Blog :: 08-2008

Asheville Arts Council Starts Resource Center



8/26/2008 - Asheville Arts Council Starts Resource Center

ASHEVILLE The Asheville Area Arts Council is creating a resource center intended to help performing and visual artists and organizations become more successful.

In partnership with Mountain BizWorks and Handmade in America, the arts council is founding The Resource Center for the Arts. The center will provide a physical location where artists and arts organizations can receive the training and resources necessary to succeed in their creative endeavors.

The council is planning the center now, and the steering committee will begin meeting with performing and visual artists and agencies to determine what services the arts community needs and wants, the council said.

Most prominent among preliminary ideas are networking, marketing and fundraising support, business planning and professional development classes, collaboration and mentoring opportunities and resources such as legal counsel, co-op buying, insurance and affordable studio space.

Residents are more likely to stay in (and more people are attracted to) counties with larger proportions of workers in arts-related occupations, according to the report Creative Economy: The Arts Industry in North Carolina, done for the North Carolina Arts Council. The presence of creative professionals in a given county is the single-most important factor associated with the amount that visitors will spend, the report states.

Were making it a top priority to help grow the creative economy in Asheville and Western North Carolina, said Asheville Area Arts Council executive director Angela Martinez. We want to ensure that we provide a friendly, responsive and supportive environment for the arts.

The council is seeking sponsorships and grants for the center, which will operate under the non-profit status of the arts council. Contact the council at 258-0710.

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New Asheville River Park Planned



8/25/2008 - New Asheville River Park Planned

Volunteers picking away at a former automotive shop near Ashevillle's  French Broad River are helping turn an area known best for post-industrial blight into a centerpiece park.

Vacant lots and former commercial buildings make up the land that runs along the river behind 12 Bones restaurant to the south and Craven Street to the north.

But within five years, organizers say that will turn into a 30-acre chunk of green space on Riverside Drive four times the size of Pack Square Park planned for City-County Plaza downtown.

Alex Cury, a retired attorney and artist from Montford, bicycles on Riverside Drive and puts her canoe in at Gene Webb Park, a small piece of the tract already used for recreation.

It is a very unpleasant ride through the industrial area, and the cars drive too fast, Cury said. Its seedy, and there is nothing green about it. So to ride back on a greenway would be glorious.

RiverLink, which promotes the protection and recreational use of the French Broad, bought the final 3-acre missing link for the park in September for $575,000.

Volunteers are in the process of taking apart a blue building that housed an automotive shop on the site. RiverLink will test the ground to see if any pollution needs to be cleaned before the site can be re-used.

The 3-acre plot will house a sculpture garden and will join surrounding properties to make up a short section of greenway, a linear park that features pedestrian and bicycle paths, said Karen Cragnolin, RiverLink executive director.

The other properties include Gene Webb Park and land recently donated to the city by Progress Energy.

The project will change more than the view along the river, Cragnolin said, since it will be visible from the Smoky Park Bridge, the main roadway over the French Broad.

Part of the excitement here is really that Ashevilles front door is the Smoky Park Bridge. And right now, when you go into downtown, what do you see? A blue building and nothing attractive, she said.

When we start putting in the greenway and the sculpture garden, that is going to be a really powerful statement about what is going on at the river. Were telling people we are an arts destination.


The nonprofit RiverLink is trying to create 17 miles of unbroken greenway on and around the French Broad River. RiverLink acquires the property then gives it to local governments, like Asheville or Buncombe County. Some details:

Plans call for a greenway from the N.C. Arboretum in the south to the Blue Ridge Parkway on the east and UNC Asheville to the north.

Completed portions include Carrier Park on Amboy Road, French Broad River Park on Riverview Drive and Azalea Park off Azalea Road.

Portions soon to be added include Karen Cragnolin Park on Amboy Road, a portion next to N.C. 191 southwest of the N.C. Farmers Market and a portion connecting Carrier Park and Hominy Creek River Park.

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Western NC's Largest Solar Facility Set For Asheville



8/25/2008 - Western NC's Largest Solar Facility Set For Asheville
by David Horn

ASHEVILLE -- Appalachian Energy will create the largest solar array in the western region of North Carolina. The regional alternative energy provider said the 75-kilowatt installation in Asheville should be completed by the end of 2008.

The project is part of the largest contract in Appalachian Energy's seven-year history. The company is partnering with Jim Barkley Toyota to provide a turnkey solar energy system that will be the largest photovoltaic installation in Western North Carolina.

Next month Appalachian Energy will begin installation of 336 solar panels on the roof of the Jim Barkley Toyota building in Asheville. The dealership will be able to sell electricity to Progress Energy.

It was a business decision that made good financial sense based on the federal and state tax credits available, as well as the collaboration with Progress Energy and Appalachian Energy, said Jim Barkley, CEO of Jim Barkley Toyota. This deal is another example of how business leaders are turning to solar power to boost their revenues, said Appalachian Energy CEO Scott Clark. The value of the contract between Appalachian Energy and Jim Barkey Toyota was not released.

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Downtown Asheville After 5



8/15/2008 - Downtown Asheville After 5


August 15, 2008

Downtown After Five - August Event


The weather is looking to be absolutely perfect today for a delightful afternoon downtown with some free live music!

What could be better than a balmy summer's eve with some sizzling hot music playing in the back ground while you talking with your old friends and meeting new ones over a delicious icy cold beverage? We certainly can't think of a single thing that sounds better on a summer's night!

The back to school rush is almost over so come on down and treat yourself to a relaxing evening of mighty fine mingling with old and new friends alike!

One World will be joining us tonight and bringing some of the best vegetarian fare you've ever had! We'll have everything from BBQ to Lobster Rolls and Hot Dogs to Gyros and Homemade Gourmet Ice Cream and now some new mighty darn tasty vegetarian fare along with our extensive selection of icy cold beers and fine wines to sodas and our new certified Carbon Neutral produced water! Whew! We've got something for everyone and every taste!

The event starts at 5:00, just enough time to get your wristband (to help support Homeward Bound) and get situated before the music starts around 5:30 with Peggy Ratusz, Asheville's premier Blue's Chanteuse and her band Daddy LongLegs.

We'll shift gears into some beautiful and blistering tunes from " how did we get so lucky to have this kind of talent locally" musicians with the Shannon Whitworth and Jeff Sipe Band around 7:30. There are sure to be many magical musical moments tonight, Shannon was the lead singer of the Biscuit Burners and Jeff has toured with bands such as Susan Tedeschi, Keller Williams, Leftover Salmon, Aquarium Rescue Unit and Trey Anastasio.

Please remember to help support the Manna FoodBank this evening if you can by bringing a few canned food items for their food drive.

Downtown After Five is located just down the hill from the Civic Center on Lexington Avenue by the I-240 overpass, so c'mon down and celebrate yet another beautiful evening with us tonight in downtown Asheville!


Homeward Bound:

Peggy Ratusz:

Shannon Whitworth:

Jeff Sipe:

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Asheville's Ag Center Update



8/14/2008 - Asheville's Ag Center Update

After the Mountain State Fair closes down on Sept. 14, look for the construction crews to swing into high gear at the WNC Agricultural Center.

Ive been interested from day one in renovating this facility, and I believe this will make it a shining star in the west, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said this morning at a press conference at the Ag Center.

Construction will begin on two buildings after the fair closes a $3 million arts and crafts building and a $2.1 million livestock building. The Ag Center, located at the intersection of Fanning Bridge Road and U.S. 280 across from Asheville Regional Airport, hosts more than 150 events a year and brought in 138,000 visitors last year, not counting the nearly 188,000 who attended the fair.

Troxler made the announcements as part of a discussion of overall plans for the Ag Center, the WNC Farmers Market and the Western Animal Diagnostic Lab. In all, Troxler outlined $15.1 million of improvements and additions at the facilities.

The Ag Center will receive the bulk of the improvements. Besides the two new buildings, plans also call for a $7.5 million renovation and addition to the Davis Arena, $169,400 in improvements to the McGough Arena and $339,559 in improvements to the Sales Arena.

Im excited about it, said Ag Center Manager Matt Buchanan. Its been since 92 since weve had any capital improvement money.

The facility generates about $15 million in economic activity, and it is self-supporting through its own receipts.

At the the Farmers Market, located off Brevard Road in Asheville, construction will begin by years end on a $402,000 project to add ventilation fans in the retail building, and for roofing on two buildings.

Were tickled to death, said Mike Ferguson, the market director. Weve not had any capital money for about 10 years.

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