Buzzworm news briefs

Campaign Calendar

Wed, Sept. 20: Congressional candidate Heath Shuler will appear at the 11:30 a.m. Critical Issues Luncheon of the Leadership Asheville Forum at the Country Club of Asheville. The public is welcome; reservations are required (contact Terry Wooten at woot683@bellsouth.net or 683-0910). A $16 cost covers lunch — and there is a request for “no jeans, please.”

Wed, Sept. 27: A fund-raising reception for Van Duncan, Democratic candidate for Buncombe sheriff, will be held at 300 Webb Cove Road from 5:30 to 7 p.m. For details and reservations, e-mail vanduncan@vanduncan.com or call 254-8100.

Thu, Oct. 5: Van Duncan, candidate for Buncombe sheriff, is holding a community meeting at the Weaverville Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Fri, Oct. 6: The “2006 Nonpartisan Judicial Voter Guide” will be mailed to all residential addresses between Oct. 5 and Oct. 16 to coincide with the beginning of one-stop voting on Oct. 19. The guide is published by the N.C. Board of Elections and covers all the judicial candidates.

Fri, Oct. 13: Last day to register to be eligible to vote on Nov. 7; also, last day to change party status before the general election. Contact the Board of Elections at 250-4200 for further information.

Mon, Oct. 16: The League of Women Voters will hold a public forum for local N.C. General Assembly candidates from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Randolph Learning Center in Asheville’s Montford neighborhood.

Wed, Oct. 18: The two candidates for Buncombe sheriff, incumbent Bobby Medford and challenger Van Duncan, will be the guests at the 11:30 a.m. Asheville Leadership Forum. The event takes place at the Country Club of Asheville and is open to the public. Reservations are required; contact Terry Wooten at woot683@bellsouth.net or 683-0910. There is a $16 fee (covers lunch) — and no jeans, please.

Thu, Oct. 19: Early voting begins and runs through Nov. 4 at all of the following locations (note that early voting ends at all locations at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4):

Buncombe County Training Center, 199 College St., Asheville
Black Mountain Library, 105 N. Dougherty St., Black Mountain
Enka/Candler Library, 1404 Sandhill Road, Candler
Fairview Library, 1 Taylor Road, Fairview
Leicester Library, 1561 Alexander Road, Leicester
South Buncombe Library, 260 Overlook Road, Asheville.
Weaverville Library, 41 N. Main St., Weaverville
North Asheville Library, 1030 Merrimon Ave., Asheville
West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Road, Asheville
Asheville Opportunity Center, 36 Grove St., Asheville

For additional information, call the Board of Elections at 250-4200.

Candidates, organizations and citizens: Send your campaign-event news — as far in advance as possible — by e-mail to nholder@mountainx.com; by fax to 251-1311; or by mail to Campaign Calendar, Mountain Xpress, P.O. Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802. If you have questions, call 251-1333, ext. 107.

Healing versus punishment

From place to place in recent years, a new paradigm for dealing with crime and its aftermath has taken hold. The movement, referred to as restorative justice, is coming to UNCA on Monday, Sept. 25.

Restorative justice is a concept that regards crime as a societal problem best addressed by repairing the damage done rather than meting out punishment to the criminal. Made famous by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that did so much to mend South Africa after the end of apartheid, this new way of seeking and meting out justice has taken root in some surprising places.

According to attorney Marty Price, the state of Minnesota has made restorative justice the basis for its entire criminal-justice system, with Pennsylvania close on its heels. Ten other states, including Texas, have formally adopted victim-offender mediation or communication to help both parties heal and move on with their lives. At a Sept. 10 forum hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, Price — who has been involved in the restorative-justice movement for two decades — argued that the movement’s track record is notable.

Sometimes the solution involves financial compensation. “Whereas court-mandated financial restitution is only actually paid by 20 percent of offenders, restitution agreed to by offenders in mediation with victims is paid in over 90 percent of the cases,” Price reported. “When a judge imposes restitution, it is viewed as a fine, as part of a punishment. But when a victim confronts an offender, when the offender understands the damage he has inflicted on another person’s life, he takes ownership of the agreement to repay damages and feels moral responsibility for his actions.”

Furthermore, Price explained that such discussions are often even more healing for victims than they are for offenders, allowing victims to reach closure about whatever was inflicted on their lives.

Price recently returned from delivering a U.S. State Department-sponsored program on restorative justice for legal professionals in Argentina and Chile. Together with fellow reformer Pat Downing, he will discuss the subject at UNCA’s Humanities Lecture Hall, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25. The event is being presented by the Western North Carolina Restorative Justice Task Force and is co-sponsored by the local Mediation Center and 20 other community organizations.

For more information, phone 628-9397 or 337-1666.

— Cecil Bothwell

Ms. Baynes goes to Washington

Six years ago, residents in Asheville’s Shiloh community learned of a large-scale residential development planned for Caribou Road. Many neighbors thought the proposed project seemed out of scale for the community, but Norma Baynes decided to actually do something about it. She drew up a petition and called a community meeting to address the issue, and the result was a successful appeal of a ruling by the city’s Technical Review Committee and a change in plans for the developers.

Perhaps more significant was the creation of the Shiloh Community Association and the launch of Baynes’ second career — that of community activist. Her work in Shiloh eventually landed Baynes on the board of Neighborhood Housing Services of Asheville, where she confronts an array of community and development concerns. “Shiloh is the oldest historic neighborhood in Asheville, and we’re trying to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood,” she explains, “to see to it that longtime residents can continue to afford to live here and not be driven out by rising values and high taxes.”

Recently, Baynes was tapped as one of eight community leaders nationwide to receive the Dorothy Richardson Award from NeighborWorks America, a network of some 235 community-development organizations working in 2,700 locales across the country.

NHS Executive Director Chris Slusher says he’s seen Baynes “blossom” as she takes on more and more projects. “Community change begins with individual action. And Norma is finding that the fear that accompanies speaking out is quickly diminished by the acquisition of effective personal tools and experience.”

Reflecting on the awards ceremony, which was held in Washington, D.C., Baynes says it was a useful experience in its own right. “All of us [who were] getting awards discussed our communities and found that we’re all facing the same problems. What’s needed is all of us working together to preserve our communities.”

— Cecil Bothwell

The fate of the Globe

The U.S. Forest Service is back at the drawing board with the Globe Forest project, which proposes opening 231 acres to heavy logging in Pisgah National Forest, just south of Blowing Rock. After reviewing public comments, Grandfather District Ranger Joy Malone announced that the project team would develop a new alternative rather than approve or reject the original proposal.

According to Malone, the USFS was sent 1,200 letters, faxes and e-mails offering public comments. “We usually get less than 20,” Malone told Xpress. Among those who raised concerns were the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, Rep. Virginia Foxx and Sen. Elizabeth Dole. On the final day of the public-comment period, the Blowing Rock Town Council passed a resolution opposing the timber-harvesting project.

“We clearly heard the importance people place on the scenic views of the forest from around Blowing Rock,” Malone was quoted as saying in a USFS press release. “We also heard people’s discontent about not having longer to review and comment on our proposal. In response to these concerns, I have asked our project team to develop an additional alternative for my consideration.”

Chris Joyell of the Asheville-based Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project notes that among the group’s many concerns about the project are findings that the stands slated to be felled are interspersed with patches of old-growth trees.

According to Malone, “No areas that are designated old growth will be logged.”

But Joyell maintains that independently conducted coring samples commissioned by SABP revealed certain trees within the scope of the project area to be more than 300-years old. “‘Designated’ means an area is taken out of timber production,” Joyell says. “In reality, they’re proposing to chop down trees older than this country.”

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, on the other hand, recently issued a statement endorsing the USFS proposal. “The Wildlife Resources Commission supports this proposal because of its anticipated benefits to fish and wildlife,” says Gordon Warburton, a supervisory wildlife biologist with the commission. “A young forest — what we call an early successional forest — is just as important as a mature forest for creating the diverse habitat that is part of a balanced ecosystem.”

For now, the USFS will draft a new alternative and an updated environmental assessment. Once it has been issued, another 30-day public-comment period will follow.

For more information, visit www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc.

— Rebecca Bowe

Peaceable kingdom, version 2.0

The N.C. Mountain State Fair, which dropped its tents and packed its rides on Sunday, was above all about animals: Brahma bulls and bantam hens, golden pheasants and goats, and Homo sapiens, too (in every conceivable shape, size and degree of dental health).

The mingling of species was, as always, a feast for the senses. It was also, in the postmodern way of things, a tacit invitation to disease outbreak.

Two years ago a malevolent little critter called E. coli O157:H7 put in an appearance at the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh, sickening more than 100 attendees, including 15 children who needed to be hospitalized with complications. The pathogen was eventually traced to livestock in a petting zoo.

In a nod to public safety, at this year’s fair near Fletcher, wherever there were animals there also were cleaning stations: basins with soap and water, or sanitizing gels that could be squirted from industrial-size dispensers.

This reporter — never one to flinch from danger — chose to pet a goat and, soon after, hold a caramel apple in the same hand. Call it dumb luck or a sign of an iron constitution, but he never got sick. (Please don’t follow his lead, though. Next year he may not be so lucky.)

— Kent Priestley

Chabad leader, Rabbi Shaya Susskind
Nice to meet Jew: Some 100 members of Asheville’s Jewish community gathered on Sept. 10 to welcome the city’s first fulltime Chabad leader, Rabbi Shaya Susskind, and his wife, Chana (not pictured). In a conference room at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce decked out with a sizeable kosher buffet, Susskind first thanked the crowd for being so welcoming, then launched into a quick joke about Israeli Gen. Moshe Dayan being stopped for speeding. (“Officer, I only have one eye,” the punch line went. “Where would you like me to look — at the road or the speedometer?”). Chabad is one of the oldest and largest branches of Hassidic Judaism. “We live in an ever-changing world, and we seek reference in a never-changing Torah,” Susskind told the crowd. “And that’s kind of difficult.” For more about the Chabad Lubavitch of Western North Carolina, visit www.jewishwnc.com or call 505-0746.
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