Alliance calls for prosecution of DOT

Somebody “knowingly and willfully” directed two North Carolina Department of Transportation employees to dump 65 gallons of hazardous materials into the ground at the DOT’s maintenance shop on Old Charlotte Highway, says the Western North Carolina Alliance.

Now, the Alliance is calling for prosecution. In a May 15 letter to state Attorney General Mike Easely and Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore, Alliance Executive Coordinator Brownie Newman urges the two offices to determine whether “violations of the state’s environmental laws have occurred.” If they have, the Alliance urges that “those responsible be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Moore said he received the letter, but has not discussed it with the Attorney General’s office. He said he would not discuss the matter with the press, because it’s pending, but he added that the Attorney General’s office would probably refer the case to the District Attorney.

The Alliance’s call for investigation and possible prosecution of the DOT employee or employees responsible may be a first. “I am not aware of any requests to investigate the DOT prior to this,” said Moore.

On Oct. 15, 1997, an anonymous caller phoned the Hazardous Waste Office of the state’s Department of Natural Resources to report that DOT employees were dumping something into the ground at that moment, according to a report from the Hazardous Waste Office. A visit to the site shortly thereafter yielded two empty 55-gallon drums and a “black substance oozing from the ground that smelled like a solvent material,” according to the report. The substance was later identified as a combination of carburetor cleaner and solvent.

Newman maintains that it wouldn’t be difficult to trace the dumping orders back to one individual. “It seems really clear that this [hazardous waste] was willfully and knowingly disposed of in an illegal manner,” Newman told Mountain Xpress. “I would be shocked and disappointed if [Easely and Moore] decided that there’s not enough evidence to prosecute.”

To learn more, call the Western North Carolina Alliance at 258-8737.

Tea time

Learn to tell your “oolong” from your “chunmee” at a tea seminar, starting at 3 p.m. on June 2 at Tassels Tea Salon, 25 Rankin Ave.

You’ll learn tea history and some of tea’s therapeutic benefits, and you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions. The $8 cost covers tea and savories. Seating is limited, so register early.

To register or to learn more, call 252-6082.

The Healing Doctor televised

Since May 19, people tuning in to WLOS television between on Tuesday mornings between 6 and 7 have been able to see news with a real local angle.

Local doctor Alison Levitt hosts The Healing Doctor, a two-minute segment that features Levitt exploring different alternative therapies that are popular in this area. Upcoming topics in the next few weeks include prayer and medicine, nutrition, and estrogen replacement.

Ironwood Film and Television, a business based in downtown Asheville, produces the spot. The segment will feature doctors and practitioners from Asheville, says Kurt Mann, owner of Ironwood.

Levitt is a third-year resident specializing in family practice at the Mountain Area Health Education Center and Memorial Mission Hospital. On the show, Levitt experiments with some treatments herself. She then lets viewers know how the treatment feels, whether it works and what to watch out for.

Mann says he plans to release the segment nationwide within the next month-and-a-half. Stations in Charleston, S.C., and Raleigh are considering using it, he said.

People who like the feature and want to see it aired afternoons, as well as mornings, can call or write WLOS News Director Tom Loebig. Mann encourages anyone with an interesting story idea to contact him.

For more info, or to relay a story idea, call Mann at 252-2677. Call Loebig at 255-0013. Or, write to him at: WLOS, 288 Macon Ave., Asheville, NC 28804.

A Buncombe map for bikers

Strive-Not-to-Drive Day, is the perfect day to pick up your copy of the Buncombe County Bicycle Transportation Map.

The map will be available during “Moonlight Over Downtown” festivities that begin at 5:30 p.m. May 29 at Pack Place. After a brief awards ceremony, a non-motorized parade is planned.

The map will help cyclists make decisions about safe routes to bike around town. As well as indicating bicycle-friendly neighborhood loops, the map rates major thoroughfares, such as Merrimon Avenue and Tunnel Road, on a scale of “green” (best) to “purple” (worst), in terms of safety and traffic.

Sometimes, a road is dangerous but people still bike on it because there’s no other direct route to their destinations, says Elizabeth Teague, a regional planner with the Land-of-Sky Regional Council. Beaverdam Road, for instance, is rated purple, “and yet people ride it a lot to get up to the parkway,” she says.

Land-of-Sky and the Asheville Bikeways Task Force produced the map with funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation. Nearly 10 years in the making, the map is a “wonderful story of volunteerism,” says Teague. First, local citizens filled out questionnaires determining where people ride in town. Then, members of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and the Bicycle Task Force “spent hours riding roads,” said Teague.

The result is the detailed, color-coded map. Officially, the map is free, says Teague, but the Bicycle Task Force is asking for a $3 donation to help pay for reprints.

To learn more, call Teague at 251-6622.

Earth Fare honors Strive-Not-to-Drive Day

Each person who bikes, walks or takes the bus to Earth Fare on Strive-Not-to-Drive Day (May 29) will receive a free canvas shopping bag and a free sports drink. Earth Fare will also celebrate the day with a grill-out on its patio, with all proceeds going to Quality Forward, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life in Buncombe County.

A massage therapist will be on site offering discounted services, and a bicycle repair and riding-skills clinic will be offered throughout the day.

To learn more, call Eric Krause at 253-7656.

Remember the time …

It’s time to stir the pot of your memory and see what rises to the top. Those memories may help you enter the second annual memoirs contest sponsored by the Writers’ Workshop of Asheville.

Anyone may enter as many as six unpublished memoirs of up to 4,000 words each. The winner receives $350, second place nets $250, and third place brings $100.

The entry deadline is June 30. The fee is $18 per memoir, payable to the Writers’ Workshop. A cover sheet on each entry should include the author’s name, telephone number and address. Mail entries to: Memoirs Contest, 387 Beaucatcher Road, Asheville, NC 28805.

— lethargically compiled by Jill Ingram

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