RIGHT HAND TURN: Small tragedies and improved artistry often go hand-in-hand — sometimes literally. When classical musician Nathan Shirley broke one of his two portals to the piano, he developed a unique song concept that he hopes to feature as his next album's title track.

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng initiative­s

Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. This week features the unique, two-part song that resulted from pianist Nathan Shirley’s musical twist of fate, Piper Jones Band’s new recording project Crossing the Sabine, and Asheville Humane Society’s interactive pet fundraiser.

ON ITS WAY: MSD Operations Manager Roger Edwards pours out the end product of MSD's efforts—water deemed clean enough to go into the French Broad River. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Cleaning up toxic mercury from dental offices

Dental appointments make plenty of people nervous, but water pollution isn’t usually what they’re worrying about. According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, however, dental offices are responsible for 50 percent of the mercury entering the nation’s wastewater. Dental amalgam is 49 percent mercury by weight, and dental offices discharge about 4.4 tons of it annually. […]

Catherine Hunter offers Gypsy Gold a drink of water before his Friday night shift pulling a carriage in downtown Asheville last year. Photo by Virginia Daffron

City Council puts horse-drawn carriage tours out to pasture

Asheville City Council voted to put horse-drawn carriage tours out to pasture with its repeal of an ordinance that permitted commercial carriages downtown. At its April 26 meeting, Council also approved a franchise license that will allow Asheville’s only current carriage operator, Catherine Hunter, to continue operating her business for two years.

A landmark corner distinguishes the main entry into the Phase 1 development from Biltmore Avenue. Image: David Baker Architects

City Council commits $4.2 million to redevelopm­ent of Lee Walker Heights

At its April 26 meeting, City Council approved a rezoning request and committed $4.2 million in city funds to allow the Lee Walker Heights redevelopment project to move forward. Council also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Duke Energy which gives the city the option to purchase the former Matthews Ford property adjacent to Lee Walker Heights at any time over the next eight years.

EMPOWERED: The members of the collaborative Energy Innovation Task Force represent a broad spectrum of business, nonprofit and government perspectives. Graphic by Norn Cutson

Energy Innovation Task Force charts WNC’s future

As part of commitments it made earlier this year to the Utilities Commission, Duke Energy has promised to make reducing energy demand a priority in Western North Carolina. A major component of that effort will be Duke’s participation in a 16-member task force, the first of its kind in the state, which will bring together representatives from different parts of the community to develop a new energy vision for the region.