Blog :: 05-2011

Protecting the planet, our pocketbooks and our future

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5/31/2011 - Protecting the planet, our pocketbooks and our future
by Dale Neal

Dr. Olson Huff, who's made a real difference in the lives of local children as a pediatrician and children's advocate, may have the last word on sustainability. "It's the desire to produce or encourage an environment that allows us to live more comfortably now with an eye to the future that our children can do the same," Huff said simply. 

 Thinking green and healthy for tomorrow, in other words.

Huff will be one of the lead speakers at a new event that brings together developers who've been thinking about green for years as well as doctors who have been worried about our community's health.

"Building Healthy & Sustainable Communities" will be hosted by MAHEC and Warren Wilson College next month, as the two institutions combine a pair of conferences. Warren Wilson's Environmental Leadership Center had hosted the Mountain Green conference for developers in recent years. Last year, MAHEC launched its first Building Healthy Communities. The two groups decided to join forces this year for the event June 2-3 at MAHEC and Warren Wilson.

We've figured out that building homes and schools and offices that don't actively hurt us -- asbestos in the insulation or lead in the paint or plumbing -- is a good idea. We're still exploring how to build in ways that actively encourage health. Getting doctors talking with builders could bring about some new ideas, says Phillip Gibson, director of research and community outreach for Warren Wilson's Environmental Leadership Center.

Gibson said, "Healthy is not just a paint that hasn't got volatile organic compounds" -- that's the nasty stuff that makes many paints toxic.

Mountain Green has moved beyond the debate whether we should be using sustainable building technologies to what's actually being used in new construction around the region.

For instance, the new intermediate schools that Buncombe County is building will take in more than just green construction materials to help children breathe easier inside. To combat the growing problem of childhood obesity, why not build a trail system that lets children from the Biltmore Park neighborhood walk safely to the Estes/Valley Springs/Koontz school campuses?

Green construction meets medicine in Mission Hospital's new Cancer Center taking shape just north of Victoria Road and McDowell Street. The center will be Mission's first LEED-certified building, meeting the standard for healthy, green construction. Fountains and gardens with features to capture and reuse rainwater will put a new face on the cold, sterile hallways and spaces that we have traditionally associated with modern medicine.

For Gibson, sustainability encompasses not only the environment and energy efficiency, the economic factor of saving money, but also the social and spiritual, actually welcoming people inside a building space.

That's the same idea that Huff has, that we have to start building better spaces not just for ourselves. We can protect the planet and our pocketbook while planning for our children's future.

Huff worries that too much of our public policy being set now with the budget debates in Raleigh are focused too much on the short view. The Health and Trust Fund, which has funded teen smoking prevention campaigns and other programs, has been slated for elimination by the General Assembly. Huff worries in particular about potential cuts to early childhood education.

"It's short-sighted to improve the economy by simply cutting the deficit and taking away from the growth of the future, especially from our children. All of these programs have significant opportunities for sustainable building, which will spur our recovery and provide jobs."

The writer Wendell Berry summed up sustainability that way: "Whether we and our politicians know it or not, nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory and a sterner sense of justice than we do."

For more information about the "Building Healthy and Sustainable Communities" conference, click on http://warren-wilson.edu/blogs/mtngreen/about.

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Asheville rec center gets 10,000 plants on its roof

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5/31/2011 - Asheville rec center gets 10,000 plants on its roof
by Mat Payne

ASHEVILLE -- Emilio Ancaya and four crew members of his Living Roofs company endured the torrid midday heat on their hands and knees last week, as they often do. In just a few days, they would turn the flat space, high off the ground, into a giant planter.

The team installed about 10,000 sedum plants that will make up the center's "green roof."

Green roofing, a trend that originated in Germany during the 1960s, involves covering all or a portion of a roof with vegetative mats or lightweight soil and small plants.

"It's going to look like the building just came out of the ground," said Ancaya, founder of the Asheville-based company.

Among the benefits of a green roof, according to Living Roofs' website, are stormwater management, summer cooling, reduced energy costs, improved aesthetics and an increase in roof life.

Yet Living Roofs' contribution to the rec center is just one element in a plan to ensure that the building meets the stringent set of standards that would grant it a LEED Certification.

To gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design status, a building must meet certain qualifications relating to energy savings, water efficiency, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and other ecologically friendly practices.

"It's a great certification in every aspect, (from) recycling materials to energy savings to using locally produced materials for construction," said Al Kopf, superintendent of park planning and development for the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department.

Since the passage of a 2007 resolution, all new city buildings larger than 5,000 square feet must be LEED certified, said Jane Matthews, the rec center's architect. This just happens to be the first such city building to be constructed.

Matthews set out to create a design that would meet the certification requirement in style.

"We wanted something fresh," she said. "But more importantly, we wanted something that was functional as well."

In addition to a lower ecological impact, LEED-certified buildings typically offer economic benefits.

With this particular design, Matthews expects a lower cost for energy and maintenance than with a non-LEED certified building of the same size.

Completion of the building is just the beginning of the implementation of the master plan for the community center.

The finished project will consist of three wings connected by a curving corridor to be lit naturally, Matthews said.

"It's really going to cover mind, body and spirit," she said. "This (part under construction) is the cultural part of the facility: an auditorium, three classrooms, as well as functional elements."

According to Kopf, funding for the next stage in the rec center's development is earmarked for the next fiscal year.

It will eventually include a pool, gymnasium, weight room and kitchen as well as an open outdoor area for a local farmers market

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Hot Picks: What's happening in Asheville and WNC

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5/27/2011 - Hot Picks: What's happening in Asheville and WNC
by Tony Kiss

TONS of things to do in the mountains over the Memorial Day weekend!  Check out the information and links below to see what everyone will be out and about doing this holida weekend across Western North Carolina!

 

        Friday

Chill out at the breweries

It's Memorial Day weekend, the unofficially start of summer, so what better place to get the party going than one of the local breweries? Take your pick:

o Pisgah Brewing, 150 Eastside Dr., is proving to be one of the area's hot music venues this year. On Saturday, Grammy-nominated, Dove-winning signer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp plays, with Ed Snodderly opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 advance, $20 door, $45 VIP admission. On Sunday, Pisgah has the Infamous Stringdusters, the Black Lillies and Brushfire Stankgrass. Tickets are $15 advance, $20 gate, $50 VIP.

o Highland Brewing, 12 Old Charlotte Highway, has Cutthroat Shamrock playing at 6 tonight, and fresh off their gig at Downtown After Five last week, it's Bayou Diesel with Louisiana dance music at 6 p.m. Saturday.

o Craggie Brewing, 197 Hilliard Ave., has John Ball and Robert Henderson tonight at 6 and The Drawltrings at 8. On Saturday, it's Circus Mutt at 6 p.m. and Shorty Can't Eat Books at 8 p.m.

o French Broad Brewing, 101 Fairview Road, is a cozy place to see early shows. Taylor Martin's Engine fires up at 6 tonight. On Saturday, it's Grace Adele and the Grand Band.

o Lexington Avenue Brewery, 39. N. Lexington Ave. has the Hypsies and Jahman Brahman at 10 tonight ($5). On Saturday, it's The Devil Horns Kill the Matador, with Banned Books and Hello Hugo.

o Got your Beer City festival tickets yet? They're just about gone, but check at the breweries about availability. The festival is June 4 on Roger McGuire Green in downtown Asheville.

Brahms and the blues

The Classicopia series has something special this weekend with a performance including the Brahms Horn Trio and bluesy works by Gershwin, Ravel and African-American composer William Grant Still. The players are the fast-rising young violinist Rachel Patrick, French horn player John Reem, and pianist Daniel Weiser. H ear it at 7 tonight at White Horse Black Mountain, 105 Montreat Road in Black Mountain, or at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the acoustically grand Altamont Theatre, 18 Church St. in Asheville

On the Net: www.classicopia.org

Celtic collision

Take a fiery fiddle, add a groovy guitar and that's Grammy nominee Liz Carroll and Ireland's own Daithi Sproule, doing grand Celtic music at 8 tonight at Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place on Pack Square. Tickets are $30. Call 257-4530.

On the Net: www.dwtheatre.com

Saturday

Garden party

It's time to get that garden going. The place to start is the 18th annual Garden Jubilee, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday in downtown Hendersonville. More than 200 vendors will line Main Street, selling annuals, perennials, veggies, herbs and lots more. Bring along a wagon or cart to tote your plants back to the car. But leave pets at home, please.

Puppet power

The Red Herring Puppets do an original version of "Aesop's Fables," at 2 p.m. Saturday at White Horse Black Mountain, 105 Montreat Road in Black Mountain. This is a good bet for families. Tickets are $7 at the door.

Monday

Fabulous folk

Finish the long weekend with the Carl Sandburg Folk Music Festival, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Little River Road in Flat Rock. Performers include the Buddy Davis Band and the famed folk singer John McCutcheon. Admission is free.

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WNC Ag Center going to the dogs at weekend event in Asheville area

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5/27/2011 - WNC Ag Center going to the dogs at weekend event in Asheville area
by Mike McWilliams

MORE family fun over the Holiday weekend in the Mountains!!

 

             FLETCHER -- Mail carriers and squirrels might want to steer clear of the WNC Agricultural Center this weekend.

More than 400 dogs are expected to run, jump, climb and perform other agility feats there Friday-Sunday during an American Kennel Club agility trial. The event will be hosted by the Blue Ridge Agility Club.

This event is one of four the Blue Ridge Agility Club hosts at the Ag Center each year, club President Brian Ferrand said.

"The dogs run through tunnels, they run across teeter-totters, weave between poles," Ferrand said. "There's a lot of running, also some climbing. The events are all timed, and basically the dog with the best time and the best score wins."

The object of dog agility is for the handler to navigate the dog through a timed obstacle course without the dog making a mistake. Agility training builds a bond between the owner and the dog, and fosters camaraderie among the dog handlers, too, Ferrand said.

Blue Ridge Agility Club, which started about 15 years ago and is based in Henderson County, has about 85 members spanning from Upstate South Carolina to near Winston-Salem.

Ferrand, who lives in Mills River, started participating in dog agility exercises about 1996, when a stray dog found its way to his home.

"I took him in and needed some training, so I went to one of the local training center in Hendersonville and took the basic training classes," Ferrand said. "I loved that, and she (the trainer) said I could try agility, and I've been trying it ever since."

The event will also feature an AKC Fifteen and Send Time -- FAST -- class Friday. The class is an additional test of strategy, accuracy, speed, timing and distance handling to demonstrate a dog's athletic ability.

Admission to the agility trials is free, though everyone not competing is asked to leave their dogs at home.

Ferrand has two border collies and said a variety of breeds can be found at agility trials, including Labrador and golden retrievers, Parson Russell terriers, Shetland sheepdogs and some mixed breeds, too.

"The teamwork with the dog is really fun, and the dogs really love it," Ferrand said. "I like the race against time. It's also the most sportsmanlike sport I've ever been involved with. Everybody likes to see everyone do well."

The Blue Ridge Dog Agility Trials return this weekend at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. 

The Blue Ridge Dog Agility Trials return this weekend at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. / John Coutlakis/jcoutlakis@citizen-times.com

IF YOU GO

What: American Kennel Club Dog Agility Trials.
When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Where: WNC Ag Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher.
Tickets: Admission is free.

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Asheville's live theater scene booming in coming days

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5/27/2011 - Asheville's live theater scene booming in coming days
by Tony Kiss

 

 

New on the stage this week:

o The Altamont, the new downtown performing arts venue, brings out its first big theatrical show this weekend, the musical satire "Prime Ribbing."

The piece, which pokes fun at both national news and the local scene, plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays through June 18 at The Altamont, 18 Church St. The venue is not to be confused with the similarly named Altamont Brewing taproom in West Asheville.

The show was written by Broadway veteran Stephan deGhelder, who now lives here. He describes the piece as "newsical" revue, with elements from The Capitol Steps, "Forbidden Broadway" and TV's "Saturday Night Live." The show includes cameos from Asheville political types.

This will be one of Asheville's first big looks at The Altamont, a 120-seat black box theater which is getting high marks for its acoustics. Tickets are $22, $19 students and seniors, available at the theater box office or online at www.thealtamont.com.

o North Carolina Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane, is turning to a classic: "The Glass Menagerie." Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 19, starting Wednesday. One of Tennessee Williams' best-known shows, its the story of a young man, his withdrawn sister, their mother and the "gentleman caller" that could reverse their fortunes.

The cast includes Willie Repoley, Andrew Hampton Livingston, Callan White and Alaska Reece Vance. Hans Meyer will direct this co-production with the Immediate Theatre Project. For tickets call 239-0263 or visit www.ncstage.org.

o The Magnetic Theatre at the Magnetic Field, 372 Depot St., is finishing the comedy "The Family Tree," at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Next up is another edgy piece, "The Witches Quorum," with previews on Thursday and June 3, and an opening June 4.

It's set in 1617 in Jamestown, as the characters of Mistress Hibbins (from "The Scarlet Letter") and Cassy (from "Uncle Tom's Cabin") seek freedom for witches. Playwright David Eshelman calls is a "quasi-historical spectacle."

This one is for adults and includes sexual situations, lesbianism, cross-dressing, murder and more. Tickets for either show are $12 and $14, or $8 for previews. Call 668-2154 or visit www.themagneticfield.com.

o Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater and New Studio of Dance have a second weekend of the modern ballet "Beauty and the Beast," at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the BeBe theater, 20 Commerce St.

The musical satire

The musical satire "Prime Ribbing" opens tonight at The Altamont performance space on Church Street.

//

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Asheville's Big Brothers Big Sisters raffles cabin in Smokies

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5/26/2011 - Asheville's Big Brothers Big Sisters raffles cabin in Smokies
by Sandra V. Rodriguez

A great benefit for a great cause - bringing help to families, and creating extended families, across Western North Carolina!

--Tammy Mansell

 

 

              ASHEVILLE -- Joe Potter came this close to owning a log cabin a stone's throw from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Potter won the first log cabin raffle held by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina in October, but since fewer than the minimum 4,500 tickets had been sold, he walked away instead with a cash prize.

"I don't usually enter a raffle like that, but Big Brothers Big Sisters, they do good things," Potter said.

The nonprofit is once again selling tickets for the chance to win a cabin valued at more than $280,000. The organization hopes to sell at least 4,200 tickets for the July 4 drawing. (Find details and buy tickets at http://www.logcabinraffle.org/.)

"Our main goal is to sell enough tickets to give away the cabin," said Executive Director Robin Myer. "As an organization, and as a board, we have to give away the cabin this year or we have lost credibility."

The fundraiser last year netted about $40,000, helping the agency increase its overall fundraising total by 7 percent.

That was one of the reasons the national Big Brothers Big Sisters named the Western North Carolina nonprofit one of 18 Gold Standard award winners out of 450 agencies nationwide.

"I am very pleased with where we are," Myer said. "This is a tough time for everybody, and the fact that people are still looking at kids looking at the future when there are so many immediate concerns is especially gratifying."

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Kids have fun, forget illness

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5/26/2011 - Kids have fun, forget illness
by Jessica Goodman

What more can you say about an area and people that continue to give back through nature and nurture?  Check out the article below for information on Camp Merry Times...a very, very special part of Flat Rock and Western North Carolina.

 

--Tammy Mansell

 

 

                        FLAT ROCK -- Jordy Harwood, 7, from Asheville, raised his golf club and whacked it against the ball. It sailed across the field as camp counselors and his twin brother, Jacob, cheered him on.


 
Camper Daniel Tomberlin, 9, takes part in Camp Merry Times at Camp Ton-A-Wandah on Friday. The camp is open to kids 4-17 years old and to both children with cancer and their siblings. It continues this weekend.
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PATRICK SULLIVAN/TIMES-NEWS

Jacob has cancer, but both the brothers were able to take a break from the realities of the disease by participating in Camp Merry Times on Friday at Camp Ton-A-Wandah.

The counselors rewarded Jordy's long drives with a medal and a baseball hat. The red-haired boy beamed.

"It's awesome," said Sandra Summers, Jordy's counselor. "It's just kind of cool to let him have that special time, as well as see him take care of his brother."

"Everything we do for the child with cancer, we do for the sibling," said Barbara Van Thullenar, founder and director of Friends of Santa Claus.

Camp Merry Times allows kids with cancer and their siblings to enjoy all the traditional camp activities at no cost. Friends of Santa Claus has hosted the camp for 17 years.

Ted and Barbara Van Thullenar founded Friends of Santa Claus in 1993 to provide emotional and financial support to children with cancer and their families.

At this year's camp, emphasis was placed on random acts of kindness. Campers did nice things for those in other cabins.

"Each child will also decide what they're going to do for their family when they go home," Barbara Van Thullenar said.

The camp started in 1994 with 37 kids. This year, 60 children are attending the event, which started Thursday evening and ends Sunday.

The kids dealing with cancer are able to forget about doctors' appointments and treatments for a long weekend. The siblings are able to get some individual attention.

Daniel Tomberlin, 9, of Franklin, hit some golf balls, too, even though he was in a wheelchair. One of the instructors asked him whether he was getting tired and wanted to stop. Daniel looked up and smiled.

"No," he said. "This is fun."

Jennifer Woody, 21, from Sylva is a camp counselor this year. She attended camp as a child, after being diagnosed at age 14 with osteosarcoma, or a cancerous bone tumor, in her leg. She's been cancer-free for almost seven years after having chemotherapy and surgery.

"I love it," she said of camp. "I can relate to a lo t of what the kids are going through."

Savannah Garrett, 11, of Black Mountain called her little sister, Shayla, 6, "wonderful" and "enthusiastic." Shayla was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, or tumors in the nerve tissue, when she was 3. Since then, Shayla has been going for clinical trials at a children's hospital in Philadelphia. The family was driving every three weeks for treatments.

"She's a wonderful little girl," Savannah said of her sister, her eyes welling with pride. "And she's Justin Bieber's No. 1 fan. She really is."

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Good news: Slightly lower gas prices expected

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5/25/2011 - Good news: Slightly lower gas prices expected
by Chris Lavender / Burlington Times-News

LOWER GAS PRICES FOR YOUR VACATION TO THE MOUNTAINS!  Now that's what we all want to hear!  Read the article below for some great tips on how to save even more at the pump - and have more money for your vacation in the mountains of Asheville and Western North Carolina!

 

--Tammy Mansell

 

              With Memorial Day a week away, travelers should expect -- hold on to your gas caps -- lower prices at the gas pump.

Tom Crosby, AAA Carolinas vice president of communications, said the average price for regular unleaded gas was $3.80 per gallon statewide on Friday. The cost is about $1 higher than it was for the same period in 2010 but about 7 cents lower than it was the previous week.

Crosby said the cost at the pump will likely continue to decrease through at least July 4 but long-term forecasts are unpredictable.

"The good news is that gas continues to drop in price," Crosby said.

Drivers in Asheville pay the most for a gallon of regular unleaded, at $3.84 per gallon. Crosby said the Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem areas have the state's lowest average prices per gallon, at $3.76.

Crosby said AAA Carolinas would release its travel expectations for Memorial Day weekend travel sometime this week.

"We know more people will travel this year for Memorial Day than they did last year," Crosby said.

A poll conducted by the Associated Press-GfK earlier this month showed that 41 percent of Americans said higher gas prices have created themselves financial hardships. The poll's results were released last week.

The poll showed that families planned to make changes in their finances for at least the next six months, if gas prices are sustained at current levels.

Seventy-nine percent said that high gas prices remained a serious concern while 48 percent said they had changed their vacation plans to stay closer to home to save money on fuel costs.

Sixty-six percent said they had reduced their travel time to offset the higher prices at the pump while 44 percent said they had considered buying a more fuel efficient vehicle.

The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted May 5-9 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide.

Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst, said Friday that gas prices will likely average between $3.25 and $3.75 nationwide in June and July. The current national average for regular unleaded gas per gallon is $3.87, according to DeHaan.

DeHaan said increased supply in gasoline inventories has helped drive gas prices lower at the pump in recent days.

 

15 Tips to Make Your Trip to the Pump Less Painful

1. Fill up your tank on Wednesday or Thursday before 10 a.m. Gas prices rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel. 10 a.m. is when most station owners make their price change for the day. Unless it is an emergency, do not buy gas Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

2. Don't let your car idle, either when you warm it up or when you are at a standstill. If you're going to be standing for more than a minute, running your engine wastes more gas than restarting the engine.

3. Buy gas when it's cooler during the day (like the early morning or at night) to reduce gas evaporation.

4. Remove unnecessary items in your car. Every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile-per-gallon of gas.

5. Avoid the convenient gas station on the side of the highway as you drive home from work which can be up to 15 cents more per gallon.

6. Save money with self-service and look for gas stations where paying cash costs the same as using a credit or debit card.

7. Double check the attendant and ensure, if you are paying by cash, that "cash" is noted on the pump. You could lose five-cents a gallon if he mistakenly presses "credit."

8. Drive less; combine errands, carpool, and plot out the shortest route with a driving website beforehand. It may sound obvious, but it is often overlooked.

9. Check for traffic and detours online or on the radio prior to beginning your drive to avoid wasteful backtracking and idling.

10. Keep your windows closed when driving on the highway. Open windows can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. In stop-and-go traffic, open the windows and turn off the air conditioning to save more money.

11. Rent fuel-efficient cars when you travel and research reasonably priced places to buy gas before you leave.

12. Confirm with your mechanic what octane gasoline your car's engine really needs. Most car engines do not require high octane though the manual will say its "recommended."

13. Download a Gas App for your phone. If you have a Smartphone, there are plenty of free apps that help you find the cheapest gas near your destination. GasBuddy makes it easy with its free app, and Mapquest has an online finder for gas prices.

14. Buy Discount Gas Gift Cards. Did you know you don't have to pay full price for a gift card? Sites like GiftCardGranny.com offer a diverse selection of discount gas gift cards from various card vendors.

15. Be loyal to one gas company and get rewarded with its cash-back credit card reward program.

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Smoky Mountain Morning: Vacationers can wake-up to web-based show full of ‚things to do'

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5/25/2011 - Smoky Mountain Morning: Vacationers can wake-up to web-based show full of things to do
by Lance Coleman

Another innovative idea for tourism in the mountains!  Everyone needs a vacation - or two, or three - in Western North Carolina and the Smoky Mountains to experience all that the area has to offer! 

--Tammy Mansell

 

                         It is a phenomenon that has to drive any tourism official crazy.

Vacationers come to town, can't find anything to do and don't return for a second visit.

For Taz Cable, the solution is as close as a computer keyboard.

The Greenback-native is hosting and co-producing "Smoky Mountain Morning," a new, locally produced webcast that will be streamed live at 8 a.m. each morning, seven days a week, on www.SmokyMountainMorning.com.

The hour-long webcast will debut on June 27. To celebrate, Cable is inviting everyone to seven different launch parties at locations throughout the Smoky Mountains. The first will be from 7 to 9 a.m. Friday, May 27, at Southland Books, 801 E. Broadway Ave., Maryville.

"We'll serve breakfast with fresh homemade granola and yogurt, sweet potato biscuits with homemade apple butter, Oliver Twist Tea, which is tea and lemonade and Benton's bacon because we want to keep it all local," Cable said. "We're doing six other events to launch Smoky Mountain Morning, and Maryville is our first one."

The inspiration for Smoky Mountain Morning started two years ago when Cable was starting his company, giddyOH! Communications, a marketing company. The idea was part of a promotions campaign for a company in Townsend. "Smoky Mountain Morning comes from a need for live video programming for folks living, playing and working in the Smoky Mountain area," he said.

Cable said the webcast will help visitors make the most of their time in the area. "We want them to maximize their days in the Smokies," he said, adding that often tourists come to the East Tennessee region with one destination in mind, then think they have nothing to do when that day is finished.

"Half the people who visit are first time visitors and a great number are not coing back," he said. "I attribute that to people not getting information and not knowing what is going on."

The show will be a way to entertain and inform tourists on activities throughout the region, but will also be informative for area residents. The first week is called "Locals Week," said Cable, and will be to introduce locals to the idea. "Locals Week will feature local folks with programming geared to folks who live in the area, not tourists," he said.

Betsy Cate, secretary/treasurer for giddyOH! Communications, Inc., said this new webcast will give tourists the chance to plan their trip before they ever arrive. "We want to give tourists an opportunity to sit at home and tap into this," she said. "They can plan their vacations with this."

Cable said the show will start with a news feature with headlines from area newspapers of interest to the Smoky Mountain traveler.

"It will have an entertaining feel to it," he said. "We want this to be the best free show in the Smokies."

Cate said the show will feature news and upcoming activities and events from throughout the region from Maryville and Townsend to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to Cherokee and Asheville. Any city or county bordering the National Park will be featured, Cable added.

The show will have multiple taped segments featuring a crew of on-air talent, including Frank Murphy from "Mornings with Mark, Frank and Kim" on 102.1 FM. Murphy will have a segment called "Frugal Frank" that will focus on inexpensive activities in the area for tourists and locals.

Another segment will be called "Street or Park," with interviews of individuals either in towns and cities near the mountains or in the National Park. Those interviews will be out-and-about interviews, meeting people where they are. The segments can either have a feature focus or be educational about something visitors will find interesting or helpful.

Fitness trainer Becky Fox will host Fox Fitness. "She'll do inspirational fitness stories," said Cable. "We are going to start out with a 'Tone Taz' promotion. Viewers will be able to watch Cable's progress as Fox trains with him and helps him get back into shape.

The Friday Night Special segment will be a 5 to 7 minute piece that will showcase different activities such as festivals and street events. On Saturdays, there will be a segment geared toward upcoming special activities and events at local churches. "It will give information about events going on at different churches in the area," Cable said. "They'll have that on Saturday to plan their Sundays"

Cable likens the format to a regional "Today Show" with music features and entertainment from national and local touring bands, travel tips, food and wine and "fun forecast" weather reports. "There really is nothing like this locally," Cable said. "We aren't talking You Tube, webcam, hand-held video productions, but real quality content and production."

The project is advertising based for funding, with a shot-in-the-arm start-up coming through the partnership with HP Video Production, said Cable. HP Video Production is a full-service video production company in Knoxville with a wide range of experience and successes. Segments not shot on location will be shot at the HP Video studio at 1200 Broadway Ave., Knoxville.

Future plans include the possibility of taking the webcast to television screens in area hotels, cabins and other vacation spots, Cable said. "We're going to start with streaming to ensure quality," he said. "We're going to stream first to get the bugs out before we go to a channel in front of millions."

Cable said the new webcast's tagline illustrates how he wants to folks to think of his new show. "Your day just wouldn't be complete without it," he said

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Annual Mayor's Ride highlights bike lanes, sidewalks in Asheville

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5/24/2011 - Annual Mayor's Ride highlights bike lanes, sidewalks in Asheville
by Nanci Bompey

Bringing traditional neighborhood characteristics back to Asheville neighborhoods after decades of urban renewal is tough - but some folks are doing it!  In West Asheville, bike lanes and increased sidewalk construction are happening and making a difference in the lives of our citizens everyday! 

 

--Tammy Mansell

 

 

                           ASHEVILLE -- Bike lanes aren't just a nice amenity for the folks at Cane Creek Cycling Components.

The Fletcher-based company manufactures a component that is "literally put on every bicycle in the world," said Chris Strout, director of domestic sales.

"As bicycle projects continue to be developed, our parts get sold more," said Strout, adding that the company has doubled its production and added staff as more people get around on two wheels. "It (bike lanes) has an absolute direct impact."

Strout and other bicycle advocates are urging federal and state lawmakers to save money for bike lanes and sidewalks as they grapple with tight budgets.

Federal money, funneled down through the state, pays for most bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, including the city's newest bike lanes and sidewalks highlighted during the Mayor's Ride Wednesday afternoon.

Bicycle advocates, elected officials and others toured the improvements during the annual bicycle ride as part of Strive Not to Drive week.

"The federal funding is extremely important," said Michael Sule, of bicycle advocacy group Asheville on Bikes. "Our next step is to really take our advocacy to the county level and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is the decision-making body that spends the federal and state money."

Bicycle advocacy groups are working to ensure that money for bike lanes and sidewalks are preserved in the next federal transportation bill working its way through Congress.

Money for bicycle infrastructure avoided cuts in the last budget cycle, but its future is uncertain, said Darren Flusche, policy analyst at the League of American Bicyclists. He said lawmakers writing the House transportation bill have indicated they will cut funding for active transportation.

Federal transportation grants have paid for mountain bike trails in Alexander Park, greenways in Brevard and sidewalks near Emma Elementary School, among other improvements.

"It is safe to say that it (cuts) would be devastating for bicycle and pedestrian projects at the local level," Flusche said. "Huge amounts of local transportation project money trickle down from the federal level. It would really cut what localities were able to do."

Bicycle advocates contend that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are low-cost investments that can improve cities in the long term.

The entire city of Asheville and part of Buncombe County could get bike lanes and sidewalks for the same amount of money it would take to replace the Smoky Park Bridge, Strout said.

He and Liberty Bikes owner Claudia Nix traveled to Washington this month to advocate for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding.

"We are realists and we recognize the challenge with the budgets folks in Washington and Raleigh are facing," Strout said. "But we have very comprehensive data that bicycles, as a transportation tool, ... are a valuable part of today's economy."

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