Notepad

Bar none

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 16 people die in fires each year across the U.S. — trapped in their own homes or apartments by security bars. That has Asheville Fire Chief John Rukavina worried, because many such devices — meant to keep intruders out — don’t have latches that allow them to be released from the inside.

Rukavina recently asked the city’s Housing Code Enforcement staff to amend Asheville’s Minimum Housing Code to require the use of safety releases on security bars. “Folks are concerned about crime, and security bars over windows are becoming more and more common,” said Rukavina in a recent Fire Department media release. “We think Asheville’s Minimum Housing Code should be proactive — we shouldn’t wait for someone trapped by security bars to die in a fire to take action. It’s not hard to equip security bars with latches that can be quickly released from inside a home or apartment before these bars are installed.”

For more information, call 259-5636.

Objects in dream are closer than they appear

Owning a home is a principal component of the American Dream, and it’s often cheaper and easier than you might think. To help you get there, the Affordable Housing Coalition is offering a Homebuyer’s Education Class in January.

The class, which runs four consecutive Tuesdays, starting on Jan. 5, will cover such topics as budgeting, how a mortgage works, working with realtors, and closing a loan. To make it even easier for prospective home buyers, the coalition has made child care available. Better yet, completing all four classes (plus a tour of affordable local homes) may entitle you to a special deal on a home loan.

Registration, based on a sliding-scale fee ranging from $5 to $50, covers the cost of a workbook and handouts. Two people from the same household may attend under a single fee.

To register, or to learn about other classes the coalition offers, call 259-9518.

Litterbug

In one of the more interesting PR campaigns lately, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has adopted an unusual new anti-litter mascot: a fly. “Beauty-Fly” is really a man-sized, blue-green-striped fly suit with silver wings, created to help teach kids and adults not to litter and to take responsibility for the cleanliness of their communities.

“Beauty-Fly” can be checked out for use at schools and social events to promote anti-litter efforts; anyone who volunteers to model the mascot costume will find it lightweight, easy to wear, and perfect for speaking to spectators, promises a DOT press release. “The mascot is a positive way to spread the department’s anti-litter message statewide,” says Helen Landi, director of the Office of Beautification Programs. “We’ve already had several requests for use of the [costume] and hope it stays checked out at all times.”

Want to bring “Beauty-Fly” to your school function or local event? Call (800) 331-5864. But if you’re looking to hang out around the dumpsters or hover over road kill, you may be out of luck.

J.D. Hayworth speaks

Supporters of Rep. Charles Taylor can get a double dose of conservative politics at the politician’s Seventh Annual Holiday Dinner, to be held in the Grove Park Inn’s Grand Ballroom on Saturday, Dec. 12. Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth will be the guest speaker.

A native Carolinian, Hayworth was a college football star and sportscaster in Greenville, S.C., before moving to Arizona in 1987. Recruited to run for Congress in 1994, Hayworth defeated the incumbent Democrat, becoming a strong proponent of the Contract With America. In Congress, Hayworth has served on the powerful Ways and Means and Veterans Affairs committees, making him a frequent and dynamic speaker on the House floor. He is also Assistant Majority Whip.

For more information on the Holiday Dinner, contact Trish Smothers at 251-0555.

Young diplomats

At Rainbow Mountain Children’s School, some students are stepping outside the classroom for an hour a day to learn skills that could make them a kid’s best friend on the playground: They’re part of the “Fuss Busters” program, which trains selected students from the 4th grade through middle school to be peer mediators, both with their own classmates and with kids in the lower grades. Fuss Busters learn to be neutral facilitators in conflicts, helping both sides defuse anger and find a win/win solution.

Now entering its 5th year, the two-week-long program is taught by Barbara Davis, executive director of the Mediation Center in Asheville. “I think it’s very important for kids to learn productive ways of solving conflicts,” says Davis. “Having problem-solving and communication skills gives kids a voice, so they can be heard when they’re having a problem and won’t have to resort to destructive ways of resolving it.”

To learn more about Fuss Busters, or the presentations, call the school at 258-9264.

Virtual Appalachians

The WNC Nature Center is now on the Net. Last month, the group announced that its new staff-maintained Web site (located at www.wncnaturecenter.org) was on-line. Designed by DeForrest Hipps primarily as an information resource for students and educators, the site gives visitors a virtual tour of the Center, helping them learn a great deal about the animals and birds of the Southern Appalachians. Visitors will be able to tour the new Predator Center and other animal habitats, find fact sheets on the animals, follow links to other Internet resources, and read the “Naturalist’s Notes,” a journal giving information on a wide variety of outdoors-related topics. New material will be added weekly.

And in other recent Nature Center news, a banquet was held early last month to honor Center volunteers. Lewis Haight, Pat Leonard, John Moore and Jim Sugrue were lauded for putting in 1,000 hours of volunteer service, while Mary Ann Bevier, John Granados, Betty Helton, Judy Lanier and Robert Miller were honored for 500 hours of service. Twenty-five others were cheered for logging 100 to 499 hours of service. Haight and Sugrue were also named Volunteers of the Year. For more information, contact Rhett Langston at 250-4260.

— currishly compiled by Paul Schattel

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