Buzzworm news briefs

Trail mixer

If you’re like a lot of single people, the idea of trying to meet others singles at a bar rates right up there with a trip to the dentist or trying to give a 140-pound Irish wolfhound a bath.

Sharon Frazier, founder of Mountains to Climb (an outdoor-adventure company that takes visitors on half, full or multi-day hiking trips in the Appalachians) agrees. But she hopes an upcoming singles hike she’s organized will prove to be a fun alternative to the bar scene.

“I thought that this would be a new, unique way for singles in the Asheville area to get out and meet new people in a way that’s not awkward or uncomfortable for anybody, but just doing what they love to do,” Frazier explains.

“I’m also single, so I don’t mind meeting new people that way, either,” she notes with a laugh. “I just feel like there’s not enough in the Asheville area for us to do.”

“Not everybody can get out in the evening,” she adds. “If you’re a single mom or something like that, this might be a way to be able to meet new people.”

Frazier, who has a parks-and-recreation background as a program director and events coordinator, launched her business three years ago.

“I love being outdoors, and I love sharing that experience with other people,” she notes.

The singles hike is planned for Sunday afternoon, Oct. 31 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hikers will leave from Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery (160 Hendersonville Road, across from the Biltmore Dairy Bar) at 1 p.m. and return by 4 p.m. After that, those who wish to are invited to stay and have coffee. Frazier will provide some transportation, but depending on the turnout, participants should be prepared to car pool. Bring water and a light snack, and wear layered clothing. The hike will be moderately difficult, and participants should be in decent shape, notes Frazier. In case of rain, the event will be rescheduled for the following Sunday, Nov. 7, starting at the same time and place. The cost of the event is $15.

If the hike is a success, Frazier says she’ll plan more such outings in the future.

To register for the singles walk, call Frazier at 628-0557. To learn more about Mountains to Climb, visit www.mountainstoclimb.com.

— Lisa Watters

Help with heating costs

It’s the time of year when the numbers on the thermometer go down and the figures on your heating bills go up. People who need help paying these bills can apply for assistance at their county department of social services. Two forms of help are available:

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program provides a one-time cash payment to qualifying families or individuals to help cover their heating bills. The application period for this program runs from Monday, Nov. 1, to Friday, Nov. 12. Checks will be mailed in February to eligible households.

The Crisis Intervention Program helps low-income households facing a heating- or cooling-related emergency. The program will pay heating bills to keep utilities from being cut off; it can also help with reconnect fees, if necessary. Other covered items include utility deposits, repairing a broken heater or replacing broken windows. The maximum payment is $300; there is no specific application period.

Elderly or disabled people wishing to apply may call their local DSS for assistance or send a representative on their behalf.

For more information, call the department of social services in your county. The N.C. CARE-LINE (800-662-7030) can direct callers to their local DSS.

— Lisa Watters

The art of civic engagement

A 30-year review of the decline of civic engagement in America is fueling a Nov. 8 summit at Western Carolina University.

Harvard professor Robert Putnam‘s three decades of study has shown that community engagement, civic involvement and community-building can ultimately strengthen economic development, education, crime prevention, health care and other areas that affect a community’s quality of life, says Gordon Mercer, director of WCU’s Public Policy Institute.

Speakers include Bill Steiner, director of Community Builders in Columbia, S.C., who will talk about “Community Building: The Charette as a Tool for Civic Engagement.”

The event is aimed at citizens, government officials and nonprofit and community leaders, Mercer told Xpress.

The summit, “Renewing America: Restoring the American Community through Citizen Involvement and Community Engagement” will run from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 8 at WCU’s Ramsey Regional Activity Center in Cullowhee. About 300 people usually attend the university’s annual summits, Mercer says.

A report by the Public Policy Institute, based on speakers’ comments and public feedback during the conference, will be available on its Web site (http://ppi.wcu.edu/) about three weeks after the conference.

The $25 registration fee covers lunch and materials. For more info, call Mickey Duval or Michael Moore at 227-2086.

— Tracy Rose

With or without a paddle

In the swirl of political activity surrounding the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s requirement that all its stations air the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal (see “The Politics of News,” Oct. 20 Xpress), the UNCA Political Union has scheduled four showings of Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry.

The film is described by its distributor as “a documentary on Sen. John Kerry’s Navy tour of duty in Vietnam, his contributions to the peace movement that followed, and the ultimate shape of his future political career.”

The film will be shown in UNCA’s Humanities Lecture Hall on Friday, Oct. 29, and Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 and 10 p.m. Admission is free.

— Cecil Bothwell

Get the puck over to the Civic Center

Leaves and temperatures aren’t the only things falling; pucks, too, are about to drop. That’s right: Hockey’s back in town. After a three-year absence, professional hockey will once again find a home at the Asheville Civic Center.

The Asheville Aces of the Southern Professional Hockey League will kick off their season on Friday, Oct. 29, with an away game against the Fayetteville Fire Antz. On Saturday, Oct. 30, the Aces will travel to Winston-Salem to battle the Polar Twins.

The team’s first home game will take place Friday, Nov. 5 against the Jacksonville Barracudas. The following night, the team will face off at home against the Knoxville Ice Bears.

Fans of Asheville’s last pro hockey team, the Smoke, will surely remember that when regional nemesis Knoxville skates into town, bone-crushing hits, glove-dropping brawls and action-packed hockey are likely to follow, with a twist of Appalachian rivalry that would make the Hatfields and McCoys blush.

For more information, visit the Aces Web site (www.ashevilleaces.com), or call 350-7777. To learn more about the league, visit www.thesphl.com.

— Brian Sarzynski

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