Buzzworm news briefs

Campaign calendar

Thu, Nov. 2: “Judge for Yourself: Election 2006” featuring all 12 appellate-level judicial candidates and presented by the N.C. Center for Voter Education and UNC-TV, will air statewide at 8 p.m. on UNC-TV.

Sat, Nov. 4: One-stop voting ends at 1 p.m. Until that time, early voting is available 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.). 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, Nov. 6: Mailed absentee ballots must be received by the board of elections no later than 5 p.m. Requests for absentee ballots due to sickness or disability are due by 5 p.m.

Tues, Nov. 7, Election Day: Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Poll locations are available from your county’s board of elections. Here are a few notes to special-circumstance voters.

Voter assistance: Any voter is entitled to assistance from a near relative. Voters unable to enter a voting booth or mark a ballot because of physical disability, including blindness, or those who are unable to mark a ballot because of illiteracy, can receive assistance from a person of their choice (other than the voter’s employer, an employer’s agent or an officer/agent of a voter’s union).

Voter ID: Voters who have registered by mail since January 2003 who did not provide a valid driver’s license number will be asked for one of these identifying documents: a copy of a current, valid photo identification; a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other governmental document that shows the voter’s name and address.

Moved recently?: Voters who did not submit a change-of-address to the Board of Elections office by the registration deadline must vote in one of two ways: 1) Report to your former voting location and pick up a form to take to your new location. (This form will verify that you have not voted at your former location.) You will cast your vote at the new location. 2) Report to your new voting location to vote, where you may fill out a registration-change form.

This is our last Campaign Calendar before the Nov. 7 election. See you next election season. And don’t forget to vote!

Maya researcher earns Distinguished Alumnus Award

George Stuart

Facing history: George Stuart at home with one of his Mayan masks. photo by Jonathan Wekch

George Stuart was recognized for lifetime accomplishment and for bringing distinction to the state’s university system during University Day ceremonies in Chapel Hill on Oct. 12. Stuart is founder and president of Boundary End Archaeology Research Center, which is located in Barnardsville (See “Mesoamerican Discovered in Barnardsville,” July 13, 2005, Xpress).

Stuart’s interest in this hemisphere’s ancient civilizations led to the accumulation of an extensive library. Earlier this year, he and his wife, Melinda Stuart, contributed the 13,000-volume collection to UNC-Chapel Hill. As the UNC libraries journal Windows noted in its spring issue, the contribution “put UNC’s library on the map with Harvard, Penn, Tulane, Texas and the Library of Congress as the nation’s greatest repositories of research materials on ancient Mesoamerica—with particular reference to the Maya.”

During nearly 40 years at Washington’s National Geographic Society, Stuart was a cartographer, archaeologist, editor and assistant vice president for mission-based grants. He traveled frequently to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, and has written extensively about Maya civilization.

Stuart’s contribution to the future of Mayan studies has another, more personal aspect. Fueled by his father’s passion, David Stuart is one of the world’s foremost Mayan-language experts, and the pair have co-authored a book on the ancient city of Palenque.

—Cecil Bothwell

The paper chase

Community Publishers Group

Read all about it: One of the Community Publishers Group’s new racks sits next to the Haywood Park Hotel. photo by Jon Elliston

The Asheville area is blessed with an abundance of newspapers and magazines, most of them free, that report on news, commerce and the arts. But that abundance can create a dizzying, messy and even unsafe array of distribution racks and boxes. The profusion of publications has drawn the ire of some municipal officials intent on cleaning up city sidewalks. It can also make merchants reluctant to give up more and more valuable space inside or outside their establishments.

Enter the Community Publishers Group.

Created in March, the CPG—established by Mountain Xpress and six other publications and now boasting more than 15 participating publishers of free papers and magazines in the area—is tackling the issue, says CPG Administrative Manager Sammy Cox, who also serves as distribution manager for Xpress.

The most-visible manifestation of the CPG’s efforts are the growing number of compartmentalized news racks and boxes sprouting around Asheville that neatly display 10 or more publications together, cutting down on the number of racks cluttering the area. And since the CPG’s equipment choices are vertically oriented, less floor space is needed to display publications, meaning that local outlets are not as apt to decrease the number of publications they allow to be displayed. Examples of the new racks can be found inside the Grove Arcade, at all 10 Citi-Stop convenience stores and on sidewalks around town, such as on Haywood Street.

“It’s been a win-win situation” for the publishers and merchants, says Cox. And readers benefit, too, since the growing number of racks allows them to grab more of their favorite publications at one time. That’s reflected in the fact that publishers are moving more of their papers than before, Cox says.

But there’s more at stake than just cleaning up clutter; it’s also an effort to preserve the diversity of media voices in the area.

Because the new displays are authorized by written agreements with merchants, the chances that a for-profit distributor will strike exclusive deals has been reduced, says Xpress Publisher Jeff Fobes. Merchants such as the Ingle’s grocery chain have signed such deals, which have effectively shut out Xpress and other publications from distributing their papers on-site because of expensive fees charged by distribution companies.

The CPG “is an effort to empower the grassroots” and protect free, independent and community-oriented publications from corporate media consolidation, Fobes says.

“We were also aware of efforts by Gannett in other markets to control distribution,” Fobes says of the media conglomerate that owns the Citizen-Times and newspapers nationwide. “Whether or not it was intentional, the outcome of Gannett’s initiatives has been damaging to the community publications in those markets and we didn’t want that to happen in Asheville. … That’s bad for the free flow of information and democracy.”

Fobes adds: “There’s another outcome, too. When you bring all these community papers together, they learn to work with each other. It just promotes a cooperation that goes beyond distribution.”

For more information about the CPG, contact Sammy Cox at 251-1333, ext. 121.

—Hal L. Millard

Trouble on the Urban Trail

The word on the street last week was of conspiracy; that the recent removal of a life-size metal sculpture from in front of Malaprop’s bookstore in downtown Asheville was done by the unseen hand of the powers-that-be. After all, it was a place where buskers massed with banjos and slowed sidewalk traffic, where transients tied their dogs and stashed their musty bedrolls.

The truth, it turns out, is perhaps more unsettling. According to John Dankel of the Asheville Police Department, shortly before 3 a.m. on Sept. 30,  20-somethings Andrew Lipe and Dustin Cogswell (both of Asheville) were apprehended removing the heads from two of the three women in the sculpture known as “Shopping Daze.” The men were arrested, scheduled for an Oct. 30 court date and released on bond.

Destruction of public art in Asheville remains “very rare, fortunately,” according to Don Inlay, president of the Asheville Urban Trail Association and a Trail tour-guide. (There was the instance several years ago when an intoxicated driver plowed into the brick wall at Pack Square, smashing into one of the metal hogs there.)

Nevertheless, “Shopping Daze,” an impressionistic piece designed by UNCA art professor Tucker Cooke, seems especially attractive to mischief-makers. Several years ago, someone removed the head from a dog that is part of the statue. In time it was reattached.

Whatever the motive for this most recent crime, Inlay hopes the accused didn’t do it with hopes of financial gain. “There’s some thought that with metals being as pricey as they are right now that the brass the statue is made from might have been a temptation,” Inlay says. “I’d prefer to think that they were drunk and were just screwing around.”

“Shopping Daze” was taken up, cement base and all, and carted to Black Mountain Ironworks, where it will be repaired and eventually returned to its former location. For the time being, the spot is marked with a series of plastic cones in safety orange. They’re interesting in their own way, but hardly art. Inlay says he hopes for restitution and “an appropriate punishment” for those who assaulted the statue.

For a virtual tour of Asheville’s Urban Trail—and pictures of “Shopping Daze” during better times—visit www.urbantrail.net.

—Kent Priestley

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