Cable franchises: Other approaches

Asheville’s cable-franchise controversy is about to ratchet up a level, when Citizens for Media Literacy sponsors two talks by telecommunications experts

On July 16, Joseph Van Eaton, a partner in the Washington, D.C. telecommunications law firm of Miller & Van Eaton, will discuss the problems and pitfalls of franchise enforcement in an age of growing deregulation. Van Eaton is an expert on FCC regulations governing PEG TV channels (public-, education- and government -access channels), according to Citizens for Media Literacy.

The session will take place at 7 p.m. in Laurel Auditorium on the campus of A-B Tech.

On Monday, July 20, Paul Congo, executive director of Community Access TV in Boulder, Colo., will discuss “The Power of Public -Access TV” at 7 p.m. in Laurel Auditorium. He will also discuss ways to organize and fund public-access TV and how cable-franchise agreements help determine the effectiveness of public-access channels.

The Boulder system is operated by TCI, the company that is seeking a renewed franchise in Asheville.

To learn more, call 255-0182.

Summer fans

If you’re 60 or older and have no way to circulate air in your home (i.e., fans or air conditioners), you qualify for a free 20-inch box fan, courtesy of Carolina Power and Light’s Project Heat Relief.

Simply call the Council on Aging, where a volunteer will take down some basic information (like your age and address). Then, just kick back and wait for a volunteer to deliver the fan straight to your door.

CP&L has already donated about 170 fans this year, says a spokesperson for the Council on Aging.

The COA is seeking volunteers to help deliver the fans.

To learn more, call 258-8027.

Learn to loaf

Author Matt Baldwin will talk about some of the places he visited while researching his book A Busy Day in Loafer’s Glory: A Rambler’s Guide to Mostly Off-the-Path Carolina Places, on Monday, July 20, at 7:30 at the Henderson County Public Library (301 North Washington St., Hendersonville).

Plenty of the places Baldwin visited are near Hendersonville and would make fun day trips.

Baldwin, a retired chemist, likes to garden and is also the author of a mystery novel. He will relate the histories, local lore, obscure facts and his own impressions of some of the places he’s visited.

For more information, call 697-4725.

Child-care incentives

A new Buncombe County Smart Start program will offer incentives to child-care providers, to encourage them to stay in their positions longer and further their professional education.

Smart Start is a private nonprofit supported largely by North Carolina taxpayer dollars. Such programs operate in 45 North Carolina counties.

The program was created in response to the Early Childhood Work Force Study, commissioned by Buncombe County Smart Start, which found that child-care professionals in the county earn a median wage of $6.53 an hour. The median length of service at the same workplace is just 1.6 years.

The new program, which should be in place within 90 days, earmarks $88,000 for incentives for local child-care workers who seek additional education in their field, and who commit to staying in their jobs for a specific length of time, which has yet to be determined.

In Orange County, where a similar program has been in place for the past four-and-a-half years, the turnover rate among eligible teachers has dropped from 36 percent to 10 percent per year, according to a Smart Start press release.

The new program should help improve the quality of child care in Buncombe, says Executive Director Ron Bradford, pointing to a shortage of child care for infants and toddlers, and a “shortage of quality child care, across the board.”

To find out more, call 285-9333.

ID’ing polluters

The Clean Water Fund of North Carolina is offering a training workshop for community members that will show citizens how to determine if an industry is polluting their neighborhood, and how to get businesses to stop polluting.

The workshop will be held on July 18 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Clean Water Fund’s office at 29 1/2 Page Ave. The workshop costs $5 (free to Fund members). Early registration is requested.

To learn more, call 251-1291.

Go techno

Now is the time to register for McDowell Technical Community College’s first wave of on-line classes.

“With only a personal computer, a modem and Internet navigation software, persons who register for on-line instruction will be able to take entire college courses without leaving the privacy of their homes or offices,” says a press release from the college.

The first classes offered will be creative writing and an introduction to computers. The first meeting of each class will be on campus. After that, students will read assignments, complete tests and turn in homework over the Web.

To learn more, or to register for classes, call 652-6021.

Reach politicians

There’s a new way to send e-mail messages to the entire North Carolina General Assembly.

Send your messages — there are no restrictions on subject matter — to: From there, Paul Rosenberg forwards them to North Carolina’s 50 state senators and 120 representatives. Rosenberg said he reads the messages “out of curiosity,” but doesn’t edit or censor them.

About 10 messages have arrived since Rosenberg launched the program — as a public service, he says — at the end of June. Most have been about campaign-finance reform, and a few have been about turning the Jocassee Gorges area into a state park.

According to Kelly Stallings, who manages the General Assembly’s Web site, there is an address on the site where people can send messages that are then delivered to a public folder. Assembly members are not required to check it, but many do, she said.

Political activist Scott Barber wants to see Rosenberg’s service put to work. He’s urging state residents to send messages to their legislative representatives calling for campaign-finance reform.

“Public pressure is the essential ingredient for this desperately needed reform,” says Barber, declaring that “it is NOT politicians who are holding up clean elections: IT IS US!”

Passage of the Clean Elections Act would limit campaign spending and open up political races to a broader range of people and reverse the trend of higher and higher campaign costs, he asserts.

To reach Barber, e-mail him at:

MAGIC in the garden

Mountain Area Gardeners in Communities (MAGIC) will hold a Midsummer MAGIC Garden Party on Saturday, July 18, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the gardens of the Rhoades-Weaver home (456 Merrimon Ave, at the corner of W.T. Weaver Boulevard and Merrimon Avenue).

There will be garden art, garden tours, wine and finger foods, plus classical music (courtesy of the Asheville Music School).

Tickets ($15 in advance, $20 at the garden gate) are available at B.B. Barnes, Malaprop’s and the French Broad Food Co-op.

Earth Fare is co-sponsoring the event, and all proceeds benefit MAGIC.

Letting go … eight miles at a time

Regional photographer Rob Amberg and writer Sam Gray have won the eighth-annual, $10,000 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor prize for documentary work.

The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University makes the award each year.

Amberg and Taylor worked together on “Corridor of Change,” which documents the construction of the eight-mile stretch of I-26 through Madison County.

This is the first time that the award has gone to a western North Carolina project, according to a press release from center. The project has an “importance that transcends its location,” says center Director Iris Tillman Hill. With their documentary, Amberg and Gray tell the story of “what our society irrevocably exchanges for mobility and convenience,” says Hill.

“In a sense, the construction of the highway is about everything our society has allowed to happen,” says Amberg. “There is nothing unusual about these eight miles of road, and that’s why this project is critical. We, as a culture, have relinquished what is important to us eight miles at a time.”

To learn more, call the center at (919) 660-3663.

— discerningly compiled by Jill Ingram

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