Buzzworm news briefs

Children’s essay contest

A new movie, The Adventures of Ociee Nash, will be released on Feb. 13. The film tells the story of a courageous 9-year-old girl who lived in Asheville in 1898, and the producers are sponsoring an essay contest for children Ociee’s age — third through fifth grade — answering the question, “What does it mean to be brave?”

Ociee Nash stars Keith Carradine, Skyler Day and Mare Winningham, as well as Asheville’s own Jasmine Sky. Jasmine plans to greet audiences and sign autographs before and after select shows at the Carmike 10 theater Feb. 13-16. What’s more, two contest winners — one girl and one boy — will join her on Valentine’s Day. They’ll be treated to lunch, and after learning what it’s like for a young actress to appear in her first feature film, will see the movie with Jasmine and her friends.

The essay should be hand-written, a maximum of 200 words, and postmarked no later than Monday, Feb. 9. Entries (include name, age and a phone number or e-mail address) should be sent to: The Adventures of Ociee Nash Essay Contest, Green Sky Management, 60 Haywood St. Suite 3-D, Asheville NC 28801.

— Cecil Bothwell

Have an opinion on mental-health reform?

Mental-health services in North Carolina are in the midst of a major transformation. On Dec. 1, the public mental-health system serving residents of Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties was converted into a public/private system as part of state-mandated mental-health reform.

But how well is it going? What kinds of problems have come up?

In order to find out, the Western Highlands Network local management entity has scheduled two “listening sessions” to solicit feedback from the public:

• Thursday, Feb. 5 at the Yancey County Courthouse; and

• Thursday, Feb. 12 at A-B Tech’s Madison County campus.

Both sessions will begin at 5:30 p.m.

At press time, another listening session slated to take place in Mitchell County on Feb. 2 will be rescheduled for a yet-to-be-determined date.

Sessions in five other Western Highlands Network counties — including Buncombe — are expected to be held in the coming months as statewide reform unfolds.

For more info, call the Western Highlands Network at (800) 951-3792.

— Tracy Rose

Pack Square design workshops

After months of turmoil, the future of City/County Plaza appears to have shifted dramatically.

On Jan. 27, the Asheville City Council narrowly passed a resolution opposing construction of a high-rise there. Terry Bellamy, Holly Jones and Brownie Newman joined Mayor Charles Worley in passing the measure on a 4-3 vote.

Plans for redeveloping the downtown park continue, however. To that end, the nonprofit Pack Square Conservancy, which is spearheading the project, will host a pair of workshops offering the public a chance to review the latest conceptual sketches and give input. The workshops — to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 10 and 11 from 7-9 p.m. on the lower level of the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center — will focus on the plans for the middle portion of the six-and-a-half-acre site (which includes both Pack Square and City/County Plaza).

After a short presentation by landscape architects Fred Bonci and Jane Alexander, participants will split into working groups to develop ideas and appropriate uses for the area. Bonci and Alexander will be on hand to answer questions and discuss new design elements suggested for the park.

The next day, design teams will develop final concept sketches reflecting that input. The new sketches will be available for public viewing in the Pack Place Forum Thursday, Feb. 12 from 5 to 7 p.m.

A contribution form and information about both the conservancy and the park are available at www.packsquare.com, or at (828) 252-2300.

— Cecil Bothwell

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