Local Scoop


Asheville, North Carolina News

Archive for February, 2013

Downtown Pay-by-Phone-Parking Now at All Metered Spaces

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – The yellow parking meter stickers are going up all over town as the City of Asheville expands pay-by-phone parking to all of its 750 meters in the downtown central business district.

The service allows drivers to pay for up to two hours of on-street parking using a credit or debit card number and their cell phone. The move enhances the accessibility of on-street short-term parking by extending it to people who are not carrying change. In September, the City of Asheville’s Parking Services Division launched a three-month test phase involving 104 parking meters, and the success of that phase has led to an expanded trial run throughout all of the City of Asheville’s meters.

“It was pretty popular right from the beginning!” said the City’s Transportation Director Ken Putnam. “One of the things we heard right off the bat was that people wanted to see the pay-by-phone feature on more spaces downtown.”

The expansion is part of a larger trial run and will last for a year. Last year’s initial test revealed a revenue increase of about three percent, Putnam said. Data from both trials will be used when making a recommendation about whether or not to make pay-by-phone a permanent part of Asheville’s parking offerings.

The yellow stickers and signs provide information about how to set up an account. Once an account is established, parking customers can simply pay for metered spaces on their phone by entering a zone and meter number and the amount of time needed. Customers can also request a text message alerting them that their meter is about to expire.

A fee of 25 cents will apply for each pay-by-phone transaction, which offsets the cost of the service. All parking meters will still take coins.

For more information about the City of Asheville parking services, go to http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/ParkingServices.aspx.

Classes Available at A-B Tech South

Friday, February 8th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – A-B Tech’s newest location in Arden has seats open for spring semester classes starting March 12. The eight-week classes, ideal for busy schedules, cover the same material as a full semester class but in half the time.

“The development of A-B Tech South is in alignment with A-B Tech’s mission and further promotes its vision to be locally committed,” said Jason Fair, Coordinator of A-B Tech South. “Southern Buncombe County is a rapidly growing sector of the College’s service area and includes a burgeoning business environment.  By introducing programs closer in proximately, the College further reinforces its commitment to serve southern Buncombe County residents and businesses.”

Classes open include Principles of Management, Business Ethics, Introduction to Computers, Literature-Based Research and Critical Thinking. A-B Tech South, which opened in January, is located at 305 Airport Road in Arden. Visit abtech.edu or call 398-7520.

Princeton Review Names UNC Asheville “Best Value College”

Friday, February 8th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – For the seventh year in a row, UNC Asheville was selected as one of the “Best Value” public colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. “Best Value Colleges: 2013 Edition,” profiling the top 75 public colleges and top 75 private colleges, was published today; the rankings were also reported in today’s edition of USA Today.

“The liberal arts tradition is alive and well at UNC Asheville, where students are encouraged to question, to discuss,” according to The Princeton Review. The guidebook also credits the university with preparing graduates for today’s tough job market: “The myriad research opportunities help flesh out a résumé, and the stress on real world application gets students job-ready before they even set foot outside the mountains.”

Students told The Princeton Review they appreciate the small class size at UNC Asheville and a feeling that “faculty are overwhelmingly supportive of the students … they know our names.” One student described UNC Asheville as “a school that promotes the growth of its students with an emphasis on a personal approach to undergraduate education.” The Princeton Review concluded that “UNC Asheville is an inexpensive way to achieve an excellent education, at a school that may be less intimidating than a larger institution.”

UNC Asheville students described the university as “a lot of fun to live at,” in the “amazing and quirky city” of Asheville. The Princeton Review noted the university’s mountain location with ready access to outdoor sports and activities, so in the words of one student, “you are never bored.” Last April, Princeton Review also listed UNC Asheville among America’s “green” colleges and universities.

The Princeton Review selected the top 150 institutions from among a larger pool of 650 colleges selected for academic excellence. Its rankings are based on institutional data, surveys of university administrators and student opinion surveys collected in 2011-12. The selection criteria focused on undergraduate academics, costs and financial aid.

The Princeton Review’s assessment of UNC Asheville echoes many other prominent college rankings. In September, UNC Asheville was ranked seventh in the nation among public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report, which also listed the university among those where students graduate with the least amount of debt. UNC Asheville was also praised for value and quality by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Forbes magazine, and the “Fiske Guide to Colleges” called UNC Asheville “one of the best education bargains in the country.”

For more information, visit http://www.unca.edu/about/facts-and-figures/rankings.

‘Comic Stripped’ Exhibit at Mountain Heritage Center

Friday, February 8th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Featuring a combination of rare original art and artifacts, the exhibit “Comic Stripped: A Revealing Look at Southern Stereotypes in Cartoons” is now on display at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center.

Developed by Tom Hanchett, staff historian and curator at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, the exhibit will be shown in Gallery C at the Mountain Heritage Center through Tuesday, May 14.

Works in the exhibit range from 1860s political cartoons by Thomas Nast to Billy De Beck’s “Snuffy Smith,” Doug Marlette’s “Kudzu” and character sketches, background art and storyboards from the television cartoon sitcom “King of the Hill,” on loan from the show’s executive producers.

The exhibit’s artifacts include rare vintage comic books and memorabilia, an authentic Wilkes County moonshine jug, and a hillbilly coat and hat worn in parades by the “Hillbilly Clan” of the Shrine Club.

“I feel that ‘Comic Stripped’ provides a fun way to explore a serious subject – how public perception has historically been shaped and continues to be influenced by mass media and how stereotypes can sometimes be true and sometimes misleading,” said Pam Meister, curator at the WCU museum. “I think visitors will enjoy the wit and humor of this exhibit while coming away with some new insights into their own perceptions of ‘southern.’”

The Mountain Heritage Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except until 7 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information, call the museum at 828-227-7129.

Multi-Grammy Award Winner Jimmy Webb Performs at DWT

Friday, February 8th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Songwriting giant and multi-Grammy Award winner Jimmy Webb takes the stage for an 8:00 p.m. March 15 performance at Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place. Songwriter, performer, arranger, author and composer, Webb’s works – including “Wichita Lineman” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” – are a permanent part of the American musical landscape, the soundtrack of an era. A romanticist, Webb’s use of vivid imagery simultaneously captures and involves his listeners’ emotions. American Songwriter magazine notes, “Webb is still at it, thankfully, and if you get a chance to see him live, grab it.”

Though best known for the instant classics he provided for such artists as Glen Campbell (“By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,”), Richard Harris (“MacArthur Park,” “Didn’t We”), the Fifth Dimension (“Up, Up and Away,” “This Is Your Life”), Art Garfunkel (“All I Know”), Linda Ronstadt (“Easy For You To Say”) and Joe Cocker (“The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress”), Jimmy Webb continues to write songs that are as carefully crafted and magical as the earlier ones. Webb’s list of awards and accomplishments is remarkable: he is a member of the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and, according to BMI, his “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” is the third most performed song from the 1960s until 1990, with “Up, Up and Away” on the same list in the top thirty. Webb’s, “Wichita Lineman” has been listed in MOJO magazine’s worldwide survey of the best one hundred singles of all time in the top fifty.

Throughout his more than forty-year career, Webb has released numerous solo recordings and has collaborated with some of music’s greats. His most recent record Just Across The River (2010) is a collection of interpretations of the songs that made him a cultural icon and features guest appearances from Webb’s friends, fans and recording partners including Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt and many more. He has also contributed music to the scores for many film and television productions including Doc (1971), The Last Unicorn (1982), Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest (1992) and The Santa Clause (1994). His book Tunesmith: Inside The Art of Songwriting released in 1998, is among the foremost books on the songwriting craft.

Jimmy Webb’s Asheville performance is made possible by Performance Sponsor Parsec Financial, and by Mainstage Music Series Sponsors BMW of Asheville and Henry LaBrun, with additional support from Media Sponsor WNC magazine.

The Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place is located in the same complex as the Asheville Art Museum and the Colburn Earth Science Museum and is within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. The intimate theatre seats just over 500 and boasts exceptional acoustics and sightlines, making it the premier performance space in all of Western North Carolina. The Mainstage Series is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency. The Mainstage Series 2012/2013 Season Sponsors are the Asheville Citizen-Times, Creative Energy, Laurey’s Catering and Gourmet-to-go, the North Carolina Arts Council, and Renaissance Asheville Hotel. To obtain more information on the Mainstage Series or to purchase tickets, call the theatre’s box office at (828) 257-4530 or visit www.dwtheatre.com.

Ear, Nose and Throat Free Event for Parents

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids is one of the most common procedures performed on children in the United States. Michael Neuenschwander, M.D., board-certified otolaryngologist with Park Ridge Ear, Nose and Throat, will present a free educational seminar on this topic entitled “A Parents’ Guide to Tonsils and Adenoids” on Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at The Health Adventure. The public is invited to attend and enjoy free refreshments. Space is limited, so reservations are encouraged by calling 855-PRH-LIFE (855-774-5433).

About Michael Neuenschwander, M.D.: Dr. Neuenschwander is a graduate of Emory University School of Medicine and is fluent in Spanish. He completed internship and residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and has been in practice since 2000. His work includes general otolaryngology in adults and children, voice and swallowing disorders, thyroid and parathyroid surgery, and advanced sinus surgery.

About Park Ridge Health: Park Ridge Health was built by Henderson County residents, and more than 100 years later is a beloved piece of our growing community’s health care network, providing quality, compassionate care in a Christian environment. Park Ridge Health provides personalized care throughout the region, offering a dedicated network of more than 120 primary care and specialty physicians and providers, nationally awarded cancer services, full-service orthopedic care and the only accredited hyperbaric medicine facility in Western North Carolina. For more information about Park Ridge Health or to find a physician, please visit www.parkridgehealth.org or call 855.PRH.LIFE (855.774.5433).


Discolored Water Anticipated in Coming Days and Weeks

Monday, February 4th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – The City of Asheville Water Resources Department is anticipating discolored water in the coming days and weeks ahead.  Contractors are using camera systems inside of our main water lines to evaluate their condition, which is stirring up sediment in the pipes.  This critical pipe infrastructure is between 50 and 90 years old, and is responsible for delivering an average of 16.5 million gallons of water to the Asheville and Buncombe County areas on a daily basis.  We have crews available around the clock that will flush hydrants downstream from the work to lessen the discoloration.  Contractors conducting the evaluation plan to work on the project 5 days a week, Monday through Friday.  The portion of the project causing the discolored water is scheduled to last through mid to late March 2013.

Customers who experience discolored water should call the Customer Services division at (828) 251-1122 to report it.  A call allows the Water Resources Department to flush where needed in order to help clear the discolored water from the reported location.

While the water is safe for cleaning, hand washing and bathing, we recommend the discolored water not be used for cooking or drinking as a precaution. We are monitoring bacteria levels, and the system is closed so there is no belief that pathogens entered the system. A boil advisory has not been issued.

Customers are advised not to wash clothing with the discolored water because it may cause stains.

Customers experiencing discolored water may consider running faucets for a short period of time to rid pipes of discolored water.  Customers are reminded hot water heaters store water and if discolored water has entered the tank, it may take the hot water longer to return to normal.

Customers are also encouraged to check residential filters and faucet screens for sediments.  In many cases this is simple and involves unscrewing the screen at the head of a faucet.

Once water color returns to normal it is safe for all uses.

The City of Asheville thanks water customers for their patience during this process to ensure longevity and sustainability to the City of Asheville water system.

Guitarist Frank Vignola to Perform Feb. 15 at WCU

Monday, February 4th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Guitar virtuoso Frank Vignola will perform Friday, Feb. 15, at Western Carolina University.

“An Evening with Frank Vignola,” part of WCU’s 2012-13 Galaxy of Stars Series, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. Tickets for the concert are $20 for adults, $15 for WCU faculty and staff, and $5 for students and children.

Prior to his performance, Vignola will conduct a master guitar class at 3 p.m. in the Bardo Arts Center. The class is free and open to the public.

Vignola has collaborated with Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, the Boston Pops and the New York Pops, among many others. Recognized professionally as one of the best in the music business, the versatile Vignola is skilled in styles from gypsy and jazz to bluegrass.

“Vignola, who possesses jaw-dropping technique, wears his influences on the tip of his pick,” wrote Mike Joyce of The Washington Post.

Born on Long Island, New York, Vignola began playing guitar at age 5. Encouraged by his father, a part-time professional banjo player who introduced him to music and musicians, Vignola developed his craft to the extent that by his early 20s he was playing alongside legends such as Les Paul. He studied at a Long Island arts center and came into his own in 1988, when The New York Times hailed his Hot Club of France tribute as one of the top 10 acts in the city that year.

In recent years, Vignola has recorded two collaborative CDs, “Just Between Frets” with Tommy Emmanuel and “Frank ‘N’ Dawg: Melody Monsters” with mandolin player David Grisman. He has written 18 guitar instruction books, recorded six educational DVDs and conducted hundreds of clinics and master classes at universities and colleges throughout the world, including Juilliard and Boston University.

The Galaxy of Stars Series is presented by the WCU College of Fine and Performing Arts and with support from the WCU Friends of the Arts organization. Neil Berg’s “101 Years of Broadway” will cap the 2012-13 season with an April 19 show. “An Evening with Frank Vignola” is sponsored by the Sylva law practice of Earwood and Moore.

For tickets or more information about Galaxy of Stars events, contact the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or go online to bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.

Frostbite 5K, 10K and Fun Run/Walk Quickly Approaching

Monday, February 4th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – The Park Ridge Health Foundation and Presenting Sponsor Southeastern Sports Medicine will host the 21st Annual Frostbite 10K, 5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, starting at 2 p.m. This premier race event will take place on flat to moderately rolling terrain with Hutch Mountain as the scenic backdrop, and features a Grand-Prix sanctioned 10K course. The Frostbite races will begin and finish at the Lelia Patterson Center located next to Park Ridge Health at Howard Gap Road and Naples Road in Fletcher, N.C. The 2013 Frostbite event also will feature a Family Fun Day and Health Expo at the Lelia Patterson Center from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. with games, booths, live music and free health screenings.

Registration fees for both the 5K and 10K will be $30 through Jan. 31 and $35 from Feb. 1 through race day. The Fun Run/Walk is $10. Participants can register online at www.prhfrostbite.com. All runners who register by Jan. 31 are guaranteed a long-sleeved performance tech shirt, while all Fun Run/Walk participants will receive a short-sleeved cotton shirt. Check-in and packet pickup will be available on race day from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m., and early packet pickup will take place on Feb. 16 at the Diamond Brand store in Arden from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., where registrants will be able to enjoy 20 percent off merchandise, entry for door prizes and free body composition analysis.

Don’t enjoy running or walking? Become a first-time Phantom Runner for $25 and support Park Ridge Health from the comfort and warmth of your home. All Phantom Runners will receive a premium quality race shirt.

All proceeds of the 2013 Frostbite event will benefit Park Ridge Health’s Kid Power program. Kid Power is helping children grow up to be healthy and strong by tackling the epidemic of childhood obesity. This free program, which reaches 1,000 children and their families each year, helps kids avoid, reverse and prevent health concerns associated with obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease and sleep apnea. Kid Power teaches about the lifelong benefits of exercise and healthy eating through a specially designed curriculum.

A video preview of this year’s Frostbite 5K and 10K courses is now available online at http://www.youtube.com/user/ParkRidgeHealth?feature=watch.

Residents of the Fletcher area should expect traffic delays on race day, especially between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Naples Road.

About Park Ridge Health:

Park Ridge Health was built by Henderson County residents, and more than 100 years later is a beloved piece of our growing community’s health care network, providing quality, compassionate care in a Christian environment. In 1986, Park Ridge Health partnered with Adventist Health System, joining a family of 43 exceptional not-for-profit community hospitals across the country. Leading the way in many medical firsts for the region – including state-of-the-art surgery suites, a boutique baby delivery experience and North Carolina’s first 64-slice CT scanner in 2006 – Park Ridge Health provides personalized care throughout the region, offering a dedicated network of more than 100 primary care and specialty physicians and providers, nationally awarded cancer services, full-service orthopedic care and the only accredited hyperbaric medicine facility in Western North Carolina. For more information about Park Ridge Health or to find a physician, please visit www.parkridgehealth.org or call 855.PRH.LIFE (855.774.5433).

WCU Student’s Elk Research Helps Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Monday, February 4th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Logging long stretches in the backcountry of the Cataloochee Valley area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Western Carolina University biology graduate student Elizabeth Hillard is performing research that will help park personnel manage resources in regard to the park’s growing population of elk.

Hillard’s research project has taken place over approximately 50 square miles of park land as part of an ambitious project to improve understanding of how the animals use park resources, including what they eat and their preferred shelter.

“We know that elk populations can swell to unnatural levels that have a negative impact on the environment,” said Joe Yarkovich, a park wildlife biologist who focuses on the elk program and who oversaw Hillard’s research. At Rocky Mountain National Park, for instance, where the elk have no natural predators, the growing herds have destroyed aspen groves and willow stands, Yarkovich said. “We’re trying to get on the front end of it so that we will see those impacts before they take effect and cause much harm to the environment,” he said.

The release of elk into the park began in February 2001 with 25 elk imported from Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, another 27 of the animals were imported from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada. All were released in the Cataloochee area, where many have stayed, though some have migrated west to Cades Cove – animals like the open grassy areas available in both those locations, Hillard said. The precise number of elk is unknown, although a rough estimate puts the population at approximately 150 animals, including those who have traveled outside the park boundaries, according to Yarkovich. Some elk wear radio-collars and are monitored so biologists can learn more about their movements and life spans.

Hillard developed the elk project with her adviser, WCU biology professor Laura DeWald. While reading the park’s environmental assessment of the elk, Hillard saw that future goals included vegetation monitoring and trail mapping. DeWald and Hillard met with Yarkovich and other park personnel and hammered out a role for Hillard, who developed a methodology and project plan that the park approved. Hillard then applied for grant funding from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and in fall 2012 was awarded more than $11,000 for the project.

Hillard’s research has taken a three-pronged approach. To shed light on the preferred habitat of the elk, she spent the winter and spring of 2012 calculating elk densities in different forest types, which involved locating, hiking and mapping 78 miles of elk trails. In July and August, Hillard studied a collection of plots with varying habitat and elk densities, collecting information on overstory, understory, shrub level, the herbaceous level, forest floor and litter-soil level. The third component of the study is an analysis of the principal diet of the park’s elk. To accomplish this, Hillard collected elk fecal pellets in the spring, summer and fall, which she has frozen in storage. After she completes collecting the winter sample, she will send the pellets to the Wildlife Habitat Nutrition Laboratory at Washington State University for analysis. After she draws conclusions from a mountain of data, Hillard plans to complete her thesis and graduate in time to enter a doctoral program in wildlife ecology and management in the fall.

Hillard, 30, has professional skills gained from years of experience as a field technician and classroom teacher that have allowed her to perform at a high level. But while Hillard’s project was “probably twice as much as a lot of master of science students,” DeWald said her advisees routinely take advantage of WCU’s geographic location and undertake projects that contribute to the efforts of external agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. Cooperative Extension. Another of her current advisees, for instance, is at work on a fire ecology project based in the park.

Such arrangements are mutually beneficial, affording students the opportunity to apply their education in the field and giving strapped agencies high-quality work for minimal financial investment. “Agencies are having to do more with less. This work in the park needed to be done. To have someone like Liz is a godsend to them,” DeWald said. “Our students are involved in acquiring knowledge that can be used to inform resource management decisions.”

“I’m not one to turn down free research,” agreed Yarkovich. “Liz is really taking a load off of my plate. I know the level of work she’s doing and I’m really pleased with it.

Not only will Hillard’s research inform the park’s wildlife biologists about the elks’ habits, but it also will establish protocols and methodology for future sampling.

“Five years from now, somebody will come back and do it again so we can track changes over longer periods of time, and I’ll hand them this packet and say, ‘This is what needs to be done,’ and it will be what Liz has done for us. She really is setting it up long term,” Yarkovich said.

Hillard’s vegetation research contributes one piece to the larger puzzle of elk in the Smokies. Other components include overall animal and herd health, dispersal patterns, disease monitoring and more. “We’re trying to get a big picture for everything that’s going on regarding carrying capacity for elk in the Smokies,” Yarkovich said.