Saving Lake Logan: the final chapter

When Champion International announced last year that it would sell its land surrounding Lake Logan, Western North Carolina environmentalists, businesspeople and literature lovers alike were worried that the property would fall into the wrong hands. Estimated to be worth more than $10 million, the 4,374-acre tract of land — which also contains the western shoulders of Cold Mountain — was, essentially, up for grabs by the highest bidder. And, though the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund quickly committed $3 million (in partnership with the Save Lake Logan Committee and a host of environmental, wildlife and conservation groups), and Congress appropriated $1 million, additional funds were still needed. For more than a year, it seemed that the deal could go either way.

In mid-December, however, the deal was finally closed when Congress approved an additional $1.25 million, which should be enough to purchase the land. The money, according to a press release from Sen. John Edwards, is part of a Lands Legacy Initiative to protect 18 natural and historic sites proposed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior.

The initiative enjoyed full, bipartisan support, including North Carolina Sens. John Edwards and Jesse Helms — and, at the last minute, U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor.

“This land is vital to the economic and environmental health of Western North Carolina,” said Edwards in a prepared statement. “Saving this beautiful area of North Carolina for our children and grandchildren remains a top priority for me.”

Taylor, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior (which helps control the congressional purse strings), has been criticized by local media for being out of synch with his constituents (who, by an overwhelming margin, wanted the lake and the surrounding property kept in its pristine state). In a Dec. 14 media release, Taylor stated, “It may be necessary to use part, or all, of an additional $1.2 million the President had proposed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund” in order to obtain the property.

To learn more about congressional efforts to save Lake Logan, call Sen. Edwards’ office at (202) 224-1545.

Oh, crap

A new city ordinance requires pet owners to clean up after their animals, according to a recent city of Asheville media release. The ordinance, which applies to domestic animals and their owners, establishes a civil penalty for people who allow their animals to defecate “on any street, sidewalk, public way, play area, or common grounds owned jointly by the members of a homeowners association,” without cleaning up after the animal. The ordinance also applies to private property, unless the owner of the property has given permission.

“It is the duty of a pet owner to clean up after their own animal,” said Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick in the release. “Property owners and others should not have to be exposed to waste that is created by someone else’s pet. It’s time that we all take responsibility for our own actions and the actions of our pets.”

The city has contracted with Buncombe County Friends For Animals to enforce the ordinance; the agency also administers the city’s animal-control ordinances. A first offense will draw a $10 fine, with higher penalties for a second or subsequent offenses within a 12-month period.

To find out more about the new animal-waste ordinance, call Robin Nix at 259-5484.

Spreading the wealth

Even after several years of a strong national economy, some segments of the population are still trying to catch up. To help them do so, the Asheville chapter of the NAACP is sponsoring a Minority Career Fair on Saturday, Jan. 15 from 1-8 p.m., in the Civic Center’s banquet hall.

It’s a chance to interview with local businesses, nonprofits and other employers for professional positions; to find a good internship; to meet with representatives of local colleges and universities offering grants and loans for minorities; to learn about the local employment climate; and to network with other community members.

In addition, successful former members of Asheville’s minority community will be on hand to share their experiences and provide inspiration. Admission is free, and there’ll even be live music and free refreshments, to keep things festive.

To learn more about the NAACP Minority Career Fair, call 281-3066.

The end of the holidays

There’s something about January that doesn’t love a Christmas tree. Whether it’s those irritating, endlessly blinking lights; the messy pile of dead needles under the tree; or the fact that it might become a fireball at any moment, something must be done with the thing. And, if you live in Hendersonville, the solution is simple — take it to the annual Christmas Tree Recycling Project.

You can drop your tree at the designated site, near the administration building in Jackson Park (and, if you come by on Jan. 8, you can watch your tree being turned into fragrant chips while enjoying hot apple cider served by volunteers from the Environmental and Conservation Organization). Hendersonville residents may also leave their trees for regular curbside pickup, and they’ll be chipped right there at the curb.

ECO volunteers will direct traffic, help unload trees and assist participants gathering mulch during the Jan. 8 recycling event; if you’re planning to collect mulch, be sure to bring a box or bag. The event will take place rain or shine. No balled trees, wreaths or greenery with wire will be accepted.

To learn more about Hendersonville’s 11th Annual Christmas Tree Recycling Project, call the ECO office at 692-0385. To find out about Christmas-tree recycling in Asheville/Buncombe, call Quality Forward at 254-1776.

Read any good books lately?

Even though Asheville has long been known as a literary town, many local writers have had to look elsewhere to get published. That’s changing, however, says Arden-based freelance book editor Susan Snowden. Asheville and the surrounding areas are brimming not only with literary talent, but also with the means to produce and market a quality book. As an example, Snowden cites Drifting the River: Growing Up Wild in the South (Wolfhound Press, 1999), a memoir of childhood by Mart Baldwin, which was written, edited, designed, published and even marketed nationally from right here.

“I’ve edited two dozen books by local authors in the last two years,” says Snowden, “and I’ve learned that this is a working, writing community. The people in this area are amazing — there are so many people here writing novels, nonfiction books. These people are not just coming up here [from somewhere else] to write — there are a lot of different people writing in a variety of genres.”

Drifting the River is a handsome, well-written work by a veteran author (Baldwin has also published a mystery and a collection of travel essays, among other things). As it details a series of outdoor adventures spanning more than five decades, from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to Alabama’s Coosa River, the book also looks at one man’s view of career, family and the changing region that is his home.

A local writing group, The Writer’s Guild of Western North Carolina, played a key role in making Drifting the River happen.

“All of those people got to know each other through the Writer’s Guild,” Snowden reports. “Basically, the author met the publisher, the PR person, the editor — the whole thing was able to come together through the networking in that one community.”

Guild members include a number of published writing professionals, and the group is as concerned with the fickle realities of the publishing industry, and how to deal with the inevitable rejection slips, as it is with supporting the actual writing process.

To learn more about The Writer’s Guild of Western North Carolina, write to: P.O. Box 431, Fletcher, NC 28732, or call Geneva Moore at 684-7965. To learn more about Wolfhound Press, write them at: P.O. Box 996, Old Fort, NC 28762.

Damage control

As Asheville weathers a fairly serious Hepatitis A scare, the restaurant where the infected person worked is doing its best to reassure its customers. Although health officials maintain that the restaurant was not at fault, the management of La Paz Restaurante and Cantina sent out a quick press release to let folks know that things are back to normal there. Here it is:

“The Buncombe County Health Department has assured La Paz and its patrons that there is no current threat of exposure at our restaurant, and that this was an unfortunate and isolated incident.

“According to Health Department Director Martha Salyers, ‘Nothing in La Paz’s food-handling practices caused the workers to become ill; in fact, La Paz has maintained a high, grade-A health rating since they opened in 1994.’

“The individual who contracted the virus was a part-time hostess whose job did not involve any food handling. This individual contracted the virus from another person, who does not work for La Paz, or in the food-service industry.

“Although the risk of exposure is extremely slight, as a precautionary measure, health officials are urging anyone who ate at La Paz between Dec. 13 and Dec. 21 to get an immune globulin shot for their own protection. Any further questions regarding this incident may be directed to the Buncombe County Health Department at (828) 250-5000.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for their support during the past five years, and hope this unfortunate incident will not dampen the spirit of the holiday season. On behalf of La Paz, we would like to wish all of you a healthy and prosperous New Year!


Tom Nickoloff,

President, La Paz”

For more information about the incident, contact the Buncombe County Health Department at 250-5000.

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