Lowe’s donates over $9 million to help keep homes safe and affordable in Charlotte

Lowe’s Home Improvement store is donating $9.25 million in funding, products and gift cards to organizations in Charlotte to keep “homes safe, healthy and affordable” amid the coronavirus crisis.

Lowe’s announced Tuesday it is making the donations in a combination of funding, products and gift cards to nearly 30 local charitable groups and businesses for affordable housing, skilled trades training and technology, the company announced Tuesday.

The Mooresville-based company is extending how it thinks about the word home, company executive vice president of human resources Janice Little said.

Little told the Observer the donations are another step in the company’s efforts to help with community projects. Lowe’s also has an employee volunteer program that has been focused on affordable housing and skilled trades over the last year.

“We really need to make sure that we can support all members of our community,” she said.

Some of the Charlotte hometown projects supported through the donation, according to Lowe’s, include:

? $1.67 million to Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region to support home repair, new home construction and two new apprentices for its apprenticeship program. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, Habitat Charlotte Region has moved 26 families into newly completed homes.

• $1.33 million grant to the city of Charlotte for its Safe Housing Home Rehabilitation Program in the Beatties Ford Road Corridor to help with home repairs. It also helps older residents age in place and low- and moderate-income families be able to stay in their homes.

• $1 million to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation to create the Lowe’s Technology Lab at the new main branch offering technology help and classes.

? $50,000 donation to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Foundation’s Connect for Tech program to help close the connectivity gap for local students during the pandemic.

• $200,000 in gift cards to Charlotte Center City Partners for artists to maintain the Uptown Black Lives Matter and Beatties Ford Strong murals. More than 120 small businesses in South End and Uptown also received gift cards for personal protection and sanitizing supplies and to make repairs to adapt to new opening procedures.

Lowe’s also announced $55 million in grants this summer with the Local Initiatives Support Corp. to support minority-, women-owned and rural small businesses nationwide.

Since July, over 35 small businesses in Charlotte have been awarded more than $725,000 in grants.

Lowe’s has more than 2,200 stores and 300,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Last week, Lowe’s announced $100 million in bonuses for hourly workers on Friday, raising it’s total commitment to workers and communities since the start of the health pandemic in March to $775 million.

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©2020 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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Is Home Depot a Safe Bet During the Pandemic?

With fiscal second-quarter sales growth of 23.4%, it’s safe to say Home Depot (NYSE: HD) has performed quite well during the coronavirus pandemic. As an essential business, the home improvement behemoth was able to keep its doors open to serve the needs of millions of shoppers.



a close up of a newspaper: Is Home Depot a Safe Bet During the Pandemic?


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Is Home Depot a Safe Bet During the Pandemic?

Its stock price has risen 30% so far this year, driven by impressive results from the do-it-yourself (DIY) segment. But for Home Depot to position itself for long-term success, its Pro business is the key.

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Pandemic-fueled growth

From fiscal 2009 through fiscal 2019, Home Depot’s sales increased at a compound annual rate of 5.2%. The company has largely left its store growth unchanged with less than 50 net additions in that 10-year period, but management introduced initiatives like the One Home Depot strategy to boost efficiency within its existing store network. The company has reported positive comparable-sales growth for 10 years running.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic took hold earlier this year, closing down large swathes of the U.S. economy and at the same time creating an advantageous environment for Home Depot. With Americans stuck inside their homes, many chose to prioritize home improvement projects over other leisure and entertainment spending that has not been available in 2020.



a close up of a newspaper: coronavirus headlines sitting on top of 100 dollar bills


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In the quarter ended Aug. 2, the company generated record-breaking sales of $38.1 billion. Supported by government stimulus measures, including deposits of $1,200 made to most Americans’ bank accounts, Home Depot’s DIY segment outpaced its Pro segment in the quarter. The money not spent on dining out and travel instead went toward fixing up the home.

Professional customers

The success with the DIY customer is promising for Home Depot, but its future relies on the Pro segment. In 2017, the company began a multiyear, $11 billion program to bolster its digital offerings and to improve its Pro customer experience. These customers are vital to Home Depot as they provide the retailer an opportunity to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with professional contractors and property developers that lead to repeat business.

The Pro customer usually makes larger and more frequent purchases, and Home Depot has the opportunity to generate more revenue from this relationship over time. The company sees a significant market opportunity with the Pro segment and has built a comprehensive ecosystem to serve its specific needs. This includes inventory management, volume discounts, best-in-class sales teams, and online business solutions. Pro customers currently represent about 45% of the company’s top line.

Although the Pro market has lagged DIY in recent months, revenue did grow double digits year over year in the fiscal second quarter. Property owners were reluctant to undergo major projects during the pandemic since safety was the main focus: Allowing outsiders into the home to complete renovations or other upgrades did not seem prudent.

However, Ted Decker, executive vice president for merchandising, said during the most

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White House doctor says Trump safe to return to public events on Saturday

White House physician Sean Conley said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the vice presidential debate Harris accuses Trump of promoting voter suppression Pence targets Biden over ISIS hostages, brings family of executed aid worker to debate MORE would be able to make a “safe return” to public events on Saturday, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. 

Conley issued a memo Thursday evening stating that Trump had completed his therapy for COVID-19 and that he has responded “extremely well” to treatment overall. The update came just three days after Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he received treatment for 72 hours.

“Since returning home, his physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness. Overall he’s responded extremely well to treatment, without evidence on examination of adverse therapeutic effects,” Conley wrote.

“Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements at that time,” he continued.

Conley also said that, as of Thursday afternoon, Trump’s heart rate was 69 beats per minute, his blood pressure 127/81 mmHg, his respiratory rate 15-17 breaths per minute and his pulse oximetry showed a blood oxygen level of 96-98 percent with room air.

Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus one week ago, and he experienced a high fever and two drops in his oxygen level after his diagnosis.

Trump was given the antiviral medication remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and an experimental antibody cocktail produced by Regeneron in the course of his treatment. He was also given supplemental oxygen twice — once Friday and again on Saturday — according to his medical team.

Trump has been eager to get back to work since returning to the White House Monday evening. He worked from the Oval Office on Wednesday and Thursday despite likely still being infectious, and has filmed videos touting the drugs with which he was treated.

In a video posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday, Trump described the Regeneron cocktail as a “cure.”

Trump indicated in a Fox Business interview Thursday morning that he wants to return to the campaign trail, and Conley’s memo seems to give him the clearance to do so as soon as Saturday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that patients self-isolate for at least 10 days after experiencing symptoms from the coronavirus.

Conley, who has not briefed the press on Trump’s condition since Monday, has been regularly issuing brief updates about his condition.

He has been evasive on specific questions about the president’s condition and illness, including dodging questions about what scans showed about the health of the president’s lungs and the date of Trump’s last negative COVID-19 test.

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Strawberry fest’s haunted house to be scary but safe, official says

Like most things in 2020, the Pasadena Strawberry Festival’s haunted house this year will feature some changes.

“It’s going to be a little different from last year because of COVID,” Murline Staley, the Strawberry Festival’s executive director, said of the fest’s third annual spookfest, A Berry Haunted House, which will be at the festival’s central building, 7902 W. Fairmont Parkway.

“We’re definitely taking a COVID action plan and being safe,” she said. “We’re guaranteed to scare the bejeevers out of you, but we’re also going to have fun. We’re going to have the same square footage, but instead of 13 rooms, this year, we’re going to open it up to seven rooms.”


That’s not counting the entrance area where creatures with eight legs could be greeting you. The spooks at A Berry Haunted House haven’t paid their insect extermination bill in recent months; so be forewarned — arachnids will likely be bountiful.

The event will change in one other way. Last year, the event ran Oct. 25-31. This year, the event will be only on Fridays and Saturdays starting Oct. 16 and ending Halloween.

“Tickets for the haunted house, which will be from 7-11 p.m each night it is scheduled, will be offered for sale by calling the festival at 281-991-9500 or by dropping by the festival offices on Fairmont Parkway once the event opens.

Admission is $5.

“We encourage people to call ahead, therefore the tickets will be ready for them and there won’t be long lines,” Staley said.

One thing visitors won’t have to be scared about is the amount of COVID-related safety measures, she said.

The haunted house will be sanitized each night before opening, hand-sanitizing stations will be located throughout the building and all the curtains that usually separate the scenes will be peeled back to prevent unnecessary touching.

“We’re going to have less actors so each room will have two to three actors. Our volunteers will go through a temperature check and our guests will go through a temperature check,” Staley said.

As for the customers who are ready to brave the spirits, they will be asked to enter only with those in their party and if they prefer, they can be texted while waiting in the car for their turn in line. Face masks and social distancing will be required.

But this is one location where no one should mind wearing a face covering. After all, who wants to be seen screaming in terror when Pennywise the clown shows up at some unexpected moment?

“We’re not going to bunch you up with people they don’t know,” Staley said. “Last year, we had groups of six to eight come through the house. We’re not going to do that now. We’re going to keep it going and flowing.”

All proceeds will go to scholarships for graduating seniors at local high schools.

“Last year, we hit $20,000. I would love to see us duplicate that,” Staley said. “ But we don’t know what to expect because of

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Trump’s Covid-plagued White House proves testing alone can’t keep America safe

President Donald Trump’s White House continues to rack up positive tests, from Hope Hicks to Stephen Miller. On Tuesday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany (and two of her aides) tested positive for SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Despite knowing that she was in close contact with both the president and top adviser Hope Hicks prior to their diagnoses, McEnany not only refused to quarantine, but even continued to give briefings with reporters without a mask.

Her stated reason for this behavior, up until Monday afternoon? She hadn’t tested positive yet.

This behavior highlights a fundamental and dangerous misunderstanding of the point of Covid-19 tests — and their limitations. If we don’t know how to interpret and respond to tests, we risk the kind of disaster now unfolding at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

To be clear, testing is not a prevention strategy. Just like a pregnancy test cannot take the place of birth control, Covid-19 tests should not be seen as substitutes for robust strategies to reduce community transmission. It is part of the public health approach, but not for the reasons people think.

The first and most familiar reason people get tested is to obtain a definitive diagnosis. This type of testing is most often done for individuals with symptoms — people who have a cough, fever, loss of taste or smell, or fatigue. Asymptomatic contacts of a known Covid-19 positive patient may also be tested to rule out infection. This type of testing is usually done with a “PCR” test, which amplifies the virus and which is currently considered the gold standard for testing, although other more rapid forms of molecular tests can also be used. Most tests on the market were approved for this type of “diagnostic” testing, and it has the most robust metrics.

The second reason to test is to monitor the disease on a population level. Individual-level accuracy is less important here. The goal is to detect positive cases before they spread. In this type of testing, we want to test frequently and widely; this is the strategy used by universities, sports teams and workplaces. Many groups are using rapid antigen tests, which are quicker but less accurate, and which have not (for the most part) been proven particularly effective in identifying asymptomatic patients; others are using novel strategies like “wastewater testing” (e.g., testing sewage).

Testing is also used to see if someone has recovered from an infection. For this purpose, an antibody test is used to see if you have mounted an effective immune response; or a repeat PCR test is used to see if you have eliminated the virus from your body. These tests are not completely accurate, though, and should not be used as the sole marker of whether it’s safe to be around other people.

The last main reason we test is to try

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The White House Is Not Safe

But he left a White House that, even though he’s been stricken with a potentially fatal disease, seemed no safer than at any other point in the pandemic. Officials don’t appear to have learned much from the nightmare.

As far as I could tell, the White House’s lone concession to the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes was that a few junior aides working in the suite of offices accessible to the press corps sat at their desks in masks. During my August trip, none of the aides breathing the same air in this cramped warren of offices had seen fit to wear one.

On this day, of all days, a mask would have seemed indispensable. But a senior White House official told the Associated Press this afternoon that masks amount to a “personal choice.” Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, was effectively goaded into wearing one during an impromptu press conference today. Kudlow said he wanted to make sure the press could hear him while he kept his distance, and so he hadn’t worn a mask. When a reporter suggested that he set an example for the nation, he put one on.

When White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spoke with reporters on the north driveway this morning, he didn’t wear one at all. In a seven-minute appearance, the barefaced Meadows efficiently demonstrated so much of what’s gone wrong with the White House’s handling of the pandemic. He opened not by talking about the shattering revelation that the 45th president of the United States is infected, but by touting monthly job numbers that might prove helpful to Trump’s reelection. Meadows spoke vaguely about “protocols in place” to keep everyone healthy. When CNN’s Jim Acosta asked him why he wasn’t wearing a mask, Meadows trotted out the same tired defense that the White House deployed from the start: He gets tested regularly.

But, of course, so does Trump. And yet Trump was inside, sick. “In true fashion,” Meadows said, his boss was probably watching TV and “critiquing the way that I’m answering these questions.”

Inside the building, the atmosphere seemed tense. A former administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to be frank, told me he’s worried that he’s been exposed and plans to get tested. More people at the White House are getting infected, as Meadows predicted this morning they would. Yesterday came news that Trump’s senior adviser Hope Hicks was ill. Today it was a press aide who tested positive, along with a group of journalists.

Unless and until the White House starts taking this pandemic much more seriously, anyone visiting the grounds is at risk. The president has been for months. After my visit in August, I wrote that if I’d torn off my mask and had a coughing fit inside the White House, it didn’t seem like anyone would’ve especially cared. That felt true today too. But by then, it wouldn’t have

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Gardening: Is your garden hose water safe?

You’ve been picking peas, harvesting herbs and watering watermelons all day.

Really? It took you all day to do three simple tasks?

It probably was the 100-degree heat — slows me down too.

Clarence Schmidt

Anyway, you’re dehydrated and need a drink of water. The house is 219 steps away. The garden hose is in your hands. Easy decision?

It could depend on the quality of your hose.

Gardeners want to grow crops as close to toxic-free as possible. Organic seeds, healthy soil, organic fertilizers and avoiding harmful herbicides and pesticides are all essential. However, one important item deserves more attention. Garden hoses.

Better known as agricultural streaming devices (actually, nobody ever called them that), garden hoses were not designed to supply drinking quality water.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Ecology Center (ecocenter.org) tested over 200 garden hoses for water leaching and hazardous metals. “Municipal drinking water held in certain hoses for 48 hours was found to contain phthalates, BPA and lead, none of which were detected in water directly sampled from the tap.”

In June 2016, the center tested 32 garden hoses and their fittings for antimony, bisphenol A (BPA), bromine, cadmium, lead, organotin, phthalates, PVC plastic and tin.

If I had paid better attention in my chemistry class, I could tell you what those words mean. But there was this cute, red-haired girl …

OK, moving on …

For hoses tested for leaching, “municipal drinking water was held in the hoses for 48 hours, then the water was sent to a certified lab. A ‘faucet blank’ sample containing fresh tap water was also collected and tested for comparison.”

According to the center, “PVC hoses often had elevated antimony, bromine, lead, and phthalates. Non-PVC hoses did not have these contaminants.

“The hoses labeled ‘drinking water safe’ were free of significant lead, bromine, antimony and tin. However, 30 percent of them contained potentially hazardous phthalates.”

These chemicals and metals have been linked to birth defects, cancer, diabetes, hormone disruption and infertility, among others. Possibly even cyberchondria (worrying about all the worst possibilities after reading the internet).

Repeated exposure of even low levels may cause health problems, especially to children and pregnant and nursing women.

But it’s not just about safe drinking water for your kids, livestock and pets. What about your vegetables?

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Kansas State University, and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plants absorb very little lead in their stems and leaves. Also, “high levels of phthalates are occasionally found in organically grown vegetables, but phthalates are so common in our environment that it’s hard to prove they are due to the use of a garden hose.”

Always recite the alphabet while washing your vegetables. And hands.

Surprising to me was that half of the PVC hoses tested contained electronic waste (e-waste) vinyl contaminated with toxic chemicals. I’m delighted my old laptop has an afterlife and a future in cloud computing.

Be aware of hoses with the

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House members call on FAA to ‘fully reveal the data’ proving the 737 Max is safe to fly

In their letter, Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), chair of the House Transportation Committee, and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) called on the FAA “to publicly release all documents related to design revisions or evaluations related to the aircraft’s safe return to service.”

Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya was killed on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on March 10, 2019, had made a similar request Wednesday and Dickson said at a news conference that he faced limits in revealing such technical details.

“We’re providing everything we can, within the law. Much of the data, I believe, that’s being asked for is proprietary,” Dickson said Wednesday.

But DeFazio and Larsen pressed the issue again Thursday “in the strongest possible terms.” Both Boeing and the FAA had mistakenly found the flawed flight control feature that led to the crashes “to be compliant” with federal safety standards, according to their letter, “despite the fact that the aircraft was actually unsafe.”

“To assure the flying public that Boeing’s fixes to the MAX have rendered the plane safe to once again carry passengers, the FAA will need to do more than merely certify that the plane is now compliant,” they wrote.

They said Dickson should release, among other documentation, “system safety assessments, related analysis, assumptions about pilot response times and key test data concerning the safety of the aircraft.” They said the FAA “should fully reveal the data any determination to unground the MAX has been based upon.”

In a statement, the FAA declined to say whether it would release the requested data or call on Boeing to release such information itself.

“We will respond directly to the members,” the statement said.

Boeing declined to address whether it supports the release of the information or would agree to waive any claim that the requested documentation may be proprietary.

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Home Improvement: Safe and effective ways to clean up leaves – Salisbury Post

Metro Creative

Removing leaves from the yard is a task that homeowners must perform each fall. Thousands upon thousands of leaves can drop from a single tree. Multiply that by the number of trees on a property, and it’s no surprise the task of leaf cleanup can seem so daunting. Furthermore, not all leaves are shed at the same time, so several cleanup sessions may be necessary before the last leaf is banished from the yard. Just like removing snow, leaf cleanup can be a taxing job if done by hand. For people unaccustomed to exercise, cleaning up leaves can turn into quite a workout.

According to the Discovery Health Calorie Counter, raking leaves for one hour can burn nearly 292 calories. Shoulders and arms will feel the burn. Raking leaves is considered moderate physical activity, similar to brisk walking. Those who find themselves straining or out of breath should take a break, and these tips also make the job safer and easier.

• Wear layers when cleaning up leaves. It may be cool at first, but it’s easy to work up a sweat after raking for awhile. Layers can be peeled off so as not to get overheated or risk hypothermia from sweating in chilly temps.

• Pay attention to your posture while raking. James Weinstein, chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at Dartmouth Medical School, recommends forming a wide base with the feet and holding the rake slightly toward the end of the handle with one hand three-quarters of the way down the handle from the other. Do not twist the spine; move your entire body. Avoid overuse of muscles on one side of the body by switching sides periodically.

• Do not try to rake or blow leaves on windy days. Wind will only make the task that much more difficult, which could lead to overworking oneself.

• Avoid overfilling bags. For those who plan to mulch and bag leaves, remember that compressed leaves can get heavy pretty quickly. Do not over-fill bags, as they can be hard to move or bring to a recycling center. Using a leaf blower to push leaves into piles will reduce the strenuousness of the task, but leaf blowers can be heavy and noisy and gas-powered blowers can produce a considerable amount of exhaust. Raking leaves can be quite a chore. It is important that homeowners take steps to prevent injury while cleaning up leaves in their yards.

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No One Knows How to Remove This 700-Pound Safe from a House. What Would You Try?

From Popular Mechanics

  • A Boston-area man can’t figure out how to open or remove a 700-pound safe that he found hidden away in his new home.

  • If you can figure out how to remove and open it, whatever is inside is your prize.

  • We figure that a pulley system is in order, so don’t bother with the dolly.

Attention all magicians, escape room junkies, movers, engineers, and locksmiths: It’s your time to shine.

A Boston-area man has been struggling to open—or at least remove—a massive 700-pound safe from his new home, to no avail. (It’s a beast. Check out the photos in this Boston Globe piece.) There has to be some way to remove this damn thing, and that’s where you might come in.

You love riddles. So do we. Let’s solve them together.

Homeowner Manoj Mishra found the hulking safe tucked away inside a closet in the house’s second-floor master bedroom after he purchased it. “We don’t know the password,” Mishra wrote in a neighborhood Facebook group on Sept. 12, according to the Boston Globe. “But the lady who lived here used [to] own [a] gold store so your luck … it’s all yours. Pickup, sooner the better.”

How do you open a safe when you don’t know the combination? And how the hell do you remove it from a house with humble door frames and a challenging set of stairs when it looks like it’s better suited for a bank than a home?

If you can figure it out, let us know what your method would look like, and we’ll update this story to help out Mishra. Or you can try to contact him yourself.

Mishra’s Facebook posts have prompted many people to come over and try to remove the 2.5-foot tall safe. So far, no one has been successful—not the woman who brought nine friends and a dolly, nor the movers and cleaners who wanted to bring ropes, ramps, and pieces of plywood to the site.

Brad Ford, a savvy test editor for Popular Mechanics who can fix literally anything, thinks Mishra needs a pully system, like the kind cartoon characters use to hoist a grand piano out of a window.

Photo credit: Themightyquill
Photo credit: Themightyquill

“Typically you would use block and tackle anchored to a beam put across a doorway at the top, which would allow the safe to slide on its side and be lowered down the steps,” Ford says. “At landings, you would need to stand it up, turn, and lay it down again. But you really need to see the steps to know what’s possible.”

Photo credit: Piecesofship.com
Photo credit: Piecesofship.com

A block and tackle system includes a block, or a set of pulleys or sheaves, affixed to a frame. The tackle is the assemblage of those blocks, threaded with a rope. Basically, this kind of machine amplifies the tension force inherent in the rope to help lift loads, and it’s common on ships for operations like lifting the lines for sails.

The mechanical advantage,

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