Land of the sky-high rents

As Asheville’s real-estate prices continue to rise, even renters are having to dig deeper into their pockets to keep a roof over their heads. If that’s your dilemma, a new rental guide published by the Affordable Housing Coalition may be of particular interest.

Addressing such topics as what’s involved in signing a lease, making sure you get your security deposit back, requesting repairs from landlords, fair-housing laws, eviction processes and subsidized housing, the 22-page guide offers valuable information for anyone who’s thinking about renting, here in Asheville. The first half of the guide details the rights and responsibilities of both renters and landlords and contains several tear-out forms: a lease, a “special agreements” form, a substandard-housing complaint form, and a property-inspection form. Part two of the guide includes actual listings of different categories of rental properties — including subsidized and senior-citizens’ apartment complexes — with phone numbers, locations and an indication of the cost.

The AHC wants to help tenants and landlords get a better understanding of the rules of their relationship, and learn better ways of communicating, to help avoid misunderstandings. The free guide is available at various local locations, including the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army, the Mediation Center, the Buncombe County Health Department, the YWCA, the YMCA and the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, call Elisabeth Bocklet at 259-9216.

Less is more

Although the South as a whole leads the country in death and property loss due to structural fires, Asheville — now entering its sixth year without a fire death — stands out as a prominent (and welcome) exception. The Asheville Fire Department deserves much of the credit for that impressive record, according to Operation Life Safety — a national organization dedicated to eliminating life loss due to fire. The group recently gave the AFD its prestigious Life Safety Achievement Award, to recognize the department’s decision to have its firefighters certified as fire inspectors.

Asheville began certifying its firefighters in 1993, when — in the wake of a fire at the Imperial Chicken Processing Plant in Hamlet, N.C., which killed 25 people — North Carolina began requiring periodic inspections of virtually every building in the state. The AFD’s use of firefighters as fire inspectors, and its emphasis on fire prevention and code enforcement, have helped keep city residents safe.

To learn more, contact Robin Westbrook at 259-5636.

Chewing for charity

The next time you go out for lunch, consider the hundreds of homebound Buncombe County residents who can’t do that — or even get out to buy their own groceries. The Meals on Wheels program’s 300 volunteers deliver hot meals each weekday to nearly 400 county residents who are elderly, infirm or just plain stuck at home.

That’s a good reason why you should consider ordering a Meals on Wheels Lunch Brunch for yourself or your office staff: On Thursday, March 25, the Ridgecrest Conference Center will provide a gourmet packaged lunch for $10 per person, delivered to you by MOW volunteers, with the proceeds going to support the home-meals program. This year’s menu includes a generous serving of chicken salad flavored with cream cheese in a dill and honey-mustard dressing, two side dishes (a fresh vegetable medley in a balsamic vinaigrette, and penne pasta in Italian herbs and spices), a freshly baked croissant, two homestyle chocolate-chip cookies and a beverage.

A minimum of five meals is required for delivery, and certain geographic restrictions apply. The deadline for placing your order is Thursday, March 18.

To place an order, or for more info, call 253-5286.

Celebrating spring

If the budding signs of early spring have your young ones’ blood stirring, some upcoming events at The Health Adventure will give them plenty to get excited about.

First, as part of the museum’s monthly Fabulous Friday program, preschoolers are invited to celebrate the coming of spring on Friday, March 5 at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Participants will complete several “make it and take it” projects, such as cupcake-wrapper flowers and tissue-paper butterflies. Tadpoles, earthworms, baby chicks, kittens and rabbits will all be available for viewing, lessons about animal care, and — when appropriate — supervised petting. The next day (Saturday, March 6), Weston Utter, the animal curator at the Western North Carolina Nature Center, will bring some animals and give a talk about animal care and pet-owners’ responsibilities. Admission to Fabulous Friday is $3.50 for members and $4 for nonmembers. The charge for Utter’s demonstration will be $3 for members and $3.50 for all others.

A week later (Saturday, March 13), the museum will debut The Health Adventure, a new recording of original songs for kids by Jim Taylor and Myra Lynch, with a concert featuring Taylor, the Forest Hill Band and special guest Chris Rosser. The songs cover a range of delightfully instructional subjects, including proper nutrition, dental hygiene, the benefits of exercise, and how to resist peer pressure. The music is a robust mixture of rock, reggae, country and other styles, and the Carolina Day School children’s chorus will provide backup vocals. The concert will take place at the museum in downtown Asheville’s Pack Place, at 10:30 a.m. Admission is $4 for adults,$3 for children.

For more information, contact Ashly Maag at 254-6373, ext. 309.

Grounding your garden

Of course, kids aren’t the only ones who get revved up about spring: Gardeners get excited, too. And if you’re new to the area, or just starting out gardening, a new seminar sponsored by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service may be just what you need. “From the Ground Up” will be held Saturday, March 13, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The seminar is geared to the novice home gardener, and to those who are new to the particularities of gardening in North Carolina.

Focusing on such topics as planning your garden, seeds and transplants, soil, vegetables, flowers and herbs, the classes will be taught by “master gardeners” — trained Extension Service volunteers. The Cooperative Extension Service — an educational organization funded by the county, state and federal governments — serves as a link between the serious science of universities and the lay practices of the region’s people. The agency’s core programs focus on both traditional and changing needs in agriculture, family and consumer education, 4-H and youth groups, and community development.

The admission charge is $16; individuals with disabilities who wish to attend should call Agriculture Extension Agent Linda Blue at 255-5522, at least a week before the event.

To learn more, or to register, call 255-5522, or fax 255-5202.

Kudos for WNCW rules

The rest of the country recently got a chance to find out what western North Carolinians have known for years: WNCW rules. At a radio-industry seminar in New Orleans late last month, the trade magazine Gavin awarded Station of the Year honors to the public-radio station, based in Spindale, N.C. And WNCW’s programming director, Mark Keefe, was named Programmer of the Year.

Both honors were awarded for the Americana format — a loose, roots-based category that includes everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Lucinda Williams to Los Lobos to The New Grass Revival. The editors of Gavin made the nominations; the winners were chosen by a vote of people in the industry. More than 80 stations were nominated in the Americana format, including some in large markets such as Seattle and Dallas. Keefe and Programming Assistant Armando Bellmas were on hand to accept the awards.

Keefe, who has been WNCW’s program director for nearly two years, is in charge of assembling the station’s play list, as well as scheduling its programming. He was the only programming director to be nominated in two separate categories.

For more about the awards, call Mark Keefe or Armando Bellmas at 287-8000.


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