisoned by drugs…Through public records and interviews over several months, the Observer found dozens of examples across North Carolina where children connected to DSS died because social workers failed to fully investigate parents or properly assess safety risks.”
Yes, those are the names of the dead children on the front page.
Raleigh: It’s a surprise to see Barbara Stager on the front page. Jerry Bledsoe and my paper wrote in-depth about her years ago. She’s a convicted murderer, but she’s having lunch outside of prison, which upsets some, including her victim’s first wife. It’s a compelling story all the way around, well-told by the N&O.
Raleigh: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. The N&O looks at the cuts in the state Department of Environmental Quality. Frightening for those of us who appreciate clean air and clean water. “Dozens of environmental protection jobs have disappeared, in specialties ranging from the coast to rivers and air pollution. And a months-long backlog of paperwork mean more companies are able to operate under outdated permits, without recent oversight. The cuts have led to real consequences, said Grady McCallie, policy director for the environmental group N.C. Conservation Network, including a weakened ability for the state to respond to issues like the pollution in the Cape Fear River that came to light this summer.”
Raleigh: (Yes, a three-fer for the N&O; a first here at the Sampler.) A fun piece about a collector of Earl Scruggs-related memorabilia in Durham. “It’s not just somebody’s collection,” said Barry Poss, founder of Sugar Hill Records, the formerly Durham-based bluegrass label. “What he has on display is a man’s lifetime passion. His showroom is the Louvre of traditional bluegrass, and as docent, he lives and breathes everything in there. It’s spectacular.”
Morganton: The News Herald, to its credit, writes about a survey that finds its area is last in the nation when it comes to exercise. Last. It doesn’t actually examine why that is, unfortunately.