Ask SAM added to shell 110518

Q: If the train tracks along Stratford Road are no longer in use, why can’t the city use that space for a bike or greenway trail?


Answer: SAM frequently hears from readers with ideas for things that the city could do with the unused rail lines along Stratford — we’ve had at least four such letters in the past month alone. But while those railroad tracks are not in use, and haven’t been for a long while, they have not been abandoned and don’t belong to the city.

“The rail line that parallels Stratford Road in Winston-Salem is owned by Norfolk Southern,” said Rachel McDonnell Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for the company. “A segment of the line that runs through Winston-Salem currently is not in service, and hasn’t been in service for the last several years.”

However, she added, “Trains do still continue to run on the nearby tracks. Norfolk Southern could put this segment of track back in service again if needed for business reasons.”

Q: Let’s say a person is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison for from eight to 12 years. How is the ultimate length of the time served determined?


Answer: According to Jerry Higgins, communications officer for adult correction in the N.C. Department of Public Safety, the ‘ultimate length’ of time served is determined by the maximum imposed sentence handed down by the court minus any time credit issued for having served whether pre-trial or post-trial.

“Time credits of any kind cannot go below the mandatory minimum,” he said.

Q: Can dog urine kill grass? I have four patches of dead grass in my front yard near the curb where dog walkers let their dogs urinate.


Answer: Yes. According to, a business devoted to pet waste management, dog urine is rich in nitrogen and can kill grass when concentrated amounts collect. “The effects of dog urine on your lawn are similar that of a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer,” according to the site. “A small amount of fertilizer makes your yard healthy, but too much will kill your lawn. To prevent burns, you need to reduce the amount of nitrogen that comes into contact with your grass.”

Here are some of their tips:

  • Fertilize your lawn less, or not at all, in areas where your dog urinates, since the lawn may already have as much nitrogen as it can handle in those spots.
  • Spray areas where your dog urinates with water to lessen the effects of the nitrogen.
  • If it is your own dog, encourage it to drink more water, which will make the nitrogen less concentrated and also be healthier for the dog. You may also want to look into dietary supplements.
  • Replant affected areas with a more urine-resistant grass, such as ryegrass and fescue. Kentucky and Bermuda are the most sensitive, according to the site.
  • Train your dog to go in one area. “Some products, such as the Simple Solution Pee Post, are impregnated with pheromones to encourage your dog to pee on or near them,” the site recommends. “Designating an area for your dog to eliminate in will save the remainder of your yard.”
  • Apply a lawn repair treatment. “Some treatments, such as Dogonit Lawn Repair Treatment, contain organic enzymes with soil cleansers to flush the salts from the root zone.”
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