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Roses and thorns 1-29-12




A rose to the good Samaritan who saved a Starkville apartment manager's life Friday afternoon when a fire swept through Summer Chase Apartments on Carver Drive. Property manager and resident Lynda Woods said she wasn't aware of the fire until an unnamed convenience store clerk saw the flames and kicked down her door to rescue her.  


Roses also to Starkville firefighters Aaron Cini, Todd Palmer and Blake Daniels, who went above and beyond the call of duty to save resident Patsy Slayton's 7-year-old miniature pinscher, Elvis. Slayton and the other residents were evacuated from the apartments, but Elvis was trapped in his kennel, and his frantic owner was unable to rescue him.  


Even though the building was engulfed in flames and the rear balcony and roof had collapsed, the three firefighters crawled inside the building, found Elvis and pulled him to safety. Pieces of his plastic kennel had melted into his fur, but he is expected to make a full recovery.  


Though there were no fatalities, the seven residents lost everything they owned. We encourage people to contact the Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services or the Northeast Mississippi Red Cross to see what donations -- monetary or otherwise -- may be needed.  




Roses to the numerous people who give so willingly of their time and expertise to volunteer as instructors for Mississippi University for Women's Life Enrichment Program (LEP). The program began in 2009 with six courses and 24 participants. Now, there are more than 30 courses and nearly 250 people signing up to take everything from estate planning to Japanese culture and nature photography.  


Learning, and the thirst for knowledge, shouldn't end when the mortarboard hits the floor. There is great pleasure -- and benefit -- in playing the role of student from time to time. MUW's latest LEP offerings are available in the daytime, early evening and Saturday mornings. They meet once a week for one to two hours, and for only $35, participants age 18 and older can sign up for as many courses as they wish.  


Take advantage of the gift these volunteers are offering to our community. Try something different. Study something completely out of your genre of expertise. Maybe you'll never learn to write more than your name in calligraphy. Maybe you'll realize that you'd rather read books than toil in your garret trying to write one. But maybe you'll make a few new friends and discover a brand-new passion. For the cost of one meal in a nice restaurant, you can choose from a literal buffet of subjects and enjoy the benefits for a lifetime. 




Roses to 2011 Columbus High School graduates Rachel Claire Stanback and Shelley Clair Dornan. Stanback and Dornan recently learned that in addition to their regular high school diplomas, they also received International Baccalaureate diplomas.  


The IB diploma program is a rigorous curriculum that has been called "AP on steroids." IB was developed in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1968, and according to the organization's website, one or more IB programs are offered at 3,324 schools in 141 countries to more than 990,000 students.  


Students are not required to enter the program; they do so by their own volition, willingly accepting the time, dedication and discipline the program's academic intensity demands.  


Even after meeting the IB course requirements, there's no guarantee a student will receive the IB diploma. They must also submit essays and other materials that are graded by IB examiners around the world.  


Stanback is a student at Samford University in Birmingham, and Dornan is a student at Mississippi State University. We expect to see more good things from these two young scholars.  




A thorn to prank callers who continue to disrupt the school day by calling in bomb threats to 911. This week, it happened at Columbus High School. Two weeks ago, it was New Hope High School. In September, both New Hope High and Columbus Middle School were evacuated due to bomb threats. In the latter two incidents, three juveniles were arrested. Two were 15-year-olds, and one was 14.  


Not only is this a waste of police and firefighters' time, it's also a felony. Bomb or no bomb, making a bomb threat can carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. And depending on the age of the caller, even a juvenile may be tried as an adult, according to Columbus Police Capt. Fred Shelton. 


We're thankful that once again, Friday's bomb threat proved to be just that -- an idle threat. And we're grateful to the men and women who respond every time there's the possibility of danger. But our police need to be out patrolling our streets. Our firefighters need to be fighting fires. They don't need to be standing in a parking lot, waiting for bomb-sniffing dogs to find nothing so we can all breathe a sigh of relief and they can return to protecting our city from real dangers.



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