News in review: Pub cycles, merger money, District 2 and rate hikes

The most-viewed news at this past week: A roundup of Asheville City Council’s Dec. 11 actions, which included approving pub cycles and reviewing the city’s study of the possible merger of the water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District.

While state legislators may already be at work on a bill forcing the merger, MSD proposes paying the city $57 million over 50 years, but Asheville leaders tossed back (with their own study) that the system is worth more than three times that much. However, the system has not been appraised (and the state legislative committee chaired by local Rep. Tim Moffitt claims the city is owed no compensation, because ratepayers own the system).

But back up a sec —

What’s a pub cycle?

According to city staff:

By definition, a trolley bike or party bike, pedibus, cycle pub, beer bike is a multi-passenger human powered vehicle. It is sometimes mistaken for a larger scale pedi-cab, but it is not since it is powered by the passengers while the steering and braking is controlled by a driver who does not provide pedaling power. …

For a more lively description (and photo) of what local entrepreneur Shawn Verbrugghe has in mind for Asheville, see a Dec. 7 article by Clarke Morrison, Asheville Citizen-Times:  “It soon could be possible for a dozen beer-sipping sightseers to sit around a mobile bar while pedaling through the streets of downtown. Shawn Verbrugghe wants to start a business called Amazing Pubcycle, featuring an unusual, human-powered vehicle sometimes known as a trolley bike or cycle pub. …”

In other top news at

The North Carolina Board of Elections voted unanimously to dismiss District 2 Republican candidate Christina Kelley G. Merrill‘s charges that local elections officials violated any laws in counting the ballots of Warren Wilson College students. But with Merrill poised to file a lawsuit on the issue, election officials won’t certify any of the District 2 winners until after Merrill’s appeal to the courts is settled, according to Johnnie McLean, deputy director of administration for the state board.

News you might have missed

The Economic Development Coalition and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce will host the annual job fair Jan. 3 at the Biltmore Square Mall. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature dozens of employers looking to fill hundreds of positions.

Also, stay tuned for updates on public hearings this winter about Progress Energy’s proposed rate increases. Representatives of the AARP, UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, and other groups are speaking out against what they see as unfair burdens the company’s rates put on disadvantaged residents. Progress Energy, the biggest electric company serving homes in Buncombe County recently merged with Duke Energy, making it the largest utility company in the U.S.


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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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