Notepad

The one that got away

As local governments hereabouts continue to talk about the need to recruit progressive-minded, low-impact industries to provide decent jobs for area residents, a new recycled-panelboard company recently set up shop — in Columbia, S.C. — bringing with it the potential for hundreds of well-paying jobs.

“South Carolina’s ability to attract and retain progressive companies grows each time innovative solutions are used,” proclaimed S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges in a recent press release, adding, “We welcome the new company, Kafus Molded Fibers, to South Carolina.”

Kafus makes a new type of molded fiberboard — originally called “spaceboard” — from 100-percent-recycled fiber, plus other sustainably produced raw materials. Developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the fiberboard’s strong-but-lightweight honeycomb structure gives it the bending strength of particleboard, at one-third the weight. What’s more, Kafus predicts a series of “synergistic opportunities” for MFB panels made of various waste fibers, to be used in many kinds of packaging. When combined with existing Kafus Bio-Composite technology, MFB panels may also be used to produce a new range of high-strength, lightweight structural components for the automotive, aeronautical, furniture and building-products industries.

“By growing South Carolina’s field of composites and recycling opportunities from MFB-panel production, other companies will be able to utilize new technology, reduce wastes and increase productivity,” predicted S.C. Secretary of Commerce Charles S. Way Jr.

For more information on molded fiberboard, or Kafus Molded Fibers, call Don Jenkins at (803) 822-8490.

Access, access, access

Not long ago, this paper reported that social-work students from Warren Wilson College would be telephoning seniors in the region, to determine their greatest needs in terms of community care and support. Now, those surveys are in, and they reveal what many of us with aging parents already knew: that quality health care, affordable health care, and transportation to health care facilities, are among older Western North Carolinians’ top concerns.

The survey, conducted jointly by Warren Wilson and the Land-of-Sky Regional Council’s Area Agency on Aging, was meant to provide empirical data to county commissioners, county managers and the chairs of county planning committees for older-adult services. (The AAA will also use the information to develop a four-year plan defining staff and volunteer responsibilities.) Initially, the students had hoped to interview 300 older adults in AAA’s four-county service area — Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania — but only one older adult in 10 actually cooperated with the callers, seriously lowering the sample population.

Among the needs most mentioned are: Seeing a doctor; obtaining financial assistance for medications; transportation to medical appointments; access to an emergency, 24-hour telephone-alert system; access to an eye doctor; reasonably priced 24-hour medical care; and dental care. Other frequently mentioned services include housing, in-home aid, and home-delivered meals.

To learn more about the Land-of-Sky Regional Council’s Area Agency on Aging, call Joan Blee Tuttle, director of aging programs, at 251-6622. A complete set of the needs-assessment info is available on request.

Stop the presses

Although WNC enjoys its fair share of literary glory, local journalists don’t generally seem to get as much attention. Recently, however, two notable newshounds have made headlines.

First, Professor Catherine C. Mitchell, the chair of UNCA’s mass-communications program, was profiled in a book produced by the Newseum, a museum of news history in Washington, D.C. The book, Crusaders, Scoundrels, Journalists — The Newseum’s Most Intriguing Newspeople (Time Books, 2000), devotes a page to each featured newsperson, including a portrait, a brief career history and an excerpt of the individual’s work.

Inducted into the Newseum’s gallery of the 500 most outstanding journalists in American history in 1997, Dr. Mitchell was awarded a Pulitzer Prize (for Meritorious Public Service, in the form of investigative journalism, in 1979). The founder of both the mass-communications department and the women’s studies program at UNCA, Mitchell has lectured extensively throughout Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Miles Tager, an editor and staff writer for the Mountain Times newspaper in Boone, recently published a book about Grandfather Mountain, the highest — and reportedly oldest — peak in the Blue Ridge. Grandfather Mountain: A Profile (Parkway Publishers, 2000) traces the history of this landmark from its formation nearly a billion years ago, through its fascinating natural history, to the present day.

Tager has researched and written about the mountain for nearly 15 years, incorporating the most recent scientific data, as well as lesser-known facts about a peak that has, in recent times, become a symbol of the struggle between growth and preservation in environmentally fragile areas such as North Carolina’s high country. Tager has won numerous writing awards, including the North Carolina Press Association’s Feature Writing Award, the North Carolina Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Media and the Law, the Blumenthal Series Award for Short Fiction and the North Carolina Writers’ Network Award for Creative Non-Fiction, making him uniquely qualified to tell the old mountain’s story.

For more information about Crusaders, Scoundrels, Journalists, call UNCA’s public-information office at 251-6676. To learn more about Grandfather Mountain: A Profile, call Parkway Publishers at 265-3993.

Pushing back

When the Asheville City Council refused to hear the proposals of pro-marijuana demonstrators during council meetings in the summer of 1998, they may have figured that would be the end of it. But local hemp activists, it seems, are some very motivated folks. In the wake of that rebuff — and a subsequent incident at the Aug. 27, 1998 Council meeting, when demonstrators were cataloged for police purposes on videotape — local marijuana advocates have launched a petition drive to force a referendum on making marijuana arrests the lowest priority for city police.

The activist group Community of Compassion aims to collect 7,500 signatures by the April 20 deadline — the exact number needed to force a citywide vote.

“Asheville voters are in a pivotal position, this election year, to proclaim our city a “conscientious objector” in the War on Drugs,” said COC member Steve Rasmussen, adding:”Legally, our city police are not obligated to participate in federal anti-marijuana operations. Local voters retain the right to protest bad laws by directing their own police to prioritize arrests in the way residents themselves deem most reasonable.”

COC plans to gather the signatures by staging a series of events, called the 4/20 Campaign. On the calendar for this month is: a February Forum, slated for Saturday, Feb. 26, from 7-10 p.m. at the Movement and Learning Center, above the French Broad Food Co-op The jam-packed program will include a documentary on Asheville hemp activism, by videographer Irvin Dargan; “The Marijuana Debate: A Peacemaking Perspective,” a lecture by Dr. Duane Davis, professor of criminology at Western Carolina University; “Medicinal Marijuana,” a talk by Dixie Deerman, R.N.; “The Virtues of Industrial Hemp,” a talk by by Maria Leatherwood, owner of High Mountain Emporium; and “Marijuana Use as an Ancient Adaptation to Environmental Stressors,” a lecture by activist Alan Gordon.

“We want our police forces to direct their time and resources to catching rapists, murderers and thieves,” said social worker Dawn Humphreys in the COC press release, “– not invading innocent people’s homes from helicopters and seizing their property under the pretext of a ‘drug raid,’ or spying on and kicking in the doors of peaceful citizens merely because they grow or use this medicinal herb to relieve their stress or migraine or cancer symptoms. A number of local police officers themselves have told us they support what we’re doing.”

For more information, contact Dixie Deerman or Steve Rasmussen (251-0343), Dawn Humphreys (258-8432), or e-mail herbmercy@aol.com. Referendum petitions are availalble to sign at Earth Fare (Westgate Shopping Center) and High Mountain Emporium (30 Wall St., Asheville.)

— Conflictedly compiled by Paul Schattel

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