Buzzworm news briefs

The doggone fun just won’t stop

If your pleasure-seeking pooch didn’t get enough of a waggish good time at the Doggie Carnival a couple of weeks back, here’s another opportunity: As part of this year’s Make a Difference Day, the Volunteer U will present an Animal Wellness Fair on Saturday, Oct. 25, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the dog park at French Broad River Park (on Amboy Road in west Asheville). Oh, and cats are welcome too!

Pets will get a chance to make new friends, enjoy a free bath, and stock up on some free food while their owners learn more about caring for them. Pets and owners can also pose for a Halloween photo and participate in other fun activities together. In addition, information will be available on a wide range of pet-related topics, including animal adoption, spaying and neutering, and animal-abuse prevention.

Volunteer U, a program of The Volunteer Center of Asheville and Buncombe County, seeks to inspire youth ages 12-17 to make a difference by volunteering.

For more information, call 255-0696.

— Lisa Watters

A statistical view of Asheville

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is reputed to have said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Renowned author Aaron Levenstein was just as suspicious: “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

Perhaps they both had a legitimate point — or maybe they were just grumpy that day. In any case, I like statistics. In this often chaotic world, it’s nice to be able to reduce at least a few things to precise, tidy numbers. Sure, they don’t tell the whole story, but they can be illuminating in their own way.

In that spirit, here are some mostly positive numbers recently released by the Asheville Metro Business Research Center, a service of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce:

• According to recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, one-person businesses with no employees grew by 17 percent in the Asheville area between 1997 and 2001 (compared to 10 percent in the U.S. and 13 percent in North Carolina). The Asheville area added more than 2,400 new one-person firms, bringing the total to 16,808. Some of the largest gains occurred in the service sector (more than 800 new businesses); construction (367 new businesses); real estate (412 new businesses); and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector (231 new businesses — up 32 percent, compared to 17 percent nationwide).

• For the 18th straight month, the Asheville area’s August unemployment rate (3.6 percent) was the lowest among all of North Carolina’s metro areas — a full point below the next lowest (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) and 5.4 points below the highest (Hickory/Morganton/Lenoir). The last time North Carolina’s overall unemployment rate was lower than Asheville’s was in February 1995 (and then by only 0.1 points).

• In the 2003 edition of the Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities: Where America’s Jobs Are Created, the Asheville metro area is ranked 22nd in the nation for five-year high-tech growth and 29th for one-year high-tech growth. Despite those strong numbers, however, the report also shows that wage growth in Asheville continues to lag behind most metros nationwide. Over the last five years, the Asheville metro has, on average, ranked around 140 for both one- and five-year wage growth. The comprehensive annual analysis ranks the 200 largest U.S. metro areas.

— Lisa Watters

Keeping the chill out

It’s only Oct. 3 as I write these words and I’m already cold. The nights are getting chilly — and even during the day, when the wind whips through downtown Asheville it’s got a bite to it that it didn’t have just a couple of weeks ago. No doubt we’ll have one of our Indian summers before it’s all over, but winter is definitely on its way.

Fortunately, I’ve got a good winter coat and a toasty apartment to go home to every day. Not everyone, however, is so lucky. The Western Carolina Rescue Ministries hopes its Coats for the Cold Campaign (now in its second year) will help keep those less fortunate members of our community warm this winter. The campaign’s goal is to collect 500 coats by Friday, Oct. 31.

New and used coats can be dropped into collection barrels placed in all WNC Arby’s and Swannanoa Cleaners locations, Charter Communications payment centers in Asheville and Waynesville, and the Mission campus (225 Patton Ave.) in downtown Asheville. Once collected, the coats will be cleaned, sorted and sized. Distribution of the coats to those in need will take place on Thursday, Nov. 20 at McCormick Field with help from members of the Asheville Tourists.

For more information, call Western Carolina Rescue Ministries at 254-0471.

— Lisa Watters

… and they called it the United Nations

In the darkest hours of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt knew the world would need an institution like the United Nations. What emerged after Hitler’s defeat was a hard-won mix of idealism and political realities — including a recalcitrant Stalin, whose armies occupied Eastern Europe and who declared that any country that isn’t fascist is a democracy.

The 58th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations will be celebrated this weekend with a performance dramatizing the politics and some of the players who helped establish the U.N. charter.

“The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and of danger,” Roosevelt told Congress just before his death — and less than three months before the U.N. Charter was adopted in San Francisco. “We have a chance, we citizens of the United States, to use our influence in favor of a more united and cooperative world.”

The dramatic readings will be staged by the local chapter of the United Nations Association/USA. The free event — which happens Saturday, Oct. 25 at Owen Conference Center on the UNCA campus from 9:30 a.m. to noon — is open to the public.

For more information, call 253-5383.

— Jeff Fobes

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