Here’s a look at what’s been happening around the mountains:
Obama in Asheville: Sen. Barack Obama brings his presidential campaign to a public rally in Asheville this Sunday. Details are here.
Shuler and Mumpower will debate on the radio: Rep. Heath Shuler cancelled his planned appearance Thursday at a forum in Murphy with opponent Carl Mumpower, citing an upcoming House vote on the proposed $700 billion financial-bailout package. The only other scheduled appearance of the two candidates is an Oct. 30 date with WWNC talk-radio host Matt Mittan. Details here.
Signs stolen: In a potential sign of things to come, the Rutherford County Digital Courier reports that a pile of stolen political signs was discovered at Isothermal Community College’s soccer field.
Student warrior-support group: The Blue Banner, UNCA’s student newspaper, examines the issues that students who serve in the military and veterans struggle with as they return to campus. “‘We’re largely a Democratic campus, so there are a lot of people who are against the war,’ one soldier says. ‘I don’t necessarily think that means they don’t support the troops, but I don’t tell everyone what I do.’”
Furniture plant gears up:Stanley Furniture Company Inc. is working on expanding its Robbinsville manufacturing plant. It employs 300 now and plans to add 200 new workers in coming years, reports the Graham Star. The new capacity will be used to make furniture lines for babies and children.
Textile plant gears down: Spectrum Yarns Inc. closed its Marion plant in McDowell County as well as a plant near Charlotte, putting about 200 people out of work, reports the McDowell News. The company said its Marion plant, which employed 83 people and made textured yarns, fell victim to the troubled economy. “In the midst of this national financial crisis, Spectrum has been unable to obtain sufficient financing to keep operations going,” the company’s president wrote in a letter to the N.C. Department of Commerce.
All creatures great and small: Area churches are planning animal-blessing services this weekend in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, considered the patron saint of animals and the environment. The Pisgah Mountain News reports that St. James Episcopal Church in Hendersonville will hold its service on Sunday. “Although the Blessing of the Animals has almost always been associated with St. Francis of Assisi, the practice has been around much longer. Some suggest that the tradition may predate the religious ceremonies but there is little documentation on the origin,” the newspaper reports.
Saving the bell: In true community spirit, residents in Highlands have been working to restore the old Scaly Mountain schoolhouse, work that includes restoring the old school bell and the bell’s tower stand, reports the Highlander newspaper.
Wal-Mart opens: The new Wal-Mart Supercenter has opened in Waynesville, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times.
New hospital CEO: The embattled Haywood Regional Medical Center, which lost its Medicaid and Medicare funding earlier this year and nearly shut down because of its ensuing financial crisis, has a new CEO, reports the Smoky Mountain News. John Michael Poore Jr. started Oct. 1. The county-owned hospital also now has a new hospital board, according to the newspaper. “Control of the hospital board now rests squarely with a clean slate of leaders appointed to their posts in the aftermath of the hospital’s crisis rather than those at the helm during its lead up. Two members of the hospital board turned in their resignation last week, joining the ranks of three others to leave this year: one who resigned promptly following the crisis and two others who chose not to reapply for their seats when their terms were up in the spring.”
State buys Grandfather Mountain: The state of North Carolina announced this week that it was buying Grandfather Mountain in Avery County to help preserve the natural treasure. The Watagua Democrat reports on the mountain’s fascinating history: “Grandfather Mountain was created about 730 million years ago when two of the Earth’s plates collided, but some of the material is even older than that. A 1962 U.S. Geological Survey reported some of the rock formations date back 1.1 billion years. The original Cherokee name for the mountain was ‘Tanawha,’ meaning ‘a fabulous hawk or eagle.’”
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor