The Beat: Weekly news roundup

Lightning strikes

The tragic news of a woman struck by lightning recently on Max Patch bald in Madison County is reverberating around the world.

In “Woman Killed by Lightning Minutes From Becoming Engaged,” the Asheville Citizen-Times reported that, Richard Butler 30, took his girlfriend, 25-year-old Bethany Lott, to the popular hiking spot “under the guise of a summer afternoon hike.”

“The real purpose was that I had a ring in my pocket, and I was going to ask her to marry me,” Butler told the C-T.

According to the paper, as Lott and Butler hiked toward the top of the bald, bad weather moved in, and there were three quick lightning strikes. Lott was killed; Butler sustained second-degree burns.

As rescuers tried to revive Lott, Butler crouched near her body. “I put the ring on her finger while the EMTs were working on her,” he told the C-T. “They are listing me as her fiance in the obituaries.”

The story has also appeared in such far-away publications as Britain’s The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. According to the Telegraph, as Lott gazed out upon the mountaintop view, her last words were, “Look how beautiful it is.”

Not so merry pranksters

The other big story making headlines in Madison County this week is “Prankster Seniors Can’t Attend Madison High Graduation.” According to the Marshall News-Record & Sentinel, Jacob Ballard and McClellan Clay Patterson were suspended from school for the remainder of the school year and told they would not be allowed to take part in graduation after they were caught trying to ride two motorcycles through the high-school’s lobby.

Principal Tony Tipton said the punishment for senior pranks had been explained to students numerous times since the beginning of the school year, the paper reported. But the punishment has angered many Madison residents, who say it’s too harsh.

“They are not bad kids,” Lisa Mace, the mother of another senior who will graduate, told the newspaper. “One is the oldest child in his family, and they are denying the parents the right to watch their oldest child walk the line and get his diploma.”


Over in Haywood County, the big news has been a recent “Meth Lab Bust Near to Canton School.” The Mountaineer reported that “four suspects were taken into custody, charged with felony manufacturing methamphetamine.”

The home where the lab was located was only 314 feet from North Canton Elementary. Officers immediately conducted a safety sweep of the home and confirmed that all hazardous chemicals had been contained, the paper noted.

“We determined that no evacuation of the school or surrounding neighborhood was necessary,” Haywood County Sheriff Bobby Suttles told The Mountaineer.

In other drug-related news, the Citizen-Times reported on a big bust in “Task Force Seizes 36 Pounds of Pot in Cherokee.” Investigators seized more than 36 pounds of marijuana in Cherokee recently and arrested a New Mexico man.

Sports R us

In more upbeat news, BlueRidgeNow reported that Hendersonville’s Champion Hills golf course was one of many courses across Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina that recently co-hosted the biggest single-day charity golf tournament in the U.S.

According to “BI-LO Charity Classic Raises More Than $4.5 Million,” proceeds from the event support groups that focus on children’s needs, education and hunger relief.

In other sports news, Ashvegas reports that Asheville’s own Blue Ridge Roller Girls beat the Carolina Bootleggers 136-83 in their June 5 roller derby bout. According to “BRRG Dominates With Incredible Display of Teamwork,” the hometown girls played to 2,200 enthusiastic fans at the Civic Center.

Their next bout comes July 31, when they host the Texas Hellmarys, which the blog says could present a more formidable challenge.

URTV signing off?

Another local institution facing a major challenge this summer is the WNC Community Media Center, which says it will have to shut down in September unless additional funding is received. The center operates public-access channel URTV as well as the newly formed public-access Internet radio station urRadio.

In the June 9 print story “Broke,” Mountain Xpress reported that URTV producers plan to lobby the Buncombe County commissioners for additional funding to help the station survive. Xpress will have more to report as that story develops.

Bear beat bangs on

And in other news, bears continue to wreak havoc around Asheville.

In the wake of a recent biting incident in the Smokies and a downtown bear visit, the Citizen-Times reported, “Bear Kills Dog Near Bell Elementary in East Asheville.”

In response to the latter incident, Bell Elementary Principal Carleene Finger said school officials had declared an unfenced playground behind the building off-limits to students for the remainder of the year.

According to the article, officials estimate that there are some 6,000 bears in the region, up from about 4,000 five years ago.

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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One thought on “The Beat: Weekly news roundup

  1. Richard Butler

    The story, as it appears here, is a bit deceiving. Bethany’s last words were indeed, “God Baby, Look how beautiful it is.” However she spoke these words before being struck. The story here leaves you to speculate. I just wanted to clarify that my beautiful Bethany was killed instantly and did not suffer. Thank you, Richard Butler

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