News briefs: Tourism input shared, Filipino American history celebrated

Beaverdam SAHC tract
MOUNTAIN HOME: A 139-acre parcel of land previously owned by descendants of the same Haywood County family for over 150 years has been acquired by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and added to other protected lands in the Beaverdam watershed. Photo by Johnny Davison, courtesy of SAHC

Hot tubs likely cause of Legionnaires’ outbreak

An initial investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease indicates that a hot tub display in the Davis Event Center of the WNC Ag Center during the N.C. Mountain State Fair was the likely source of bacteria-laden water vapor that has so far sickened over 120 people and caused one death, state health officials said on Oct. 3.

The ongoing investigation, the officials said, suggests that people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ or a milder form of the infection, Pontiac fever, were much more likely to have visited the fair during the second half of its Sept. 6-15 run.

TDA reports on public input

As the first of four phases of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s yearlong Tourism Management and Investment Plan initiative wraps up, the project team will present findings on public sentiment.

The free event takes place 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23 at A-B Tech’s Ferguson Auditorium, 19 Tech Drive, Asheville, NC 28801; registration is requested here.

The press release explains, “The objective of TMIP is to become more proactive and strategic in how revenue from [a portion of the hotel occupancy tax collected in Buncombe County] is invested in future years while protecting the quality of place for people who live here.”

Haywood County tract protected

With Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s purchase of a tract in the Beaverdam area of Haywood County, a nearly contiguous swath of 1,120 acres within the Pigeon River drainage is now protected from development and other threats.

“This 139-acre tract includes portions of Beaverdam Creek and its tributaries,” said Hanni Muerdter, conservation director for SAHC, in a press release. “The property fills a protection gap within the watershed, directly connecting Canton’s Rough Creek watershed conservation easement to the west and an SAHC-owned preserve to the north.”

Support for the purchase came from private donors, SAHC members and a $25,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

“This land has been passed down in the same family for over 150 years, and we are so grateful that the previous landowner wanted to see it permanently protected and reached out to SAHC,” added Muerdter.

Lobbying for transit

On Oct. 3, Better Buses Together and Just Economics of WNC launched #20for20, a 20-day campaign to advocate for increased support for public transit in advance of the Tuesday, Oct. 22, meeting of Asheville City Council.

The campaign asks community members to sign a petition at avl.mx/6l1 and email Council members at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov to show support for a budget amendment to extend evening hours by the end of the current fiscal year.

WNC celebrates first Filipino American history month

With its Mabuhay (mah-boo-high) Blue Ridge celebration on Friday, Oct. 25, the local Filipino American community will share information about its history in this region, as well as Filipino culture.

According to a press release, the first Filipinos arrived in this country at Morro Bay in California on Oct. 18, 1587, and today “Filipino Americans are the fastest-growing Asian American group, with a population of more than 2 million.” From 10 original families that moved to WNC 50 years ago, the local Filipino American population has now grown to several hundred, the press release says.

The event takes place at the South Buncombe Library, 260 Overlook Road, 6-8 p.m. For more information, call Virginia Rodriguez at 828-230-8847.

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