Fun ‘n’ games

There’s a new arcade on the block, and as far as Notepad knows, it’s the only smoke-free pool room downtown.

The cozy, smoke-and-alcohol-free little 5 Pillars Arcade, housed in a basement space at 2 South Lexington Ave. (catty-corner from the Kress Building), also offers air hockey, fooseball, pinball and video games.

Open now for more than a month, the arcade is a project of Buncombe County school kids participating in the after-school program Project STEAM (Success Through Education And Motivation). The kids built this business from the ground up and are responsible for running it, says STEAM founder Christopher Tunstall.

The 5 Pillars is the kids’ first business venture, but it won’t be their last, promises Tunstall. STEAM encourages entrepreneurship and introduces students to the financial, marketing and research-and-development sides of business through hands-on experience.

The nonprofit STEAM has been operating in Asheville for four years. Tunstall had originally planned to launch the project in the public schools in New York City, where he lived. But those schools were already deeply troubled, he reports, and after visiting his parents here in Asheville, Tunstall decided to stay and set up his program here. In Asheville, he saw many of the same problems as in NYC, but on a smaller scale. “This program can actually service kids now,” he reports.

Students 13 through 18 in any school in the county are welcome among STEAM’s ranks. Kids in the program tend to want the additional guidance it offers, Tunstall explains.

Tunstall founded STEAM, in part, as a tribute to his great-grandfather, who immigrated to Boston from Quebec at the age of 14. He worked as a bellhop at a hotel in Boston, diligently stuffing his savings into a sock until he earned enough to invest in the coffee market. The market boomed, and he made enough money to realize his dream of owning a professional American baseball team: In 1914, he bought the Boston Red Sox.

The 5 Pillars Arcade is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m; Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m; Saturday from noon to 11 p.m; and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The arcade is also available for private parties.

For more info, call STEAM at 253-5600.

Annexation info

Does the prospect of annexation have you in a dither? Maybe you need a strong shot of information. The Good Neighbors of Riceville (which affiliated with the Good Neighbors Inc. of North Carolina, a property-rights group dealing with annexation and related issues) will host an informational meeting on March 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Riceville Community Center (next to the Riceville Fire Department, on Riceville Road).

The press release promises “lots of good info to share,” including straight talk on property revaluations, water rates and the ways county residents contribute to the welfare of the city.

To learn more, call 298-7744.

Call-A-Ride needs drivers

Call-A-Ride, a program serving elderly Buncombe County residents since 1992, wants to expand its services — but it needs your help.

Volunteers use their own cars to take someone who can no longer drive to the doctor, the bank, the grocery store, or on similar errands. Volunteers are also asked to offer a little extra assistance, such as waiting for the senior during a doctor’s visit, or reading labels in the grocery store. The program includes an optional mileage reimbursement.

“Really, it’s for enabling people who are more or less homebound to get out and about,” explains Call-A-Ride Coordinator Jacquie Buttles.

Volunteers are asked to give whatever time they can (but at least an hour a week). “It’s a really flexible program,” says Buttles.

To learn more, call Jacquie Buttles at 258-0186.

Compost like MAGIC

Fruit scraps, veggie bits, yard clippings, tea bags, coffee grounds and eggshells aren’t trash. Under the right conditions, such refuse can become any gardener’s dream — good, rich soil.

All it takes is a little composting, and Mountain Area Gardeners In Communities is here to make it easy. MAGIC, along with other organizations, is sponsoring a compost-bin sale and education day on Saturday, March 21, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Tunnel Road.

A truckload of Earth Machine compost bins will be on sale for $35 (less than half the normal price). There’ll also be demonstrations by master gardeners.

The bins are made with recycled plastic and come with a warranty. They’re advertised as “durable, lightweight and easy to use.”

“Thousands and thousands (not hundreds) of residents are motivated by our campaigns to come out to the truckload sale events and get started composting,” reads an Earth Machine flyer.

Call Tony Brunetti at 299-8466 for more info.

Defend yourself

Women and teens can learn simple, effective ways to protect themselves by attending a self-defense class at the Asheville YWCA on Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The class will focus on getting to safety. Moms and daughters are encouraged to attend together. The registration fee is $25.

The YW will also offer the Red Cross babysitting course on Saturday, March 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The course covers emergency care, basic first aid and other child-care skills. The class costs $30 (including lunch and snacks), and advance registration is required.

To find out more, call the YW at 254-7206.

Help grow an edible park

Pull your shovels, hoes and clippers out of the tool shed and get ready to dig in. Local nonprofit City Seeds is planting Asheville’s first edible park (in cooperation with the city Parks and Rec Department), and the group needs volunteers. Come to the park site (on the east side of South Charlotte Street, across from the new county jail) on Saturday, March 21, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and help get the project under way. To get to there, walk across the South Charlotte Street pedestrian bridge. Parking should be available at City/County Plaza and along South Charlotte Street.

For more info, call City Seeds at 236-2299.

MOW needs volunteers, lunch bunchers

Meals on Wheels of Buncombe County “desperately” needs dependable volunteers to donate an hour or two, one day a week, according to a MOW press release.

MOW delivers hot, healthful food to 350 of the county’s home-bound and elderly. Volunteers are most needed between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to deliver in Enka, Candler, Leicester, Jupiter, West Asheville and downtown Asheville. Delivery shifts typically take one-and-a-half hours. Some volunteers deliver food during their lunch hour.

If delivering lunches isn’t your bag, maybe you’d rather have a hot and tasty repast delivered to you? Volunteers will deliver lunches from Boston Market straight to your door on Thursday, March 26, as part of a fund-raising effort. Lunches cost $10, and there must be at least five per delivery location.

Reserve lunches ASAP by calling 253-5286.

— uneventfully compiled by Jill Ingram

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