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Official gets boot for going country

Country singer Randy Parton has plans to turn Roanoke Rapids into an entertainment hub next year. Dolly’s brother is working on a project near Interstate 95 that includes a theater, stores, hotels, a convention center and aquarium in a town where the entertainment options don’t get much glitzier than CJ’s Bingo and Roanoke.

A lot of hot air

As it rises from the dewy earth at dawn, a hot-air balloon slips the bonds of science to become poetry. But first, in a birth that melds art, craftsmanship and technology, it must rise from fiber, fabric and wood on a factory floor. That’s the role of FireFly Balloons Inc. in Statesville.

High gasoline prices don't unravel travel's big year

From the coast to the mountains, North Carolina tourist attractions reported a strong 2005, despite a gasoline shortage that curtailed some travel Labor Day weekend and higher prices at the pump, which made travel more expensive.

Opening up rivers really floats his boat

Mark Singleton is the first to admit that he’s become “an office stiff.” Shuffling papers and sitting at a desk might draw no such self-deprecation from many other 49-year-olds.

Sky-high land prices could derail Tweetsie

The story sounds familiar: Farmers find mailboxes stuffed with notices from banks and other financial institutions. But for about 70,000 tobacco growers and allotment holders, the letters aren’t duns. They’re from businesses wanting a piece of the $3.8 billion that Tar Heel farmers will start getting this month as part of the federal allotment buyout.

If business is good, he loses his pants

Bar-S-Ranch is not your average country club, but it has the bare essentials. Play the nine-hole golf course or pingpong, go for a swim, fish in the 7-acre stocked lake, roam the nature trails on its 400 acres 10 miles west of Reidsville. Then get dressed and go home.

School rule will make late summer less of a bummer

Anybody who says it’s easy to be a kid these days isn’t paying attention. Sure, kids a century ago were more likely to spend summers working on family farms tending crops and animals — often under a blazing sun. But kids in the 21st century have a summertime duty to the economy, too.