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Updated: 4 min 19 sec ago

Polk's athletic director retiring after 29 years on the job

23 min 39 sec ago
As a coach, Jeff Wilson has had only one bad year in his entire 29-year coaching career.
In his final year as the head football coach at Polk County, the Wolverines won just one game in what Wilson describes as the roughest coaching year of his career. Aside from that one season, Wilson has been a winner every year, including the last 13 years when he's served as Polk's director of athletics and as softball coach.
On Tuesday, Wilson announced that he is retiring as the athletic director at Polk County High School. If the Polk County School Board agrees, however, Wilson plans to coach at least five more years for the Lady Wolverines softball team.
Wilson spent the first 16 years of his career serving his kids as a baseball coach, softball coach and football coach. He's spent the last 13 serving the entire athletics program at Polk and as the softball coach.
“The best possible thing was being AD because I got to interact with all the kids and all the coaches,” Wilson said.
The Wolverine athletic director is synonymous with Polk. His tenure has stretched across the school's entire history. His longevity, Wilson said, is due in part to a strong administration and a host of great coaches and student-athletes.
“I've worked with so many great people,” Wilson said. “I've worked as hard as I could for many, many great student-athletes.”
His best memory of his nearly 30 dyears as coach came in 1996 when the Lady Wolverines played for a state championship.
In his reign as athletic director, the Wolverines have won four Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia) Cups. He's served an athletic department that has seen massive success across the board, including state championships in track and soccer and conference championships galore.
Aside from being state runner-ups in 1996, Wilson's Lady Wolverines have been conference champions six times.
That balance made his job great and makes this decision even harder.
“I had the best of both worlds,” Wilson said. “It's definitely a tough decision.”
In the end, it was just a personal decision for Wilson who wanted to enjoy other aspects of his life after 29 years, he said, but those years won't be easy to leave behind.
As he tries though, Wilson knows that he left it all on the field.
“While I was on the bus going back and forth, I gave it my best every day,” he said.
Categories: News

Community mourns loss of youth advocate Roger Hill

1 hour 45 min ago
Beloved community member and civic organizer Roger Hill lost his battle with pancreatic cancer Thursday night, but community leaders say he leaves behind a legacy of caring for the youth of his community.
Bill Lapsley, a dear friend of Hill's for more than 30 years, said Hill was a key business and civic leader within the community for more than 25 years and is a man he respects deeply.
“I don't know a soul that didn't like Roger Hill,” Lapsley said. “He just was liked by and loved by everybody.”
Hill moved to Hendersonville in 1980, leaving his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. after visiting his mother and falling in love with the community, according to Lapsley.
He was a key player in the opening of the Hendersonville Teen Center's The Hanger in 1990. The 5,000-square-foot former supper club was remodeled to give teens a safe place to congregate on Friday and Saturday nights on Spartanburg Highway.
Friend and fellow civic leader Jeff Miller said Hill had a passion for young people, and felt strongly about providing a safe environment for teens.
Hill told the Times-News it would be up to the teens to operate the location, making sure the rent was paid, bands were booked and concessions were organized.
“The kids are really doing it for themselves,” Hill told the Times-News in September of 1990. “That's the uniqueness of the whole thing. They've had help to get this (center) started, but once it's started, it's up to them to run it.”
With his two daughters in high school, Hill said teens were crying out for a place of their own, so he helped make that happen and included teens on a leadership panel to help run it.
“He worked really hard at that and pulled a few of us in with him and we worked on that,” Jeff Miller said. “We never really had the funding to make it a long-term thing, but he put a lot of time and treasure into that.”
The Hanger lasted between two and three years, according to those who worked at the facility.
“Then Tom Fazio came to town and Roger met him and a lot of us got together and talked to Tom and Sue when they decided they wanted to start a Boys and Girls Club,” Miller said. “Roger dove right into that.”
Hill went on to be one of the first board presidents of the newly established Boys and Girls Club and was an active member on its golf committee.
While Hill's daughters were in school at Hendersonville High, they told him of a student whose parents had skipped town on him. According to Lapsley, Hill took him in and cared for him as the son he never had.
With no family, Mac Broutin was living out of his car and between friends' houses, but found a home with the Hill family. Tragically, the teen was killed in automobile accident during a beach trip in South Carolina.
“Although not an A student, Mac was a hard worker and had he not died in an auto accident in his senior year, he would have most certainly worked his way through college,” states biographical information provided by the Community Foundation. “After his death, Roger and Judy established this scholarship fund as a memorial to a young man who was well liked by his friends, loved by the Hills, but forgotten by his family.”
Lapsley said Hill and his wife worked hard to fund the scholarship, which as specific guidelines designed to help students like Broutin. Applicants for the scholarship must be a graduate of Hendersonville High and demonstrate a financial need, participating in one or more interscholastic high school sports with preference given to those who played football, according to the foundation.
“They worked hard over the years to build that scholarship fund up so that it is one that we're able to offer almost every year now,” said Kathryn McConnell, vice president for community philanthropy. “That to me speaks directly to Roger's heart ... to take in a young man that was homeless that was having to live in his car, had a horrible family situation ... that speaks a lot to who Roger was.”
Friend Dave Adams said Hill always took his responsibilities seriously and would contribute whatever he could.
“He had a very easy way to talk with people, get to know them, their backgrounds, where they came from, and inevitably he'd be able to tie in with someone's background through his own experiences and find the common thread,” Adams said. “That was really an amazing thing.”
Golf buddy Bob Ross said Hill was always honest and forthright, with a unique ability to let others into his world as a friend from their first meeting.
“He could greet anyone or meet anyone and they instantly became his friend and they knew it,” Ross said. “He never treated anyone differently. He was always very respectful of the individuals he met, whether they worked with him or they disagreed with him on a political or business level. He always treated everyone fairly and honestly.”
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 9 at First United Methodist Church of Hendersonville, with the Rev. Dan Martin officiating. Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors is handling the arrangements.
Reach Bindewald at 694-7890 or renee.bindewald@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

3D print technology provides 'robohand' to 7-year-old girl

2 hours 24 sec ago
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) — Seven-year-old Faith Lennox never thought much about putting a prosthetic limb where her missing left hand had once been.
Not until the little girl learned she could design her own, strap it on easily and then jump on her bike and pedal away at speeds previously only imagined.
With family members occasionally shouting "Be careful" and "Watch out for that car," Faith firmly placed her new hand's bright blue and pink fingers on her bike's left handlebar and took off for a seemingly endless sojourn around the Build It Workspace on Tuesday morning. Inside, just a short time before, that hand had rolled off a 3D printer that built it overnight.
"I don't think we'll ever get her off it," said her mother, Nicole, smiling with resignation as she watched her daughter continue to circle the parking lot in this Orange County suburb.
The prosthetic that had just made such a task immediately easy represents a breakthrough in small, lightweight hands that are economical and easy for children to use. It weighs only a pound and costs just $50 to construct out of the same materials used to make drones and automobile parts.
When Faith outgrows it in six months or a year, a replacement can be made just as cheaply and easily, said Mark Muller, a prosthetics professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, who helped with the design. He said a heavier adult model with sensors attached to a person's muscles would run $15,000 to $20,000.
Faith manipulates her hand without sensors. Instead, as she happily demonstrated over and over after the bike ride, she moves her upper arm back and forth.
That in turn opens and closes its blue and pink fingers — "my favorite colors," she noted with a smile — that she uses to grasp objects like the favored plush toy she brought with her.
The oldest of three children, Faith had compartment syndrome when her position during childbirth cut off the flow of blood to her left forearm, irreparably damaging tissue, muscle and bone. After nine months of trying to save the limb, doctors determined they had to amputate just below the elbow.
She had tried a couple more traditional — and more expensive — prosthetics over the years but found them bulky, heavy and hard to use.
Her parents were working with the nonprofit group E-Nable to get her a 3-D-printed hand, but the technology is so new there's a waiting list, her mother said. Then she learned of what Build It Workspace could do from a friend whose son visited with his Scout troop. The small studio teaches people to use high-tech printers, provides access to them for projects and does its own commercial printing.
Although the company, founded less than a year ago by mechanical engineer Mark Lengsfeld, has printed out everything from pumps for oil and gas companies to parts for unmanned aerial vehicles, this was the first hand Lengsfeld and his employees had built.
So he used E-Nable's open-source technology and called in Cal State, Dominguez Hills' experts for guidance.
When Faith quickly strapped on their new creation and headed out to ride Tuesday morning, as TV cameras captured the moment, Lengsfeld admitted he was nervous. After being up all night finishing the hand, he wanted to test it himself to be sure it worked.
"But she did fine with it," he said, chuckling.
She noted it did fine by her as well.
"I didn't have to lean so much," she said of the difficulty of navigating and steering a bike with just one hand.
Afterward, as more than a dozen reporters and photographers, as well as school and city officials, family friends and others, crowded into Build It's small studio, the little girl sat shyly in front of a huge poster reading "Hand It To Faith" that Lengsfeld had made for her.
But when asked to demonstrate how she can use the hand to help with things like schoolwork, she got busy. She placed her new hand firmly on a piece of paper, holding it in place as she drew a picture.
And just what did she draw? Her new hand, of course, complete with robot fingers in perfect detail.
Categories: News

Polk County deputies investigating infant's death

2 hours 53 min ago
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 5-month-old infant found unresponsive at a Mill Spring home Monday night.
Polk County EMS, Mill Spring Fire Department and Columbus Fire Department were dispatched to 23 Freedom Drive for the unresponsive baby at 6:37 p.m., according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office.
“Upon their arrival, the infant was immediately rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital emergency room, where the child was pronounced dead at 7:21 p.m.,” the release states.
The Sheriff’s Office responded to the home to begin an investigation and called the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation to assist with its resources.
“Early this morning, a search warrant was executed at the residence, where investigators were searching for anything that could help and aid them in determining the cause of death and to rule out foul play. ... This is standard protocol when a death of unknown cause occurs,” according to the release.
An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Sheriff’s Office says that any “additional information that will not interfere with the investigation will be released as it becomes available.”
Categories: News

Nearly 1 ton of pills submitted for destruction

3 hours 2 min ago
More than 1,900 pounds of unwanted, unused and expired medications have been submitted to the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office for destruction since 2013, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.
Two years ago the Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain a postage mail drop box that had been taken out of service. After a new coat of paint, the mailbox was set up in the lobby of the Sheriff’s Office at 100 N. Grove St. to collect unused and unwanted prescription medication.
In its first year of use, the pill drop box at the Sheriff’s Office, along with other collection points in Henderson County, netted 1,088 pounds of miscellaneous medications for destruction. During its second year, which ended Tuesday, 828.48 pounds of pills were collected.
“Sheriff Charles McDonald commends residents for their extra efforts in helping keep almost a ton of unwanted, unused or expired medications out of our landfills, water supply and medicine cabinets,” according to the release. “The Sheriff’s Office continues to partner with various local groups including Hope Rx and Henderson County TRIAD to provide additional opportunities for Henderson County residents to stop by pill drop collection points where they can easily and safely dispose of pills and medications.
“Dates and locations for additional pill drop collection events will be announced in the near future,” according to the release.
The Sheriff’s Office lobby is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. All medications, except chemotherapy drugs and needles, can be submitted for destruction.
Categories: News

New events on tap for downtown Hendersonville

4 hours 5 min ago
Two new events will debut in Hendersonville this spring and summer, if approved by City Council Thursday.
In partnership with Asheville Regional Airport, Hands On! is planning a family-oriented summer series at its downtown Hendersonville location centered on the physics of flight. And Green Room owner Sue Green has proposed a Yea May Day in front of her Main Street business.
Beth Bockoven, education coordinator for Hands On!, hopes the events will help bridge the learning loss many students experience during summer break.
“It's a great opportunity for students and families to have a fun, hands-on learning experience in the summer,” Bockoven said, noting children and parents will learn about aerodynamics and air molecules, and will be able to take part in weather-related experiments.
The free public events will be held rain or shine July 6, 13, 20 and 27.
Anticipating a large turnout, Hands On! has arranged overflow parking at the Oriole Mill.
North Main Street's Green Room Café will host its first Yea May Day event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, May 1, featuring local classic rock band Stepchild outside on the sidewalk.
Green hopes the event will attract more people to the north end of Main Street, noting visitors typically congregate around the 300 block of Main Street.
“We're trying to spread those visitors out,” she said.
Green also said the event, cosponsored by Mast General Store, is a celebration of the spring season as well as the grand opening and christening of the restaurant's new bar, which will have its full liquor license starting the same day.
Attendees can expect drink and appetizer specials, and Green advises bringing a lounge chair to enjoy the live music.
She hopes to build on the event's momentum and continue attracting visitors to North Main Street with additional weekly events from May 9 to Oct. 24.
Working with the Henderson County Arts League, Green also hopes to bring artists to North Main to do live demonstrations on Saturday afternoons, followed by live music in the evening, to offer visitors a taste of local culture.
Reach Biba at 828-694-7871 or jacob.biba@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

Sandburg Home, Parkway face maintenance backlog

4 hours 12 min ago
The Carl Sandburg Home and the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina are facing a $255 million backlog in the upkeep of their facilities, part of $11.49 billion in so-called “deferred maintenance” reported at the country's national parks in 2014.
Last week, the National Park Service released its list of deferred maintenance needs for its 400-plus park units throughout the U.S.
For North Carolina's seven units, the total was $395 million in 2014, not including $231 million in unmet maintenance needs along the Parkway's Virginia section.
“What's happened is just the budget that we've gotten to manage the park, the funds haven't kept pace with the cost of doing business,” said Leesa Brandon, public information officer for the Parkway. “And every year, that gap just keeps getting bigger.”
The Parkway's section in North Carolina has postponed $247.7 million in maintenance, the majority of that along the paved roadway itself. However, the Parkway as a whole has also delayed about $10.2 million in building upkeep and $37 million in upgrades to unpaved roads due to tight budgets in recent years.
“We hear from visitors very regularly that they're sad and disappointed with the condition of the road,” said Brandon. “So many people have connections with the Parkway, through many generations, and they remember it differently.”
At the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, $1.3 million of its $7.49 million in deferred maintenance needs were classified in 2014 as “critical systems” such as trails, pasture fences and the poet's former residence.
Superintendent H. Tyrone Brandyburg said the park was able to address a small portion of its deferred maintenance needs in the current fiscal year, tackling repairs to park's goat barn, house garage and many of its 38 other outbuildings.
They were also able to secure funding to begin restoring the main home's glass-walled conservatory, which has dry rot damage from years of poor drainage. A crew from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park rebuilt some trail sections as well, chipping away at $179,000 in unmet trail needs.
Park Service personnel got funding this fiscal year to inventory and pack up all of the Sandburg family's furnishings and their 12,000-volume personal library in hopes of moving it into climate-controlled storage late this summer, Brandyburg said.
After the main home at Connemara is cleared out, the plan is to refinish its floors, repaint all interior rooms and install a ventilation and dehumidifying system by 2017 to help preserve the poet's books and other belongings once they're returned from storage (or restoration) in 2018.
The Park Service estimates the cost of catching up on repairs to Connemara's buildings will run around $1.9 million. Brandyburg said he hopes a current effort by Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis to secure more maintenance funding will keep the three-year Sandburg Home restoration on target.
“We've been working diligently on tackling as many maintenance issues as we can,” Brandyburg said. “It's cheaper and easier if we get in front of these things instead of running behind on fixing them. The concept is, try to catch up and then put our park on a preventative maintenance program.”
Jarvis said in a news release that the bureau's 2016 budget request before Congress — including a proposal to provide $300 million annually over three years — would put a major dent in dealing with aging infrastructure as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its 100th year in August 2016.
“As we invite more Americans to discover the special places in the National Park System during our centennial celebration, we need to have facilities that can accommodate them and provide the best possible visitor experience,” Jarvis said in the release.
Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers, said he met with Jarvis and Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods recently to discuss “shoring up” infrastructure assets in North Carolina's parks. He's hopeful the park service “will see a significant amount of dollars being appropriated in 2016” toward catching up on repairs.
“We're aggressively lobbying the (Interior) appropriations committee to make sure we at least start chipping away at the backlog, so to speak,” Meadows said. “I see this as a 5- to 10-year process where we phase in funding for some of the backlog we've got. I do not see it as a lump sum that's going to happen in 2016.”
Meadows praised both the park units in his district for maintaining a high level of service during times of fiscal austerity.
“They've done a great job with very limited resources,” he said. “A lot of times, the Carl Sandburg Home doesn't get the priority that a lot of the bigger-name parks get. But as we in Henderson County know, it's a critical part of our community and our heritage and it makes a huge difference to the folks in Flat Rock.”
Reach Axtell at 828-694-7860 or than.axtell@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

Prep roundup: Polk softball beats state champs; West's Holmes scores five goals

6 hours 20 min ago
PREP ROUNDUP
SOFTBALL
BREVARD 19, EAST HENDERSON 3
;;;;;r;h;e
Visiting team:;1 0 0;0 2 x;x;—;3;6;2
Home team:;3 2 1;13 x x;x;—;19;17;1
Winning pitcher: Brooke Nanney (4IP, 19 R, 16 ER, 17 H, 0 Ks, 6 BBs)
Losing pitcher: Lindsey Griffin (6 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 5 Ks, 3 BBs)
Leading hitters: East — Becca Metcalf 2-3, run, Kierra Delozier 1-3, RBI; Brevard — Casey Gilbert 4-4, three runs, three RBIs, Callie Greene 2-3, three runs, three RBIs, Nanney, 2-3, three RBIs, run, Abby Williams 3-4, two runs, four RBIs.
Records: Brevard, 7-1, 2-1 WNCAC; East 4-4-1, 2-2 WNCAC.
Next game: Brevard, today vs. West Henderson. East, Today vs. Smoky Mountain.
POLK COUNTY 9, East Rutherford 3
;;;;;r;h;e
Polk County:;0 0 1;3 0 4;1;—;9;11;1
East Rutheford:;0 0 0;0 3 0;0;—;3;9;3
Winning pitcher: Ashley Scruggs (7 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 9 H, 1 Ks, 1 BBs)
Losing pitcher: Savannah Davis (6 IP, 8 R, 3 ER, 9 H, 10 Ks, 3 BBs)
Leading hitters: Polk — Autumn Owen, 3-5, 2B, Hayley Kropp 2-4, walk, Maranda Gosnell 2-3, walk, Ashley Scruggs 2-4, triple.
Highlights: East Rutherford was the defending 2-A state champion who had eliminated Polk last season.
Records: Polk, 9-1.
Next game: Polk, Wednesday vs. Madison.
SOCCER
WEST HENDERSON 6, BREVARD 2
Highlights: Samantha Holmes continued her torrid goal-scoring pace on Monday night against Brevard. Holmes scored six goals in two games last week, but on Monday added five more against Brevard. Holmes scored three goals in the first half and two more in the second half to lead the Lady Falcons. Brittney Naef scored the sixth goal for West. Gabi Blake, Vivian Rodriguez, Sheridan Patterson and Courtney Kanetzke all had assists.
JV: West, 8-0.
Records: West, 5-6, 3-2 WNCAC.
Next match: West, Wednesday at Tuscola.
BASEBALL
CHRIST SCHOOL 9, NORTH HENDERSON 3
;;;;;r;h;e
North Henderson:;0 0 1;2 0 0;0;—;3;9;5
Christ School:;2 2 0;0 1 4;x;—;9;10;2
Winning pitcher: Lintz (4 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 Ks, 2 BBs)
Losing pitcher: Adolfo Correa-Pena (4 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 Ks, 2 BBs)
Leading hitters: North Henderson — Dalton McKee 2-4, RBI, Ivann Rodriguez 2-4, Kyle Decker 2-4, run. Christ School — Vaglica 3-4, 2 RBIs, Easterling 1-4, 2 RBIs.
Records: North, 4-6.
Next game: North, Today vs. Franklin.
ASHEVILLE 7, WEST HENDERSON 5
;;;;;r;h;e
WEST Henderson:;0 1 0;1 1 1;1;—;5;x;x
Asheville:;0 0 0;2 2 3;x;—;7;x;x
Winning pitcher: Cook
Losing pitcher: Michael Connelly (1 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 Ks, 1 BBs)
Leading hitters: West Henderson — Dustie Fender, 3-4, double. Asheville — Mangum 2-4
Records: West, 3-6.
Next game: West, Today at Brevard.
Categories: News

North's Langford is T-N Wrestler of the Year

6 hours 20 min ago
Mitchel Langford's resume speaks for itself.
The North Henderson wrestler has laid carnage to just about every opponent he's faced in-state over the past four years. Langford, however, was the shock of the NCHSAA wrestling state finals in February as he failed to grab his fourth consecutive state championship.
Even without the fourth ring, however, Langford did enough this season to earn Times-News Wrestler of the Year.
Last season, the North senior finished second in the state in the 120-pound weight class. He finished first in the West Region. He finished first in the WNC Athletic Conference. He was the champion at the North Knight Invitational, the Falcon Frenzy and the Fandetti Brawl. He finished the year 46-1 and 31 of those were won by a pin.
In his career, Langford won three state championships and has a career record of 194-3. He owns the school record with that win total and he also holds the school record with 132 pins.
North coach Heang Uy uses Langford frequently as an example for his other kids to strive toward. He uses him as a teaching tool. Often in practice, Langford would come up and help Uy demonstrate maneuvers.
"If he ever decides to coach one day, he'd be very good at it," Uy said.
As for the North wrestling program, Langford's legacy is simple, Uy said. It's a path for future Knight wrestlers to follow.
"He's going to be the standard that all other wrestlers try to strive for," Uy said. "He's the gold standard for us."
The legacy that Langford hopes he left behind is one that future wrestlers will take seriously, the wrestler said. It's actually a two-part example that he hopes the next generation follows.
"I've tried to always be humble and always be dedicated," he said.
It goes a lot deeper than just the focus on one's self though. A lot of Langford's success has been his respect for the person across the mat from him.
"I've always thought about my opponents," he said. "I've always tried to stay respectful of the person I'm wrestling."
Categories: News

Multiple injuries in Asheville Highway crash

7 hours 5 min ago
Six people were transported to area hospitals after an SUV collided with an Apple Country Public Transit bus on Asheville Highway about 7:15 Tuesday morning.
Trooper David Williams with the N.C. Highway Patrol said the driver of the SUV, Jeremy Carver of Fletcher, struck the transit van as it was pulling away from a bus stop near Naples Road.
Asheville Highway was closed to traffic after the wreck, but the road was reopened shortly after 8 a.m.
Three people in the SUV were taken to Mission Hospital with minor injuries, and three people in the Apple Country bus were being treated at Park Ridge Health, Williams said.
Apple Country bus driver John Duncan said he was on his normal route from Hendersonville to Asheville Regional Airport when the crash occurred.
Carver has been charged with failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision.
Reach Kerns at charli.kerns@blueridgenow.com or call 828-694-7881. Follow @BRNCharli.
Categories: News

West's Holmes receives NCHSAA honor

7 hours 9 min ago
West Henderson's Samantha Holmes has earned the Performance of the Week by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Holmes scored six goals in two games last week in wins over Smoky Mountain and Pisgah.
The NCHSAA award is for last week, but Holmes was at it again on Monday night. The West senior scored five goals in a 6-2 victory over Brevard. Holmes is now six goals away from breaking the school record of 111 goals.
Categories: News

Got a Minute? With author Mary Joyce

18 hours 3 min ago
Mary Joyce of Dillsboro is the author of “Cherokee Little People Were Real,” a collection of interviews suggesting that an ancient race once inhabited the mountains of North Carolina. Last winter, she visited the Henderson County Heritage Museum in the Historic Courthouse to discuss her book. For each copy sold in the museum's gift shop, half of the proceeds are given back to the organization.
<b?What pushed you to move to the mountains?
I lived in Florida before I came here in 1998. I originally came here because I was going to teach at the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I ended up working at a health food store in Sylva, which was a wonderful job because I had plenty of time on the weekends to do my own research and writing.
What is the story behind the Cherokee Little People?
The original Cherokee were from the Great Lakes region. When they came here, they saw these little gardens, but they didn't see any people in them. I guess they finally noticed that at night these little people would come out, tend the gardens and then take the food back into the tunnels. They originally called them the “moon people” because they only came out at night. That is how it started. The Cherokee Little People were actually here before the Cherokee.
How did you learn about this ancient race of natives?
When I worked at the health food store, there was a man who came in and his name was Walter Middleton. A lot of the people who have lived here for a long time know him because he was a World War II hero and he served as a pastor. He had wonderful credentials and everyone thought the world of him.
One day we got into a conversation about the little people and he said they were real. Up to that point, I had not paid much attention to the Cherokee Little People. He was such a credible man, so I started to pay it some attention. He had been one of the original people to work on the McKee building at Western Carolina University. When they did construction around there they found little bones, little skeletons and little tunnels. He connected me with other old-timers who had also done construction on campus. They had also seen these little tunnels.
Can you describe these tunnels and where they were located?
These tunnels were used as freeways because the Cherokee Little People lived underground. The tunnels are underneath the base of Buzzard's Roost, a ridge on campus. We found them between the football stadium and the Episcopalian church. The hub for all of that is the McKee building.
That is very interesting because it is one the oldest buildings on campus. Originally, it was just a two-story building. When they first started to build it they found two little tunnels that went from the McKee building to the Bird building. That was in the late 1930s. In the 1940s they came in and cut underneath what was already there and created a basement. The irony is that in the basement is where the Anthropology and Indian Studies departments are. It is regrettable that the university didn't do more with it. They were more concerned with building.
What convinced you that these individuals were real?
One of the things that really caught my attention was a professor on campus who had a paperweight; it looked like a child's skull. He had it on his desks. He always said it was a Cherokee child's skull. Then another teacher came by one day and looked at it closely and noticed it had wisdom teeth. You have to be at least 18 to start hatching those, so it couldn't be a child.
Why did you begin devoting time to researching this topic?
It is important because no one has recorded it and it is a really unique piece of history. I wouldn't have written the book if I found other research on it, but there was none. As a past newspaper editor, I automatically thought that I couldn't let it go. That's why I did it, just to preserve it.
When did you decide to write the book?
I originally did this research back in 2001 just because no one had ever recorded it. I wasn't trying to write a book; I didn't want that information to be lost. Then almost a year ago, I decided to put it into real book form. I found photos and pictures and things to make it a real book instead of just a transcript.
Why haven't other historians or writers delved into this topic?
A lot of what's right here was on Western's campus. Since the beginning, they have always been focused on wanting to build more buildings. It is regrettable that they didn't save some of it. The irony of it is that there is still two tunnels behind the wall in the basement of McKee. Even to this day, they will stop construction if they find a major site. But they could have preserved some of it. They don't want to draw attention to it, however.
What was your first impression of Hendersonville?
It was a wonderful museum and the people there were really super. Hendersonville has a lot of diversity. I think you could live there and they have a lot of different things going on, so you wouldn't get bored like you would in another little town. They seem to have a lot of emphasis on culture and lots of decent restaurants.
Was the book reading a success?
We had a good turn out. For a topic like that, we had 70 people or more. Plus, for a museum lecture on a sunny day, that is pretty good. There was a lot of questions afterward, so the interest was there. It was new to most people.
Categories: News

IRS has $2 million in refunds for 2011 returns not filed

18 hours 3 min ago
Filing for the 2014 tax season is first and foremost on most people’s minds with the April 15 deadline less than three weeks away. However, filers might also want to take a look at their 2011 federal tax returns — or lack thereof — according to the Internal Revenue Service.
“People could be missing out on a substantial refund, especially students or part-time workers,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a news release.
According to the IRS, 31,700 North Carolina residents failed to file a tax return for 2011, estimating a total of $26,248,000 overall or an average of $595 per person. Federal income tax refunds across the entire country total $1 billion for an estimated one million taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2011, according to the IRS records.
No website exists for people to know if they are entitled to a refund, according to Mark Hanson with the IRS public relations office for North and South Carolina. They just have to know based on their circumstances.
“It’s difficult to guess why specific taxpayers may not have filed a federal income tax return,” Hanson said. He posed that many individuals may not have filed because their income fell below the minimum requirement by law to file.
However, if any of the money from work were withheld for federal income taxes, those people could have a refund owed to them. People also may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a refundable income tax credit for those with low to moderate income, especially parents.
The only way to receive refunds for either reason is by filing for a tax refund.
Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the IRS.gov forms and publications page or by calling toll-free 800-829-3676. Taxpayers who are missing salary forms such as a W-2 should request copies from their employer or bank.
Everyone has a chance to file returns from up to three previous years of the original filing date, and no one will get hit with a penalty for filing late if they qualify for a refund. If no return is filed to claim a refund within three years, which for 2011 means in the next 16 days, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.
Reach Kerns at charli.kerns@blueridgenow.com or call 828-694-7881. Follow @BRNCharli
Categories: News

Community Briefs: March 31

18 hours 3 min ago
Inaugural Kiwanis Bunny Hop this Saturday
The Kiwanis Bunny Hop 4k and fun run will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday rain or shine at Blue Ridge Community College.
Registration is $15 per person, or $10 per person for groups of families four or more (requires registration and payment at the same time). Day of run registration is $20 per person. All funds raised will benefit Terrific Kids, Balfour Babies and the Socks & Shoes program.
This is not a sanctioned race, but a fun run for all ages. Places will not be tallied. Prizes will be given for best individual costume, largest family, and oldest and youngest hoppers.
To register, print out forms at www.hendersonvillekiwanis.org, pick up forms from Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Coldwell Banker King or Mia's Marketplace, or get one from a local Key Club member at one of the local high schools or Henderson County Early College High.
Volunteers needed at Hands On!
Hands On!-A Child's Gallery, the children's museum in downtown Hendersonville, is seeking volunteers to periodically perform maintenance tasks in the museum, such as painting, small repairs, hauling and light construction. A volunteer can give time monthly, weekly or just once, but most maintenance days are on Mondays when the museum is closed to the public. All donations of time are appreciated. For a more detailed description, visit www.handsonwnc.org and click “Support Us / Volunteer.”
Meetings
The Edneyville Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the school’s media center.
The Glenn C. Marlow Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the school’s media center.
The Henderson County Board of Public Education will visit Mills River Elementary at noon Wednesday.
Hendersonville City Council will meet at 5:45 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.
The Sugarloaf Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 404.
The Transylvania County Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Morris Education Center, 225 Rosenwald Lane, Brevard, for a budget workshop and to approve an expenditure for technology infrastructure.
Events
Hopekeepers, a new faith-based support group for those with chronic pain or illness, will meet from 1-2:30 p.m. Thursday at Hendersonville Presbyterian Church. Email hendersonvillehopekeepers@gmail.com or call 540-834-7219 for more information.
The Laurel Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America will meet at 10 a.m., with registration at 9:30 a.m., Thursday at Cummings United Methodist Church, 3 Banner Farm Road in Etowah/Horse Shoe. Guild members will create a wool appliqued pin cushion. As there is a kit fee of $11.50 for this class, participants must pre-register. Info: Carol Foster at 828-686-8298 or Janet Stewart at 828-575-9195.
A spring bird walk with Luke Cannon will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday at Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, 3381 Hunting Country Road, Tryon. Info: 828-859-9021 or www.fence.org.
Categories: News

NC governor doesn't like religious exemption bills

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 23:24
CHARLOTTE (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory isn't backing bills giving exemptions to court officials who decline to perform certain marriages and offering other religious protections to businesses.
McCrory said Monday he wouldn't sign in its current form a Senate bill that allows magistrates and some register of deeds workers to refuse to carry out marriage duties based on a "sincerely held religious objection." Gay-rights advocates say the measure upholds discrimination.
McCrory said on WFAE radio in Charlotte there can't be carve-outs for people who swear to uphold the Constitution. A bill still becomes law when a governor declines to sign it.
Broader bills filed attempt to protect the rights of business owners or government officials from carrying out laws based on their religious freedoms. McCrory says he's yet to see the problems sponsors want to correct.
Categories: News

Police: SC man caught with stolen goods

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 23:24
A South Carolina man accused of robbing a home on Chesnee Road was arrested Friday night after officers in his home state found him in possession of some of the goods.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office received a report of a breaking and entering at the residence in the Green Creek community on Friday. Two four-wheelers, a dryer, lawnmower, iron rods and a metal desk were reported missing.
Detectives received information “that the items were being scrapped” at a recycling business in South Carolina, according to a release from the Sheriff's Office Monday. Following up on the lead, investigators from the Sheriff's Office visited the business and found some of the missing items.
The investigation led officers to name Casey Ray Robinson, 28, of Chesnee, S.C., “as a primary suspect in the case. Detectives were familiar with Robinson and began canvassing locations where he is known to be,” according to the release. Robinson was found in his hometown, still “in possession of the two four-wheelers” swiped from the Polk County residence.
The Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office arrested Robinson on a felony charge of breaking and entering and a misdemeanor count of larceny. Robinson is being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center, where he is awaiting extradition back to Polk County.
“Robinson has a past history of burglary and larceny,” according to the release. “The Polk County Sheriff's Office was able to recover most all (of) the missing items that were stolen from Chesnee (Road).”
Reach Weaver at emily.weaver@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7867.
Categories: News

Patients on their feet faster may speed recovery

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 23:12
WASHINGTON (AP) — The intensive care unit is a last frontier for physical therapy: It's hard to exercise patients hooked to ventilators so they can breathe.
Some hospitals do manage to help critically ill patients stand or walk despite being tethered to life support. Now research that put sick mice on tiny treadmills shows why even a little activity may help speed recovery. It's work that supports more mobility in the ICU.
"I think we can do a better job of implementing early mobility therapies," said Dr. D. Clark Files of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who led the research and whose hospital is trying to get more critically ill patients up, ventilator and all.
Hospitals have long nudged less critical patients out of bed, to prevent their muscles from wasting away. But over the past several years, studies in ICUs have shown that some of the sickest of the sick also could benefit — getting out of intensive care sooner, with fewer complications — once it's medically feasible for them to try.
This isn't just passively changing a patient's position. It could involve helping them sit on the side of the bed, do some arm exercises with an elastic band or in-bed cycling, or even walk a bit with nurses holding all the tubes and wires out of the way. It takes extra staff, and especially for patients breathing through tubes down their throats, it isn't clear how often it's attempted outside specialized centers.
At Wake Forest Baptist, a physical therapist helped Terry Culler, 54, do arm and leg exercises without dislodging his ventilator tubing, working up to the day he stood from the bedside for the first time since developing respiratory failure about three weeks earlier. "I cheered, I was clapping," his wife, Ruanne Culler of Lexington, North Carolina, said after two therapists and a nurse finally helped him to his feet.
Biologically, why could such mild activity help? Files focused on one especially deadly reason for people to wind up on a ventilator: acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, the problem Terry Culler battled. It strikes about 200,000 Americans a year, usually after someone suffers serious injuries or another illness such as pneumonia, and it can rapidly trigger respiratory failure. Survivors suffer profound muscle weakness.
Files' team injured the lungs of laboratory mice in a way that triggered ARDS. The animals were sick but still breathing on their own, and walked or ran on a treadmill for a few minutes at a time over two days.
The surprise: That short amount of exercise did more than counter wasting of the animals' limbs. It also slowed weakening of the diaphragm, used to breathe. And it tamped down a dangerous inflammatory process in the lungs that Files suspects fuels muscle damage on top of the wasting of enforced bed-rest.
"It's not only putting a load on the legs," Files explained. "It's something systemic."
When certain white blood cells stick inside ARDS-affected lungs too long, they slow healing. The lungs of the exercised mice contained fewer of those cells — and their blood contained less of the protein that activates them, Files reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine this month.
Then Files examined blood frozen from ARDS patients who had participated in an earlier Wake Forest Baptist study comparing early mobility to standard ICU care. Sure enough, patients who had gotten a little exercise harbored less of that protein.
The new research adds to the biologic rationale, but there's already enough evidence supporting early mobility that families should ask whether their loved one is a candidate, said ICU specialist Dr. Catherine Hough of the University of Washington, who wasn't involved with Files' study.
She's surveying a sample of U.S. hospitals and finding variability in how often ICUs try, from those that help a majority of critically ill patients stand to others where no ventilated patients do. Obviously key is whether the patient can tolerate movement. But so is whether hospitals keep ventilated patients sedated despite research showing many don't need to be, Hough said.
Back at Wake Forest Baptist, Ruanne Culler remembered her father being kept sedated while on a ventilator at another hospital, so she was surprised that physical therapy was an option for her husband. It began once Terry Culler was medically stable, and he scribbled notes saying he wanted the exercise.
"It's given him something to look forward to," she said a few weeks before he was released from the hospital.
"Ask about it every day," University of Washington's Hough advises families. "One of the key messages to ICU families is that critical illness changes frequently. On Monday, the patient might have a good reason not to be moving forward with mobilization, but there's a very good chance it's different on Tuesday."
Categories: News

Momentum gaining for Balfour transformation

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 23:10
“We want students to know that they’re ready for the Monday after graduation,” Balfour Education Center Principal Kent Parent said Monday at a workshop hosted by the Henderson County Board of Education to discuss the future of the school.
The idea to transform Balfour, Henderson County’s alternative high school, into a career academy focused on preparing its graduates to enter the workforce isn’t new. In its current form the school is already doing just that with its firefighting and mechatronics academies, but Parent wants to continue building upon those programs and supply local industry with a credentialed labor force skilled in areas such as welding.
Parent’s dream, he said Monday, is to hand his students a high school diploma, while the next person in line – Blue Ridge Community College’s dean of applied science, Chris English – hands that same student a certificate or two-year degree.
Board of Education members, expressing support for the project, and Superintendent David Jones spent much of Monday’s workshop discussing the logistics of the project; specifically where the new career academy would be located.
One option would be to rebuild at its current location.
“You go right there, demo, build – that’s a possibility,” Jones said.
Another option would be to locate the school on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College and piggyback on already established infrastructure.
“Many of the benefits about locating on Blue Ridge’s campus is the ability to use the facilities without having to build new shops, welding booths and all these other things because they’re already there,” Jones said, noting that if the project were to move forward, a new building would in all likelihood have to be constructed to accommodate the college’s growth.
“Blue Ridge has to have the ability to expand their other programs and us not stand in their way in regards to that,” Jones said.
According to Jones, Blue Ridge Community College President Molly Parkhill envisions a new building that would be home to both the career academy and Henderson County Early College High, which is already located on the campus.
A concern though, according to Jones, is the impact housing the two programs in one building would have.
Vice Chairperson Mary Louise Corn said that on her visits to Early College High, many students valued its small size and the individual attention that affords.
“I don’t want to hurt one in order to develop another,” Corn said.
Even though the two schools may be housed in the same building, Jones said he envisions a division between the two schools and that a plan could be devised that would not enmesh one with the other.
“The good news is this just right now a vision,” Jones said. “We can tweak it, work it, look at it, try to figure out the best ways to pull it off.”
If Balfour were to move to Blue Ridge Community College, it could create space for Henderson County’s proposed emergency services facility.
“Certainly I think it’s no secret that they’re looking for a place to locate an emergency management site and they’ve got some locations in mind,” Jones said, admitting Balfour’s current home would be an attractive opportunity.
Reach Biba at 828-694-7871 or jacob.biba@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

Schmidt powers Bearcats to win over Owen

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 21:40
Hendersonville's bats came alive on Monday afternoon and Michael Schmidt added the exclamation point.
The junior right fielder jumped on a fast ball and sent it sailing over the fence in right field at "The Den" to give the Bearcats (7-1, 3-1) a 12-2 win over Owen in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"Up at the plate, I just had a lot of confidence and was looking for a fastball," Schmidt said. "I just wanted to hit it hard somewhere and it went out."
It was just the last highlight in a banner day for the Bearcat offense. Like most teams in the area, the Bearcats have had more games than practices, but that's starting to change. Hendersonville is finding its rhythm.
The Bearcats knocked on the door in the first inning, but didn't capitalize. By the bottom of the second inning, Owen had a 2-0 lead. The Warhorses got an unearned run in the first and an unearned run in the second on Hendersonville's Noah Linhart.
The Bearcat senior, however, kept the Warhorses off balance beyond those two mistakes. He gave up no runs and had eight strikeouts, including the fourth inning when Linhart struck out the Warhorses in order.
In the bottom of the second, the Hendersonville bats began to break through. Austin Redden walked to start the inning. Cole Cleary walked right behind Redden. Carson Chet put the ball into play and reached second base on an error. Redden scored on the error. Blake Lyda followed with a bases-clearing single.
Bearcat leadoff hitter Jessie Gossett reached on a fielder's choice and scored on a single by Linhart.
The Bearcats added another run in the fourth inning. Linhart walked to start the inning, stole second base and scored on a single by Redden.
Hendersonville ended the game early in the bottom of the fifth. Sawyer Hunt doubled to start the inning. He scored on a single by Gossett. Bradley Schmidt walked, stole second and scored on a hit by Linhart. Sparks followed up Linhart with a single. Both scored on a walk off homer by Michael Schmidt.
Hendersonville coach Mark Cook felt like all facets of the game were working on Monday afternoon. The Bearcats got great pitching, great defense and great hitting, Cook said.
"The guys did a great job," Cook said. "All in all, I thought we had a great day."
Categories: News

West's Holmes earns T-N Player of the Week honors

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 21:35
When Samantha Holmes is in a groove, West Henderson soccer coach Craig Long often becomes a spectator.
That was the case last week as Holmes erupted for a monstrous game and is closing in on the all-time West goal record. For her performance last week, Holmes earned Times-News Player of the Week honors.
On Monday night, Holmes led West to a 5-2 victory over Smoky Mountain. In that road matchup, Holmes scored four of West's five goals.
On Wednesday, the Lady Falcon soccer team flat out dominated Pisgah. Holmes scored two goals in that contest, which were the 100th and 101st goals of her career.
Holmes is now 11 goals away from breaking the career school record, which was set by Nicole Moreno in the late 90s.
Long loves to see his star player excel.
"When she gets in that groove, it's pleasant to watch," Long said. "Just watching her play, it's really amazing."
Holmes has a knack for scoring goals, but this season it's a little harder, the coach said. Opposing teams see her coming and mark her better than they have in years past, he said.
"She really has to work for her goals this year," Long said.
Honorable mention
Jake Ryan, West Henderson baseball: The week ended on a high note for the West baseball team. The Falcons knocked off previously unbeaten Pisgah in a WNC Athletic Conference matchup on Saturday. Ryan had a big week, going 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Tanis Baldwin, East Henderson track: The N.C. State commit wasn't at the Times-News Invitational on Saturday, but he was still running. Baldwin ran the 3,200 meters at the Raleigh Relays in a personal best 9:02, which ranks him No. 5 in the nation among high schoolers.
Amy Yarborough, Hendersonville track: Yarborough was the MVP of the field events at the Times-News Invitational on Saturday. The Lady Bearcat thrower won the discus and shot put at the event.
Categories: News