After seven straight wins, a Big South Conference championship and a first-round NCAA tournament win, the "UNC Asheville Bulldogs' Dream Run Ends," reported the Asheville Citizen-Times.
The Bulldogs had a tough St. Patrick's Day. On March 17, they lost to the Pittsburgh Panthers, which knocked them out of the NCAA tournament.
“It's been a really good run, and I couldn't be prouder of my team, how they played and the effort they gave,” coach Eddie Biedenbach said after the game. A small but vocal group of supportive UNCA students represented Asheville at the game in Washington, D.C.
However, it hasn't been all free throws and layups for the college's undergrads.
The Carolina Public Press reported last week that four students have been working side by side with Buncombe County detectives to investigate the 2002 missing persons case of Joseph D'Aquisto, an Asheville man who went missing in 2002, at the age of 61.
In their report, "UNC Asheville Students Investigate Public records, Help Reopen Buncombe County Cold Case," the students explained, "Unlike the worlds portrayed in Law & Order and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, making sense of and using available, open information does not come easily. The glamour of Hollywood’s on-demand field samples and quick evidence processing fades in the real world, or at least in Buncombe County, where systematic and complex processes prevail."
They plan to continue working with the detectives and reporting on the experience through May.
It's the kind of school program that Gov. Bev Perdue implied she would like to see continue when she spoke in Asheville last week. According to "In Asheville, Gov. Perdue Vows No Retreat on Schools," the governor pledged to the Citizen-Times editorial board that she won’t “go backwards” on education.
“This state has been transformed since the '50s by one method — through education. We were cotton, low-wage manufacturing and textiles, and this emphasis on education has transformed North Carolina … and I don't believe we can go backwards, and my budget did not do that,” Perdue said.
Iodine, hunger and gas
In a story that brought the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan a little closer to home, the Citizen-Times devoted front-page space to "Asheville-area Residents Make Run on Potassium Iodide Pills."
"Demand for products with iodine has cleared shelves at pharmacies and other businesses selling health merchandise nationwide amid fears over the threat of meltdowns in several of Japan's nuclear power plants," wrote reporter Joel Burgess.
Asheville company Nature's Pharmacy had exhausted its 600-capsule supply of potassium iodide by Tuesday, and on Wednesday was making 6,000 more pills. The capsules, which help prevent radioactive iodine from causing thyroid cancer, were selling for $1 each, according to the article.
However, much of the fear driving sales was misplaced, said experts.
“You just aren't going to have any radiological material that, by the time it traveled those large distances, could present any risk to the American public,” explained Greg Jaczko, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman.
Meanwhile, a new report revealed that many area residents are having a hard time affording the necessities of life. According to the Xpress online post, "Hunger Study: Asheville Seventh Worst Metro Area in Country," 23.9 percent of the area's population (defined as Buncombe, Madison, Henderson and Haywood counties) struggled to feed themselves and their families at some point in 2010.
The region's rising gas costs certainly won't help.
According to another Xpress online post, "Gas Prices Steadily Rising," prices in Asheville averaged $3.54 a gallon as of March 14, a 4.5 cent per-gallon increase over the week before. The national average that week increased 3.8 cents per gallon to $3.53.