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How to make a lot of money (and save a watershed, too)

Michael Morgan is a man with a plan — to save Swannanoa’s Beacon watershed, that is. His plan utilizes a time-tested strategy for saving any piece of valuable property, whether it be Brazilian rainforest or Carolina old-growth: Turn a profit from it, and you can believe it’ll be there forever.

Viewing the watershed’s water as a free, renewable, marketable resource — valued at an estimated 30 cents a gallon — Morgan calculates that his plan would gross nearly $800,000 a year.from sales of bottled water. Sound unrealistic? On paper, the plan looks fairly foolproof; it incorporates employee wages and other expenses, and even notes the natural “ripple effect” that will help nearby landowners who have springs on their property. Factor in effective marketing and a nonprofit status that takes care of any taxes, and you’ve got a successful money-making venture on your hands — not to mention a pristine watershed that even the most heartless developer wouldn’t touch. After all, it’s making money.

“[T]he purpose of this article,” Morgan’s media release states, “is to gain support for the preservation of one of our rarest of valuable natural resources — a watershed to supply the human population with a permanent, clean source of drinking water, while maintaining the beauty of our mountains.”

The 750-acre watershed is for sale, and Swannanoa residents — including Morgan — want to see it preserved.

For more information contact Michael Morgan at (828) 686-5962.

Musical Bummer

While the closing of the Grey Eagle in Black Mountain was a blow to the area music scene, it seemed for a while like things might have been salvageable: At least one Black Mountain business, Hands On art studio, announced it would try to pick up a little of the slack and feature some live acoustic music in its studio space.

But due to some unforeseen problems regarding the use of their space for public musical events, Hands On has had to cancel the series. In a press release, the owners say that, although they are passionate supporters of live acoustic music, the upcoming singer/songwriter concert series will be canceled. “We appreciate all of the support for this series of concerts, and we sincerely apologize for this cancellation,” the release states.

For more information, call Judi Ashe at 669-1337.

Changing of the guard(rail)

The N.C. Board of Transportation has allocated $4.2 million to install median guardrails on 34.7 miles of interstates 40 and 26 in Buncombe County, in the wake of several recent highway calamities. Installation will begin in the spring of 1999, and is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The rails will be installed on I-40 from Haywood County to McDowell County, and on I-26 from the Henderson County line to I-40, southwest of Asheville.

“I am pleased the board approved these very important projects to make Buncombe County’s highways safer,” said Asheville’s Gordon Myers, who represents the county on the board. “The prevention of these often-fatal accidents is one of the department’s top safety priorities.”

The board also approved $3.7 million for median guardrails on highways in Burke, McDowell and Rutherford counties.

To learn more, call 1-877-DOT-4YOU, or check their Web site at www.dot.state.nc.us.

Great grants, Vol. I

The Arts Alliance recently awarded 25 grants totaling more than $140,000 to various Buncombe County art organizations, making Asheville’s renowned art scene even better. Among those receiving funds for general operating support were the Asheville Art Museum ($23,000), the Asheville Community Theatre ($22,000), and public-radio station WCQS ($11,200).

Among those awarded funds for program support were the Asheville Ballet Guild ($500 to create a new work, “Book of Psalms”), the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Center for the Arts ($750 to produce a series of programs including free open-air concerts, a short-story competition, and a Bach festival), the Playback Theatre ($2,000 to fund performances at local prisons), and the Writer’s Workshop ($650 to provide award money for four writing competitions).

The Alliance, a nonprofit “umbrella organization” dedicated to enhancing the vitality of the Asheville area, raises and allocates funds, provides technical support and management assistance, and establishes partnerships with other agencies to address community issues.

To learn more about how you can either give or receive support through the Alliance, contact Executive Director Tina McGuire at 258-0710.

Great grants, Vol. II

The beautiful city of Asheville is also getting a little help with efforts to protect its native trees. The Asheville Parks and Recreation Department and Quality Forward, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing and beautifying the city, have teamed up on two restoration projects: Parks & Rec’s “Master Street Tree Plan, Phase 1″ and Quality Forward’s “Hunt Hill/McCormick Field Native Planting and Restoration Project.”

The street-tree plan, made possible by grants from the city and the N.C. Division of Forest Resource’s Urban and Community Forestry program, will help update an inventory of the trees on city rights-of-way, mapping tree locations and providing statistical data and management plans for fertilization, insect and disease control.

The Hunt Hill project, funded by a combined $21,000 from Buncombe County and the city of Asheville, will help plant trees and restore the steep bank at the entrance to McCormick Field. Plans include planting native trees and providing a pedestrian-accessible, shaded walkway.

For more info, call 259-5800.

Help fight substance abuse

The New Hope Community Health Center and the Buncombe County Drug Commission want to tackle substance-abuse issues in high-risk communities — and they need your help.

They’re launching a new program to train Community Substance Abuse Prevention Advocates, who will visit churches, community centers, health clinics and human-service agencies, distributing educational materials and making presentations. Advocates will receive 15 hours of training by Drug Commission staff.

Applications for advocate positions are now available at New Hope Community Health Center (26 Market St., Asheville) and the Buncombe County Drug Commission (162 W. Chestnut St., Asheville).

For more information, call 252-3240, or drop by either agency.

— cyclothymically compiled by Paul Schattel

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