Blog :: 03-2012

Batter up: Asheville Tourists open season with Thirsty Thursday

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3/30/2012 - Batter up: Asheville Tourists open season with Thirsty Thursday
by Entertainment - Asheville Citizen Times

 With Asheville's mild winter, spring's official return this month didn't generate much notice. But one timeless sign of spring's arrival in WNC takes place Thursday, when the Asheville Tourists take the field for their 2012 home opener.

 While some local minor league sports franchises have foundered over the years, fans return to McCormick Field to socialize and savor the joys of watching baseball in a classic outdoor setting.

"It's a great fan base -- they're loyal and they treasure McCormick Field," said Tourists president Brian DeWine, 32. "We're more than baseball -- we're a community gathering point. You can see your neighbors, or have a beer and catch up with a classmate. There is a lot to do besides baseball."

Here's a brief look at what to expect this season.

Thirsty opening night

The Tourists play 70 home and 70 road games, with opening day falling on a Thirsty Thursday. Kat Williams will sing the national anthem, and a yet-to-be-revealed local celebrity will throw out the first pitch. The team will also introduce its new and unique game ball delivery, which will be repeated throughout the season. "We'll be the only team in minor league baseball doing this," said DeWine, declining to be specific. "It will be unveiled on opening night."

The Tourists began their Thirsty Thursday promotion in 1983, and trademarked the famous phrase in '93. With a $1 bracelet (proceeds go to the team's children's fund), fans can buy 12-ounce domestic draft beers and Pepsi products for $1. Specialty beers are $2.

Red, white and boom

This year's five fireworks' nights fall on May 18, June 22, July 4, July 20, and Aug. 3 -- all Fridays except the Fourth of July, which is a Wednesday. Look for a big crowd these nights -- the top drawing games in Tourists' history are fireworks shows, with July 4 selling out the 3,500-seat stadium the last few years.

Get your tickets

Advance purchase general admission and family section tickets are $7 and $6 for children, military and seniors. Box seats are $10 and $8. Day of game tickets are $1 higher. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone (258-0428) and at the box office.

The team also offers a number of flex and group packages. New this year is the policy for the Clubhouse Suite, which is only available on a group basis -- it's a $200 flat rental for up to 50 fans plus meal and ticket options. For all the details, check the Tourists website. As always, on-site parking is limited, so look for free public spaces in the vicinity of the stadium.

Food lineup

The food service was overhauled last year, DeWine said, to significantly upgrade the offerings. This season, the Mexican food cart is back, along with a brand new Philly cheese steak cart and an improved pretzel cart. "We found a truly good gourmet pretzel that will be grilled on the concourse," he said "The idea is to see the food cooked and made in front of you." On the local menu, the BBQ sandwiches are provided by an area purveyor, and French Broad and Highland will both be on the specialty beer list.

Mascot love

Mascots Mr. Moon and Ted E. Tourist will be at every game. Mr. Moon was added because Ted. E. couldn't be on both sides of the stadium at once, DeWine said. Ted. E. will also be honored with a throwback hat, featuring his classic logo and available in the Tourists store.

Play ball

The Tourists have about 40 alumni on major league rosters, and through the decades have fielded a host of big-time players and managers.

The team is the Class-A South Atlantic League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, who set the local roster, which hasn't been finalized for 2012. Longstanding manager Joe Mikulik is back, who'll guide a team of new faces with a few returning players.

Game coverage

Monday-Friday games start at 7:05 p.m., with three 11:05 a.m. education day starts on April 11 and May 23 and 30. Saturday games have a family-friendly 6:05 p.m. start and first pitch on Sundays is 2:05 p.m. If you can't make it out, tune in to WRES 100.7-FM or the team's website for the radio broadcast of every game.

Promotions and more

The basic home game promotion schedule includes kids 12 and younger get a free pizza slice and soda Mondays, fans can buy one general admission ticket and get a second one free Tuesdays, seniors are admitted free Wednesdays (except July 4), the beverage special Thursdays, hot dogs are $1 Fridays, giveaway night Saturdays and kids run the bases and autograph session after the game Sundays. Check the website for all the promotion details.

DeWine said the team aims to offer up quality giveaways, from replica jerseys to pint glasses. A notable item is bobblehead night Aug. 18, featuring President Obama and the Republican nominee in a contest for Tourist electoral votes.

Despite being from a prominent Republican family (Brian's dad Mike DeWine represented Ohio in the U.S. House and Senate, and is now the state's attorney general), Brian isn't taking the party line.

"The great thing about baseball is there are no Republicans or Democrats," he said.

 

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Asheville area performing arts calendar for the coming week

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3/30/2012 - Asheville area performing arts calendar for the coming week
by Take 5

ACOUSTIC

Bob Margolin, blues guitarist and vocalist 8 p.m. today, The Altamont Theatre, 18 Church St., Asheville. $12. 348-5327 or www.my altamont.com.

Mavis Staples, of The Staple Singers, 8 p.m. Saturday, Lipinsky Auditorium, UNC Asheville. $35. $5 UNCA students. $7 area students. Gospel, soul, R&B. 251-6674 or cesap.unca.edu.

Michelle Leigh at Hooterville Hoedown's Big Show, 7 p.m. Saturday, Opportunity House, 1411 Asheville Hwy., Hendersonville. $5. Optional barbecue dinner 5:30 p.m. for $8. www.reverbnation. com/venue/hooterville hoedownsbigshow.

Youngs Mountain Music, 8-10 bands featuring mountain music 7-11 p.m. every Saturday, Mountain Music Drive (off U.S. 19E), Burnsville. Nonalcoholic facility. 675-4790.

The Weinberg-Babelay Duo, jazz standards and modern works 7 p .m. April 3, in the Franklin High School Chorus Room.

Larry Sparks and The Lonesome Ramblers, 7 p.m. April 7, Old Rock School, Valdese. $18 advance, $20 at door. 879-2129 or www.valdese.com.

Al Petteway and Amy White, 4 p.m. April 22, The Guitar Academy of WNC's Music Listening Room, 235 Duncan Hill Road, Hendersonville. Tickets $15 and up. www.wncguitaracademy.com /listening-rm.

Balsam Range, opened by Fayssoux McLean and Brandon Turner, 7 p.m. April 26, Champan Cultural Center, 200 E. St. John St., Spartanburg, S.C. Barbecue supper 5:30 p.m. $25 for show, $15 for dinner. 864-542-ARTS or visit www.Chap- manCulturalCenter.org.

Teada with Seamus Begley, 8 p.m. May 11, Diana Wortham Theatre-Pack Place, Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. 257-4530. www.dwtheatre.com.

Tom Fisch, 4 p.m. May 13, The Guitar Academy of WNC's Music Listening Room, 235 Duncan Hill Road, Hendersonville. Tickets $15 and up. www.wncguitaracademy.com/listening-rm.

The Teatotalers with John Doyle, Martin Hayes eand Kevin Crawford, 8 p.m. May 24, Diana Wortham Theatre-Pack Place, Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. 257-4530. www.dwtheatre.com.

Chuck Brodsky, 4 p.m. June 10, The Guitar Academy of WNC's Music Listening Room, 235 Duncan Hill Road, Hendersonville. Tickets $15 and up. www.wncguitaracademy.com/listening-rm.

Danny Ellis, 4 p.m. July 8, The Guitar Academy of WNC's Music Listening Room, 235 Duncan Hill Road, Hendersonville. Tickets $15 and up. www.wncguitaracademy.com/listening-rm.

CHRISTIAN AND GOSPEL

Christian Classic Tour, 7:30 p.m. today, Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, 1028 Georgia Road, Franklin. Featuring Steve Green, Twila Paris, Wayne Watson, and Michael Card. Tickets start at $20. 866-273-4615 or www.great mountainmusic.com.

The Anthem of Angels Tour, 7 p.m. April 28, The Bridge Coliseum, Spruce Pine. Featuring Seventh Day Slumber, Manic Drive, Ilia. Free. 766-6316.

CLASSICAL AND CHORAL

Blue Ridge Orchestra, "An Overture to Spring" 4 p.m. Sunday, Diana Wortham Theatre, Biltmore Avenue, downtown Asheville. $15, $5 students, $40 for preferred seating. www.dwtheatre.com.

Chamber music, 3 p.m. Sunday, St. Matthias Church, 1 Dundee St., Asheville. Franklin Keel and Kara Poorbough, members of Opal String Quartet, perform with clarinetist Brian Hermanson. By donation, no one turned away for lack of funds.

 Pacifica String Quartet, 8 p.m. April 13, Unitarian Universalist Church, Charlotte Street at Edwin Place. Presented by the Asheville Chamber Music Series. www.ashevillechamber music.org

 Asheville Symphony Orchestra, "Mozart's Jupiter Symphony," 8 p.m. April 14, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium at U.S. Cellular Center, Haywood Street, Asheville. 254-7046. www.ashevillesymphony.org. 

 The Renaissonics, 7 p.m. April 18, St. Matthias Church, 1 Dundee St., Asheville. Virtuoso solos, chamber music, dance music and improvisations. $15 donation but no one turned away for lack of funds. Reserved seats $30. 545-8865 or www.echocooperative.org.

N.C. Symphony, 7:30 p.m. April 25, Mars Hill College's Moore Auditorium. $25 general admission, $100 patron. Visit http://www.mhc.edu/.

Lyra, Russian choral music, 7 p.m. April 27, St. John in the Wilderness, Flat Rock. A capella group of five vocalists from St. Petersburg. $15. 698-2357.

Asheville Symphony Orchestra, "The Pines of Rome," 8 p.m. May 12, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. 254-7046. www.ashevillesymphony.org.

Pan Harmonia, led by Asheville flutist Kate Steinbck, 8 p.m. June 14, UNC Asheville's Highsmith University Union Grotto. Free. 251-6674 or cesap.unca.edu.

DANCE

Keigwin and Company, 8 p.m. today-Saturday, Diana Wortham Theatre, Pack Place, Biltmore Avenue, Asheville. $35, $30 student, child ticket unavailable. 257-4530. www.dwtheatre.com.

Bailey Mountain Cloggers presents "As Scene on TV," spring concert 7 p.m. today-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Mars Hill College's Moore Auditorium. $10, $8 senior citizens, free ages 6 and younger. 689-1113.

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Southern Lights Square and Round Dance Club holds All Hot Hash Dance, 7:30-9:30 p.m. today, Whitmire Activity Building, Lily Pond Road, Hendersonville. 696-9198.

Clogging and Irish step dancing, every Monday at Joyful Noise in Weaverville. $10 per class. A variety of classes starting between 5-7:30 p.m. Contact Cheryl Renfro at 712-7559 or cheryl renfro@hotmail.com.

Tango, Milonga at Tomato Cocina Latina, 70 Westgate Pky., Asheville, 8:30 p.m.-midnight second and fourth Fridays. Presented by Tango Asheville. $5 members, $6 non-members.

Hip Hop for kids, 5 p.m. Fridays, Hunab Kru Studio of Dance, Arden. For age 6-13. The art of BBoying and BGirling to all skill levels. 654-7890.

Square and round dancing, with Land of Sky Square Dance Club, second and fourth Fridays, Senior Opportunity Center, 36 Grove St., Asheville. For all ages. www.landofskyquares.info.

West African dance classes, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Terpsicorps Studio, Old Lyman Street, Asheville. Classes are done to live drumming. $10. Open to all levels. 319-2486.

Tuesday Night Dance Social, 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Homewood Event and Conference Center, 19 Zillicoa St., Asheville. $7. Music provided includes ballroom, country western, line dance, swing, salsa, more. 712-8121.

Square dance lessons with Southern Lights Square and Round Dance Club, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Stoney Mountain Activity Center, Stoney Mountain Road, Hendersonville. 625-9969.

Contra dance, 2-4:30 p.m. every fourth Sunday, The Gateway Club, 37 Church St., Waynesville. $5. 456-6789.

Classes With Ellie Grace, Appalachian clogging and Cape Breton step dancing, West Asheville. 573-239-0430 or www.gracefamilymusic.com.

Irish dance classes, ongoing classes at Miss Donna's Academy of Dance in Candler. For all levels. 242-2361.

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FILM SCREENINGS

Movies at Jackson County Library in Sylva are shown 6:30 p.m. every Thursday. Free. Call 586-2016.

"How To Get Ahead in Advertising," 8 p.m. April 3, Cinema Lounge, Carolina Asheville Cinemas, 1640 Hendersonville Road. Free. Presented by Asheville Film Society.

"The Dark Eyes of London," 1939, 8 p.m .April 5, Cinema Lounge, Carolina Asheville Cinemas, 1640 Hendersonville Road. Free. Presented by the Thusday Horror Picture Show series.

Rascal Flats "Changed" concert, 8 p.m., Carolina Asheville Cinemas, 1640 Hendersonville Road. www.fathomevents.com

"Sahkanaga," 7:30 p.m. April 17, Western Carolina University, A.K. Hinds University Center, Cullowhee. Teen in rural Gerogia makes gruesome discovery. Free. 227-3622 or ace.wcu. edu.

FREE SHOWS

Depot Doins, 6:30 p.m. Fridays, downtown Marshall. Bluegrass and country jam open to singers and bands. 645-0503.

Old Fort Mountain Music, 7 p.m. Fridays, year-round, the Rockett Building, Main Street, Old Fort.669-6894.

Woody's Original Mountain Music, 7 p.m. Fridays, year-round, 3354 U.S. 70 W., Marion. 724-4158.

Bluegrass jam, 6 p.m. every first Saturday, Erwin Hills Lions Club, 188 Erwin Hills Road, Asheville. Several groups perform. Bring your instrument. Cake walk. Free admission. 713-7509.

Swannanoa Valley Bluegrass Jam, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Eye Scream Ice Cream Parlor, 2064 U.S. 70 W., Swannanoa, 505-2174.

First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Jam Series, concert and jam sessions 7-9 p.m. every first Thursday, Western Carolina University's Mountain Heritage Center, Cullowhee. 227-7129.

Sounds of Silvermont, 7:30-10 p.m. Thursdays, Silvermont Mansion, 364 E. Main St., Brevard. Local musicians playing bluegrass, country, gospel and more. 884-3166.

Bluegrass Music Jam, 7-9 p.m. Thursdays, Marion Depot, 58 Depot St. Open to all musicians; no scheduled performers. 652-2215.

(Page 6 of 6)

Hooterville Hoedown, mini-jams for local musicians 7-9 p.m. every Thursday, Opportunity House, 1411 Asheville Hwy., Hendersonville. Big Show last Thursdays featuring an area professional band, $4. 692-0575.

Open jam nights the second and fourth Thursdays, Signature Brew Coffee Company, 633 W. Main St., Sylva. Shop provides the instruments, you provide the talent. Chris Cooper's Fusion band hosts. 587-6300.

The Lady and the Old Timers Band, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. first Friday of each month, Jackson County Public Library, Sylva. Gospel and traditional country tunes. 586-2016.

The Broadcast, 6 p.m. May 26, Carrier Park, 500 Amboy Road, Asheville. Female fronted, six piece soul infused rock band. 989-3587 or www.mountainsportsfestival.com.

JAZZ AND BLUES

Sunday jazz, 1 p.m. every Sunday with Michael Jefry Stevens and Eliot Wadopien, The Altamont, 18 Church St., Asheville. $10. 270-7747 or www.myaltamont.com.

STORYTELLING/ PUPPETRY/COMEDY

Comedy open mic 9-11 p.m. every Saturday, Wall Street Coffee House, 62 Wall St., Asheville. Everyone gets six minutes to try to make the audience laugh. 545-8502 or 423-0023.

Live comedy 8:30-10 p.m. every Wednesday at Essence Lounge at Harrah's Cherokee Casino.

Poet Glenis Redmond, 7 p.m. April 10, Mars Hill College, Belk Auditorium in Wren Building. Free.

Southern Lights Square and Round Dance Club holds All Hot Hash Dance, 7:30-9:30 p.m. today, Whitmire Activity Building, Lily Pond Road, Hendersonville. 696-9198.

Clogging and Irish step dancing, every Monday at Joyful Noise in Weaverville. $10 per class. A variety of classes starting between 5-7:30 p.m. Contact Cheryl Renfro at 712-7559 or cheryl renfro@hotmail.com.

Tango, Milonga at Tomato Cocina Latina, 70 Westgate Pky., Asheville, 8:30 p.m.-midnight second and fourth Fridays. Presented by Tango Asheville. $5 members, $6 non-members.

Hip Hop for kids, 5 p.m. Fridays, Hunab Kru Studio of Dance, Arden. For age 6-13. The art of BBoying and BGirling to all skill levels. 654-7890.

Square and round dancing, with Land of Sky Square Dance Club, second and fourth Fridays, Senior Opportunity Center, 36 Grove St., Asheville. For all ages. www.landofskyquares.info.

West African dance classes, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Terpsicorps Studio, Old Lyman Street, Asheville. Classes are done to live drumming. $10. Open to all levels. 319-2486.

Tuesday Night Dance Social, 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Homewood Event and Conference Center, 19 Zillicoa St., Asheville. $7. Music provided includes ballroom, country western, line dance, swing, salsa, more. 712-8121.

Square dance lessons with Southern Lights Square and Round Dance Club, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Stoney Mountain Activity Center, Stoney Mountain Road, Hendersonville. 625-9969.

Contra dance, 2-4:30 p.m. every fourth Sunday, The Gateway Club, 37 Church St., Waynesville. $5. 456-6789.

Classes With Ellie Grace, Appalachian clogging and Cape Breton step dancing, West Asheville. 573-239-0430 or www.gracefamilymusic.com.

Irish dance classes, ongoing classes at Miss Donna's Academy of Dance in Candler. For all levels. 242-2361.

FILM SCREENINGS

Movies at Jackson County Library in Sylva are shown 6:30 p.m. every Thursday. Free. Call 586-2016.

"How To Get Ahead in Advertising," 8 p.m. April 3, Cinema Lounge, Carolina Asheville Cinemas, 1640 Hendersonville Road. Free. Presented by Asheville Film Society.

"The Dark Eyes of London," 1939, 8 p.m .April 5, Cinema Lounge, Carolina Asheville Cinemas, 1640 Hendersonville Road. Free. Presented by the Thusday Horror Picture Show series.

Rascal Flats "Changed" concert, 8 p.m., Carolina Asheville Cinemas, 1640 Hendersonville Road. www.fathomevents.com

"Sahkanaga," 7:30 p.m. April 17, Western Carolina University, A.K. Hinds University Center, Cullowhee. Teen in rural Gerogia makes gruesome discovery. Free. 227-3622 or ace.wcu. edu.

FREE SHOWS

Depot Doins, 6:30 p.m. Fridays, downtown Marshall. Bluegrass and country jam open to singers and bands. 645-0503.

Old Fort Mountain Music, 7 p.m. Fridays, year-round, the Rockett Building, Main Street, Old Fort.669-6894.

Woody's Original Mountain Music, 7 p.m. Fridays, year-round, 3354 U.S. 70 W., Marion. 724-4158.

Bluegrass jam, 6 p.m. every first Saturday, Erwin Hills Lions Club, 188 Erwin Hills Road, Asheville. Several groups perform. Bring your instrument. Cake walk. Free admission. 713-7509.

Swannanoa Valley Bluegrass Jam, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Eye Scream Ice Cream Parlor, 2064 U.S. 70 W., Swannanoa, 505-2174.

First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Jam Series, concert and jam sessions 7-9 p.m. every first Thursday, Western Carolina University's Mountain Heritage Center, Cullowhee. 227-7129.

Sounds of Silvermont, 7:30-10 p.m. Thursdays, Silvermont Mansion, 364 E. Main St., Brevard. Local musicians playing bluegrass, country, gospel and more. 884-3166.

Bluegrass Music Jam, 7-9 p.m. Thursdays, Marion Depot, 58 Depot St. Open to all musicians; no scheduled performers. 652-2215.

Hooterville Hoedown, mini-jams for local musicians 7-9 p.m. every Thursday, Opportunity House, 1411 Asheville Hwy., Hendersonville. Big Show last Thursdays featuring an area professional band, $4. 692-0575.

Open jam nights the second and fourth Thursdays, Signature Brew Coffee Company, 633 W. Main St., Sylva. Shop provides the instruments, you provide the talent. Chris Cooper's Fusion band hosts. 587-6300.

The Lady and the Old Timers Band, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. first Friday of each month, Jackson County Public Library, Sylva. Gospel and traditional country tunes. 586-2016.

The Broadcast, 6 p.m. May 26, Carrier Park, 500 Amboy Road, Asheville. Female fronted, six piece soul infused rock band. 989-3587 or www.mountains portsfestival.com.

JAZZ AND BLUES

Sunday jazz, 1 p.m. every Sunday with Michael Jefry Stevens and Eliot Wadopien, The Altamont, 18 Church St., Asheville. $10. 270-7747 or www.myaltamont.com.

STORYTELLING/ PUPPETRY/COMEDY

Comedy open mic 9-11 p.m. every Saturday, Wall Street Coffee House, 62 Wall St., Asheville. Everyone gets six minutes to try to make the audience laugh. 545-8502 or 423-0023.

Live comedy 8:30-10 p.m. every Wednesday at Essence Lounge at Harrah's Cherokee Casino.

Poet Glenis Redmond, 7 p.m. April 10, Mars Hill College, Belk Auditorium in Wren Building. Free.

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SUMMER OUTDOOR ADVENTURE FOR TEENS

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3/29/2012 - SUMMER OUTDOOR ADVENTURE FOR TEENS
by Jake Frankel - Mountain XPress

Asheville, NC - Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts has a few spaces left in the summer outdoor adventure activities for teens. For more information or to register for an activity, contact Christen McNamara at 828-251-4029, or email outdoorprograms@ashevillenc.gov. Fees are listed for Asheville city residents (R) and for non-residents (NR). Camps meet at the East Asheville Recreation Center, 906 Tunnel Rd.

Teen Canoe Camping Trip- 12-15 year olds--June 18-21
Four-day overnight canoeing camp designed for ages 12-15. Campers will canoe 25 miles over 4 days on the New River in northern NC. Participants must be able to swim 50 meters and be comfortable in the water. Campers will help set-up and break-down primitive camps, cook meals, and follow all safety rules. Fee is $250 R; $255 NR - includes all equipment, meals, instruction and transportation. Campers must bring lunch and water for first day of camp, and provide their own sleeping bag and pad. Maximum of 10 campers.

Teen Adventure Camp - 12-14 year olds - June 26-28
Three-day camp for ages 12-14 includes tubing, hiking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting or inflatable kayaking. Fee: $120 R, $125 NR; includes all equipment, instruction, and transportation. Campers must bring lunch and water daily. Maximum of 20 campers.

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Asheville-area Adventure of the Week: Hike MTS to Rattlesnake Lodge

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3/29/2012 - Asheville-area Adventure of the Week: Hike MTS to Rattlesnake Lodge
by Outdoors - Asheville Citizen Times

What: Hike along Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Rattlesnake Lodge.

Where: Access the Mountains-to-Sea Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway, north of Asheville, between Mileposts 377 and 374.

Distance: Rattlesnake Lodge Trail from Ox Creek Road is about 2.4 miles out and back.

Details: If you're on the lookout for spring wildflowers, the exposed slopes of the Rattlesnake Lodge Trail is a good place to start in the hunt for early peepers such as bloodroot and trillium. But the trail, which follows the Mountains-to-Sea, blazed with white circles painted on trees and posts, is always great for an outdoors getaway.

Rattlesnake Lodge can be accessed at a couple of entry points. Start at the trailhead at Milepost 374.4 at Tanbark Ridge Tunnel for a short but steep climb to the site of the summer home of Asheville physician Chase P. Ambler and his family in the early 1900s.

All that remains at the site are some stone foundations and the outline of an in-ground pool on an estate that still remains hidden and secluded in the woods a century later. The buildings burned down in 1926. The National Park Service acquired the property in 1976.

For a longer trail that climbs more slowly over switchbacks, turn left at Bull Gap, then right onto Ox Creek Road. It takes about two hours round-trip to hike.

If you don't want to climb or walk that far, step onto the MST at Ox Creek Road and head south toward Craven Gap at Milepost 374. This was the section of trail that President Barack Obama and the first lady hiked when they vacationed in Asheville two years ago.

Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be on a 6-foot leash. Bull Gap sits at an elevation of 3,100 feet, and you climb even higher, so it is often cooler than in Asheville.

Directions: Head north from Asheville for about eight miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Bull Gap, Milepost 375.6, at the Vance Birthplace/Weaverville sign. Turn right onto Ox Creek Road, then park at the second right-hand dirt parking area to access the MTS Trail.

Information: Call the automated road and weather conditions line at 298-0398. To speak to a person, call the Parkway Visitor Center at 298-5330.

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Asheville area art news and events for the coming weeks

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3/27/2012 - Asheville area art news and events for the coming weeks
by Living

Gypsy photo exhibit now open

 "The Heroic Present: The Gypsy Photographs of Jan Yoors," a new exhibition hosted by UNC Asheville's Center for Diversity Education, is on view 8 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays through April 16 in the Karpen Hall lobby on the campus.

 Yoors was just 12 when he left his home in Belgium in search of a group of Roma (Gypsies) known as Lovara, who lived on the outskirts of Antwerp. For the next six years, he traveled with a Lovara family, leaving them to serve in World War II.

The show, which features photos taken before and after World War II, is free and open to the public. A workshop and teacher training is offered 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Karpen Hall's Laurel Forum. To learn more, contact Deborah Miles at dmiles@unca.edu.

Music competition winners named

The Hendersonville Symphony has announced the latest winners of its annual competition for music students from 13 WNC counties.

Violinist Adair Brooks, 16, from Black Mountain, won first place, $500 and the opportunity to play with the symphony at its April 21 concert at Blue Ridge Community College. She studies with Paul Statsky and plays in the Asheville-Buncombe Youth Orchestra.

Second place and $300 went to flutist Grace Kim, 16, from Asheville, who studies with Dilshad Posnock. The third-place winner, a pianist, was Ayano Annis, 15, a sophomore at Erwin High School. She won $200. Her teacher is Susan Fehr.

For concert tickets, call 697-5884 or visit www.Hen- dersonvilleSymphony.org.

'Pre-Happening' scheduled for Friday at The Artery

A warm-up for April's Re-Happening event in Black Mountain is set for 6-9 p.m. Friday at The Artery, 346 Depot St., in Asheville's River Arts District. There's a $5 suggested donation.

The event is presented by the Asheville Area Arts Council in conjunction with the Creative Sector Summit and will feature a sampling of some of the performance and visual artwork to be presented the next weekend at Camp Rockmont, the former location of Black Mountain College.

Tickets to the Re-Happening, on April 7, will be for sale. Learn more at www.rehappening.com.

The next day, return to The Artery for "Kolorz: A Motion Sculpture Movement Installation" designed by Cilla Vee Life Arts director Claire Elizabeth Barratt. It's 3-9 p.m. Saturday, and there's a $10 suggested donation. Visit www.ashevillearts.com for more.

Canadian artist Horik greets spring

Canadian artist Stefan Horik greets spring at the Grand Bohemian Gallery in the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Biltmore Village with a riot of color with his new works of vibrant landscapes and floral studies. The exhibit runs March 31-April 20.

The Quebec artist was introduced to art at a very early age by his father, Vladimir Horik, an artist of Ukrainian origin. With a French Canadian mother, Stefan was raised in Charlevoix County, a well-known region for its breathtaking landscapes and its dynamic artistic life.

To learn more, visit www.bohemianhotelasheville.com and click on "Art Gallery."

Chamber concert April 1

Franklin Keel and Kara Poorbough, members of the Opal String Quartet, will perform a concert with clarinetist Brian Hermanson at 3 p.m. April 1 at St. Matthias Church, 1 Dundee St., off South Charlotte Street at Max Street.

The program, co-sponsored by Echo Cooperative, will include Bach and beyond. The show is free, but an offering will be collected for restoration of the historic church. Learn more about the show at www.echocooperative. org.

Learn ballroom dancing

A four-week ballroom dance class will be held 6-7 p.m. Mondays beginning Monday, through April 16, at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St.

Taught by Micaela Scobie, the class will focus on cha-cha and swing. Singles and couples welcomed. Tuition is $35, or $65 for couples. To learn more, call 669-0930.

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Asheville-area Blue Ridge Parkway begins spring openings today

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3/27/2012 - Asheville-area Blue Ridge Parkway begins spring openings today
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times

 

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY -- If you've had a hankering for almond-encrusted mountain trout, served with a mouth-watering view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, make your way down to Pisgah Inn tonight.

The only restaurant on the parkway in North Carolina, the Pisgah Inn is set to open at 5 p.m. today in time for dinner, after the long winter closure since Oct. 30. On Wednesday the dining room will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Also opening will be the 51-room inn, the gift shop and the Country Store, all nestled beneath iconic Mount Pisgah near Milepost 408, about 30 miles southwest of Asheville.

"We will stay open this year until Nov. 4," said inn manager Rob Miller. "We anticipate an absolutely fantastic season in light of all the calls we've been getting. We always recommend making reservations in advance, especially on busy weekends."

The concession is the first of the parkway facilities to open for the spring. Other parkway campgrounds, picnic areas and visitor centers won't start opening until April and May, said Michael Molling, parkway chief of maintenance.

The nearby Mount Pisgah campground and picnic area will open May 11.

The trail to the 5,721-foot summit of Mount Pisgah is open year-round, as long as the parkway is open.

Miller said he already has guests booked for tonight and is expecting a slow, steady stream of visitors, through April 15. That's when repair work on the Ferrin Knob tunnel No. 1, at Milepost 401, is expected to be completed.

The parkway has been closed from Milepost 393 at N.C. 191/Brevard Road, south to Milepost 405 at N.C. 151 since February, Molling said, to make repairs to the tunnel.

This closure blocks off the direct route between Asheville and the Mount Pisgah area.

But visitors can take N.C. 151 to access the inn. The stretch of parkway between U.S. 19 at Milepost 455.7 to the end of the parkway at U.S. 441 in Cherokee is also closed through April 15, to complete repairs on the Big Witch Tunnel at Milepost 461.

The warm, mild weather this winter has helped to keep the construction projects on target, Molling said.

 

 

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Biltmore Estate in Asheville exploring wine market possibilities in China

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3/26/2012 - Biltmore Estate in Asheville exploring wine market possibilities in China
by John Boyle - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Three years ago the Biltmore Estate embarked on an ambitious plan to have its wine on sale in all 50 United States.

That was strictly a domestic ploy, an effort to boost market share from coast to coast, and it's going great.

But if the estate plays its chardonnays right, it might be expanding into the mother of all markets: China.

The Biltmore Estate's president for government and agricultural relations, Chuck Pickering, is part of a 40-business trade delegation visiting China, which has a population of 1.3 billion.

The idea is to help American businesses "strike new deals, strengthen business ties, expand their market and support jobs for Americans," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"This is going to be a good opportunity to understand what the market opportunity is in China," said Jerry Douglas, president of the Biltmore Estate's wine operation. "Everybody is excited about the emerging consumer market there and how that's been changing over the last 10-15 years."

The Biltmore Estate is in year three of a five-year plan to expand its Biltmore brand wine sales. When it started, Biltmore wines were on sale in eight states; now it's up to 26 and should reach 35 by the end of June.

"We have a desire to expand our business opportunities outside the 8,000 acres of the estate, and wine is on the leading edge of that," Douglas said.

The estate sells 175,000 cases a year now, producing wine at four different price points that's sold through chain grocery stores, retailers and restaurants. Biltmore has been selling wine commercially for 27 years, with an annual growth rate of 8 percent.

The trade mission will run through Wednesday, with stops in Chengdu and Shanghai, where participants will meet with dozens of Chinese producers, importers, buyers, distributors and investors.

"This is the largest USDA trade mission to date," Michael Scuse, acting undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services, said in a statement. "China and the United States share a special relationship, and we embrace this opportunity to demonstrate that our U.S. farmers, ranchers and producers are reliable suppliers of the highest-quality food and agricultural products. At the same time, USDA and our federal partners will continue to aggressively work to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade."

Leaders from six state departments of agriculture, including representatives from North Carolina, will also attend, along with other USDA officials. The companies attending range from cranberry marketers and vegetable growers to seafood distributors and pork producers.

The USDA notes that Chinese demand for bulk commodities like soybeans and cotton is high, and demand for American products such as meat and processed foods continues to grow. U.S. agricultural exports to China were $22.8 billion in fiscal year 2011 and exports from China to the United States were $9.3 billion.

The USDA's largest overseas presence today is in China, with seven offices in five cities.

Douglas said the Biltmore Estate is just now putting out feelers about tapping into the market. He did not know yet how the estate may explore selling or distributing wine in China.

The estate has 90 acres of vineyards, which produces 18 percent of the estate's total wine production. The estate partners with growers in California, where it also has some production, while some grapes are crushed and sent back to the estate as unfermented juice that is finished and bottled on the estate.

Asked if the estate would consider making Biltmore Estate-labeled wine in China for distribution there, Douglas said, "You never say never, but that's not something we're looking at right now."

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Efforts afoot to open up more of Asheville's riverfront

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3/26/2012 - Efforts afoot to open up more of Asheville's riverfront
by Mark Barrett - Asheville Citizen Times

 ASHEVILLE -- A key section of riverfront land should be open to the public by the end of the year, a city staffer says, and could eventually hold a River Arts District visitors center.

 The property is located west of Riverside Drive, immediately north of 12 Bones Smokehouse and the Riverside Drive/Lyman Street intersection in the city's urban riverfront, and contains an older one-story brick building that has been boarded up for some time.

Possible uses include office or retail, a visitors center, a boat and bike rental center, open space or greenway or other commercial uses, according to a public notice from environmental regulators.

No decision has been made on what the best use of the structure would be, said Stephanie Munson, a city staffer who works with the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission.

"We have had tons of people come to us and ask us, 'Can we have that building?' and they have all kinds of great ideas, but not only has the building not been ready yet but it's yet to be determined what would be the biggest benefit to the public," she said.

The building sits on a 0.3-acre tract and is owned by natural gas company PSNC Energy, which plans to donate the property to the city.

That tract and much larger ones to the west and north that border the French Broad River have been fenced off for some time. They were the site of a plant that made natural gas from coal during most of the first half of the 20th century.

Past owner Progress Energy has cleaned up much of the resulting contamination, and now the city is asking that the property be designated a "brownfield."

The designation, which must be approved by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, would limit the city's liability for any lingering contamination on the site.

It would prohibit some uses like a playground or agriculture but allow those not expected to pose any environmental problems.

Fences should come down by the end of the year, Munson said. It is unclear when any formal paths might be built.

Improving access would be a big step, said Pattiy Torno, who owns Curve Studios across the street from the property,

"I would like my customers to be able to walk across the street and see the river," she said, something that can be difficult to do in the area today.

A study later this year of ways to boost arts-driven economic activity in the area may provide answers to the question of what to do with the property, Munson said.

Another study, also to be completed this year, of ways to route the Wilma Dykeman Riverway through the area will have an impact.

The riverway is envisioned as a corridor for vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic through the urban riverfront. Among the challenges planners have been looking at are what to do about the nearly 90-degree turn cars must make in front of 12 Bones and how to get bikers and walkers through the area.

Among the possibilities planners have been looking at is putting a roundabout at the Lyman/Riverside intersection, putting a greenway path along the river just west of 12 Bones or running Riverside Drive and the greenway path through the 12 Bones site.

City government owns a swath of property along the French Broad north to Craven Street, raising the possibility of a fairly lengthy section of greenway path along the river in that area.

Stephanie Pankiewicz, a local planner working on the project, said planners should pick a preferred alternative during the second half of this year.

Actual construction, however, would depend on funding, and that schedule is uncertain.

There are more than 160 art studios and artists in an association for businesses in the district, Torno estimated. But she said increasingly large numbers of visitors drawn by that activity sometimes find it frustrating to navigate the area on foot.

"There's tremendous interest in the neighborhood to not see people pushing a baby carriage" up busy Riverside Drive, she said.

Work aimed at opening up another section of fenced-off property along the French Broad resumed recently, said Kate O'Hara, a Land-of-Sky Regional Council staffer who works on brownfields issues.

Construction workers last week began removing remaining concrete from and grading property on Amboy Road planned to be home to Karen Cragnolin Park, O'Hara said.

Later this spring, grasses and possibly other plants will be planted on the property. They in turn will stimulate growth of bacteria that will naturally break down the petroleum-based contaminants in the soil there, she said.

That part of the job will take one or two growing seasons, O'Hara said. That method is slower than simply removing contaminated soil, but it is also much less expensive, she said.

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The Pop Traveler: Ten reasons to visit Asheville, N.C.!

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3/21/2012 - The Pop Traveler: Ten reasons to visit Asheville, N.C.!
by Jeremy Brett Carter for USA Today

Note: In the Pop Traveler, readers name their city's favorite pop-culture hot spots/events. Wanna write about your town? Holler at popcandy@usatoday.com.

By Jeremy Brett Carter, Special Correspondent for Pop Candy

Asheville, N.C., consistently receives accolades for its quality of life. In the past 10 years alone, it has been named the "Happiest City in America" by Self magazine, "Best Mountain Destination" in Southern Living, "Best Southern Town" in Outside magazine and among the "Most Beautiful Places in America" by Good Morning America. If you find yourself heading this way, here are a a few pop-culture-themed ways to check out our city:

1. Live music. Asheville's music scene has gained a national reputation. For starters, The Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club was named one of the best rock venues in the nation by Rolling Stone. Smashing Pumpkins did a nine-day residency there, and other acts have included Bob Dylan, Beastie Boys, Blondie, Ice Cube and Cyndi Lauper. The Avett Brothers recorded Emotionalism at Echo Mountain Recording Studio, which also has hosted Dierks Bentley, Band of Horses and other acclaimed musicians.

Beyond that, Asheville has loads of local musicians who not only play regularly at venues throughout town, but also tour the USA and abroad. You'll discover everything from gypsy punk (Sirius.B) to noir pop (stephaniesid) and garage pop (The Mad Tea) to psycho-cabaret (Hellblinki).

2. ...And even more live music. Electronic music pioneer and Moog synthesizer inventor Bob Moog lived in Asheville for many years until his death in 2005. Last year Moog Music, which he founded, moved into a newly renovated building downtown. In addition, the Moogfest electronic music festival draws the genre's top names to town. In its first two years, it hosted acts such as Moby, Brian Eno, The Flaming Lips, St. Vincent, Girl Talk and Massive Attack.

3. Hollywood in the mountains. Hollywood has visited the area area several times, most recently to film a little movie called The Hunger Games. The massive 250-room French château-inspired home at Biltmore Estate has served as a filming location for many movies, including Hannibal, Richie Rich and -- my favorite -- 1980's Private Eyes, starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts. The climax of Last of the Mohicans was filmed at Chimney Rock Park, while Dirty Dancing was filmed at Lake Lure.

 

Downtown Asheville.

 

4. Celebrity spotting. Speaking of Hollywood, celebrity sightings are such a regular occurrence that #ashevilleTMZ is a popular, tongue-in-cheek hashtag among local Twitterers. Andie MacDowell is a resident and active with several local charities, and it's not uncommon to bump into her at the grocery store or a restaurant. Warren Haynes of The Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule spent his childhood here, and each year his Christmas Jam sees an amazing array of musicians playing together at the civic center in a benefit for Habitat for Humanity.

Other celebrities spotted on occasion include residents Gladys Knight and Harry Anderson; native Paul Schneider; Zach Galifianakis, who was born in Wilkesboro; and James Franco, who's in a Master's program at Warren Wilson College. There also are regular reports of celebrities in town either for work or pleasure, with recent examples including Colin Farrell, Sandra Oh and Dave Chappelle.

5. Beer City, USA. Asheville has been named Beer City, USA three years in a row. The area is home to 11 craft breweries, and Chico, Calif.-based Sierra Nevada recently announced plans to open a brewery just south of Asheville. One of the best ways to try the local brews is via the Brews Cruise, which takes guests on a bus to area breweries for behind-the-scenes tours and tastings. If you're in the Southeast, you can likely find our beers in restaurants and stores. Keep an eye out for brews by Highland, French Broad and Pisgah brewing companies.

 

The Thomas Wolfe Memorial.
By Jeremy Brett Carter

6. Literary Asheville. Thomas Wolfe's childhood home is now a museum in downtown Asheville, Zelda Fitzgerald died in a fire in a hospital here, and O. Henry is buried in Riverside Cemetery. Contemporary authors with Asheville ties include Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen, who lives here; Special Topics in Calamity Physics author Marisha Pessl, who grew up in Asheville; and Ron Rash, a professor at Western Carolina University whose novel Serena is being adapted for the big screen, with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence attached to star.

 

 

The LaZoom Comedy Tour.

7. Downtown. Downtown Asheville is the epicenter of all that makes this such an amazing place to be. In warmer months, Pritchard Park is home to a Friday-night drum circle that draws hundreds of people for hours of dancing to improvised beats. On any day you're likely to see a street-corner musician playing an accordion, stand-up bass, fiddle or virtually any other instrument, and keep your eye out for a living statue or street musician. One of the best ways to experience downtown Asheville is on the LaZoom Comedy Tour, which rolls around town in a swanky purple schoolbus populated with characters such as "Sister Bad Habit" and "Augusta Wind."

 

 

A street mural in downtown Asheville, N.C.

8. On the wall. Asheville is consistently named among the Top 25 Small Towns for Art by AmericanStyle, and last year it took home top honors. The city has dozens of art galleries and hosts bi-monthly art crawls from April through December. Be sure to check out ZaPow!, which is billed as the only gallery in the Southeast specializing in illustration and pop-culture art. The newly revived River Arts District is where you'll find warehouses that have been converted into studios, and studio strolls are held on a regular basis here. Back downtown, the city has commissioned many pieces of public art, and are artists also have created elaborate murals on the sides of buildings and even on the Interstate underpass.

 

9. On the stage. Asheville has a vibrant theater scene, with several amateur and professional companies lighting their footlights on a regular basis. North Carolina Stage Company's 2011-2012 season has included Hedwig and the Angry Inch and sci-fi tribute Fight Girl Battle World. Asheville Community Theater produces top-notch shows that include classics and world premieres. Down in the River Arts District, The Magnetic Field is a combination restaurant, bar and performance space that only produces original works, including plays, musical, stand-up comedy, sketch comedy, music and more.

10. Food. Asheville has a remarkable culinary scene, with talented chefs from all over the world settling here to open restaurants, and many of them are committed to using local ingredients whenever possible. President Obama has visited 12 Bones Barbecue on two of his three visits to the city, while Anthony Bourdain held a private reception at Cúrate Tapas Bar on a recent visit. If you like chocolate, you can't go wrong with French Broad Chocolate Lounge, which offers handmade truffles, liquid truffles, caramels, chocolate bars and more. For more info on local independent restaurants, check out Asheville Independent Restaurants.

Over the past few years, the food-truck craze has caught on, with mobile kitchens serving up Korean barbecue tacos (El Kimchi), crepes and empanadas (Ceci's Culinary Tour), Lebanese street food (Gypsy Queen Cuisine) and more. You'll find these food trucks all over town, at several of the breweries, and at the new food truck lot downtown.

Of course, this is just the beginning of what there is to do here. Whether you're here for a few days or a week or more, you're guaranteed to fall under the spell of a city that's often called called "The Paris of the South."

Asheville-based writer and actor Jeremy Brett Carter blogs at www.revengeofthewordnerd.com.

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Commissioners start process to build two new schools in Asheville

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3/21/2012 - Commissioners start process to build two new schools in Asheville
by Mark Barrett - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- The city school system will get $2 million to plan replacements for Asheville Middle School and Isaac Dickson Elementary School, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners decided Tuesday.

Commissioners approved a resolution that will allow money the county gets from state government to go to pay architects and other planners to decide how best to replace the schools.

That process will probably take 12-18 months, County Manager Wanda Greene said.

"At the end of this, we'll know exactly what we need," she said.

Most likely, one new school will be built, then another, Greene said.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the spending after hearing praise from Asheville City Schools officials and no opposition.

"We've got a moral obligation to provide for these kids. It's the best investment we can make," said David Gantt, board chairman.

A study done for city schools in 2010 said it would cost $32 million to replace Asheville Middle. Tuesday's action only involves spending on planning.

Dickson Elementary is 60 years old, and Asheville Middle is around 50, city Schools Superintendent Allen Johnson said after the meeting.

"They're at the end of their life cycle," he said.

Aging roofs, plumbing, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and other systems at the schools mean city schools have had significant expenses just to keep the buildings in working order in recent years, Johnson said.

The buildings' conditions also mean that energy costs are higher than necessary, he said.

"The buildings are safe, but they're deteriorating, and we're spending a lot of money just trying to maintain," Johnson said.

Plus, Asheville Middle is not arranged in the "pod" layout that has all students in each grade going to class on the same hall as newer schools do, Johnson said.

Both schools will remain at their present sites, Johnson said, and some existing Asheville Middle facilities may be a part of the new school.

Asheville Middle is on South French Broad Avenue, and Dickson Elementary is on Hill Street just north of Interstate 240.

Commissioners discussed the schools at their Jan. 31 retreat, and, judging by comments at Tuesday's meeting, city schools officials have lobbied hard for money for improvements in individual meetings with commissioners and other county officials.

"We've been to each one of you all, and we've been to (Greene's) office probably 10 times the number of times we've been to yours," Gene Bell, chairman of the city school board, told commissioners.

County government is responsible for both city and county school systems' building needs and county schools' under state law.

At least some money that flows through county coffers for school construction must be spent proportionately on the two systems, meaning the much larger county system gets a bigger share of the money.

Greene said afterward that she does not know yet how spending on Asheville Middle and Dickson Elementary will affect the amount Buncombe County schools will get for capital projects.

"You can't look at that until you know how much you've got to spend," she said.

Much of the planning money will come from state lottery proceeds and sales tax revenue the county is required to spend on school construction, Green said.

The resolution commissioners passed Tuesday says the county can reimburse itself for the money spent on planning when it borrows money to make actual improvements to the schools.

The resolution is a legal requirement imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, Greene said.

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