Blog :: 02-2013

Adventure of the week: Ski at Cataloochee



2/28/2013 - Adventure of the week: Ski at Cataloochee
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times

Snow blowers made for nearly white-out conditions at Catlaoochee Ski Area earlier this month. The ski area in Maggie Valley will make more snow this weekend and hold its annual season pass sale on Sunday.


What: Skiing at Cataloochee Ski Area.

When: Ski area is open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday and Mondays..

Where: Maggie Valley in Haywood County. Tube World located in Maggie Valley, across from Ghost Town in the Sky, four miles from the ski area, opens today at 4 p.m. for its final weekend of tubing.

Details: If you're looking to get in your last (or first) ski or snowboard runs of the season, this should be a great weekend, with wintry weather on the horizon.

"It's still winter," Tammy Brown, ski area spokeswoman, said on Wednesday. "We've had great skier response and we're in Day 119 of the season. We're planning on staying on open through March 30. We have cold and snow in the forecast for the weekend and we're going to make snow."

The late season hours will change on March 11 to 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sundays.

"We'll keep making snow as long as we can," Brown said. "We're open on 16 slopes and have 67-87-inch base."

The ski area is also holding its annual One Day Season Pass Sale on Sunday, where you can buy a variety of passes, and save up to $100 by buying a pass that will let you ski the rest of this season and all of next season for $199. This pass goes up to $299 on Monday, Brown said. Seasonal ski and snowboard rentals will also be available for order.

Also on Sunday, check out the racing finals of the middle and high school interscholastic race season.

There are many other options for getting in some snow sports in Western North Carolina this weekend. See adjacent list of WNC ski areas.

Information: Visit or call 926-0285 or 800-768-0285.


WNC ski areas

o Appalachian Ski Mountain: 940 Ski Mountain Road, Blowing Rock. Open for ice skating, skiing and snowboarding. Call 800-322-2373 or visit for details. 
o Cataloochee Ski Area: Ski slopes in Maggie Valley open for skiing and snowboarding. Tony's Tube World also open. For more information and snow report, visit 
o Sugar Mountain Ski Resort: Ski area in Avery County now open for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and snowshoe tours. For more information, visit 
o Beech Mountain Ski Resort: Beech Mountain in Avery County. Skiing, snowboarding and outdoor ice skating rink. Call 800-438-2093 or visit 
o Wolf Ridge Ski Resort: Madison County ski area, 578 Valley View Circle in Mars Hill. Open for skiing and snowboarding. Call 689-4111 or visit


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Housing: Itâs Becoming a Sellerâs Market



2/26/2013 - Housing: Its Becoming a Sellers Market
by Nick Timiraos - Wall Street Journal

The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday what home buyers in many parts of the United States have known for months: it's becoming a seller's market.

The number of homes listed for sale in January fell by 4.9%, leaving 1.74 million properties on the market. That's the lowest since December of 1999, when there were 1.71 million homes on the market. By contrast, there were 2.91 million homes on the market two years ago at this time.

After adjusting for seasonal factors, home sales rose by just 0.4% in January, to an annual rate of 4.92 million units. Still, that's up from 9.1% one year ago.

The upshot is that there's a growing pool of buyers chasing a shrinking supply of homes. If the trend holds, prices will keep going up. At the current pace of sales, it would take just 4.2 months to sell the current supply of homes available for sale, down from a 6.2 months' supply one year ago.

While inventories typically increase in the spring, the Realtors' group has expressed growing concerns that sales volumes are being held back by the lack of choice. This is good news for homeowners who have watched home prices drop over the last six years, but it's bad news for buyers--and for anyone that makes their living selling real estate.

Inventory declines have been the most dramatic in California, Arizona, and other markets that witnessed some of the largest home price declines. Those cities have large numbers of underwater borrowers--people who owe more than their homes are worth--while many others may have equity but aren't willing to sell because prices have fallen so far.

Investors have also been aggressive in buying up properties that are selling for less than their replacement cost.

National Association of Realtors

Home sales could rise to 5.2 million units this year, an increase of nearly 12% from last year, according to economists atGoldman Sachs GS +0.49%. They base their forecast on household formation and demographics, which both suggest rising demand for housing in the coming years, and affordability measures such as mortgage rates and home prices.

But the economists note that there's a considerable amount of uncertainty that could make those targets hard to hit, particularly if there's nothing for would-be buyers to purchase.


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Retire in Asheville, North Carolina



2/25/2013 - Retire in Asheville, North Carolina



Great Retirement Locations in the United States


Asheville, North Carolina

Retirement location-Asheville





Asheville North Carolina offers both visitors and residents a vibrant city of new and old architecture, many great shops and restaurants and music and art at its many galleries and theaters. The Biltmore House, fashioned after 16th century French castles and built over a six-year period by billionaire George Vanderbilt, is one of Asheville's most prominent attractions. The entire estate encompassed over 120,000 acres with landscape design by Frederick Olmsted who also designed New York's Central Park.


Asheville is a haven for art and music lovers. The prominent Art and Culture scene includes over 30 art galleries and many events and festivals featuring the Arts and Crafts Antique Show in February, the Blacksmith Festival in April, the Montford Arts and Music Festival in May, the Bluff Mountain Festival in June, the Village Art & Craft Fair near the Biltmore Estate in August , the Asheville Quilt Show in September and many others. The Asheville Symphony Orchestra features music of major traditional composers while the Orange Peel is known worldwide for bringing live contemporary music featuring current leading artists to the City. Asheville boasts top rated restaurants offering vegetarian, farm to table, southern cooking, as well as a variety of international foods. Many wine bars and coffee houses are also available throughout the City.


The stunning Blue Ridge Mountains offer a variety of outdoor activities to Asheville's residents including hiking, biking, skiing, horseback riding and fishing in the many rivers. The biodiversity found in these mountains includes many plant species and a large variety of mammals and birds.


Residents of Asheville can take advantage of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute or OLLI at the University of North Carolina. This program was developed to enable retired adults and others in their later years to continue to grow through its focus on learning, leadership, community service and research.



Reasons to retire here: Culture (Museums, Festivals, Galleries, Symphony, etc.) Historic district, Outdoor recreation, Above average health care facilities, airport serving major airlines within minutes of the City.

Weather: Temperatures range from lows in the winter in the mid 20s to summer highs in the mid 80s

Population: 84,000

State Income Tax: range from 6% to 7.75%

Sales Tax: 6.75%

Property Taxes: 1.12%. People over 65 are eligible for limits on property taxes to 4 or 5% of income.


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5 Things To Love About Asheville, North Carolina



2/22/2013 - 5 Things To Love About Asheville, North Carolina
by Huffington Post/

From the stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to a vibrant art culture, Asheville, North Carolina has everything you need for a romantic getaway in the South. Here are five things to fall in love with in Asheville, recommended by local bed and breakfast innkeepers.



No trip to Asheville is complete without a tour through the Biltmore Estate, a 19th-century chateau-style mansion that once belonged to the Vanderbilt family. While in Asheville, you can also visit the former home of Carl Sandburg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Innkeepers of Asheville B&Bs also suggest walking or jogging through the historic Riverside Cemetery.

The Outdoors

For the adventurous, the Asheville area is replete with things to do and see. Take a ride down Sliding Rock, a 60-foot smooth rock that serves as a waterslide and dumps you into a natural swimming hole. Head to Graveyard Fields to go hiking and see waterfalls, or explore the Pisgah National Forest and its hundreds of hiking trails. Back in town, head up to the three-level balcony tavern on Battery Park Avenue known as Sky Bar, and sip a drink while soaking in the panoramic view of the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Get there early, as the popular bar gets crowded at sunset, and keep in mind, it's not open in the winter.


Asheville innkeepers overwhelmingly agree that the local art galleries and markets can't be missed. The Folk Art Center, Woolworth Walk, and Grove Arcade feature the work of hundreds of artists, from paintings to pottery to jewelry. There are also plentiful individual galleries that are recommended, such as New Morning Gallery, Blue Spiral 1 and Grovewood Gallery. You can also visit the Penland School of Crafts to observe art being made.


Beer and Wine

Beer fanatics can't miss a stop in Bruisin Ales, which sells over 1,000 beers from across the world. If you prefer wine, check out Appalachian Vintner, a wine shop that also carries craft beer. Grab a bottle to go or stay for tastings or a drink on the private patio. You can also hang out at the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, a quirky shop that combines a bookstore with a wine bar.

Fantastic Food

Asheville has a growing culinary scene, with up-and-coming celebrity chefs and local sourcing to satisfy any foodie. Some of the most highly-recommend restaurants from innkeepers to their guests include:

  • Cúrate: This award-winning restaurant serves traditional Spanish tapas. It is run by Executive Chef Katie Button, who was a semi-finalist for the "Rising Star Chef" 2012 from the James Beard Foundation.
  • Plant: Enjoy tasty vegan food at this restaurant run by a chef who truly cares about the politics and ethics of food.
  • Bouchon French Bistro: Dine here if you're in the mood for French comfort food and wine. No pretentiousness--just delicious, authentic French bistro cuisine.
  • Corner Kitchen: When President Obama eats here, you know it's good. Eat contemporary American cuisine in this historic home.
  • Cucina24: Taste small-batch, handcrafted Italian cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients.
  • Be sure to read's complete guide to Asheville for tips on Asheville day trips and nightli


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Asheville area theater productions



2/22/2013 - Asheville area theater productions
by Asheville Citizen Times

"Neighbors," by Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective, 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 35below at Asheville Community Theatre, Walnut Street, Asheville. A liberal white couple sell their house to an affluent black

"Rashomon," 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Hoey Auditorium, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee. 227-7491.

"Romeo & Juliet," 7:30 p.m. today-Sunday, Hendersonville Little Theater, 229 S. Washington St. $20, $10 ages 18 and younger. 692-1082.

"The Understudy," to March 10, N.C. Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane, Asheville. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sundays. An unknown actor is hired to understudy for a big star in Broadway production. Tickets $16, $25, $28 based on day of the week; $10 student tickets available. 239-0263. Grade:

"Bark! The Musical," to March 10, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Asheville Community Theatre, Walnut Street, Asheville. $15-$25. Call 254-1320. Grade: A.

"You Can't Take It With You," to March 3, 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Brevard Little Theatre, 55 E. Jordan St., Brevard. $14, $10 students. 884-2587.

"Anatomy of Gray," 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Porter Center's Morrison Playhouse on campus of Brevard College. $5.

"Beneath Shelton Laurel," 7:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday, A-B Tech's Simpson Hall, Victoria Road, Asheville. Based on a massacre that happened in Madison County in early 1863, where 13 men and boys suspected of Unionism were killed by Confederate soldiers. $10, WNCHA members $8, students $5. 253-9231

"Falsettoland," musical about a modern family, 7:30 p.m. March 1-2, 3 p.m. March 3, Feichter Studio, HART Theatre, 250 Pigeon St., Waynesville. 456-6322.

"The Little Prince," March 7-17, by YouTheatre of Flat Rock Playhouse, 125 S. Main St., Hendersonville. 693-0731

"Grease: School Edition," 7 p.m. March 7-9 and 2:20 p.m. March 10, North Buncombe High School, 890 Clarks Chapel Road, Weaverville. $8 until March 6, $10 at the door. 645-4221.

"The Tempest," 8 p.m. March 7-10, Warren Wilson College's Kittredge Theatre, Swannanoa. Deserted on a desolate island by her conniving brother, Prospera increases her knowledge of magic and enchantment. She uses her newfound power to exact revenge upon her brother and the royal party of Naples. $10, free for faculty/staff/students with ID. 771-3040.

"Purgatorio," drama, 7:30 p.m. March 15-16, 3 p.m. March 17, Feichter Studio, HART Theatre, 250 Pigeon St., Waynesville. 456-6322.

"Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself)," March 27-April 21, N.C. Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane, Asheville. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets $16, $25, $28 based on day of the week; $10 student tickets available.


WNC Unified auditions, A-B Tech and the Montford Park Players host WNC Theatre League Unified Auditions at A-B Tech's Ferguson Auditorium, 340 Victoria Road, Asheville. Check in begins at 5 p.m. today for child actors and 9 a.m. Saturday for adult actors, designers, directors and technicians. Each auditionee will upload his or her information, including a headshot, through our online registration form and pay a $30 registration fee by credit or debit card.

"Welcome to Mitford,&rdq uo; 6:30 p.m. Sunday-Monday, HART Theatre, 250 Pigeon St., Waynesville. Based on the series of novels by North Carolina writer Jan Karon. Will run weekends April 19-May 5. Anyone interested in working backstage is encouraged to come by during auditions to sign up.

"In Praise of Love," 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Asheville Community Theatre, Walnut Street, Asheville, with The Autumn Players. "In Praise of Love" will be performed as reader's theatre. No previous experience required. All audition material provided at the auditions. 254-1320.

Parkway Playhouse open call auditions from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 2, Mountain Heritage Center, U.S. 19-E, Burnsville. For ages 16 and older for available roles in "Dancing at Lughnasa," "Peter Pan," "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," "A Few Good Men," and "Sherlock Holmes Returns." Actors will be asked to read selected scenes. Those auditioning for roles in Peter Pan or The Mystery of Edwin Drood should be prepared to sing and participate in a movement audition.

"The Importance of Being Earnest," 7 p.m. March 24 and 26, Hendersonville Little Theater, 229 S. Washington St. Casting five men and four women. 692-1082.



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Multiplying Asheville's creative capital



2/19/2013 - Multiplying Asheville's creative capital
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times

It all started with an Asheville contingent's trip to Austin, Texas. This mightily impressed a local arts entrepreneur, originally from Detroit, who helped coax a leading Brooklyn-based music producer to move to our mountains.

"It was serendipity. It's a typical Asheville story," Gar Ragland laughs, recounting just how he relocated his NewSong Music Group from the trendy culture capital of Brooklyn, N.Y., to join the growing creative class of downtown Asheville.

Ragland is no stranger to Western North Carolina, having grown up in Winston-Salem and attended Camp Rockmont in the summer. As a music entrepreneur, he had heard the buzz about Asheville even up in Brooklyn, where he heard more than one band say, "Oh yeah, we'd love to move down there."

Last April, Ragland was passing through town with one of his bands between gigs in Knoxville, Tenn., and Winston-Salem.

They ate lunch at the old Woolworth's on Haywood Street, and Ragland got out his iPhone and Google-mapped his way down to Echo Mountain Recording Studios and pressed the buzzer.

"Hey, I know who you are," answered Jessica Tomasin, Echo Mountain's studio manager.

She buzzed him into the studio complex -- housed in Asheville's original Salvation Army headquarters and the next-door Methodist church -- which has drawn such recording artists as the Avett Brothers, Grammy winners Zac Brown, T-Bone Burnett, and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Tomasin knew Ragland from his work with the New Song songwriting competition held with National Public Radio, the programming he orchestrates at Lincoln Center, as well as the singer-songwriters he produces. Tomasin also knew she wanted to work with him.

Just that day, she had some office space open up in the studio, and she implored Ragland, "You have to move down here."

Courting the creative class

Better yet, Tomasin put Ragland in touch with the city's connector of entrepreneurs, Pam Lewis, who heads Venture Asheville.

Since moving down from Detroit 13 years ago and "never looking back," Tomasin has turned into an Asheville business booster. She readily admits to being a "economic development geek," eager to attend board meetings at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County.

"I saw that the EDC had been down at South by Southwest, trying to push Asheville as a place for new technology. I was impressed that a city had the wherewithal to do that," Tomasin said.

She had just met with Lewis about the time Ragland showed up on her doorstep.

Ragland was sold when, a few weeks later, he met for lunch with Lewis, Ccamber officials, Sam Powers of the city of Asheville and other players on the local entrepreneurial scene.

"Sitting across the table from all these people, I was just so impressed as a small-business owner that Asheville was that interested in me."

One family, two businesses

By August, Ragland and his family had left Brooklyn and moved to Asheville, not with just one, but two businesses.

"We got a two-fer," Lewi s said.

Gar's wife, Meg Ragland, is an entrepreneur as well. A magazine writer and editor who took maternity time, she launched Plumprints with her cousin Carolyn Lanzetta.

The two young mothers were commiserating with each other about what to do with all the artwork their talented children brought home. "I had a drawer that was overflowing, and when I talked with other mothers, they had the same problem: 'Oh, I'd feel so guilty if I threw anything out,'" Meg explained.

They came up with the idea of digitizing all the colorful art and turning out coffee table books priced from $85 to about $400. Last week, while Gar Ragland was saluted by the Economic Development Coalition for relocating his music business, Meg Ragland was interviewing to move her Plumprints company into the Small Business Incubator at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College's Enka campus. She passed the advisory board with flying colors and is waiting to sign the lease for space.

"She has a really well-thought-out business plan, and the potential to hit so many different markets is really strong. It's a great product, and they seem to be on top of the marketing," said Marilyn McDonald, A-B Tech's strategic business development director.

Creative capital

Down in Asheville for six months now, both Raglands like the creative energy of their adopted new city.

"When you downsize from a city of 8 million to a city of, what, 80,000, you would expect a culture shock," Gar said. "But the creative capital per capita in Asheville is so high, there's no cultural compromise."

He pointed to the farm-to-table food movement that has turned Asheville into a strong restaurant town, a welcome mat for artists and crafters, and an influx of more businesses that fit into the creative class.

Tomasin agrees. At Echo Mountain, she's not just selling locally produced music to a nationwide industry, she's also selling Asheville. "People are moving here all the time, large music producers from New York and Los Angeles and Nashville. With everything digital now, people can work from most anywhere."

Asheville may have an edge over other cities by the shared enthusiasm and the creative collaboration. "In some ways, the Brooklyn music community is not nearly as connected as in Asheville," Gar said.

He likes not just the music side of his business, producing tracks by singer-songwriters, but the business side of music, working over revenues, budgets or new business models. "It requires me to be bilingual. One day I'm talking with an artist about the creative stuff, the next day I have to be proficient in the entrepreneurial aspect."

The Raglands agreed that Asheville also has a greater quality of life as a place to raising their family -- their 6 year old daughter, Kessie, and twin boys, Ridge and Graham, who turn 2 in April. "The farthest south I had ever lived was Fourth Street in Brooklyn," Meg admitted. "When Gar and I first moved down here, we were joking that everyone was drinking the same juice. Everyone is so positive, so warm and welcoming. We're starting to taste the juice and tell our friends, 'You have to move down here.'"

"Every day I walk around town, I'm glad to be here," said Gar. "And I want to do what I can to add to the creative fabric here."





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Discount cards help Buncombe schools



2/19/2013 - Discount cards help Buncombe schools
by Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Gone are the days of school checkbooks and tear out coupons -- the Buncombe County Schools Foundation kicked off its countywide fundraiser Thursday with the new BCS Discount Card.

The $15 cards will have one-time and multiuse discounts for deals with businesses throughout Buncombe County. The cards can be purchased at any Buncombe County school or at the Buncombe County Schools Foundation, and all funds raised go back into schools.

Koontz Intermediate, for instance, hopes to raise enough funds from the sale of the discount cards to purchase an iPad for every sixth-grade teacher at the South Asheville school. North Buncombe Middle School hopes to raise enough funds to offset the costs of the eighth grade trip to Washington D.C. for its students.

"This fundraiser can mean the difference between having or not having items needed in schools," said Lisa Adkins, executive director of the Buncombe County Schools Foundation. "The community is always such a big supporter of our fundraisers. This gives us an opportunity to provide a real benefit to our supporters and drive patrons to thebusinesses that support us, as well."

The mission of the Buncombe County Schools Foundation is to establish partnerships with local individuals, businesses, corporations and other foundations for the purpose of supporting education in the Buncombe County School System. The Foundation serves the six school districts' 25,000-plus students as well as about 4,000 employees of the Buncombe County School System.


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Online art shop inspired by positive message



2/18/2013 - Online art shop inspired by positive message
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times

For Patti Digh, art is magnificent in meaning.

"Art is a way we make meaning in our lives," the Asheville author noted. "It serves as an identity function. It helps us know who we are and what we value."

Art is also key to who Digh is and what she values. She values art for art's sake, celebrating its beauty and the care behind handmade. She values the artists behind the art: Digh keeps a big binder of notes and cards of artisans she met on her extensive travels across the globe.

She also values the community created through this creative process, the connections made.

Digh, an author best-known for her award-winning blog-turned-book titled "37 Days," has founded a community -- in cyberspace, no less -- to help support the real-world community of artists. In December, she launched Patti Digh Designs for Life, an online store and gallery. A longtime dream, the site offers handcrafted works of art, each closely tied to an uplifting message from her collection of work.

"It just made sense that if people wanted things to remind them of these messages, we should partner with artists to" provide them, she said.

Digh started writing her popular blog after the 2003 death of her stepfather, who died 37 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Digh wrote down thoughts, observances and life lessons big and small. The book and a blog by the same name resonated, and Digh has since gone on to publish "Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally," "Creative Is a Verb: If You're Alive, You're Creative" and "What I Wish for You: Simple Wisdom for a Happy Life." Four of Digh's works are also available for purchase on the site.

"I really think of this project as an Etsy site but one that would be centered around art that supported the message of my books, which is living intentionally and living mindfully.

"I want to provide the things that people really want in their houses. And I was really intent that if I am going to support a group of people, I want to support the people who are helping us figure out who we are." The website features work from a dozen artists and such items as bracelets, paintings, plaques, ceramic art, necklaces and hand-painted works.

Two of the artists, potter Andrea Freeman and illustrator Robin Plemmons, live in Asheville, while others hail from Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Georgia, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

As a further commitment to the art community and the healing power of art, the website donates 10 percent of net profits from the sale of handcrafted products to Arts for Life. This North Carolina nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing arts opportunities to children fighting serious illnesses. (In Asheville, the group supports programming in Mission's hospitals).

"There is a mindfulness in the creative community for something to have meaning," she said. "Asheville has a lot of energy for art here, and we have a climate that supports entrepreneurs."

Digh moved to Asheville in 2002. She was born in Morganton, then went on to college, traveled extensively and spent 20 years in Washington, where she opened international divisions for trade organizations.

She left that job in 1996 to start her own business working as a diversity trainer and on social justice issues.

Digh published two business-related books on international business issues and diversity issues before she turned her pen turned personal. She launched the "37 Days" in 2003 and challenged herself to ask every morning: What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live?

These answers appear in the resulting book, "Life is a Verb," which is part meditation and memoir. A few weeks before "Life is a Verb" was due to the publishers, Digh received a piece of art inspired by one of her essays. Digh was so inspired by these artists' connection -- and resulting visual expression of -- her work, that she decided to included this submitted artwork in the "Life Is a Verb" publication. "I put a call out on my blog for artists to illustrate these messages," she said, noting 125 pieces were submitted. "Someone called the book an artistic barn-raising. When the book arrived, I had this great sense of community."

Artists continue and inspire her. "The classes I teach online on creativity and the writings I do on the subject are informed by the stories I hear from artists I work with on t he site."

And the current crop of artists is just the beginning: Throughout this year, the work of more artisans will be unveiled as well as a wider array of home goods. She's also accepting artist application on the site, so visit


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Obama: Asheville shows the way for country



2/14/2013 - Obama: Asheville shows the way for country
by Ann Doss Helms and Steve Lyttle - Charlotte Observer

ARDEN - President Obama said Wednesday that an Asheville auto plant's success story is an example for the rest of the country in how to create jobs in the manufacturing sector.

The president arrived in Asheville late Wednesday morning for a visit and speech at Linamar Corp., a Canadian company recruited in 2011.

Saying "I believe in manufacturing," Obama said Asheville has a "comeback story to tell."

He said Asheville officials convinced Linamar to invest in North Carolina and said there are similar stories elsewhere in the country. He added that the presence of Asheville-Buncombe Technical College has provided well-trained workers for Linamar.

"No job in America should go unfilled because nobody has the skills," Obama said in praising the Asheville school.

The president's visit to North Carolina was designed to reinforce the State of the Union address he delivered Tuesday night. In that speech, he focused on jobs, manufacturing and middle-class opportunities.

He arrived at the factory about 11:40 a.m. in a light drizzle. The president was led on a three-stop tour of the factory by three company officials.

At the first stop, he talked to a man who operated a milling machine to create the 13-liter engine block of Volvo and Mack trucks. Obama used a Sharpie to sign something on the employee's red metal cabinet.

The second stop was at a lathe machine used to make axle parts for Caterpillar's large mining trucks. The president slapped two operators on the back, and they walked with him to a giant axle. Obama inspected the part, and the three men chatted and laughed for a few minutes.

The final stop was at a large milling machine. Obama shook hands with two operators, who explained their machines.

The president then went to talk with the employees. He was introduced by Linamar employee Stratton Taylor, who worked at a Volvo plant for 13 years before being laid off. Taylor went back to college, earning a degree, and he was hired in June by Linamar as a quality technician.

In his speech Wednesday to Linamar workers, local dignitaries and the media, Obama said the United States cannot bring back every outsourced job, but he said it is possible to encourage a resurgence of manufacturing. He said the start is to create high-tech centers, such as Asheville-Buncombe Tech.

Obama said that in trying to strengthen the manufacturing sector of the economy, we should be asking three things:

-- How to bring jobs?

-- How to equip people with skills for those jobs?

-- How to make sure workers earn a decent living?

Tuesday night, Obama talked about "making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing."

"A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs, that must be the North Star that guides our efforts," he said.

Matthew and Ricky Mathis of Asheville are taking the path to the middle class that President Obama touted in his State of the Union speech.

Ricky, 20, was working in a convenience store for $8.25 an hour before earning a certificate from Asheville-Buncombe Tech that let him work as a machine operator for Linamar. For the last six months he's been cutting gears for $15.35 an hour, with health insurance and other benefits.

"I hope I can retire from this company," he said.

He and his brother brought their fiancées to hear Obama speak, on a factory floor with Volvo blocks and Caterpillar wheels displayed around the podium.

Matthew Mathias, 27, was an auto mechanic before joining his brother in getting trained at AB Tech and hired by Linamar. "It was a big pay increase," he said. "I went from renting to buying a house, because I have a steady job that's going to be there."

In Buncombe County, the Linamar plant represents a manufacturing revival that has brought 18 new employers in the last two years, said Ben Teague, executive director of the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition.

Recruiters worked with local partners, including public schools and a community college, and used state incentives to entice the multinational company to take over an abandoned Volvo plant south of Asheville. Linamar currently employs about 150 people in the Asheville plant, with a long-term goal of 650, Teague said.

Isaac Coleman and Elinor Earle, activists with the local Democratic party, were proud to welcome the president to Asheville for his fourth visit.

"He loves us and we love him," Earle said.

"Some people are talking about when he leaves office he might get a house here," Coleman said. "But that might be wishful."

Teague said Buncombe County's unemployment rate of 6.8 percent is below the state average of 9 percent.

The president's visit to the mountains was not ignored by Republicans. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican who replaced Democrat Heath Shuler in the 11th District, issued a statement saying he welcomed Obama to the area but said he encourages the president to "leave the empty rhetoric at home and take a look at the real world. In the real world, the president's policies are not working.

"I encourage him to take time today to speak with the families and businesses who are suffering under his economic agenda."

Obama -- an Asheville resident?

Could Asheville be a retirement destination for the Obamas?

Local boosters were buzzing about that as the president made his fourth trip, and he gave them more to buzz about.

"I love Asheville," he said when he began speaking about jobs and manufacturing at Linamar Corp. "Michelle and I always say, after this presidential thing, find a little place, come on down, play some golf ..."

Obama said he loves two things about this mountain city: The people and 12 Bones Smokehouse, where he has raved about the barbecue.

A group of people showed up at 12 Bones early Wednesday afternoon, thinking the president might arrive for a luncheon treat. They were disappointed, as Obama left town without visiting the restaurant. However, the president apparently didn't leave Asheville disappointed. White House couriers arrived as 12 Bones before Air Force One left town -- to pick up several to-go orders.

Asheville city council member Cecil Bothwell said before Obama's arrival he had heard talk that Obama might retire here. "I think he'd love it and his daughters would love it," Bothwell said.

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Festivals & expos in Asheville area.



2/14/2013 - Festivals & expos in Asheville area.
by Asheville Citizen Times

This weekend

RiddleFest: These Mountains in Story and Song, seminar 1:30-4:30 p.m. (free), concert 7 p.m. ($10) Saturday, Burnsville Town Center, 6 S. Main St. Keynote speaker is Michael Reno Harrell. Tickets are available by calling 682-9654 or 682-7209.

Coming up

Annual Mardi Gras Party, 5-8 p.m. Feb. 21, Short Street Cakes, 225 Haywood Road, Asheville. Live music, beads, beer, wine, cakes, raffle, Troy & Sons Moonshine Cake Shop cocktails by Miss Glo. 505-4822.

Comedy Classic Weekend, March 8-9, Grove Park Inn Grand Ballroom, 290 Macon Ave. March 8 with Cy Amundson, Al Jackson, Julie Scoggins, David Crowe and Tom Cotter, $45. March 9 with Caroline Rhea, Don Friesen, nick Griffin and Rocky LaPorte, $50.800-438-5800.

Easter on the Green, 2-5 p.m March 30, Roger McGuire Green, Pack Square Park.

Asheville Downtown Arts Walk, 5-8 p.m. April 5. Galleries open for visits.

11th annual Hickory Hops beer festival, April 20, downtown Hickory. /

Smoky Mountain Oyster & Seafood Festival,
1-7 p.m. April 20, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Soco Road. Food, music, silent auction. Food available for non-seafoodies. $10 advance, $15 at the gate, free age 12 and younger. Food, beer and wine $6 per serving.

Merlefest, April 25-28, Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro. Music by the Avett Brothers, Jerry Douglas, Enter the Haggis, Tift Merrit, Jim Lauderdale, David Holt, many more.

Southeastern Mini Truckin' Nationals, Apriil 27-28, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Soco Road. Hundred of mini trucks compete, car show, auto and food vendors.

French Broad River Festival, May 3-5, Hot Sprins Resort and Campground, Hot Springs. Music by Langhorn Slim and the law, Sol Driven Train, Yarn, Jeff Sipde, Col. Bruce Hampton, more. /

Thunder in the Smokies Spring Motorcycle Rally, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. May 3, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. May 4, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 5, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Soco Road. Tour rides, concerts, bike games, more. 246-2101 or

LEAF Festival, May 9-12, Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain. Music, dancing, drumming, healing arts, workshops.

RiverMusic concert series, May 24, RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside Drive.

Maggie Valley Spring Rally, 3-11 p.m. May 24, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. May 25, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 26, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Soco Road. Concerts, entertainment, bike shows, barbecue, area tours/rides, more. Contact Sonny at 336-643-1367. Visit

Ole Smokey Tractor Club Spring Farm Fest, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. May 31-June 1, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Soco Road. Education antique tractor & engine show with parts vendors, flea market, tractor rides for kids, farm equipment auction. Parade of 30+ tractors through Maggie Valley on Friday and Saturday. Contact Damon Swanger at 734-1510.

Asheville Downtown Arts Walk, 5-8 p.m. June 7. Galleries open for visits.

RiverMusic concert series, June 14, RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside

Bluff Mountain Festival, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. June 15, Hot Springs Spa and Campground, H ot Springs.

PlottFest, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. June 22, noon-6 p.m. June 23, Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Soco Road. Music and heritage festival celebrating North Carolina's official State Dog-the Plott Hound. Dog show, trout fishing, music featuring Balsam Range, food, crafts, clogging. 452-1860 or

89th annual Singing on the Mountain, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. June 23, MacRae Meadows, Grandfather Mountain, Linville.

Shindig on the Green, free mountain music and dance shows, Pack Square Park. Shindigs in 2013 are at 7 p.m. June 29, July 6, 13, July 20, Aug. 10, 17, 24, 31.

58th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, July 11-14, MacRae Meadows, n Grandfather Mountain near Linville.

RiverMusic concert series, July 12, RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside Drive.

Folkmoot USA, international folk dancing festival, July 17-28, different locations in Western North Carolina. Groups invited to perform in the 2013 festival include: France (Stilt-Walkers), United Kingdom (Irish step dance), Japan, Slovakia, Mexico and Paraguay. More groups to be announced over the coming months. 877-365-5872.

Bele Chere, July 28-28, downtown Asheville. Free concerts, arts exhibits, family fun.

Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, Aug 1-3, Diana Wortham Theatre, Pack Place.

Asheville Downtown Arts Walk, 5-8 p.m. Aug. 2. Galleries open for visits.

Riverfest, Aug. 10, French Broad River Park.

RiverMusic concert series, Aug. 23, RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside Drive.

North Carolina Apple Festival, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Hendersonville.

RiverMusic concert series, Sept. 13, RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside Drive.

Snuffy Jenkins Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 14, Globe Park, 153 Shakespeare Drive, Forest City. Traditional music workshops for young people. Storytelling. Music by The Roger Padgett Band, Phil and Gaye Johnson, Billy Constable and The Wiseman Heritage Band, Dowden Sisters Band, Four Wheel Cab Company and Medicine Show among others. $10. 877-SNUFFYJ OR

Asheville Downtown Arts Walk, 5-8 p.m. Oct. 4. Galleries open for visits.

LEAF Festival, Oct 17-20, Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain. Music, dancing, drumming, healing arts, workshops.

Asheville Downtown Arts Walk, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 6. Galleries open for visits.

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