Blog :: 03-2014

Get ready, Asheville: Spring 2014 brings festivals season


By: Tony Kiss and Mackensy Lunsford


RiverMusic is back. So is Asheville's Beer City Festival. There are new ones too, including the Mother Earth News Fair.




After a long cold winter, spring has arrived (by the calendar anyway), and with the season comes spring fests -- art walks, rock shows and new events like Mother Earth News Fair.


It's been a bumpy time for local festivals, with the demise of Asheville's big Bele Chere street party and the recent cancellation of Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit, scheduled for Halloween.

But after a one-year break, the retooled Moogfest has returned with a five-day lineup of concerts and workshops. And many other celebrations are in the planning stages, like the new Little Montford Festival, which will make its debut this summer on a date to be announced. All Go West comes back June 7, and there's another new fest in store for summer: Yoga Fest, slated for July 11-13. More on those in future issues.

Meantime, here's a rundown on what's coming up this spring.

Mother Earth News Fair goes whole hog

While fermentation and charcuterie are in the food-trend spotlight, sustainable living is no fad. And it's at the heart of the Mother Earth News Fair, which in April weaves together animal husbandry demonstrations and keynote talks from the likes of Sandor Katz, a fermentation superstar of sorts.

Mother Earth News is a publication geared toward every point on the green-living spectrum -- everything from making pizza to creating a micro-dairy.

The publication's first fair was in Pennsylvania in 2010. This will be the fair's southeastern (and Asheville) debut. Yet Mother Earth News has deep roots in the area. The 44-year-old publication employed hundreds and hosted thousands each summer between the mid-'70s and '80s on its 600-acre eco-village in Hendersonville.

Though most demos at this year's fair are built on a DIY foundation, focusing on practical skills like composting, some topics are more esoteric and take on TED-talk overtones.

Author Douglas Stevenson, who grew up on The Farm Community, talks about life on one of the largest and longest-lived communes in the country. And Lee Walker Warren of the Organic Growers School will talk about the benefits and challenges of cooperative farming.

Sandor Katz, who's been featured in the New York Times and the New Yorker for his fermentation prowess -- a subject about which he's written several books -- will talk about the technique's history.

But some of the most interesting exhibits are also the most basic. For example, creative tips for rethinking household food budgets and stocking the kitchen pantry appropriately. Workshops will detail ways to save your own herb and flower seeds, grow culinary herbs and use them in meals.

On the food-making front, workshops will detail cheese-making, charcuterie and even whole-animal butchery. Matt Helms, butcher at Foothills Farm and Butchery will lead a demonstration for breaking down a pig and will discuss techniques and cooking uses for all parts of the animal.

Helms, once the executive chef of Frank, an artisan hot dog and sausage restaurant in Austin, Tex., will also lead an intro to sausage and charcuterie for home chefs.

And if you really want to go homegrown with pork, there's also a workshop that shows you how to pick a pig and raise it right.

More fests and happenings

Downtown Art Walks, beginning April 4 and running through December. More than 20 downtown Asheville art galleries participate, all within a half-mile radius of each other. Many galleries offer refreshments on the night of these free self-guided tours.

The ReHappening, April 5. It's a one-day celebration that channels the artsy former Black Mountain College "happenings" of the '50s and is a collaboration between Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and the nonprofit Media Arts Project.

Beer, Bites and Bands, April 4-5. Two Biltmore Village breweries and eight restaurants partner up for this new fest, which runs 5-10 p.m. both nights. $25 per person includes food, music and flights of beer from French Broad Brewery and Catawba Brewing Co., which just opened a new tasting room in the village.


Biltmore Blooms

Biltmore Blooms, through May 23, Biltmore estate. The grounds at Biltmore are popping with floral color in this big signature event. Keep track of the flowers online at The celebration includes lots of live music, demonstrations and the annual Easter Egg Hunt and brunches at estate restaurants April 20.

Moogfest, April 23-27, performances at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, U.S. Cellular Center, The Orange Peel, Asheville Community Theatre, The Mill Room, Diana Wortham Theatre and other venues. More than 70 acts booked including Kraftwerk, the Pet Shop Boys, MIA, Nile Rodgers and Chic, Flying Lotus, Zed's Dead and Dillon Francis. Moogfest will also include daytime lectures and seminars.

Merlefest, April 24-27, Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro. One of the nation's big Americana music events, guests this year include Alan Jackson, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dailey and Vincent with Jimmy Fortune, the Claire Lynch Band, Donna the Buffalo, Ralph Stanley, Clinch Mountain Boys and others.

Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 26, downtown Spruce Pine. Demonstrations and sales from area blacksmiths, plus food and craft vendors.

Greening Up the Mountains Festival, April 26, downtown Sylva. The day includes two music stages, a 5K race, children's entertainment, a talent show, craft demonstrations and more.

Hickory Hops Brew Festival, April 26, downtown Hickory. The area's first big outdoor beer festival of the year, the 11th annual edition will feature many regional breweries from Bryson City to Kill Devil Hills and elsewhere. The Baby Black Orchestra will perform, plus another band to be announced.

Asheville Herb Festival, May 2-4, Western North Carolina Farmer's Market. This is the place to get your herbs, tomatoes, flowers and other spring plants.

French Broad River Festival, May 2-4, Hot Springs, NC. Now in its 17th year, it includes lots of music by such bands as Toubab Krewe, the Jeff Sipe Trio, Pierce Edens and the Dirtywork, Dangermuffin, the Accomplices and more, plus outdoor events including whitewater raft and mountain bike, races, food, outdoor gear and prizes, kids village and more at the Hot Springs Campground & Spa. Festival Early Bird tickets are $80 online ( prior to 4/20/13. $90 at the gate.230-4054.

LEAF Festival, spring edition, May 8-11, Camp Rockmont, Black Mountain. The big names this spring are Chicano rockers Los Lobos, funk legend Bootsy Collins, Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, world fusion players Beats Antique, The Lee Boys with sacred steel music, Bhangra band Red Baraat, rock group The Fritz, dance band Wild Asparagus and Colorado folk players Elephant Revival. Now is the time to get tickets; discount tickets are available until midnight March 31. All tickets must be purchased in advance.

Mother's Day Gemboree, May 9-11, Macon County Community Building, U.S. 441, Franklin. Gem and mineral dealers will show and sell stones.

Downtown After 5, shows on the third Friday of the month May-September. The Asheville Downtown Association will again host free musical parties on Lexington Avenue, near the I-240 overpass. May 16: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Broadcast. June 20: Drivin' N' Cryin', American Aquarium. July 18: Hayes Carll, Chatham County Line. Aug. 15: The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics. Sept. 19: Asheville All-Stars, Asheville Rock Academy. www.asheville

Montford Music and Arts Festival, May 17, Asheville's Montford. This neighborhood celebration will have over 100 vendors and two stages of music.

Saluda Arts Festival, May 17, Saluda. Historic downtown Saluda will be filled with various arts vendors.

White Squirrel Festival, May 23-25, downtown Brevard. Live music by such acts as Shannon Whitworth, plus music, food vendors, arts, crafts, activities and 5K and 10K races.

Garden Jubilee Festival, May 24-25, downtown Hendersonville. Southern Living garden expert Bill Slack presents free lectures.

RiverMusic, concerts at the RiverLink Performance and Sculpture Park on Riverside Drive. May 30: Orgone, Emefe. June 13: Treetop Flyers and River Whyless. July 11: Billy Sea and River Guerguerian with the Jeff Sipe Global Percussion Ensemble, Robert Mangum and Parrish Ellis. Aug. 9: Soldier's Heart, Ashley Heath and Plankeye Peggy. Aug. 29: Artimus Pyle Band, Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats. Sept. 12: Fruition and The Fireside Collective.

Beer City Festival, May 31, Roger McGuire Green, Pack Square Park. This celebration of local suds honors Asheville's long run as winner of the Beer City USA poll. More than 30 breweries are expected. Tickets on sale April 15 at local breweries, and online one week later at www.brewgrassfestival .com.

COME TO MAMAWhat: The Mother Earth News Fair is a family-friendly sustainable living event with more than 200 hands-on workshops and demonstrations from homesteading to green building. Want to learn how to grow food and store it for winter? This is your event. There will also be children's projects; vendor, livestock and craft demonstrations; and local and organic food offerings. When: Apr 12, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; April 13: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Where: Western North Carolina Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher.Tickets: Weekend pass, pre-ordered: $25, at the gate: $30; single-day pass, pre-ordered: $20, at the gate: $25. Children 17 and under get in. Tickets at 234-3368,, and at the gate.

My Journey from Doctor to MS Patient ... and Back - Thanks to Plant-Based Eating!

Saray 570x299 My Journey from Doctor to MS Patient ... and Back - Thanks to Plant Based Eating!

Life can change in a moment. It did for me.

October 11, 1995 started out like any other grueling 24-hour shift at the hospital. I was a young, energetic physician living what I considered to be an extraordinary life. But this night was more exhausting than any I could remember. Deeply fatigued, I finally made it to bed around 3 am. Within the hour, I was awakened by a call from the emergency room. As I leapt out of bed, I experienced something so foreign that it simply took my breath away. During this brief nap I had lost feeling in my lower extremities. Something was terribly wrong. I was emergently rushed off to an MRI that revealed multiple plaques in my brain and spinal cord, confirming a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

I was no longer Dr. Stancic, making early morning rounds on her patients. I was now the newly admitted MS patient, lying in a bed as a flock of medical students and doctors took turns assessing my deteriorating neurological status. Soon thereafter came a parade of drugs with their numerous side effects, all intended to mitigate the frightening progression and symptoms of MS. I had become a drug-dependent, sick young woman struggling to accept her fate. MS had swiftly swept away my dreams and aspirations, and left behind a shadow of my former self.

In the fall of 2003, after nearly a decade of a life compromised by chronic illness, a pivotal and enlightening event occurred. I came across an article in a medical journal touting the benefits of blueberries in MS patients. The article summarized findings suggesting that MS patients who ate blueberries had improved symptoms compared with those who did not. The investigators attributed these results to the berries' antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The scientist in me was skeptical, but this publication had the effect of igniting my curiosity. Could food play a role in ameliorating or even preventing chronic illness? I was consumed by this idea, and driven to explore existing medical literature in search of answers. What I found was both illuminating and transformative. There was ample evidence in respectable peer-reviewed medical journals that our diets do play a key role in the development of chronic illness!

I wondered how this topic had escaped our medical school curriculum. The power of healing that lies in a whole-food, plant-based diet is incalculable and unquestionable. I was inspired by what I had discovered and felt compelled to personally adopt this lifestyle. I discontinued all my medications and focused on optimizing my diet.

Over the years that followed, I felt stronger and energized. Remarkably, after years of difficulty walking unassisted, my neurological deficits gradually improved. I felt renewed and infused with a great sense of hope. I decided to take up jogging, which evolved to running. In the spring of 2010 I ran a marathon. It was truly an extraordinary experience.

As a physician observing unnecessary suffering and loss, I felt compelled to spread the word of this seemingly untapped therapeutic resource with whomever was willing to listen. Regrettably, in speaking to colleagues, I found many did not share my level of enthusiasm or acceptance that this approach was valid.

My sense of alienation lifted after watching Forks Over Knives. I was reinvigorated by witnessing other like-minded physicians practice medicine with this philosophy. Today, my focus is educating patients on the value of a whole-food, plant-based diet, with an eye toward reducing prescription drug dependence.

Patients need to learn that they do have control of their individual health outcomes. For my patients, watching this film is a mandatory part of their care plan. The film effectively reinforces all that we discuss, and its impactful style is both educational and entertaining.

We can, as a society, shift and make the necessary changes to improve our health and well-being.  Life can change in a moment ... and that can be a very wonderful thing.

Saray Stancic, M.D.

Saray Stancic, M.D.

Saray Stancic, M.D., is the founder of Stancic Health & Wellness in Ridgewood, NJ, an innovative medical practice whose mission is to educate and empower patients to achieve optimal health via lifestyle modification. Her focus is shedding light on the building body of scientific data supporting the importance of optimal nutrition in disease prevention. The concept for this practice came in response to her experiences as a physician for nearly 20 years and as a patient with multiple sclerosis.

Support Local and Participate in the Western North Carolina MS Walk in Fletcher, NC!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Location: Fletcher Park View with Google Maps Address: 85 Howard Gap Rd., Fletcher, NC 28732 Registration Opens: 1:00pm Opening Ceremony: 1:45pm Walk Starts At: 2:00pm Route Length: 1-3 miles

Event Contact Name: Jon Bradley Event Contact Email: Event Contact Phone: 704-943-2334

Local Community Walk MS Coordinator Name: Leslie K. Newman Local Community Walk MS Coordinator Email: Local Community Walk MS Coordinator Phone: 828.772.4920

Volunteer Contact Name: Davishia Baldwin Volunteer Contact Email: Volunteer Contact Phone: 336-297-0553

Connect. Walk MS.

Walk MS connects people living with MS and those who care about them. It is an experience unlike any other - a day to come together, to celebrate the progress we've made and to show the power of our connections. Join us for wellness programming, food trucks, vendors and more in beautiful Fletcher, NC!

When you participate in Walk MS, the funds you raise give hope to the more than 17,000 people living with MS in our community. The dollars raised support life-changing programs and cutting-edge research. Every connection counts.

Register now, connect with others and start fundraising today.

Why Going Green Means Big Business in the Construction Industry

BY: Issie Lapowsky


Gone are the days of green building being a niche market. Today, it's a big business that's the future of the construction industry.

Editor's Note: This article is part of Inc.'s 2014 Best Industries package. Read on, for more on the top industries for starting a business now.

Eco-friendly construction is no longer exclusively the jurisdiction of iconoclastic clients or small, hippie-run companies. As the housing market has recovered, the industry has lured talent from every sector and is now growing at a rapid clip--sealing its place on our list of the top industries of 2014. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, total revenue across the industry should grow to $245 billion by 2016.

We asked three small companies in the green construction industry how they broke into the business and what they learned along the way. Here's what they had to say:

Keep Costs Low

The first thing to know is this: No matter how good it may be for the environment, very few people are willing to "go green" if the alternative is cheaper. That's especially true in the construction industry where, for commercial buildings, traditional methods could be millions of dollars cheaper.

Ann Hand, CEO of Project Frog, learned that lesson the hard way. When she joined the company in 2009, taking over from its founders, Project Frog's iconic modular buildings only came in one shape and size and were substantially more expensive than the alternative. But, in terms of green benefits, the buildings featured plenty of natural light, which both cut down on artificial lighting and provided warmth during daytime (i.e., peak) hours. And because they were manufactured off-site they almost completely eliminated waste from the building process. What's more, they could be constructed in a matter of days.

The design earned Project Frog accolades and extensive media coverage, and the company landed deals with schools and healthcare providers.

Still, Hand had trouble scaling. "No matter how excited people were about this new green building, they'd say, 'My budget! My budget!'" she says.

So Hand scrapped the original building design and began prototyping a new model that could not only come in a variety of shapes but would actually be cheaper to build than traditional construction.

Ultimately, Project Frog's team--which consists of architects, engineers, energy specialists, and even consumer product designers--developed a system that's about 30 percent cheaper than traditional construction while also being 60 percent more energy efficient than California's stringent building codes require. In 2013, Project Frog won contracts for 25 buildings. This year, that number will increase to 40.

"We always say we're better, greener, faster, and affordable. What we're finding is affordability is really number one. Speed is number two," says Hand. "Everyone gets excited about green construction, but we have to hit on cost first, or we'r out of the game."

Follow the Money

An early pioneer of the green building industry, Robert Politzer launched GreenStreet the same year that LEED certification was born. And, as with most early adopters, it was tough getting the business off the ground. He started with a single renovation on Manhattan's aptly named Greene Street, and grew from there.

But Politzer soon realized he had an even bigger problem: As a contractor working with developers to renovate buildings, he was passing the majority of the profit on to the developers who hired him. To really thrive in this industry, he realized, he would need to become a developer, too.

That required him to deepen his financial connections, because it's tough if not impossible to get a bank loan for 100 percent of a project's costs. Typically, developers tap private equity groups. "This equity gap is what separates developers from non-developers. If you can't get extra capital, you cannot be a developer," Politzer says.

Meanwhile, to maintain cash flow, GreenStreet is continuing to build for other developers even as it works to become both a developer and a builder. "It's not easy being green," he says. "But I'm very happy to know that the struggles I went though were at least based on the future, and that this is where the industry is going. I was right about that."

Become an Expert

The trouble with the construction industry is it somehow manages to be both remarkably fragmented and dominated by a few major incumbents. In other words, it's hard for a new entrant to get noticed, let alone hired.

When Stephen Ellis and his co-founder Grant Castillow launched MyGreenBuildings, a luxury residential green building company, he started with his own home, vowing to make it the greenest home in Florida. When the renovation was complete, Ellis began to give tours to members of the community (not to mention the American Institute of Architects and local master gardeners groups)  to show off his handiwork.

"A lot of what we did to break into the marketplace was to create a marketplace," he says.

Building a name in the region was critical to the company's early success, but so was Ellis's commitment to reinvesting every penny earned back into the business. Ellis went without a salary for the first three years, instead spending that money on experienced project managers who could help establish the company's reputation for broad expertise in all things green.

"You've got to invest heavily and figure out how to have far more financial stamina than you might predict," he says. "You've got to hire the best people. Even if you can't afford them, figure out a way."

Donors, CMLC protect 130 acres in Hickory Nut Gorge

New trail will eventually provide 15-mile loop around Gerton wildlands




John Myers and his wife, Jane Lawson, not in photo, donated nearly half the value of their 103 acres to CMLC to protect a large swath of the Hickory Nut Gorge.



By Nathaniel Axtell Times-News Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, March 23, 2014

GERTON -- Trail runners, hikers, birders and waterfall lovers will have new stomping grounds this summer, thanks to three landowners who have donated or sold almost 130 acres in the Hickory Nut Gorge to the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.

The land trust says the two properties -- a 103-acre tract called Wildcat Rock and an adjoining 25-acre parcel called Chimney View -- complete a critical link by connecting nearly 1,000 acres of existing conserved lands and bridging 3 miles of a planned 12- to 15-mile hiking loop around the upper gorge.

A crew of trail builders from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, along with contractor Trail Dynamics, have almost finished the first phase of the 3-mile trail. It climbs 650 feet along its mile length to a 100-foot cascade called Little Bearwallow Falls, which pours down a sheer rock outcrop.

When the second and third phases of the trail are completed by late 2015, hikers will be able to get up close and personal with Wildcat Rock's granite outcroppings and traverse the main ridgeline of Little Bearwallow Mountain through mature forests of poplar, birch and chestnut oak.

"It's going to be one of the most spectacular sections of trail in the region because it's going to parallel the cliff band as it ascends Little Bearwallow," said Peter Barr, trails and outreach coordinator for CMLC.

Eventually, CMLC hopes the completed trail system will allow hikers to navigate the upper Hickory Nut Gorge around the village of Gerton, crossing parts of Bearwallow and Little Bearwallow Mountains, Wildcat Rock and the Florence Nature Preserve.

Forever wild

The Wildcat Rock tract is not the first piece of Hickory Nut Gorge that landowners John Myers and Jane Lawson have protected through CMLC. The couple put 35 acres of their adjoining Hickory Nut Forest Eco-Community in a conservation easement in 2006.

Standing in an orchard at the base of Little Bearwallow, Myers said he and his wife were looking for a smaller piece of paradise when they discovered the 230-acre property in Gerton they eventually bought in 2004.

"All we wanted was a little 5-acre parcel in the mountains," smiled Myers, who worked for land trusts in the Northeast for 18 years.

To afford the larger tract, the couple carved out solar-friendly sites to market for "green" homes and eventually built the Laughing Waters Retreat Center, where they host weddings, family reunions and conferences.

"A typical developer could've put homes on 80 percent of the land," he said. "We put homes on 10 percent of the property. Since I worked for trails groups, my initial vision was a trail network that connected our property with others in Gerton. I shared that vision with CMLC a few years ago."

He credits Barr with putting that vision "on the front burner," with CMLC eventually securing funds to purchase the land from philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback, the Donald Jones Foundation, the Conservation Trust of N.C. and the Fernandez Pave the Way Foundation.

Chimney views

Meanwhile, Myers' neighbor, Mary Beth Brock, had her own dreams about protecting her 31-acre property, with its views of Chimney Rock State Park's granite monolith in the distance.

She and her husband bought two pieces of property in 1990 and lived in temporary quarters -- tents and a retrofitted backyard storage barn -- until they could build a house in 2005. They bought the second parcel to protect it from development, and invested thousands in treatments to save the land's Carolina hemlock trees from an exotic bug.

"I am a tree hugger from way back," said Brock, a former occupational therapist. "To me, the charm of that property is the hemlocks, and it just broke my heart when the (hemlock woolly) adelgid reached our area."

After Brock retired following her husband's death, she found it challenging to afford the property taxes from her home in South Carolina and here. So she began to investigate donating 25 acres of the steep, rocky land below her mountain home to the land trust.

When she heard that Myers and Lawson had committed to protecting their land, "it spurred me to get on the ball and get moving. When I talked to CMLC, they suggested that we combine the two projects and make it one, to do the land survey and assessments together so it would save funds. It just made sense."

Those assessments found the combined 128 acres contained rare natural communities, including "high-quality rich cove forest which approaches old-growth," and rare or uncommon species such as a lampshade spider species, green salamanders and ravens. About 1,177 feet of streams flow through the property as well.

"I definitely think this is one of the highest-priority conservation tracts in the upper Hickory Nut Gorge," Barr said. "It's a homerun, not just because it's got such important conservation value, but also because it's a critical tract for connecting trails and protecting public access for recreation."

The Wildcat Rock and Chimney View projects were among 21 properties that CMLC protected in 2013 totaling 2,420 acres, the most ever in one year by the land trust. Now in its 20th year, CMLC has saved more than 27,000 acres of mountain lands in Western North Carolina.

For more information, visit




Fun at the French Broad River in Asheville

By: Steve Heiselman, REALTOR®


The French Broad River, which flows through the heart of Asheville, is one of the great recreational gems in our area.  From its headwaters near Brevard, all the way to the Tennessee line near Hot Springs, the river provides a variety of experiences from mild to wild.

From Brevard to Asheville, the French Broad is generally an easy flowing river that allows even novice boaters to navigate its waters.  Tubing on the river is also popular near Rosman and Asheville, and there are several outfitters where you can rent canoes, kayaks, and even stand up paddle boards (SUP's).  One particularly scenic stretch of the river provides a unique view of the Biltmore House.


Just downstream from Asheville (north of town) the river begins to change character.  At The Ledges Whitewater Park, there is about a half mile of Class II-III rapids where boaters can practice their skills without having to set up a shuttle (we call this a "park and play" spot for whitewater boaters.)

Beyond The Ledges, the river settles down a bit as it winds its way north into Madison County.  (By the way, the French Broad River is one of only a few major rivers in the United States to flow predominantly South to North.)  After the river passes Marshall, NC, the gradient (steepness) begins to increase.  From just north of Marshall, to near the town of Barnard, the river is scenic Class II run.


Once the river passes Barnard, the excitement begins!  This stretch of the river, known locally as Section 9, is the whitewater section of the river.  Boaters enjoy lots of Class II and III whitewater, with a couple of Class IV rapids as well, including Frank Bell rapid just outside of Hot Springs.  This is also the most remote stretch of the river, which really enhances the experience.  A number of commercial outfitters offer trips on this section of the river, so just about anyone can enjoy it.


Wildlife is abundant along every stretch of the river.  Although they are somewhat reclusive, sightings of otters, beavers, and muskrat are not uncommon.  And the birding is amazing!  Ospreys, Herons of all types, Kingfishers, and Flycatchers are regular inhabitants of the river, and Bald Eagle sightings have become very common along Section 9.

If you would like more information about the French Broad River, don't hesitate to call or email me.  Also, there are two wonderful local non-profit organizations that work to promote and protect the French Broad River - RiverLink, and the Western North Carolina Alliance.  They can also provide a wealth of information. And remember, no matter what type of river experience you are looking for, chances are you can find it on the French Broad River!


Steve Heiselman, REALTOR®
(828) 216-4230
Town and Mountain Realty
261 Asheland Avenue
Suite # 103
Asheville, NC 28801

Best Spring Trips 2014 - Asheville


By: Maryellen Kennedy Duckett

Vibrant spring blooms in the northern hemisphere and dazzling autumn displays in the southern make this the perfect season to get outside and walk, hike, or take a scenic drive. Use our editors' list of 10 best spring trip destinations as the launching pad for an active--and colorful--spring getaway. --Maryellen Kennedy Duckett

5 free things in artsy Asheville, North Carolina




Associated Press




This undated photo provided by Explore Asheville shows people flying a kite at Max Patch, a meadow at 4,600 feet along the Appalachian trail. The site offers a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. EXPLORE ASHEVILLE -- AP Photo




ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- This gem of a city tucked in the Blue Ridge foothills of western North Carolina attracts artists, musicians, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts and a fair share of modern-day hippies, all lured by the beautiful setting and open-minded vibe. Its gorgeous historic buildings downtown, free music venues, Appalachian art center and lofty nearby peaks are all perfect for travelers looking to please their senses without spending a dime.




The vibrant, compact town center, filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes and cultural attractions, is walkable and perfect for sightseeing. Especially in warm weather, downtown sidewalks are themselves an attraction -- filled with street musicians, performance artists and gawkers.


Asheville was once dubbed the "Paris of the South" in part because of the stylish flair of its historic city center. You can't miss the towering eight-story City Hall. Facing the broad lawn of Pack Square Park, the reddish building and its ornate art deco style are a highlight of the city skyline. Other Pack Square Park gems include the 13-story Jackson building, with its neo-gothic castle-like tower, and the Asheville Art Museum, housing an impressive collection of 20th century American art, including works from regional artists. Admission is free on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.


Stroll a few blocks and you'll find yourself on North Market Street, in front of a handsome yellow Victorian house -- a former boarding house and boyhood home of author Thomas Wolfe, made famous in his 1929 novel, "Look Homeward, Angel."




Music is a mainstay of the Asheville scene and not to miss is the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park, at Patton Avenue and College Street. Starting around 5 p.m., the triangular-shaped park fills with all manner of musicians, from kids on toy drums to grandpas on bongos. Everyone's welcome to play and watch, and the scene is exhilaratingly communal.


This June 2011 photo courtesy of Explore Asheville shows a drum circle at Pritchard Park in Asheville, N.C. This gem of a city tucked in the Blue Ridge foothills of western North Carolina attracts artists, musicians, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts and a fair share of modern-day hippies, all lured by the beautiful setting and open-minded vibe. EXPLORE ASHEVILLE, IAN CURCIO -- AP Photo




For more free sounds, head down Patton to Jack of the Wood, a Celtic-style pub that features jam sessions several nights a week. Sundays at 5 p.m., local Irish musicians gather informally to play Celtic tunes; Thursday sessions feature bluegrass starting at around 6 p.m., and there's an Old Time jam on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Local craft brews are reasonably priced in case all that music makes you thirsty.


Asheville's most famous free music event is the annual Shindig on the Green, on Saturday evenings from late June through August in Pack Square Park. It draws top-notch bluegrass bands, string bands, Appalachian cloggers and storytellers from around the region. The family-friendly event attracts huge crowds; fans spread out on blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the sights and sounds.



This undated image provided by Explore Asheville shows people gathering at Pack Square Park in Asheville, N.C., near the county courthouse, left, and City Hall on the right. The park is a popular place to stroll or hang out, with live music events on some summer Saturdays and an interactive water fountain. EXPLORE ASHEVILLE -- AP Photo






Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 7 miles (11 kilometers) east of downtown, is a showcase for the rich cultural traditions and contemporary crafting of southern Appalachia. The Folk Art Center houses wares from the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a nine-state group of artisans. Their works are displayed year-round but from March to December, you're liable to catch live demonstrations of old-time broom-making, intricate wood-carving and quilting from felted wool. The center features three galleries, a library, and a Blue Ridge Parkway information desk. Admission is free; an on-site shop sells textiles, pottery, jewelry and other crafts made by guild members.





This undated file photo courtesy of Michael Booher shows the interior of the Folk Art Center in Asheville, N.C. The Folk Art Center features galleries and a shop with works by southern Appalachian artists. MICHAEL BOOHER -- AP Photo






Some of the prettiest stretches of this National Park System roadway rim Asheville and are perfect for leisurely driving or hearty cycling. For hikers, plenty of trails are nearby. A good introduction starts at milepost 389, south of downtown, where the parkway meets Hendersonville Road-U.S. 25. That's the business route from Asheville's airport to downtown, but head onto the parkway and you're instantly transported into a hilly forest of trees and tranquility. Up here, you'd never know a bustling little metropolis was so close. Drive about 15 minutes and you'll reach milepost 382 and the Folk Art Center, where you can descend back into civilization.


This Sept. 2007 file photo released by the Explore Asheville shows a motorcyclist on a scenic fall drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, N.C. This gem of a city tucked in the Blue Ridge foothills of western North Carolina attracts artists, musicians, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts and a fair share of modern-day hippies, all lured by the beautiful setting and open-minded vibe. EXPLORE ASHEVILLE, VALERIE L. JENKINS -- AP Photo

This Sept. 2007 file photo released by the Explore Asheville shows a motorcyclist on a scenic fall drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, N.C. This gem of a city tucked in the Blue Ridge foothills of western North Carolina attracts artists, musicians, foodies, outdoor enthusiasts and a fair share of modern-day hippies, all lured by the beautiful setting and open-minded vibe. EXPLORE ASHEVILLE, VALERIE L. JENKINS -- AP Photo



Or hike part of the Mountains to Sea trail; look for a marker in the center's lower parking lot. A moderately difficult hike takes you to Lunch Rock, a little over 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) each way -- about three hours total. For more of the parkway, keep driving as the road steepens and you'll be treated to breathtaking views of surrounding Blue Ridge peaks. Craggy Gardens Visitors' Center is a winding 18-mile (29-kilometer) drive from the Folk Art Center.




Save part of a day for a trip to Max Patch, a lofty bald meadow along the Appalachian Trail. From this 4,600-foot (1,400-meter) summit, you'll see an awe-inspiring 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge mountains, layers of crests unfolding in every direction. It's 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Asheville, the last stretch up a gravel road, but worth the drive. From the Max Patch parking area it's a fairly easy hike, a little over a mile (1.6 kilometers), to the summit. The Appalachian Trail crosses through the Patch, so hikers can set off in either direction. Those content to feast their eyes will not be disappointed. From Asheville, head west on I-40 to exit 7 (Harmon's Den). Go right on Cold Springs Road to state Route 1182 (Max Patch Road). Turn left for the parking area.



Asheville artists collaborate on Boys & Girls Club mural

By On March 13, 2014 · 



When Brian Guengerich walks into the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center on Haywood Road, he now feels "cool."

He prefers the space so much now that he hosts the board meetings for the Asheville chapter of the national nonprofit in the recreation room dedicated to young people.

That's because over the last six months, nine artists transformed the former thrift store into a floor-to-ceiling kaleidoscopic black-and-white mural.

"Sometimes, you have a vision of what you want a program to become," said Guengerich, who started as a counselor at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Buncombe County, a program aimed to create opportunities for young people. He became the executive director four years ago.

"To actually see that start to happen with the community and with the community support" it makes him feel cool, he said.

"My whole thing has been about creating opportunities and to have them here," he said of the only teen center of its kind in the city. "If they are here that means they aren't out doing something not productive."

The organization decided to pursue a playful mural project because "we wanted to make (the center) relevant," he said. The Teen Center houses recreational options, like pool and Foosball tables. It is also hosts some of the club's programs, such as Money Matters, a financial responsibility program.

"We wanted to make a place that they wanted to come every day and a place that they could take ownership of every day," he said.


The art end of the project was led by West Asheville-based painter, Dustin Spagnola. He started the mural process by meeting with a small group of the teen program, and asked them for ideas, Spagnola said.

"It's for them, the youth of the space," he said. He took notes on what the kids said they liked -- everything from turtles to Kurt Cobain. There's rock n' roll. Underwater life. sports. And design work, like peace symbols and leopard spots.

Spagnola organized nine artists, all but one live in the area (Paper Frank, an Asheville native who lives in Atlanta, contributed). The walls were originally painted a variety of colors -- a section of a wall were painted to correspond with different thrift store sections, Guengerich said.

The Young Professional of Asheville painted the first white coat of paint to cover the rainbow stripes; members of the Boys & Girls Club painted the second coat.

The artists donated their time; the paint and other materials were donated by The City Bakery, Guengerich said.

The mural blends these nine signature styles, and adds to the street art feel of the space. The mural is made up of moments, individual images done with an individual style.

For instance, Gus Cutty (Gus is Rich) produced a realistic portrait of a boy on one wall. On the opposing wall, Nathanael Roney depicted a baseball player in his distinctive graphic format.

"The artists became family" to us, Guengerich said.

The Boys & Girls Club members were also invited to help paint when appropriate.

"Kids could feel comfortable and they can also express themselves," said Guengerich.

What is the Boys & Girls Club Teen Program?

According to the website, "The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Buncombe County offers a variety of programs. Our mission at the Boys & Girls Club is to reach those kids who otherwise may not have anything to do. This is why we decided to open a separate Teen Center here in Asheville. Our teens have their own space where they can express themselves, with freedom to explore in a safe environment."

Ages: 14-18

School-year hours: Open until 6 p.m. Monday-Friday

Summer hours: 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday

"The Teen Center is run like a traditional Boys & Girls Club that includes nationally accredited programs from the Boys & Girls Clubs such as Triple Play, SMART Moves, Money Matters, Career Launch, Keystone and many more programs to educate the teens and open their minds."

For more, visit

The best vet practice in the US is in Asheville!


After 37 years, Animal Hospital of North Asheville is named nation's practice of the year

Mar. 11, 2014   |  

The intensive care unit of the Animal Hospital of North Asheville. Note the 'Cats Only' sign on the door: As a certified 'cat friendly' practice, the hospital's feline patients do not share facilities with dogs.

The intensive care unit of the Animal Hospital of North Asheville. Note the 'Cats Only' sign on the door: As a certified 'cat friendly' practice, the hospital's feline patients do not share facilities with dogs. / Special to the Citizen-Times


Written by: Bruce C. Steele

Holding the national Practice of the Year award for the Animal Hospital of North Asheville are, from left, married veterinarians Paul Duncan and Susan Wootten, practice founders and veterinarians David Thompson and Betsy Thompson and client care supervisor Cathy Hanke. / Special to the Citizen-Times


o Visit the Animal Hospital of North Asheville at 1 Beaverdam Road, North Asheville, or, or call 253-3393. o For a list of the 2014 winners of the Petplan Veterinary Awards, visit

It's been nearly 40 years since David and Betsy Thompson got married, and in that time they've cared for thousands of children.

Well, three of their own, and thousands of other people's children -- those being of the "animal companion" variety, since the Thompsons are veterinarians. But still, they are little ones -- and not-so-little ones -- who are precious to their human parents.

Now all those hundreds or thousands of parents have paid back the Thompsons in a special way: The couple's Animal Hospital of North Asheville -- just two years younger than their marriage -- was nominated by its clients for the Petplan pet insurance Practice of the Year award.

At the Petplan Veterinary Excellence Awards dinner last month in Las Vegas, to which the Thompsons and three staffers were flown by the insurance company, the hospital learned it had won the top prize, beating more than 3,100 other vet practices nationwide that had been nominated for Petplan awards.

"We have a wonderful staff that I think really sets us apart," Betsy Thompson said of their award win, declining to take chief credit for herself and her husband.

Yet it was Betsy and David who built the practice from scratch -- literally, with hammers and paintbrushes.

"We started with a 1,500-square-foot building that we painted ourselves, inside and out," David said.

"We did everything," Betsy said, "mopped the floors, raked the yard, planted the plants."

They were still finishing work on the building when they got their first emergency call. David recalled, "I was hanging wallpaper in one of the exam rooms a week before we opened, and we had an emergency -- a basset hound who had been hit by a car."

A neighbor had seen the soon-to-be-open animal hospital and asked for their help for the injured dog. "We went running out," David said. "And when we went back later, all the wallpaper had fallen to the floor."

But it was worth it. The basset hound survived, the wallpaper was rehung, and the practice thrived and grew. "And now we have 10,000 square feet," David added.

Nine veterinarians work at the practice, which has a total of 46 employees.

"One of the things that's wonderful about being a vet is that a medical doctor ages at the same rate as his patients, while a vet can see many generations of patients," David said. "We've had clients that are on their sixth and seventh generations. And they're like family."

Focus on care

The Thompson family has its roots in Georgia, where David and Betsy met in vet school at the University of Georgia. They graduated and married in 1975 and set up shop in Asheville just two years later on Beaverdam Road, just off Merrimon Avenue, where the practice still is -- four expansions later.

Coming to Asheville was a carefully considered decision for the young couple. "It was close to family, and we love the outdoors," Betsy said.

The hospital offers the expected services but with a sharpness of focus that's not possible in smaller practices. David, for example, now does dental work exclusively.

There are also behavior classes, food and fundraising drives for local animal rescue groups and for Buncombe foster children -- the human kind -- and free lectures by guest experts the Thompsons invite.

For pets that have to spend the night, there's a staffer with nursing skills on duty throughout the wee hours, a rarity in vet practices.

"And all the vets are on call for their own patients," David said.

If human parents want to visit with their furry child while he or she is under the hospital's care, the practice will make arrangements to keep the family together.

"It's part of our mission statement," David said. "We don't separate pets from the people that they love."

So it's no wonder that after 37 years, the Thompsons still put in almost as much time as they did at the start. "We still work on average 11-12 hours a day, seven days a week, some weeks," Betsy said.

'Cat-friendly' certified

What makes it worth it, in addition to helping their many four-footed patients, is that "we have wonderful clients and wonderful staff," David said. "We're also the only gold-standard cat-friendly practice in the area, and one of only four in the state."


That "cat friendly" certification, from the American Association of Feline Practitioners, requires meeting a long list of criteria meant to keep cats calmer and happier during their visits to the vet and healthier when they leave.

At the Animal Hospital of North Asheville, "Among other things, we have separate facilities so that the cats don't have to be in a room where a dog has ever been before," David said. (At least when they're conscious, that is. Surgical facilities serve dogs and cats.)

The hospital even diffuses a hormone into the air in the cat-exclusive areas to help keep felines calm. And, of course, there are lots of toys and treats, for cats and dogs alike.

So do the animals actually like it at the hospital? David recalled "an incident a while ago when a couple of the dogs that live just a few doors away got out of their yard. And they were waiting for us when we got here in the morning, expecting treats."

The hospital has spent the best part of four decades watching North Asheville grow up around it -- during which time the Thompsons' own children, Beth, Richard and Kate, also grew up to become a pediatric psychologist, an emergency room physician and an attorney.

These many years later, the practice is an integral part of the neighborhood as well as the larger Asheville "animal companion" community, a position the Thompsons work to maintain.

"I think our high involvement in community service is one of the things that attracted (the Petplan awards) to our hospital," David said.

But as nice as it is to be named the best veterinarian practice in the nation, "You don't do what you do to get recognized," Betsy said. "You do it because you love what you do."


6 repairs to consider after a winter storm

Fixing leaks or gutter issues now can save you problems down the road.

By Andrea Davis of HomeAdvisor


6 repairs to consider after a winter storm (© HomeAdvisor)

© HomeAdvisor

The winter storms that hit U.S. homes from the East to Midwest brought heavy snowfall, high winds and below-freezing temperatures. Many homes endured harsh conditions, and now it's time to address any problems the winter storm created before they get worse and cost thousands in repairs or replacement.

You should thoroughly inspect your home after the winter storm for common damages, as fixing them ahead of time helps avoid bigger problems later. Here are some commonly affected areas where HomeAdvisor saw a significant increase in requests:

Roofing and gutters With the onslaught of snow and winds, the roof and gutters take a lot of damage with missing shingles, structural damage from all the snow, ice dams and frozen gutters. Ice dams are common after a snowstorm because the snow melts and reforms as ice near the edge of the roof. This prevents proper drainage in the gutters, which allows the ice to seep under the roof for more damage.

Slide show:  8 things your roof is trying to tell you

Homeowners should check for any of these signs and remove the snow as soon as possible. Roof repair, including replacing shingles or reinforcing the structure, will cost homeowners between $720 and $1,070.

Pipes Because of below-freezing temperatures or improper insulation, pipes freeze and sometimes burst during a winter storm. If frozen, homeowners cannot receive water to do dishes, take baths and so forth. In such cases, they should find a plumber to come out and fix this problem by getting the water flowing again.

Damaged or fallen trees The snow and wind cause trees to fall and limbs to break, sometimes close to homes and on power lines because of the high wind velocity. Homeowners who want fallen trees removed can hire a tree-removal service to haul it away. If a complete removal isn't necessary, then trimming branches might suffice.

Siding The wind causes siding, especially shingles, to blow off during a storm. This allows the house's inner siding to get wet, which could lead to mold. It also allows for the possibility of pests if there are holes or leaks, so homeowners should fix these issues as soon as possible. The cost to repair siding varies by location, materials and amount of damage. For example, homeowners in Atlanta reportedly paid between $720 and $1,100 and homeowners in Chicago between $600 and $920.

Structural issues and leaks Whether in the roof, windows, doors or siding, leaks are common winter storm problems homeowners need to tackle immediately. Not fixing them will lead to more problems like mold and pests. If homeowners have a basement, they should also check for a leak in the foundation to avoid flooding or structural issues in the future.

Heaters and furnaces When there are freezing temperatures outside, furnaces are pushed to keep the home warm during the storm. As a result some go out, or ducts and vents are too small leading to colder rooms. There could also be leaks and energy inefficiencies which lead to the system flipping on frequently to compensate. If these are identified as issues, homeowners should seek help from a professional heating, ventilation and air-conditioning contractor so the system runs smoothly in the future.


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