Deadbeat parents, beware

In the old days — say, the 1980s — being a deadbeat parent was easy. All you had to do was move to a new town, keep a low profile, make a few good excuses, and you were home free.

Not anymore, though: As of March 3, the Buncombe County Child Support Enforcement office has stepped up its efforts to get child-support “orders” (court orders demanding payment) for noncustodial parents. In other words, they’re getting serious.

In cooperation with the District Court, the Clerk of Court’s office, and the Sherrif’s Department, the BCCSE has been given additional court time during the next several months, to allow cases to be heard in District Court to establish as many orders as possible. Until a legal court order for child support is established, there is little the agency can do to secure support from parents who’ve been walking away from their financial responsibility. Now, however, more cases will be progressing through the court system, enabling the child-support agency to use various methods to collect support.

All of the participating agencies encourage previously deadbeat parents — dads and moms alike — to make things easier for everyone by cooperating with the collections effort. “Individuals who should be paying child support and have been contacted by the Child Support office could call the office about having to establish an order, and possibly avoid having to appear in court,” says Supervisor Steve Garrison of Buncombe County Child Support.

For more info, call Garrison at 250-5764.

Be outstanding in your field

Outward Bound — said to be the world’s oldest and largest adventure-based organization — is offering five training courses that may be of interest to anyone seeking to enhance their outdoor skills and pursue a career in the outdoors.

Introduction to Outdoor Education (Sept. 20 to Nov. 13) is designed for students who have little or no experience in the outdoor field; the course is meant to provide a balance between personal and professional development, allowing students to hone basic wilderness and safety skills while exploring personal career goals. The 55-day course includes Wilderness First Responder certification.

Wilderness First Responder — recognized as the standard gauge of expertise in back-country first aid — is also being offered as a separate course (March 27 to April 4), of particular interest to people who spend time in remote areas. The two-day recertification course will be given April 17-18 and May 22-23.

The Rock Site Management Course (May 3-6) helps students learn crucial skills for safely managing a rock site. The course covers rock rescue scenarios, the use of anchor and belay systems, equipment use and care, and rappelling.

The 55-day Instructor Development Practicum (March 22 to May 15, and Sept. 20 to Nov. 13) is an in-depth course for those who already know where they want to go with their outdoor careers; students will refine their technical skills in land- and water-based environments, hone facilitation skills, and enhance their understanding of experiential education. For those on tighter schedules, a shorter, 28-day Instructor Practicum will also be offered (June 19 to July 16).

The school’s Instructor Apprenticeship Program is aimed at individuals who want to become instructors at the NC Outward Bound School. Acceptance into this 111-day course, running from Feb. 9 to May 30, 2000, is competitive and often requires specific training and experience.

For more information, or to request a catalog, call (877) 77-NCOBS, or check their Web site at

Keep off the grass

Warren Wilson College has launched a five-year project to grow native wild grasses and flowers, as part of a conservation-and-restoration program for the Blue Ridge Parkway. In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the plants will be grown in the greenhouse on the Warren Wilson campus; members of the landscaping crew will monitor and research more than 65 species of grasses and flowers, many of which have previously grown only in the wild.

The Forest Service will purchase the plants from Warren Wilson, to help restore and maintain previously disturbed areas of the Parkway and, eventually, in Southern Appalachian national forests. The college is one of four sites (at different elevations) where the Forest Service hopes to establish fields from which seeds may be collected for planting along the Parkway. Using plants grown by the landscaping crew, the college will also establish natural sites on campus during the next few years, in an effort to create beautiful, low-maintenance habitats for birds and insects.

To learn more, call Priya Thakkar or Tom LaMuraglia at 298-3325, ext. 418.

Interesting times

The old Chinese adage still rings true: Interesting times can be both a blessing and a curse. And while these are particularly interesting times for women, the challenges often seem to overwhelm the gifts.

Mars Hill College’s Taking Care of Self retreat aims to restore that balance, helping women explore ways to quiet their thoughts and spirits and lead more inner-directed lives. Led by Lynda Poston-Smith, the half-day retreat will identify what gives women their energy, what depletes it, and how to balance the two. It will also provide new ideas for what it means to care for other women and how to “identify dreams for our lives.”

Poston-Smith, a soprano who holds two degrees from New York City’s Manhattan School of Music, has performed as a soloist with choral groups and orchestras in Europe and throughout the U.S. After 27 years of teaching college- and graduate-level courses, she left in 1994 to pursue a more varied life of workshops, retreats and recording. Her other workshops include Developing the Woman’s Speaking Voice and Creativity and Spirituality.

The retreat — to be held on Thursday, March 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Mars Hill College’s Broyhill Chapel — costs $20, including lunch. Poston-Smith will also give a free concert, as part of the 10 a.m. chapel service on Tuesday, March 23.

To learn more, call 689-1298.

Talented teens, untie!

Unfortunately, there are many creative and talented students in this town who will never get a crack at the formal training that could help them fully realize their abilities. But parents of artistically gifted teens should be aware that the North Carolina School of the Arts is now seeking high-school students for both its drama and visual-arts programs.

The school will hold drama auditions for next year’s high-school seniors on two upcoming Saturdays — March 27 and April 10 — on the campus in Winston-Salem. The drama program is an intensive course of study focusing on the craft of acting; besides instruction and practice in acting, students also study movement, singing, voice and speech, and take workshops in such specialized techniques as stage combat and juggling.

For the visual-arts program, the school will be interviewing next year’s high-school juniors and seniors on four Fridays in April (April 2, 9, 16 and 23). In the visual-arts program — part of the School of Design and Production — students explore drawing, painting, graphics, color theory, two-dimensional design, sculpture, ceramics and photography. Both programs also include academic courses (through the School’s Division of General Studies), and will award the high-school diploma upon graduation.

Prospective students must submit an application before the audition/interview date.

To request an application, or for more information, call the admissions office at (336) 770-3290.

My, what a nice ingress you have

The 10-acre Botanical Gardens at Asheville rank among the city’s premiere green spaces. If you haven’t yet discovered this oasis, come to the upcoming celebration of the gardens’ newly refurbished entrance — and the seasonal reopening of the Visitors Center — on Saturday, March 20. Assorted festivities and presentations by some of Asheville’s more interesting and nature-savvy citizens will help make this a day to remember.

Among the scheduled speakers are: artist Jean Loewer, who will read from a book she co-wrote with her husband, Peter Loewer; local storyteller Deb Compton, who will share tales of Appalachian nature and folklore; horticulturist Dick Bir of N.C. State University; outdoorsmen Donald E. Dossey and John I. Hillyer, who co-authored a newly released guide to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail; Professor Joan Moser of Warren Wilson College, the author of a book on Appalachian folk medicine; and local zoologist Hal Mahan.

There will also be music by Richard Sackett, a guided bird walk facilitated by local birder Ed Caldwell, and a ‘Buds & Barks’ Nature walk, led by Chimney Rock Park biologist/naturalist Elizabeth Feil. The festivities will begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day.

For more information, or a schedule of events, call 252-5190.

Air pollution community forum

The effects of air pollution on humans and the environment will be discussed in a community forum on Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m. The program — sponsored by the WENOCA Sierra Club, the Clean Water Fund of North Carolina, the WNC Alliance and the American Lung Association — will be presented by Appalachian Voices.

The forum will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at the corner of Charlotte Street and Edwin Place.

For more information, call 645-9945 or 251-1291.

— cementiously compiled by Paul Schattel

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