Attack of the bears … and hot weather

The Asheville Citizen-Times' John Boyle continues to cover the bear beat. In a front-page story last week, "Second Goat Falls Prey to Marauding Bear in East Asheville," he writes that "for the second time in a week, an east Asheville resident has reported a bear snatching and killing a goat — just feet from the back door."

Beware the bear: When frightened, bears will head for a tree, as this cub did; they usually won't come down till all's clear. photo courtesy of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

"The goat was sleeping on the back porch — he was like a puppy dog," the goat's owner, Leslie Pearson, tells Boyle. "We heard the screaming of the goat, and I ran outside with a flashlight. The bear was carrying the goat off into the woods by the house."

The attack follows several recent bear incidents. On June 7, a bear killed a dog in east Asheville, and on May 26, a bear took a much-publicized stroll downtown. Earlier last month, a bear was euthanized after biting a tourist who had been taking close-up photos of her in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

According to the AC-T article, bear nuisance complaints — as well as the bear population — have been on the rise in Western North Carolina over the past few years.

In response, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission wants to remind "Residents [that they] Can Take Steps to Avoid Conflict with Bears." In a post on Xpress' Web site, the commission urges residents to help prevent bear encounters by securing trash indoors and cleaning grease from barbecue grills.

The heat is on

Ashvegas reports that "May 2010 was the Hottest on Record, According to Asheville's NCDC." And the C-T reports in "Heat Wave Ties Record in Asheville," that the town's high of 90 degrees on June 13 tied a record for that date set in 1958.

Not to worry though — relief should be on the way soon, says National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Outlaw

The long-range forecast for June, July and August calls for temperatures to be relatively moderate — certainly not 10 degrees above average as the mountains have recorded in recent days, he says.

"It looks like the temperatures will be slightly above normal for the summer overall," Outlaw tells the C-T.

Unfortunately, the unseasonably hot weather down the road in Manchester, Tenn., was enough to kill former UNCA student David Matthew Sloan. As reported in an Xpress online post, "Man Who Died at Bonnaroo was a UNCA Alum," Sloan collapsed and died of a heat-related illness at the music-and-arts festival on June 13.

Sloan attended UNCA from fall 1999 to spring 2005.

A different kind of heat is bearing down on local members of the American Outlaws Association motorcycle club.

After breaking the story online, Xpress reports in "Uneasy Riders"  that two local members of the notorious group are among those indicted for participating "in a criminal enterprise that engaged in a wide range of crimes, including attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, robbery, extortion, witness intimidation, narcotics distribution, illegal gambling and weapons violations." ****SEE PAGE 17 for the full story. ****

Top schools

In education news, the C-T reports that "Asheville High School, Roberson Ranked in Top 1,600 Schools." The article reports that Newsweek recently ranked AHS as the 602nd best high school in the country, while Roberson came in at No. 1,351. Just six percent of public schools nationwide made the ranking.

Over in Henderson County, BlueRidgeNow reports that Superintendent Stephen Page is preparing to retire later this month. According to the article, "Henderson County Schools Brace for Page's Exit," many of his colleagues will be sad to see him go.

"He was easy to work with, thoughtful, kind and considerate," Henderson County Schools Public Information Officer Tricia Allen tells the online version of the Hendersonville Times-News. "It's obvious he cares about the kids and the teachers."
Under Page's leadership, the school system's number of dropouts was cut in half.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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