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WNCAP board president resigns

After two tumultuous years of service as president of the board of directors of the Western North Carolina Aids Project, Michael Faulkner submitted his resignation in late July.

Faulkner’s most recent troubles erupted after an interview with him appeared in the July 2 issue of The Front Page, a newspaper serving North and South Carolinas’ gay and lesbian communities. In the article, Faulkner called WNCAP’s most abrasive critic, Kevin Nuttall, a “virus,” and referred to Nuttall’s supporters as a “small band of sociopaths.” Faulkner also said, “We can’t operate at 100 percent with our agency because we’ve got this virus in the agency — him.”

The interview was reprinted in the July issue of Asheville’s Community Connections, which serves the local gay and lesbian community.

Nuttall, a local activist and person with AIDS, has been an outspoken critic of both Faulkner and WNCAP, an organization that he has called mismanaged and ineffective. So ubiquitous were Nuttall’s protests that Faulkner recently asked that “stalking” charges be filed against him. Nuttall allegedly violated a March 1998 civil restraining order sworn out by Faulkner, which restricted Nuttall’s access to WNCAP’s offices, staff and clients, and forbade him to circulate any defamatory statements about the agency; the stalking charges reportedly were filed after Nuttall staged protests outside WNCAP’s offices and Faulkner’s private office.

In The Front Page interview, Faulkner was quoted as saying that the struggle with Nuttall was taking a toll on the agency, causing high staff turnover and “board fatigue.” “After two years of this ongoing, incessant … anger and litigious nature from this man and his small band of sociopaths, it’s demoralizing the agency,” Faulkner said.

The interview and its reprinting incited a round of criticism of Faulkner, including some coming from within his own agency. In a letter to Community Connections, Roscoe E. Parker Jr., a member of WNCAP’s Client Services Committee, wrote, “I find it grossly insensitive and appalling that the titular head of our leading AIDS Service Organization would refer to several dozen current and former WNCAP clients … in such degrading and marginalizing terms.” He went on to call for Faulkner’s resignation.

At the time of the interview, Faulkner said he had no intention of resigning. Referring to his commitments to WNCAP’s clients, staff and volunteers, he said, “I’d be out of here in a heartbeat, if it was just me.”

Just weeks after Faulkner’s resignation, the mood at WNCAP seems upbeat. In a recent telephone interview, Executive Director Leslie Burnside said that the controversy has not really affected the agency’s day-to-day affairs. Among other things, she is enthusiastic about opening a new WNCAP office in Hendersonville to serve both Henderson and Transylvania counties. “We’ll be serving five counties now,” Burnside said, adding, “It’s been a productive year.”

Faulkner is succeeded by the board’s previous vice president, Vincent Hall.

WNCAP’s phone number is 252-7489.

Need money?

It’s not often that a foundation makes a public call for grant requests; usually, there’s so little cash to go around that the submissions are handled with an almost hermetic secrecy. But the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Pigeon River Fund, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations dedicated to preserving and improving the waterways around Buncombe, Haywood and Madison counties, evidently has a little money burning a hole in its pocket.

In the past four years, more than 50 projects have received the fund’s support.

So, community organizations, take heed: If your group has an educational- or environmental-improvement effort planned but lacks the money, give them a call. With the Aug. 15 deadline rapidly approaching, you don’t have much time left.

Where’s the water?

Last year, more than 25 percent of the water processed by city drinking-water treatment plants was lost somewhere in transit from the plants to the residents of Buncombe and Henderson counties. The loss includes leakage from old and faulty pipes, meter error, and unrecorded hydrant use and unmetered use.

The Regional Water Authority has long acknowledged that 25 percent is too much. Though the loss has been reduced from an estimated 32 percent in 1992, last month the Authority adopted a resolution that sets a formal goal of reducing the unaccounted-for water to 20 percent or less by the year 2005.

The progress made in prior years was largely due to a leak-reduction and pipeline-replacement program, which the Authority intends to continue, as part of a 14-point plan that also includes leak-detection surveys, meter calibration and replacement, identification of areas in need of pressure reductions, and improved estimates of the amounts of water needed for fire-fighting, line-flushing and other unmetered uses..

The campaign’s centerpiece will be developing a “Critical Needs List,” which will identify and prioritize water lines in need of replacement (based on the frequency of leaks and low pressure). A list of 108 projects, with an estimated $17 million price tag, has been developed and approved by the Authority; the highest-priority projects will be funded by a $3 million state grant (received last month), and the remainder through annual budget allocations of at least $800,000 — plus an additional bond issue.

Among the local areas targeted for a share of the state grant funds are: Chunns Cove Road; Buckeye Cove Road, Beacon Village, Wilson Avenue/Grovemont Road, Upper Moffit Branch, Crescent Hill Road, Lynn Cove Road, Cherokee Road, Eliada Home, and more. According to the city’s Water Resources Department, most of the water lines are very old two-inch-diameter pipes that will be upgraded to six-inch or larger pipes. Engineering and design on these projects will be completed by Nov. 1, 1999, and construction is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall of 2000.

To learn more, call the City of Asheville Water Resources Department at 259-5955.

Talk is cheap

Meher Baba, the Indian mystic proclaimed as “the Avatar of his age” by his followers, was one of the more unusual spiritual leaders of his time: Acting on his belief that God dwells more in direct service and the “voice of the heart” than in church-based prayer, ritual and ceremony, he took a vow of silence that lasted nearly half a century. Baba communicated through an alphabet board and, later, a series of hand gestures, up till his death in 1969. His followers included the poor and downtrodden, as well as such cultural luminaries as musicians Pete Townsend and Bobby McFerrin. Now, one of his direct disciples, Bhau Kalchuri, is coming to Asheville as part of an international speaking tour.

Kalchuri first came into contact with Meher Baba as a young man, entering into Baba’s service in 1953, as he was studying for master’s degrees in public administration, chemistry and law. For the next 45 years, Kalchuri wrote books of mystical poetry, songs and a 20-volume biography of Meher Baba. Since Baba’s passing, Kalchuri has traveled to Europe and the United States, giving lectures and talks about the Avatar’s teachings.

Kalchuri will make two scheduled appearances in Asheville. The first will be at Jubilee! on Wall Street on Friday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m.; the second will be at the Unitarian Church on the corner of Charlotte Street and Edwin Place, on Sunday, Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. Both lectures are free and open to everyone.

For more information, call Peter or Debbie Nordeen at 274-8873, or Winnie Barrett at 253-3432.

–cirrhotically compiled by Paul Schattel

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