Buzzworm news briefs

Road food

For the 450 homebound or elderly folks who subscribe to Meals on Wheels, the daily arrival of a warm, balanced lunch can literally be the high point of the day. When this writer volunteered as a delivery driver for a few years, every interaction brightened my days. And right now, MOW is desperately short of drivers.

This is your chance to pitch in, perform a greatly needed and hugely appreciated service, feel good about yourself, and have time to reflect on the notion that if you’re lucky, you too will live long enough to be old and frail someday — all this in just a couple of hours each week. Routes are meticulously planned and all within easily drivable neighborhoods; the cooking, packing and organizing are all done for you; all you need to do is show up and take a spin around a few blocks. For those who can’t commit to every week, substitute slots are also in need of warm bodies.

Drivers are particularly needed in Erwin Hills, Candler West, Leicester, Haw Creek, Oteen, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and the Arrowhead and Aston Park apartments.

The folks who qualify for MOW can no longer drive or cook for themselves. If you don’t help out, who will?

For more info call Joe Miller, 253-5286.

— Cecil Bothwell

Local ad agency nabs ADDYs

Each year the American Advertising Federation holds a competition for print and video ads. More than 60,000 entries are judged in a three-tiered contest that begins in local markets, then moves on to the regional level. The prizes are dubbed ADDYs.

Asheville’s WC&T advertising agency picked up a Special Judges Award and two Gold ADDYs from the Greenville Ad Club on Feb. 26. The local AAF affiliate in Greenville also covers Spartanburg and Anderson, S.C., as well as Asheville.

WC&T’s “Next Conductor” television spot for the Asheville Symphony, which was shot by Asheville’s Bonesteel Films & Video, won the gold in the Advertising for the Arts & Sciences Broadcast category, and its print-ad campaign for the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity Home Store picked up the gold in the Public Service Campaign Local category. The symphony spot was further honored by a Special Judges Award for broadcast — one of the three top awards given at the ceremony. In addition, the agency won a Silver ADDY in the Sales Promotion Point of Purchase category for Anderson Hardwood Floors’ “Biltmore Estate for Your Home Collection” display.

Over the past three decades, WC&T Creative Director Mark Wilson has collected 25 regional and three national ADDYs. Agency copywriter Stephen Childress contributed to both the symphony spot and the Habitat for Humanity Home Store newspaper campaign.

— Cecil Bothwell

Riting kawntests

Real writers agree that the “just open a vein” genre is thoroughly passe — you can buy ink cartridges online for less than a box of Band-Aids, and blood invariably draws botflies. But the “just open a bank account” school of creativity never goes out of fashion.

To that end, The Writers’ Workshop (based in Asheville) has announced four writing contests with substantial cash prizes for the top three finishers. The first write-off goes one step further, throwing travel, glory and a possibly life-changing experience into the bargain.

The headliner is a fiction/nonfiction contest featuring big-name judges: Kurt Vonnegut (fiction) and Peter Matthiessen (nonfiction). And the first-place winner will have a choice of meeting both literary icons over drinks in the Hamptons in mid-August or pocketing $500 (right, like any writer is going to miss that cocktail hour). Both second-place winners will score a stay at Asheville’s Mountain Mews Bed and Breakfast (or $250 in legal tender). Third-place winners will collect $150 and an autographed book.

Here are the rules: Submit an original, unpublished short story, factual story or memoir of up to 5,000 words — printed in 12-point type, double-spaced and held together by a paper clip (no staples). Provide a cover sheet with your name, address, phone number and the story title. Include a legal-size, self-addressed, stamped envelope with self-adhesive flap. The fee is $25 per entry (there’s no limit on the number of submissions per writer). All entries must be postmarked by midnight on June 25, 2005. Send them to: KV Fiction Contest or PM Non-Fiction Contest (see address below).

The second contest is for a love letter, poem or story (4,000 words max). No more than eight entries per author, and each entry must be accompanied by a check or money order for $15 ($12 for members). First prize takes home $350, second $250 and third $100. Deadline: April 30.

The third competition is the Workshop’s Annual Poetry Contest. Up to 10 poems may be submitted, no more than two pages per poem and an entry fee of $12 apiece ($10 for members). Prizes from first to third are three, two and one Big Ben. (Editor’s note: Writers rarely see $100 bills and thus may not know that the picture of Franklin on the new currency is quite large.) Deadline: May 30.

And finally, there’s a Young Writers’ Short Story Contest, for scribes up to age 18. No more than 15 pages in length, double-spaced. (Hint: Using 8-point type greatly increases the number of words you can fit on a page.) Up to five stories, $5 reading fee per story. Prizes run $100, $75 and $50.

Send all entries to: The Writer’s Workshop; 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville NC 28805. For details, visit the Web site (writrwkshp@aol.com) or call 254-8111.

— Cecil Bothwell

The down and dirty race

It appears that half the fun of taking part in the Nantahala Outdoor Center/Subaru 8-Hour Adventure Race is coming up with a name for your team. Some of last year’s team monikers were: Atkins Sucks; Entrails Of Destiny; A Businessman, A Nurse, A Priest; Foggy Bottom Boys; Martha Stewart’s Penpals; Insane Clown Posse, Freaks On A Leash; and Freakier Freaks On A Leash (obviously an especially competitive team).

But the other half of the fun must be whatever joy is to be found in getting lost, dirty and exhausted. If that’s something that floats your boat, then you’ll want to check out this year’s event, which happens Saturday, March 26, starting at 8 a.m. (what time you finish depends on how good your sense of direction is).

The eight-hour race will take competing teams through 30 miles of rugged terrain within the Nantahala National Forest. Each three-member team will be expected to do some or all of the following activities: running, hiking, mountain biking, road biking, flat-water and white-water paddling, and orienteering. Teams register in one of three categories — all-male, all-female or coed — with prizes awarded to the winning team in each group.

What distinguishes adventure races from other multisport challenges is that details about the course are not revealed to the competitors until just before the race begins. Teams must use strategy and navigational skills to determine the best route for successfully hitting all the designated checkpoints within the given time frame.

NOC has been hosting adventure races since the mid-’90s, but this year’s event promises to be the most challenging yet, reports NOC Special Events Director Kathy Allison.

And real gluttons for punishment will be happy to learn that the 50-mile 12-Hour Adventure Race is making a return this year on Saturday, April 23, beginning at 8 a.m. Winning teams in that race will score a spot in the U.S. Adventure Racing Association’s National Championship.

The entry fee is $345 per team for the eight-hour race and $450 for the 12-hour race. Teams registering for both events at the same time receive a $50 discount.

For more information, call (800) 232-7238 or visit the NOC Web site (noc.com). To learn more about the U.S. Adventure Racing Association’s National Championship, visit their Web site (usara.com).

— Lisa Watters

Meetings in the sunshine?

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and the Asheville Citizen-Times editorial board met on March 9 to discuss the pending dissolution of the Regional Water Agreement. In keeping with state law, the meeting was announced ahead of time and the public was invited. The law stipulates that when a quorum of any elected body comes together for any reason (with specific exceptions for personnel, legal and certain real-estate matters), the gathering must be open to the public.

The March 9 conference stood in stark contrast to a similar-but-unannounced Citizen-Times sit-down with four Asheville City Council members on Feb. 28, which explicitly violated the state law. As the Citizen-Times itself reported on March 2, “Amanda Martin, general counsel for the North Carolina Press Association, said Monday’s meeting qualified as an ‘official meeting’ and the city was under legal obligation to announce it so that the public could attend.”

Except for this reporter, everyone present at the meeting other than the county commissioners was an employee of the daily newspaper, part of the Gannett chain. Of the five county commissioners, only Bill Stanley was absent.

The commissioners reiterated positions they’ve taken in recent board meetings and in their Feb. 4 letter to the city. In the course of discussion, the commissioners stressed that at this point, everything is on the table. Commissioner David Young went so far as to say that even countywide zoning would be considered in exchange for creation of the independent regional water authority advocated by the county. Board Chairman Nathan Ramsey nodded in assent.

Executive Editor Bob Gabordi quickly asked the commissioners whether they expected to gain re-election if countywide zoning were implemented. The question went unanswered.

Ramsey announced that some members of the Board of Commissioners and City Council would “meet in an undisclosed location in the next few days” to discuss the Water Agreement.

Afterward, Xpress sent a letter to all members of both elective bodies asserting that such a meeting would violate state law because the governing bodies planned to discuss public policy. In response to the letter, Ramsey told Xpress that Asheville Mayor Charles Worley had canceled the meeting. But Ramsey also maintained that such meetings are legal and have been ongoing for months.

Like a melting iceberg adrift in uncertain seas, it appears that the greater part of discussions about the future of the area’s water system remain hidden from general view.

— Cecil Bothwell

Bringing African-Americans and Latinos together

“Sometimes there’s a way in which the Latino community and the African-American community are pitted against each other,” says Althea Gonzalez, who serves on the board of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council. Gonzalez is one of the organizers of the upcoming African American/Latino Community Conference, slated for Friday, April 1 (6-8 p.m.) and Saturday, April 2 (8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at Calvary Baptist Church (531 Haywood Road in West Asheville).

Bob Smith, the director of the Community Relations Council, agrees. “As new folks come into the community, there are turf battles [and] tensions that arise,” he notes. “As the black community still struggles with employment, still struggles with health care, and then you have a new element — the Latino community — entering into the friction, the natural tendency is to fight ‘those people’ … who are different from me.”

Both Gonzalez and Smith say they hope the conference will highlight the common ground that they believe the two groups share.

“They’re fighting for a lot of the same things,” notes Smith. “They’re fighting to be a part of the larger community.”

But similar challenges aren’t the only thing they have in common, Gonzales points out. “There are a lot of social and cultural similarities between the two communities as well,” she says.

The conference will provide social opportunities for African-Americans and Latinos to connect with one another as well as educational workshops on issues affecting both communities.

The workshops are grouped in five key areas — education, health, legal, employment and housing — with experts on each topic speaking about available resources and how to deal with discrimination. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Raleigh Bailey, director of the Center for New North Carolinians at UNC-Greensboro.

John Hayes — president of the Asheville chapter of the NAACP and manager of radio station WRES-LP 100.7 — will serve as DJ for the event. And the Mustard Seed Puppet Company, featuring multiracial puppets, will perform skits for both adults and kids that are “lighthearted but also meaningful,” says Gonzalez.

The conference will also include a buffet dinner, a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch. The cost is only $5 per family — whether there’s one member or 10 — and the fee covers all meals and workshops (though no one will be turned away for lack of funds, stresses Smith). In addition, free daycare will be provided. Participants are asked to register by Thursday, March 24, so that logistics can be planned beforehand.

Smith says he hopes the conference will be only the beginning of a growing relationship between the two communities, giving people a chance to “look across the table and see, ‘Hey, those folks are just like me — and we have similar needs and similar concerns, and maybe we can work together on some of these issues.”

And Gonzales adds, “By helping each culture know the other better, it’s going to help them … not feel so isolated in our city and community.”

To register or to find out more, call the Community Relations Council at 252-4713.

— Lisa Watters

Peace in the park

March 20 marks the second anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. And once again, people across the globe will take to the streets to call for an end to the conflict and the U.S. occupation of that embattled country. Here in Asheville, the WNC Peace Coalition is planning a weekend of events to mark the anniversary.

Under the banner of “Say yes to peace and no to pre-emptive war and occupation,” local activists will travel by bus to Fayetteville on Saturday, March 19, for a statewide march and rally, Peace Coalition spokesperson Cicada Brokaw reports. Fayetteville was chosen because it’s the home of Fort Bragg — one of the biggest military bases in the U.S. — and because it is “home to a growing base of anti-war activists and organizations: Military folks, veterans, families of active-duty soldiers, students, workers, educators [who] are all part of a vibrant and growing statewide network,” according to a recent press release from the group.

And on Sunday, March 20, the Peace Coalition will sponsor a 2 p.m. rally in City/County Plaza featuring speakers, artists, performers and information provided by a number of local nonprofits. Following the rally, there will be a walk through downtown Asheville. The coalition has obtained permits from the city for both local events.

“We hope to have as good a turnout as we did last year — or even better,” Brokaw noted in a recent interview with Xpress. “And the seats on the bus for the 19th are filling up fast, so if anyone is interested in joining us, they should contact us as soon as possible.” If there’s enough interest, the group will add a second bus, he said.

The March 20 rally and walk in Asheville are free and open to the public. The bus trip to the rally costs $35. The bus will leave at 5 a.m. and return at about 10 p.m. on Saturday. For more information or to make a reservation, call 582-5180.

— Brian Sarzynski

Listening in at Rosman station

Rep. Charles Taylor recently brought home the bacon for UNCA, in the form of a $1 million federal grant he helped secure for the university’s Pisgah Astronomical Research and Science Education Center. On March 7, Taylor and UNCA Chancellor Jim Mullen announced that the money will be used to modernize and maintain two 85-foot radio telescopes at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute in Rosman, where PARSEC’s projects are based.

“Rosman station,” as it’s often called, is a rarity among scientific research centers, to say the least. Established by NASA in the early 1960s to assist with early space flights, the facility later (in the mid-1980s) came to host a classified, high-security complex run by the National Security Agency.

And even as the newly acquired federal funds help propel space research at Rosman into the future, the story of the site’s secret history is reaching a wider audience, thanks to a new book by Patrick Radden Keefe, a native of England who’s currently studying law at Yale University. In Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping (Random House, 2005), Keefe recounts his worldwide search for the facts about “signals intelligence” (or SIGINT) — the practice of surveilling radio transmissions and other communications for strategic information.

Keefe spends six pages detailing his visit to the Rosman facility, where he marveled at the chance to tour a former government listening post. “On those rare occasions when … countries abandon a base, they tend to raze it,” he notes. “The base at Rosman is a most unusual exception, a Sigint ghost town.”

What struck Keefe most was just how much of the high-tech infrastructure remained when the NSA pulled out in 1995 — and how much of the former spy gear has found new life in the hands of today’s astronomers. “The mystery is why the NSA left so much behind,” he concludes. “It was as though they left in a hurry.”

— Jon Elliston

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