Buzzworm news briefs

Batter up!

It’s the dog days of August, the weather is hot and the pennant races are hotter. Major League Baseball is in full swing, and here in Western North Carolina, future big leaguers are getting ready to go back to school — and back to the diamond.

For hundreds of area kids, the end of summer doesn’t have to mean the end of baseball. WNC Fall Baseball is gearing up for their 2005 season, and sign-ups for kids age 4-16 are about to begin. Registration will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, and Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Oakley Community Center.

Cosponsored by the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, the league organizes teams from tee-ball for the tykes to a just-like-the-pros wooden-bat division for the big kids. “It’s a great opportunity for baseball players,” notes Robert Zimmerman, one of the league’s organizers. A unique aspect of WNC Fall Baseball, he adds, is that local kids compete with teams from other parts of the region. “We get teams from Marion, Waynesville — there’s just a lot of interest in a fall season.”

The registration fee is $55 and includes a shirt, cap, insurance, team drinks, a trophy and an end-of-season barbecue. The league is also looking for corporate sponsors to help the kids round the bases.

For more information, visit www.wncfallball.com or call 252-4773.

— Brian Sarzynski

Don’t dump that cell phone

@text: So, you’ve just bought yourself a new cell phone, one with all the latest features, and you’re planning to throw the old one out. But before you do, RiverLink would like you to consider this:

Cell phones contain toxic materials like lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic — heavy metals that can pollute the air, land and water, and that are classified as hazardous waste by the EPA. Today less than 2 percent of all cell phones are being recycled and an estimated 130 million will be discarded into landfills this year alone. And what many people don’t realize is that old cell phones can be reprogrammed for reuse, as well as recycled for their metal content.

RiverLink has teamed up with Earthworks and the Waterkeeper Alliance to participate in a national program to recycle cell phones, pagers, palm pilots and other hand-held devices, chargers and accessories.

The purpose of the program is not only to raise awareness about the toxins in these devices and divert them away from our landfills, but also to reduce the need for open-pit mining, which produces the gold, copper and other materials used in cell phone manufacturing. For example, while 230 grams of gold can be recovered from one ton of old cell phones, only 62 grams of gold can be generated from one ton of mining waste.

Fortunately, there are plenty of local partners who are serving as recycling collection sites for these items, including Home Trust Bank, RBC Centura Bank, First Citizens Bank, Mountain 1st Bank, Wachovia Bank, Eblen Short Stop stores, as well as RiverLink’s Warehouse Studios at 170 Lyman St.

For more information or to become a recycling collection site, contact Karen Cragnolin at 252-8474, ext. 110 or karen@riverlink.org, or visit www.riverlink.org.

— Lisa Watters

Runnin’ on empties

Soon after Wal-Mart vacated its Tunnel Road location last year, the recycling center in the corner of its parking lot disappeared as well. That left city residents with one recycling facility behind Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company on Merrimon Avenue and another at the transfer station at 190 Hominy Creek Rd. in West Asheville — both run by Curbside Management Inc.

Starting Monday, Aug. 1, a third option — cosponsored by Earth Fare, Westgate and the city of Asheville — will be available at the Westgate Shopping Center parking lot. Richard Grant, the Asheville Sanitation Division’s solid-waste manager, told Xpress the facility will accept the same material as other local sites: newspaper, mixed paper, cardboard, #1 and #2 narrow-necked plastic containers, glass, and aluminum and steel cans.

Grant also noted that the city is withdrawing its support of the Merrimon location.

Kimberly Raphael, speaking for Curbside, assured Xpress that the company plans to continue to operate that north Asheville site, as well as the transfer station drop-off and another at its material recovery center at 116 N. Woodfin Ave.

More Americans now recycle than vote, according to author Elizabeth Royte, whose book Garbage Land (Little Brown and Company, 2005) tracks trash from hand to can to truck to barge, train, factory or landfill. But as she also notes, less than 2 percent of America’s waste stream is post-consumer. Royte reports that the principal pressure point for a significant reduction of waste is reduced consumption: Making one pound of saleable merchandise creates an average of 32 pounds of garbage.

— Cecil Bothwell

And one for all

Five of the region’s largest philanthropic groups have linked arms to create WNC Partners for Nonprofit Success, an organization that will provide classes and resources for other nonprofit groups. The Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Mission Healthcare Foundation, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and the University of North Carolina at Asheville have been working together for more than a year to fashion the new collaboration. The plan includes participation in an ongoing nonprofit-management program instituted by Duke University.

At a press conference introducing the plan, Mission Healthcare Foundation President Bruce Thorsen said that “this is one of the most exciting coalitions I’ve seen in my 35-year career.” He explained that the organization will “offer classes at a very modest cost, since many smaller nonprofits don’t have a large education budget.” The classes and workshops will cost $25 or $50.

UNCA Vice Chancellor Bill Massey said of the five groups: “We are challenged to not only do good but demonstrate that we do good … that we do, in fact, contribute to creation of just, caring and sustainable communities.” Addressing the overarching goals of the partnership, Massey said that larger nonprofits tend to utilize “best practices, and we believe those practices can be modeled to help smaller groups be more successful.”

This fall, the partners will present the first round of classes and workshops at locations throughout the region. From “Creating a Development Plan” to grant writing and fundraising strategies to “Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers,” the courses will cover a wide range of nonprofit functions.

For more information, visit www.learnmore.duke.edu/nonprofit or call (919) 684-6259.

— Cecil Bothwell

Upstaging Antiques Roadshow

Within the archeological community, there’s a consensus that the Great Sphinx is about 4,500 years old. Which means, nose or not, the fascinatingly creepy cat-man of ancient Egypt looks pretty good for his age.

Enter Yale-educated geologist Dr. Robert M. Schoch, who might do well to recommend the Sphinx as the new spokesmodel for antiwrinkle cream. According to his calculations, the 65-foot-tall lion with the face of Pharaoh Khafre has seen more like 10,000 birthdays. That’s a lot of candles on the cake.

Basing his analysis on the weathering of the sculpture’s features, Schoch came to the conclusion that the erosion is due to rainfall. The Egyptian monument, of course, has long lived in the desert, and heavy precipitation dates back to a time long before the arid climate we all associate with the modern Sahara.

If that little bombshell weren’t enough, Schoch and his team performed some seismic studies that revealed an as-yet-unopened chamber under one of the Sphinx’s paws.

The doctor delves into more Egyptian mystery in his latest book, Pyramid Quest: Secrets of the Great Pyramid and the Dawn of Civilization (Tarcher Books, 2005), tackling the last standing monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Examining the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Egyptologist opens the can of worms surrounding the tomb’s purpose. Was it just an oversized mausoleum or an observatory? Or is it proof of some sort of supernatural existence?

Readers needn’t mull over these questions alone: This doctor makes house calls. He’ll appear in several Asheville locations to discuss his research.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, Schoch joins local paranormal expert Joshua P. Warren on the WWNC (570 AM) radio show Speaking of Strange to discuss his position on the age of the Sphinx. Showtime is 7-9 p.m.

The author reads from and signs copies of Pyramid Quest at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10. This event is free.

Want to dig a little deeper? On Friday, Aug. 12, Schoch presents a three-part lecture at the All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village. Topics include “Re-dating the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt”; “Interpreting the Great Pyramid”; and “The Temple of Hathor at Serabit el Khadim: Is this Mount Sinai?” Dr. Schoch will be available for discussion from 6:30 to 6:55 p.m., with the program running from 7 to 10 p.m. No video cameras are allowed, and admission is $10 at the door.

For more information, visit www.robertschoch.net or e-mail luminescence@verizon.net.

— Alli Marshall

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