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Updated: 22 min ago

Hendersonville couple continues fight after 'dream home' failed

6 hours 51 min ago
The list of defendants and charges has grown in a nearly five-year-old lawsuit filed by a former fraud investigator who says he and his wife fell victim to a construction scheme that left them broke.
Tom Rider and his wife applied to First Citizens Bank for a construction loan to build their dream retirement home in the Oleta Falls subdivision in Hendersonville in April 2009. Construction began in 2010, but halted soon after when the Riders say they learned the contractor would be unable to finish the project.
Under the recommendation of their construction company, the Riders agreed to use another contractor, Ronald Aderhold of RAD Construction Management Inc., to complete the build. Months later, the Riders filed suit against Aderhold, two construction companies and the bank when they learned Aderhold was not a licensed contractor and the bank gave him money anyway.
Still tied to the construction loan, which Rider said was rolled over into a 30-year fixed mortgage without his approval, he and his wife hired another contractor to finish their home and stepped into a long legal battle. The fight has cost the couple their retirement and savings and countless days of frustration, but Rider refuses to give up.
"Now we're kind of in a position of where we haven't died and we haven't gone away and people are starting to get worried because we won't go away," Rider said.
But the more the former inspector looks into the discovery that he says has been painstakingly slow to arrive, the more he is convinced of a conspiracy that caught him off guard.
Working with his lawyers, Karolyi-Reynolds PLLC of Hendersonville, Rider says he has investigated the circumstances surrounding his case for nearly 53 months. His claims of fraud, deception, forgery and money laundering among his contractor and business associates now extends to others he never knew about in January 2010.
An amended complaint in the civil suit, filed with Henderson County Superior Court Aug. 28, includes the names of Ronald Aderhold; Aderhold's company, RAD Construction Management Inc.; license-holder Boston/South Investments Inc.; First-Citizens Bank and Trust Company; license-qualifier for Boston/South, Richard McGinnis; Ronald Aderhold's father, Russell Aderhold; Russell Aderhold's company, R.A. Miller Supply, LLC; and Ronald Aderhold's company, Double R Windows LLC.
The amended complaint claims "the partial construction of the home was performed in a substandard, unworkman-like manner requiring substantial, extensive repairs and replacement..." some of which "cannot be repaired without substantial demolition."
It also claims "Boston/South Investments Inc. accepted a cash payment from Ronald Aderhold and/or RAD Construction ... in exchange for giving him ... a copy of its North Carolina General Contractor's license" without overseeing the construction.
The license, Rider said, was used to issue permits needed for the home's construction.
The complaint contends that McGinnis, "qualifier for Boston/South Investments Inc., knew or should have ... known that Boston/South ... had undertaken to superintend or manage" the home's construction, which did not happen.
It accuses Ronald Aderhold, RAD Construction and Boston/South of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices. It charges Ronald Aderhold and RAD Construction with conversion and trespass to chattels (personal property), claiming the defendants "actively interfered with (the) plaintiffs' right of possession" of items purchased with Rider's loan money.
The complaint accuses McGinnis of unfair and deceptive trade practices and negligence for not "superintending or managing the building construction," in violation of state law.
It accuses Russell Aderhold, R.A. Miller Supply and Double R Windows of breach of contract for violating "an implied warranty" in the state "that construction ... be done and (materials) used in a workmanlike manner." The complaint is also claiming unfair and deceptive trade practices and fraud against the three defendants for representing to the Riders "that RAD Construction ... was a licensed general contractor."
The amended complaint still accuses the bank of breach of contract, but the financial institution was cleared of wrongdoing by state and appellate courts last year.
District Attorney Greg Newman said his team met with members of the Henderson County Sheriff's Office a number of months ago to look at the case and information provided by Rider to see if any criminal charges could be filed.
"I don't think that anybody saw we had enough proof to go forward on a criminal charge," Newman said. "I don't fault him for seeking some kind of redress through the criminal courts."
"While some of these cases are criminal in nature, we just have to have that proof" to back up the charges in court, he said. "I wish I could do more."
But he agreed that criminal charges could still be levied against defendants in this case in the future. A lot of civil cases alleging white-collar crime are investigated and end up in federal court.
"Most white-collar crimes of this nature, you'll see in U.S. District Courts" across the nation, Newman said.
The Riders have created a blog detailing their long legal journey at
Reach Weaver at or 828-694-7867.
Follow Weaver on Twitter at or on Facebook
Categories: News

IRS lists 'Dirty Dozen' tax scams for 2015

6 hours 51 min ago
The IRS said Thursday that it had issued almost 40 million tax refunds worth about $125 billion since the government organization began accepting returns a month ago. With just over another month remaining for filing, IRS agents urge those yet to file to be on the lookout for tax scams.
The IRS reported a list of the 12 top tax scams used by thieves to cheat the federal and state governments, as well as the citizens they serve, out of millions of dollars every year.
Of those 12, four scams specifically prey on taxpayers by stealing their identities and using them to get their refunds.
“These scam artists recognize that lots of people deal with the IRS, so they use that as a hook to get information,” said Mark Hanson from the IRS Media Relations Office. The IRS lists the elderly, individuals with English as their second language and newly arrived immigrants as most targeted victims by scammers.
Among the top scams the IRS lists for 2015 are phone calls made by criminals pretending to be agents and demanding payment. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration received approximately 290,000 contacts since October 2013. At least 3,000 victims have paid over $14 million altogether.
A lot of scammers in the United States also pose as tax preparers, making it one of the most common tax scams during filing season, according to the IRS.
“Filing a tax return can be one of the biggest financial transactions of the year, so taxpayers should choose their tax return preparers carefully,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in the news release. The IRS estimates approximately 60 percent of taxpayers prepare their returns through professionals.
On Feb. 18, the IRS announced on its website that citizens, tax professionals and tax preparers also should look for fake emails asking for updated information, which are what the government organization calls phishing scams.
“I urge taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites,” said Koskinen. “They may be scams to steal your personal information.”
Phishing is when an unsolicited email or a fake website looking legitimate prompts people to provide personal and financial information. Once scam artists get that information, they can then commit another on the “Dirty Dozen” list — identity theft.
The IRS identifies a tax-related identity theft as someone taking an individual’s Social Security number specifically to file a tax return for a fake claim. Often during tax season, people discover their identities had been stolen when trying to e-file, when they are alerted that someone had already filed a return with that Social Security number.
The IRS Criminal Investigation reported that 748 identity theft-related sentences were issued in fiscal year 2014, a 75 percent increase from 2013.
“There’s not a shortage of scams in the United States,” said Hanson. “We strongly urge people to arm themselves and be skeptical because there are scammers out there.”
The IRS website lists several tips people can follow to help lower their chance of identity theft, such as using anti-spam/virus software and changing Internet access passwords regularly. In terms of recognizing a scam, Hanson says it’s pretty simple.
“IRS agents will never call, nor will they email you demanding payment,” said Hanson. They also will not ask for specific credit or debit card information or personal information such as Social Security numbers.
“What people need to know is that the IRS will simply mail people regarding refunds or unpaid fees after they file their taxes,” said Hanson. Anything else, he added, should be viewed with suspicion.
“You as a taxpayer have a right to call the IRS and request to know what is going on,” said Hanson.
People should report any suspect emails to Call 1-800-366-4484 regarding any unsolicited calls by supposed IRS agents.
For a full list of the scams and ways to identify and safeguard against them, visit
Reach Kerns at or call 828-694-7881.
Categories: News

First Intelliquest adventure race will challenge mind, body

6 hours 51 min ago
From problem-solving to yoga poses, racers in Thrive’s Intelliquest will have to complete 15 challenges of the mind, body and soul during the area’s newest adventure race.
All proceeds from the May 9th race will benefit Thrive, which assists adults with mental health symptoms in Henderson and Transylvania counties overcome crisis situations and become active members of the community.
“People will start in the parking lot at Frist Citizen’s Bank in downtown Hendersonville and then they will complete 15 different challenges,” Executive Director Kristen Martin said. “So for example, a mind challenge might be doing a puzzle of some sort, like a life-sized puzzle, and then a body challenge might be doing some physical activities like a wall-sit or hopscotch.”
Martin said the race is designed to suit the whole family, as well as all abilities. Sponsors such as Mast General Store, Morris Broadband and Flat Rock Playhouse will each host challenges.
For the soul challenges, Martin said there could be a yoga pose that the team has to master before moving on, or something involving the arts.
“The Playhouse is going to do some different scenes that the team will complete together, and once you complete the challenge you’ll move on to your next one,” Martin said. “We’re pretty excited about it and we’re really excited about our sponsors that we already have signed up, and we’re creating more sponsors right now as well.”
Martin said Thrive was looking to do something that was completely different and new for the community, and decided to go for a cross between a race and a scavenger hunt.
“I wanted to do something that was family friendly that kids could participate in you so that we could hopefully help whole families achieve wellness,” Martin said. “We always want to work ourselves out of a job, so if they can achieve wellness even before they get to adulthood and learn some coping skills and some fun ways to handle stress, then all the better.”
Martin said she expects the race to take each team between an hour and an hour and a half to complete.
Each racer will get a free sandwich from Monte’s Sub Shop and a wellness bag packed with things like almond butter samples, vegetable seeds and a passport to guide them through the challenges downtown.
Thrive will give out prizes throughout the race for things such as best costume or fastest team, and will release information about prizes through social media leading up to the race.
The race will begin at 9 a.m. on May 9 in the First Citizen’s Parking Lot at 501 North Church St.; day-of registration begins at 8:15 a.m.
Teams of four participants can register for $80 a team until April 9; after April 9, rates increase to $100 a team.
For more information or to register online, visit or call 697-1581.
Reach Bindewald at 694-7890 or
Categories: News

Community Briefs: Feb. 28

6 hours 51 min ago
‘Parents Matter!’ series begins Wednesday
The Children & Family Resource Center will hold the “Parents Matter!” parenting series from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesdays beginning this week and ending April 1 at the center, 851 Case St., Hendersonville.
Parents Matter!, a five-week series, empowers and educates parents and/or guardians of pre-teens (children ages 9-12) to be their child’s sexual health and responsibility educator. Young people rate parents as their top source of information about sexuality, and this series offers information on increasing communication and conveying values to children effectively. Each session will last two and a half hours and will include dinner prior.
The Parents Matter! training is unique because it equips parents with skills to initiate communication early when pre-teens need it most. With competing messages from peers and the media about sex, relationships and what is “normal,” young people spend a lot of time trying to decipher fact from fiction.
Parents will learn the most current information on puberty and other health topics and get an opportunity to practice answering the hard questions kids ask while interacting with other parents dealing with the same issues. Parents Matter! provides adults with the tools to share their family’s values and expectations about behaviors with their pre-teen.
The programs offered at the Children & Family Resource Center are building stronger foundations for the children in our community by providing resources to help parents and child care centers create positive learning environments, screening children so they can start school with all the necessary tools, teaching parenting skills to families, and offering scholarships to educators and single mothers in need. For more information, call 698-0674.
The Hendersonville Tree Board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Operations Center.
The Mills River Planning Board will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall.
The Flat Rock Planning Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Highlander Room.
Edneyville Grange will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Center on Ida Rogers Road. Everyone is welcome.
A seminar on genetically modified organisms will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Morgan Center of the Tryon Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2820 Lynn Road, Tryon. Lee Wellard, a local herbalist who has studied foods, herbs, etc. and the effect that genetic engineering in foods has on the human body, will speak. A freewill offering will be received. Info: Bev Cook at 828-894-5072.
Categories: News

Sports & Bacon: Finally...Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 21:22
I've always been a huge boxing fan. I've always been mesmerized by two guys standing in the ring exchanging thunderous punches. I've seen some crazy fights in my lifetime and some jaw-dropping, unbelievable fights.
I couldn't contain my excitement with the news last week that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are finally going to fight. I know without a doubt it's going to be a war and will be worth every penny of a pay-per-view.
Boxing has always been a magical sport for me. When I hear names like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and yes, even Mike Tyson, I can't avoid a smile. I just love boxing.
I've seen some awesome fights. Keep in mind that I'm in my 30s so obviously I never saw any of the Louis or Ali fights or those other legends like Rocky Marciano and Max Baer. I've seen plenty of Foreman, Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Sugar Ray Leonard and others though.
I saw the Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield when the guy landed in the ring in 1993. I loved the George Foreman vs. Tommy Morrison fight, which was also in 1993.
I was watching in 1997 when Tyson bit Holyfield's ear off. I remember staring at the television and asking my friends, "did he just bite him?"
The best fights that I think I ever watched though are the Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward fights. Man, those fights were heaven. If you're a boxing fan, those three fights are why you love the sport. Those two guys were warriors. They stood toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring and just pounded away. There was no dancing or running.
They just hit each other.
I'm hoping that Mayweather Jr. and Pacquiao's fight will be that phenomenal. I'm hoping that the two guys just stand in the middle of the ring and go to war. It would be awesome. You rarely see that anymore.
Boxing has become a watered-down shadow of what it once was. It started in the 90s and is worse now.
Boxers like Holyfield and Lewis never really had any competition. It honestly wasn't fair for Tyson to go up against either of those guys. Both stood above him, weighed more and had a longer reach. Plus, Tyson wasn't the same boxer physically or mentally when he was released from prison.
I just hope this match can revive the sport and show the younger generation the same amazing qualities that made me fall in love with it.
Bacon Bits
* Ringside seats for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight are going to high rollers that have a $250,000 line of credit with the MGM Grand casino. That's nuts. Most people aren't going to go alone so those seats are basically worth a half million bucks. Wow. The tickets are all in the thousands no matter where you sit. There are no cheap seats.
* Most are saying that this will be the highest payout of any fight in history. Pay-per-view prices are expected to be around $90. I, for one, can tell you that that doesn't scare me off. I wouldn't miss this fight.
Categories: News

Area teams fall in first round of state playoffs

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 21:19
With most of the snow melted away, area teams were finally able to hit the road for the first round of the NCHSAA state playoffs on Friday night. All, but two teams in the area, had not played basketball in two weeks.
Polk County's girls advanced to the second round of the state playoffs on Tuesday night with a 56-40 win over Newton-Conover. The Lady Wolverines will play at Mountain Heritage at 4 p.m.
Veritas Christian wrapped up its season with a big upset victory over New Hope to finish third in the Division 2 NACA National Tournament on Friday night.
The Warriors won 40-32 and were led in scoring by Cornel Rhodius and Payton Marshall. Rhodius had 11 points and Marshall chipped in 10.
The North Henderson girls almost pulled off a big road upset. The Lady Knights pushed East Rowan into overtime despite forward Hannah Brackett fouling out in the fourth quarter and center Caroline Marsh playing with four fouls late in the game.
North, however, didn't score in overtime and lost 63-55.
"We played well," North coach Sue Moon said. "It hurt them to lose that game. That's a sign that they put their heart and soul into it."
Jonnie Petree led the way with 17 points. Marsh had 13 points and 12 rebounds. Brackett had 14 points. Ellie Caldwell had nine points, 13 steals and five assists.
East Henderson lost on the road at Statesville, 70-45. Statesville jumped out early 21-6 and the Eagles fought back in the second and third quarters. East pulled to within eight points in the fourth quarter before Statesville pulled away.
Josh Glynn led the way with 11 points for the Eagles. Lane Justus scored nine points and Nykeem Brooks had eight.
The Eagles made the playoffs this season after winning just two games last season and will lose just two starters next year.
"Hopefully, we can build on that (success) for next year," East coach Bruce Gilliam said.
Hickory beat West Henderson 69-40. West's Sam Polovina did what he's done all season and had a big game with 18 points. Tristan Thomas and Zack Crane each chipped in eight points for West.
West Wilkes used a big second half to beat Polk County 64-46. The Wolverines led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but West Wilkes was too strong at home in the second. Jason Chupp and Arnie Twitty led the way with eight points each for the Wolverines. Jamal Wheeler and Dillon Overholt each had seven points.
Hendersonville's boys lost on the road at North Surry 90-62.
Rosman's boys and girls squads fell to Avery on Friday night. The Lady Tigers lost 59-44. The Tigers lost 85-60.
Categories: News

North Buncombe downs Knights in first round

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 20:12
WEAVERVILLE — Showdown No. 4 between Mountain Athletic Conference boys basketball powers Erwin and North Buncombe is all set, and this time, there won't be a rematch.
The No. 10 seed North Buncombe Black Hawks went on a brutal 19-4 run to open the first period Friday against the No. 23 North Henderson Knights and went on to earn a hard-fought 69-58 win in the first round of the 3-A state playoffs at North Buncombe.
Daniel Burchette led the Black Hawks with a game-high 28 points. Other double digit scorers for North Buncombe were Blake Mathews and Brennan Hockaday, who had 14 points apiece.
The Black Hawks, coached by former West Henderson High standout Joey Bryson, improve to 21-4 and will travel to face the MAC champion Erwin Warriors (19-7) at 5 p.m. today in the third round. The last time the two teams faced off at Erwin, the gym reached full capacity and no one else was allowed to enter by order of the fire marshal. Erwin won that game 82-67 and followed that up with a 79-67 last week in the MAC championship at A.C. Reynolds.
North Buncombe won 61-56 in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 15 at home.
Bryson is hoping his team will be in better shape than it was Friday against the Knights. Early on, North Buncombe looked strong as it went on a big run, but it allowed North Henderson to climb back in the game late.
“It was pretty obvious that we hadn't been in the gym in quite a while due to the weather. We were glad to get the win,” Bryson said. “Hat's off to North Henderson's guys. They played hard and they had a great season.”
Two of the Knights' leading scorers — Austin Nelson and Drew Williams — got in foul trouble early and both were whistled for their fourth foul in the third period. Nelson, who had a team-high 21 points, eventually fouled out with a minute left in the game.
“The foul trouble really hurt us,” North Henderson coach Justin Parris said. “I think we could've played them a lot closer if it hadn't been for the fouls.
“We've got a young group of guys, and we showed a lot of promise this year. I think our team is going to grow even more next year.”
Other double-digit scorers for the Knights (13-13) were Williams with 13 and Kyle Decker with 12.
Categories: News

Congress tries 1-week bill to keep Homeland Security open

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 19:58
WASHINGTON (AP) — On a day of high drama, the Republican-controlled Congress struggled into the night Friday to pass emergency legislation to keep the Homeland Security Department in full funding for one week and avert a partial shutdown threatened for midnight.
Acting without fanfare, the Senate cleared the measure less than four hours before the deadline that would have triggered a partial shutdown at the federal agency with anti-terrorism responsibilities.
That sent the bill to the House, where only a few hours earlier, 52 rebellious Republicans unexpectedly joined with Democrats to vote down a three-week funding bill. The vote was 224-203.
Conservatives were furious that the leadership had dropped provisions repealing Obama administration directives that shield immigrants from deportation. Democrats demanded longer-term funding as their price for passage.
"You have made a mess," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said accusingly to Republicans as the vote neared.
In the aftermath, even some Republicans agreed.
"There are terrorist attacks all over world and we're talking about closing down Homeland Security. This is like living in world of crazy people," tweeted Rep. Peter King of New York, a former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
The debacle in the House set a chain of events in motion.
First, Homeland Security officials circulated a lengthy contingency plan indicating that about 30,000 employees could expect to be furloughed without passage of funding legislation.
Then the White House announced President Barack Obama had spoken with Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Moments later, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky strode onto the Senate floor and swiftly gained approval for the seven-day measure.
Taken together, the day's roller-coaster events at the Capitol underscored the difficulty Republicans have had so far this year in translating last fall's election gains into legislative accomplishment — a step its own leaders say is necessary to establish the party's credentials as a responsible, governing party.
Republicans gained control of the Senate in November's balloting, and emerged with their largest House majority in more than 70 years.
A combination of conservative, tea party-backed Republicans on one side of the political aisle and Democrats on the other brought down the funding measure.
The first group was upset because the legislation had been stripped of changes to Obama administration directives policy that shielded millions of immigrants from the threat of deportation. Democrats opposed it in overwhelming numbers because it lacked full-year funding for the sprawling department.
Pelosi and other Democrats urged Republicans both before and after the vote to allow debate on legislation to keep the department in funds through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year — a step the GOP high command has so far refused to take.
That might get enough Democratic votes to pass the bill, but at the same time had the potential to drive away Republicans.
"It does not make any difference whether the funding is for three weeks, three months or a full fiscal year. If it's illegal, it's illegal," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.
Further demonstrating GOP woes, House GOP leaders abruptly called off a vote on a major education bill that had attracted significant opposition from conservatives as well as Democrats and the White House.
Aides attributed that decision to the need to work separately on rounding up enough votes to pass the measure that would prevent a partial shutdown at Homeland Security.
Across the Capitol, the Senate waited all day to add its assent after playing out a series of acts in the Republicans' effort to use the measure to wring concessions on immigration from the White House.
A largely symbolic attempt to advance legislation that would repeal Obama's immigration directive of last fall failed on a vote of 57-42, three short of the 60 required.
That separate proposal was "commonsense legislation that would protect our democracy from the egregious example of executive overreach we saw in November," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who successfully led his rank and file in recent days to a decision to pass Homeland Security legislation without immigration-related provisions.
The day's developments occurred against a midnight deadline for funding the department, an agency with significant responsibilities in the nation's fight against terrorism.
An early, 240-183 test vote in the House indicated ample support for the spending bill, but a short while later the House was gaveled into recess while the search went on for support to pass the legislation itself.
Some House Republicans said the entire strategy of passing a short-term measure and seeking negotiations on a longer-term bill that included changes in Obama's immigration policy was flawed. They noting that Senate Democrats had demonstrated their ability to block any challenges to Obama's immigration policies, and that the president had vowed to veto them in any event.
"Some folks just have a harder time facing political reality than others," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., speaking of other Republicans.
Obama's first immigration directive, in 2012, lifted the threat of deportation from many immigrants brought to the country illegally as youngsters. Another order last fall applied to millions more who are in the United States unlawfully.
Categories: News

Roll Call: Votes in Congress

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 18:24
Here's how North Carolina members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Feb. 27.
HIGHER-EDUCATION SAVINGS PLANS: Voting 401 for and 20 against, the House on Feb. 25 passed a bill (HR 529) to expand the types of tax-free expenditures that can be made from earnings in so-called “Section 529” higher-education savings plans. The bill is projected to increase annual deficits by $51 million through fiscal 2025. Today, earnings in these plans can be used to pay for tuition, room and board. This bill adds computer and software purchases as qualified expenses. In addition, in cases where students withdraw from college, the bill allows tuition refunds to be added back to their education accounts.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: G.K. Butterfield, Renee Ellmers, David Price, Virginia Foxx, Mark Walker, David Rouzer, Richard Hudson, Robert Pittenger, Patrick McHenry, Mark Meadows, Alma Adams, George Holding
Voting no: Walter Jones
DISCLOSURE OF BROKERAGE FEES: By a vote of 176 for and 243 against, the House on Feb. 25 defeated a Democratic motion to HR 529 (above) that sought to require financial firms managing “Section 529” savings plans to disclose to customers the types and amounts of their brokerage fees and illustrate the cumulative cost of these fees over 10 and 20 years.
A yes vote was to adopt the motion, which, had it prevailed, would have immediately amended the bill.
Voting yes: Butterfield, Jones, Price, Adams
Voting no: Ellmers, Foxx, Walker, Rouzer, Hudson, Pittenger, McHenry, Meadows, Holding
THREE-WEEK BUDGET FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Voting 203 for and 224 against, the House on Feb. 27 defeated a Republican bill (HJ Res 35) that would extend stopgap funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by three weeks through March 19. The bill clashed with a "clean" Senate-passed measure (below) that would fund the department through Sept. 30 without challenging President Obama's immigration orders. In the absence of House-Senate agreement on new funding, the department was scheduled to partially shut down at midnight, or about seven hours after this vote was completed.
DHS has an annual budget of nearly $40 billion and is comprised of 16 agencies and 231,000 employees. Its seven largest units in terms of staffing are, in order, Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Secret Service.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Ellmers, Foxx, Rouzer, Pittinger, McHenry Holding
Voting no: Butterfield, Jones, Price, Walker, Hudson, Meadows and Adams
REGULAR BUDGET FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Voting 68 for and 31 against, the Senate on Feb. 27 passed a bipartisan appropriations bill (HR 240) that would fund the Department of Homeland Security at an annual rate of $39.7 billion in the remaining seven months fiscal 2015. The bill would fully fund the 231,000-employee, 16-agency department and keep it from partially shutting down at the end of the day. This “clean” bill was free of provisions advocated by Republicans in both chambers to block President Obama's executive orders on immigration (next issue).
A yes vote was to pass a bill to fund homeland-security operations through Sept. 30.
Voting no: Thom Tillis, Richard Burr
DEFUNDING OF IMMIGRATION ORDERS: Voting 57 for and 42 against, the Senate on Feb. 27 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end Democratic blockage of a GOP-drafted bill (S 534) that would defund two executive orders by President Obama on immigration. Now temporarily in effect, those orders provide work authority and waivers from potential deportation to hundreds of thousands of young people known as “dreamers” as well as to four million-plus parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents born before Nov. 20, 2014.
A yes vote was to advance the measure opposing presidential immigration orders.
Voting yes: Tillis, Burr
In the week of March 2, the Senate will conduct an override vote on President Obama's veto of a Keystone XL Pipeline bill, and it could take up the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general. The House schedule was to be announced.
Categories: News

WNC has mild end to winter week

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 17:14
The winter weather advisory for widespread black ice issued by the National Weather Service for the region ended at noon Friday, marking a somewhat mild finale to the week’s epic weather.
“We didn’t get called in last night. Either people stayed home, or nobody had problems across the ice,” said Tom Wooten, director of Hendersonville’s Public Works Department. Wooten said he did see black ice on N.C. Highway 191, U.S. Highway 25 and North Justice Street before 7 a.m. during his drive to work.
“Last night for us was not too bad; had some icy spots that we treated with salt as well as a salt-and-sand combo,” said Roger Ayers, N.C. Department of Transportation maintenance engineer for Henderson County.
Ayers said Interstate 26 and primary roads were in good shape by early morning. Crews finished secondary roads and unpaved secondary roads by late Friday.
Duke Energy reported no weather-related power outages for Henderson, Polk or Transylvania counties.
Many members of the community were still affected by what did remain. Henderson and Polk county schools were on a two-hour delay, and Transylvania County schools were closed for the seventh day since the first winter storm hit Tuesday last week.
Friday finished with partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies. Temperatures hit the mid-30s, which melted the area’s remaining snow and dried many of the roads.
Meteorologists did caution that a few patchy spots of black ice were possible overnight as temperatures dip again to the low 20s for Henderson County and mid-20s for Transylvania and Polk counties.
The DOT had two people on duty starting at 10 p.m. just in case.
Today will be another mid-30s day, and Sunday should kick off a warming trend for the week, according to the National Weather Service. Expect rain most of the week.
Categories: News

Pillowcase Ministry reaches around the world

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 16:18
Upstairs at Mud Creek Baptist Church, old pillowcases, slightly used bed sheets and various scraps of cloth fill tables, closets and cabinets.
Every Monday morning, a dedicated group of volunteers meets at the church to sew the donated materials into beautiful dresses, shorts, teddy bears, tote bags and other items for children in need at home and around the world.
“It's something that took off. We always say, 'Put something in God's hands, and God puts his hands on it,' ” said Karen Sawyer, a volunteer with the church's Pillowcase Ministry.
Sawyer and the other women who volunteer in the ministry say they can find a use for just about every piece of material that is sent their way.
“God provides,” Sawyer said. “Whenever we need something, it comes.”
Tables inside their workroom at the church hold sewing machines and stacks of materials, including the pillowcases, fabric and sheets. One large plastic container holds several drawers full of buttons, while another container holds spools of lace and pieces of elastic.
Plastic bags full of teddy bears sit on chairs ready to be delivered to any agency that needs them.
The pillowcases and bed sheets become dresses for girls. Some come in solid colors that are decorated with small hand-made butterflies or other items the volunteers have collected over the years. But some of the sheets and pillowcases have bright, multicolored designs that don't need any sprucing up. One set even featured a jungle design that made unique dresses.
Other pieces of fabric are sewn together to make boys' shorts, while some pieces work perfectly for the tote bags and teddy bears the group creates.
“We get some material, and we think, 'Oh, my goodness.' But we always find a use for it,” Sawyer said.
The dresses, shorts and tote bags are sent with members of church groups who leave on mission trips for Haiti, Africa and other overseas locations.
The small teddy bears are provided to local law enforcement officers, emergency responders and other people working in agencies that see children who might benefit from getting a stuffed animal.
“We have several things going all at once. It's been kind of addictive for us,” Sawyer said. “We started with just dresses.”
The Pillowcase Ministry began at Mud Creek about three years ago, after a church member saw a need for volunteers with sewing skills.
The women who volunteered began by making dresses from pillowcases for young girls and later from sheets for older girls. Over time, they expanded to making shorts for boys and later to other items for people in need in other countries and at home.
Pillowcase ministry volunteers have sewn 3,000 dresses in the past three years and 367 teddy bears in the past three months.
About five or six women usually come to the church on Mondays to sew. Some also sew for the ministry at home.
“There is always something for somebody to do,” Sawyer said.
Their creations have been sent with mission groups to India, Cuba, Haiti, Kenya, Uganda, Honduras and some locations in the United States after natural disasters.
The women worked recently to make sanitary napkins for girls in Haiti. Those gifts will be sent with a group from the church that soon plans to travel to Haiti.
“Anytime a group is going on a mission trip, we send as much as they can carry,” Sawyer said. “When you get there, it doesn't seem to matter what you give them. They are happy to get it.”
For more information about Mud Creek Baptist church, visit
Categories: News

South Africa: Parents find daughter 17 years after kidnap

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 16:01
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A newborn was kidnapped from a Cape Town hospital in 1997 but her parents never gave up hope and now, 17 years later, they have found her.
The family had always celebrated their missing daughter's birthday on April 28, and following her remarkable discovery the girls' biological family is planning a festive celebration for her first birthday with them.
"We have to plan something very big," the girl's aunt told South Africa's Cape Talk radio station after it reported that DNA tests confirmed she was the child kidnapped from the Groote Schuur Hospital.
A 50-year-old woman was arrested and appeared in court Friday on charges of kidnapping and fraudulently pretending to the child's biological mother, police spokesman Andre Traut said. The woman will again appear in court on March 6, after she has gone through an identity parade, according to the South African Press Association.
The girl, who turns 18 in April, was raised by the arrested woman and her husband as their only child. She was living just a couple miles (kilometers) from her biological parents but, as the Cape Argus newspaper reports, the amazing discovery happened by chance when she became friends with her younger biological sister, when they attended the same school.
In her final year of high school, friends told her about a new student who had an uncanny resemblance to her, her biological aunt said. The two girls met and bonded instantly, despite the four-year age difference.
"There was just an incredible connection," her aunt told the radio station.
The younger daughter told her parents about her new friend who looked just like her. Still hopeful, the family invited the girl to their home for coffee, the Cape Argus reported. After seeing her, the father immediately contacted the police who revived their investigation into the kidnapping, the newspaper reported.
The police found that the couple claiming to be the teenager's parents could not prove she was their biological daughter, and DNA tests were carried out, the Cape Argus reported.
Biological mother and daughter were reunited for the first time on Thursday, the mother weeping, the child's elated aunt told the Cape Talk radio station.
"When she saw (her) yesterday, she knew, 'This is my child.' She said DNA wasn't necessary, she just knew," the child's aunt told the radio station. The child's biological mother, Celeste Nurse, has given a number of interviews in the years since the kidnapping, often when other babies were snatched.
Recovering from the birth of her first child 17 years ago, Nurse woke up to find a woman dressed as a hospital nurse sitting by her hospital bed, her newborn baby still in the cot, she told the Cape Times in 2011. She drifted off, groggy from the cesarean section operation.
"When I woke up there was a nurse saying my child is gone. You can't imagine the feeling," Nurse told the newspaper. "I just hope one day someone will realize something or see something and bring her back to us."
The Nurses had three other children, but continued their search for their eldest daughter, never giving up hope.
"I'll never, ever give up hope. I can feel it in my gut — my daughter is out there and she is going to come home," biological father Morne Nurse told the Weekend Argus newspaper five years ago. The family threw a birthday party for their kidnapped daughter each year, her siblings blowing out the candles on her cake.
The girl has not been identified by The Associated Press because she is a minor and a judge has ruled that the press should not publish the name under which she was raised. She is still in the custody of social services, according to police, but as soon as she is home, her newly-found family plan to celebrate her birthday with her for the first time.
Categories: News

Old structure set ablaze for firefighter training

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 15:59
Crews with the Hendersonville Fire Department conducted a "practice burn" for firefighter training late Friday morning, shutting down one southbound lane of Asheville Highway near Highway 191 for approximately three hours.
Firefighters began training at 11 a.m. at the former Mountain Aire Cottages, and they learned how to use ladders and hose screens as well as ventilation and exterior fire suppression techniques.
"We had to go through a lot of hoops to be able to do this," said Fire Chief Dorian Flowers.
Late last year, someone hired to clear the property for sale had contacted Flowers offering the building, located at 1351 Asheville Highway, for structure fire training.
Flowers stated a list of requirements, including that the building must be free from asbestos and chemicals for air quality purposes.
The structure was the first of two on the property that the firefighters had permission to burn, according to Flowers. He said they will use the second one for training exercises at a later date, though he is unsure when that will be.
Categories: News

Times-News' work wins 21 awards

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 15:06
The North Carolina Press Association honored the Times-News with 21 awards in its 2014 News, Editorial and Photojournalism contest during ceremonies Thursday evening.
The 2014 awards are the highest total earned by the Times-News in recent memory. "Though records of prior awards are difficult to confirm, we think this may be a record for the Hendersonville staff," Managing Editor Diane Norman said.
Staff writer Emily Weaver also won a Media and the Law Award, presented by the North Carolina Bar Association, in a competition open to all North Carolina dailies, regardless of circulation size.
"The Communications Committee was very impressed with Ms. Weaver's work and selected her article overwhelmingly as the best entry in the daily newspaper article category," Russell Rawlings, director of communications for the North Carolina Bar Association, said in an email to the Times-News.
Weaver's article "Wait Gets Longer for Murder Trials" provided insight into the issues creating trial delays in Judicial District 29B, which includes Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties.
Competing in Division D, which consists of newspapers with daily circulations of 12,500 or less, Times-News staff members captured six first-place honors, eight second-place awards and seven third-place awards, in addition to Weaver's recognition.
The newspaper won multiple honors for news enterprise reporting, feature writing and multimedia presentations.
Staff writer Nathaniel Axtell took home first- and third-place awards in the news feature writing category, as well as first place in news enterprise reporting.
Sports writer Joey Millwood was honored with first place in sports feature writing and second place in general feature writing, and Weaver took second place in news enterprise reporting and third place in general feature writing.
Chief Photographer Mike Dirks, in collaboration with several reporters, took first and third places in the category for multimedia projects.
"I am thrilled that the newspaper's reporters and photographers received these accolades from the judges," Norman said. "While we are always excited by recognition from our peers, Times-News readers are the most important arbiters of our success. We appreciate their support every day."
A listing of the newspaper's awards follows:
First place
--Nathaniel Axtell, news feature writing.
--Nathaniel Axtell, news enterprise reporting.
--Joey Millwood, sports feature writing.
--Patrick Sullivan, photography-general news.
--Mike Dirks and Nancy Tanker, best multimedia project.
--Staff, feature section design.
Second place
--Caitlin Byrd, deadline news reporting.
--Joey Millwood, feature writing.
--Molly McGowan, education reporting.
--Emily Weaver, news enterprise reporting.
--Mike Dirks, sports photography.
--Sports staff, overall sports coverage.
--Dean Hensley and Joey Millwood, special section, "The Build."
--Diane Norman and Jeff Zehr, best niche publication, Mountain Traditions.
Third place
--Nathaniel Axtell, general news reporting.
--Nathaniel Axtell, news feature writing.
--Emily Weaver, feature writing.
--Caitlin Byrd, profile feature.
--Caitlin Byrd, deadline news reporting.
--Michael Dirks, Patrick Sullivan and Caitlin Byrd, best multimedia project.
--Diane Norman and Chris Horeth, editorial page.
Categories: News

Biltmore Farms owner George Cecil presented with Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 13:37
Gov. Pat McCrory presented George Cecil with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine today at a celebration in Asheville. The Cecil family owns Biltmore Farms.

“George Cecil has continued his family’s commitment to improving the quality of life in western North Carolina,” McCrory said in a news release. “Through his work with the WNC Communities Board and Biltmore Farms, he has dedicated his professional and civic life to western North Carolina by supporting education, health care, economic development, the arts, tourism and the environment.”

The grandson of Biltmore Estate founder George Washington Vanderbilt II, George Cecil started running the Biltmore Company in 1947 as a tourist destination and dairy farm. Under his leadership, Biltmore Farms evolved from one of the region’s largest independent dairy producers to a commercial and residential real estate conglomerate serving residents and tourists throughout the region.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented for extraordinary service to North Carolina, a special achievement, contributions to one’s community, extra effort in one’s career, many years of service to the state or one’s organizations, or as a gesture of good will. It is considered one of the highest honors the governor of North Carolina can bestow.
Categories: News

Race relations improving, but struggle isn't over

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 13:00
The Rev. Anthony McMinn, CEO of the Hendersonville Rescue Mission, came to work earlier than he usually did on a morning more than 15 years ago. As he was making his rounds and checking the dorms, he overheard the conversation of three men.
“They said, 'We're going to get rid of this n-----. We want us a white director.' I stood there and I listened,” McMinn said. “When I opened the door to the bathroom and went in (they said) 'Hey, Mr. McMinn! How are you doing today?' I said, 'Look, I heard your conversation and you're lucky because I'm having a board meeting this morning and I'm going to give you a choice. Either you come to the board meeting and share with my board exactly how you feel and that you really want a white director or you get your things and leave.'”
The men left — but the memory remained. It wasn't the first time McMinn had dealt with racism, and it wouldn't be the last.
“When I came (to the mission), someone told the board of directors, 'If a black man is made the CEO of the Hendersonville Rescue Mission, it will fail,'” McMinn said.
Twenty-two years later the Rescue Mission has become a model for agencies across the southeast, but McMinn's success didn't come easy.
“When I took over as the CEO of the Hendersonville Rescue Mission, I told the board of directors, we have to be very real. It's not always going to be easy with me being the first black CEO,” he said.
Recalling these memories Monday, McMinn reached for a stack of letters on a shelf near his desk. The letters have no return addresses and are riddled with racist comments. They are reminders of the hurtful words people use and examples of the adversity he has already overcome.
“I don't take where I am lightly. I don't take being the CEO of the Hendersonville Rescue Mission or the things that have happened in my life lightly,” McMinn said.
He traced his lineage back to the first McMinns in Henderson County. They weren't McMinns then; they were slaves of the McMinn family in the Clear Creek community, he said.
“Henderson County has changed so much over the years from those days that we do have great opportunities now,” he said. But you don't become the first of anything without breaking a few molds and tearing down a few walls, he added.
The first 'black' police chief
Donnie Parks knew from a young age that he wanted to be an officer in law enforcement. “Everything I did after that, I did thinking, 'Will this help me being a police officer or will this hurt me being a police officer?'”
Parks studied hard, keeping his eyes on the goal.
“By the time I took the civil service exam for the city, I had read all of the books and taken all the tests for how to be a police officer and a police major,” he said.
Parks worked his way up through the ranks of the Hendersonville Police Department to second lieutenant, first lieutenant and captain. In 1987, he became Hendersonville's first African-American police chief.
He retired as the third longest-serving chief of the department in 2007. Parks now teaches leadership and community policing techniques and coaches new police chiefs at the Western North Carolina Justice Academy.
Racism was a constant obstacle as he rose through the ranks, with people challenging his authority and scrutinizing his actions.
“A lot of times I felt like my predecessor, who was white, could do things and he could not think twice about it. I could do the same thing” and be walking a “tight rope,” he said. I knew I had to “dot my Is and cross my Ts more closely than some others might.”
One day a man came in the station with a gunshot wound to his ear.
“He was bleeding. I asked him what had happened,” Parks recalled. The man told him he was shot on a part of Duncan Hill Road that appeared to be outside of the city's jurisdiction. Parks advised the man to talk to the sheriff's department.
At the sheriff's office, he said, the man was more descriptive and deputies learned the incident had happened in city limits. “He told me he wasn't going to talk to a n-----. I politely told him he didn't have to. He could talk to me instead,” Parks said.
Standing on the shoulders
“You never become successful in leadership without adversity,” McMinn explained. “The Lord has used me to tear down some of these walls, but you aren't going to tear down a wall without being hurt.”
Years ago, McMinn faced criticism once again during his appointment to lead a committee charged with naming a street after another mold-breaker, Martin Luther King Jr. Instead of letting the obstacles distract him from the goal, McMinn let them motivate him to be successful.
Recalling a lesson his father once taught him, McMinn said “you stand on the shoulders of great men.”
Teachers, coaches, his father and an uncle, who worked his way up from janitor to became one of the first black supervisors at General Electric, all gave him a shoulder to stand on, he said.
All roads lead to Africa
McMinn's “right-hand man” and chief operating officer of the Rescue Mission, Tim Jones, sent a swab of his inner cheek to the Human Genome Project for his DNA to be tested a few years ago. Markers in his DNA showed his family had lived in India and northern Europe, but his lineage started in Africa.
Several scientific studies and discoveries have shown Africa to be the origin of the human race, spurring initiatives such as National Geographic's “Genographic Project,” which looks at how people migrated from Africa after being descended “from a common African ancestor who lived only 140,000 years ago.”
“If scientists have proven that, why so much racism?” McMinn asked. “Why so much hate when we have evolved out of really the same root?...
“Everybody should love one another despite our differences. I might not like what you do, but I still should always love you being a child of God and created in the image of God,” McMinn said. “That sounds awesome in theory, but then we go back to the reality of it and the reality is that people do have some racial prejudice.
“I've dealt with it all here,” he said. “I've seen the good. I've seen the bad and I've seen the ugly in a society, but at the end of the day the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad.”
McMinn sees the good in the 140 volunteers at the Rescue Mission who “serve with the greatest attitude.” He sees it in his staff and the community at large that supports what they do.
“That's why I love this community. I don't care where you go, you're going to still have that element of racism. But as an African-American leader, you've got to be strong enough and have the fortitude to endure the bad,” McMinn said. “You have to understand what you're trying to achieve in life and not let that type of ignorance really be a distraction from your journey to success.”
Secrets to success
Parks advises everyone to “push away those naysayers. Don't let them determine your future.”
He said he was blessed with a “really supportive community,” strong police department and the support of a loving family and different city administrations.
“It was a tough load to hold the first few years, but I was blessed with good support all around,” he said. “Over time a lot of those barriers did come down.”
Last year, Eric Gash became the first African-American football coach in Henderson County since integration. He credits God for allowing him to return to his hometown to coach football, girl's basketball and teach at his alma mater. He also credits the work of others who helped break down the barriers before he arrived, citing his mother and McMinn.
Gash feels that racial relations are “definitely better today than they were” and he hopes to inspire the next generation just like so many others have inspired him.
“Aim high,” he tells his students and players. “Don't settle for average or ordinary, but strive to be extraordinary. A lot of times that means going against the flow, going against the grain of society. Don't just settle for the hand you think you've been dealt... we've all had adversity growing up.”
Diane Caldwell, the first African-American woman to be elected to Hendersonville City Council in 1993, encourages today's youth to get involved in their community.
“You can't lead anybody anywhere without having your finger on the heart of the people,” she said. “You're not going to please everybody ... but what you can do is go in and do the best that you can do.”
Caldwell earned the open seat on council by being the third-highest vote-getter in the election. She won another two-year term in 1995.
“I would have to say when it came to the election in 1993, I had a community that was excited and more than willing to vote for me in the African-American community,” she said. “But (I) also recognized that I had a huge following of white community people that voted for me as well.”
Caldwell started the Harambee (Swahili for “all pull together”) Festival several years ago to unite a community divided over race when a young white male died after a fight with his young black friend. “It was not racial. People said it was, but it was not racial,” Caldwell said.
The festival is held each July.
Reach Weaver at or 828-694-7867.
Follow Weaver on Twitter at or on Facebook at
Categories: News

Leonard Nimoy, famous as Mr. Spock on 'Star Trek,' dies

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 12:54
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of "Star Trek" fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr. Spock, has died.
Nimoy died Friday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his Los Angeles home, said his son, Adam Nimoy. He was 83.
Although Nimoy followed his 1966-69 "Star Trek" run with a notable career as both an actor and director, in the public's mind he would always be Spock. His half-human, half-Vulcan character was the calm counterpoint to William Shatner's often-emotional Captain Kirk on one of TV and film's most revered cult series.
"He affected the lives of many," Adam Nimoy said. "He was also a great guy and my best friend."
Asked if his father chafed at his fans' close identification of him with his character, Adam Nimoy said, "Not in the least. He loved Spock."
However, Leonard Nimoy displayed ambivalence to the role in the titles of his two autobiographies, "I Am Not Spock" (1975) and "I Am Spock" (1995).
After "Star Trek" ended, the actor immediately joined the hit adventure series "Mission Impossible" as Paris, the mission team's master of disguises.
From 1976 to 1982, he hosted the syndicated TV series "In Search of ... ," which attempted to probe such mysteries as the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart.
He played Israeli leader Golda Meir's husband opposite Ingrid Bergman in the TV drama "A Woman Called Golda" and Vincent van Gogh in "Vincent," a one-man stage show on the life of the troubled painter. He continued to work well into his 70s, playing gazillionaire genius William Bell in the Fox series "Fringe."
He also directed several films, including the hit comedy "Three Men and a Baby" and appeared in such plays as "A Streetcar Named Desire," ''Cat on a Hot Tim Roof," ''Fiddler on the Roof," ''The King and I," ''My Fair Lady" and "Equus." He also published books of poems, children's stories and his own photographs.
But he could never really escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV star, and in a 1995 interview he sought to analyze the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveler who aspired to live a life based on pure logic.
People identified with Spock because they "recognize in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation," Nimoy concluded.
"How many times have we come away from an argument wishing we had said and done something different?" he asked.
In the years immediately after "Star Trek" left television, Nimoy tried to shun the role, but he eventually came to embrace it, lampooning himself on such TV shows as "Futurama," ''Duckman" and "The Simpsons" and in commercials.
He became Spock after "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry was impressed by his work in guest appearances on the TV shows "The Lieutenant" and "Dr. Kildare."
The space adventure set in the 23rd century had an unimpressive debut on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, and it struggled during its three seasons to find an audience other than teenage boys. It seemed headed for oblivion after it was canceled in 1969, but its dedicated legion of fans, who called themselves Trekkies, kept its memory alive with conventions and fan clubs and constant demands that the cast be reassembled for a movie or another TV show.
Trekkies were particularly fond of Spock, often greeting one another with the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan motto, "Live Long and Prosper," both of which Nimoy was credited with bringing to the character. He pointed out, however, that the hand gesture was actually derived from one used by rabbis during Hebraic benedictions.
When the cast finally was reassembled for "Star Trek — The Motion Picture," in 1979, the film was a huge hit and five sequels followed. Nimoy appeared in all of them and directed two. He also guest starred as an older version of himself in some of the episodes of the show's spinoff TV series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
"Of course the role changed my career— or rather, gave me one," he once said. "It made me wealthy by most standards and opened up vast opportunities. It also affected me personally, socially, psychologically, emotionally. ... What started out as a welcome job to a hungry actor has become a constant and ongoing influence in my thinking and lifestyle."
In 2009, he was back in a new big-screen version of "Star Trek," this time playing an older Spock who meets his younger self, played by Zachary Quinto. Critic Roger Ebert called the older Spock "the most human character in the film."
Among those seeing the film was President Barack Obama, whose even manner was often likened to Spock's.
"Everybody was saying I was Spock, so I figured I should check it out," Obama said at the time.
Upon the movie's debut, Nimoy told The Associated Press that in his late 70s he was probably closer than ever to being as comfortable with himself as the logical Spock always appeared to be.
"I know where I'm going, and I know where I've been," he said. He reprised the role in the 2013 sequel "Star Trek Into Darkness."
Born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Nimoy was raised in an Italian section of the city where, although he counted many Italian-Americans as his friends, he said he also felt the sting of anti-Semitism growing up.
At age 17 he was cast in a local production of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing" as the son in a Jewish family.
"This role, the young man surrounded by a hostile and repressive environment, so touched a responsive chord that I decided to make a career of acting," he said later.
He won a drama scholarship to Boston College but eventually dropped out, moved to California and took acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Soon he had lost his "Boston dead-end" accent, hired an agent and began getting small roles in TV series and movies. He played a baseball player in "Rhubarb" and an Indian in "Old Overland Trail."
After service in the Army, he returned to Hollywood, working as taxi driver, vacuum cleaner salesman, movie theater usher and other jobs while looking for acting roles.
In 1954 he married Sandra Zober, a fellow student at the Pasadena Playhouse, and they had two children, Julie and Adam. The couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.
This story contains biographical material compiled by late AP Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas.
Categories: News

Votes in the N.C. General Assembly

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 09:07
RALEIGH — The activities of the General Assembly were curtailed this past week because of inclement weather. No roll-call votes were taken in the House. The following roll-call votes were recorded for area senators in the week that ended Feb. 27.
SB 2 — Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies: Provides that magistrates, assistant registers of deeds and deputy registers of deeds may recuse themselves from performing duties related to marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious objection. Introduced by Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.
Adopted 32-16. Sent to the House for consideration.
Voting yes: Republican Tom Apodaca
Voting no: Democrat Terry Van Duyn

SJR 109 — Joint Session/State of the Judiciary: Invites the Honorable Mark Martin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, to address a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday, March 4. Introduced by Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.
Adopted 48-0. Sent to the House for consideration.
Voting yes: Apodaca, Van Duyn
Categories: News

WNC has somewhat mild end to winter week

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 08:16
The winter weather advisory for widespread black ice that the National Weather Service issued for Western North Carolina ends at 12 p.m. today, marking a somewhat mild finale to the week's epic weather.
“We didn't get called in last night. Either people stayed home, or nobody had problems across the ice,” said Tom Wooten, director of the City of Hendersonville's Public Works Department. Wooten said he did see black ice on N.C. Highway 191, U.S. Highway 25 and N. Justice Street before 7 a.m. during his drive to work.
"Last night for us was not too bad, had some icy spots that we treated with salt as well as a salt-and-sand combo," said Roger Ayers, North Carolina Department of Transportation maintenance engineer for Henderson County.
Ayers said Interstate 26 and primary roads are in good shape. Crews are still working on a few secondary roads and unpaved secondary roads, some of which are what they were unable to hit yesterday from Wednesday night's winter storm and others just from last night.
As of 7:30 a.m., Duke Energy reported no power outages for Henderson, Polk or Transylvania counties.
Many members of the community are still affected by what does remain. Henderson and Polk counties schools were on a two-hour delay, and Transylvania County schools are closed for the seventh day since the first winter storm hit Tuesday last week.
Forecasters say today will be partly cloudy to mostly sunny with a high reaching the mid-30s, which should melt the area's remaining snow and dry many of the roads. Though no advisory will be issued, meteorologists do caution that a few patchy spots could still get black ice overnight as temperatures dip again to the low-20s for Henderson County and mid-20s for Transylvania and Polk counties.
The DOT will have two people on duty starting at 10 p.m. just in case.
Saturday will be another mid-30s day, and Sunday should kick off a warming trend for the upcoming week, according to the National Weather Service. Expect rain most of the week.
Categories: News

NC public universities again seeking tuition, fee hikes

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 07:39
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's public universities a poised for another couple of years of higher tuition and fees after a one-year tuition freeze this year.
The governing board of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system on Friday is expected to approve requests by schools to raise the two basic costs of attendance.
Student fees paying for campus athletics, health services, student activities and technology rose are expected to increase by an average 5 percent for the next academic year and 3.3 percent for 2016-17.
North Carolina State University undergraduate students would see tuition rise next fall at the state's largest campus by $182 to $6,220, followed by another $187 increase the following year.
UNC-Chapel Hill could charge an extra $225 in undergraduate tuition next fall to total $6,648
Categories: News