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Updated: 3 min 38 sec ago

Stilt walkers serve up fresh entertainment

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 09:22
While families flock to the Western North Carolina Mountain State Fair to enjoy their time off eating fried foods, browsing exhibits and farm animals and going on rides, performers at the event center are hard at work.
Backstage before their first show of the day Friday morning, stilt walkers Chris Morales, 40, Tracy Bach, 28, and Benjamin Gadbois, 36, sat together at a mirror doing their makeup. Morales dipped his brush into a deep black paint and ran it down his cheek, separating the bright red from yellow.
The trio work for World Gate Entertainment, traveling the country and even abroad for fairs and special events.
Gadbois said the farthest he's been since starting his job was to Edmonton, Canada, but Morales said he's been all over the world, making stops in London, Paris and Thailand.
In Rome, which he said was his favorite, his group performed with Cirque du Soleil doing a show for Fiat.
“Africa was beautiful as well,” Morales said. “We did the President's Cup there...”
Morales made his way to World Gate 16 years ago after working as a performer for Disney in Florida. Gadbois said his wife just happened to meet one of the company's owners, which is how he stumbled on to his role, but he has spent his entire life preforming.
“It makes sense to me; I never really sought it out, but life just kind of happens that way,” Gadbois said. “So that's, I guess, what I really love about it — it teaches me that life will just grab me and turn me around and say, you know, try that instead.”
For most of Gadbois' childhood, he was fairly certain he'd end up working in construction, but then he made friends who convinced him to try something else. When he first started stilt walking, Gadbois said it was difficult to adjust to staying on the slits for a long period of time.
“When you first start you don't last that long, so it takes a little while to build up stamina,” he said.
Bach said once she found her balance with the slits, walking with them became second nature.
“Sometimes when you get off of them, you have to readjust just to get off of them because you're like, 'whoa, that's not where I expected my foot to be,' so it's interesting,” Bach said.
The group uses a little more than a dozen characters for their mystical stilt performances, from flamingos to shamans and dragons.
“They're all different and they all have their personalities,” Gadbois said.
When show time came, Gadbois emerged as a rider on the back of a dragon. Morales rode on the back of a bird, with pheasant feathers making up its wings and tail, while Bach played the shaman.
Residents of Fleshers Fairview Health and Retirement Center watched in awe from their wheelchairs as the performers towered above them.
Morales played with one of the residents, maneuvering his puppet to make it seem as though the bird was trying to steal the woman's soda. She smiled and laughed as she batted its beak away from her straw. He then moved along, swinging the bird head back and forth and clapping its beak open and closed.
The group will spend a month on the road before they head home. Morales said he'll be heading back to Florida, and the other two to San Diego. The trio said they hope to get out into Asheville between performances and check out the hiking in Brevard.
“Sometimes we don't get as much time, but this one is nice because they have us grouped pretty close together, which is nice because you actually get to go out and see more, experience the place where you are,” Bach said.
The slit walkers will perform four shows a day on Saturday and Sunday and three a day Monday through Thursday at the Mountain State Fair.
Reach Bindewald at or 828-694-7890.
Categories: News

Volunteers clean streams statewide

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 09:06
Old rusted bikes and tractor tires are not what most people would expect to find in their local waterways, but volunteers participating in the North Carolina Big Sweep with the Environmental & Conservation Organization jumped into nearby creeks and streams Saturday, pulling out an array of discarded items.
More than a dozen teams stretched across the county from Big Hungry Creek to Britton Creek at Seventh Avenue, wading and canoeing through the water to clean out trash and recycling.
ECO Interim Director Mary Jo Padgett said she likes participating in the Big Sweep because it is a day when the entire community - from businesses, to civic groups, churches and schools - can participate in cleaning up Henderson County's streams together.
“The good news is that we really get lots of trash out of our streams,” Padgett said. “Streams are the lowest point in the landscape if you think about it, and therefore, anything that blows or rolls will go to a stream.”
Roughly 10 miles of stream were cleaned by this year's volunteers.
“We have found that the community really supports this project and so, year after year after year, we still coordinate it because the community still enjoys doing this,” Padgett said.
Reach Bindewald at renee. or 828-694-7890.
Categories: News

British royal couple expecting second child

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:40
LONDON — Prince George is not going to be an only child for long — the toddler will soon have a baby sister or brother to share his fancy digs at Kensington Palace.
British royal officials said Monday that Prince William and the duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, are expecting their second child.
For the second time, Kate is being treated for acute morning sickness in the early phases of her pregnancy.
The first time she was so ill she required hospitalization. This time, she is being treated by doctors at her residence in Kensington Palace. She canceled a planned engagement in Oxford to rest and receive medical care.
The new baby, boy or girl, will become fourth in line to the throne, pushing Prince Harry to fifth. George, who is 13 months old, is third and likely to become Britain's monarch one day. William is second in line, while his father, Prince Charles, is first.
Britain had changed its laws before George's birth so that the couple's first born would be in line for the throne regardless of its sex. Before the change, a girl would have lost her place in line if a boy was born later.
William and Kate have often expressed an interest in having a larger family.
The royal couple and their families are "delighted" with the baby news, said officials at Clarence House, the couple's office. The announcement follows months of speculation in the glossy British and American press about a possible baby brother or sister for George.
After hospital treatment for severe morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, Kate recovered and gave birth to George in July 2013 without further complications.
The current illness means the 32-year-old duchess may need extra hydration, medication and nutrients.
Britain's Press Association reported that Kate's pregnancy hasn't passed the 12-week stage, which is when she became ill in her first pregnancy.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "delighted by the happy news that they're expecting another baby."
Royal officials said it wasn't clear if the duchess will be able to carry out planned official engagements, including a trip to Malta on Sept. 20 and 21 that would mark her first overseas solo trip.
Decisions on events would be made on a "case-by-case" basis, officials said.
Categories: News

State backs off plans to test for WNC natural gas potential

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:30
Despite a recent pullback on testing for natural gas potential in Western North Carolina, environmental groups say the threat of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — still looms over the region.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources recently decided not to conduct rock tests this fall in seven mountain counties looking at the potential for natural gas deposits, as initially planned.
State geologists were going to pull rock samples, primarily along roadways, in Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. Those samples would then be analyzed for total organic carbon, an indication of natural gas potential.
After reviewing legislation that set aside $250,000 for testing, "and determining our budget limitations, we have decided to put plans for rock sampling on hold for western and eastern North Carolina," said DENR Spokesman Jamie Kritzer.
Instead, DENR will focus its exploration efforts on three geologic basins in the central part of the state: the Deep River, Dan River and Cumberland–Marlboro basins. Those include portions of some of the state's most populated counties, including Durham, Wake, Rockingham and Wayne.
"These are the areas where the geologic studies and past industry exploration in recent decades have revealed the most potential for oil and gas in North Carolina," Kritzer said.
But environmentalists, who've packed a series of state public hearings on proposed oil and gas rules, say DENR's decision to focus on central North Carolina doesn't mean mountain residents should think they're safe from future fracking and its effects.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which millions of gallons of pressurized water, sand and chemicals are injected into wells up to 8,000 feet deep to fracture shale rock and release trapped gas.
"I don't think Western North Carolina is off the hook," said Therese Vick, a community organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. "I think folks are going to have to continue to be vigilant and continue to organize. We can't sleep. We want to stay ahead of the game."
Katie Hicks, assistant director of Clean Water for North Carolina's Asheville office, said DENR's decision to refocus its efforts elsewhere is no guarantee the General Assembly won't find funding for additional testing in WNC next fiscal year. She's concerned the announcement may dissuade mountain residents from attending the state's only western public hearing on draft oil and gas rules, scheduled for Friday in Cullowhee.
"Even if there's not testing in the mountains, we could still feel the statewide impacts on our economy and environment that these rules are meant to regulate," Hicks said. "So it's still a key time for folks to get out and voice their concerns."
The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission is holding four public hearings across the state to take input on 126 pages of rules governing oil and gas development in North Carolina.
The N.C. Petroleum Council believes the rules "generally strike a delicate balance between providing for the protection of environment and public health and at the same time allow for responsible energy activities here in the state," said Executive Director David McGowan.
The industry group, which is affiliated with the American Petroleum Institute, hasn't taken a position on the state's retreat from testing in mountain counties this year, McGowan said.
"I think the reality is most folks recognize that Western North Carolina is not conducive for further exploration and development," he said. "A lot of the conservation concerns of the citizens in Western North Carolina, in that sense, are probably unfounded."
Yet environmentalists still worry that fracking will contaminate groundwater, pollute air and create public health hazards for mountain communities. They say the draft rules don't go far enough in protecting the public from these threats.
"There is nothing in the law or the regulations that prevents fracking from happening in Western North Carolina," said Julie Mayfield, co-director of the Western North Carolina Alliance. "It may be less likely, but it's not prohibited in the way many of us would like it to be."
The Mining and Energy Commission promised citizens its rules would be the strongest in the nation, Vick said, but she said required setbacks for fracking operations are "woefully inadequate" compared to other states with shale gas drilling.
The state's draft rules say well heads, waste pits and storage tanks at fracking operations must be at least 650 feet from occupied dwellings or drinking water wells, and no less than 200 feet from perennial streams, lakes or wetlands.
"The setback distances are just not adequate," agreed Hicks. "There's a Duke University study that showed gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region (of Pennsylvania and Ohio) within 1 kilometer of drinking water wells were 600 times more likely to contaminate a drinking water well."
North Carolina's draft rules would allow fracking operators to store wastewater in open pits, which Vick said can contain hundreds of contaminants that could overflow or leak into surface waters. Other constituents of fracking wastewater, such as benzene, enter the air when left exposed, she said.
"All of that will be put in a big pit and they say it's a temporary thing, but who's going to police them?" she said. "It's like having dozens of little Love Canals."
State Geologist Kenneth Taylor, who will preside over the public hearing in Cullowhee, said the state simply doesn't know what natural gas deposits lie beneath mountain counties because "there hasn't been any total organic carbon collected in that part of the state."
Taylor said the same geologic rift that formed deposits of oil and gas in the Triassic basins of Deep River and Dan River roughly 200 million years ago created similar sediment deposits along a band through far-western North Carolina. Some may contain oil and gas, he said, but how much is unknown.
Taylor, only the 13th state geologist since the N.C. Geological Survey was created in 1823, said his office isn't charged with determining whether industry should or shouldn't drill for gas in the western, central or eastern parts of the state.
"We're simply trying to find and identify resources in the state and share that information with everyone," he said.
Some of the people Taylor is sharing his information with, at their request, are the managers of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests of North Carolina. Forest Service officials have invited Taylor and his colleague, Senior Geologist Jeff Reid, to Asheville this month.
"We're going out to talk about mineral resources in that area week after next," he said. "The whole thing is we've got all this data and we're going to share it with them. It'll allow the national Forest Service to leverage their knowledge."
The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission will hold its final, and only western, public hearing on draft rules regarding oil and gas development starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, at Western Carolina University's Ramsey Center, 92 Catamount Road, Cullowhee. Comments will be limited to 3 minutes.
Reach Axtell at or 828-694-7860.
Categories: News

Gun range debate continues Wednesday

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:28
Henderson County's Zoning Board of Adjustment reconvenes Wednesday to consider a special use permit for a controversial 84-acre shooting range in Dana, after board members were unable to take action during a five-hour meeting Aug. 27.
The board met to consider a site plan for Flat Rock Shooting Range, recommended for approval by the Technical Review Committee in early August.
Attorney Walter Carpenter represented the six business partners leasing the range, who began hosting "3-Gun" competitions on the property in the spring of 2013. After residents complained of noise, county Zoning Administrator Toby Linville investigated the range and found that former sheriff's deputies Ray Helms and Sam Seelig were holding the events without the required permitting.
Asheville attorney Brian Guldan represented residents of the Oleta Falls neighborhood and owners of other property adjacent to the gun range, many of whom object to the competitions, citing noise, safety and a decrease in property values.
Range operators countered that they have taken all necessary precautions to ensure safety, and that no homes are within 1,000 feet of the shooting areas, as required by county code. They also said the competitions would only be held once a month.
At the last meeting, Guldan called into question the safety measures used to contain projectiles within the range's operating area, and much of the meeting's debate centered on whether the property's topography and natural backstops of trees and mountain range would stop an errant round if a shooter were to completely miss the berms range operators plan to install.
Gulden said the site plan didn't show a total enclosure of the operations, which is one of the mandatory requirements for consideration of a special use permit for an outdoor gun range.
Zoning Administrator Toby Linville pointed out that the unenclosed portions are where Lane Road bisects the gun range's leased area, and that how range operators fully enclose the shooting areas will depend on whether they choose to build two proposed 35-yard pistol ranges north of the long ranges.
Despite the fencing that range operators say will be installed, Gulden and opposing parties claimed the gun range wouldn't be able to contain all projectiles as required, since the site plan didn't include the use of safety baffles. Constructed to hang overhead, baffles are installed along a firing line to restrict the travel of errant bullets.
Mary Walton Percy, a resident of Oleta Falls and registered landscape architect specializing in site design, said the absence of overhead baffles means an amateur shooter missing a target could shoot "into the wild blue yonder."
Citing "Design Criteria for Shooting Ranges" by Clark Vargas, president of a Florida shooting range consulting engineer firm, Percy said any shooting range constructed in a populated area should be totally baffled to where a range operator can show a judge that no round can escape.
"The long and short of it, they're shooting off the side of a mountain," she said. "And there's nothing to stop the bullets if they go over the berms."
Seelig maintained that it would be extremely unlikely for a shooter to miss a berm, which will be about 40 feet thick and 8 to 12 feet high – especially since shooters will be firing downward into a dug-out area in front of the berm.
Retired sheriff's deputy Tim Griffin said he'd been to the range, and said Seelig and Helms will be digging into the ground, putting the targets below ground level so shooters won't be firing upward or even straight.
"In our experience and in the National Rifle Association's experience, it's always safer to shoot down than up," said Holly Boros, an NRA-certified range safety officer.
And, Linville said, "Even with an errant shot, they've still got the natural backstop."
When Gulden asked what features she saw at the range to prevent a projectile from leaving the site, Boros said, "A berm, a forest, and a ridgeline."
She also explained that a range safety officer such as herself would accompany each shooter in any 3-Gun competition at the range.
"We have to be within arm's reach of every shooter," Boros said. "Every shooter that runs the course has a range safety officer at their shoulder."
Not only does a range safety officer make sure no weapons have been loaded prior to stepping onto the range, Boros said, he or she runs with a shooter and if at any point sees the shooter taking an unsafe aim, stops him or her before firing.
"If someone's getting ready to shoot over the berm, we're counting on the range safety officer to stop them from doing that," Seelig said.
He explained that during a 3-Gun competition, range operators set up about four stages and only one competitor is shooting at that stage at a time, with a minimum of one range safety officers at each station.
Seelig said the range safety officers are always within an arm's length of their shooters, and only the active shooter has a loaded gun. He said he runs a cold range, meaning shooters must have their pistols holstered and rifles racked when they're not actively shooting, and cannot come onto the range with a loaded gun.
"I have never shot in a match that is as closely and rigorously safety patrol-oriented as this one," said Tim Wemple, who is retired from the Army and lives on Bishop Lane near the range. "When you get there in the morning, you assemble in the parking lot."
He said range safety officers give a safety briefing with details about the range, and visually inspect weapon chambers before the 3-Gun competition.
"I am not a callous or cavalier person," Wemple said. "If I didn't think that I could shoot at the range that Sam and Ray operate, I wouldn't be there."
"I've worked alongside a couple of these gentlemen (and) I've been on the range with them," said Griffin. "They're a couple of the safest people on the range I've seen."
Safe or not, the 3-Gun competitions produce a noise Oleta Falls residents and other neighbors find disturbing, and several ventured to say that the noise devalued their properties.
Mary Michelle Henderson, who owns property on Henderson Ridge Lane, said her 3-year-old has been woken up from naps during 3-Gun competitions, and the noise ruins the family's once-peaceful weekends.
"It sounds like it's in our front yard," Henderson said. "We also have horses and I frequently ride. It can light them up and it can become an instant rodeo."
James Drootsan lives in Wisconsin and purchased property near the range in 2011 with intentions of retiring from law enforcement next year and moving to Henderson County. Since 2011, he's visited the property with his dogs, one of which is gun-shy.
"When I bought this property, I searched all over Western North Carolina for a retirement home. I wanted peace and quiet," he said. "Since the shooting range came in, it's ruined my dream of a retirement home in this community."
Other county residents, like Griffin and Richard Gibbs, say the noise isn't that bad and there were already gunshot noises from people shooting and hunting in the rural area.
Gibbs said when he first heard the sounds from the 3-Gun competitions, it took him a couple months to define, since it was coming from a distance.
"It was a little bit of pop, a little crackle," he said.
Dr. Harry Fozzard, whose property is to the west of the facility, disagreed. He's also used to hearing the sounds of hunting, but said the noise from the gun range "was really quite dramatically different. We're unable to carry on a decent conversation on our front porch when this is going on."
Reach McGowan at or 828-694-7871.
Follow Molly McGowan on Twitter at
Categories: News

Jailed Marine's mom addresses supporters

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:15
Nearly 100 well-wishers packed the community room at the Historic Courthouse to lend support Sunday to the mother and sister of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who was jailed in March after inadvertently crossing into Mexico with three firearms.
His mother, Jill Tahmooressi, and sister, Andrea, thanked the standing-room-only crowd for coming and encouraged supporters to write their congressional representatives to sign onto a House bill demanding Andrew's release. She also asked them to press the White House to do more.
Jill Tahmooressi said local State Department officials in Mexico have "been more than gracious and they've done all of his court hearings. But we need Secretary of State John Kerry to say more than, 'I've raised the issue.' Those three words on May 21, that's all I've heard."
City Councilman Jeff Miller, whose HonorAir organization has raised $15,000 thus far to help defray Tahmooressi's legal fees, organized Sunday's "meet-and-greet" event to continue raising public awareness of the jailed Marine's plight.
Though not billed as a fundraiser, Miller encouraged anyone who wanted to donate toward Tahmooressi's legal defense to contribute through HonorAir. Funds given through HonorAir are tax-exempt, whereas about 30 percent of direct donations are lost to taxes, he said.
"We're paying the legal bills with the attorney directly," Miller said. The event was also designed to give the public a chance to show the family support in person, he said, as well as to solicit letter-writers to raise Andrew Tahmooressi's spirits while he sits in solitary confinement in El Hongo State Penitentiary.
Tahmooressi faces up to 21 years in a Mexican prison for possession of three weapons, ammunition and not having a carry license. The guns – a shotgun, rifle and handgun – were buried under bags of clothing and other personal effects when he made a wrong turn in a San Diego suburb and ended up at Mexican customs.
"The border down there is woefully negligible of any kind of hazards for U.S. or any travelers, when you're so close to a foreign country," Jill Tahmooressi told supporters. By the time her son realized he'd taken the wrong ramp, she said, there was "literally no way were corralled, barricaded with cement barricades into Mexico."
Now on his third Mexican defense attorney, Tahmooressi will appear in court Tuesday for his third evidentiary hearing, his mother said. Jill Tahmooressi said he will stand behind bars in a 10-by-12 room for seven hours while video of his border crossing is examined by the judge and others.
The Mexican court system does not abide by common law like the U.S., Jill Tahmooressi said.
"It's Napolean Code," she said. "The judge is the judge, the jury and the principle investigator. So it is a closed courtroom, in secret." Although local State Department officials can attend, no media or outside family is allowed within the courtroom, she said.
Her son's human rights have been violated numerous times by Mexican authorities, Jill Tahmooressi said. He was held at the border for eight hours without any translator, State Department official or legal representation. He was also shackled to a cot in the prison infirmary for 32 days, she said, until his legs atrophied.
Attendees at Sunday's event expressed outrage at his treatment and the lack of response from U.S. authorities.
"Our president, Obama, he brags he's got a phone and a pen," said David Wenger of Hendersonville. "Why can't he simply close the borders coming into Arizona, Texas and California? No Mexican products coming in. Their products are rotting at the border. Your son will be home in a week."
Commissioner Grady Hawkins was just as disgusted with the U.S.' lackluster response. He came with his own letter written to Tahmooressi, a fellow private pilot and veteran.
"Here's a guy who has represented his country in battle, and there's less than half a percent of Americans now that have served in the all-volunteer force," Hawkins said. "Winston Churchill said, 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few,' and this is one of those men. And it's a crying shame that our government has allowed this to rise to the point that it's at. There's no excuse for that."
The family is asking the public to support House Resolution 62, which calls on Mexico to return Tahmooressi so he can continue his PTSD treatment. Anyone wishing to help financially can mail checks to HonorAir, PO Box 331, Hendersonville, NC 28793.
Reach Axtell at or 828-694-7860.
Categories: News

BRCC brewing program hits growth spurt

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:14
The beer gods have been smiling on Blue Ridge Community College.
One of only a handful of schools in the country to offer an associate degree in brewing, the school now has new, custom-made equipment similar to that found at commercial breweries, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation.
Just two years after BRCC launched its Craft Beer Academy and a year after the degree program was created, the college will have a sophisticated brewing system and a full canning line for students to produce and package the beer they create.
The beer gods also appeared to be smiling on Joel McLead. He and his wife, Mariah, had been talking about leaving Panama City, Fla., to be closer to her family in Western North Carolina. An aspiring brewer, McLead was well aware of the craft beer boom building in this area, so in March 2013 the couple packed up and made the move.
“We were like, 'It's an omen,'” McLead recalled of the conversation with his wife. “'Let's go.”
Fortunately for McLead, that was right around the time when BRCC's Continuing Education program began the Craft Beer Academy, with several courses designed to introduce residents to the world of craft beer and begin training them for jobs in the field.
McLead took some of those courses, including the intensive BRCC Brew School at Oskar Blues. And while he found the academy to provide a great educational foundation, McLead was looking for a more hands-on program.
He got his wish last August when BRCC launched the Brewing, Distillation and Fermentation Program, which offers a certificate or two-year associate degree. Hired to lead the curriculum was Gabe Mixon, who was teaching most of the Continuing Education beer courses and recently was honored in London for achieving among the highest scores in the world on the Institute of Brewing and Distilling General Certificate in Brewing exam, for which he prepares his students.
Now beginning its second year, the BRCC degree program has big plans moving forward. Progressing from an initial 5-gallon home-brew production setup, the college is close to installing no fewer than nine SABCO 15-gallon units that Mixon called a “very sophisticated home-brew system ... which really is a microcosm of the type of equipment that you would use in the commercial brewing industry.”
What's more, this month BRCC is expecting delivery of an actual 3-barrel commercial brewing set-up — two 90-gallon, conical-shaped fermenters and one “bright beer” or conditioning tank — which will be used in conjunction with the canning line.
”It's really impressive,” said McLead, who enrolled in January and now is one of about two dozen students in the program. “I was like, 'We've got a canning line sitting back there, nine SABCOs, eventual conical (fermenters) — this is exactly what I'm looking for, this is what the big boys have. And Gabe definitely knows his stuff; I don't think I've really stumped him on a question yet.”
The grant money from the foundation helps fill a skills gap in the workforce and provides training opportunities for residents “in support of the influx of breweries, wineries and cider manufacturers locating to Henderson and Transylvania counties,” Duke Energy said in a news release this spring.
According to the N.C. Brewers Guild, craft beer alone has an economic impact of $791 million in the state, and has created 10,000 jobs. The number of North Carolina craft breweries nearly tripled from 45 in 2010 to 120 entering 2014, with 20 new breweries planning to open this year.
That kind of growth — and specifically the arrival of major brewers Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada, in the case of BRCC — gave the impetus to schools such as Blue Ridge to train a new wave of workers.
It's already paid dividends on both sides, as Oskar Blues began hiring BRCC students during its first year in Brevard in 2013 when it grew at warp speed.
”It's a great feeling to see that,” Mixon said. “I went in there to do a tour the other day and there were a substantial number of people working there on the floor that I had in class. It's great the way that (breweries) in the local area are looking at this as an opportunity to train folks, even for low-level positions where they're hiring someone that may not have any actual experience working with commercial brewing equipment, and then training them up. So they're really responding well (to the programs), and it definitely gives me reassurance that we're doing something good for the local brewing industry.”
Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville also began an internship program with BRCC this year, and Mixon said he's in discussions with Sierra Nevada for an internship or cooperative education arrangement at the brewery in Mills River.
The college's brewing program this year has been relocated to a new area within the Spearman Building, a strategic move to blend it in more cohesively with the advanced manufacturing program and have all those students in one area.
Chris English, the college's dean of applied technologies, said mechatronics is a huge component of the brewing program and is what the brewing industry has requested with regard to training.
”Our focus is teaching people how to work in the industry by brewing the beer and understanding the processes, getting that beer packaged, whether it's bottled or canned, and getting it to the door ready for shipment,” English said. “And with the brewing companies coming in, like Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues, these facilities are heavily automated, which matches up perfectly to mechatronics, but yet even a smaller facility such as SAB — which is still kegging and distributing their beer — the mechatronics courses still come in handy.
“So it doesn't matter whether someone wants to open their own business, or work for a (smaller) facility like SAB or if they wanted to go to a national company like Sierra Nevada or Oskar Blues, they're still gathering all the knowledge.”
Whether it's mashing or boiling on the brewing deck, cellaring or packaging, BRCC is training residents to work in or simply better appreciate an industry that many predict will soon turn Western North Carolina into the Napa Valley of beer.
“As far as our students, they're all over the map,” Mixon said. “We have folks who have retired or who have left one career and want to start another one; we have folks that are fresh out of school and looking to take the next step in their education and decide they want to go into brewing because it's an interest for them; and we have some that are just kind of checking it out and seeing what it's all about, and not necessarily making a committed career move yet, but are just coming to take classes and learn more about the industry.”
Categories: News

Police investigate shooting in city

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:10
At least one person was injured in a shooting Saturday afternoon in Hendersonville.
The Hendersonville Police Department responded to a call of a shooting at 4 p.m. on White Sparrow Drive. Officers secured the area and began rendering medical aid.
One of the victims was identified as Tasha Clayton of Hendersonville, who was taken to Mission Hospital for treatment, the police department said in a news release. The extent of her injuries was unknown Saturday night.
The second victim was Michael Peak of White Sparrow Drive, according to the release. He refused treatment at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police department or Crimestoppers at 828-697-STOP.
Categories: News

Community Briefs: Sept. 8

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:06
The Clear Creek Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the office conference room of Clear Creek Elementary.
The Laurel Park Parks & Greenways Board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at town hall.
The Laurel Park Planning Board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday at town hall.
Blue Ridge Literacy Council will hold a volunteer orientation session from 10–11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the BRLC offices on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Info: 696-3811.
The Brevard-Hendersonville Parkinson's Support Group will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the fellowship hall of Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church, 249 E. Main St., Brevard. Info: the Brengels at 685-7673 or the Edens at 862-8820.
Fletcher Community Chorus will begin rehearsals for the fall season at 7 p.m. Thursday in the choir room of Calvary Episcopal Church, 2840 Hendersonville Road, Fletcher. Info:
Tarheel Piecemakers Quilt Club will hold social time at 9:30 a.m. and a meeting at 10 a.m. at 2567 Asheville Highway, Hendersonville. Info:
Categories: News

Senate bill will allow BRCC brewing program to sell beer

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:02
Unlike knitting a sweater or sculpting a vase, brewing beer in college presents a complex legal conundrum that brought some state legislators into conflict this summer about what higher learning institutions such as Blue Ridge Community College should be allowed to do with the ales and lagers they're producing on campus.
Last month, the N.C. General Assembly passed the Regulatory Reform Act of 2014, which seeks to “eliminate unnecessary or outdated statutes and regulations and modernizing or simplifying cumbersome or outdated regulations.”
The 40-page Senate bill, which awaits Gov. Pat McCrory's signature to become law, includes provisions that enable college brewing programs, under certain restrictions, to begin selling what they make.
Chris English, dean of applied technologies at Blue Ridge, said that earlier this year he met with the state's other schools offering a two-year brewing degree program — Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Nash Community College in Rocky Mount and Rockingham Community College in Wentworth — to discuss ways to utilize the beer they brew, since currently it has to be disposed of following production.
Citing the inequities of state law that allow college wine-making programs to sell their output but not brewing programs, the colleges drafted a proposal that Mary Shuping, legislative liaison for the state community college system, took to lawmakers in Raleigh.
Among the supporters was Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville, who also argued the conflicting legal distinction between wine-making and beer-brewing, and also pointed to the economic development aspect of the craft beer industry in backing the community college section of the bill.
McGrady said Sen. Tom Apodaca, also of Hendersonville, shared his support, but the sensitive subject of alcoholic beverage production and sales on college campuses met with significant objection from several members of the House before the legislation eventually passed.
One of the major components of the bill is the authorization of college brewing programs to apply for a permit to sell their beer at a maximum of six special events during a 12-month period. Colleges will be allowed to sell the equivalent of up to 64 cases of their beer at each of these events.
“Ultimately,” said Megen Hoenk, spokeswoman for the state community college system, “it allows students in these programs to get feedback regarding what they're producing.”
It also will help colleges recoup some of the costs of running their brewing programs, and the bill requires that all net proceeds from the special events go to supporting those curriculums.
The new law would also enable current and future college brewing programs to sell their beer to distributors or retailers under a wholesaler permit. In addition, schools could give free tastings and sell their beer by the glass or in closed containers at trade shows, festivals, local fundraisers and other similar events, as well as sell “growlers” — typically 32- or 64-ounce take-home glass jugs — to restaurants and retail businesses, with use of an off-premises permit.
Shuping said the bill provides for an exemption to the Umstead Act, which prohibits state agencies from competing with private businesses.
BRCC spokeswoman Lee Anna Haney said the school's president, Molly Parkhill, will brief the college board of trustees on the impending law Monday during the board's regular monthly meeting, and begin discussions on what direction the college will take regarding its new opportunities.
In a possible preview of the kind of events the new law would allow, BRCC announced this week its first Blue Ridge Wine and Artisan Cider Festival on Oct. 25 at the college. Haney said the event will provide great exposure for BRCC and its programs, as well as for local wineries and cideries, and serve as a benefit for the college's beer and horticulture programs.
As for the new law and its immediate implications, Blue Ridge is currently producing only 5-gallon batches of beer until its much larger brewing system is up and running, so it is unlikely that enough beer will be made to supply a special event like the one next month until the spring semester, at least.
Either way, English emphasized that the focus will always be on education.
“We are not in the business of production,” he said, “we are in the business of training.”
Categories: News

Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy dead at 93

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 08:01
ATLANTA — S. Truett Cathy, the billionaire founder of the privately held Chick-fil-A restaurant chain that famously closes on Sundays but also drew unwanted attention on gay marriage in recent years because of his family's conservative views, died early Monday, a company spokesman said. He was 93.
Chick-fil-A spokesman Mark Baldwin told The Associated Press that Cathy died at home surrounded by members of his family. The company said in a statement that preliminary plans are for a public funeral service at 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Jonesboro in Jonesboro, Georgia.
Cathy opened his first postwar diner in an Atlanta suburb in 1946 and by 1967 he had founded and opened his first Chick-fil-A Inc. restaurant in Atlanta. Over ensuing decades, the chain's boneless chicken sandwich he is credited with inventing would propel Chick-fil-A expansion to more than 1,800 outlets in 39 states and the nation's capital. By early 2013, the company says on its website, annual sales topped $5 billion as the chain offered up a taste of the South that went beyond chicken to such offerings as sweet tea, biscuits and gravy.
Under the religiously conservative founder, the chain gained prominence for its Bible Belt observance of Sunday — none of its hundreds of restaurants are open on that day, to allow employees a day of rest. Its executives often said the chain made as much money in six days as its competitors do in seven.
Those religious views helped win Cathy and his family loyal following from conservative customers, but also invited protests when Cathy's son denounced gay marriage.
Cathy's son, Dan, who is currently chairman and president of the chain, had told the Baptist Press in 2012 that the company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the biblical definition of a family." Gay rights groups and others called for boycotts and kiss-ins at Cathy's restaurants. The Jim Henson Co. pulled its Muppet toys from kids' meals, while politicians in Boston and Chicago told the chain it is not welcome there.
The controversy later subsided.
The family-owned company has said it has had 46 consecutive years of positive sales growth. Cathy's $6 billion fortune as the founder of Chick-fil-A puts him on the yearly Forbes magazine list of the wealthiest Americans in the country. The company has listed him on its website as its chairman emeritus after he left day-to-day operations to younger generations.
Truett Cathy began his career in the restaurant business by opening with his brother in 1946 an Atlanta diner called The Dwarf Grill, which was named for the short and stout shape of the restaurant.
He has attributed his hardworking nature — even as a little boy he made money by selling six bottles of Coca-Cola for a quarter — to growing up poor.
"I've experienced poverty and plenty and there's a lesson to be learned when you're brought up in poverty," he said in 2007. "I had to create some good work habits and attitude."
Even well into his 80s, Cathy was actively involved in the chain's operations, including setting up a contract with his children that said they may sell the privately-owned chain in the future but the company must never go public.
"Why would I retire from something I enjoy doing?" Cathy said in a 2007 interview. "I can hardly wait to get here."
An opportunity in 1961 led to the development of the restaurant chain's trademark chicken sandwich when a company that cooked boneless, skinless chicken for airline meals wanted to sell him pieces that were too big for the airline customer's needs. Cathy took those pieces and cooked them in a pressure cooker and served them in buttered buns.
The sandwich was sold at independent restaurants for a few years before he opened his first Chick-fil-A restaurant at an Atlanta shopping mall in 1967.
Cathy also was known for his efforts to help youth. In 1984 he created the WinShape Foundation to help "shape winners" through youth support programs and scholarships. He also created a long-term program for foster children that has foster care homes in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Brazil.
His sympathy for children was demonstrated in August 2008 when he worked out a deal with the parents of two girls who were accused of causing $30,000 in damage to a home he owned in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The girls were banned from watching TV and playing video games. They also had to write "I will not vandalize other people's property" 1,000 times.
He told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he didn't want to have them prosecuted and left with a criminal record.
As the author of several books, his 2007 book "How Did You Do It, Truett?" outlined his strategy for success that included setting priorities, being courteous, cautiously expanding a business and not being burdened with debt.
"There's really no secret for success," he said then. "I hope it will open eyes for people. They don't have to follow my recipe but this is what works for me."
Cathy is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jeannette McNeil Cathy; sons Dan T. and Don "Bubba" Cathy; daughter Trudy Cathy White; 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, according to a company statement.
Categories: News

Whitmire's eagle propels him to his first Apple Jack win

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 22:46
Things could not have been any tighter going into the final round of the Apple Jack Amateur Championship at Crooked Creek Golf Club, with five players tied for the lead at 3-under par and five others within two shots of the lead.
First-time winner Cecil Whitmire broke out of the pack on the back nine on Sunday afternoon after making an eagle on 13 and back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15, on his way to a one-shot victory over Marcus Grumbles.
“It came as a total surprise. I usually play good on the first day and wilt during the second day. My expectations were so low, I did not worry about anything today,” said the two-time WNC Amateur winner and Brevard resident Whitmire.
After failing to make an up-and-down for par on the final hole, Whitmire left the door slightly open for Grumbles and Phil Bland.
After hitting his 104-yard approach over the 18th green, Whitmire said that “I didn't think that I could hit my sand wedge that far.”
Needing an eagle on the 568-yard par-5 finishing hole to tie Whitmire, Grumbles pumped a fairway wood from the left fairway just over the green, where he made a tough up-and-down over a tree for a birdie and Bland came up short of the green on his approach.
“That back nine was as good as I have played in a while. I played with a good group of guys today,” said Whitmire.
A year after his playing partner Paul Roberts captured the Senior Championship, David Blackley carried home the trophy after shooting 1-under par over the weekend, beating Neil Randall by three shots and Roberts by four.
“I only made three bogies in two days and did not make any double bogeys. You cannot afford to make any doubles in tournaments like this one,” said Blackley.
Last year's champion Josh McMillan was tied for the lead going into the final round but fell out of contention after making a 7 on the eighth hole.
“I am tickled to death, it was an awesome weekend. It is a lot of hard work putting on a tournament like this. We cannot do it without all of the endless hours of the staff and volunteers,” said Crooked Creek General Manager Tommy Laughter.
Cecil Whitmire;69-70-139
Marcus Grumbles;69-71-140
Phil Bland;69-72-141
Brian Kelley;71-72-143
Fred Edwards;73-71-144
Jim Murray Jr.;69-76-145
Josh McMillan;69-76-145
Patrick Waters;72-73-145
Kyle Milner;70-77-147
Brandt Howard;71-76-147
Brooks Lowder;71-76-147
Blake Bickford;73-74-147
Mikey Hartin;71-77-148
Jim Sparks;73-75-148
Tim Smith;75-73-148
Eric Russell;76-73-149
Eric Grumbles;77-72-149
Michael Jordan;77-72-149
Shane Grumbles;78-71-149
Shane Dotson;75-75-150
Daniel Honeycutt;79-71-150
Doug Brown;72-79-151
Josh Phillips;74-78-152
Kenny Elliott;77-75-152
David Congelton;73-80-153
Jeff Stevens;75-78-153
Joe Collins;78-75-153
Craig Trace;79-74-153
Jerry Hill;73-81-154
Tyler Clark;78-77-155
Jimmy Amick;78-78-156
Joey Smith;78-78-156
Murray Glenn;78-78-156
Barry Stroupe;79-79-158
Jeff Myers;79-79-158
Josh Petite;80-78-158
Chuck Walker;73-86-159
Craig Gillie;78-81-159
Austin Fisher;80-79-159
Roger Gosnell;80-80-160
Tim Rhymer;81-79-160
Tommy laughter;77-85-162
Jeff Ferguson;81-82-163
Alex Yarbourgh;83-80-163
Tommy Gardner;84-79-163
Pacer Vaughn;81-84-165
Brady Frazier;84-83-167
Mitch Sellars;86-81-167
Chris Ricketts;83-85-168
Greg Clayton;89-79-168
Dave Freeman;85-85-170
John Norman;84-89-173
John Payne;86-89-175
Gary Porter;90-94-184
Marion Johnson;94-96-190
Matt Conrad;122-120-242
Gross/Net scores
Mack Youngblood;72/61-74/63-146/124
Bill Burnette;81/67-77/64-158/131
Milton Stewart;80/68-76/64-156/132
Ken Green;82/68-78/64-160/132
Leo Gawor;103/73-91/61-194/134
Floyd Pryor;81/71-77/67-158/138
Tom Williams;87/73-80/67-167/140
Tommy Stevens;75/67-82/74-157/141
Perry Mace;81/66-91/76-172/142
Randy Childers;84/68-91/75-175/143
Charlie Huff;88/73-86/71-174/144
Steve Whitmire;89/78-80/70-169/148
David Blackley;70-73-143
Neil Randall;69-77-146
Paul Roberts;72-75-147
Mike Greene;75-75-150
Tim Cosgrove;76-74-150
Phil Roper;72-82-154
Willie Huff;74-81-155
Randall McCory;81-74-155
Skip Wolfe;73-83-156
Dean Gosnell;75-81-156
Mike McGrath;76-80-156
Phillip Staton;80-76-156
Foy Levi;73-84-157
Therion Robinson;79-78-157
Jim Robeson;80-78-158
Ron Pressley;81-78-159
Eric Benison;82-77-159
Gene King;83-78-161
Chad Smith;82-80-162
Russ Johnson;81-82-163
Categories: News

Behind the Lights: Hendersonville

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 15:36
The Hendersonville football players emerged from the dark halls that weave in and around the coaches' offices and the locker rooms. The door popped open, sunlight flooded the hall and the Bearcats moved out into the parking lot.
The journey was short as they entered the gates behind the home stands. The players filed down a steep, small hill that was covered in tiny rocks. The sound of their cleats in the rocks began grabbing the attention from fans in the stands that could see what was going on.
At the bottom of the hill, the Bearcats stepped back into a dim haze. The dust from the gravel that the players stepped on flew up into the air – the team silent as they walked.
Fans began to realize where the team was and the bleachers above rattled as feet hit the metal. After a few seconds on the path beneath the bleachers, the Bearcats emerged again into the sunlight. Fans standing and waiting met them with cheers.
Hendersonville continued towards the south endzone where they crowded in behind a black banner that was being held up by Bearcat cheerleaders.
It was game time. The players talked among themselves. Leaders stepped forward, talking to the rest of the team and firing up their teammates.
Beyond the black banner that had something written on the other side about their opponent, East Henderson, was a stadium filled with fans and an Eagle team that awaited them to do battle.

Calm before the storm

Pregame activities for the Bearcats began at 4 p.m. at the Chariot just a couple of blocks over from the high school on U.S. 64.
Hendersonville players filled the tables and awaited the spaghetti that the banquet hall had prepared. Once their plates were on the tables, the Bearcats listened as Steve McNamara, Area Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, served as a motivational speaker.
McNamara has been invited to speak to the Bearcats for the last six years.
Once he finished speaking, the Bearcats did what has become a tradition. The football players paired up and stood back-to-back. While they did this, someone prayed. The tradition honors the fact that the teammates have each other's back. It's a show of unity and team support.
The players and coaches then walked back to the high school. The players began changing into their uniforms. The coaches meandered around the football facilities.
Carlin Compton, a Hendersonville sophomore, went about his job of setting up the pylons and other things the field needed. He's the unofficial, “Director of Football Operations.”
The only sound in the football stadium was the sound of traffic on U.S. 25.
As the clock struck six, however, the calm dissipated and the Bearcats readied for war.


The players and coaches filed into the health room that sat adjacent to the old Hendersonville High School gymnasium.
Coaches stood in the front of the room and began going over game plans with the players. It was a last minute reminder of the plays the coaches had driven into their players' heads all week and the weeks prior.
And while the plays were important, Hendersonville coach Eric Gash reminded his players that there was something just as important.
“At some point in this game tonight, it's going to come down to heart,” Gash said.
His players were quiet, taking in every word the coach said.
“When we step out onto that grass, it's about heart and that name on your chest,” he continued. “We win with character and that wins championships. We've had some good days and some bad days so far, but tonight when the lights come on, it's about the name on that chest.”


“It doesn't get any better than this,” Gash told his players in the locker room.
The coach stood alone in the locker room with his players. The assistant coaches sat in the next room. They waited for the players to file out and enter the field.
“They've made movies about this Friday night lights,” he continued. “This is what it's all about.”
Gash became more animated with each word he spoke. The players began to rise and close ranks around him. The energy in the room grew. The coach felt the energy and met it with more energy.
“Give every ounce of energy you have on every single play,” he said. “Play with character and heart.”
And as for the opponents, Gash's message was simple.
“At the end of the night, I don't want any feathers, any beaks, any talons or whatever left of that Eagle,” he said.
With that, the Bearcats released and unifying shout and began to work their way out of the locker room.

The game

The Bearcats burst through the black banner and ran 40 yards through two lines of screaming fans. It wasn't long until they answered the call of those fans. Quarterback Michael Schmidt led the Bearcats down the field with ease on the first drive and ran in a touchdown from five yards out.
He orchestrated the offense like a maestro. The Bearcats entered the half with a 24-7 lead.
Offensive coaches broke away and the defensive coaches stayed behind and discussed strategy. When the game plan was suitable, Gash entered the locker rooms one more time with four minutes left until the Bearcats had to be back on the field.
“Everybody listen up,” he said. “Do not be satisfied with what we've got.”
He reminded them of the status he expected the Eagle to be left in and once again was met with a roar. The Bearcats filed back into the stadium. This time the bravado was gone. This time it was to finish the business at hand.
Hendersonville picked up where it left off in the first half and the offense had a big night.
Schmidt ended up throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns. His top target was Cole Cleary. Cleary set a school record in receptions. The senior caught 10 passes for 235 yards.
When the dust settled, the Bearcats were left to huddle in the middle of the field after a 44-26 win over a county rival. A large group of students and fans circled them with their arms wrapped around each other. When the team broke the huddle in a cheer, the larger circle made that cheer even louder.
Bearcat nation rose up with one voice – one victorious yell.
Categories: News

Shooting leaves two victims

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 14:04
At least one person was injured in a shooting Saturday afternoon in Hendersonville.
The Hendersonville Police Department responded to a call of a shooting at 4 p.m. on White Sparrow Drive. Officers secured the area and began rendering medical aid.
One of the victims was identified as Tasha Clayton of Hendersonville, who was taken to Mission Hospital for treatment, the police department said in a news release. The extent of her injuries was unknown Saturday night.
The second victim was Michael Peak of White Sparrow Drive, according to the release. He refused treatment at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police department or Crimestoppers at 828-697-STOP.
Categories: News

Youngster rebounding from cancer, foot amputation

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 03:01
Fueled by requests on social media, letters and packages from all over the world brought joy to a 7-year-old boy confined to his home over the last year as he endured more than 15 chemotherapy treatments for synovial sarcoma.
The rare form of cancer, usually found in arm, neck or leg joints, recently led to the amputation of Saluda resident Ben Leslie's foot.
Earlier this year, Ben's mother posted on Facebook asking friends, family and some of his favorite TV personalities to send him letters and package to keep him busy. Once the news spread, people sent him mail from around the world. His mother said Ben has received thousands of letters and packages, and three or four a week continue to trickle in.
It's a unique distraction for the 7-year-old, whose time these days is consumed by physical therapy after the loss of his foot.
When the Sarcoma first appeared in Ben's ankle two years ago, doctors told his family it is extremely rare for a child to have.
Doctors at Duke Children's Hospital and Health Center told the family in early spring his foot would have to be amputated to save his life. Ben's mother said it was the first and only time her son has cried since beginning his battle against cancer.
"This was a decision that we really did not want to have to make," Mary Leslie said. "We tried to save his foot; we tried so hard to find somebody that would clean it out and St. Jude's, though they couldn't take him as a patient, recommended just cleaning it out."
Scraping out the sarcoma would save his foot, Mary Leslie said, but would also leave them with a 90 percent chance that Ben's cancer could return, along with a lifetime of weak bones and joints that would cause him a considerable amount of pain.
They opted for the surgery, and Ben's right foot and part of his leg were amputated on July 11.
Anytime Ben spots a tear welling up in the corner of his mother's eye, he tells her that she "better not be getting a lazy eye," which makes her laugh. Once she cracks a smile, he smiles, too, and tells her he's going to be OK.
Before going into surgery, Ben sent his mother out of the room, saying he knew she couldn't handle it.
"He just said, 'I want you to leave and I want Daddy to come back,'" Mary Leslies said. "So his daddy stayed with him; he's Superman, I tell you."
Doctors told the family that a 2-centimeter cluster of cells found in Ben's ankle would have spread further if they had attempted to remove it from the bone instead of amputating.
"The biggest fear that we have now is that there may be microcells which would appear in the lungs," said Ben's grandmother, Marie Leslie. "The doctor told us that amputation would narrow down the risks, and it was 90 percent if we didn't. And if we did it, he said it would narrow it down to a 25 percent chance of it coming back to the lungs."
Because of the chemotherapy treatments, Ben's leg has not healed as quickly as doctors wanted, and they have told the family it will be November before he can begin using a prosthetic.
A home away from home
Despite the many days and hours Ben has spent in the hospital, the hardest part has always been seeing other children struggle with illness.
"He said, 'it is not fair to see the other children going through what I am going through,'" Mary Leslie said.
Ben would talk to the other children in the hospital and ask what brought them there; many had leukemia. One girl had the same type of cancer as Ben, and his mother said they became good buddies.
"He'd be in the waiting room and he'd see mothers come in with babies in their arms getting chemo," Marie Leslie said. "He'd really get upset when he'd see the little ones come in and they'd lost all of their hair."
But Ben kept his spirits up, making friends and taking advantage of the fun things each hospital had to offer. In Charlotte at Levine's Children's Hospital, he got to meet Spider-Man, Batman and Carolina Panthers football players. He said Batman was the best, and he got to try his gloves on.
"I got an autograph from some of the Panthers," Ben added.
While going through chemotherapy, he liked to spend time in the DJ booth mixing the sounds of instruments and beats together. "And when we were at Duke, they had this little play area down there that I could go to and play games like Monopoly," Ben said.
Between the many movies and activities, Ben would pray every night for the kids around him.
Physical therapy
A day after his amputation, Ben was up and ready to use the walker. By the time he was back at Duke for a checkup on Aug. 1, he was hopping all over the waiting room and making new friends. The doctors removed his stitches and sent him home.
On Thursday, Ben's physical therapist, Emily Freeman, had Ben stretch out and try a few leg lifts. When she asked if he was too tired, he said, "I'm never tired; sometimes I stay up till Wednesday." Freeman laughed and got him started on another round.
After an amputation like Ben's, Freeman said the muscles in the hip will try to stiffen up permanently, keeping his leg from straightening.
When Ben first started physical therapy at Kids N Motion, Freeman said he came in beaming, which was unusual since kids in his situation are usually scared or intimidated.
"He was beaming the whole way through the first session and just eager to do anything I put before him, so that was great," Freeman said. "And even on days when the medicine makes him feel yucky, he's just a trooper."
Freeman told Ben she had a new challenge for him Thursday. She brought out a pair of crutches and explained that once he's fitted for his prosthetic, he'll have to learn to walk again using crutches.
Ben said he'd never tried even playing with a set before, but was game to give them a whirl. He easily stood up and took a few steps around the room, although he decided that he liked his walker better.
"He is just one who takes the hand he has been dealt and figures OK, this is what I have got to do and I am going to do it to my best," Freeman said.
And Ben did just that as he and Freeman went for their usual end-of-appointment walk. Before they left, Freeman if he thought he could shave 10 seconds off of his last walk. Ben was confident they could beat it, and the two set out, talking about school and the multiplication tables.
When they got back, Freeman said the walk took just 4 minutes — two-and-a-half minutes faster than his best time.
Moving forward
As he heals, Ben's mother said he's been keeping busy.
On Saturday, he served as a judge for an antique car show benefit held by C&D Auto Repair and Restoration at O'Reilly Auto Parts. His family said they hope to get to Dollywood before the cold weather comes. In the meantime, home school is back in session, and Ben and his mother have been working on science experiments.
Friends have started calling him "Bionic Ben" and he said he's excited about it. His motto for life is that everything happens for a reason, and he's figured out why this happened to him.
"So I can tell the other children they'll be fine," Ben said.
Reach Bindewald at 694-7890 or
Categories: News

Community Briefs: Sept. 7

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 03:01
Memorial ride to start in Columbus
The Sons of Liberty Riders (of North Carolina and South Carolina) and Asheville Tea Party are hosting the second 9/11 Benghazi Memorial Ride at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Veterans Park in Columbus. The memorial ride begins with an invocation and finishes with a program at 5 p.m. at Harley-Davidson in Greenville, S.C.
Rider registration is at 3:15 p.m. Riders will depart Columbus at 4 p.m. and travel with a police escort to the Harley-Davidson dealer, where a program of speakers will be held from 5–7 p.m. Keynote speakers are Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of fallen Navy SEAL Team 6 member Aaron Carson Vaughn.
Billy Vaughn is also the author of the bestselling book, “Betrayed: The Shocking True Story Of Extortion 17.” Jane Bilello, chair of Asheville Tea Party, and other grassroots leaders will contribute remarks.
There is no charge to attend the event at either location and the program is open to the public. Donations will be accepted to Operation 300, a charity for the children of special operation soldiers who have died in service to their country. The Sons of Liberty Riders is a national organization whose mission is to unite patriots for the cause of liberty with chapters throughout the United States.
Mother of imprisoned Marine to hold meet-and-greet
A meet-and-greet with Jill Tahmooressi, mother of imprisoned Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, will take place at 3 p.m. today at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street in Hendersonville. The public is invited to meet her and write a short note or letter to her son that will be mailed from Henderson County the next day.
Donations to his defense fund will be accepted, but the event is not a fundraiser; it is an opportunity to lift the family’s spirits. Andrew Tahmooressi has been held in a Mexican prison for over 156 days.
For more information, call Jeff Miller at 329-6516.
The Hendersonville Planning Board will meet at 4 p.m. Monday in the Operations Center.
The Hendersonville Seventh Avenue Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Historic Train Depot.
The Henderson County Parks & Recreation Advisory Board will meet at noon Tuesday at the Parks & Recreation Administrative Office.
The Hendersonville Board of Adjustment will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Operations Center.
The Laurel Park Parks & Greenways Board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at town hall.
The Laurel Park Planning Board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday at town hall.
Carolina Concert Choir auditions will be held at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday. Call Larry Doebler to schedule a time and date. Info: 607-351-2585.
Southern Lights Square Dance Club will hold a free night of beginner dancing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Salvation Army Community Center, 328 N. King St., Hendersonville.
Trail Life USA will hold a Boy's Bicycle Rally from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday at Pinecrest Presbyterian Church, 1790 Greenville Highway, Hendersonville. Boys and their families are invited to enjoy a free pizza dinner. Bring your bikes and helmets. There will be games and competitions with prizes, plus free bike maintenance sponsored by Sycamore Cycles. Info: 919-943-0927 or
WNC Knitters and Crocheters for Others will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at New Hope Presbyterian Church, 3070 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville. Info: 575-9195.
The Henderson County Women Democrats will meet from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at Three Chopt Restaurant, 103 Third Ave. E., Hendersonville.
The League of Women Voters of Henderson County will kick off a series of public, non-partisan events to educate the public about the election process and provide voter registration assistance from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Congregational Church, 1735 Fifth Ave. W., Hendersonville. A video presentation of recent changes and current laws will be followed by an opportunity for questions.
Categories: News

Brevard falls in season opener at Western

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 22:38
CULLOWHEE -- Darius Ramsey had three touchdown runs and Detrez Newsome had two as Western Carolina defended its home turf with a 45-21 win over Brevard in the Tornados' season opener Saturday at WCU.
Ramsey had two first-quarter touchdown runs to put the Catamounts (1-1) on top 14-0. The Tornados answered with a 12-play 79-yard drive that was capped by quarterback Tanner Wright's three-yard touchdown run.
Newsome then put Western on top 21-7 in the second with a four-yard touchdown drive that ended a six-play, 50-yard drive.
Brevard senior fullback Jordan Ollis, a former Polk County High standout, plunged in from the 4 with 3:40 to go before the half to cut the WCU lead to 21-14. Ollis ended the day with 105 yards rushing on 21 carries. His longest run of the afternoon was 15 yards.
With just 1:35 left in the first half, Ramsey scored again, this time from two yards out, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive. That gave Western a 28-14 lead at the half.
The Tornados scored first in the third quarter when Wright scampered in from the 5 to make it 28-21 at the 3:51 mark. That was as close as Brevard could get.
Newsome sprinted in from 33 yards out just a minute later to put the game out of reach at 35-21. Richard Sigmon added a 19-yard field goal with six minutes left in the game, and Shaun Warren had the final score with a two-yard touchdown run.
Brevard senior Andre Overholt, another former Polk standout, had five kickoff returns for 98 yards, his longest being 24 yards.
The Tornados travel to Liberty next week, while Western hosts Catawba.
Categories: News

Five are tied for the lead at Apple Jack

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 22:30
Saturday's first-round scores
at Crooked Creek GC
Cecil Whitmire 69, Jim Murray Jr. 69, Josh McMillan 69, Marcus Grumbles 69, Phil Bland 69, Kyle Milner 70, Brandt Howard 71, Brian Kelley 71, Brooks Lowder 71, Mikey Hartin 71,
Doug Brown 72, Patrick Waters 72, Blake Bickford 73, Chuck Walker 73, David Congelton 73, Fred Edwards 73, Jerry Hill 73, Jim Sparks 73, Josh Phillips 74, Jeff Stevens 75, Shane Dotson 75, Tim Smith 75, Eric Russell 76, Eric Grumbles 77, Kenny Elliott 77, Michael Jordan 77, Tommy laughter 77, Craig Gillie 78, Jimmy Amick 78, Joe Collins 78, Joey Smith 78, Murray Glenn 78, Shane Grumbles 78, Spoon 78, Tyler Clark 78, Barry Stroupe 79, Craig Trace 79, Daniel Honeycutt 79, Jeff Myers 79, Austin Fisher 80, Josh Petite 80, Roger Gosnell 80, Jeff Ferguson 81, Pacer Vaughn 81, Tim Rhymer 81, Vinnie Burris 82, Alex Yarbourgh 83, Chris Ricketts 83, Brady Frazier 84, John Norman 84, Tommy Gardner 84, Dave Freeman 85, John Payne 86, Mitch Sellars 86, Greg Clayton 89, Gary Porter 90, Marion Johnson 94, JJK 97, Matt Conrad 122
Gross/Net Scores
Tom Williams 87/73, Ron Shuler 97/73, Milton Stewart 80/68, Steve Whitmire 89/78, Charlie Huff 88/73, Ken Green 82/68, Bill Burnette 81/67, Floyd Pryor 81/71, Leo Gawor 103/73, Mack Youngblood 72/61, Perry Mace 81/66, Randy Childers 84/68, Tommy Stevens 75/67
Neil Randall 69, David Blackley 70, Paul Roberts 72, Phil Roper 72, Foy Levi 73, Skip Wolfe 73, Dean Gosnell 75, Mike Greene 75, Mike McGrath 76, Tim Cosgrove 76, Russ Johnson 81, Chuck Boreman 87, Tom Wilson 88, Willie Huff 74, Baron Jackson 79, Therion Robinson 79, Jim Robeson 80, Phillip Staton 80, Bob Ward 81, Oakie Lowder 81, Randall McCory 81, Ron Pressley 81, Chad Smith 82, Eric Benison 82, Gene King 83, Bill Wantiez 86, Fred Williams 86, Jon Marsh 86, Buddy Frazier 87, Gary Vaughn 90, Stan Keel 91, Richard Johnson 93, Steve Laughter 93, Ray Kirschner 94, Tommy Purvis 101
Categories: News

These chicks know their chickens

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 17:15
What to do when your hens won’t lay, or a circling hawk becomes a familiar sight above the coop?
For the members of Hendersonville’s Hen Society, having casual meetings is not only an outlet for venting issues, it’s a source of friendly camaraderie as well as reassurance for the backyard chicken farmer.
“We’re like grandmothers that share pictures of our kids,” says Barbara Glassman, aka “Madame Poulet,” who hosted a recent meeting at her home where the talk centered on chickens, not children or grandchildren.
With more than 15 members, who happen to be all women, the conversation at the regular potlucks is a spirited round robin over glasses of wine and savory hors d’oeuvres, such as deviled eggs.
The society has been meeting monthly for about a year, Glassman says.
Funny observations of chicken behavior are shared, as is advice on issues like mucking out coops or preventing older hens pecking at young chicks.
The dozen members present at Glassman’s home cringed at the connotation that their gatherings were a sort of “hen party” — rather, they prefer to think of themselves as an intrepid breed of urban chicken farmers in Henderson County.
“We are women who kind of knew each other before, but we instantly bonded over chickens,” Glassman says. “It’s an obsession.”
Famed quilting instructor Georgia Bonesteel is a member of the Hen Society who has been keeping chickens for about five years.
“I think it’s genetic,” says Bonesteel, adding that her grandfather raised chickens. “I got them mostly for the eggs, honestly. I won’t buy eggs in the supermarket.”
Bonesteel loves the stress relief she gets by watching her hens, which have a special A-frame cedar shake coop, a tractor design that moves around on wheels.
She calls her chickens “feathered hogs,” while Diane Rhoades calls her small brood “egg-laying therapy pets.”
“I love the company of my hens,” Rhoades says. “I like to sit outside with them in the morning and have my tea. Watching them eat pasta is hilarious.”
Rhoades, who calls her custom made block-built coop the “HenVilla,” uses her hens’ droppings to speed up her compost.
“Hanging out with other hen lovers is particularly fun because we are such a passionate lot,” Rhoades says.
Pat Newcomer takes her chickens to Florida when she and her husband winter there each year — in a trailer along with horses, dogs and a cat.
This yearly “migration” requires blood tests and tags that deem the chickens safe for travel across state lines.
Conversation at the meeting steered to the fact that chickens have shown up at the county animal shelter, which surprised some members.
“There’s a backyard chicken movement, but it’s not for everybody,” says Martha Huggins, who has been keeping chickens for 30 years, the longest in the group.
One member asked what to do about “poopy butt” — when droppings get stuck on rear-end feathers.
Most members had experienced this with their small broods, and a quick consensus said stress is the cause.
“Like any other animal, chickens can get parasites, diseased and stressed,” Glassman says. “We are very fortunate that unlike factory farms that have to pump up with antibiotics, we have enough square footage that disease control is optimized.”
Earlier this year, the Hen Society gathered at ArtMob to create chicken paintings, and in June, they ventured on a field trip to the farm at the Biltmore Estate.
There, some members learned that mules provide excellent predator protection for chickens — a mule will even kill a coyote.
Other predators include raccoons, dogs, weasels and hawks.
“Everyone has a little bit different defense,” says Carolyn Rutecki, who lives in Mountain Home.
Glassman has hardware cloth over her chicken run, while Bonesteel has an electric fence.
A plastic owl or clotheslines crisscrossed over a chicken run are other tools to foil hawks.
“Our chickens are out all day, except in the winter,” Rutecki says. “We’ve been very lucky never to have lost any.”
Glassman believes her hens are kept safe from hawks with the amount of tree coverage and rhododendron bushes around the coop.
“There are places for them to hide,” she says of when her few hens are free roaming in the little yard.
Glassman has “pimped up” her coop, the interior of which sports an orb chandelier, framed pictures and stenciled decorations.
Colorful plastic beach chairs are set up in the chicken run, adding to the irreverent theme Glassman has created.
“This is my fun project,” she says. “I’m always innovating.”
In a compost pile near the coop, there’s a pecked-out hulk of a watermelon — a favorite food of her hens.
For regular feed, the members say they range from organic and natural feed to Purina pellets.
Rutecki, co-owner of Mountain Deli on Main Street, feeds scraps from the deli such as cucumbers and lettuce to her chickens.
Hen Society members admit that virtually all of them eat chicken, though only a couple of members have ever personally processed meat from their own birds.
While there might be some squawking from chickens heard by neighbors in the more concentrated neighborhoods of the county, no one in the Hen Society breaks the law by keeping potentially noisy roosters.
“Our town has been very accommodating in allowing responsible urban chicken farmers to exist,” Glassman says. “We hope that chicken farmers continue to be responsible.”
Categories: News

Tee Time: Ryder Cup is different kind of pressure

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 17:15
Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer once described the pressure of playing in the Ryder Cup by saying, “it doesn't matter how many Open Championships or titles that you may have won. When you stand on the tee at the Ryder Cup match and play for your country, your stomach rumbles like a kid turning up for his first tournament.”
With that being said, can you imagine captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley agreeing to skip play on Ryder Cup Saturday so that both teams could go watch a soccer match in Scotland later this month?
As inconceivable as that may sound today that is essentially what happened in 1951, when the Ryder Cup made its only visit to North Carolina and Pinehurst No. 2.
Midway through the matches, the competition was suspended so that members of both teams could attend the Tennessee and North Carolina college football game at Chapel Hill on Saturday.
Led by head coach Robert Neyland, the Vols and that season's Heisman Trophy runner-up Hank Lauricella defeated the Tar Heels 27-0, on their way to a second consecutive national championship.
Before taking a break from the action to make the trip up to Chapel Hill from Pinehurst, the talented, but physically challenged U.S. team, featuring playing captain Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Jack Burke, Jr. and Lloyd Mangrum had jumped out to a 3-1 lead after Friday's foursome matches.
A 1951 Post-Times News Services story described the group as “a team of three patched-up veterans and a trio of jaunty Southern Boys in a relentless surge to give the United States the coveted Cup for the fifth straight year.”
Lloyd Mangrum was a two-time winner of the Purple Heart, Ben Hogan was just two years removed from his horrific automobile accident in Texas and Duke University-alum Skip Alexander was scarred for life after being the lone survivor of a plane crash in Evansville, Ind., the year before.
Alexander had accumulated enough Ryder Cup points in 1950 to qualify for the 10th and final spot on the team.
After undergoing 17 surgeries following the crash, doctors were considering amputating Alexander's pinky fingers on both of his hands, because he was never going to be able to use them again.
Not satisfied with that option, Alexander brought a golf club into the operating room and told the doctors to fuse his pinkies into curved positions so he could grip a golf club.
After consulting with Hogan, Snead decided to offer up Alexander as a “sacrificial” player for reigning Open Champion and Europe's strongest player, John Panton in the 36-hole singles finals.
Battling bleeding hands and bandages, and struggling to play 36-holes, Alexander beat Panton (8 and 7).
In an interview before passing away in 1997, Alexander said that “I'd never walked 36 holes before that. Every time I played a hole, I wondered if I could play the next. I three-putted the 10th hole though, or I might have won 9 and 8.”
The Americans went on to a convincing 9 ½ to 2 ½ victory over the Great Britain and Ireland team, to keep the Cup on home soil. The U.S. team was so dominant over the two days of play, that only two of the 12 matches reached the 18th hole.
According to a BBC Sports archive, “the Brits could not wait to get home.”
Fairways and greens my friend.
Who better to turn to for a Q&A session about the upcoming Ryder Cup than Ben Wright, Flat Rock-resident and legendary golf commentator?
Q. What are your thoughts about the selection of Jack's course at Gleneagles?
A. I must say I am not very fond of that golf course. It's a Jack Nicklaus course and it's an early-Jack Nicklaus course. I don't care for his golf courses myself. I spent a considerable amount of time at Gleneagles. They used to have a major tournament there every year. I played the Kings and Queens courses and loved them. When they nominated the Nicklaus course as the Ryder Cup venue, I thought to myself are you trying to lose this damn thing. Because it does really suit the Americans I would have thought better than the Euros. I can't see anything but a European victory.
Q. Why has the European team been so dominant in recent decades?
A. I put it all down to Tony Jacklin. When he took over the captaincy of the Palm Beach Gardens Ryder Cup of 1983, he demanded first-class travel on the Concorde and tailored clothing. We had been a rag-bag outfit. I think if you dress poorly and you travel in the back of the bus, you are not going to have the correct mindset. I think Tony Jacklin should have been Knighted and not Nick Faldo, who did it all for Nick Faldo. Whereas Tony Jacklin absolutely made the Ryder Cup a contest where it had been a total embarrassment. I watched the Ryder Cup first when I was in the Army in 1953 at Wentworth. When it came to the first victory of the 80's at the Belfry in '85, we had only won one between '53 and '85. What an embarrassment.
Can you imagine how embarrassing that was to me?
And when we won in 1957, the American team for reasons known to themselves, was really weak. They left off, amongst others, Sam Snead at the height of his powers. It's incomprehensible to me. So we managed to scrape a win.
Categories: News