Black Avenger to broadcast live

National radio talk-show host Ken Hamblin, a.k.a. the Black Avenger, will broadcast his three-hour program from the studios of News/Talk 880, WTZY, from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, July 24, at the station’s office (70 N. Lexington Ave. in downtown Asheville).

Earlier that day (noon to 1 p.m.), the Avenger will be on hand at WTZY’s Bele Chere booth, near the intersection of Church Street and Patton Avenue. The program will be broadcast live on more than 100 radio stations coast to coast, according to a WTZY press release.

Hamblin, an outspoken African-American commentator, believes that minorities have failed to grab hold of the American Dream. Originally from New York City, he was the first black photographer at the Detroit Free Press, where he worked for many years.

Call the station at 255-1906 to learn more.

Tourism over easy

When tourism is “not done right, it can do more harm than good,” proclaims local environmentalist Ian Booth. That’s why he’d like to see Asheville and the rest of the Southern Appalachians wake up and see the dollars and sense in ecotourism.

Trouble is, not many folks even know what ecotourism is. To remedy the situation, Booth — along with a core group of three others — has worked overtime to put together the first Ecotourism Summit, on Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25, at the North Carolina Arboretum.

The summit, says Booth, will help people “understand what is and what isn’t ecotourism.” The man he credits with writing the ecotourism bible in the ’80s, Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, will be a featured speaker.

The first ingredient in ecotourism, says Booth, is stewardship — responsible oversight of a natural area that includes considering and controlling the impact humans have on it.

Before any area promotes itself as an ecotourism destination, an environmental impact study should be conducted to determine the wildlife and plant life and provide base-line data for gauging how much and what kind of tourist traffic the area can withstand, says Booth, who has a background in global resources and sustainability.

“There are some areas that are too fragile to visit, period,” he declares. Booth also stresses that even an established attraction, such as Chimney Rock Park, can make the transition to becoming an ecotourism destination.

He maintains that environmental protection and the tourist industry are not necessarily incompatible, saying, “There’s no reason that those two should go in opposite directions.”

The idea of ecotourism is just catching on, says Booth. He sees this area as “potentially a first-class destination point” for ecotourism, “with the exception of the declining air quality and some stresses due to overdevelopment.”

The summit is aimed at anyone who is or wants to be a steward of the environment; anyone in the tourist industry; and anyone in environmental education. The registration fee is $95, and spots are going fast.

For more information, or to register, call 255-8176.

Party down in party town

Asheville’s a city that loves to party. The Bele Chere behemoth hasn’t even hit town yet, and already the call has gone out for First Night entertainers.

First Night is a family-focused New Year’s Eve celebration that brings downtown to life with music, food, dance, theater and magic, puppets and more. The Asheville Parks and Recreation Department and the Arts Alliance are sponsoring this year’s edition of the popular event, now in its eighth year.

Lloyd Weinberg, who’s heading up the entertainment committee, says he yearns for a hodgepodge of entertainment that truly reflects the area’s diversity (attention, minorities: This means you).

For an application, call Joey Moore at 258-0710, or write to him at the Arts Alliance: P.O. Box 507, Asheville, NC 28802. Applications must be postmarked no later than Aug. 31.

To learn more, call 258-0710.

Money talks

Mitchell County residents who have finance-related questions will soon be able to look to the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western North Carolina for answers.

Starting Aug. 18, CCCS staff counselor Bob Denson will conduct counseling sessions on the third Tuesday of each month at Trinity Episcopal Church in Spruce Pine.

Trinity Outreach Committee member Amy Tilly contacted CCCS about offering its services in Mitchell County when she recognized that some local families needed better money-managing skills.

Who should make an appointment? “Anybody who is experiencing financial stress and wants to get a better idea of how they want to budget their money, and families who feel over-extended by debt and want to look at what their options are,” says Celeste Collins, CCCS’s director of education and administrative services.

CCCS counselors have been helping people understand and control their financial situations for nearly 25 years. Grants from the United Way and other organizations help CCCS operate at no cost to clients. CCCS serves 16 counties in western North Carolina.

To make an appointment, or to find out more, call 255-5166 or (800) 737-5485.

Book look

Books are good for Asheville, and Asheville’s good for books.

May We All Remember Well: A Journal of the History and Cultures of Western North Carolina, Volume I, published locally by Robert S. Brunk Auction Services, Inc., has been named a national finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Awards for best multicultural book of the year.

The annual award is sponsored by the Publishers Marketing Association, the nation’s largest trade association representing independent publishers.

And Jane Voorhees, manager of Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, recently won the 1998 Charles Haslam Award for excellence in bookselling, given jointly by the Ingram Book Company and the Southeast Booksellers Association.

May We All Remember Well is a large-format book that uses words and pictures to tell the history of this area. It’s the first in a series, says Robert S. Brunk, who edited the book and is already well into the next installment.

The Haslam Award — $1,000 and a plaque — goes annually to an employee, manager or owner of a retail bookstore who “exemplifies the highest standards of excellence in the profession,” according to a press release.

As Malaprop’s manager, Voorhees is “committed to hiring staff who love books as much as I do and who appreciate, as I do, the opportunity to help customers make changes, no matter how small, in their lives by the books they choose to read,” she said when she accepted her award.

To order a copy of May We All Remember Well, call 254-6846.

Take a hike

Join members of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and ecologist David Smith for an eight-mile interpretive hike over Hump and Yellow mountains on Sunday, July 26, starting at 8:30 a.m. Hikers will meet at the Times Square Restaurant parking lot at 8 a.m. in Elk Park (at the junction of Highway 19E and N.C. 194).

The hike will begin at the head of Roaring Creek. After a brief walk along the Overmountain Victory Trail, the hike will continue along the Appalachian Trail.

Participants should bring lunch, sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, water, sunscreen and rain gear.

Call the SAHC at 253-0095 to learn more.

— proudly compiled by Jill Ingram

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