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Updated: 12 min 58 sec ago

Closing statements delivered in Wilkie murder trial

2 hours 9 min ago
The fate of Michael Wilkie, accused of killing his wife and burning her remains, now rests with the jury.
Seventeen witnesses testified in the three-day trial that took three years to bring before a jury. The state introduced 185 pieces of evidence, including a charred bracelet once worn by the victim, Shelby Wilkie, a taped interview of Michael Wilkie who pleaded for his wife's return two days after police say he burned her remains, and hundreds of photographs.
The photos weaved a story, showing a smiling Shelby, the proud new mother of an infant daughter; and then the images of Michael Wilkie's face, etched with scratch marks around his eyes, which he told detectives came from a fight with his wife.
A snapshot of a pink Q-tip showing a chemical reaction to blood in the couple's bedroom was passed to the jury. And then came a photo of a pile of ashes containing Shelby's bracelet found on land near Michael Wilkie's parents' house.
The state rested its case minutes after 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Outside of the jury's presence, Wilkie rose to tell the judge he would not be taking the witness stand in his own defense. His attorney, Tony Dalton, told the court they would not be presenting evidence.
Dalton motioned for the case and charge against his client to be dismissed due to “insufficient evidence.” Judge Marvin Pope denied the motion.

Closing arguments
Minutes before the jury returned to the courtroom, District Attorney Greg Newman picked up a photo of Shelby Wilkie from the prosecutor's table. She had come to his private practice (before his appointment as district attorney) to seek a separation from her husband.
Shelby Sprowls Wilkie filed a retainer for Newman's services three days before her death.
“You've heard about the lady who is not here,” Newman told the jury in his closing argument. “You've heard about her from her family, from co-workers and friends, but you're unable to see her, and that's why early in the case we asked her mother to identify these photographs of Shelby Wilkie.”
Newman held up the photos to show the jury one more time.
“How do you have a pretty lady, a healthy lady, go from this to this?” he asked, putting down the photo of a smiling Shelby and picking up the charred bracelet – nearly all that remained of her in the ashes.
“A lady you heard described as being upbeat, positive, a diligent worker, someone excited about being married, someone certainly excited to be a mother. How do you go from being a healthy, 30-something-year-old woman to a piece of charred jewelry?”
Newman said Shelby saw her husband as someone who could provide for her, but found her provider to also be her abuser.
“What happens when the one who's supposed to protect you is the one who beats you up?” Newman asked the jury. “What happened in this case is that Shelby Wilkie ran out of time. A few more hours, maybe, maybe she would have moved once and for all, maybe.”
Newman told the jury he suspects Wilkie knew Shelby was going to leave him and he stopped her.
“New Year's Day, the day that everybody looks forward to as the start of a new year, was the beginning of the end for her,” Newman said. “She was questioning his control over her … and he was not going to allow that happen… He decided he was going to kill her, and he did.”
There were no visible signs of a struggle between the Wilkies when officers first went to their home on Jan. 2, 2012 to follow up on a report from Shelby's family that she was missing. But chemical solutions used to detect the presence of blood painted a different picture at the scene three days later. It revealed a possible route of blood, pool marks, drag marks, a cleanup and the silhouette of a person appeared on the wall.
“We don't know how she died,” Newman said. “We don't know if he beat her to death. We don't know if he cut her with something. He mentioned something about her cutting herself. We don't know if he choked her. He'd been known to do that before. We don't know. But what we know is that there's no evidence that she was suicidal. What we know is that when you go and you hire a lawyer to draw you up a separation agreement with a check dated 12-29-11, you're not thinking about killing yourself, you're thinking about getting away.”
Except for blinking eyes and a hard swallow, Wilkie sat motionless as Newman told the jury that Wilkie killed Shelby and asked them to find him guilty of first-degree murder.
Wilkie's attorney, Tony Dalton, contended that suicide took Shelby's life.
He told the jury that the state has the burden of proving Wilkie's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Beyond a reasonable doubt means something. It means more than just suspicion. It means more than being articulate in your closing arguments,” Dalton said.
“Having facts that you find to be possibly gruesome and reprehensible here, you've got to get past that and look at it in the eyes and the mind of a juror because this is a very serious case,” he told the jury. “This is a sad case. It's sad that apparently Shelby is no longer with us. It's sad because Michael Wilkie is here on trial for his life.”
If convicted of first-degree murder, Dalton explained that his client would automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Dalton said the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Shelby died as a result of “criminal agency” or a criminal act that was perpetrated by the defendant.
“Suicide is not a criminal agency,” he said. “I ask you to consider the facts that you've heard. Has there been any evidence to the contrary of what they've attributed my client saying to Sgt. Anderson that she committed suicide?”
He told the jury that his client has always contended he is innocent of the charge of murder.
“I want you to base your opinion on evidence,” Dalton told the jury. “You don't have to like him, but I ask you to treat him fairly.”
He asked the jury to find his client not guilty.
The jury will decide whether or not Wilkie is guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or not guilty.
Check back with blueridgenow.com for more updates.
Follow updates of the trial from Weaver on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EmilyWORDWeaver
Categories: News

NASCAR's Brian Vickers to race after heart surgery

2 hours 24 min ago
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Brian Vickers is eager to get back on the racetrack and prove to everyone he still has what it takes to win Sprint Cup races following emergency open heart surgery last month.
"Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated," Vickers said Tuesday during NASCAR's annual media week. "I am still kicking."
Vickers will miss the first two Cup races as part of his recovery process, but has been given a clean bill of health to begin racing March 8 at Las Vegas. He will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Vickers said doctors told him that three months will be more than enough time for his chest to heal after they were forced to crack open his sternum on Dec. 15 to repair a hole in his heart for a second time.
"I feel great," said Vickers, a three-time Sprint Cup Series winner who had nine top-10 finishes last season and finished 22nd in the final standings.
The December setback was the third major health scare for Vickers since 2010.
Five years ago he underwent a pair of procedures — one to close a hole in his heart and another to insert a stent into a vein in his left leg. He missed 25 races during the 2010 season. He would miss an additional five races in 2013 after being placed on blood thinners to treat a blood clot in his right calf.
Vickers said the latest procedure was the most traumatic and the toughest to recover from, calling it "painful and extreme." He briefly contemplated retiring from racing.
"I have had to deal with a lot of these emotions and thoughts several times now," Vickers said. "Could I ever race again and, if I could, would I want to? ... There was times where I was like, 'somebody is trying to tell me something.'"
But Vickers said he is driven to win a Sprint Cup championship, and doesn't want to look back later in life in regret passing up a chance to reach that goal.
Vickers took over as a full-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing last year after sharing a seat with Mark Martin in 2012 and most of 2013. His only win in 58 races with MWR came at New Hampshire in 2013.
Vickers' toughness has resonated with the man who writes his checks.
"Not a lot of people have gone through what that young man has gone through," Waltrip said. "His determination and his desire to be a champion in the Sprint Cup series is something that motivates our whole team."
Vickers' latest heart issue came in December when he became ill on the way to a photo shoot. He wound up at Carolinas Medical Center where doctors rushed him into surgery to repair the hole in his heart after his body rejected his artificial patch that was initially used in 2010.
At the time, the 31-year-old Vickers was told he may never race again.
"It was a pretty traumatic event going through that," Vickers said. "It was the worst of all the medical procedures I have had to face."
Through it all, Vickers hasn't lost his sense of humor.
He sat on stage Tuesday joking with teammate Clint Bowyer about how doctors replaced his heart with that of a lion.
"Yeah, it's way stronger," Bowyer cracked.
Waltrip will fill in for Vickers at the Daytona 500, while Brett Moffitt will race the second week at Atlanta.
After that, it's all Vickers.
He said he has been training feverishly to get healthy. He swam two miles in the pool over the weekend.
He's primarily focused on strengthening his chest.
"There was a lot of uncertainty going into the surgery," Vickers said. "Unfortunately I have had to hear that you'll never go racing again too many times in my life. But I've been able to get past that."
Categories: News

Wilkie convicted of 1st-degree murder

2 hours 24 min ago
After about 30 mins of deliberation, Michael Wilkie has been convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of his wife, Shelby Wilkie.
Wilkie faces a sentence of life without parole.
Seventeen witnesses testified in the three-day trial that took three years to bring before a jury. The state introduced 185 pieces of evidence, including a charred bracelet once worn by the victim, Shelby Wilkie, a taped interview of Michael Wilkie who pleaded for his wife's return two days after he say he burned her remains, and hundreds of photographs.
Stay tuned to Blueridgenow.com for updates.
Categories: News

Three charged in armed robberies near Old Sunset Hill Road

2 hours 29 min ago
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office has charged three people in connection with armed robberies reported in the vicinity of Old Sunset Hill Road Sunday and Monday.
On Sunday at about 3:20 p.m., deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery on Corn Mountain Road off of Old Sunset Hill Road. The victim gave investigators information that allowed them to recover part of the stolen property a short time later, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Tuesday.
During the investigation, a second robbery victim was identified from the same area involving similar circumstances, the release states. Both robbery victims stated an edged weapon was displayed each time.
On Monday at about 3 p.m., in the same vicinity of Old Sunset Hill Road, deputies and detectives responded to an assault call and determined the victim was also one of the victims from Sunday’s reported robbery, according to the release. The victim in the assault suffered minor injuries and was treated by Henderson County EMS but was not taken to a hospital.
Three people have been charged in relation to the incidents. Marquis Harrison, 21, of 221 Divide Loop Road, Dana, has been charged with felony conspiracy and two felony counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon. Harrison is being held at the Henderson County Detention Facility in lieu of $55,0000 secured bond.
Freddie Cory Foster, 28, of 86 Captain’s Circle, Hendersonville, has been charged with damage to personal property, felony intimidation of state’s witness and assault. Foster is being held at the Henderson County Detention Facility in lieu of $32,000 secured bond.
Destini Parker, 21, of 105 Ranshead Court, Townville, S.C., has been charged with felony robbery, aid and abet armed robbery, resist/delay and obstruct an officer. Parker has been released in lieu of $12,0000 secured bond.
As the investigation continues, further arrests and additional charges are possible. Anyone with information about similar incidents or victims is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 828-697-4911.
Categories: News

N. Carolina jobless rate falls to 5.5 percent in December

2 hours 47 min ago
RALEIGH (AP) — North Carolina's jobless rate dropped for the fourth straight month, falling to 5.5 percent in December when the state was one of the top four in the number of people joining the workforce.
The revised rate for November was 5.9 percent, up slightly from the 5.8 percent originally reported. The rate, which was 6.9 percent in December 2013, has been falling since September.
The number of people employed increased almost 1,283 from November to December to more than 4.3 million. The number of people unemployed decreased almost 15,843 over the month to more than 255,510.
Since December 2013, total nonfarm jobs gained 114,500, with the total private sector growing by 119,900 and government decreasing by 5,400. North Carolina trailed only Texas (457,900), California (320,300) and Florida (230,600) in the number of nonfarm jobs added in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"What that tells you is we're fully recovered from the recession," said James F. Smith, an economic forecaster and chief economist for Parsec Financial in Asheville. "We're below the national average in unemployment and doing very well in total employment."
As for the loss of government jobs, "that's probably fabulous news," Smith said. "Fewer bureaucrats are better than more. But it could be bad news. If it's all school teachers, it's bad news because enrollment has gone up. We don't know who it is. We don't even know if it's local, state or federal (jobs)."
The December rate in North Carolina also was slightly lower than the national rate of 5.6 percent. That's the first time the rate has been lower than the national one since last April.
"The latest report released today continues to show that North Carolina is headed in the right direction when it comes to creating jobs and rebuilding the economy," Gov. Pat McCrory said in a news release.
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Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc
Categories: News

The latest on the Northeast snowstorm

2 hours 51 min ago
7 A.M. EST
The storm continues to pound eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut and eastern Long Island, where accumulations could reach 2 feet. Light snow is falling in New York City, which got about 7-10 inches of snow. Philadelphia, initially predicted to get about a foot of snow, gets about an inch. Boston is virtually shut down, but places farther south are reopening, with New Jersey lifting a travel ban in the southern half of the state.
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6 A.M. EST
Amtrak suspends service north of New York and reduces its schedule for trains operating south of New York. Northeast Regional and Acela Express services are operating on a reduced schedule between New York and Washington.
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4 A.M. EST
Maine Gov. Paul LePage declares a state of emergency and announces that all state offices are closed Tuesday. LePage cites the forecast for winter storm and blizzard conditions, as well as the potential coastal flooding in southwest Maine.
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MIDNIGHT EST
Rhode Island implemented a travel ban on all roads and closed its bridges.
Categories: News

Milk industry fights back against 'anti-dairy folks'

2 hours 51 min ago
NEW YORK (AP) — The milk industry is fed up with all the sourness over dairy.
As Americans continue turning away from milk, an industry group is pushing back at its critics with a social media campaign trumpeting the benefits of milk. The association says it needs to act because attitudes about milk are deteriorating more rapidly, with vegan groups, non-dairy competitors and other perceived enemies getting louder online.
Julia Kadison, CEO of Milk Processor Education Program, which represents milk companies, says the breaking point came last year when the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths and higher incidents of fractures. Even though the study urged a cautious interpretation of its findings, it prompted posts online about the dangers of drinking milk.
"I said, 'That's enough.' We can't have these headlines that 'Milk Can Kill You' and not stand up for the truth," Kadison said in a phone interview. She said MilkPEP's consumer surveys have indicated a noticeable deterioration in attitudes about milk over the past year or so, although they declined to give specific survey results.
On Tuesday, the "Get Real" social media campaign will be announced at a dairy industry gathering in Boca Raton, Florida in conjunction with the National Dairy Council and Dairy Management Inc., which represent dairy farmers. The campaign is intended to drown out milk's detractors with positive posts about milk on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Milk brands, their employees and others in the industry will post the messages and direct people to a website where they can get more information.
Online ads will also tout the superiority of dairy milk over almond milk, which is surging in popularity.
The campaign comes as milk's dominance in American homes continues to wane as beverage options proliferate. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, people drank an average of 14.5 gallons of milk a year in 2012. That's down 33 percent from the 21.8 gallons a year in 1970.
Total milk sales volume has declined 12 percent since 2009, according to market researcher Euromonitor International.
One factor chipping away at milk's dominance is the growth of non-dairy alternatives. While soy milk's popularity has faded, retail sales for almond milk are estimated to be up 39 percent last year, according to Virginia Lee, a packaged food analyst with Euromonitor.
Meanwhile, the USDA recommends adults get three cups of dairy a day, including options like fat-free, low-fat milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which represents nutrition professionals, is supporting the Get Real campaign and its push to underscore "the decades of research reinforcing low-fat milk as one of the most nutrient-rich beverages available."
But milk's wholesome image is nevertheless being muddied by diet trends and divergent attitudes about nutrition. Many who follow the popular Paleo diet, for instance, shun dairy because people didn't drink it during the Stone Age.
Animal welfare groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are also a thorn in the milk industry's side. On its website, PETA notes that "no species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species" and details the cruel conditions dairy cows are often subject to.
That's one of the reasons Valentin Vornicu, a 31-year-old resident of San Diego, California, said he stays away from milk. Vornicu became a vegan four years ago and says he has more energy and has never felt better.
"It looks like a scene from the Matrix. 'You see a picture of that and you're like, I'm drinking this? ," said Vornicu, citing footage he's seen of cows hooked up to milking machines.
Already, MilkPEP has tried some different tactics in hopes of battling milk's decline.
In 2007, the group started promoting chocolate milk as a recovery drink for athletes. Then last year, the industry dropped its "Got Milk?" campaign featuring famous people sporting milk mustaches in favor of a campaign called "Milk Life" that focuses on the everyday benefits of milk.
With the "Get Real" campaign launching Tuesday, Kadison said the industry plans to stop "the seeds of doubt" that "naysayers, these anti-dairy folks, and also the competitors" are planting in people's mind about milk "before the fever gets too high."
Categories: News

Dwindling group of survivors to mark Auschwitz 70 years on

2 hours 51 min ago
OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) — A decade ago, 1,500 Holocaust survivors traveled to Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the death camp's liberation. On Tuesday, for the 70th anniversary, organizers are expecting 300, the youngest in their 70s.
"In 10 years there might be just one," said Zygmunt Shipper, an 85-year-old survivor who will attend the event in southern Poland to pay homage to the millions killed by the Third Reich. In recent years, Shipper has been traveling around Britain to share his story with school groups, hoping to reach as many people as he can while he has the strength.
"The children cry, and I tell them to talk to their parents and brothers and sisters and ask them 'why do we do it and why do we hate?'" he said. "We mustn't forget what happened."
But as the world moves inevitably closer to a post-survivor era, some Jewish leaders fear that people are already starting to forget. And they warn that the anti-Semitic hatred and violence that are on the rise, particularly in Europe, could partly be linked to fading memories of the Holocaust.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, says that the recent massacres in Paris, which targeted Jews and newspaper satirists, are proof of growing hatred and extremism. It's a message he plans to stress in a speech Tuesday at the former site of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the Nazis killed more than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews.
"Shortly after World War II, after we saw the reality of Auschwitz and the other death camps, no normal person wanted to be associated with the anti-Semitism of the Nazis," Lauder said. "But, as the Holocaust grows more distant and survivors disappear, extremists grow more bold in targeting Jews. Stoked by a false narrative that blames Israel for a litany of the world's problems, anti-Semitism is resurgent and deadly."
Distance from the Holocaust is only one factor behind the rising anti-Semitism, and experts also fault the ease with which hateful propaganda is spread on the Internet and the growing presence of radical Islam in Europe. In Hungary and Greece, far-right movements have grown stronger amid economic decline.
"Fading memories are one reason for the rise in anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism was always there," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League and a survivor himself. "We have hidden it, made it unacceptable, made it un-PC, but we never really eliminated it. The consciousness of what anti-Semitism was, of Auschwitz, was prevalent; it kept the lid on it. It wasn't acceptable to be anti-Semitic."
Despite the troubling trend, there are also reasons for hope. Mainstream society has become more vigilant, and Holocaust educators say that interest in the Holocaust keeps growing. Also, anti-Semitism remains a huge taboo for most politicians and mainstream societies in the West. Political opposition to anti-Semitism will be underlined by the presence Tuesday of the presidents of Germany, France and Poland, along with many other European leaders and royalty.
In Germany, which has stressed Holocaust education for years, leaders, media and most citizens show little tolerance for anti-Semitism. A recent example came just days ago, when a photo surfaced of an anti-immigrant leader, Lutz Bachmann, sporting an Adolf Hitler moustache and his hair combed over like the Fuehrer. Comments also emerged in which he called refugees "cattle" and "filthy."
Though he called the photo a joke, German leaders and the media found nothing funny. Their condemnation was swift and resolute, and Bachmann immediately resigned from his role as a head of the anti-immigrant group he helped found, PEGIDA.
But condemnation of anti-Semitism hasn't stopped it from growing in Muslim immigrant communities in Germany. Since the Gaza war last summer, there has been an increase in attacks against Israelis, synagogues and Jewish institutions. In Paris last summer anti-Israel protests turned violent, and anti-Jewish fury was on display in Belgium and Italy.
"Everybody is afraid, everybody," said Levi Salomon, the spokesman for the Berlin Jewish Forum for Democracy and against Anti-Semitism which tracks anti-Semitic crimes and helps victims. "In Germany it is not as extreme as in other countries. We haven't had any murder cases yet, but still people are worried."
In recent years there have also been deadly attacks on Jews. Last May a shooting killed three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and in 2012 a rabbi and three children were murdered in the French city of Toulouse.
One troubling question: Could anti-Semitism grow even more in coming years, when school children will no longer be able to have the life-altering experience of learning about the Holocaust directly from someone who was ripped away from a mother, who endured indescribable hunger, cold and torture, who witnessed chimneys spew out the smoke of burning bodies?
Holocaust educators are struggling to film as many survivor testimonies for future generations as possible, but there is no replacing the emotional impact of hearing directly from a survivor.
Eva Umlauf, an Auschwitz survivor who lives in Munich and also speaks to school classes, believes the culture of remembrance will inevitably change because "the era of the survivors is coming to an end soon" — she just doesn't know how. She observes that German youth already have much greater emotional distance to the war than earlier generations.
"Their perception of the Holocaust is abstract. These kids are already the children of those born long after the end of the war — there isn't really a direct connection anymore to the great-grandparents who lived at that time in Germany," said Umlauf, who was born in 1942 in a labor camp for Jews in Slovakia. In November 1944, at the age of 23 months, she was taken to Auschwitz with her pregnant mother. Today the 72-year-old is believed to be the youngest survivor who will attend Tuesday's commemorations.
Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev also laments that the world will be a poorer place without the survivors and the moral example they set. By and large, he says, they are individuals who saw the worst of humankind but still mustered the energy after the war to rebuild their lives, putting their faith again in humanity's best side.
"The most astonishing fact for me and many others is that the heritage of the survivors is a very optimistic one," Shalev said. "They didn't come out of the war desperate and bitter human beings who wanted to take revenge."
That optimism, Shalev says, gives many of them hope that the world will continue to remember what happened to them "maybe not for eternity — but for a long time."
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Categories: News

Community Briefs: Jan. 27

2 hours 51 min ago
Donated books needed
The Friends of the Library Book Sale Committee is in need of books for the annual book sale coming up in July. Members of the Book Sale Committee can pick up books at your home.
For more information, call Sandy Denman, chair of the committee, at 627-2370 to arrange for pick up. The 2015 annual book sale is scheduled for July 23-25.
Meetings
The Etowah Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in the school's media center.
The Fletcher Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:35 p.m. Wednesday in the school's media center.
The French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization Board will meet at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the multipurpose room of Fletcher Town Hall.
Events
Feed the Kids Coalition will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church, 1245 Sixth Ave. W., Hendersonville. Non-members welcome. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Info: Irv Kershner at irv.kersh@gmail.com or 698-2630.
The Henderson County Department of Social Services and Mud Creek Baptist Church will co-host Foster Parent Training classes beginning Wednesday. The 10-week class prepares prospective foster/adoptive parents through the Henderson County Department of Social Services. Reservations and fingerprints are required. Info: 694-6252 or families4kids@hendersoncountydss.org.
The Pyramid Brass Quintet will perform at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Kaplan Auditorium of the Henderson County Public Library, 311 N. Washington St., Hendersonville. Info: 697-4725.
Categories: News

Lawmaker threatens to 'out' hypocrites opposing gay marriage

2 hours 51 min ago
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's only openly gay lawmaker is threatening to expose state politicians who have extramarital affairs but say gay marriage is immoral or bad for children.
State Rep. Patricia Todd, a Birmingham Democrat, says she was furious over some of the comments made by some colleagues after they learned gay couples might soon be able to get married in Alabama.
Todd says they're being hypocrites. She says will "out" politicians who cheat on their spouses or have other ethical lapses, but cite family values to oppose gay marriage.
Todd says she does not mind if people disagree on the issue, but it's offensive to suggest gay families are lesser families.
A judge last week struck down Alabama's two bans on gay marriage. Some politicians say the state will defend its Christian, conservative values.
Categories: News

AVL sees record passenger numbers in 2014

2 hours 51 min ago
Asheville Regional Airport reported Tuesday of a record number of passengers in 2014. More than 378,000 passengers flew out of the airport that year, and 378,301 passengers arrived, according to an airport news release.
This is an 11.5 percent increase compared to 2013 and a 2.3 percent increase compared to 2010, the previous best year on record.
A key factor to that growth is the Western North Carolina community that the airport services, Executive Director Lew Bleiweis stated in the news release.
“We have to tell a story of the entire area to airlines,” said Tina Kinsey, director of marketing and PR for the airport.
Airlines look for airports whose demographics are most likely to fill enough seats to make adding a plane economically viable, she said.
One-third of the Asheville airport’s passengers are business travelers, but they purchase about half the tickets, making them frequent travelers, Kinsey said. Asheville also sees a large number of retired leisure travelers who fly almost as frequently as business travelers.
Passengers typically look for three things: frequency, price and convenience, she said.
“People want a flight they can afford that’s close to home and guaranteed at a time when they need to travel,” Kinsey said.
Those factors have influenced airlines to increase the number of flights to Asheville, she said.
One of the airline/airport success stories is the addition of Allegiant Airlines, Kinsey said. A couple of years ago, the low-cost leisure company partnered with Asheville Regional Airport to establish several Florida flight destinations and recently expanded to include the only Palm Beach destination offered by Allegiant from a regional airport in the United States.
Projections for 2015 show an overall increase in seats compared to last year, Kinsey said. Delta already started increasing the number of passengers it can take, while American is expected to add seats in March. United will add more seats starting in late spring, she said.
“This is positive to see airlines already increasing the number of passengers their planes can hold, given how much increase we had in 2014,” Kinsey said.
Categories: News

McGrady named House Appropriations Committee co-chair

2 hours 51 min ago
State Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville has landed a key appointment as one of the co-chairs of the House Appropriations Committee, Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) announced Tuesday.
As a co-chair, McGrady will be one of a just a few legislators who will negotiate a final state budget.
Last year, McGrady was one of the co-chairs of the Education Appropriations subcommittee, and his influence extended mostly to education issues. In his new position, McGrady will work on the entire budget, which includes transportation, public safety, human services, environment and education.
McGrady will also serve on the following House committees: Agriculture, Alcoholic Beverage Control, Commerce & Job Development, Education-Universities, Environment, Ethics, Judiciary II and Wildlife Resource. He will serve as vice chair of both the Environment and Judiciary II committees.
McGrady is beginning his third two-year term in the N.C. House of Representatives. He represents most of Henderson County, including Hendersonville, Fletcher, Mills River, Laurel Park, Edneyville, Dana and Bat Cave.
Categories: News

Got A Minute? With Scott Martin

2 hours 51 min ago
Name: Scott Martin
Age: 33
Residence: Hendersonville
Occupation: Assistant Basketball Coach for Veritas Christian boys, head coach/founder of Carolina Cross-Over U17 Travel Team
What year did you graduate from West Henderson, and what was it like playing for Rick Wood?
I graduated in 2000 from West. To be honest, I wasn't much of a basketball player. In my mind I thought I was, but just like any teenage boy, we think we are better at things than we actually are. Coach Wood would was nice enough to take me on my senior year. I came off the bench obviously, and was 6 feet tall playing back-up center. I get a chuckle out of the fact that I may be the only player in West Henderson basketball history (that I am aware of) that never scored a point in their career. When I tell my players that now, they always seem to get a good laugh out of it.
I always liked Coach Wood, but I don't think I really appreciated him until long after I graduated. I will be the first to tell you that our coaching styles are nothing alike. He is very quiet and calm, where I find myself with too much energy to ever sit down. The coaching aspect of Coach Wood that I try and imitate the most would be his ability to plan and prepare. I have never met a man who is so organized.
I came to his house for a visit a few years ago to talk about how things were going in my life and with my coaching. When I got there he said he had a surprise for me. He went in another room and came back with a piece of paper. It was the score sheet from the first game I had ever coached, back in 1999, as a junior in high school. It was a Saturday morning middle school rec league game. He still had the score book and made me a copy of it. Who does that? (laughs). However, that's part of what made Coach Wood the leader he was and still is today in our community, his ability to be so organized and keep track of things.
Where did you go after high school graduation?
As soon as graduated, I left to go to school at the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg, now USC-Upstate. I was only there a couple of months before my grandfather was killed in a car accident. He raised me and was like a superhero in my life. I left school and moved back home to be closer to my family. I started back to school the next semester at BRCC.
In the summer of 2002, I made the decision to move to Wilmington and further my education there. I started my education down there at Cape Fear Community College, where I was a member of their basketball team for a year, before I transferred over to UNCW, where I eventually received my degree in Communication Studies. I remained there for 11 years before returning home in 2013.
Talk about your coaching career and where it has taken you.
It's funny how you know what you want to do with your life, even at a young age, but run away from it as you grow older because of “the money” or pursuit of other things. My love for sports stemmed from the days of playing games in the backyard with my grandfather. I was never the kid who had a parent forcing them to play a sport they didn't love. I played sports because it was a game and it was fun.
I think every young athlete dreams of being a pro one day, but reality sets in at some point and you come to realize “OK, maybe I need to have a plan B.” I have this undying passion and love for sports that I think few have. I still love playing basketball. I always have, but I was never anywhere close to making a living from doing it.
When I was in high school I won some awards for being the sports editor of the Wingspan newspaper staff at West. Mrs. Gorsuch is another phenomenal teacher in our community who leaves a lasting impact on her students. I actually received a huge scholarship to the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg to be the sports editor for their newspaper as a freshman.
For a long time my mother and I thought that I would become a sports journalist. However, to be honest with you, I never was big on working under strict deadlines. I wanted to be involved in sports as a career, but I just wasn't sure how.
Years later when I first declared a major at UNCW, I chose physical education. I wanted to be a coach. Unfortunately, that decision only lasted a few days before I switched to another major once I researched how much pay a teacher actually received. Looking back, that was a huge mistake in my life. I ran from my love and passion to pursue money and materialism.
As a coach, teacher, or mentor I think it's important to be able to tell others how to learn from your mistakes. I encourage my kids each year to pursue a career in something they are passionate about, because if you love what you do and are good at it, the money will follow. Never run away from what you love.
It's funny how your thoughts on life change as you get older. When I was young and in college, all that seemed to matter was having a good time and doing whatever it took to be rich and famous one day.
Now all I want to do is wake up every day, go to a job I love, where I have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the world or in the life of someone I encounter each day. The money doesn't matter to me. The way I look at things, when the day comes that God chooses to bless me with a wife and children, as long as I am able to provide for them while I'm doing what I love and positively affect the lives of others on a daily basis, then what more could you want?
Five years ago, your house in Wilmington was destroyed by Hurricane Irene. Describe that experience and how you got to be back in Western North Carolina.
I had just finished going back to school to complete my degree. I was just over a month out of graduating and looking for work. I was coaching at a private school called Cape Fear Academy at the time. I wasn't working at the time aside from coaching. Financially I was in a tough spot. It was the weekend of Labor Day and a hurricane was coming. It was a big storm and since I had no work engagements I decided to just head home to Hendersonville to visit my mom and grandmother.
I hadn't arrived at my grandmother's house five minutes before my phone rang and my roommate was telling me how a giant tree had crushed my house.
After the storm passed I went back down and assessed the damage. The insurance company was extremely difficult to deal with and I had no idea what it was going to cost. I thought I was going to lose my home. However, throughout the whole ordeal I had an incredible peace. I am a man of faith and I feel God provided me with the comfort and peace I needed to make it through an ordeal that seemed pretty hopeless. Long story short, a guy I knew from coaching a Christian Summer Basketball Camp happened to be a writer for Yahoo Sports. He got in touch with me and asked if he could do a story about the hurricane destroying my home. I told him sure.
Once the story came out, amazing things started to happen. The insurance company went into overdrive trying to make sure I was taken care of.
Families of kids I had coached in my first few years reached out to me. Some parents paid my mortgage for the next couple of months. Another family paid the insurance deductible. It was amazing. Also, job offers that were willing to work around my coaching schedule started to come in after the story was published. It was a disaster that ended up turning into a blessing.
It's amazing to see how God works when you sit back, have faith and let him take control. At the same time, it means a lot that parents and families of kids you have worked with over the years think enough of you to help you out when you are down. It meant so much and I will never forget them for it.
What led you to Veritas Christian Academy and what has that experience been like?
After a very challenging experience and difference of opinion and direction last year at North Henderson, I decided to resign my position and focus more on my travel program. When reaching out to schools in the area about players who may be interested in trying out, I came in contact with Coach Rector.
He sent three players my way and stayed in contact with me weekly just discussing basketball things. He is a very good coach who is devoted to his program and making sure they are doing what it takes to getting better. He and I hit it off immediately. I am much happier this year because it's more of a fit for me.
Our schedule is tough. We play against the best because we want to be our best. The coaching staff is wonderful. Coach Rector is always open to ideas and allows me to run a lot of practices. As soon as he calls a time-out or a quarter is over he will come straight to myself and the other assistant coach, Kyle Scanlin, and ask our opinions on things. We work very well together and that helps breed success.
When you have good ideas coming from different angles and are able to talk about them openly together, it's amazing the sort of combinations we are able to put together. Every coaching situation, good or bad, that I have been in, I have learned something to add to my arsenal or style if you will.
Something I have learned a lot this year is the importance of defense. I have always prided myself on my ability to draw up plays or design offensive sets to attack any defense. I keep a notepad by my bed at night so if come up with a play during the night I can wake up, right it down, and try it out at practice to see if it works. I am always coming up with stuff. Sometimes it works and sometimes it's something to laugh at. Believe it or not, some of my best plays were things I thought up while lying in bed in the morning.
I have had good defensive plays too. However, at Veritas I have learned the importance of playing good sound defense. Rather than focusing on the play you are running, focus on are you doing what it takes to run the play successfully. Coach Rector is like the Dictator of Defense. We will spend entire practices working on just defense. We are undersized in almost every game we play.
However, we play man-to-man probably 80 percent of the time. His idea is to teach every kid how to play defense the right way. Win or lose we are going to do it the right way.
Talk about your travel ball teams and coaching for them.
I knew when I moved up here that I wanted to start a travel ball team. Once I got to North Henderson and realized there were kids in the area who wanted to play basketball year-round, but didn't really have the opportunity to, I was just fueled even more. Once my grandmother got sick I decided that I wanted to make my travel basketball team something bigger than just an off-season basketball program. I knew my grandmother would appreciate me doing something more. I reached the decision to do a Christian-based travel team after spending time with her while she still was able to communicate and process thoughts clearly.
I wanted to pick an assistant coach who shared in my passion and enthusiasm for the game. I chose Hendersonville High's Marvin Featherstone. Marvin is obviously a great coach, not only because of his record and accolades, but because of the relationship he has with kids. You can tell he cares about who each one of them really is. Travel ball is sort of a different beast. You practice as often as you can, but with players coming from all sorts of different areas to play together on one team, organizing practice times can be tough. We usually practiced once or twice a week.
Last year I had a bunch of local talent from around the area. I had former West standout Adam Witte, Hendersonville guard Vic Mendoza, North players Drew Williams, Johnny Heim and Michael Pace, Mountain Heritage star guard Austin Avery, Carolina Day's leading scorer Tyson Sellers, Veritas Christian players Josh Rhodius, Cornel Rhodius, and Trent Wells, as well as a couple guys I coached in Wilmington that joined us at tournaments.
Any time you are just starting a program it can be tough. It was hard getting everyone's schedule in line for tournaments and for practices. Last year was trying to just figure everything out. This year will be much more organized and put together.
Travel Basketball is often referred to as “showcase basketball.” It's an actual opportunity for players to showcase their abilities in front of college coaches and recruiters who attend the events. Truth be told, most college basketball scouting takes place during travel basketball season, because college coaching staffs are too busy with their own basketball seasons to really go out and recruit during the winter months.
This can present a tough challenge for a coach, because you want the players to show what they can do while not forgetting that it's not about themselves and playing selfishly trying to impress the recruiters. I just try and hammer in the point that college coaches see guys make shots every day. They want to see if you can do the little things.
Can this kid defend in the open court? Does he know what angle he should take after setting a screen? How does he move off the ball? Can he get his teammates involved? How does he respond to adversity when he misses a few shots, gets blocked, or there is a bad call against him?
Kids don't think about that. They think, “Hey if I score 30 points those coaches are going to come after me.” Unfortunately, a lot of parents are fueling that idea as well. That can be hard on a coach because you are trying to get a kid to do what coach is asking them to do, while trying to make sure they are making mom and dad happy.
Fortunately, I have been blessed with a great group of kids and parents who seem to have a pretty good understanding of what I am trying to do.
What are your future plans and goals?
I am not going to lie, the ultimate goal since I started coaching, is to have my own program. I am not the type of guy who is going to sit here and tell you that I am going to be the head coach at Duke one day. I try to be a little more realistic than that. However, I would love to be the head coach down the road at a Division II or Division III school one day, making a career out of my passion for coaching a sport I love. Occupationally, what could be more gratifying than that? Obviously, aside from coaching I look forward to being a husband and a father one day.
I just want to make a difference. How can I positively impact the lives of the people I work with? As a coach of course I want to win ballgames, and I plan on teaching the young men I work with everything I can to help them do that. However, when it's all said and done, I want the kids to look back and say, “Playing for Coach Martin was fun and something I will remember the rest of my life.” If the kids had a positive experience they can hold on to for years to come and we were able to win ballgames in the process, then I did my job.
Every team I coach is a family. Once you've played for me, you will always be one of my players. I get phone calls, texts messages, and emails from former players all the time.
For them to still think enough of me, years after playing for me, to call me up means the world to me. Whether it's to ask me a question about basketball or about life, or even just a “Do remember the time…” conversation and we share a laugh, those are the sort of things that make me feel good about what I do.
When a player or parent tells me the impact I am having in their life or the life of their child, no amount of money can match that sort of gratification.
Categories: News

Detective details evidence found in Wilkie's home

4 hours 52 min ago
On the third day of the Michael Wilkie murder trial, Detective Sonya Matthews told the jury of the moment when the evidence they were struggling to find lit up the wall and floors of Wilkie's home. The discovery turned their search for a missing person into a homicide investigation.
Wilkie is accused of killing his wife, Shelby Wilkie, and burning her remains. Shelby Wilkie was reported missing by her father on Jan. 2, 2012.
Matthews and another detective, both from the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, went to Michael Wilkie's home to ask him some questions in a follow-up investigation on the missing persons report minutes before noon on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. Boxes and storage totes filled the living room and Matthews said it looked like Wilkie was in the process of putting Christmas decorations away.
Wilkie picked the baby up and held her while they asked him questions, she said. Wilkie didn't seem upset about his wife's disappearance, Matthews told the jury, but he did seem nervous.
“When we asked him direct questions about his wife's whereabouts, where he'd seen her and where she was going and what she was wearing and questions like that, he averted his gaze a lot. He seemed, in my investigative experience, to be extremely nervous and uncomfortable with the questions. He began sweating,” Matthews told the jury. “He began swallowing nervously as I spoke to him and he stammered quite a bit.”
Matthews grew more suspicious the longer she spoke with him, she said, and she observed scratches near his eyes that she photographed at the home.
On Friday, Shelby's father, William Sprowls Jr., told the jury he had instructed his daughter to go for an assailant's eyes if she was ever being attacked and needed to get away.
Matthews said Wilkie admitted the scratches came from Shelby during an altercation, but he told detectives that he “just took it” and did not fight back.
Matthews searched the home, looking in closets and under furniture where someone could hide, searching for signs of an altercation, lifting the edges of boxes in the living room to check if their weight suggested the weight of a human body. She smelled for any signs of bleach or fresh paint, which her training taught her could indicate the cover-up of a crime, but found nothing too alarming. No luggage appeared to be missing, she said.
She began looking into Shelby Wilkie's phone records and credit card activity.
“Every avenue that we pursued just indicated that Shelby had just disappeared. There was no activity at work. There was no contact with anyone that she could have or would have had contact with,” Matthews said. “Her cellphone was turned off with no activity, so there was no lead for us to follow that Shelby might have gone somewhere on her own… We decided to start taking a closer look at the husband.”
The case morphed from a missing persons investigation into a possible homicide during a search of Wilkie's home aided by chemicals on Jan. 5, 2012, Matthews said.
Luminol, a solution that glows when it reacts to blood and is often used by investigators to detect the presence of blood hidden from the naked eye, began to tell a story at the scene.
The chemical investigation started with luminol in Wilkie's master bedroom, Matthews said.
“They began applying the spray to the wall first,” she said. “I immediately saw the far wall begin to glow and the pattern that it displayed looked like someone had squirted a line across that wall that had enough substance that it was able to drip and run down the wall. It was several feet long.
“What was truly shocking to all of us that were there, especially to me, was the silhouette of a human body leaning against the wall. I cannot recollect which direction it was facing, but I'd never seen anything like that before,” Matthews told the jury. “You could distinctly make out the knees, the torso, the shoulder and the head. It looked like the head was slightly forward as if the person had slumped down and then leaned over against the wall. The luminol went and made that blue glow just right around that shape as if the blood … had flowed around that body as it leaned against the wall.”
The luminol started to glow in a solid line trailing to a puddle on the bedroom floor. Matthew told the jury that swirl marks, as might be made by someone cleaning up a spill, were illuminated on the floor leading to the bedroom door. “Drag marks” fluoresced the length of the hallway floor to the living room, where the marks took a 90-degree turn toward the front door.
“After seeing that I was 99 percent sure that Mrs. Wilkie was no longer alive,” Matthews said.
Clues in ashes
It was getting dark when State Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Jim McClelland said he was called out to a field near Wilkie's parents' home at 705 Kanuga Lake Road on Jan. 5, 2012.
Officers had found a 55-gallon metal barrel containing some ashes on the property.
Calling in the “light brigade,” McClelland said they employed flashlights, spotlights and extra lights from a local fire department to illuminate the darkened field and woods in search of more clues. Officers found it in an ash heap near the foot of a hill.
Deputy Vincent Griggs, a 19-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, told the jury he found a charred bracelet, the button fastener from a pair of Nautica jeans and what appeared to be scorched bone fragments in the ashes.
Matthews told the jury that the fragments were sent to the medical examiner's office for DNA analysis, but the test results did not help them in identifying the remains of Shelby Wilkie.

The interview
The bracelet helped, though, as did an admission from Wilkie himself.
Detective Sgt. Andrew Anderson, a 17-and-a-half-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, told the jury Wilkie admitted to burning his wife's body after her death, but never confessed to killing her or harming her during their last fight.
During a more than five-hour interview at the Sheriff's Office, Wilkie initially said he had not seen his wife since she left for work on the morning of Jan. 2, 2012. He later gave Anderson the name of a Marriott hotel in Atlanta that she could have gone to before finally admitting to the detective that his wife was dead.
Anderson said Wilkie told him their fight began in the kitchen, then worked its way into the bathroom and master bedroom.Wilkie never admitted to hitting his wife, but did say Shelby Wilkie was bleeding from the nose, mouth or facial area.
When asked about the blood and an indention on a wall of the bedroom, Anderson said Wilkie told him the blood was probably from his ex-wife, before admitting it was more likely Shelby Wilkie's blood.
Anderson said Wilkie admitted to cleaning up some of the blood, but said his wife helped him.
To get him to open up about how Shelby Wilkie actually died, Anderson said he asked Wilkie if his wife killed herself.
“He said that she did kill herself,” Anderson told the jury. Wilkie told police his wife took some of his Ambien then grabbed a razor blade and sliced her wrists; he watched her die, the detective said.
Wilkie told police he didn't call 911 because he was afraid officers would target him as a suspect because a of past domestic violence call at the home regarding his wife.
Anderson said Wilkie told him he burned his wife's body in their backyard because she always wanted to be cremated. He said he dumped her ashes on the property near his parents' home because it was a favorite place of his as a child and he “wanted her to be at peace.”

The ex-wives
Outside of the jury's presence Monday morning, Melissa Summey took the stand to tell the court that her history with Wilkie made her hauntingly familiar with the area in which Shelby Wilkie's remains were found. She said she was married to Wilkie from October 1993 until 2000 and that they fought constantly.
During one fight at his parents' house, she said, Wilkie showed her the field.
“He told me that if I ever misbehaved again that he could put me out there and nobody would ever find me,” she said through tears.
Summey's testimony was excluded from the trial, but another ex-wife, Amanda Bailey Casey, was allowed to testify about the fight with Wilkie that left the indentation on the wall in the master bedroom.
Casey said she was four months pregnant when Wilkie pushed her into the wall, busting the sheetrock, before throwing her on the bed and choking her. She told the jury that she was able to get out the words, “Michael, you're going to kill me,” and he stopped.
Casey said Shelby called her a couple of months before her death, asking if Wilkie had ever tried to alienate Casey from her friends and family during their marriage. Casey said she told Shelby she knew exactly what she was going through, but was rushing out to an appointment. She asked Shelby to call her back, but she never did.
That was the last time she spoke to her, Casey told the jury.
In phone messages left on Shelby Wilkie's work phone a couple of days after her disappearance, Michael Wilkie is heard calling his wife seven times. He tells her that he loves her. He tells her that he misses her and asks her to call home. The calls were made a day after police say he burned her remains.
Shelby Wilkie's mother wept and leaned into her husband's shoulder as she heard her first voice message pleading for her daughter to call her immediately.
The trial resumes at 9:30 a.m., when Wilkie is set to decide whether or not a portion of his taped interview with Sgt. Anderson will be showed to the jury during Anderson's cross-examination.
Reach Weaver at Emily.weaver@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7867.
Follow Weaver on Twitter for updates during the trial at https://twitter.com/EmilyWORDWeaver or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EmilyWORDWeaver

Categories: News

Monster snowstorm swirls into densely populated Northeast US

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 22:44
NEW YORK (AP) — Tens of millions of people along the Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor rushed to get home and settle in Monday as a fearsome storm swirled in with the potential for hurricane-force winds and 1 to 3 feet of snow that could paralyze the Northeast for days.
Snow was coating cars and building up on sidewalks and roadways in New York City by evening, and light snow was falling in Boston. Forecasters said the storm would build into a blizzard, and the brunt of it would hit late Monday and into Tuesday.
As the snow got heavier, much of the region rushed to shut down.
More than 7,700 flights in and out of the Northeast were canceled, and many of them may not take off again until Wednesday. Schools and businesses let out early. Government offices closed. Shoppers stocking up on food jammed supermarkets and elbowed one another for what was left. Broadway stages went dark.
"It's going to be ridiculous out there, frightening," said postal deliveryman Peter Hovey, standing on a snowy commuter train platform in White Plains, New York.
All too aware that big snowstorms can make or break politicians, governors and mayors moved quickly to declare emergencies and order the shutdown of streets and highways to prevent travelers from getting stranded and to enable plows and emergency vehicles to get through.
"This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned.
He urged New Yorkers to go home and stay there, adding: "People have to make smart decisions from this point on."
Commuters like Sameer Navi. 27, of Long Island, were following the advice.
Navi, who works for Citigroup in Manhattan, said he takes the Long Island Rail Road every day and left work early Monday after warnings by local officials to get home before the brunt of the storm. "I did leave earlier than usual," he said. "Penn Station less crowded than I thought it would be so I'm guessing people left earlier or didn't go to work today."
Up to now, this has been a largely snow-free winter in the urban Northeast. But this storm threatened to make up the difference in a single blow.
Boston was expected to get 2 to 3 feet of snow, New York 1½ to 2 feet and Philadelphia more than a foot.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile swath of the region, meaning heavy, blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. Forecasters warned that the wind could gust to 75 mph or more along the Massachusetts coast and up 50 mph farther inland.
New York City's subways and buses were suspended at 11 p.m. In Massachusetts, ferry service to Martha's Vineyard was greatly curtailed and to Nantucket was suspended. Commuter railroads across the Northeast announced plans to stop running overnight, and most flights out of the region's major airports were canceled.
Authorities banned travel on all streets and highways in New York City and on Long Island and warned that violators could be fined $300. Even food deliveries were off-limits on the streets of takeout-friendly Manhattan. The governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island also slapped restrictions on nonessential travel.
"We learned the lesson the hard way," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, referring to instances in which motorists got stranded in the snow for 24 hours or more.
In New Jersey, plows and salt spreaders remained at work on the roads Monday night in Ocean County, one of the areas that were expected to be among the hardest hit. There was a coating of snow on the roads but hardly any vehicles were traveling on them, as residents seemed content to stay indoors and monitor the storm in comfort.
Most businesses in the area had gone dark, including some convenience stores and gas stations.
Earlier in the day, Nicole Coelho, a nanny from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, stocked up on macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and milk at a supermarket.
"I'm going to make sure to charge up my cellphone, and I have a good book I haven't gotten around to reading yet," she said.
Shopping cart gridlock descended on Fairway, the gourmet grocery on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The meat shelves were all but bare, customers shoved past each other and outside on Broadway the checkout line stretched for a block as the wind and snow picked up. Store employees said it was busier than Christmastime.
Ben Shickel went grocery shopping in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and found shelves had been cleaned out.
"We're used to these big snowstorms in New England, but 2 to 3 feet all at once and 50 to 60 mph winds? That's a different story," he said.
Last minute shoppers filed into the Jersey City ShopRite Monday evening, looking to stock up before the brunt of the storm hit. "I heard it's supposed to be snowing for two days straight, so we plan on staying inside and munching," said 18-year old Christian Waiters, who serves in the military.
On Wall Street, however, the New York Stock Exchange stayed open and said it would operate normally Tuesday as well.
Coastal residents braced for a powerful storm surge and the possibility of damaging flooding and beach erosion, particularly in New Jersey and on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Officials in New Jersey shore towns warned people to move their cars off the streets and away from the water.
Utility companies across the region put additional crews on standby to deal with anticipated power outages.
The storm posed one of the biggest tests yet for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who has been in office for less than three weeks. He warned residents to prepare for power outages and roads that are "very hard, if not impossible, to navigate."
The storm interrupted jury selection in the Boston Marathon bombing case and forced a postponement in opening statements in the murder trial of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez in Fall River, Massachusetts.
The Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots got out of town just in time, leaving from Logan Airport around midday for Phoenix, where the temperature will reach the high 60s.
The Washington area was expecting only a couple of inches of snow. But the House postponed votes scheduled for Monday night because lawmakers were having difficulty flying back to the nation's capital after the weekend.
___
Categories: News

Glynn, Johnson earn T-N Co-Players of the Week

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 20:51
Two area high school athletes dominated last week.
One was on the hardwood. The other was in water.
For East Henderson, Josh Glynn led the way on Friday to a big win over rival North Henderson on the basketball court — a win that was huge as the Eagles focus on making the playoffs. For West Henderson, Jake Johnson dominated in the pool winning two different events in the WNC Athletic Conference championship meet in Waynesville.
For their performances last week, Glynn and Johnson have earned Times-News Co-Player of the Week honors.
The Eagles played three games last week. On Tuesday, Glynn had 13 points, six rebounds and four steals in a loss to Pisgah. On Wednesday, the junior had 10 points and six steals in a win over Swain County.
On Friday, however, Glynn exploded against East's county rival, North Henderson.
Glynn filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 23 points, 10 assists, five steals and four rebounds.
“He really has come into his own this season,” East coach Bruce Gilliam said. “He brings so many things to the table for us. He's starting to understand how to play the game.”
In the water, Johnson earned the WNC Athletic Conference MVP honors at the conference meet on Saturday. The Falcon swimmer won the 100-yard freestyle in 50.57 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 55.43 seconds.
Honorable Mention
Caroline Marsh, North Henderson basketball: Marsh led the way for the Lady Knights as they beat rival East Henderson on Friday night. Marsh had 15 points, seven rebounds and eight steals.
Drew Williams, North Henderson basketball: The North Henderson boys' basketball team is going through a rough patch right now, but its junior point guard has been on fire. Williams and the Knights lost to East Henderson on Friday night, but Williams had a game-high 27 points.
Categories: News

HHS's Rudisill commits to play football at Mars Hill

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 20:41
There’s just something about being a Hendersonville Bearcat, Kobey Rudisill said.
The Hendersonville linebacker wrapped up his senior year in the fall and his football career isn’t over yet. Rudisill committed to play linebacker at Mars Hill on Monday afternoon.
Being a Hendersonville football player meant a lot of love and a family atmosphere, the senior said.
He found those things at Mars Hill when he went on his official visit last week. The players and coaches made him feel welcomed. It was almost like walking from his current campus to a collegiate campus. The only thing different was the name of the school.
The environments were similar, he said.
“I just thought it was a great place for me to grow as a student and as a player,” Rudisill, who had 68 tackles last season, said.
The senior picked Mars Hill over Methodist College in Fayetteville.
Hendersonville coach Eric Gash is thrilled for Rudisill. He knows exactly what Mars Hill is getting.
“Kobey’s worked hard,” Gash said. “He worked hard in the weight room and he’s worked hard in practice. He’s made himself into a good football player.”
And those are the lessons he’s taking with him to Mars Hill, Rudisill said.
In the end, however, a piece of him will always remain at the school he loves and that school will “have a piece of him.”
“I’m always going to be a Bearcat on the inside,” he said.
Categories: News

Flat Rock Cinema to host its sixth Super Bowl viewing party

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 20:04
For the sixth straight year, Flat Rock Cinema is hosting a Super Bowl viewing party, and owner Howard Molton is once again expecting tickets to go fast.
This year's viewing will be at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, as the New England Patriots go up against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. Doors to the cinema will open at 5:30 p.m., and admission is once again free.
"It's like we've done for the past three or four years, where admission is free, but reservations are required," Molton said.
Admission is free, and the cinema's complete food and beverage menu, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase. All the information about the cinema, including the menu and also driving directions, is available at FlatRockCinema.com. There are 75 seats available, and reservations are required. They can be made by calling the cinema at 697-2463.
The Super Bowl will be shown on the cinema's 18-foot high-definition screen, and the game will be broadcast thanks to Morris Broadband.
"Fans who make reservations can purchase food and beverages (including beer and wine) from our full menu, and it can be found on our website at flatrockcinema.com," Molton said. "We'll also be giving away a lot of Super Bowl memoribilia at the viewing."
Although it is a stretch, there is a little bit of local flavor to both teams in this year's game.
For the Seahawks, many area baseball fans got to see quarterback Russell Wilson at McCormick Field when he played for the Asheville Tourists in the summer of 2011, fresh out of North Carolina State. He had been drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.
He played in 61 games with the Tourists at second base and had three home runs, 15 RBIs and a .228 batting average. He ended up going back to Wisconsin for his senior year in college to pursue a career in the NFL. It ended up being a wise decision.
For the Patriots, the main local connection is former Hendersonville High standout Sam Gash, who is now the running backs coach for the Green Bay Packers. After his college playing days at Penn State, Gash was drafted in the eight round by the Patriots in the 1992 NFL Draft. He played fullback in New England from 1992-97.
Categories: News

Barkdolls, Petree put Gordon in his first NASCAR ride

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 20:00
When Jeff Gordon announced Thursday that the 2015 season will be his last as a full-time NASCAR driver, it rocked the racing world, where he's been major force for 23 years. But few know the role that three guys from Henderson County played in launching the superstar's career.
Hendersonville's Andy Petree and Phil and Steve Barkdoll put Gordon in his first NASCAR ride back in 1990.
“The first time I saw Jeff Gordon was back when ESPN aired 'Thursday Night Thunder' and he was racing midgets at Indianapolis. I was sitting there watching and said, 'Man, this kid is just tearing up the track,'” said Petree, a former ESPN NASCAR announcer, Cup team owner and crew chief. “The next thing I remember about Jeff was the next year in 1990. I was crew chief for Harry Gant, and we were fourth in the point standings at the time. Our car owner, Leo Jackson, came to me and asked if I could get a Busch car prepared for a kid named Jeff Gordon.”
Gordon's first stock car
Jackson's son-in-law, Hugh Connerty, was the vice president of Outback Steakhouse at the time and was at Rockingham at Buck Baker's Driving School when Gordon caught his eye.
“Jeff just happened to be there at the same time and did some runs in the car,” Petree said. “Hugh was so impressed with Jeff that he immediately agreed to buy one of the school's cars and put Jeff in it for a few Busch races to see how he'd do.”
So Connerty asked Jackson to prepare the car for Gordon, and Jackson turned to Petree.
“We had 20 guys in our shop doing everything, and Harry Gant was our driver. We were fourth in points back then. So I told Leo there was no way we could get that car ready and still compete for a Cup championship with Harry,” Petree said.
Then, Petree thought of his friends, the Barkdolls, who had a shop just a few miles down the road.
“They only ran like four races a year, so I knew they'd have the time to do it,” Petree said.
Hendersonville's Steve Barkdoll says he remembers it like it was yesterday.
“I got the call from Andy, and he said Leo wanted to put a kid from 'Thursday Night Thunder' in a stock car, and I said, 'You mean Jeff Gordon?' I then said, 'Most definitely,'” Barkdoll said.
<b.A rough beginning
Petree said every day after he got off work from his shop, he'd run down the street to the Barkdolls' shop to see how it was going with Gordon's car.
“I would pop in just to check on things, and those guys did a great job preparing the car,” he said.
The Barkdolls and Gordon first tried their luck at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We were going to try to qualify, but it rained, so they already had cars locked in position by points. So the other cars had to race in a 'Hooligan's Race' to try to race their way in. In that Hooligan's Race, we were running in the top four and Randy Baker tapped Gordon's bumper and knocked him out of the race. So we didn't even get to run the Charlotte race,” Barkdoll said.
After that, they took the car to KLB Cars in Henderson County, and Kerry Bodenheimer fixed the chassis to prepare for the next race at Martinsville.
“We were third quickest in practice, so we had a great car and a great driver. But once again, we had to be in a heat race to try to make the main race due to rain washing out qualifying. In that heat race, we got hit and the crankshaft broke. So we didn't make the Martinsville race either,” Barkdoll said.
The start of the Dynamic Duo
Barkdoll said on the way back to Hendersonville in a minivan, he and Gordon were talking about his future.
“He was pretty down after those first couple of races. We all were. Then, Andy talked with Ray Evernham and had him come help us by being the crew chief,” Barkdoll said.
Petree said he knew Evernham through the IROC Series, and Barkdoll also knew Evernham because Barkdoll's father raced IROC cars.
“Ray and I talked a lot, and Ray was wanting to get his foot in the door in NASCAR. I figured this would be a good way. So I had him come help the guys as a crew chief,” Petree said.
The crew headed off to Rockingham, and Gordon had everyone talking after his qualifying run.
“He qualified second. Everybody then knew how good this kid was,” Barkdoll said. “So it was Ray and Andy on the box and I was on the spotters' stand. During the race, Jeff complained about being loose. He was running consistently in the top five, even with the loose condition, and then finally about 30 laps on worn tires, he hit the outside wall.”
The day was over, but the team was just starting. Gordon and Evernham clicked.
“After we got those two together, the rest was history,” Petree said.
The 'Wonder Boy'
As the Busch season ended, Barkdoll said he and Petree wanted Gordon in a full-time ride for the next season, but it wasn't meant to be.
“We begged Leo to help us get Jeff in a car, but Leo had his eyes on Robert Pressley. So Gordon ended up taking a deal with Bill Davis Racing,” Barkdoll said.
Gordon won the Busch Series Rookie of the Year in 1991, and in 1992 was hired by Rick Hendrick to compete in the Cup Series the following year in 1993. Evernham was also hired by Hendrick that year to call the shots for Gordon.
Petree made a career change as well.
“I was Dale Earnhardt's crew chief in 1993. It's kinda neat how it all played out, because me and Ray would talk about every Monday morning. It was like networking. We were very competitive. With Dale, we won the title in '93 and '94, and then Ray and Jeff turned around and won the thing in 1995.
“Everybody thought Dale didn't like Jeff. People look at Dale and think he's tough and wouldn't have the time of day for a guy like Jeff. But Dale always had respect for Jeff, even when Jeff was just starting out,” Petree said. “We all did.”
At one practice session, Petree said he was clocking Earnhardt's times and then radioed to Childress with this: “So how fast is Boy Wonder going today?”
“I was the first one to call Jeff that, but Dale ended up turning it around by accident in a TV interview that same day. He said, 'We were fast, but Wonder Boy over there was pretty fast, too.' So that's how Jeff became known as Wonder Boy,” Petree said.
The next chapter
Gordon also became known as the “Rainbow Warrior,” and he went on to win three more titles after 1995. He won back-to-back titles in 1997 and '98 and then won again in 2001.
Gordon's final full season will follow a 2014 season that saw him win four races. He now has 92 career Cup wins, third on the all-time list behind Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105).
After a rough start in a stock car in 1990, he became one of the most dominant drivers in NASCAR history. He went from an up-and-coming star to a superstar in a short amount of time.
Despite all his fame and success, he never forgets where it all started.
“Jeff and I have been great friends all this time. We talk about the old days from time to time, and he's always grateful about the days when he first started out here,” Barkdoll said. “He's one of the most giving people I know. I still help run his auction at Indianapolis Motor Speedway every year for the Riley's Children Hospital. He's always giving back to the community. That's just the kind of guy Jeff is.”
The Barkdolls still have a momento from those first few races with Gordon.
“My dad has Gordon's very first car, fully restored, at his shop in Iowa. It's something we'll always remember together,” Barkdoll said.
Categories: News

Police department announces K-9 addition

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 16:46
A new member has joined the ranks of the Hendersonville Police Department, the department announced in a news release Monday.
Maky, a 5-year-old German Shepherd and Belgium Malinois crossbreed, was donated to the department and will be used primarily for drug searches in schools and other buildings.
Maky served two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. military, but was retired due to an eye condition caused by the high elevation. Tara Ledbetter, the city’s public information officer, said Maky’s eye condition is expected to improve now that he’s at a lower altitude.
The department’s dog trainer, officer Jennifer Drake, learned of the availability of a drug and building search dog and traveled to Alabama with Officer Robert Cantwell, the officer who will be handling Maky, to evaluate the K-9 for police training.
According to the release, there was an immediate bond between Cantwell and Maky.
Maky is Cantwell’s first K-9 partner and the department’s fourth working patrol dog. They’ll both undergo a stringent certification process by the North American Police Working Dog Association. Maky will also be required to complete weekly training hours and pass certification tests.
“We are excited and feel fortunate to have Maky as the newest member of the Hendersonville Police Department,” Capt. Bruce Simonds said in the release. “The donation of a trained, and in Maky’s case, veteran K-9 has saved the city and taxpayers thousands of dollars and completed our K-9 team. Maky will be utilized to his highest potential.”
According to Ledbetter, a dog like Maky would typically cost a police department, on average, about $10,000.
Categories: News