Buzzworm news briefs

Campaign calendar

Fri, Oct. 13: The League of Women Voters and the 28th Judicial District Bar will hold a forum for judicial candidates at 4 p.m. in the fifth-floor courtroom of the Buncombe County Courthouse. The nonpartisan races covered are as follows: associate justice, Supreme Court (Judge Robin Hudson vs. Judge Ann Marie Calabria, and Judge Mark Martin vs. Rachel Hunter); and 28th District Court (Judge Sharon Barrett vs. Susan E. Wilson). Retired Judge Earl Fowler will serve as moderator. The event is co-sponsored by the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement and the Leadership Asheville Forum. For more information, call 258-8223 or go to www.abc.nc.lwvnet.org.

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 your local Board of Elections (in Buncombe County, 250-4200) for more information.

Mon, Oct. 16: The League of Women Voters will hold a public forum for candidates for N.C. Senate District 48 and N.C. House Districts 114, 115 and 116 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Randolph Learning Center in Asheville’s Montford neighborhood. The forum is co-sponsored by the N.C. Center for Creative Retirement and Leadership Asheville.

Wed, Oct. 18: The public is invited to witness the Buncombe County Board of Elections’ testing of its voting machines. The testing will take place on the fifth floor of the Allport Building, 44 Valley St., at 5:30 p.m. (enter through the Purchasing Department’s Valley Street entrance). For more information, call the BOE at 250-4200.

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 will be held 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. The $16 fee includes lunch; no jeans, please.

Thu, Oct. 19: One-stop voting begins and runs through Nov. 4 at 10 locations around Buncombe County. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday (exception: the Buncombe County Training Center opens at 8:30 a.m.). The last day for early voting is Saturday, Nov. 4, ending at 1 p.m. Locations are as follows:

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

Mon, Oct. 23: Candidates for the Buncombe County Board of Education (representing the Erwin and Reynolds districts) and for Buncombe County sheriff will be featured in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County. The forum will begin at 7 p.m. at Erwin High School, 60 Lees Creek Road, and is co-sponsored by Kids Voting.

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.

Havin’ a gay old time

The 2006 edition of Pridefest — Asheville’s annual gay-pride celebration — will decidedly be a family affair this year.

The decider in this case was volunteer Kali Brewer, who 18 months ago gave herself the challenge of creating an event suited to all kinds of families. Besides entertaining her 2-year-old granddaughter, Brewer envisioned a gathering of the greater “family” that is the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and a festive outing for supportive friends and organizations. It will even be a benefit for families — specifically PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

“I’m so excited about it,” said Brewer, who in her nonvolunteer life is the director of an agency providing substance-abuse therapy. “I just thought we could have a fun day … that gay people and straight people could come to,” she said about her idea to change Pridefest’s former parade format to a stationary event with a festival atmosphere.

Brewer also felt that although Asheville has a large GLBT population, it’s splintered. “I didn’t feel any sense of community,” she observed. “I just wanted to give gay folks an opportunity to meet each other.”

It’s all happening Saturday, Oct. 14, from noon to 10 p.m., rain or shine. The 30,000-square-foot Center of Unlimited Possibilities in Westgate Shopping Center (next to Earthfare) will house a stage and booths from gay-friendly businesses. Outside in the fresh autumn air, there’ll be food vendors, children’s games, stilt walking, face painting, a dunking booth, plus information tables for various churches and organizations. Rolling their way through it all will be the Blue Ridge Roller Girls, peddling raffle tickets.

The stage performers, many locally based, will be a diverse lot. Asheville soul singer Kat Williams will kick things off at 12:15 p.m. She’ll be followed by the Cantaria male chorus, Asheville transplant Ginny Wilder, alt-rockers Seth Boulton and the Dream Machine, the progressive-electric Divine MAGgees, and the acoustic duo “Someone’s Sister.” At 8 p.m., Inner Voice — five Miami-based guys who offer multi-instrumentals plus vocal harmonies — will round out the musical offerings. And at 9:15, Asheville-based Natalie Productions will present a lineup that’s said to include some of the South’s best female impersonators.

“They’ve been told ‘No skin,'” Brewer says with a touch of firmness, holding the line on the family-friendly atmosphere even in the evening hours.

For details, or to sign up as a volunteer or vendor, go to www.ashevillepride.org.

— Nelda Holder

No place like (a) home

“Let the pessimists have their day, let the cynics have their say. They have been wrong before and they are wrong now.”

With those words, Philip Mangano praised local efforts to end homelessness and encouraged Asheville and Buncombe County to press forward with the 10-year initiative they adopted in January 2005.

Mangano is the executive director for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, making him President Bush’s point man on homelessness. In 2004, Mangano came to Asheville to promote a national push to end chronic homelessness in a decade. Asheville and Buncombe County endorsed the idea, creating a local plan based on the housing-first model, in which homeless people are placed in partially or fully subsidized apartments. Housing the homeless in this way is not only cheaper on the system, Mangano said, but begins a stabilization process for the tenants that continues into treatment and employment.

Standing in the lobby of the recently renovated Woodfin Apartment Building on Oct. 5, Mangano had high praise for the efforts of Asheville’s leading agencies on homelessness, mental health and affordable housing, who collaborated to nurture the system here. Nationwide, several other cities have reported success with the housing-first model.

“This is a prime example of the change that happens around the country,” Mangano said. “Woodfin accomplishes that mission.”

Eighteen units in the Woodfin Apartments will supply housing for the chronically homeless. The Griffin Apartments, slated to be completed in November, have 15 units designated to the push. Tenants participating in the program must qualify as chronic cases — homeless for a year or more or four times in the last three years — and have some sort of disability. The tenants will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent and can stay in the apartments as long as they uphold the terms of the lease. The rent for the Woodfin Apartments runs between $500 and $545 per month, including utilities. The application and screening process for those apartments has been completed.

Mangano said the housing model gains momentum not only by freeing the chronically homeless from a more-expensive cycle of social, medical and legal services, but also by convincing the skeptics and thereby fostering more political support.

Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy praised the efforts of everyone involved, pointing to both a decline in the number of chronic homeless and an enthusiastic response by those wanting to get into housing. But, she said, state legislators are dropping the ball on the inherently related issue of mental health.

“Our state is letting us down,” Bellamy said, pointing to the upcoming closing of the New Vistas-Mountain Laurel mental-health facility that was to serve as the treatment resource for the Woodfin Apartments.

— Brian Postelle

Artful doors

Doors can be points of ingress and egress. They can be metaphors (ask William S. Burroughs, Jim Morrison, Aldous Huxley). They can signal whether your presence is wanted, and they’ve also been used as makeshift tables and as flotation devices in floods. In Asheville, doors can be something else entirely: canvasses for various art forms — and a means to raise money.

In fact, for Asheville’s Neighborhood Housing Services, artfully conceived doors are the chief fund-raising tool. The local nonprofit uses the funds to help provide affordable homeownership opportunities throughout the area.

NHS’s annual fundraiser, The Doors of Asheville, is starting up Oct. 12. But this year’s event is a bit different than in the past, when the doors were simply auctioned off.

“With last year’s success and a growing interest in the Doors of Asheville, we wanted to expand in a way that could engage the attention of more Ashevilleans,” explains NHS Marketing Manager Sarah Brown. The result? A scavenger hunt called The Doors in the Stores.

Here’s how it works: The 30 doors created by local artists will be scattered among 30 local businesses. Pick up a special map, visit at least 22 of the stores and have each stamp your map, and then be entered in a drawing to win your own free, commissioned piece by one of the Doors of Asheville artists. The map will be available in all the participating stores and printed in several local publications (including this issue of Xpress). The hunt runs from Oct. 14 through Nov. 7.

If traipsing around Asheville for a shot at some free art isn’t possible for you — but you’d still like to see all of this year’s artful doors — NHS and co-sponsor HomeTrust Bank will hold a free preview with wine and hors d’oeuvres from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, in the halls of the downtown Grove Arcade.

Once the scavenger hunt concludes, all the doors will be auctioned on Friday, Nov. 10, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at On Broadway (49 Broadway in downtown Asheville). All proceeds from the sale of the doors will benefit NHS’ programs of home construction, lending and community outreach.

For more information on the Doors of Asheville or NHS, or to reserve tickets for the auction, call 251-5054, ext. 23.

— Hal L. Millard

Unveiled: the new disc-golf course

About 100 people took a two-hour walk through the woods of Asheville’s Richmond Hill Park on Sunday, Oct. 8, to view the 18-hole disc-golf course unfolding there. The holes lie in varying stages of completion — some nearly finished and others yet to be cleared of underbrush due to recent relocation.

James Nichols, WNC Disc Golf Club president and the course’s designer, led the crowd through the course. He described fairways and the locations of baskets not yet installed, and sometimes even suggested what strategy of play would be most effective on a given hole.

“This design has been completed three separate times,” Nichols noted. The changes were made in response to questions about environmental impacts and erosion that could be caused by foot traffic. Alongside disc golfers and mountain bikers, there were several people on the tour who were concerned primarily with the ecological stability of the park. Among them was James Wood, the activist and UNCA student who has brought considerable attention to the park’s ecology and how development might impact the natural environment there.

A wetland in the park that contains several rare species was a hot-button issue, as Wood and others asked that disc-golf play be kept at least 600 feet away. (One hole in question has already been moved about 250 feet from the wetland area.) Also requested were silt- and water-retention ponds, mulch along paths and some way to protect trees from damage when struck by discs.

The meeting was intended as a brainstorming session and not an occasion for argument or debate, but some frustration was apparent as different opinions emerged about how far the course design would have to go to satisfy ecological concerns. Even as they concede wanting to protect the forest, some disc golfers worry that too many design alterations could not only further delay the course’s completion, but economically hobble the city’s ability to finish it at all.

The next public-input meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16, at the Public Works Building (161 S. Charlotte St.); the results from that meeting will be submitted to City Council at its Nov. 14 formal session.

— Brian Postelle

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