Buzzworm news briefs

A wild night for wildlife

Stick a finger near Barbara the barred owl’s beak, and you’ll quickly understand the first half of the word “wildlife.” She will, as the expression goes, eat your lunch.

Barbara is among the 200 or so injured, orphaned or sick mammals and birds that the nonprofit Wild for Life Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife treats and then reintroduces into the wild each year. (Unfortunately, the severity of Barbara’s injuries will prevent her ever being released).

Wild for Life, both state and federally licensed, is funded solely by donations. And rehabilitating wildlife is costly, notes co-founder Susie Wright (she and partner Mary Beth Bryman both have additional full-time jobs).

On Saturday, Sept. 20, the Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall will host a benefit — in two parts — for the rehab center.

At 1 p.m., David LaMotte will perform a family-friendly set; admission is $3 kids/$5 adults.

A second show — featuring The Laura Blackley Band, Jen Hamel, Mavis and LaMotte — begins at 6 p.m.; admission is $10 ($8 for students with ID).

[Contact the Grey Eagle (185 Clingman Ave.) at 232-5800. Reach Wild for Life (33 Possum Trot, Asheville, NC 28806) at 665-4341, or visit www.wildforlife.org; separate tax-deductible donations are welcome.]

– Frank Rabey

Scholarship deadline stretches

Afraid you were too late to get in on a scholarship offered to Buncombe County students or grads? Think again.

The Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council has extended the deadline to apply for the Sherrill/Forney Memorial Scholarship until Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Two $500 scholarships will be offered to help graduating Buncombe County high-school seniors or previous graduates continue their education, whether in a trade school, community college or university.

And remember, this scholarship isn’t based primarily on grades; instead, it stresses selflessness, giving great weight to the applicant’s history of community service and volunteerism, Executive Director Bob Smith has said.

Better get moving.

[For an application or more info, call the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council at 252-4713.]

– Tracy Rose

Spotlight on Council candidates

Local government affects you more directly and more often than any other. Parking tickets, water rates, trash pickup, cable-TV contracts, building permits and inspections, emergency services, picketing ordinances, community health programs, property taxes, street fairs … much of the real nitty-gritty of daily life gets decided in city hall and the county courthouse. Voting is a fundamental way citizens can influence their government. And if you aren’t informed about the candidates, how can you make meaningful choices?

The Haw Creek Community Association will hold a candidates forum Thursday, Sept. 18, 6:30-9 p.m. in the Haw Creek Elementary School auditorium. This is a chance to find out for yourself where the 13 Asheville City Council candidates stand on the issues that matter to you.

– Cecil Bothwell

Dear Hispanic community: Please come

Newcomers to Asheville often need a little extra help. That includes members of the local Hispanic community — the fastest-growing ethnic group in Asheville and Buncombe County, notes Bob Smith, executive director of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council.

“As new people come in, there’s a need for services,” Smith observes. “And it’s very difficult to access all the services if you don’t know where they are and what they’re about.”

So for the second straight year, the Community Relations Council will host a free informational forum designed to help members of the Latino community connect with various support services. Bilingual representatives from about 15 local agencies — including the Affordable Housing Coalition, the Department of Social Services and Head Start — will offer info.

The free forum runs from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at Calvary Baptist Church, 531 Haywood Road in West Asheville.

An extra bonus: free refreshments.

– Tracy Rose

Foro para la comunidad hispana

El Concilio de Relaciones Municipales de Asheville-Buncombe realizara un foro para la comunidad hispana, de las 6 a las 9 de la noche del martes, 30 de septiembre, en la Iglesia Bautista del Calvario, 531 Haywood Road en Asheville del Oeste.

Funcionarios bilingues de unas 15 agencias presentaran informacion sobre sus servicios. Este foro es publico y gratis, y se servira refrescos.

– Michael Ropicki

A family Air Fair

You might as well run a freeway through your lawn.

No, we’re not talking about the I-26 connector. It’s that lawn mower you wake up your trying-to-sleep-in teenager with every Saturday morning.

But noise pollution isn’t the only thing the old grassbuster emits: After one hour of operation, a typical two-cycle, gas-powered mower can produce more air pollution than 40 late-model automobiles, say air-quality experts. In fact, at least half of the ozone and particulate pollution that doctors have linked to the skyrocketing asthma rates among WNC children comes from the exhaust fumes spewed by their parents’ yard equipment, older cars and trucks, and construction machinery.

The WNC Regional Air Quality Agency’s Air Fair this Saturday will offer you and your family a chance to check out your lungs and your tailpipe at no cost. Free asthma screenings and vehicle-emissions testing will be available — the latter aimed at giving Buncombe County residents a preview of the state-mandated emissions testing slated to begin next year.

You’ll also be able to see and learn more about alternative vehicles (such as gas/electric hybrids), yard equipment (such as the electric chain saw that will be given away, along with other door prizes), and even a new alternative to open burning. And while local experts are giving you tips on how to help protect your children’s health, the kids will be learning about how to protect the health of our air (and getting their faces painted) in an activities-and-fun tent.

Free pizza will help keep everyone fueled for these and many more clean-air activities and demonstrations that the Air Agency and a variety of local organizations and businesses are sponsoring Saturday, Sept. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Air Fair takes place at the Air Agency’s office, 49 Mt. Carmel Road (off the New Leicester Highway in the Erwin area).

For directions or more information, call 255-5655 or visit www.wncair.org.

– Steve Rasmussen

Local celebrities get down

Imagine this if you dare: Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Cliff Dodson clad in more leather than the back seat of a 1955 Cadillac. Buncombe County Commissioner David Gantt decked out as the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Dr. Dennis King (vice president of student services at A-B Tech) disguised as a mysterious, dark-haired woman … with a moustache.

Some sort of hallucinatory vision brought on by the ingestion of illegal substances? Why, no — just well-known Ashevilleans who were willing to go the extra mile to help raise money for the Mountain Area Hospice during previous Celebrity Luncheons.

This year, the annual event is switching to a dinner, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 25, 5:30-8:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Asheville Hotel in downtown Asheville. Food will be provided by Carrabbas Italian Grill, and Pat Ryan and Suzanne Hudson of the Oldies 96.5 Morning Show will serve as hosts.

“We have 50 or so local business folks, community leaders and media personalities who will serve as our celebrity waiters,” explains Special Events Director Sally Long of Mountain Area Hospice. “A waiter is assigned to each table, and it’s the waiter’s job to entertain and to entice the guests at his or her table to give them tips, which all go to Hospice.”

You might find radio and TV personalities harmonizing on a song. Or lawyers and business leaders dancing on the table. Or elected officials performing an impromptu skit.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Long. “Things get crazy and silly and goofy. … This year’s theme ["Light the Way on Broadway"] is a Broadway show, so we’re expecting some crazy things from our waiters.”

Among the many local celebrities you can expect to see are: Asheville Vice Mayor Terry Bellamy, News 13 WLOS sports reporter Jenny Dunn, KISS Country Morning Show co-hosts Drew and Debbie Montgomery, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Nathan Ramsey, Asheville Citizen-Times columnist Susan Reinhardt, and former Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick.

Tickets for the dinner are $40 each; table sponsorships are also available. All proceeds go to Mountain Area Hospice. “It’s traditionally been a sellout event, so people are encouraged to call ASAP,” notes Long.

[To buy tickets or for more information, call 277-4815.]

– Lisa Watters

Bizworm

Asheville’s MSA just got bigger

“How? Why?” some of you might be asking. Others may be wondering, “What’s an MSA?”

“A metro [short for Metropolitan Statistical Area] is the standard unit defining a regional or local economy,” explains Tom Tveidt, director of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Asheville Metro Business Research Center. “Think of any big city, and chances are you are really thinking of its metro area, not simply its city limits.”

Technically, an MSA consists of a central county with a dense urban core containing at least 50,000 people, plus adjacent outlying counties highly integrated with it, both socially and economically.

Until recently, Asheville’s MSA covered just Buncombe and Madison counties. But this summer, when the federal Office of Management and Budget announced new boundaries for many MSAs nationwide, Asheville’s was expanded to include Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties, boosting the metro’s population by 63 percent.

The federal agency used commuter data from the 2000 Census to determine the new MSAs, says Tveidt. “In the case of the Asheville metro, Buncombe serves as the central county, with about 21,000 workers commuting between [it and] the adjacent outlying counties.”

After all the reshuffling, the U.S. ended up with 370 metros, all told — 49 more than before. North Carolina added three metro areas: Burlington, Durham (which split from the Raleigh/Durham metro), and Winston-Salem (which split from the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point metro). In all, North Carolina has 14 metro areas, encompassing 39 of the state’s 100 counties.

At the local level, the new MSA boundaries don’t really change anything. But “to those outside the Asheville area,” Tveidt explains, “the measure of its size and composition relative to other metros in the U.S. is now more accurate.” This is particularly important, he stresses, to businesses seeking to relocate, to site-selection consultants, and to market researchers. “For example, the Asheville metro area, which previously ranked 157th nationwide [in terms of] population, now ranks 124th.”

In addition, the new boundaries “confirm the strong regional interdependence” among the four counties, adds Tveidt. “The metro area acknowledges that Henderson and Haywood counties join Buncombe and Madison in sharing many of the same economic trends and developments.”

Although the new boundaries have been expected for some time, data covering the new areas will be slow in coming, Tveidt reports. Some government agencies don’t expect to have adjusted figures available until 2005. In the interim, those agencies will specify whether the statistics they issue are based on the four-county or the two-county Asheville metro area.

– Lisa Watters

Storm water: still on the run

The lack of county regulations concerning storm-water runoff keeps coming up at Buncombe County Planning Board meetings.

While mulling an amended plan for the Cherry Blossom Cove subdivision in east Buncombe last week, Planning Board member David Summey asked, “How much say do we have in storm drainage?”

“Zip,” replied County Planner Jim Coman.

But that may change soon, Coman noted after the board’s Sept. 8 meeting. Both the county and the city of Asheville are developing rules governing storm-water runoff in the proposed Joint Planning Area around the Asheville city limits. And those efforts, he said later, would lay the groundwork for developing such rules for the rest of the county.

For the moment, however, the Planning Board has no regulatory authority over storm-water runoff, and it unanimously approved the amended plan for Cherry Blossom Cove (with four conditions spelled out by Coman that were unrelated to water management).

In other action, the board also unanimously approved: a road variance for Locke’s Acres (in Upper Hominy); a road-grade variance for Rhymer Place (in Alexander); an additional lot for Drovers Road Forest (in Fairview); and gave preliminary approval to Timber Ridge (in Leicester). All but the Drovers Road Forest approval were subject to satisfying a number of conditions outlined by Coman.

Board members also voted unanimously to keep fellow board members Jim McElduff as chairman and Bill Newman as vice chairman, and they unanimously named board member Ann Cross as secretary.

At meeting’s end, Coman tipped off board members that a new Wal-Mart Supercenter may be built in southern Buncombe County.

And Newman mentioned that, the previous week, Assistant County Manager/Planning Board Director Jon Creighton had given a talk at a meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners (which Newman said his employer, Taylor & Murphy Construction Co., is a member of). CIBO members, noted Newman, are concerned because they haven’t seen a map of the proposed Joint Planning Area. He also took a jab at employees of Asheville, observing, “A lot of the city staff I don’t think use common sense.” Newman later explained that he was talking about how strict the regulations that would be imposed in the Joint Planning Area might be, adding that he wasn’t trying to be negative. “When we’re out here in the real world, I think we see it differently,” he concluded.

– Tracy Rose

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