Preserving historic Buncombe

Score another victory for The Preservation Society, for rescuing yet another historic home from the wrecking ball. Earlier this year, the Brigman-Chambers house in Reems Creek was scheduled to be demolished, to make way for Hawks Landing, a new residential subdivision being developed on a 235 acre farm in the Beech community, just past the Vance Birthplace. But developers Jerry Katz and Ross Adickman were receptive to saving the 19th-century farmhouse, and they worked with the Society to craft a deal that will preserve the house on 2.6 acres of land fronting Reems Creek.

The heir to the property had sold the house for architectural salvage last summer, thinking the developers intended to demolish it anyway, to put in a new access road to the subdivision. But the Society successfully negotiated the purchase of the salvage rights from the three parties who had contracted for different parts of the structure. Efforts were then directed toward acquiring the existing site and getting the developers’ agreement to move the subdivision entrance. With the help of Buncombe County Planner Jim Coman, the Society was then able to take title to the property as a separate parcel, outside the planned subdivision.

The Preservation Society is now offering the house for sale, subject to certain covenants and a rehabilitation agreement, for $149,900. If the second-floor loft of the 1840s-vintage structure were restored, the house would include about 2,300 square feet of living space. The historic structure is said to be in remarkable condition, with all original materials and only a limited amount of electrical wiring. The house has also been placed on the North Carolina Study List for the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information, call 254-2343.

Don’t snort the spray paint

To many people, “substance abuse” means mainly alcohol. Unfortunately, however, a broad array of other legal substances — including many common household chemicals — are also being abused on a regular basis by young people seeking to alter their consciousness. Last week, the Mountain Center for Substance Abuse, in cooperation with the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, kicked off a week-long informational campaign to raise awareness of these destructive habits.

According to a 1998 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, at least one in every five eighth graders has intentionally inhaled a household chemical to get high; nearly half a million young people use inhalants every month. What kinds of substances are considered inhalants? It’s a long (and shocking) list, including butane, propane, gasoline, Freon, degreasers, typewriter correction fluid, nitrous oxide, whipped-cream containers, shoe polish and spray paint. More than a thousand such products are abused every day. Young people ages 12 to 17 most commonly use gasoline and lighter fluid, followed by glue and toluene; young adults in the 18-to-25 age bracket are most fond of nitrous oxide, a.k.a. “whippets.” Happily, such abuse rarely causes deaths; but damage to the brain, respiratory system, liver and kidneys is more common, as are short-term memory loss and hearing impairment.

“Most parents know how to talk to their kids about date rape, marijuana and drinking, because they have enough knowledge about these things,” said NIPC Executive Director Harvey Weiss. “But inhalants are an informational blind spot for them — parents are often out of the loop. Children, however, discuss it and practice it. … The goal of this campaign is to remedy that problem.”

For more information about inhalant abuse, call the Mountain Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at 252-3240 — or visit them at 162 West Chestnut St. in Asheville and view Inhalant Abuse: Breathing Easy, a video by Film for the Humanities.

Don’t drink the water, either

Waynesville and environs is known across western North Carolina as a uniquely beautiful and charming place to live. Now, however, a portion of the area may be known for something else: contaminated water. Officials at the N.C. Department of Health have recommended that residents of the Barber’s Orchard subdivision, in west Haywood County, not use their well water for drinking or cooking, because groundwater sampling there has revealed elevated levels of pesticides — apparently stemming from the property’s prior use as an apple orchard.

The biggest concern is with benzene hexachloride, a probable human carcinogen. The interim groundwater standard for BHC is 0.019 parts per billion; the chemical was found in Barber’s Orchard groundwater at nearly 10 times that level. Two other pesticides, Endrin and Endosulfan, were also present in the Barber’s Orchard water samples.

“We’re really erring on the side of caution,” Haywood County Health Director Bob Wood stated recently. “We always try to be as protective of the public health as possible, and that’s what we’re doing in this case.”

Twenty wells in the community have been sampled so far; eight samples showed elevated levels of BHC, and the other 12 are still at the laboratory. The county plans to sample other wells in the area, and soil samples have also been collected. To get the word out, the Health Department has delivered fliers to Barber’s Orchard residents, and a community meeting to discuss the situation was held on March 16.

To learn more, call (919) 733-9190.

Those daring young men in their flying machines

The mere sight of World War I-era biplanes vividly recalls the days when dogfights blazed in the skies over Europe — and, later, when the smoke-trailing antics of traveling barnstormers invaded the Midwestern skies, thrilling rural communities.

Now, those days are back. The Red Baron Stearman Squadron — part of a promotion by the Red Baron Pizza Company — flies original, open-air-cockpit biplanes, touring the U.S. nine months a year, trying to keep the romance of flying and the lost art of barnstorming alive. Their appearance here will also serve a worthy cause: Red Baron Pizza will donate a percentage of its local sales between March 21 and April 4 to the Ruth and Billy Graham Children’s Hospital at Mission St. Joseph’s.

The air show will take place on Tuesday, April 6 at the Asheville Regional Airport, from 11:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information, call Sherri Cochran at 242-0050.

Standing up for kids

Last year, more than 114,000 children in North Carolina were reported abused or neglected; at least 40 of them died. Most of the victims were under age 3. At the national level, more than 3 million children are reported to be victims of child abuse and neglect each year; more than 1 million of those cases are confirmed. Every day in the U.S., five children die as the result of such abuse.

To highlight those frightening numbers — and because April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month — the Partners for Prevention Committee is holding a rally at noon on Wednesday, March 31, in the atrium at Pack Place. The guest of honor and keynote speaker will be Asheville Mayor Leni Sitnick; local kids will be on hand to display their art, in support of a violence and neglect-free childhood. The rally starts at noon.

The goal of the April campaign is to educate the public about these problems and to share information about how everyone can help. Blue ribbons, representing a commitment to preventing these practices, will be distributed and displayed throughout the month.

To learn more, call WNC Child Advocacy & Prevention Services Inc. at 254-2000, or Prevent Child Abuse at (800) 354-KIDS.

— cephalically compiled by Paul Schattel

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