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Updated: 1 min 27 sec ago

Get back country experience minus the blisters

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 08:36
It's midday at Camp Tekoa, and backpacker John Isley is still recovering from a bear stealing his backpack and food supplies.
Next to him, Will Doyle, 24, is dealing with blisters after losing his boots and hiking in flip flops, and Michael Dellinger, 21, is soaking wet and missing his sleeping bag and tent after falling in a river crossing.
Far from being in danger, the three are playing “Backcountry: The Game of Wilderness Survival Appalachian Trail Edition” that Isley co-created.
“These moments in the game are a very exaggerated version of real life experiences in the backcountry,” Isley said. “But it captures the nuance and fun of the back country experience without actually having to have blisters or falling in the river.”
Isley, now assistant director of Camp Tekoa, said the game concept was born in 2007 when he and a friend, Jason Butler, were backpacking through the Tetons.
“We arrived early on the third day to the Death Canyon Campsite and had this idea to make a board game out of the map and create a game kind of mimicking the challenges and experiences we shared backpacking,” Isley said. “We used love notes my wife had sent to make cards — some of which served as obstacles and barriers that hikers faced, while others offered helps and incentives to help complete the game — and tied them into the actual terrain we were hiking.”
The goal was to be the first to complete the mileage of the trek while dealing with danger and constraints a person would encounter on a trail in terms of food supply, first aid, pack weight and appropriate gear.
“Our first game ended with me dying after a moose attack in the wild,” Isley said. “Since then, we've made the game and cards more family-friendly, so in these versions everyone crosses the finish line eventually.”
There have, in fact, been many iterations of the game over the past seven years that were fully vetted by friends and family, college kids and other hikers to create the final cast of characters, gear, challenges and scoring system.
Isley and Butler launched the game as an entrepreneurial venture this year with a website (trailsidegames.com) and retail distribution that began in August.
The game board — a stylized waterproof, tear-proof map of the Appalachian Trail — can be spread out just as easily on the ground at a beautiful national park as on a coffee table in a living room. The map, cards, dice and character pieces all fit into a waterproof zip pouch that Isley is proud to point out weighs only 7 ounces.
The card dialogue leans heavily on real-life experiences, war stories and creative renderings, and Isley said the game does mirror some real-life happenings when on the trail.
“We take the game with us on backpacking trips, and one day I had a kid lose my water filter in the river who then drew that card when we played that night,” Isley said. “Those humorous moments highlight the joy and struggle of the trail and also mirror the communal experience of bonding with the people you meet during your time on the trail.”
“Every time we play, there is constant laughter,” said Michael Dellinger, an intern at Camp Tekoa. “We create extra scenarios and crazy catastrophes that add to the humor.”
Will Doyle, adventure director for Camp Tekoa, said his experience working as a backpacking guide for several months was several months too long.
“One time there was a lightning storm with no time between the flash and the bang, and we were huddled in the tent thinking we were gonna die at any minute,” Doyle said. “Another day, yellow jackets chased us for three miles down a mountain, and we had 51 stings combined in the group.”
Those experiences, while harrowing at the time, have now become a source of laughter, but Doyle said he isn't trading in his bed for a tent floor anytime soon.
“The great part of the game is that you are sharing in the hypothetical misery and laughing at the one person with terrible luck that nature is just destroying,” Dolye said. “And, I can do this while sleeping in a comfortable bed in a climate-controlled room and lots of pillows.
Isley said one of the beautiful things of backpacking is experiencing the solitude and joy of the beauty around you, but also interacting and helping others along their journey.
“The shared experiences in those intense settings like Will mentioned build strong relationships and a trail family of sorts,” Isley said. “You have to alliance and trade and barter in the game and on the trail, and both bring people together to depend on each other.”
Conversely, it can also be part of the fun to leave competitors high and dry, which is how Isley's 7-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, likes to play.
“She's been playing for a couple of years now, even all the advance play options, and will stomp me because she will never trade,” Isley said. “When she beats me, she makes me write the score on her bunk bed.”
While the family frequently goes on camping trips and brings the game along, Isley said Elizabeth still prefers the game simulation to actually hefting a pack and walking long miles.
“I also took my wife backpacking once,” Isley said. “She renamed the trails we hiked things like 'Dead Wife Trail' and vowed to never go again, but she loves playing this game and the opportunity to share my passion for backpacking without having to endure the actual experience.”
Isley said the game isn't meant to be educational, but people will learn backpacking strategies by playing the game.
“My daughter already knows about max weights and how to pack a backpack and probably won't repeat the mistake I made on my first backpacking trip of carrying a 24-pack of Pepsi when I was 11,” Isley said. “I was begging people to drink those sodas.”
Isley said the decision to bring the product to market came after a lot of spurring from fans who loved the game and wanted copies of their own.
“I'm an ordained minister, and I love to commune with God in the wilderness and have a community of peers who support and depend on each other, and what I love best about this game is that anyone can experience or relive those moments,” he said.
The Appalachian Trail Edition is available through local retailers such as MAST General Store, Appalachian Coffee, the Wrinkled Egg and Blue Ridge Parkway stores as well as through the website.
Isley said the Smoky Mountain Trail Edition is in production now for release on March 1, and it will feature a square playing map to reflect the national park's terrain and route choices.
“We have honestly been a little overwhelmed with the response and with retailers already placing reorders since we launched on Aug. 17,” Isley said. “The most rewarding part has been hearing from users who have purchased the game and write to tell us about the incredible laughs and joy they had in playing.”
Categories: News

Pumpkins much improved over last season's sodden crop

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 08:23
The Smith family drove to Hendersonville from their home in Cramerton, N.C. on Sunday with plans to pick apples and feed the cows at J.H. Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard. They got sidetracked by a “pick-your-own pumpkins” sign at Linda's Plants and Shrubs.
“Now we just can't pull away,” said Stephanie Smith as she and her kids picked through a table filled with a multitude of colorful gourds. “We've never done this before. It's our new family tradition.”
Her husband Eric helped Savannah, 12, and Connor, 8, fill a wheelbarrow with warty pumpkins known as “Goosebumps” and “Lunch Ladies,” as well as several edible “Carnival” varieties. The family plans to use most of them to create an autumn display.
“In the Charlotte area, you can't find a pumpkin like this,” said Eric Smith, holding up the Goosebump. “In the grocery stores around us, they just have the smooth pumpkins.”
Last year's pumpkin crop was poor due to prodigious rain that rotted gourds in the field, but this year's crop has been a different story. Farmer Joel McCraw said his pumpkin production is about 100 percent, despite a few weather-related hiccups.
“It was a little cooler than I would've liked in July,” McCraw said. “We didn't get good pollination, but they came on strong in August. Last year I refer to as 'the character-building year from hell.' But I've picked a lot of pumpkins this year.”
Down the road from McCraw, Lyda Farms on Chimney Rock Road typically grows about 10 or 15 acres of winter squash and pumpkins. Last year's pumpkin crop was almost a total failure, though the Lyda family was able to locate enough from other growers to offer some for sale.
“We've got a great crop this year,” said Sonna Lyda, whose mother owns the farm. “The growing season was really perfect. It seemed like everything did pretty well – not too much moisture, not too little. We've got them from very small up to probably several hundred pounds. We've got some giants.”
That seems to be the consensus among local pumpkin growers, said Craig Mauney, commercial vegetable agent at the county's Cooperative Extension office. Most pumpkin growers seem very happy with this year's harvest, he said.
“There's not a deficit of pumpkins, that's for sure,” Mauney said.
Pumpkins aren't a major crop in North Carolina – the N.C. Department of Agriculture estimates only about 3,000 acres are grown statewide – but they are important for supplementing the incomes of local apple orchards and roadside stands during their busy fall season.
McCraw started growing the gourds in 2012 after a hard freeze in April decimated the county's $31 million apple crop, leaving him in search of a fall backup. He now sells bins of them to places like the Grove Park Inn for autumn decorations and to local pie-makers.
Many of the more unique pumpkins he sells are actually heirloom French squashes, including one named “Peanut” for its nut-like nobules and another called “Cinderella” for its resemblance to the pumpkin turned into a carriage by the princess' fairy godmother.
“All of them have big, long French names on them,” said McCraw. “You'd think as ugly as they were, they'd taste terrible. But they're ten times better than a regular pumpkin. There's more meat and it's delicious.”
Not every local pumpkin grower has fared as well as McCraw and the Lydas. David Butler at Sky Top Orchard in Zirconia usually grows several thousand of the gourds between his younger apple trees to supplement what he buys from a Buncombe County grower.
“Between the both of us, it's not been a good year,” Butler said. “It's just like all produce – some years you hit it just right, some years you don't. We do have enough to sell. We just don't have an abundance.”
To visit Linda's Plants and their indoor pumpkin maze, visit www.lindasplants.com or call 828-685-0738. Lyda Farms can be reached at 828-685-3459 or www.lydafarms.com. For more information about Sky Top Orchard, call 828-692-7930 or visit www.skytoporchard.com.
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Reach Axtell at than.axtell@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7860.
Categories: News

Fire guts Fletcher mobile home

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 08:15
A Fletcher family who turned around on their way to visit relatives discovered their home engulfed in flames early Sunday morning.
The family was on their way to visit family in South Carolina when they realized they'd left some medication at their home at 60 Jim Mills Drive, said Henderson County Fire Marshal Wally Hollis.
“They turned around to get it and found their house on fire,” he said.
The doublewide mobile home was fully involved when trucks from Fletcher Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene around 3 a.m., Hollis said. The home was “completely destroyed,” he said, with just a 16-by-20-foot addition still standing.
Hollis said the fire apparently began in a child's bedroom in the center of the home, but the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.
No one was hurt in the fire, Hollis said, and the family's dog was able to escape out back. The American Red Cross is assisting the family with temporary food, clothing and shelter.
Fire departments from Mountain Home, Mills River, Skyland and Fairview provided mutual aid. The Henderson County Rescue Squad and EMS also responded.
Categories: News

Hendersonville changing the way it does business

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:08
The city of Hendersonville has gotten a bad rap among developers who say their road to permits are plagued with hurdles, booby-trapped with an exhausting mess of red tape.
Permits that should take two weeks take far too long, and a review process that should generate one list of revisions can often morph into multiple steps to correct a project stalled by meetings — lots of meetings.
But the city is looking to change all that, eyeing ways to streamline the permitting process that has perplexed so many. After hearing concerns from developers and contractors in regular meetings of the newly-formed Hendersonville Business Advisory Committee, city engineers, planners, zoning officials and fire inspectors put their heads together to draft a change.
In an effort to keep city leaders informed of the evolution in progress, City Manager John Connet gave City Council an update last week on where the process stands.
“We had an advisory committee meeting last week and we presented several recommendations that actually came from our staff,” Connet told the council Oct. 2. “One of the things that the Business Advisory Committee had challenged the staff to do was to come up with things to streamline or make our permitting process more efficient.”
After two months of studying and tweaking the process, Connet said the city made its report to the committee in September.
“The issues (from the Business Advisory Committee) were having to make multiple corrections numerous times,” he said. “Also, they wanted somebody or some way to help guide applicants through the development process, and would like the ability to provide surveys or feedback through other means regarding how they felt the process was going. They felt like in some cases the process took too long to receive permits, get approvals and do developments in Hendersonville.”
So step No. 1, he said, became a task to improve communication.
“We're working on developing a process guide and handout,” he said. The city has an open position to fill and might be looking to hire a permitting technician to help applicants through the process, he added.
Connet said they also found duplicated hurdles they could remove from the track. In the review of current procedures, they noticed certain projects had to go before the Hendersonville Planning Board, regardless of whether or not the board had the ability to approve or deny the project.
“It was simply as a matter of information,” he said. “Depending on when you came in on the permitting process, you could actually wait an additional 30 days just to be put on the agenda so that the Planning director could present the project, even though the project may meet all of our zoning regulations. Everything (could be) according to policy, but they would have to wait that period of time to go before the Planning Board, and that caused some delay as it relates to getting their permits and moving forward with their project.”
Connet said their recommendation is to remove the extra Planning Board stage for projects that don't require approval. In its place, the city is looking at inserting “a technical review committee that can meet numerous times during the month to speed up the process.”
The technical review committee, staffed by planners and zoning officers, would meet in a more timely manner as needed to make sure projects meet state, federal and local ordinances and design standards.
In addition to the committee, he said, the city felt it “would be important to schedule meetings out onsite once we were at the permitting approval process stage. What we've heard is that our folks would meet with the property owner, the contractor and the developer onsite to make sure there was a clear understanding. We have found from the beginning of a project to the end of a project that sometimes there's a gap, particularly with the owner relating to what has to be done on the very end to get that Certificate of Occupancy.
“We're going to recommend, as part of our changes, to insert a stage where, right after the permits, just as a courtesy when the project is approved, that we'll meet with them onsite just to go through the things that they'll have to do and provide them with a checklist of what they'll have to do to get their final Certificate of Occupancy,” Connet said.
To calm the cries of developers plagued with revisions stemming from two reviews bookending their projects, Connet said they plan to do one review at the beginning.
“We're going to have a preliminary or an initial meeting with all of the developers and contractors and put that at the very, very beginning so they get a list of things they're going to have to look at,” he said. “Then instead of having two review periods, there'll be one review period so that they'll get their feedback and their need for changes to the plan one time versus twice. We felt like that will speed up the process, help the contractors and our architects and engineers as they move forward.”
Stormwater permitting process
Connet said that the city's engineering department suggested they tweak the stormwater approval process as well. Currently, the city's stormwater permitting process requires stormwater management plans for any developments on parcels greater than an acre, per federal requirements.
There is also a 20,000-square-foot rule, left over from an old ordinance that requires stormwater plans for any developments that surpass 20,000 square feet.
“The federal law requires them to go through the process if it's greater than an acre, so our engineering department has discovered any time you get a building ... over 20,000 square feet, in most cases, it will be (on land) greater than an acre,” Connet said.
Engineers recommended the city strip the 20,000-square-foot requirement to bring their regulations into sync with state and county laws.
“There's several other things that we're looking at doing to improve the efficiency as far as permitting thresholds,” Connet told the council.
The city is looking at nixing neighborhood compatibility meetings, held before a project makes its way to the Planning Board, in which most of the same neighbors attend to address the same concerns.
“You have the same folks coming to both meetings, and frankly, you have more folks at the Planning Board level as it relates to that,” Connet said.
Ready to move forward
City staff have already developed an applicant guide for the city's new review process with surveys attached to the back of guides for applicants to send feedback to Connet's office.
The changes, he said, have “to go back to the Planning Board and some other processes to get approved and changed, but we wanted to make sure that council was in favor of continuing to move forward and if they didn't have any questions to provide that direction to us.”
“Has anybody suggested that they need a finite time where they're guaranteed to go through the permitting process if they meet all of the criteria?” asked Councilman Steve Caraker.
Connet said they are looking at four different models for permitting processes of different size projects to streamline the journey for all developers. The processes will come with a suggested time frame for permitting completion.
“The world I live in, if you've got all your ducks in a row, you've met all the ordinances, you've done your homework, you ought to be able to fast-track the process,” said Caraker, a licensed contractor and former 16-year county inspector. “If you're wishy-washy, you don't know exactly what you want; if you're in the learning curve, you have no excuse and that process might take more than normal ... I just think that we need to offer the good students a fast track and if you're wishy-washy, going to keep changing stuff, then that's on you.”
Connet said he would be glad to share the model once it is complete.
“This is a very, very positive thing. I think it pointed out something that a lot of the criticism that our staff has received in the complications is because of our rules and regulations that have accumulated over the years,” said Councilman Ron Stephens.
Those rules “haven't been analyzed so a lot of duplications, a lot of going back and going back and redoing things are moving parts of this. I think if nothing else comes out of this committee, I think this would be worth doing. It's going to make a huge difference.”
The next meeting of the Hendersonville Business Advisory Committee is set for 11:30 a.m. Nov. 24.
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Reach Weaver at Emily.weaver@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7867.
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Follow Emily Weaver on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EmilyWORDWeaver
Categories: News

Local housing market begins to rebound from lull

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 13:05
Dormant subdivisions in Henderson County are building again and people are buying homes, slowly but steadily bringing the local housing market out of a lull.
According to county planners and local real estate professionals, more single-family houses are being built and sold this year.
"We had that really big boom there, right around 2006-07," said Henderson County Senior Planner Autumn Radcliff. "Then everything kind of just plateaued out and held."
In 2014, she said, "We have seen a slight increase in subdivisions," and according to January to September numbers, building permits are up slightly from last year.
According to the Henderson County permits and inspections offices, the number of residential units built this year as of September lags slightly behind the number compared to year to date 2013 — but the dollar value of new residential construction and residential additions is up.
As of September, the dollar value of new residential construction was about $63 million, up 4.6 percent from numbers recorded in September 2013. And at $15 million, the dollar value of residential remodels and additions was up 39.6 percent, compared to last year's numbers.
In most cases, Radcliff said, the increased construction activities in subdivisions are initiations of preplanned phases.
For example, River Stone in Fletcher recently started a phase that will add another clubhouse and pool area to a subdivision, as part of revised site plan approved last October, Radcliff said.
"They're building houses and selling houses," said County Assessor Stan Duncan.
Radcliff said she anticipates more new construction on large lots in the county that were purchased during 2007, since several owners have recently inquired about zoning regulations for such lots.
Real property value is expected to increase as well, as county commissioners and staff begin the 2015 reappraisal process.
County Manager Steve Wyatt said the only time in recent history he remembers cumulative real property value decreasing was in the 2011 reappraisal, shortly after the economic downturn that hit in 2008 and 2009.
"I think there'll be an increase over 2011," Wyatt said. "We have growth; we have positive numbers."
"Their projections are that ... they're looking at about a 6 to 7 percent increase in total property (value) in the 2015 reappraisal," said Steve Dozier, a realtor with Beverly Hanks & Associates and chairman of the Henderson County Planning Board.
Property values are determined on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood base, Duncan explained. And the values of individual neighborhoods are in part based on sales, Wyatt said.
"We monitor sales, we monitor new construction, we monitor the listing activity," Duncan said in an Oct. 6 commissioners' meeting.
Dozier said last year's home sales were up substantially, with almost as many residences sold as during the pre-crash housing boom.
"Last year was close to the volume of 2007," he said, adding that he believed many people waited until 2013 for the economy to stabilize before making purchases.
"We probably will not sell as many homes this year as last year — but our pricing is up 3 or 4 percent," which is reminiscent of "late 2007 pricing," Dozier said. "We're recovering extremely well."
As of Wednesday, 1,328 single family homes in Henderson County had sold this year, according to Dozier's data.
"That's not counting condos and townhouses," he added.
As is typical in the area, Dozier said, the majority of homes sold — 561, or 42.24 percent — were in the $100,000 to $199,999 price point. At 371, or 27.94 percent, the number of homes in the $200,000 to $299,999 price point was the next largest grouping.
Surprisingly, Dozier said, more houses priced at $1 million or more sold than those in both the $800,000-$899,999 and $900,000 to $999,999 ranges combined.
Though Dozier expects the number of homes sold in 2014 to be down by 5 or 6 percent compared to last year, he said the market is "definitely holding steady and continuing to improve."
He said the dollar prices of homes in the area continue to follow the trends set by feeder markets in California, Arizona and Florida, which saw the market take a dive in 2005.
"We followed their falloff about a year and a half later," Dozier said.
And by the same token, Henderson County's housing prices are increasing a couple years after the feeder markets, he said.
"Prices are coming back strong" in feeder markets, Dozier said. And here, he said, "We're seeing a year-over-year of maybe 3.5 or 4 percent increase ... in dollar price."
By spring of next year, Dozier said, "We'll be fairly close to a seller's market and not so much in a buyer's market anymore."
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Reach McGowan at molly.mcgowan@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7871.
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Follow Molly McGowan on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TNmollymcgowan
Categories: News

Reenactors go back to the past in camping trip

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 12:44
PISGAH FOREST—With a 19th century Victor Victrola portable phonograph playing a record released in 1902 under the canvas covered porch of her tent, Jennifer Mancke explained to visitors that classic camping wasn't about roughing it out, but rather enjoying oneself in nature and taking a break.
Presented by members of the Traditional Outdoor Skills Program's Acorn Patrol from the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, the Cradle of Forestry hosted “Camping in the Old Style,” an event in which members camp out in the style of those during the early 20th century for the weekend.
The day also celebrated Horace Kephart, who wrote about Southern Appalachia and advocated for the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kephart's granddaughter and great-granddaughter made it out for the day's events.
Barbara Crane said she doesn't remember her grandfather, but has been told he stayed with her family in Washington, D.C. while he was fighting for the national government to provide funding for a park in the Smokies in 1928 when she was just 4 years old.
Mancke of Columbia, S.C. and her husband had an elaborate canvas tent erected on the site with two cots, books, clothing and all of the luxuries of 20th century home, including the phonograph.
Mancke explained that had they been around in the 1920's, they would have likely lost their farm to the banks and would have be forced into the cities to find work.
“And so we live in town now and the neat thing about having had to move into the city is we now have weekends which we never had before because we were farmers,” Mancke said, adding, "So when we have a weekend and we have time and energy, we want to go back to the country; so we pack up all of the fineries, the Victrola, all the china—my china is from 1850—and then rather than going camping to rough it, we're actually going camping to smooth our lives out.”
Mancke described cities of that era as smoky places with miserable work and children beginning the workforce at age 10.
“They had to come out of school and go into the factory, so going back out into the country reminded them of the good ol' days just being around the fire and visiting with family,” Mancke said.
The group set up their site within two hours on Friday with nearly a dozen campers traveling from South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina.
Wayne Williams , Recreation Management professor at Appalachian State University, he has spent years hiking with the newest and lightest equipment. However, he said there is something luxurious about going to sleep on a cot with a thick sheepskin cushion, wool blankets and a down comforter in a tent.
“So many people, now, their whole camping experience consists of going to a state park Friday and Saturday night then loading everything up to rush home,” Williams said. “But back in 1910-1920, wealthier people could afford to go on vacation and would go out into a nice wooded area and set up a tent for maybe two weeks and just be in one place. And, they'd read, and they'd write, and they'd paint pictures. They'd go fishing during the daytime and tell stories around the campfire, and that is kind of what we reenact.”
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Reach Bindewald at renee.bindewald@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7890.
Categories: News

Votes in Congress: 2014 summary

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 04:31
WASHINGTON — If the record of the current Republican-led House is a guide, the Environmental Protection Agency, Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law will be frequently under attack should the GOP win enough Senate seats on Nov. 4 to gain full control in the new 114th Congress next year.
House Republican majorities have voted at least 104 times during the 113th Congress to weaken the EPA and the laws its oversees, 24 times to dismantle the 2010 health law and 18 times to roll back Dodd-Frank rules for policing Wall Street. The campaign against Dodd-Frank has included six votes to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the law to protect households in everyday financial transactions.
While these legislative priorities have faltered in the current Democratic-led Senate, they would move forward in a Congress totally run by Republicans, predicts Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is in line to become majority leader if he is re-elected next month and his party wins control of the Senate.
"We're going to go after (Democrats) on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency," he told a conference of prosperous Republican donors hosted June 15 by David and Charles Koch at a resort near San Diego.
If McConnell were able to muster enough votes to get legislation past Democratic procedural maneuvers, President Obama could use vetoes to protect cornerstone laws and programs. The EPA was established by President Richard Nixon's executive order in 1970, Dodd-Frank was Congress's main response to the 2008-09 financial crash and the ACA, with 7.3 million paid enrollees in insurance exchanges as of mid-August, is Obama's signature domestic law.
The environmental votes account for one of every 11 House roll calls since January 2013. They occurred on GOP attempts to weaken laws including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act in order to advance proposals to expand offshore and Arctic drilling, expedite mountaintop mining, build the Keystone XL Pipeline, devolve pesticide and coal-ash regulation to the states and increase logging in national forests, among other objectives.
The 104 votes included 40 roll calls on GOP-sponsored bills and amendments, including 12 intended to block action to deal with climate change, and 64 votes on Democratic measures in defense of existing environmental policies. (Readers can view a listing of these environmental votes at www.voterama.info.)
Republicans need to block a "radical environmental agenda" by the president that slows economic growth and costs jobs, said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., in debate March 5 over power-plant emissions and climate-change.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., charged in the same debate that Congress "has entered the intellectual wilderness — the Flat Earth Society" in its approach to climate-change.
This pre-Election Day report spotlights 24 of this year's most newsworthy votes in Congress, including roll calls on House GOP efforts to exert congressional control over the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and prohibit funding of Department of Energy and Army Corp of Engineers efforts to address climate change.
Also charted here are House votes to authorize U.S. military support of Syrian rebel forces; end the Obama administration's "dreamers" program granting legal status to some youths who entered the country as undocumented children; pursue a GOP lawsuit alleging that President Obama overstepped his constitutional authority; restrict National Security Agency collection of data on Americans and establish a committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
This report also covers Senate votes on Democratic proposals to allow widespread student-loan refinancing and counter the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" ruling on birth-control coverage under the Affordable Care Act, as well as votes on bipartisan measures intended to improve veterans' health care, increase energy efficiency, allow military sexual-assault cases to be prosecuted outside the chain of command and address problems posed by the increased number of illegal child immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Finally, the report includes votes in both chambers on raising the minimum wage, establishing male-female pay equity for the same work, extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, suspending the national-debt limit and passing a five-year farm and food bill.
Here are summaries of the 24 issues:
1. Support of Syrian Rebels: The House on Sept. 17 authorized, 273-156, U.S. training and arming of Syrian rebels considered relatively moderate to fight the militant group known as Islamic State. A yes vote backed the amendment to HJ Res 124, with 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats giving their support.
North Carolina voting yes: Democrats G.K. Butterfield, David Price and Mike McIntyre; Republicans Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, Howard Coble, Robert Hudson, Robert Pittenger, Patrick McHenry and George Holding
Voting no: Republicans Walter Jones and Mark Meadows
2. Ending the "Dreamers" Program: The House on Aug. 1 voted, 216-192, to phase out the administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, under which individuals brought illegally to the U.S. as children — so-called "dreamers" — can qualify for work permits and temporary protection from deportation. A yes vote was to send HR 5272 to the Senate, where it is likely to die.
North Carolina voting yes: Ellmers, Jones, Foxx, Coble, Hudson, Pittenger, McHenry, Meadows, Holding
Voting no: Butterfield, Price
3. House GOP Lawsuit: On a nearly party-line vote of 225-201, the House on July 30 backed the Republican majority's plan to file a lawsuit against President Obama on grounds he exceeded his constitutional authority by acting on his own to delay the Affordable Care Act requirement that many employers provide health insurance for workers. A yes vote was to authorize a civil suit in federal court. (H Res 676)
North Carolina voting yes: Ellmers, Foxx, Coble, Hudson, Pittenger, McHenry, Meadows, Holding
Voting no: Butterfield, Jones, Price, McIntyre
4. Ban on Climate-Change Funding: The House on July 10 voted, 229-188, to bar funding in the fiscal 2015 energy and water appropriations bill (HR 4923) of Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers policies to address climate change that are based on "biased" science. A yes vote backed the prohibition on climate-change funding.
North Carolina voting yes: Ellmers, Jones, Foxx, Coble, Hudson, Pittenger, McHenry, Meadows, Holding
Voting no: Butterfield, Price
Not voting: McIntyre
5. Government Spy Powers: The House on May 22 voted, 303-121, to curb the National Security Agency's authority to collect bulk data on Americans' telecommunications under laws such as the USA Patriot Act. A yes vote was to pass HR 3361 over civil libertarians' arguments that it had too many loopholes to be effective.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield, Ellmers, Price, Foxx, Coble, McIntyre, Hudson, McHenry, Pittenger, Holding
Voting no: Jones and Meadows
6. Minimum Wage, Pay Equity: The House on May 22 defeated, 194-227, a Democratic bid to prohibit the awarding of government contracts under the fiscal 2015 military budget (HR 4435) to companies that do not pay at least $10.10 per hour or pay male and female employees equally for the same work. A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield and Price
Voting no: Ellmers, Foxx, Jones, McIntyre, Hudson, McHenry, Pittenger, Meadows, Holding
Not voting: Coble
7. Select Benghazi Committee: On a vote of 232-186 on May 8, the House GOP set up a select committee with no fixed ending date to probe government actions surrounding the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. A yes vote was to adopt H Res 567.
North Carolina voting yes: Ellmers, Foxx, Jones, McIntyre, Hudson, McHenry, Pittenger, Meadows, Holding
Voting no: Butterfield, Price
Not voting: Coble
8. Equal Pay for Women: The House on April 7 defeated, 179-217, a Democratic motion to sidetrack a bill on accounting rules (HR 1872) until the Census Bureau reported that women had reached equal pay with men for full-time, year-round work. A yes vote backed the measure over a GOP argument it was "totally extraneous" to the underlying bill.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield, Price, McIntyre
Voting no: Ellmers, Foxx, Coble, Jones, Hudson, McHenry, Pittenger, Meadows, Holding
9. Extended Jobless Benefits: The House on March 12 defeated, 187-228, a Democratic bid to amend a GOP bill on separation of powers (HR 4138) to restore benefits for 1.5 million of the long-term unemployed whose eligibility for checks expired Dec. 28. A yes vote was to restore benefits that Republicans said should be "paid for" elsewhere in the budget.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield, Price, McIntyre
Voting no: Ellmers, Foxx, Coble, Jones, Hudson, McHenry, Pittenger, Meadows, Holding
10. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: The House on Feb. 27 voted, 232-182, to bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under congressional control. A yes vote backed a bill (HR 3193) to limit the bureau's rulemaking authority, replace its director with a five-person council and make its funding subject to the congressional appropriations process.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield, Price
Voting no: Ellmers, Foxx, Coble, Jones, Hudson, McHenry, McIntyre, Meadows, Holding
Not voting: Pittenger
11. Suspending the Debt Limit: The House on Feb. 11 voted, 221-201, to suspend the national debt limit until March 16, 2015, allowing the Treasury to borrow above the existing $17.2 trillion ceiling in order to pay bills incurred by Congress and the executive branch. A yes vote was to send S 540 to the Senate.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield, Price, Coble, McIntyre
Voting no: Ellmers, Jones, Foxx, Hudson, Pittenger, McHenry, Meadows, Holding
12. New Farm and Food Law: The House on Jan. 29 adopted, 251-166, the final version of a five-year farm and food bill with a budget of nearly $100 billion annually. A yes vote supported the bill (HR 2642) to cut food stamp spending by 1 percent, boost farm exports, expand crop insurance, end direct payments to growers, fund conservation programs and spur rural development.
North Carolina voting yes: Butterfield, Ellmers, Price, Coble, McIntyre, Hudson, McHenry, Meadows
Voting no: Price, Pittenger, Holding
Not voting: Jones
13. Stopgap Spending, Middle East War: Voting 73-22, the Senate on Sept. 18 joined the House in passing a stopgap funding measure for the first 10 weeks of fiscal 2015 that authorized U.S. support for Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State forces. A yes vote was to send HJ Res 124 to President Obama.
North Carolina voting yes: Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Richard Burr
14. Female-Male Pay Equity: The Senate on Sept. 16 failed, 52-40, to reach 60 votes needed to end Republican blockage of a Democratic bill to close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act and give women more legal tools for gaining pay equity with male co-workers. A yes vote was to advance S 2199.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
15. Funds to Ease Border Crisis: The Senate on July 3 failed, 50-44, to reach 60 votes needed to overcome Republican budget objections and advance a bill providing $2.7 billion in deficit spending to help agencies deal with tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America. A yes vote was to advance S 2648.
North Carolina voting no: Burr
Not voting: Hagan
16. Nullification of Hobby Lobby Decision: The Senate on July 16 failed, 56-43, to reach 60 votes for ending a GOP filibuster of a bill to nullify the Supreme Court decision in June that closely held, for-profit firms such as Hobby Lobby can refuse on religious grounds to pay for birth-control coverage required under the Affordable Care Act. A yes vote was to advance the bill (S 2578) prohibiting employers except religious institutions from refusing to pay for health services required by law.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
17. Veterans' Health Care: The Senate on June 11 passed, 93-3, a bill to provide outside healthcare options for veterans while authorizing $500 million to hire more doctors and nurses to cope with a surge of ailing veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars. (HR 3230)
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan, Burr
18. Student Loan Refinancing, Millionaire's Tax: The Senate on June 11 failed, 56-38, to reach 60 votes needed to end Republican blockage of a bill allowing tens of millions of individuals to refinance their student loans at current interest rates over the next two years. To offset its cost, the bill would impose a 30-percent minimum income tax rate on households with at least $1 million in investment and salary income. A yes vote was to advance S 2432.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
19. Energy Efficiency: The Senate on May 12 failed, 55-36, to end Republican blockage of a bill to promote energy efficiency in residential, commercial and industrial sectors and throughout the federal government, the nation's largest energy consumer. Republicans wanted to offer amendments to expedite natural gas exports and restrict regulation of emissions from coal-burning power plants. A yes vote was to advance S 2262, which counted on voluntary compliance, not mandates, to reach its goals.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan, Burr
20. Federal Minimum Wage: The Senate on April 30 failed, 54-42, to reach 60 votes needed to end Republican blockage of a bill to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 over two years. A yes vote backed a bill also raising the "tipped minimum wage" received by restaurant workers, hotel valets and others. (S 2223)
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
21. Extended Jobless Benefits: The Senate on April 7 passed, 59-38, a bill providing aid to millions of the long-term unemployed whose eligibility for extended jobless benefits had expired. The bill would have made the benefits retroactively available from Dec. 28 through May 31. A yes vote was to send HR 3979 to the House, where it was shelved.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
22. Sexual Assaults in the Military: The Senate on March 6 failed, 55-45, to reach 60 votes needed to advance a bill (S 1752) that would transfer the military's handling of sexual-assault cases from the chain of command to outside military prosecutors, who would decide whether to press charges. The Senate then unanimously passed a separate bill giving the military more tools for dealing with widespread soldier-on-soldier sexual misconduct. A yes vote was to remove prosecutorial decisions from the chain of command.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
23. To Suspend Debt Limit: Voting 55-43, the Senate on Feb. 12 passed a bill (S 540) to suspend the federal debt limit until March 16, 2015, so that the Treasury could borrow to pay bills already incurred by the government. A yes vote was to send the measure to President Obama.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
24. New Farm, Food Law: Voting 68-32, the Senate on Feb. 4 gave final congressional approval to a five-year farm and food bill budgeted at nearly $100 billion annually. A yes vote was to send President Obama a package (HR 2642) that would fund farm subsidies, cut food stamps by 1 percent, expand crop insurance, end most direct payments to growers, promote soil conservation and wetlands protection and spur rural development.
North Carolina voting yes: Hagan
Voting no: Burr
Categories: News

Column: Chamber learns lessons from Swamp Rabbit Trail

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 03:01
On Sept. 19 of this year, the Chamber's Community Development Task Force hosted a fact-finding trip to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Travelers Rest/Greenville, S.C. to determine the impacts the proposed Ecusta Trail may have in Henderson County.
The Chamber's Board of Directors has twice previously supported Ecusta Trail efforts by endorsing a feasibility study for the trail and later endorsing an economic impact study for it. The goal of the Sept. 19 trip was to determine the social and economic issues associated with the Swamp Rabbit Trail and to learn from their experiences.
We were fortunate to have many leaders from the town of Travelers Rest and from Greenville County offices speak to our group. Our first presenter was the mayor of Travelers Rest, the Honorable Wayne McCall. Mayor McCall talked to our group about how the Swamp Rabbit Trail has and continues to transform Travelers Rest is a very positive way.
The local economy benefitted as new businesses have located in what had been empty storefronts prior to the installation of the trail. Many of the businesses located there specifically to have a close connection to the trail.
Another benefit has been the social impact the trail has had in bringing local citizens together as they now have a common space that is comfortable for all users — walkers, bikers, baby carriage pushers and more (no motorized vehicles are allowed).
The mayor also mentioned to our group that new residential developments near the trail were popular, as access to the Swamp Rabbit was deemed an added selling point, and the impact on property values was positive.
The mayor's points were emphasized when we rode bicycles (from TR to Greenville) on the trail and noticed numerous real estate signs espousing their proximity to the trail, and by the number of people, from infants in strollers to elderly couples, using the trial. We also saw neighborhood redevelopment/revitalization and business development that fed off of the trail's success.
The ride from Travelers Rest to downtown Greenville was as much fun as it was a learning excursion. Some members of our group were experienced riders (and they led the way), while the bulk of our group had not ridden a bike in years — but we all found the ride to be enjoyable. Because the trail was a former rail line, there were no steep grades to climb or descend because railroad regulations require minimal grade variations.
When we returned to Travelers Rest for lunch, we had a number of presentations from representatives from agencies who interact with the trial, including the Greenville County Sheriff's Department, Greenville Parks & Recreation Department, Greenville Health Systems and more.
All had positive stories about the impact of the trail. These individuals addressed maintenance, security, marketing and other issues that have also been mentioned in discussions about the Ecusta Trail.
One of the presenters commented that the trail has become Greenville County's largest Neighborhood Watch program due to the number of people using the trial, and others attribute much of the trail's success to the community's support.
Our trip to the Swamp Rabbit Trail helped us get a firm understanding of the benefits such a trail can have on a community and about the challenges that were faced while developing the trail. With an estimated 400,000 Swamp Rabbit Trail users every year, they also mentioned one thing they would do differently if they were starting over — make the trail wider.
If you want to know more about the Ecusta Trail, we suggest you visit and experience the Swamp Rabbit Trail, talk to some of the merchants and community leaders in Greenville/Travelers Rest, and climb on your bike for a ride. You can also visit the Friends of the Ecusta Trail website (www.ecustatrail.org) to get involved or learn more about the Ecusta Trail effort.
For more information on joining or becoming involved with the Chamber, visit our office at 204 Kanuga Road in downtown Hendersonville; call 828.692.1413; visit www.hendersoncountychamber.org; become a fan of the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce on Facebook; or follow us on Twitter (HendersonCoCham).
Categories: News

Column: WNC Agriculture Options Grants available for county growers

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 03:01
Henderson County farmers, along with farmers in 21 other counties in Western North Carolina, have the chance to apply for farm diversification grants for 2015 through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension WNC AgOptions Program.
Note the very important deadline of filing an "Intent to Apply Form Due 10/24/14." Application deadline is Nov. 21.
WNC AgOptions awards farmers who are diversifying or expanding their operations with $3,000 and $6,000 grants to offset the risk of trying a new venture. Henderson County had two small-farm grant recipients in 2013. They were Fruit of the Spirit Orchard and Vineyard and Stepp's Plants, helping them to expand and diversify their operations using Research and Cooperative Extension recommendations.
The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission recently funded WNC Agriculture Options through 2016, guaranteeing that WNC Farmers will receive a total of $340,000 in small grants for the next two years.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an information session 5:30-7 p.m. on Thursday at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. Program leaders will offer an overview of the program, review requirements for applying, and give tips for writing applications.
See www.wncagoptions.org/2015-grant-information-session/ for more details.
Important dates:
u Intent to Apply form due Oct. 24.
--Application deadline (post marked) is Nov. 21.
--Applicants will be contacted for a phone interview the week of Dec. 8.
--Letter of Acceptance or Regrets — week of Jan. 5.
--Required (if accepted): one-day orientation/educational workshop on Thursday, Feb. 12.
--Business plans for $6,000 recipients are due Aug. 1.
--Final date for grant spending, expense reports, etc., is Nov. 27, 2015.
Counties eligible are Henderson, Haywood, Buncombe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Clay, Cherokee, Cleveland, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey.
Contacts for Henderson County are Marvin Owings, County Extension director; Craig Mauney, Extension area agent, commercial vegetables; or Kerrie Roach, Extension agent. The office phone number is 828-697-4891.
Visit the grant website at www.wncagoptions.org.
Categories: News

Community Briefs: Oct. 12

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 03:01
Boy Scouts invited to Fall Festival Camporee
The Daniel Boone Council of Boy Scouts of America will hold its Fall Festival Camporee Friday, Saturday and Sunday at DuPont State Recreational Forest’s Guion Farm. Registration is $12. Activities start at 5 p.m. Friday.
Awards will be presented for Saturday’s activities, campsite inspection, gateway decoration and Dutch oven cooking, and there will be a costume contest. For more information, call 252-4818.
Ride to benefit young girl
Benefit Ride for a Cure will start at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Upward Seventh-day Adventist Church, 961 Upward Road, Flat Rock. Riders will return by 5 p.m. for a benefit dinner and live music.
The ride will benefit Makayla, a 21-month-old girl who began to have seizures at six months. Tests revealed a spot next to the left frontal lobe of her brain. Her family is working with Duke University for a cure.
The motorcycle/classic car ride will go from Flat Rock to Lake Lure. Any vehicle is welcome. Donations to help Makayla are appreciated. To make reservations, call John Earnhardt at 864-985-2908.
Meetings
The Henderson County Soil & Water Conservation District Board will meet at noon Monday at the USDA Service Center. Call 697-4949 for more information.
The Hendersonville Planning Board will meet at 4 p.m. Monday in the City Operations Center.
The Seventh Avenue Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Historic Train Depot.
The Seventh Avenue Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Historic Train Depot.
The Henderson County Board of Public Education will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the board room of the administrative offices at 414 Fourth Ave. W., Hendersonville. The board will go into closed session at 6 p.m. for the purpose of considering personnel matters and to discuss information that is privileged, confidential or not a public record.
The Laurel Park Parks and 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.
The Hillandale Elementary School Improvement Team will meet at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the media center of the school.
Events
WNC Knitters and Crocheters for Others will meet from 7-9 p.m. Monday at New Hope Presbyterian Church, 3070 Sweeten Creek Road, Asheville. Info: 575-9195.
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: 685-7673 or 862-8820.
The Carolina Camera Club will hold a hands-on demonstration of speedlites used both on and off the camera and the use of speedlite modifiers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at 34 Melrose Ave., Tryon. Bring a camera and a speedlite if you have one. Bring two or three photographs on a flash drive to present photos.
First Baptist Church of East Flat Rock will hold the next MANNA food distribution from 11 a.m. noon Tuesday in the fellowship hall, 2227 Spartanburg Highway, East Flat Rock. Participants are asked to bring their own bags and small boxes. Handicapped access is available. Info: 692-0765.
The Henderson County Women Democrats will meet from 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday at Three Chopt Restaurant, 103 Third Ave. E., Hendersonville.
The Henderson County Senior Democrats will meet at noon Tuesday with a bring-your-own lunch at 11:30 a.m. at HCDP headquarters, 905 Greenville highway, Hendersonville. Info: 692-6424 or www.myhcdp.com.
An "Intro to Birding" presentation will be held from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday at REI, 31 Schenck Parkway, Asheville. Register at www.rei.com/event/61527/session/101054.
Meet Marty Katz at 7 p.m. Tuesday for an old-fashioned town hall meeting at the Dana Community Center, 2879 Upward Road, Dana. Info: www.electmartykatzsheriff.com or martykatz4sheriff@gmail.com.
Categories: News

Behind the Lights: Brevard

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 22:56
BREVARD -- The weight room in the Brevard fieldhouse was dark. The only light poured in from the adjacent locker room.
Brevard coach Jason Lippard and his team moved deeper into the darkness. The players huddled up around their coach on one knee. They all put a hand on the teammate next to them.
Lippard began with announcing captains. He walked them through the new tradition that would begin on Friday.
On Thursday, five headstones honoring the five state championships won by Brevard teams now were delivered. All five monuments lined the entrance to the field. His players would touch each one of them as they head through the gates and into the inflatable tunnel.
“There are a lot of people that paved the way for you,” Lippard told his team.
He glanced around the room at each face.
“I want you to meditate for a second,” Lippard said.
The room grew silent as each player quietly visualized what they expected to happen in the game.
After a few seconds of silence, the familiar beat of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” began to fill the room. As the words of Collins filled the room, players began moving – the beat bringing the intensity up in the room.
Lippard began running the players through the game and how close they’ve been recently to that elusive first win. The players’ eyes focused on the coach.
Lippard talked of lessons learned over the first six weeks. He talked about putting an entire performance together for a full 48 minutes.
“You got to do it all,” he said. “I want you to feel it. “
Then he talked to each player individually. There would be moments when each player would have to step up and make that play for his teammates that lead them to victory, Lippard said.
“Guys you’ve dreamed about that your whole life – it's the opportunity to be that guy,” he said. “Play for that guy beside you. Play for that guy behind you. Play for that guy in front of you.”
Long before the lights in the weight room were turned out and the battle was minutes away, the serious faces were all smiles as the Blue Devils rode through downtown Brevard.
Homecoming
Friday night was homecoming at Brevard High School. Homecoming isn’t the normal Friday night. It’s much longer than the usual game and there’s the parade in the early afternoon after school lets out.
At 3:30 p.m. on Friday, the Blue Devils were doing a defensive and offensive walk through that all teams do on game day. Players stood in formations and fine tuned last minute game plans.
Coach Lippard emerged from the fieldhouse and called out to the field. It was time for the players to join the parade line.
The players filed out of the field gates and walked in between buildings to the upper parking lot that sat next to the school’s cafeteria.
The players jumped up on the back of a trailer that was attached to a truck.
They sat for a few minutes as the parade line readied itself. Behind them were the volleyball team and then the soccer team. After moments of anticipation, the truck lurched forward and moved out into the road.
The parade route took the players through downtown Brevard and wrapped around Silvermont Park and ended back in the same parking lot it began.
The players – some standing, some sitting – shouted at the people on the parade route. Kids and their parents waved from yards. Business owners and customers lined the sidewalks in downtown.
After the parade, the players returned to the school and filed into the cafeteria where a lasagna meal was awaiting them. They had a devotion, coaches handed out stickers for helmets, and “The Box” was awarded to Will Swann.
“The Box,” which is an old, blue tool box with the Brevard “B” on it, goes to the blue collar worker of the week. That player will then bring the tool box to the door as the players exit. The Blue Devils were all smiles as they ate their lasagna, but the storm was brewing.
The Game
His guys were staring at him intently.
Lippard had one final message for his Blue Devils.
“Guys, you can get one tonight and get all the rest of them,” he said. “You just have to get that first one. Focus for 48 minutes. Every single play is important. “
The players jumped up, Phil Collins was replaced with hard-hitting rap song. Everyone crowded up behind the door. Swann brought “the box” up close. Players began hitting the box. Some talked out the lyrics to the song. Most were moving anxiously. The crowd could be heard beyond the door. Captains were on the field.
The Blue Devils were set to defer.
Some players roamed behind the crowd in the darkness of the weight room. Some were pressed up against the door. They were all waiting for that sound of the captains hitting the door.
Air entered the weight room. The energy from the players moved outdoors. It met the energy of the crowd. The players filed towards the entrance of the stadium.
Each player touched all five monuments dedicated to the five Brevard state championships. Once through the gates, they settled into a blue, inflatable tunnel.
Their energy shook the tunnel as they began chants of victory. The band played beyond white flaps with the Blue Devil logo on it. The East Henderson football team awaited Brevard on the far sidelines.
When the time was right, the Blue Devils burst through the flaps in between the playing band and headed to their sidelines. It was time for kickoff.
The first half was almost evenly matched. Two turnovers cost the Blue Devils a lead but they were down just four points as they headed into the half. East held a slight 21-17 advantage.
The locker room was all business at the half.
Outside, high school girls walked out onto the field in heels and gowns vying for Homecoming Queen. Inside the locker rooms, coaches talked about the adjustments that needed to be made for Brevard’s first victory.
The defense played well. The offense needed to protect the ball. That was the message at the half.
“Keep swinging guys,” Lippard said. “It’s 48 minutes.”
The Blue Devils emerged from the locker room at the half with optimism. That optimism met the field when the Blue Devils drove downfield in their first possession to take a 24-21 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Tanner Ellenberger.
The Eagles, however, answered with a touchdown and then another off of a Brevard turnover. East scored again on its third possession of the half just minutes into the fourth quarter.
Down 41-24, the Blue Devils halted an Eagle drive at their own 1-yard line and then went 99 yards for an Ellenberger 44-yard touchdown pass to Nick Cabe.
On the next play, Alec Dubreuil recovered an onside kick. The celebration lasted just moments as East’s Nick Lyons picked off a pass and took 82 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles ended up winning 48-38.
After the game, Lippard was heartbroken, but still was optimistic about his young team.
“We’ve been so blessed that every Monday they show up with an attitude ready to work,” he said. “If they’ll just keep doing that, wins will come.”
Categories: News

Elementary students learn their trees, beautify city

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 15:42
Kindergartners at Hendersonville Elementary sitting on their knees in the grass anxiously gathered around Hendersonville Community Garden Volunteer Ronnie Pepper as he explained what trees need in order to grow big and tall.
Pepper was one of more than 30 community volunteers who came to the school Friday morning to help plant 50-plus trees along Bearcat Loop Parkway. The plantings were part of a city project coordinated by the Hendersonville Tree Board.
Volunteers came out from the tree board, Hendersonville Community Garden, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Environmental & Conservation Organization,Bullington Gardens and Blue Ridge Community College Horticulture Club, and were joined by parents of students and Mayor Barbara Volk.
Volk said she was thankful for the beautiful weather, adding that it was great to see such a strong turnout for a community event.
Tree Board Chair Mac Brackett said education is in the board's mission, not just planting trees. Volunteers and teachers worked hand-in-hand to teach students about the tree they were planting, as well as what conditions would be ideal for their growth.
“You gotta make the bed right... Now, when you go to bed, do you have rocks in your bed? Do you go with toys in your bed? Do you take your bed and just ball it all up?” Pepper asked Tori Schaffer's kindergarten class as they laughed at his silly questions.
“Or, do you straighten it out and make it real good and smooth, right? That's what you've got to do with this tree right here. We have to make sure that there is no grass in it or big rocks.”
The students dug into the earth for the project, not afraid to get their hands dirty. As one girl leaned in to help get grass out of the hole made for the tree, Pepper told her to make sure not to hold the clump of earth too close to her head, because he didn't want her mother giving him a time-out for getting dirt in her braids.
Principal Kerry Stewart said each class at the school was able to plant its own tree, and will be researching what makes the tree unique.
“They are going to apply the North Carolina science standards of the interdependence of life and then — like this class down here — they're measuring it now and they are going to monitor the growth of it, so they are applying the mathematics and the history and the science,” Stewart said. “And then at end, Dec. 5, we're going to have an assembly and they are all going to come together and we're going to present our projects.”
Seth Gunning, 9, said it was a lot better to be learning outside instead of having to sit in a seat. As his fourth-grade class finished planting its tree, Lawson Sander, 9, said he'd be coming back to check it out in a few years to see how big it gets.
“I think we can learn more outside than anywhere else, because you're not going to learn about being a lawyer unless you go to a law firm, and you're not going to learn how to be a doctor unless you go to a doctor's office,” Lawson said.
Reach Bindewald at 694-7890 or renee.bindewald@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News

BMX riders from across the country showcase skills

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 13:20
The squeal of brakes as riders rounded the Red Bull Dreamline's end berm mingled with enthusiastic cheers of fellow BMX bikers Friday during preliminary rounds that would determine the 12 finalists for Saturday's main event.
Wednesday was the first time the 32 internationally known BMX riders laid eyes on the 2014 Dreamline course, part of the Red Bull Signature Series and built at the Oskar Blues REEB Ranch in Hendersonville close to Brevard.
Riders got a feel for the course Thursday, and rode in two heats Friday in an "open jam format" as their peers judged who advanced to Saturday's main competition.
A Red Bull spokesperson explained that the open jam style allows riders to "drop in" to the course at any point during their one-hour heat — as little or as often as they choose — to achieve as much height, speed and freestyle tricks as possible.
Athletes in the second heat judge those in the first and vice-versa, making it a completely "by-the-riders, for-the-riders" event.
The open jam and peer-judged elements are what set the Red Bull Dreamline apart from other BMX races, and makes athletes feel more like they're riding with friends than in a competition, organizers said.
Zak Earley, a resident of Elliot, Maine who is riding for Oskar Blues and REEB Cycles, said all the athletes are supportive of each other, despite their different skill levels and the natural desire to win.
"Everyone kind of knows where they sit," Earley said. "So you know when a person is pushing themselves, and that gets you excited."
Though it's a friendly competition between international friends, the difficulty of the course makes it clear the Red Bull Dreamline isn't for amateurs, and the winner has bragging rights.
"It's definitely a more technical course this year," said Adam Aloise, who's built all three Red Bull Dreamline courses.
The Dreamline at the REEB Ranch includes 10 jumps reaching two stories high — the largest of which is a 22-foot jump over a 36-foot gap. Aloise said a speedometer clocked Friday's max speeds around 33 mph, and headwinds made the course even more challenging.
Aloise said a rider's wheels are like "disc(s) in the wind," which can pull them every which way while airborne.
"They're pretty much hanging on for dear life," he said.
Aloise and Anthony Napolitan, Dreamline creator and an invited rider from Youngstown, Ohio, said each Dreamline is built using dirt onsite, and terrain dictates the course.
"You're able to use the lay of the land more," Aloise said.
Unique to this year's Dreamline, a "shark fin" jump launches riders through a space between trees and into the lower end of the course, which has the three biggest, most intense jumps.
"The jumps would be considered East Coast-style jumps — on steroids," Napolitan said.
He explained that BMX trails in the eastern part of the country are known for their creative jumps, and the course at the REEB Ranch — the first Dreamline in the east — exemplifies that style.
Napolitan added that the rural Western North Carolina location is perfect for the low-stress, "by-the-riders, for-the-riders" Dreamline, and Earley agreed.
"Most contests, you're stuck in cities and ... the hustle-bustle," Earley said.
"This area's real beautiful," Napolitan said. "It's very peaceful out here, and that's the kind of environment we're looking for to hold this event."
Categories: News

Community Briefs: Oct. 11

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 03:01
‘Makin a Difference Monday’ event planned
Blue Ridge Food Ventures is the recipient of the next “Makin a Difference Monday” at 5 p.m. Oct. 20 at Oskar Blues Brewery and Tasty Weasel Taproom, 342 Mountain Industrial Drive, Brevard.
The event (dubbed Blues3) will include a sampling session of products made at Blue Ridge Food Ventures’ shared-use commercial kitchens.
Since the brewery’s doors opened to the public in December 2012, Oskar Blues has been giving back to the community. In addition to sponsoring many local events, on the third Monday of each month, Oskar Blues donates 10 percent of sales from its Tasty Weasel Taproom to a local nonprofit.
A free shuttle to the event is available on the Oskar Blues trolley, with pickups at 4:30 p.m. from the Aloft hotel in downtown Asheville and at 5 p.m. from Biltmore Park, returning when the taproom closes at 8 p.m. Reservations for the trolley can be made by emailing Kathi Petersen at kpetersen@awnc.org by Wednesday.
<Meetings
The Henderson County Board of Public Education will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the boardroom of the administrative offices at 414 Fourth Ave. W., Hendersonville.
Laurel Park Town Council will hold an agenda work session at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Town Hall.
The Seventh Avenue Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Historic Train Depot.
Events
A presentation on human trafficking will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville, 2021 Kanuga Road, Hendersonville. Bob and Fran German, who live in Northern Thailand several months each year doing volunteer work to counter human trafficking, will host the presentation. Optional potluck supper at 6 p.m. Info: 393-0805.
Categories: News

East Henderson outlasts Brevard in a slugfest

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 00:16
BREVARD — East Henderson's Nick Lyons had never returned an interception for a touchdown.
That changed in a big way on Friday night. The Eagle defensive back intercepted a Tanner Ellenberger pass and took 82 yards for a touchdown that clinched a 48-38 victory over Brevard.
The Blue Devils (0-7, 0-3) were driving. Brevard had just scored a touchdown on a 44-yard pass from Ellenberger to Nick Cabe. The Blue Devils then recovered an onside kick.
Lyons' interception came on a third-and-10 from the 26 for Brevard. After getting beat on an earlier play, Lyons was intent on making a big play down the stretch.
"I had to make it up for coach and take it back," Lyons said.
The WNC Athletic Conference showdown was a high-scoring affair from the onset. The Eagles struck first in the first quarter with a 9-yard run up the middle by Cole Revis.
In the second quarter, Austin Fisher returned an interception for a touchdown.
Brevard answered with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ellenberger to Mario Casanova. Later in the second quarter, the Blue Devils tied it up when Ellenberger tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Cabe. East (2-5, 2-1) responded. This time it was Cameron Johnson rushing for a 7-yard touchdown.
Just before the half, however, Brevard's Isaac Bingle kicked a 23-yard field goal. East went into the half with a 21-17 lead.
Brevard took the lead for the first time at the start of the third quarter. On the first drive of the second half, the Blue Devils capped a six-play drive with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Ellenberger.
The Eagles responded. This time quarterback Austin Pritchard tossed a 31-yard touchdown to Fisher. Fisher had two interceptions and caught two passes for 41 yards.
"Austin had a great game," East coach John McMillan said. "He's a gamer. He came up big for us tonight."
The Eagles scored again in the third quarter when Lyons scored on a 32-yard run. At the start of the fourth quarter, Pritchard ran in a 1-yard touchdown.
East then stalled on a 12-play drive at the 1-yard line and turned it over on downs. The Blue Devils then traveled the length of the field to set up Cabe's 44-yard touchdown and then the onside kick. That drive was stalled by Lyons' interception for a touchdown.
"We stepped up and did what we had to do to finish it off," McMillan said.
For Brevard, it's just a matter of putting it all together. One week, it may be the offense. The next it may be special teams or defense, Lippard said. On Friday night, it was the little things, Lippard said.
"We didn't do a great job of paying attention to the little things," he said. "It's frustrating. We can't get everything firing on the same cylinders."
Categories: News

West falls to Pisgah in 3-0 defensive battle

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 23:58
With Pisgah narrowly clinging to a 3-0 lead, the host West Henderson Falcons were on the move and faced a fourth-and-1 on the Black Bears' 6 late in the fourth quarter on Friday night.
William Crouch put the ball in the trusty hands of Dustie Fender on an end-around sweep to keep the drive going. Unfortunately the Black Bears read the play and swarmed to the ball, bringing the Falcon running back down two feet short of a first down and a chance pull ahead in the game.
From there, Michael Parrott converted a third-and-7 for the Black Bears with a back-breaking 42-yard run that would eventually seal the 3-0 victory, sending the disappointed Falcon homecoming crowd home.
"I take the blame for this one. I had confidence in the kids that we had the momentum and we could get one yard," said Falcon head coach Paul Whitaker.
The defensive battle started early as the Falcons (4-3, 2-1 WNC Athletic Conference) stopped the Black Bears' (4-3, 2-1 WNCAC) opening drive by forcing a fumble on the West 5-yard line.
"This is a tough one for the kids to lose. They played hard," said Whitaker.
With the Black Bears grinding out a drive in the second quarter, Tanner Bullock recorded the first of his two sacks of Lucas Hall for a five-yard loss and made a nice stop on a pitch to the speedy Jesse Martinez, forcing a punt and an opportunity for the Falcon offense to get the ball back.
The lone score of the night came early in the third quarter as Mason Fox booted a 38-yard field goal after West had stopped the Black Bears' drive on the 21-yard line.
Trailing 3-0, the Falcons took possession on their own 34-yard line, and a pair of nice 14-yard runs by Fender (seven carries, 46 yards) and Cody Jackson (11 carries, 59 yards) had the large home crowd energized.
"I hate for the kids to have to lose on homecoming weekend," said Whitaker.
West finished with 41 carries for 186 yards and was led by Brendan Goings, who had 15 carries for 72 yards.
The Falcons will not have much time to think about the tough loss, as they have to get ready to go on the road next Friday night to take on a Brevard team that likes to throw the ball all around the field.
Categories: News

Turnovers doom North in loss to Tuscola

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 23:55
How do you nearly double your opponent in first downs, match it yard for yard on the ground, punt once and give up a single complete pass and get defeated 41-6? By throwing three interceptions, losing two fumbles and having a punt blocked.
It was that kind of night for North Henderson on Friday against visiting Tuscola.
Five different Mountaineers scored touchdowns as Tuscola took advantage of a slew of Knight mistakes to race out to a 34-0 lead on their way to an easy Western North Carolina Athletic 3-A/2-A Conference victory.
"That's what we do. We're trying to get 'em out of that, but it's difficult," North coach J.D. Dinwiddie said. "We coach 'em hard every day; we push a positive message. I don't know. It's just one of those years."
With its third straight win, Tuscola improves to 4-3 overall and 3-0 in the league while North remains winless at 0-6 and 0-3.
The Knights have only three seniors, and that youth coupled with lack of size has forced Dinwidde to abandon his trademark passing attack. The points, though, remain hard to come by for a team that has failed to score more than 14 in five of six games, even against an opponent that had surrendered 28 or more five times.
North had 13 first downs to Tuscola's eight and racked up 294 yards rushing on 44 carries compared to 296 on 45 for the Mountaineers. But turnovers doomed the Knights.
Junior quarterback Ashton Woodring threw the first of his three picks on North's second possession to give Tuscola the ball at the North 6 following Lucas Cambell's 30-yard return, and two plays later Caleb Ferguson barreled in from the 4.
Minutes later, Zach Webster blocked Darren Lammons' punt after a bouncing snap (North's first punt attempt resulted in a Lammons scramble after the snap went over his head), and Dylan Reece returned it 36 yards for Tuscola's second score.
The Knights survived a lost Dalton Whitaker fumble on their next possession when Lammons intercepted Parker Allen's second-and-18 pass and returned it 33 yards to the Tuscola 27, but North blew a golden opportunity to score when Woodring's pass in the end zone from the 6 was picked by Damon McDaniels on third down.
Three plays later, Nathan Messer bolted 80 yards down the visiting sideline for another Mountaineer score and the game was over 4:11 before intermission.
Houston McCracken's 49-yard run following North's only punt set up his 5-yard touchdown 1:30 before the break.
North went 75 yards on eight plays for its only score, highlighted by Woodring's 38-yard run and capped by his 3-yard run. The extra point was blocked.
"We're not big and strong. We don't have any big bruisers on the offensive line, so we've got to try and spread defenses out to maximize our running game a little bit," Dinwiddie said. "It's frustrating when you want to pass the ball and you see openings and you see things that you can do. It's tough when you're not executing."
Woodring finished with 101 yards rushing on 15 carries for North, while Jacob Garrett had 85 on eight.
Messer paced Tuscola with 91 yards on four totes, followed by McCracken with 89 on 10.
North hosts Franklin next week, with Tuscola traveling to Pisgah.
Categories: News

Prep football roundup: Polk, HHS and Rosman win

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 23:51
BAKERSVILLE – Polk County senior wide receiver Jason Chupp had one of the best nights of his high school career on Friday night at Mitchell with six catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns.
He helped lead the Wolverines to a convincing 40-14 win over the Mountaineers. Polk is now 6-2 and unbeaten in Western Highlands Conference play at 3-0.
Chupp had his first TD catch in the first quarter on a 24-yard pass from Jamal Wheeler. The Mountaineers (4-3, 0-2) answered with a kickoff return for a touchdown to take an 8-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
Wheeler and Chupp then took control, as the duo connected on a 65-yard touchdown strike. Jordan Smith (eight runs, 98 yards) added two touchdown runs, one from the 2 and another on an 80-yard sprint.
Wheeler hit Chupp for two more TDs in the second half, one from 42 yards out and the other from 37.
Polk returns home next week to host Avery County.
HENDERSONVILLE 21, AVERY COUNTY 0: The usual high-powered Bearcat offense was held scoreless in the first half but rebounded with two scores in the third quarter to earn a Western Highlands Conference win at Newland. The other HHS score was by the defense on a 68-yard interception return by Justin Sparks. Quarterback Michael Schmidt went 9-for-17 for 85 yards, and the Bearcats’ leading receiver, Cole Cleary, was held to three catches for 33 yards. Terrold Gary led HHS in rushing with 11 carries for 95 yards and a 43-yard touchdown. Cleary had the other score on a 26-yard run. The Bearcats (6-2, 2-1) host Mitchell next Friday.
ROSMAN 27, ANDREWS 18: At Rosman, the Tigers defended their home turf by rallying for 20 unanswered points in the second half. Leading the way was Gage Orr, who had two touchdown runs of six and eight yards. Tanner Green’s TD run from the 6 gave Rosman (3-4, 2-1 Smoky Mountain Conference) the lead for good in the closing minutes of the third quarter. Matt Cole also had a big 60-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Tigers travel to Robbinsville next Friday.
Categories: News

Judge strikes down NC gay marriage ban

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 21:28
RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state's gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately.
U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., in Asheville issued a ruling Friday shortly after 5 p.m. declaring the ban approved by state voters in 2012 unconstitutional.
Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger kept his Asheville office open late to begin issuing marriage licenses to waiting couples.
Cogburn's ruling follows Monday's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeal of a July ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond striking down Virginia's ban. That court has jurisdiction oover North Carolina.
Categories: News

Flat Rock playground closer to reality

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 17:11
Flat Rock council members took the first steps Thursday toward building a children’s playground in the village’s new park off Highland Lake Drive.
They approved a conceptual playground master plan submitted by a committee of local moms and dads, and authorized a grant application that would commit the village to spending up to $250,000 in matching funds.
If awarded next spring, the dollar-for-dollar grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund would go first to a pavilion currently budgeted at $287,000 and secondarily toward an initial phase of the playground worth roughly $298,000.
But council members stopped short of guaranteeing funds for a playground if the PARTF grant doesn’t come through, though $200,000 is loosely budgeted for a playground in future years of the park’s development.
“When we talk to people who have kids and say, ‘Yeah, we feel like it’s really a challenge to get a playground into the park,’ people are baffled,” said John Dockendorf, chair of the playground committee. “Because all over America, when you build a park, the playground is pretty much the first thing that goes in.”
Dockendorf presented council with two cost estimates for an initial phase of the playground, one for $298,000 and another without a toddler section for $200,000.
“If you look at these budgets, you see future, future, future,” Dockendorf said. “We’ve marked out everything we can. We don’t need a drinking fountain, we don’t need a parent pavilion, we don’t need electricity. They’d be nice to have, but we want to get something on the ground that kids can play in.”
The toddler section would include swings, a sand box, cargo nets, a balance beams and slides. A section for kids ages 6 to 12 would have slides built into a grassy berm; a play set structure with climbing nets and towers; and landscaped “moguls” around which kids could hide and chase each other.
Mayor Bob Staton said “empty nesters” in the village sometimes view playgrounds the way they do school taxes: something they shouldn’t have to pay for.
Despite Flat Rock’s reputation as a retirement community, Dockendorf said most of its residents are under 64 years old.
“And the more diverse this community is in age, geography and ethnicity, the more vibrant we are as a community,” he added.
Councilman Jimmy Chandler asked Dockendorf and park architect Ed Lastein if council spent $200,000 up front on a playground, “could you then go in and add pieces to get you to $750,000 without tearing up what’s already been done?” That amount — $750,000 — was the cost of the committee’s “dream playground.”
Dockendorf said that was the intent, to phase in equipment as village budgets allowed.
“This is not an attempt to create this all at one time,” added Lastein, referencing the playground master plan. “What John is introducing is a way to get the barebones shape of the playground, the grading, so the place is there and you get the sense of a playground. ... The structures he’s talking about are easy to dissemble and assemble.”
Sewer line extension
Council also heard a presentation from Hendersonville City Manager John Connet and Utilities Director Lee Smith, part of an effort by the city to reach out to municipalities that use its water and sewer. Smith updated council on several capital projects, including an extension of sewer lines to Atkinson Elementary.
Chandler said lots of Flat Rock residents still have septic tanks and asked city officials if they had plans to extend any more sewer lines. Smith said the more interest people show through petitions, the more likely a project is to get funding.
“If we can get 100 percent of folks that want that in an area, we can sell that a lot easier than we can just a sprinkling of people who are interested,” he said.
Vice Mayor Nick Weedman said Flat Rock had a big sewer project completed in 2000, but said “there are still people that are reasonably close to a sewer line.” He asked what it would take for them to hook up.
Smith said it depends on a number of things, including the depth of the sewer line and the home’s elevation relative to that line. “We even have people in town right beside a sewer line who have to pump into the line because their basements are below (it), so they can’t gravity feed,” he said.
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Reach Axtell at 828-694-7860 or than.axtell@blueridgenow.com.
Categories: News