The Beat: Weekly news roundup

Beerosphere battles rage on

An online war of words between Asheville and Portland, Ore., bloggers has been raging since last week’s poll christened our town “BeerCity USA 2010.”

In “What the Blogosphere Says About Our Win,” Xpress rounds up some of the alcohol-fueled responses, including this one from Portland’s Stumptown Magazine:

Well nice job, losers. All of your furious clicking couldn’t stop stupid old Asheville, North Carolina from being voted Beer City USA for the second year in a row. We will just have to drown our sorrows in one of our MANY AMAZING CRAFT BEERS AT ONE OF OUR MANY AMAZING BREWERIES, you assholes. … ASHEVILLE, YOU AND YOUR SIX BREWERIES CAN EAT ONE. PDX RULZ ASHEVILLE DROOLZ, etc.

In response to the attacks, a legion of local bloggers rose up to defend Asheville’s crown, including Jennifer Saylor, who posted “An Open Letter to Portland” on BlogAsheville, saying:

It’s human to get all territorial and fight over dumb shit like beer polls. But it’s also human to get over yourself when you truly encounter your opponent. Portland haters, encounter us. We are worthy. You got beaten (to whatever extent anyone gets “beaten” by an internet poll) by a city full of high-quality local craft brews and ardent, vocal beer lovers.

Asheville will celebrate its win June 5 at the inaugural Beer City Festival, which will showcase an array of the area’s finest craft brews and bands, including Josh Phillips Folk Festival and The Blues Dragons. The event will take place between noon and 6 p.m. at Pack Square Park.

Park ’n’ raid

The new downtown green space, now nearing completion after years of controversy, has also been making headlines for other reasons this week.

In the upcoming June 2 print story “Your Money or Your Park: City Wants $2 Million From Pack Square Conservancy” Xpress reports that Asheville is demanding to be paid back the $2 million it’s owed for construction bills the city paid on behalf of the Pack Square Conservancy. The story reports that the city won’t let the nonprofit manage the new facility until the financial issues are resolved (including an audit) and a plan is hatched for installing public restrooms.

According to the article, the city also demanded that the park’s May 28 “grand opening” be “re-characterized or re-styled to reflect current actual circumstances.” The event was subsequently rebranded as a “milestone” celebration featuring a headlining set by local jazz/blues singer Kat Williams.

Ongoing downtown revitalization

In other news related to ongoing downtown development, a recent presentation by the Downtown Asheville Residential Neighbors on “The Asheville Miracle: The Revitalization of Downtown” garnered substantial coverage from both the Asheville Citizen-Times and Xpress.

In “Downtown Asheville’s Success Shared Among Many,” the C-T reports that the presentation highlighted the wide-ranging efforts it took to bring the city center “back from being a ghost town” in the 1970s.

And in an online post, “The Asheville Miracle: A Startling Look at Downtown 20 Years Ago and the Folks Who Transformed It,” Xpress offers a stirring photo essay of ’70s-era boarded-up downtown landmarks.

One of them is the Grove Arcade, which despite having come a long way since then, is still facing major financial problems. In the print story “Strapped,” Xpress reports that the foundation managing the arcade “can’t make the payments on its debt to the city.”

A different kind of tourist

It’s unclear if the bear spotted strolling the downtown streets recently was drawn there by the revitalization efforts or something else.

In “Bear Creates Stir in Downtown Asheville,” the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that on May 26, a bear wandered across South Charlotte Street and took a “45-minute tour of downtown during the crowded lunch hour.”

According to the article, “a throng of gawkers snapping photos with cell phones and cameras followed the animal as it nonchalantly made its way across several city blocks.” The C-T coverage also includes a video of the bear as it stopped to munch on berries outside the First Presbyterian Church.

Eventually, the bear made its way safely back across Charlotte Street toward its likely home on Town Mountain.

Fish kill

Outside the city, a different type of wildlife wasn’t so lucky.

The Smoky Mountain News reports in “Weekend Fish Kill on Jonathan Creek a Mystery” that “A number of trout, from fingerlings to foot-long fish, turned up dead on Jonathan Creek near the confluence with Evans Cove Branch in the middle of Maggie Valley.”

According to the article, the incident caused quite a stir, prompting several 911 calls. One reason for concern is that Jonathan Creek serves as a drinking-water source for customers of the Maggie Valley Sanitary District.

While the cause of the kill is still unclear, the article quotes Neil Carpenter, director of the agency, explaining that the “water intakes are safely a mile and a half upstream from the site of the dead fish.”

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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