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Archive for April, 2013

Buzz on Bees Awareness

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – This past winter left beekeepers across Western North Carolina devastated since finding half or more of their honeybee populations dead or missing, and nobody knows for certain why. The phenomenon is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

“Losses have been steady at 30 percent, but this year it looks really bad… like 50 percent or higher across North Carolina. I’ve talked to some beekeepers that have lost two-thirds of their hives. We’re creating as many new colonies as we can to replace the honeybees, but the beekeepers won’t make it more than a year or two at these levels,” says Carl Chesick, Executive Director at the Center for Honeybee Research.

Beekeepers from the Center for Honey Bee Research, Asheville’s Bee City USA and Rutherford County Beekeepers Association will gather at the 3rd Annual Buzz on Bees on April 27, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. They will educate the public on current problems facing honeybees, like CCD, and what people can do to get involved and help our area’s dying bees.

At Buzz on Bees, glass-enclosed observation hives will allow guests to study live honeybees up close and marvel at these hard-working insects. Local beekeepers will explain the art of beekeeping and honey production with their equipment on display. Bee City USA will lead pollinator hunts for kids and families, helping them understand how bees pollinate plants and how to attract them to your own backyard.

A professional storyteller will hold short bee programs for kids, and a children’s crafts area will offer fun facts on honeybees, coloring and an opportunity for kids to make their own bee costumes with antennae. Some local honey and beeswax products will be available for purchase. Buzz on Bees will be held at Park tents in the top parking lot. There is no additional cost with paid Park admission, which is currently $12 adult, $6 youth (ages 5-15) and free for 4 years and under. Event details are online at chimneyrockpark.com.

Trouble for Bees. Carl Chesick reports losses up to 90 percent this year at his suburban farm in West Asheville, but his hives in more rural areas have fared better. He attributes the higher death rate in part to pesticides and herbicides used for lawn care, such as Roundup. Bees may fly up to three miles for nectar and pollen, and when they pollinate plants that have been sprayed, they may not survive or they may bring the poison back to the hive.

Chesik says since the EPA stopped doing their own testing of new pesticides a decade ago, use of these pesticides has increased more than ten-fold. In addition to deadly pesticides, fungi, mites and loss of habitat, a sudden mysterious decline in the bee population, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, has beekeepers and farmers baffled and concerned about honeybees dying off rapidly. It’s become a problem in the U.S. and parts of Europe affecting crop pollination, which is expected to shrink yields and drive up food prices.

“Part of the problem is our society has come to value weed and insect-free lawns and exotic decorative plants over a diversity of native plants that sustain thousands of native pollinator species and vice versa,” said Phyllis Stiles, Director of Bee City USA.

There are simple measures everyone can take to help, such as avoiding the use of pesticides on gardens and lawns and adding native flowering plants that are pollinator-friendly to their landscapes. BeeCityUSA.org offers an online resource to create a native, pollinator-friendly plant list specific for your yard anywhere in the U.S., and more information will be available at Buzz on Bees.

The Essential Honeybee. The USDA estimates 80 percent of insect-pollinated plants, such as fruits and vegetables, rely on pollination by honeybees. In the U.S. alone, honeybees contribute $15 billion annually to our agricultural economy. Many of our beekeepers, like those in Western North Carolina, are small-scale amateurs who have a large impact. According to the USDA, about 95 percent of the nation’s 150,000 to 200,000 beekeepers are hobbyists and, along with part-time beekeepers, produce about 40 percent of our honey.

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park has been one of the Southeast’s most iconic and popular travel destinations for more than 100 years. Beyond its stunning 75-mile views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock offers scenic hiking, rock climbing, Grady’s Animal Discovery Den and educational events year-round. It’s the only state park in the Southeast with an elevator inside a mountain. The park was featured in The Last of the Mohicans, which will be shown on a large outdoor screen at the 2nd Annual Movie on the Meadows June 15. Chimney Rock is located only 40 minutes southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. Call (800) 277-9611 or visit chimneyrockpark.com.

About The Center for Honey Bee Research

Based in Asheville, N.C., the Center for Honey Bee Research promotes natural beekeeping without chemicals and antibiotics. Their mission is to serve as a world communications center for the exchange of beekeeping information and to promote conferences, schools and events to educate beekeepers and the general public on the importance of honeybees in our environment. They are a research-based organization working to establish a comprehensive laboratory to analyze everything affecting the health of bees and their environment. Learn more at www.honeybeeresearch.org.

About Bee City USA

On June 26, 2012, Asheville City Council voted unanimously to become the inaugural Bee City USA™. Bee City USA is a program of the Center for Honeybee Research. By engaging with municipal leaders, our goal is to promote healthy, sustainable habitats and communities not only for honeybees but also for thousands of species of native bees and other pollinators, one municipality at a time.  Now Bee City USA wants to share this message:  each time we plant a native species—one that thrived in our county (yes “county”, not “country”) for thousands of years, we are making the world safer for pollinators and fortifying the local, complex food web for man, plant, and animal. Phyllis Stiles is director of Bee City USA. For more information, visit www.beecityusa.org.

 

ASAP Ramps Revelry

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Ramps fans can rejoice: Harvest time is ramping up for the region’s beloved early-spring vegetables, which are found growing wild in forests and cultivated on forestland. Their harvest is short—only two to three weeks. But, that won’t stop area Appalachian Grown™ partner restaurants from reveling in ramps this month. In fact, the Get Local celebration, like the veggies of honor, will be bold. Ramps’ flavor can be described as a mix of onion and garlic.

“We’ll feature ramps as much as possible in the coming weeks,” says Jen Pearson of Guadalupe Cafe in Sylva. “They’ll be on our brunch menu, in nighttime specials, and—if they last until strawberries arrive—in a grilled ramps, fresh strawberry, and gorgonzola dish we like to do.”

Nate Allen, chef/co-owner of Knife & Fork, takes the same approach. “We do everything we possibly can with ramps: We make a pesto, we tempura batter and deep fry them, create flatbreads, sauté them with morels and serve over cheesy grits, you name it.”

Kaighn Raymond, executive chef/owner of Frogs Leap Public House in Waynesville, has been busy creating at least four new ramps dishes for the season, including skillet blackened Sunburst Trout with a spring succotash and grilled ramp broth, spring potato and ramp vichyssoise with local baby arugula, potato-ramp pancakes with a ramp crème fraîche, and a local morel and ramp pesto flatbread.

From pesto to pickles: Chestnut in downtown Asheville plans to pickle the piquant delicacy for use in their bar items, then grill local ramps for use throughout their kitchen dishes.

Elizabeth Button of Asheville’s Cúrate shares that ramps are very similar to calçots, an early-spring Spanish scallion. Cúrate plans to serve up the Southern staple Spanish-style with a Romesco sauce.

Highland Lake Inn in Flat Rock is also going the route of a special sauce; they’re blending local ramps into a béarnaise to serve with grilled asparagus as a side dish. They’re also making ramp butter to garnish their Sunburst Trout dinner dishes. How? “We clean the ramps well; toss them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper; grill them lightly, purée with a little cream, and finish with softened butter in a mixer with a paddle attachment,” shares Sous Chef Matt Lineback.

Of course, ramps can also be found at farmers tailgate markets and roadside stands now. For a list of Appalachian Grown farms offering ramps, visit ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org. There, also find a list of markets and roadside stands. For more Get Local ramps reports as well as recipes, visit ASAP’s community site From Here at fromhere.org.

ABOUT ASAP (APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT)

ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.

Take a Walk with the Doc – April 6

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Beginning Saturday April 6, 2013, Buncombe County Parks, Greenways and Recreation Services will host a Walk with a Photo of a doctor walking with a child.“Doc” event once every other month through October.

Walkers will enjoy a refreshing walk with a Doctor on staff at MAHEC of Asheville. Walkers can learn about important health topics, meet new friends interested in improving their health and have time to speak with the Doctor who will answer basic medical questions in an informal, relaxed and fun way.

The first “Walk with a Doc” will take place on April 6 from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at Owen Park, located at 875 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa.

Additional walk dates are:

  • June 1 at Karpen Soccer Field – Weaverville
  • August 3 at the Buncombe County Sports Park in Enka
  • October 5 at Hominy Creek Park

For more information please call Jay Nelson at 250-4269 or email him at [email protected].

Chronic Homelessness Down 82% in Asheville-Buncombe

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – The Asheville Buncombe Homeless Initiative recently conducted its annual Point-in-Time Count of homeless families and individuals in Asheville and Buncombe County. This year’s count showed 54 people still experiencing chronic homelessness, down 82% from the 293 identified in the 2005 Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Individuals with disabling conditions who are homeless for more than a year or experience four episodes of homelessness in three years are considered chronically homeless.

Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners adopted the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness in 2005. Since then, a collaboration of service providers, including Homeward Bound, the Asheville Housing Authority, Western Highlands Network, Mission Hospital, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County have focused on chronic homelessness in the community. A related collaboration between the VA Medical Center and the Housing Authority has contributed to this important success, housing more than 200 homeless veterans with supportive services in the private rental market.

The Point in Time Count also indicates that family and youth homelessness, although generally shorter in duration, continues to be a challenge. Overall, the total number of individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness at the time of the count each year has remained relatively flat for the last 4 years, at approximately 530 people.

In the coming months, the Homeless Initiative will be focusing on strengthening its plan to address all forms of homelessness. This plan will include rapid re-housing strategies to ensure a quick transition back into safe, stable and sustainable housing for families who have become homeless, as well as prevention strategies to ensure housing stability for those imminently at risk of homelessness.

“The Asheville-Buncombe community took on the challenge of ending chronic homelessness by 2015 when the 10 Year Plan was adopted,” said Homeless Initiative coordinator Heather Dillashaw. “Because of strong, collaborative partnerships and creative solutions, we are on track to achieve that goal.”

Asheville 2012 Annual Water Quality Report

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – The City of Asheville has released its 15th annual Water Quality Report, a federally-mandated “report card” designed to educate customers on what is in their drinking water.  The City of Asheville is pleased to report that the city’s drinking water continues to surpass all US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Standards.

Click here for the 2012 Water Quality Report.

Stephen Shoaf, Director of the Water Resources Department says, “I am proud of this Water Quality Report and the employees who work hard to ensure that our customers receive excellent water quality every day.  Congress and the EPA have mandated this report and, to a large extent, its format and content.  The EPA wants to be sure every community knows what is in its drinking water.  The City of Asheville Water Resources Department agrees.  The Water Quality Report will increase our customers’ understanding of and confidence in the quality of their water supply and ongoing efforts to maintain the highest standards possible.”

This informative report provides details about water quality provided to the city’s customers as well as where the water comes from and how it is treated.  Customers will receive the report in their next water bills and can expect an update of this report each year.

For further information or additional copies of the City of Asheville’s 2012 Annual Water Quality Report, call the City of Asheville Customer Services Division at (828) 251-1122.

City of Asheville to Host Reverse Vendor Fair and State Agency Workshops

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – The City of Asheville is excited to invite area vendors interested in doing business with the city to participate in the first Reverse Vendor Fair on April 10. This is a great opportunity for vendors to speak directly with city department representatives and to find out more about what contract and bid opportunities the City of Asheville offers.  Departments will also provide information about upcoming projects and bidding opportunities. The vendor fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center and admission is free.

Additionally, on April 9, representatives from the State of North Carolina Office of Historically Underutilized Businesses, the Office of Purchase and Contract and the N.C. Department of Transportation will provide training sessions on doing business, vendor registration, and HUB certification. Workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the 6th floor training room of Asheville City Hall. Attendance is free, but RSVP is required as space is limited.

Workshops are scheduled as followed:

Session 1: 9 a.m.-noon: NC DOT –  “Update to NC DOT Regulations” & “Doing Business with DOT”

Session 2: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. :  State HUB Office – “HUBSCO Reporting”

Session 3: 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: State P&C – “Doing Business with the State”

For more information about the vendor fair and how you can participate and RSVP for the training opportunities on event day, please contact Amy Patterson at (828) 259-5953 or [email protected] or Brenda Mills at (828) 259-8050 or [email protected]. Information and updates can be found at the city’s website at www.ashevillenc.gov.

PTSD Expert Jonathan Shay to Hold Discussion with Veterans at UNC Asheville

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Dr. Jonathan Shay, a renowned psychiatrist who has specialized in treating veterans of war, will offer three public talks, April 9-11, at UNC Asheville. He also will meet with UNC Asheville’s Student-Veteran Alliance as well as students and community members.

The following events take place on the UNC Asheville campus and are free and open to the public:

  • Tuesday, April 9 – “Moral Luck,” an examination of philosophical experiences of soldiers in combat, from Homer’s “The Iliad” to present day. 7:30 p.m., Sherrill Center, Mountain View Room.
  • Wednesday, April 10 – “Theatre of War,” exploring the role of the arts in healing of the physically and psychologically wounded. 7.30 p.m.,Highsmith University Union, Alumni Hall.
  • Thursday, April 11 – “Open Discussion – Sleep, Community and other Hobby Horses.” Dr. Shay will lead a discussion with veterans and members of the community encouraged to participate. 7.30 p.m., Sherrill Center, Mountain View Room.

A clinical psychiatrist and humanities scholar, Dr. Shay is the author of groundbreaking books on the nature and treatment of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and he is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.

His visit to UNC Asheville is sponsored by the university’s NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in Humanities, Sophie Mills, who champions the use of ancient classics to understand contemporary issues. “By using Homer to illuminate modern veterans’ experiences, he has created a powerful body of work that has broadened and deepened the understanding of humanists, military leaders and psychologists concerning military combat and its effects on human beings,” she says.

Dr. Shay views PTSD as a psychological injury of war, not a mental disorder. In a New York Times interview, Shay said that when soldiers return home, they often retain behaviors they adopted for their survival in combat. “Most of it really boils down to the valid adaptations in the mind and body to the real situation of other people trying to kill you,” he said.

“Your senses are heightened and your nerves are sensitive to everything at first,” says Kevin Rumley, an Iraq War veteran who is now a UNC Asheville senior and a member of the university’s Student-Veteran Alliance. As part of a Marine unit stationed near the Syrian border, he faced daily gunfights and IED blasts, one of which caused him serious injuries and took the life of his best friend. “Re-acclimating, transitioning to the civilian environment and into an academic environment, that’s where most of the hard work comes in,” he says. “You can do rehab on the body injuries and you’ll see progress, but PTSD is this elusive beast, it’s really tough. To have someone like Dr. Shay coming, I think that can be really valuable.”

Dr. Shay’s books have been acclaimed by some of America’s most prominent veterans. Senators John McCain and Max Cleland co-authored the forward to Dr. Shay’s “Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming” (Scribner, 2002). His earlier book, “Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character” (Simon & Schuster, 1995), also examined the experience of modern solders through the lens of ancient classics.

Dr. Shay is a retired staff psychiatrist who served at the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston. He earned M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. He has served as a visiting scholar-at-large at the U.S. Naval War College, and was chair of ethics, leadership, and personnel policy in the Office of the U.S. Army Chief of Staff for Personnel.

For more information, contact Sophie Mills at 828/251-6296.