Skip to Content

Hendersonville Times-News: Top Stories

Syndicate content Local News from Times-News
Local News from Times-News
Updated: 26 min 7 sec ago

No. 5 seed North edges No. 4 seed West

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 22:40
Facing both a hostile crowd at West Henderson and an early, fourth-quarter 11-point deficit, things looked dire for the visiting North Henderson boys' basketball squad on Friday night in the first round of the WNC Athletic Conference tournament.
That did not faze the Knights one bit, as they chipped away at the lead throughout the final quarter.
After Sam Polovina (21 points) put the Falcons up by two points late, Ryan Decker buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with just seven ticks left on the clock, giving fifth-seeded North a thrilling 63-62 victory over No. 4 West.
Following the eventual game-winner, the Falcons (11-14) had a chance to win the game at the charity stripe, when Zack Crane was fouled with just 0.5 left on the clock.
Unfortunately for West, neither of Crane's two free throw attempts found the bottom of the net.
"That is a lot of pressure for a high school kid. I don't think he has ever been in that situation before," said Falcons coach Billy Phillips.
The game-winning 3 by Decker (27 points), capped off a hot-shooting performance that saw him knock down seven 3s for the game.
"He (Decker) was out of his mind tonight. He played good defense and got some big rebounds for us too," said Knights coach Justin Parris.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime, the Falcons went to Dylan Buchanan (11 points) and Davis Phillips (13 points) to go up 56-45 early in the fourth quarter.
"We quit executing down the stretch. They capitalized and we missed some easy shots," said Phillips.
Complementing Decker's hot offensive night for North (13-12) was Drew Williams (14 points, two 3-pointers) including a big "and-one" three-point play with 1:28 left in the game, to pull the Knights within just two points.
Up next in the semifinals of the WNCAC tournament is No. 1 seed Smoky Mountain at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pisgah, while West awaits their pairing in the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
Speaking about their third matchup this season against the Mustangs, Parris said that his Knights squad has to "get more mentally tough" and they will "have to take it to them."
Categories: News

Hanna makes history: Polk star is first female state champ in adaptive dash

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 22:07
WINSTON-SALEM — The first time Hanna O'Brien ran the 55-meter adaptive dash at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, it was emotional. The Polk County sprinter cried afterward.
On Friday, there were no tears — only smiles.
O'Brien ran her way into the state record books and after that, into her mom's arms. O'Brien, who was born missing fingers on each hand and the lower part of her left leg, ran the 55-yard-dash in 9.27 seconds to become the first female state champion in that event.
History wasn't something she was concerned about before the race, but as she contemplated it afterward, the significance became clear.
“It's kind of starting to kick in, and one day I'll have a ring,” she said with a big smile.
As she lined up to start the race, the starting gun malfunctioned and O'Brien had to stand up and reset. When the gun finally sounded, O'Brien took her first steps toward history.
“When he hit that gun, everything zoned out,” she said.
But waiting at the finish line was her biggest fan. Dee O'Brien screamed the entire time her daughter was on the track and as Hanna crossed the finished line, she greeted her daughter with open arms.
“I don't have any words,” Dee O'Brien said through tears after the race. “It was like I was right there with her.”
And she was right there with her, but not just for those 9.27 seconds. Dee O'Brien has been a teammate, friend and loving mother to Hanna for the last 18 years.
“She's so important,” Hanna O'Brien said.
Even though the race was over and Hanna will now turn her mind to soccer, her competitive spirit for track was still evident. On Friday, all of Hanna's determination, competitive spirit and nerves of steel came together in one perfect instance that will now live in the North Carolina history books.
“I don't want anyone to beat my time,” she said, “but I still want people to come out and try.”
Categories: News

Polk track wins three state championships

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 22:06
WINSTON-SALEM -- The Polk County boys 4x800 relay team strolled out onto the track rocking their “Stars and Stripes” running shorts on Friday at the NCHSAA indoor track and field championships.
That was all the strolling they did, however.
Once the gun popped, the Wolverine relay team was dominant en route to the first state championship of the night for the Wolverines. Polk finished the night with three state champions and two runner-ups, including a runner-up overall finish for the boys' squad.
The team of Sean Doyle, Caleb Brown, Mitchell Brown and Jacob Wolfe set the tone early as they cruised to the relay victory with a time of 8:15.38.
Doyle got the Wolverines off to a dominating start and the team didn't slow down as they paced the field and won by a 20 second margin.
“It's really important for us to get that first lead,” Doyle said.
Doyle handed the baton to Mitchell Brown who then passed it to Caleb Brown. Both extended the lead before Wolfe came on to finish the championship laps.
“It felt like everything was on me,” Wolfe said.
And it was, but he finished strong, securing the state championship for his teammates.
That victory followed on the heels of a comeback by Polk's 4x800 girls' relay team. The Lady Wolverines fell behind early, but Allison Swope closed strong and the Polk team went from fourth to second in the final laps of the race. The girls finished the race in 10:28.38.
The second state championship for the Polk squad was won by sprinter Hanna O'Brien. O'Brien won the 55-meter dash adaptive race. The race was for competitors that are amputees. O'Brien ran a 9.27 to score the state title for Polk.
The third and final state championship came from the Polk boys' 4x400 relay team. Caleb Brown, Eli Hall, Wolfe and Doyle brought this one home with a one-second margin of victory with a time of 3:34.82.
Other top 10 finishes included Brevard's Bonnie Smith, who was second in the pole vault (8-0); Hendersonville's Amy Yarborough, who finished ninth in shot put (33-01); Polk's Robbins, who finished 10th in the 500-meter dash (1:29.50); Polk's Caleb Brown, who finished fourth I the 500-meter dash (1:09.38); Polk's Kocher, who finished sixth in the 1,000-meter run (3:24.66); Polk's Swope, who finished seventh in the 1,000-meter run (2:39.35); Polk's Doyle, who finished third in the 1,000-meter run (2:39.35); Polk's Wolfe, who finished fourth in the 1,000-meter run (2:40.45); Hendersonville's Evan Goff, who finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run (12:43.55); Henderson's 4x400 girls relay team (Micayla Bedoian, Sydney Gilliam, Kaelah Avery, and Cyrena Bedoian), who finished fifth (4:29.57); and Polk County's 4x400-meter relay team (Kocher, Robbins, Addie Lynch and Swope), who finished eighth (4:37.83).
Categories: News

Harrison is now youngest wrestling official in the world

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 21:21
On Monday, former West Henderson High wrestling standout Brandon Harrison turned 23 years old, and although he aged another year, he's still the youngest international wrestling referee in the world.
“I was the youngest official in the nation, but after getting my FILA license, I'm now the youngest official in the world,” he said.
Harrison, who was the 2010 Times-News Wrestler of the Year in his high school days, has officiated collegiate and high school wrestling matches all across the country. On Friday night he was back in his hometown, officiating the 3-A West Regional tournament at North Henderson.
“Five years ago I was here and officiated one event, so it feels good to be back at home again,” Harrison said.
Friday night was a busy one for Harrison, who ended up officiating 50 matches. Today he will be even busier.
“There are going to be a lot more matches on Saturday, and we'll be here all day. It's something I've always enjoyed doing,” he said.
He earned several awards on the mat at both the high school and college level. Now he's earning even more awards as an official. This season, he was named the NCUSA Wrestling Official of the Year. That award came on the heels of his biggest tournament to date.
“I got to officiate at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas. Officials who are at the top-level category get selected for that tournament. It was huge,” he said.
His next goal is to officiate or get back on the mat and compete for team USA in the Olympics. Now that he's earned his FILA license, he's able to officiate internationally. FILA is the internatinoal body of wrestling that hosts the Olympics and World Championships.
Categories: News

Kindergartners attend 'wedding' to learn letters

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 20:32
Early in the semester, Marlana Lee's students were grossed out by the idea of holding hands at a wedding. But on Feb. 13, the kindergartners of Sugarloaf Elementary grinned in fancy attire as they marched hand-in-hand down a pink paper aisle to teaching assistant — and, for the occasion officiant — Autumn Thompson. It was the day “Q” and “U” were married.
“We try to get as hands-on with our students' learning as possible, and this is as hands-on as it gets,” said Lisa Lee, the school's reading specialist. In its fourth year, the wedding ceremony of “Q” and “U” teaches students the phonics lesson that both letters are always together in words to form the “kw” sound.
The school's four kindergarten classes performed the ceremony, each with unique decorations such as flowers, table centerpieces, bubbles to blow down the paper aisles, and cakes. Kindergarten teacher Courtney Rollins even draped the children's tables with “lace” tablecloths for the ceremony in her class.
“My husband and I didn't really have a wedding, so I got to have fun playing with this,” said Rollins.
Parents also got excited about dressing up their kids and donating what they could. Rollins couldn't get a cake, so she was planning on bringing cookies until a student's mother found out.
“She emailed me last night telling me she was getting a cake,” said Rollins.
According to Lisa Lee, the wedding ceremony is more than just fun for the students.
“These kids come back in first grade and ask us when “Q” and “U” are getting married. They remember that,” said Lee. “What's more, they remember it in their writing.”
The ceremony ended with the children swearing their oaths to always to keep “Q” and “U” together. They then celebrated with activities like coloring the “wedding portraits” of Mr. and Mrs. kw, and two kindergartners got to hold hands one last time to cut the wedding cake together.
As Marlana Lee helped serve out the cake, she did mention one instance she could think of when “Q” and “U” were not together.
“I believe in Scrabble “QI” works,” she said.
Go to blueridgenow.com to watch the ceremony video.
Reach Kerns at charli.kerns@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7881.
Categories: News

Council approves funding for Flat Rock Playhouse

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 19:44
In a 3-to-2 vote Friday, Hendersonville City Council members approved providing Flat Rock Playhouse with $50,000 to combat mold found in many of the theater company’s buildings.
Mayor Barbara Volk, Mayor Pro Tem Ron Stephens and Councilman Jerry Smith voted to give the money, against objections from Councilmen Steve Caraker and Jeff Miller.
Stephens voiced his support for the measure, noting the Village of Flat Rock voted unanimously to aid the Playhouse and that he believed Henderson County commissioners will follow suit when they vote on the measure next week.
“I would like to see us do the same,” he said.
Though he personally supports the Playhouse, Miller said he took issue with using city taxpayer money for the project.
Caraker voiced similar sentiments. He also said he has been a supporter of the Playhouse, “but in my mind this is like me not maintaining my structure and going around to my neighbors asking for donations to bail me out of mismanagement,” he said.
“I certainly wouldn’t ask the city of Hendersonville to rebuild my porch roof if it was falling in because I didn’t have time to maintain it,” he added.
Volk said she agreed with Caraker that the city shouldn’t bail out people who fail to maintain their property.
“And most businesses, I would agree — but if you consider the economic impact of not having Flat Rock Playhouse, I think that outweighs it and I’m willing to make the contribution,” she said.
Categories: News

Gateway improvements ahead for city

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 19:33
Areas like the intersection of Highway 64 and Dana Road, and other city gateways from the north, south and west, may be spruced up soon in an effort to improve the city’s status as a destination city.
City leaders and staff discussed possible improvements during their planning retreat Friday, which could lead to new signage and landscaping for those gateways and the extension of the city’s brand outside of downtown.
Mia Freeman, owner of Mia’s Antiques, coordinated the city’s entry into the America in Bloom competition last year and spoke to those in attendance about the contest judges’ assessment of the city. According to Freeman, judges were very impressed with the city’s Main Street streetscape, but saw room for improvement when it came to the city’s gateways.
“That’s one of things we got dinged on a lot,” Freeman said.
The area discussed most by city leaders and staff was near the intersection of Highway 64 and Dana Road — dubbed “the Lowe’s triangle.”
“What we all talked about is maybe finding a master gardening group, maybe to take that island and do the landscaping,” City Manager John Connet said. “We’re really good at growing grass and cutting grass, but we’re not real good at planting flowers and things like that.”
Council member Jerry Smith said, “I’m certainly game to trying to improve that triangle in some form or fashion,” though council member Jeff Miller questioned whether signs from civic groups like the Kiwanis Club would be removed, citing concerns of pushback from groups.
“I just don’t think we boot them,” Miller said. “Because they do an awful lot of things around here that matter, and in some way incorporate it and maybe get them involved on these two entryways.”
Connet said the city will look at coming up with a design and work with civic groups regarding their signs.
In conjunction with improved gateways to greet visitors to Hendersonville, a discussion on enhancing the city’s wayfinding measures followed.
Lew Holloway, downtown economic development director, said a wayfinding and signage effort is underway in concert with a rebranding of the Tourism Development Authority’s promotional elements.
“We’re working through the rebranding process first,” Holloway said, noting that wayfinding signage would come on the back end of the rebranding process and be focused on vehicular traffic.
“The piece that the TDA is working on with us will be a piece that fits into the role of somebody comes off I-26, whether at Upward Road or 64 or up in Naples, they’re going then to be picking up signage that’s directing them to tourism and visitor destinations in the community at those points,” Holloway said.
According to Holloway, the county would see 50 new vehicular wayfinding signs that are “in large part related to guiding people into and around downtown.”
The wayfinding measures are on hold until the rebranding process is completed. Currently, only the brand position, which focuses on the idea that this area is a place where visitors and residents can find their inspiration, is in place. Approval of a tagline and logo are about three to four months away, Holloway said, noting that once those are approved, momentum will shift to wayfinding.
With a larger wayfinding solution in the works, Connet noted a short term solution was needed in regard to wayfinding measures in downtown, specifically with signage directing visitors to businesses on the avenues.
Public Works Director Tom Wooten said signage is currently on decorative light polls on the corners of Main Street.
“What we’re proposing is pulling them off the decorative light polls, make a new sign stand, if you will, and bring it down next to the crosswalk,” Wooten said.
This would bring the signs to eye level, making the signs easier to read.
The avenues could also see additional decorative street lights and the timeline would be in conjunction with the city’s paving program. One issue, Wooten noted, was that First and Second avenues were recently resurfaced and he believed Fifth and Fourth avenues on the west side, and Third Avenue on both sides of Main Street, would be repaved in the next three to five years.
“It’s kind of our game plan going forward. We can just incorporate that into our resurfacing program, unless you want it done quicker,” Wooten said.
Councilman Steve Caraker asked Wooten what the price would be to install the decorative lighting on a block. Wooten said it would vary depending on the infrastructure — where to pull electricity from — that is currently in place.
Mayor Pro-tem Ron Stephens asked Wooten if he had an estimated price range.
“It could be $15,000 for one section between Church and Main,” Wooten said. “That’s assuming we’re doing six lights, you know, three on each side.”
Reach Biba at 828-694-7871 or jacob.biba@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

Superstition times 3: 2015 calendar has 3 Friday the 13ths

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:47
LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Get ready for superstition — times three.
Friday is the first of three Friday the 13ths this year.
Each year has at least one Friday the 13th, but there can be as many as three. 2012 was the last year with three Friday the 13ths; the next will be 2026.
Here's a look at the mysterious date through the eyes of a numerals-obsessed educator who calls himself Professor 13; a British journalist moving her family to a new home on Friday the 13th — while wearing a four-leaf clover; a physics professor who used to tempt fate by breaking mirrors and walking under ladders on Friday the 13th; and a New Jersey woman whose cat rescue operation finds it hardest to locate homes for black cats.
____
PROFESSOR 13
Thomas Fernsler, a professor at the University of Delaware, has studied Friday the 13th extensively; he even went by the nom de plume of Dr. 13 — until he learned of a comic book character of the same name and decided to change his to avoid legal trouble. He now goes by Professor 13.
He says one of the most common explanations for the origin of the date being associated with bad luck stems from the Bible. There were 13 people at the Last Supper — Jesus and his 12 apostles. The Crucifixion took place on a Friday, and the two have been linked ever since. But Fernsler also says Norse mythology asserts that the god Loki went uninvited to a party of 12 other gods and caused the death of the most beloved one, Baldur.
To this day, parties are wary of having 13 members, he says. In Paris, there are businesses that will rent you a professional 14th dinner guest, called a quatorzieme.
Fernsler's career at the university began in a numerically auspicious manner.
"I got the call to come in and interview on Friday, Aug. 13, at 1:13 p.m. — the 13th minute past the 13th hour," he said. "U.S. 13 is the route I had to take to get there. I bought a paper that day, and 103 was the winning lottery number. So I put a bet on a horse named Lucky Friday, who was running in the 13th race."
His horse naturally won, right?
"No," Fernsler said. "He finished 13th."
___
THE MOVER
British journalist Ellen Widdup is moving her family to a new home on the beach in Sussex, England, on Friday the 13th.
"I would never dream of opening an umbrella inside or putting new shoes on the table," she said. "I salute magpies. I throw salt over my shoulder if it gets spilled. I never walk under ladders.
"I think we are all a little superstitious," she said. "It's human nature to try to exert some kind of control over our little corner of the world, especially one in which there is so much terror and turmoil. We look for ways to minimize any perceived threat. Of course it's all nonsense, but that doesn't stop us doing it."
Case in point: Widdup will be wearing a locket containing a four-leaf clover as she makes the move.
"I hope nothing goes wrong; I shall blame Friday 13th if it does," she said. "But this is a big move for us to a dream home. We feel lucky. We feel excited. And an insignificant superstition shouldn't tarnish that. "
___
THE DEFIANT ONE
Eric Carlson never put much stock in Friday the 13th. In fact, the Wake Forest University professor once led a group called the Carolina Skeptics, who would gather every Friday the 13th and encourage people to do "unlucky" things, just to prove that the world wouldn't end as a result.
"We would deliberately challenge superstitions," he said. "At 13:13, I would stand under a ladder. We'd have a fake black cat (I'm allergic to real ones.), and break a mirror and spill salt while standing on a crack. We like to have control in our lives, and it's very discomforting that bad things happen that we can't control, so we try to find ways to control these bad things. Superstition gives us a sense of being in control."
He says nothing bad ever happened to him during or after tempting fate on Friday the 13th.
"I have a good life," he said. "I have a wife and two children, and all of us are healthy."
Besides, he adds, "It's bad luck to be superstitious."
___
THE CAT LOVER
Rebecca Weber runs a rescue operation for stray cats at the New Jersey shore, placing them in foster homes until someone permanently adopts them.
"Black cats are the hardest to place for adoption," she said. "People will call up and say, 'I want a cat, but I don't want a black one.'"
On Friday, Weber's group will be holding a "Black Friday" adoption drive for black cats.
She recently placed one named Peyton (after football player Peyton Manning) in the Lacey Township, New Jersey, home of Debbie Grondin, who calls herself a foster cat mom.
"I guess some people consider black to be an evil color," she said. "But I've had black cats as pets before, and nothing bad ever happened to me."
Categories: News

Polk runner shuns spotlight, aims for record books

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:47
COLUMBUS — Hanna O'Brien doesn't like the spotlight.
In fact, it makes the Polk County senior downright uncomfortable. O'Brien, who was born missing fingers on both hands and her left leg below the knee, is a senior sprinter on the Wolverine indoor track team.
As the state finals start today at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, O'Brien won't be able to avoid the spotlight. She will be lining up at the starting line alone, and for just a few seconds, she will be the only runner sprinting around the track, with the eyes of parents, other track athletes and coaches on her.
Her goal is to finish in less than 9.64 seconds. That's the published time that she will have to beat to become the first female state champion in the adaptive/amputee series 55-meter dash.
O'Brien's best time so far has been 9.25 seconds.
Her run today will pave the way for other high school kids who are amputees, and that's an uncomfortable role for a teenager who has always shunned the spotlight, thinking she's no different than anyone else.
A varsity soccer player, O'Brien has always succeeded in regular athletic competitions. But this season, Polk County assistant track coach Jenny Wolfe invited her to run for the Wolverines in the adaptive series.
O'Brien had run against “two-legged” girls and beat some of them, but when she looked at the score sheets, she had to acknowledge their differences. She didn't place in competition with the other girls. Instead, her name was found alone under the amputee label.
“I'd rather be a state champion in the regular 55-dash instead of the amputee,” O'Brien said. “I'm not really paying attention to the whole amputee thing, but it catches up to you. The worst thing is that I don't think people realize that.”
While that struggle is real, O'Brien loves her team, and her race today will not only make her a state champion, it will help her team's cause.
“As a coach, I'm inspired because she's willing to help our team,” Wolfe said. “I just have always been inspired by her willingness to compete.”
Wolfe said that O'Brien is a “pioneer.”
“It's going to set the tone and bar for other amputee athletes to meet,” Wolfe said.
Hanna's mom, Dee O'Brien, doesn't know how she will react when she sees her daughter competing for a state championship, but admits it will probably feel like it does every time she watches her daughter run or play soccer or do anything.
“It's just that deep-in-your-soul feeling, that your child is living and breathing and moving and doing and being a part of every day,” Dee O'Brien said. “I think that's what any parent wants for their kid. It's like an extension of yourself. It's like watching another part of your heart doing something that you didn't know if that heart would be able to do.”
And while it's been a struggle, O'Brien has embraced the inevitable spotlight and is looking to be an inspiration to a special group of people — “little amputees.” She wants to send a message to kids growing up as she did, as she races for the record books.
“You really just don't have to live up to what society says that little amputees have to be, and that's just because you have one leg, you have to sit at home and not do anything,” O'Brien said. “I actually want to teach them that you can branch out, and you need to branch out because if you don't branch out, there's no point in fulfilling what you want to do. For someone to have a dream and then be put back because they're missing a leg, they don't deserve that. Nobody does.”
That spirit has led O'Brien to this historical moment in North Carolina athletics, and her mom can't wait.
“You believed it,” Dee O'Brien said. “You prayed so. You wanted it, and then you watch them do it and it's kind of powerful.”
Categories: News

NC Senate gives final OK to gas-tax changes; House next stop

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:47
RALEIGH (AP) — A bill that lowers North Carolina's gasoline tax immediately but opens the door to higher tax rates in the years ahead cleared the Senate on Thursday, but not before there was more sniping from Republicans and Democrats.
The measure given final chamber approval by a 35-15 vote reduces the rate by 2.5 cents per gallon to 35 cents March 1 through the rest of the year. The tax formula would be changed after that.
On the second day of floor debate — the bill received initial approval Wednesday— Republicans continued to portray the measure as a tax cut that also provides stability for road-building revenues so projects in the pipeline are completed.
But Democratic speakers point out the tax would actually fall further come July 1 — possibly to 30 cents — if the current formula based partially on wholesale gas prices remained in place. Projections show the tax rate under the proposal also could be 7 cents higher in 2019 compared with the current rules, creating another $352 million annually by then.
"If this is a tax increase, just say it for what it is," said Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton. Other Democrats said they'd be willing to consider more taxes for infrastructure but that a more thoughtful, bipartisan approach was needed.
The bill's next stop is the House, where changes are expected in the gasoline tax provision.
GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, who would be asked to sign any bill into law, said in a news release that the Senate bill would stabilize transportation revenues but the effect "workforce decisions will have on the safety and maintenance of our transportation network" needed to be evaluated fully. The bill directs the state Department of Transportation to eliminate 500 full-time jobs to make up part of the $33 million decline in gas-tax revenues caused by the 2.5-cent reduction.
Senate Democrats also complained about an unrelated portion of the bill that would prevent several federal tax changes from applying to state tax filers when determining their income.
One federal rule exempting the value of cancelled debt from income during certain home sales would cost the state $14 million if it applied to state income, too. State tax rules don't match that provision in the Senate legislation. It would take $71 million to comply with all of the Internal Revenue Service provisions avoided in the bill, requiring cuts elsewhere, a key Republican said.
"Where are you going to take the money from?" Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, asked a Democratic colleague.
Categories: News

Votes in the N.C. General Assembly

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:47
RALEIGH — The following roll-call votes were recorded for area members of the North Carolina General Assembly in the week that ended Feb. 13.
HB 3 — Eminent Domain: Provides for an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution to prohibit condemnation of private property except for a public use and to provide for the payment of just compensation with right of trial by jury in all condemnation cases. Introduced by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson.
Adopted 113-5. Sent to the Senate for consideration.
Voting yes: Republicans Chuck McGrady and Chris Whitmire and Democrat Brian Turner
HR 37 — House UNC Board of Governors Election: Established the House procedure for nominating and electing members of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina so that nominations are received from Feb. 16-20. Introduced by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.
Adopted 113-0.
Voting yes: Turner, Whitmire
Excused absence: McGrady
SB 20 — IRC Update/Motor Fuel Tax Changes: Updates references to the Internal Revenue Code, decouples certain provisions of the Federal Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, modifies the motor fuels tax rate, and makes certain reductions within the Department of Transportation for the 2014 2015 fiscal year. Introduced by Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick.
Adopted 35-15. Sent to the House for consideration.
Voting yes: Republican Tom Apodaca
Voting no: Democrat Terry Van Duyn
SR 47 — Senate UNC Board of Governors Election: Established the Senate procedure for nominating and electing members of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina so that nominations are received from Feb. 16-23 and the election occurs no later than March 18. Introduced by Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.
Adopted 49-0.
Voting yes: Apodaca, Van Duyn

SR 69 — Honor Boy Scouts: Celebrates the rich heritage of the Boy Scouts of America and the Order of the Arrow on its 100th anniversary and expresses appreciation to the members of these organizations for their commitment to improving the lives of the citizens of this State. Introduced by Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke.
Adopted 49-0.
Voting yes: Apodaca, Van Duyn
Categories: News

Court: Are teens in sexual relationships who send nude photos criminals?

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:47
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's highest court considered on Thursday whether teen-age couples should be treated as criminals when they have sex and send nude photos to each other. If so, a third of America's teenagers could be exposed to felony sex offense charges, the 15-year-old boy's lawyer said.
In this case, the legal fallout was one-sided after a mother spotted nude pictures on her seventh-grade daughter's phone, and discovered that she was having sex with her eighth-grade boyfriend at her house.
Both teen-agers could have been charged with the same offenses, but the full weight of Kentucky's law landed on the boy, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for having sex and exchanging the photos. Then, despite his plea, a judge designated him a sex offender, removed him from his home and sent him to a juvenile detention center.
Lawyers for the boy and the Commonwealth of Kentucky argued for nearly an hour before the state Supreme Court over whether this kind of voluntary sexual conduct between children should be criminalized at all.
"They had no idea they could be committing crimes," assistant public advocate John Wampler said, arrepresenting the boy.
Laws in Kentucky and many other states establish that no one under 16 can legally consent to sex. This boy was 15 and his girlfriend was 13 when they twice had sex after dating for more than a year.
The Legislature did not intend to say that a 15-year-old lacks the maturity to consent to sex with an adult, but then hold him criminally liable for the same behavior with a fellow juvenile, Wampler argued.
State Assistant Attorney General Gregory Fuchs countered that the boy initiated acts that "fit within the parameters of the crime," and that if the defense argument holds sway, sexual activity between a 15-year-old and a 5-year-old could not be criminally prosecuted.
Wampler said the boy's due process and equal protection rights were violated. A better solution, he suggested in a brief, would be to refer both boyfriend and girlfriend to counseling and order them to take classes on sexual boundaries.
Fuchs countered that the boy gave up the right to challenge the constitutionality of his conviction by pleading guilty, and that limiting the punishment to the boy was justified because he initiated the acts.
"There was only one victim in this case," Fuchs said in a brief, "and it is just as illegal for appellant as a 15-year-old to possess that child pornography as it would be if he was 51 years old."
The boy was already on probation for indecent exposure when he got in trouble with his girlfriend's mother. In that case, he had knocked on a neighbor's door dressed only in a towel and removed it to expose himself to the neighbor.
Categories: News

Community Briefs: Feb. 13

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:47
St. James launches ‘LifeCubby’
St. James Episcopal School for Little Folks has implemented a new program called LifeCubby, a highly-organized online portfolio that offers parents and teachers a simple and new way to electronically chronicle all aspects of a child’s life, from birth through the teen years.
LifeCubby is a parent planning tool and early childhood teacher journaling tool different from any other online portfolio, child’s historical record book or social networking site because of its breadth of capabilities and ease of use.
Parents become “cubby managers” by creating a private and secure “cubby” to organize and store information electronically for their children. Parents store everything from journal entries, medical records, keepsakes and school papers to videos and photos. With mobile apps, LifeCubby can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
Parents can restrict their child’s cubby to themselves, or they can grant others access to share in creating the child’s biographies through inviting “cubby pals.” For more information, call 693-9351.
Ruscin to present program
Henderson County author Terry Ruscin will present a program from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Transylvania County Public Library, 212 S. Gaston St., Brevard, as part of the 2015 “Bag Lunch Arts Series.”
“Henderson & Transylvania: A Juxtaposition of Two Counties,” an illustrated armchair tour beginning at Little River, Fodderstack and Penrose, winds through the Crab Creek Valley and concludes just south of downtown Hendersonville. Attendees will discover along the “Crab Creek Path” the whereabouts of surreptitious cascades, unattended cemeteries, log homes, mills and distilleries. The event is free to the public. Attendees are invited to bring a bag lunch. The library will serve cookies and coffee. Contact the library for more information at 828-884-3151 or http://library.transylvaniacounty.org.
Special embroidery program planned for anniversary
The Laurel Chapter of the Embroiderers' Guild of America will celebrate its 25th anniversary March 5 at Cummings United Methodist Church, 3 Banner Farm Road in Horse Shoe. The special anniversary program, titled “Combining embroidery with mixed media for effective designs,” will be presented by Laura Smith, chairman of the Fiber Forum of EGA.
All are welcome to attend the presentation, which will begin at 11 a.m., preceded by a short business meeting at 10 a.m. A sandwich luncheon and dessert will follow to celebrate the chapter's anniversary. For more information, contact Carol Foster at 828-686-8298 or Janet Stewart at 828-575-9195.
Hunger Walk seeks sponsors
The Henderson County Hunger Coalition is seeking sponsors for the 33rd annual Hunger Walk, a community event that brings hundreds of fundraising volunteers representing area civic organizations, church teams, school clubs, businesses, families and individuals to Jackson Park in Hendersonville. This active outreach event benefits all the major food pantries serving the county.
Hunger Walk sponsors are recognized on the T-shirts that walk participants wear at the event and throughout the year. For more information, contact Dick Ranges at 707-0329 or Pat Fisher at 693-4940.
Categories: News

Hendersonville man charged with DWI after killing horse

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:46
A Hendersonville man was charged with DWI Friday morning after state troopers say he struck and killed a horse after driving into a pasture.

Ted Roger Beal, 67, drove his 2006 Toyota Tacoma off the right side of the road and broke through a horse pasture fence, according to Trooper D.A. Williams. Two horses were in the field and he struck one, a 10-year-old Tennessee walking horse, breaking its leg and inflicting blunt-force trauma.

The horse died before a vet could arrive, according to Major Frank Stout with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office. The other horse sustained minor injuries from flying debris.

Troopers arrived and charged Beal with misdemeanor DWI. They also seized his vehicle because he had been driving with a revoked license due to a previous DWI, according to Williams. Henderson County animal enforcement deputies also responded to confirm the death and injuries.

Beal was also charged with felony cruelty to animals. He was also issued a $500 citation for animal cruelty due to the other horse’s injuries.

Beal was placed in the Henderson County jail in lieu of $4,000 bond for the DWI and $6,000 bond for cruelty to animals.
Categories: News

Parking study calls for more enforcement, higher fines

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:46
In their first unveiling Friday of results from a parking study that began in September, traffic analysts from Dixon Resources Unlimited brought a mixed bag of suggestions to curb parking complaints to the city during a day-long planning retreat Friday.
Topping the list was a push for the city to increase the enforcement of its parking laws, after researchers learned the locals know when the city's only parking attendant isn't working.
“Anita (Lockhart) is your parking enforcement unit, but Anita also does a lot of other things for the agency including managing the crossing guard program” and other responsibilities, said Dixon President Julie Dixon.
“You have parking policies but they're not enforced consistently and everybody knows it. The one thing that really came out of our focus groups is, No. 1, everybody knows Anita, which is awesome because she has a personality and she definitely has a positive impact on the downtown parking area, but they also know when Anita works,” she said. “They know what time she's going to be on Main Street and they know what her other job duties are.”
Knowing her schedule, Dixon said, gives some the advantage to “know how to game the system.”
Whether meters are added to Main Street or parking decks are raised in the future, Dixon recommended the city beef up enforcement patrols first to see how traffic improves.
Julie Dixon and David Cooker of Dixon Resources Unlimited, a company with more than 25 years' experience in parking and transportation management, shared a few surprises in what they found.
Most of the cars taking up spaces all day in front of businesses were driven by business owners, employees and downtown residents, the study found. Main Street and side streets were operating over the industry standard set at 80 percent capacity for parking occupancy from lunchtime into the evening hours. Main Street was operating at 90 to 100 percent capacity during the busy times.
The study found that 90 percent of visitors parked on-street instead of using off-street lots, but a majority of parkers said they would consider walking farther instead of paying for parking if Main Street were metered. Use of venues with parking meters has continued to increase over the past five years, and Dixon representatives predicted it would continue to climb with consistent enforcement and updated technology.
People, on average, were spending more than 20 minutes in 15-minute spaces, according to the study, and Dixon representatives said they thought the city's parking fines were too cheap. A woman in one of their focus groups admitted she saved money by racking up a couple of parking tickets a month instead of paying for a leased space.
Dixon and Cooker said they were able to identify the locals from out-of-town guests during a Rhythm and Brews concert by where they parked. The locals seemed to know where to go, Cooker said, while there were others who kept circling the blocks.
The analysts also noticed in their study that some of the leased spaces in lots appeared to be underutilized. They suggested a plan to overhaul the program by opening up some of the leased spots to the public when not in use.
Dixon recommended the city consider:
-Increasing enforcement of the city's parking laws.
-Publishing the laws for all to see.
-Employing better signage for visitors to navigate parking options with uniformity in the downtown's branding.
-Making the 15-minute spaces loading zones.
-Overhauling the permit parking program, stripping the names from spaces to give the public a chance to use some of the under-utilized leased spots.
-Increasing the fines on parking citations.
-Revisiting the idea for parking along King Street, recently nixed by city council.
-Employing a documented special event parking procedure so people can know in advance which lots and spaces will be off-limits instead of learning about the tow-away zone that morning. The procedure could also establish signs to use in special events to let visitors know when a lot is full.
-Adding parking kiosks to lots and/or smart meters to Main Street that allow a visitor to pay for parking electronically with a credit or debit card.
-Reaching out to other lot owners like the Curb Market for public/private sharing opportunities.
-Creating a Parking Ambassador program by employing others to help enforce the city's parking laws with a customer-service oriented approach to enforcement, supplementing Lockhart's efforts.
-Letting customer service support take over the debt collection for parking tickets.
-Adding lighting, signage and safety improvements to parking lots and walkways to tie in with Main Street and the downtown's appeal.
-Publishing parking rules on signage at lots, the city's website and in road maps.
-Approving a setback policy consistent with NCDOT, which, Dixon said, could free up more room for parking.
In the future, the Dixon study suggested the city could also look to find more potential parking lots, particularly on the east side of Main Street; consider hosting a transit center with public bathrooms for busloads of tourists; and consider making Main Street a pedestrian mall during peak periods or special events.
Skate Park 'bullies'
Before the parking study results were unveiled, City Council and staff addressed concern around the city's skate park at Patton Park.
“We've got this email from a person who uses the skate park who's concerned about drug activity, concerned about bullying,” City Manager John Connet said. More trash and a little vandalism has also been found at the park.
“I've already talked to the police department about beefing up the enforcement for the drugs,” he said, but other conversations have raised the idea of staffing an officer at the park.
“I can say ditto to that first letter and email that ... talked about his child, who didn't like it because of the big kids there,” said Mayor Barbara Volk. “Last summer, our older grandson, that's all he wanted to do, so I would go over with him.”
But right before Christmas, she said, her grandson told her husband “'those big boys are talking bad and they're being mean and I want to go.' He never asked again to go back to the skate park,” Volk said.
Councilman Jerry Smith said he responded to the letter writer, saying that the park in Asheville has a full-time attendant and suggesting that may be the way to go.
Hendersonville Police Department Chief Herbert Blake said he has asked the city to fund a police officer specifically for the parks.
Other suggestions included having a monitor to keep an eye out and call police when things come up, and closing and locking the park at night. Connet said he would work with the police department and Public Works to come up with a plan to present to City Council in the future.
In other action, city staff and council members:
u Heard an update on plans shaping up for the Historic Seventh Avenue District, including an idea to buy an unused lot to add off-street parking to the busy west end to alleviate concerns about on-street parking spots recently gobbled up by bulbouts.
u Heard an update on the application submitted to the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant program for Berkeley Mills Park. City Planning Director Sue Anderson said they hope to hear the grant selection results in July. The city applied for a $250,000 PARTF grant, which would be supplemented by a city match budgeted for $300,000 to help renovate the park. Anderson said they are also seeking a grant to study the former mill's baseball field, which is still in use, for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Reach Weaver at Emily.weaver@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7867.
Follow Weaver on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EmilyWORDWeaver or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EmilyWORDWeaver
Categories: News

School bus drivers honored this week

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:46
Nine years ago when Sheila Benjamin was asked if she wanted to be a bus driver for the Henderson County Public Schools system, she thought to herself, “I get up early anyway, so I might as well.”
For Benjamin, known around the North Henderson High and Apple Valley Middle campuses as “Ms. Sheila,” it's now gotten to the point where she can drive her school bus better than her own car.
“I can parallel park this one,” Benjamin said about her bus. “But I can't do my car. I haven't figured that one out yet.”
Benjamin is one of 135 school bus drivers employed by the school district. This week they're being honored with cards, small tokens of gratitude and meals from students, teachers and administration.
Teachers at North Henderson are even tagging along with drivers like Benjamin on their routes to get a taste of what it's like to be a bus driver.
Audra King, an Occupational Course of Study teacher, hopped on bus 248 Wednesday with Benjamin at the helm.
“She was definitely running a tight ship,” King said, noting that the dynamic Benjamin has fostered with the children is impressive.
“They have a really cool relationship,” she said. “The kids kind of look to her as a mom. Someone they know will always show up every day and is always going to have a warm bus for them to get on and take them to school.”
And Benjamin realizes the effect her demeanor has on the students.
“I'm like the first person these kids see in the morning, and so however I react to them is going to determine what kind of day they have,” Benjamin said. “If I'm negative or whatever, then they'll have a bad attitude. We don't want that.”
According to King, Benjamin's route had a reputation for being especially difficult in the past. Numerous drivers prior to Benjamin had tried their hand at the route, but couldn't stick with it.
“They gave her this route and she's never had any issues or problems,” King said, explaining that Benjamin has high expectations for her riders, and in turn, the students rise to the challenge.
“It's a mutual respect between the two,” King said. “I think she probably got that point across very early on in driving that bus.”
One reason for the respect Benjamin receives is her reputation.
“Most of the kids, I've had their older siblings and it trickled on down. They kind of give them the heads up about Ms. Sheila,” Benjamin said.
She also has a simple, common-sense way regarding discipline. If a student misbehaves, they receive an assigned seat at the front of the bus.
“The only thing they can do is ride. They can't even talk. I don't even want to hear them breathe,” Benjamin said.
So far, this deep into the school year, only one student has been assigned to the seat.
“They probably have one of the hardest jobs in public education,” King said about school bus drivers. “It's a free ride and I think people take it for granted a little bit, and I think it can be a life-changing experience to have that relationship with someone.”
King's experience Wednesday was an opportunity to not just gain an appreciation for Benjamin and the work that she does, but also to see her students in a different light — to see where her students go home to.
“It was definitely humbling. I know a lot of our kids don't have great lives. I mean, we hear about it constantly in the classroom, but sometimes you just don't realize exactly where they're coming from,” King said.
“But then when you really see it with your own eyes it just makes you appreciate what you have, but then also opens up your eyes to be a little bit more sensitive to where these guys are coming from every single day. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.”
Reach Biba at 828-694-7871 or jacob.biba@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

'Old ways' of Appalachia coming to local classrooms

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:46
For Leon Pace, a seventh-generation Henderson County native, childhood meant catching crawdads in mountain streams, slopping pigs after supper and weeding out garden beds. It meant living by the “old ways,” a lifestyle that, according to Pace, today’s youth know little about.
With hopes of preserving those “old ways” of Appalachia, the Center for Cultural Preservation will bring anything from sheep shearing to molasses-making to Henderson County classrooms through the new “Mountain Elder Wisdom Education Initiative.”
The program, which is planned to begin in the fall, will introduce students in grades K-12 to local and regional history, even encouraging the exploration of their own heritage. Community elders such as Pace plan to present oral history lessons on the medicinal value of yellow-root or the art of blacksmithing.
“Yellow-root is a common plant that grows in the edges of streams — you can make a tea out of it. It helps with sore throats and cold sores,” Pace said. “It is important for children to know how to live a sustainable lifestyle — how to exist off the land.”
David Weintraub, executive director of the Center for Cultural Preservation, knows the initiative will “bring history to a different level” through capturing it firsthand.
As a child, Weintraub was “captivated” by the dialect and passion in the stories of his grandparents. He expects that students will be inspired to connect to an elder in their own family.
“There is so much value in the lives that people live. Passing the torch to the next generation is critical because there is such a big concern that culture will die with today’s elders,” Weintraub said. “The hope is that we can rekindle that passion — to understand that the past is a vital part of who we all are.”
County teachers will also have an opportunity to delve into the past with a new continuing education program at Blue Ridge Community College. The online courses, designed in part by local historian Jennifer Jones Giles, focus on history from 1860 to the mid-1900s. Through offering factual information on an area that, as Giles believes, is “deeply rooted in myth and legend,” teachers will be more apt to incorporate local history into lesson plans.
“Teachers can get students involved and excited by bringing in personal things,” Giles said. “Time can be brought to life and made real.”
With stories of collecting eggs and milking cows from Pace, along with workshops on clogging and foraging from other elders, the “Mountain Elder Wisdom Education Initiative” will bring life to history in classrooms across the area. Though starting out small, the program is expected to extend beyond county lines in upcoming years.
“Deep down, everyone wants to know where they came from, how their ancestors lived and who their ancestors were,” Pace said. “If you can see where you have been, you can see where you’re going.”
For more information, contact David Weintraub at 828-692-8062.
Categories: News

Utah mother pleads guilty to killing six newborns

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 17:46
PROVO, Utah (AP) — A Utah mother pleaded guilty Thursday to killing six of her newborns and storing their bodies in the garage, bringing a case prosecutors called uniquely heinous closer to resolution.
Megan Huntsman, 39, faces up to life in prison when she's sentenced April 20. Her voice broke as she said "guilty" six times to answer for each count.
The guilty pleas are the result of a deal that could reduce her minimum sentence to five years, but "we'll be shocked if she ever gets out," Utah County attorney Jeff Buhman said.
The infants' remains were discovered by Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, in April 2014 as he gathered belongings from the home they had shared in Pleasant Grove, a city of about 35,000. He called police after finding the first tiny body in a cardboard box. Authorities found the rest, seven in all, one of which they said was stillborn.
Huntsman told police she immediately strangled or suffocated the newborns, wrapped them in cloth, put them in plastic bags, then packed them in boxes over a 10-year period from 1996 to 2006.
She told investigators she was addicted to methamphetamine at the time and didn't want to care for the babies.
West made the discovery shortly after he was released from federal prison where he was sent eight years ago after pleading guilty to meth charges. He was the father of each child and lived with Huntsman during the decade when they were killed, but police have said they aren't investigating him in connection with the deaths.
West and Huntsman have three other children, who are with other family members. He was not in court and has not spoken publicly about the case.
Defense attorney Anthony Howell declined to comment, as did family members who attended the court hearing about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Huntsman has said little in her brief court appearances, but Buhman said she has expressed remorse and may speak at her sentencing. He said the plea gives Huntsman fewer options for appeal than a trial would have, which "hopefully will mean this case is essentially done after the sentencing."
The day the bodies were found, Huntsman told police there were eight or nine dead babies in her home. But police later concluded that Huntsman was confused and guessing.
Pleasant Grove police detective Dan Beckstrom said she told police why she stored the bodies, but he declined to share her answer. "It truly," he said, "is unexplainable."
Categories: News

Lenten lessons to focus on forgiveness

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 15:41
As the Lenten season approaches, St. James Episcopal Church is inviting the community on a spiritual pilgrimage that is being called A Lenten Journey to Forgiveness. Leading the way is a man, who, because of his own journey, knows the road well.
When he holds workshops on forgiveness, or writes or speaks about it, Lyndon Harris is doing so from experience. Today, besides being a full-time forgiveness teacher, he is co-director, with the Rev. Posy Jackson, of Tigg's Pond Retreat in Zirconia and co-chair of the Garden of Forgiveness initiative.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Harris, a native of Gaffney, S.C., was an Episcopal priest, only months on the job at St. Paul's Chapel, across the street from the World Trade Center. Built in 1764, the chapel is one of New York City's oldest buildings and was the place where George Washington prayed on the date of his first inauguration.
Miraculously spared from destruction when the Twin Towers fell, St. Paul's served as a place of respite for firefighters, emergency personnel and others sorting through rubble to find bodies. During this time, Harris said, over half a million meals were served in or near the chapel.
“I like to call it the 9-12 story,” he said, referring to “the next day when people got out of bed and responded to acts of hatred with acts of courage.
“That's how I began my journey to forgiveness,” he said. But, he added, forgiveness did not come immediately.
Many nights found up to 100 people sleeping at St. Paul's. Grief counselors, massage therapists, musicians and other professionals were brought in for the benefit of those who sought rest there from work in clearing the site and looking for, at first, survivors, and then, bodies.
Harris heard stories of courage. A musician himself, he would later write a song about a firefighter who came to ground zero every day searching with the crews through the debris. His son, a firefighter also, had been among the first responders. It took three months before he found his son's body. After a funeral service, Harris said, the man was back at the site, helping to pull other bodies out of the wreckage.
St. Paul's served as a “life raft” for more than eight months. Afterward, he said, when the last meal was served and life began to resume normalcy, he had his own crisis.
“I was pretty bitter,” he said of this time when he felt angry and depressed to the point that it affected his personal life and career.
At the time, he was reading Bishop Desmond Tutu's book, “No Future Without Forgiveness.” It was then that he decided, “Maybe forgiveness is an idea to embrace. It doesn't mean you let people off the hook for doing bad things. It doesn't mean you can't defend yourself. It doesn't mean you can't pursue justice.”
The key, he said, is to let go of the idea of revenge and to concentrate on healing instead. “It's choosing not to be a victim in someone else's narrative,” Harris said.
Among his favorite quotes is one by Nelson Mandela: “Resentment is like drinking poison, then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
With Dr. Frederic Luskin, in 2005, Harris founded the Garden of Forgiveness initiative, based on a movement begun by Alexandra Asseily, who organized the world's first Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon, after the civil war there that left 300,000 dead.
“Gardens work on every level,” Harris said. “If you're frustrated, get your hands dirty in the garden. If you're resentful, get your hands dirty in the garden. If you're joyful, get your hands dirty in the garden.”
He sees gardens of forgiveness as meditative places where people can reflect on the idea of forgiveness. That decision to forgive, however, is an individual choice, he said.
Harris dreams of a garden at the World Trade Center site and other places around the country and world. Already gardens have been put in place in New York State, Chicago and Charleston, S.C. A garden being developed now in Rwanda will, it is hoped, be a step toward healing the pain of the genocide that occurred there in 1994.
Many of these lessons in forgiveness that he has learned through his own studies and experiences over the years are ones he incorporates into his teachings about forgiveness. There is, he said, a tragic element to life; tragedies happen to everyone. “Tragedy can't be fixed,” he said, “but it can be healed.”
At Tigg's Pond Retreat, visitors find 54 acres of tranquility with woodlands, gardens and grassy areas. The pond, with a dock and gazebo, is named for Tigger, Jackson's black Labrador retriever, who loves to swim there. A Cretan labyrinth laid out in a shady glen invites a meditative walk in imitation of the hero's journey, a walk to the center and back out again, symbolic of searching one's self.
The nearby Meditation Rock at Jones Creek, which winds through the property, is one of the places on the grounds providing a place for rest and reflection.
There is also a quarter-mile trail that is a physical equivalent to the journey of forgiveness. In this way, Harris said, teachings are integrated with meditative walking. A vegetable garden is planted in season. Yoga classes are offered weekly.
Other offerings of the daytime retreat center include a building combining a library and a healing room, and, in the large main building — the Barn — a coffeehouse, Standing on the Side of Love, that Harris calls “Western North Carolina's newest premiere listening room.”
Monthly events are held there, including pickin' parlors, potluck meals, films and concerts by artists such as Letters to Abigail, David Wilcox and David LaMotte.
Tigg's Pond Retreat Center is at 212 Fiddlehead Lane in Zirconia. For information about events there, call 828-697-0680 or visit www.tiggspondretreatcenter.com.
The program at St. James, Harris said, will be his lesson in forgiveness training spread out over the five weeks of Lent — Feb. 22 until March 25 — with sessions on Sundays from 10:15 a.m. until 11:10 a.m., and on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The program is for all ages, and child care will be provided on Wednesdays for children younger than 4. There will also be classes on forgiveness for children ages 4 to 10 and for those ages 11 and up.
For more information or to make a reservation for the light suppers provided free on Wednesday evening sessions, call Jonathan Stepp at St. James Episcopal Church at 694-6923.
Categories: News

Sports & Bacon: Props to four hoops performances

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 21:29
Roses are red. Violets are blue.
I've got some basketball performances to show you.
Well, I have some to tell you about. It's down to the nitty gritty for area basketball teams. The conference tournaments will be played out over the next week and then playoffs begin.
Before that happens, I just want to tell you about four individual performances that I witnessed in the last week of the season. They are undeniably worth for a closer look and to have those kids highlighted.
The first one came last week as North Henderson's girls squared off against Brevard. I wrote a story about this senior a few weeks ago and she's quietly put together a strong season.
North's Hannah Brackett legitimately carried the Lady Knights in the third quarter in what is probably the craziest local venue for basketball. I'll give the Blue Devils faithful some props here. Their basketball gymnasium is probably the loudest high school venue I've ever visited.
The Lady Knights and Brevard were in a tight ball game until Brackett took over in the third. The North senior scored nine consecutive points and the Lady Knights pulled away for a 52-41 victory. Brackett is averaging 11 points per game and 8 rebounds per game this season.
The next two performances happened that same night in the boys game.
Brevard is laden with seniors, and new coach David Siniard let them take ownership of the team. One of those seniors is Hunter Johnson, who put on a show in front of the home crowd against North.
The Knights started the fourth quarter with a seven-point lead before Johnson took over. He scored 16 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and single-handedly pushed the game into overtime. Brevard outscored North 9-2 in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and the nine points were three 3-pointers by Johnson.
It was an amazing display and I couldn't hear the basketball hitting the floor because the gym was so loud.
On the other side, North got another big game from junior guard Drew Williams. Of all the kids I've watched this season, Williams has probably made the most gains. He was talented as a sophomore, but this season he's been almost unstoppable.
The season hasn't unfolded like the Knights originally though. Part of that was due to an injury to star forward Austin Nelson. Nonetheless, Williams has put together a strong season that could rival just about any individual in the area.
Against Brevard, the junior scored 28 points. At the end of the first overtime, Williams had a steal and a fastbreak layup to tie the game up at 56 and push it into double overtime.
Then in the first minutes of the second overtime, he scored four of his points. He put the Knights in position for a Nelson dish to Michael Pace with 3.2 seconds left for the game-winning layup.
It was probably the best game I've watched all season between those two teams.
The final performance happened on Tuesday night. Jamal Wheeler — for the second time this season — led his Polk County basketball team to a victory over Hendersonville. It was a win the Wolverines desperately needed and the junior guard came through again.
Early in the season, he scored 16 in overtime. This time, overtime wasn't necessary. Wheeler scored 35 minutes in regulation and the Wolverines beat Hendersonville 78-72. The kid is fun to watch. He's faster and more explosive than just about anyone he steps on the court with.
If he can dominate like that as the postseason approaches, I wouldn't be surprised to see Polk win a game or two.
These four kids definitely brought home the bacon for their respective teams in the last week.
Categories: News