Forewarned is forearmed

Somewhere between the hysteria and the apathy surrounding the Y2K bug, the reality of the situation waits to be addressed. And while many of us are starting to find some light at the end of the millennial tunnel, others — including certain local and national governmental offices — are still lost in the dark about what will happen on New Year’s Eve, 1999. That’s why the President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversions has launched a national campaign supporting locally organized “Y2K Community Conversations” that bring citizens together with local business and government leaders to discuss the Year 2000 readiness of their communities.

Local media — such as the newspaper you are now perusing — are being urged by the Council to raise the right questions, organize local Y2K community conversations, and provide a forum for citizens to ask questions about the work that remains to be done. Key Y2K questions for local leaders, the President’s Council suggests, range from such obvious inquiries as “Do you have an overall plan?” and “Is there an individual who has been placed in charge of your Y2K efforts?” — to more specific questions, like “How much have you budgeted for Y2K work?”, “What are some of the obstacles you have encountered in preparing systems for the Year 2000?” and “What kind of contingency plan do you have in place for standard emergencies?”

To facilitate further learning about the Y2K problem, the President’s Council has made available a free “Y2K Community Conversations Toolkit,” with a guidebook and other materials. It can be ordered through the Council’s toll-free Y2K information line (888-USA-4-Y2K). A text version is also available on the Council’s Web site at

For more information, call 1-888-USA-4-Y2K.

Bounty hunters, listen up

The Coalition for Scenic Beauty in Asheville and Buncombe County is well-known for its efforts to restrict billboards. Now, the grassroots organization is stepping up its fight against the illegal cutting of trees in front of billboards on Interstates 40 and 26.

Someone, it seems, has been clearing the line of sight to the billboards without the permission of DOT officials. In response, the CSBAB is offering $500 for the arrest and conviction of the “person or persons” doing the clearing.

In boldfaced capital letters the reward poster expounds: “Illegal cutting is any cutting or topping of trees on a public right-of-way undertaken without the on-site supervision of [an] N.C. DOT official. Department officials will have a state-owned vehicle at the site (all state vehicles have a yellow permanent license plate). Anyone having information about these illegal activities is encouraged to contact Crime-stoppers at 277-1000. Anyone witnessing illegal tree-cutting on [a] public right-of-way is urged to immediately call the N.C. Highway Patrol at [828] 298-4252 and describe the person, vehicle, vehicle license number and the location of the activity.”

To learn more about the reward, call coordinator Frank Martin at 299-3877.

Grants are great

When you’re a nonprofit organization, every penny helps. That’s why it’s so great to receive a truly significant sum of money: Then you can forget fundraising for a little while, and get back to doing what it is you actually do. Recently, several nonprofits in Buncombe County received significant sums from the N.C. Arts Council, whose mission is to enrich the cultural life of the state by “nurturing and supporting excellence in the arts.”

Among those rewarded for their good work in the arts are:

• the Arts Alliance ($42,769 to support various education and community arts programs)

• the Asheville Art Museum, ($19,000)

• the Asheville Symphony ($11,000)

• the Diana Wortham Theatre ($8,000 to support its Mainstage Series)

• Handmade in America ($8,800)

• High Country Arts and Craft Guild ($6,000)

• Silent Partners ($4,000)

• Swannanoa Chamber Music festival ($2,000)

• the YMI Cultural Center ($18,250).

Congratulations to all!

To learn more, or to request a complete listing of grants to each county, call Nancy Trovillion, N.C. Arts Assistant Director at (919) 733-2111, ext. 28.

— capybarically compiled by Paul Schattel

Rock collecting rocks!

While rock collecting may rank only a step or two above stamp collecting in societal prestige, don’t tell that to the thousands of rock enthusiasts, mineral devotees and lapidary artists in the area. To celebrate that most stable of stable elements — the humble, the mighty mineral — the Colburn Gem & Mineral Museum is holding its ninth Annual Rock Sale through Aug. 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The sale, which features bargains on donated materials such as mineral specimens, seashells and lapidarists’ supplies (including slabs, cutting materials, faceted stones and more), will benefit the museum, a nonprofit agency. Admission is free.

For more info, call 254-5652.

Lunch and learn

If you’ve ever felt that your lunch hour is an hour wasted, try one of the “Learning Lunches,” where you can enjoy a delicious meal from a local restaurant and learn a little something while you’re at it.

Starting at noon on scheduled Wednesdays in Triangle Park, on The Block (adjacent to the South Pack Square Community Center at 70 South Market St.), the Learning Lunches series hosts a different guest speaker each time, who will lecture and answer questions on his or her specialty.

The first lunch was served in late July, and featured Mayor Leni Sitnick and Assistant Human Resources Director Kevin Wilson; the next date — Aug. 4 — will feature a professional accountant, who will discuss getting organized financially. The lunch will be provided by Laurey’s Catering.

Upcoming dates are Aug. 11 (with Asheville Police Chief Will Annarino, with lunch from Loretta’s) and Aug. 18 (featuring Public Defender Calvin Hill, with lunch from Mountain Smoke House).

Each lunch costs $7; just phone in your lunch order by 5 p.m. the previous day, and Learning Lunches organizers will have it for you when you arrive. To make sure your question is answered, submit it to the Group Facilitator at the lunch.

For more information and to order lunches call Elizabeth Russell at 281-1227.

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