The Beat: Bill Russell drops out of Asheville City Council race; more…

Asheville City Council member Bill Russell has withdrawn from the race for one of three open seats. In a statement released on the Scrutiny Hooligans political blog on Friday, Sept. 9, Russell wrote that "there would be no greater regret for me than if I was not there fully for my kids with my time and energy as they move through these most important years of their lives."

Although he had been running for a second term and preparing for the Oct. 4 primary, Russell thanked his fellow Council members, the other eight candidates and the staff at the State Farm Insurance agency he runs. The Council member promised to continue working on "several projects" in what remains of his term.

Russell's withdrawal leaves Council member Jan Davis as the only incumbent in the field of nine candidates. The October primary will narrow the race to six. — David Forbes

Governor revs up I-26 connector schedule

Gov. Bev Perdue announced on Sept. 7 that she will accelerate the planned construction of six "urban loop" projects, including the proposed Interstate 26 connector in Asheville. Under the new schedule, the state will begin buying right-of-way by 2018, and start construction in 2020.

Speaking at a transportation summit in Greensboro, the governor said she would use bonds to accelerate the construction of the projects. Previously, the start date for the I-26 connector was unspecified, and the project unfunded. Perdue touted the economic impacts of the new construction.

“Investing in our state’s infrastructure is about jobs,” Gov. Perdue said. “Not only will it create jobs, but it also will build an efficient transportation network that will attract new businesses and bring more jobs to our state in the future.”— David Forbes

Facebook-savvy police surprise Patton Avenue cruisers, call for moderation

When West Asheville cruisers on Patton Avenue used Facebook to organize a Sept. 3 gathering, the Asheville Police Department turned up too — but the cops' intention was to quiet the party. "Contrary to popular belief, we don't want to shut it down for you all. I mean, what is there to do in town?" asked the lead officer. "The only thing we're asking for is a little bit of cooperation and exercise a little bit of common sense out here. OK?"

His audience seemed to enjoy the attention and be amenable to the APD's requests. — Jeff Fobes

Thermo Fisher Scientific will expand Asheville operations, add 110 jobs

The Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and Thermo Fisher Scientific announced the company’s plans to expand operations in Asheville and create 110 new positions within the next seven months. These new positions strengthen the company’s significant presence in Buncombe County, with 580 employees at its Aiken Road plant, more than 200 employees at its technical customer service center in Biltmore Park and additional sales and service professionals throughout the region.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global leader in serving science, set roots in Asheville more than 25 years ago. Locally, the company manufactures ultra-low temperature freezers among other products supplied to pharmaceutical, biotech, and research institutions. The new positions will support the manufacture and assembly of high-efficiency cooling pumps, used to control temperature in a variety of Thermo Fisher Scientific products. —

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