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Updated: 4 min 26 sec ago

3 win medicine Nobel for discovering brain's GPS

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:41
STOCKHOLM — An Anglo-American scientist and a Norwegian husband-and-wife research team won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for discovering the brain's navigation system — the inner GPS that helps us find our way in the world.
The research by John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser represents a "paradigm shift" in neuroscience that could help researchers understand the spatial memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease, the Nobel Assembly said.
"This year's Nobel Laureates have discovered a positioning system, an 'inner GPS' in the brain, that makes it possible to orient ourselves in space," the assembly said.
O'Keefe, 75, of University College London, discovered the first component of this system in 1971 when he found that a certain type of nerve cell was always activated when a rat was at a certain place in a room. He demonstrated that these "place cells" were building up a map of the environment, not just registering visual input.
Thirty-four years later, in 2005, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser, married neuroscientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, identified another type of nerve cell — the "grid cell" — that generates a coordinate system for precise positioning and path-finding, the assembly said.
It was the fourth time that a married couple has shared a Nobel Prize and the second time in the medicine category.
"This is crazy," an excited May-Britt Moser, 51, told The Associated Press by telephone from Trondheim.
She said her 52-year-old husband didn't immediately find out about the prize because he was flying Monday morning to the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, to demonstrate their research.
"This is such a great honor for all of us and all the people who have worked with us and supported us," she said, adding they had been together for 30 years. "We are going to continue and hopefully do even more groundbreaking work in the future."
Hege Tunstad, a spokeswoman at the university in Trondheim, said May-Britt Moser "needed a minute to cry and speak with her team" when she first heard the news.
Edvard Moser told the Norwegian news agency NTB that he discovered he was a Nobel Prize winner when he landed in Munich, turned on his cellphone and saw a flood of emails, text messages and missed calls.
"I didn't know anything. When I got off the plane there was a representative there with a bouquet of flowers who said 'congratulations on the prize,'" he was quoted as saying.
The Nobel Assembly said the discoveries marked a shift in scientists' understanding of how specialized cells work together to perform complex cognitive tasks. They have also opened new avenues for understanding cognitive functions such as memory, thinking and planning.
"Thanks to our grid and place cells, we don't have to walk around with a map to find our way each time we visit a city because we have that map in our head," said Juleen Zierath, chair of the medicine prize committee. "I think, without these cells, we would have a really hard time to survive."
All three Nobel laureates won Columbia University's Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize last year for their discoveries. They will split the Nobel prize money of 8 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million).
The Nobel awards in physics, chemistry, literature and peace will be announced later this week and the economics prize will be announced next Monday. Created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the Nobel Prizes were first awarded in 1901. The winners collect their awards on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.
Last year's medicine award went to researchers who discovered how substances are transported within cells, a process involved in such important activities as brain cell communication and the release of insulin.
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Mark Lewis in Stavanger, Norway, contributed to this report.
Categories: News

High court denies gay marriage appeals

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:40
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court's order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states.
Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sex marriages in five states— Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Chief Justice John Roberts did not say a word about same-sex marriage as he began the court's new term.
Couples in six other states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court's review
No other state cases were currently pending with the high court, but the justices stopped short of resolving for now the question of same-sex marriage nationwide. Still, those 11 states would bring to 30 the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal, plus the District of Columbia.
Challenges are pending in every other state.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, called on the high court to "finish the job." Wolfson said the court's "delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places."
Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an opponent of same-sex marriage, also chastised the court for its "irresponsible denial of review in the cases." Whelan said it is hard to see how the court could eventually rule in favor of same-sex marriage bans after having allowed so many court decisions striking down those bans to remain in effect.
The situation was changing rapidly Monday in the affected states.
— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, said the fight against same-sex marriage "is over" in Wisconsin. "With the Supreme Court's announcement today, it is clear that the position of the court of appeals at the federal level is the law of the land and we're going to go forward enacting it."
— Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said marriage licenses could start to be issued to same-sex couples as early as Monday afternoon.
— In North Carolina, lawyers for same-sex couples said they planned to ask a judge Monday to overturn the state's gay marriage ban.
— In Oklahoma, the clerk in the largest county said he would await a formal order from the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before he begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That court had placed its ruling striking down the state ban on hold.
Experts and advocates on both sides of the issue had expected the justices to step in and decide gay marriage cases this term.
The justices have an obligation to settle an issue of such national importance, not abdicate that responsibility to lower court judges, the advocates said. Opting out of hearing the cases leaves those lower court rulings in place.
Two other appeals courts, in Cincinnati and San Francisco, could issue decisions any time in same-sex marriage cases. Judges in the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit who are weighing pro-gay marriage rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, appeared more likely to rule in favor of state bans than did the 9th Circuit judges in San Francisco, who are considering Idaho and Nevada restrictions on marriage.
James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union said he believes the court will quickly take up a case if an appeals court upholds state bans.
It takes just four of the nine justices to vote to hear a case, but it takes a majority of at least five for an eventual ruling. Monday's opaque order did not indicate how the justices voted on whether to hear the appeals.
With four justices each in the liberal and conservative camps and Justice Anthony Kennedy more or less in the middle, it appeared that neither side of the court wanted to take up the issue now. It also may be that Kennedy, with his likely decisive vote, did not want to rule on same-sex marriage now.
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Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Larry O'Dell in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.
Categories: News

Moore guilty of second-degree murder

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:16
After two and a half hours of deliberation on Monday, a jury of five men and seven women found Daniel Clay Moore, 31, guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 beating death of Walt Davis.
Superior Court Judge David Lee handed down a sentence ranging from 13 years and one month to 16 years and nine months in prison. Moore was given credit for the two years he has spent in jail awaiting trial.
Moore was accused of killing Davis, 52, whose bludgeoned body was found in his Bat Cave home on Oct. 11, 2012, three days after his death. Moore admitted to striking Davis but said it was in an attempt to stop Davis from sexually assaulting him. He maintained that story in an apology to one of Davis' relatives who delivered an impact statement to the jury after the verdict was read Monday.
Pete Whitlock, Davis' second cousin, told the jury Davis came to live with him and his family in Spartanburg, S.C., when he was 5 years old. That was about a year after Davis and his brother returned to their Bloomington, Ind., home one Sunday after church to find that their father had killed their mother and then himself, Whitlock said. Whitlock and Davis grew up as brothers.
“Walt was brilliant,” Whitlock said, adding that Davis was at the top of his class, graduated as a National Merit Scholar and attended honors college at the University of South Carolina.
After leaving college, Davis moved to midtown Atlanta, Ga., and eventually ended up in Bat Cave, where he ran the Old Mill Inn with his partner for 10-15 years, Whitlock said. Davis was a server at the Esmeralda Inn at the time of his death.
“Walt was HIV positive,” Whitlock said, but he never let the diagnosis or his lifestyle keep him from becoming a loved part of the Bat Cave community.
A couple hundred loved ones attended Davis' celebration of life service at the Esmeralda Inn after his death, Whitlock said, shaking at times from emotion on the stand.
Davis “was caring and giving to a fault,” he told the jury, and was “nonviolent.”
Whitlock said that when Davis' body was returned to the family, they had his remains cremated and spread his ashes – along with the ashes of Davis' dearly departed dog – down Grassy Creek.
Just miles past the Eastern Continental Divide, where rivers flow to the Atlantic Ocean, Davis' ashes flowed past the site that held the suspected murder weapon. The remains rushed past the site of Davis' blood-smeared cellphone on its way to the Broad River, Whitlock said.
He apologized to the jury for the gruesome images of Davis they had to see and held up photos depicting the second cousin he loved and the life he lived.
“Walt loved freedom. He loved being outdoors. He loved Chimney Rock, and he loved people,” said Whitlock, an attorney who has served as counsel to a defendant in his years in the legal profession.
Whitlock turned to the defense table and told Moore that he watched him study each autopsy and crime scene photo without reaction. “Your hands never shook,” he said. “I don't know what happened … but you spent a lot of time handling with care the pictures that showed your rage.”
He said that Davis never had a chance to defend himself. “It was a bloodbath in that house, and I know that because I had to clean it up,” Whitlock said.
Referring to Moore's earlier testimony that he fled the house fearing Davis' ghost would be coming after him, Whitlock told Moore he would haunt him too. “I will haunt you at every parole hearing that you will attend, God willing,” Whitlock said.
Given a chance to speak, Moore turned to Whitlock, visibly shaken with tears in his eyes. “Mr. Whitlock, I'm sorry about everything that happened. I know what happened. Walt was a very good person, but he did try to take advantage of me … I'm sorry for your hurt,” he said.
In closing arguments interspersed with objections from both sides, attorneys challenged the Henderson County jury to think about what they witnessed in Moore's week-long murder trial.
After more than 21 witnesses testified and 183 exhibits were submitted into evidence, the defense rested its case Monday morning. The case went to the jury around 2:15 p.m.
In closing arguments, Moore's attorney, Todd Williams, told the jury that the hammer suspected to have been the murder weapon and retrieved from a flowing creek did not contain the DNA of either Moore or Davis. He told the jury that his client elected to provide the context and fill in the gaps of what happened to Davis.
This is “not likely a first-degree murder case,” said Williams, a 14-year veteran of the legal profession who is running for the district attorney's seat in Buncombe County.
He suggested that the blows were primarily on Davis' back because, as Moore said, Davis was on top of Moore and Moore was trying to dislodge his attacker.
In Monday morning testimony, Moore said Davis' bloody handprint on his shirt may have come from Davis grabbing him again, an act which could have prompted more blows from Moore, Williams told the jury.
“Evidence here does not show a cold-blooded killer,” Williams said, reminding the jury of Moore's past in the church and his subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. “Mr. Moore is not guilty of first-degree murder.”
Moore was born in Alabama and was raised by his grandmother, Williams reminded the jury. According to Moore's testimony Friday, he grew up in the church, singing in the choir and leading as a youth pastor before he got involved with drugs and alcohol.
At age 16, he had a daughter. By age 21, his daughter had died, and he began drinking and using drugs, Williams said. The drinking and drug use continued until Moore found himself in Western North Carolina without a job or a permanent residence, according to testimony. Davis offered Moore a place to stay.
He was staying with Davis, Moore said, on the night he thought Davis was going to sexually assault him, and he grabbed an object to defend himself.
In his closing remarks, Assistant District Attorney Doug Pearson questioned why Moore – who had a car and two cellphones – would stay with Davis if the defendant was afraid him.
“This was a violent horrific assault,” he told the jury. “It wasn't a sexual assault.”
Pearson contended that bloody towels in the house suggested Moore may have started to clean up the bloody crime scene and then panicked. Pearson told the jury that he believed the assault happened near the living room and that Davis went down the hallway in an attempt to escape by the only other way out of the house – the sliding glass door on his back bedroom.
“This was not a quick killing. … Think about how long it would take you to crawl if you were being beaten by a heavy object,” Pearson told the jury, bringing the hammer, found near the crime scene, down on the prosecution's table.
He said that the investigation found no reason as to why Davis' cellphone, smeared with his blood and a fingerprint, was found near the creek outside of his home. Pearson suggested it was thrown from the porch to prevent Davis from calling for help. He said that Moore then thought to take Davis' laptop and fled the home.
Moore testified Friday that he had drank, smoked marijuana and used cocaine on the day Davis died. He said he was getting ready to leave Davis to go see his boyfriend when the two had an argument and Davis restrained him from leaving.
Moore said that Davis was “trying to have sex” with him again. “I remembered grabbing something and hitting him to try to get him off of me,” Moore told the jury Friday.
His next memory, he said, was a “weird” one.
“Something told me to get the heck out of there before his ghost tries to get me,” he said. Moore told the jury he panicked and fled the home.
When Davis failed to show up or call in to work at the Esmeralda Inn on Oct. 11, 2012, a co-worker went to his house to check on him and found a grisly scene. Davis was lying face up on the floor of his bedroom, unresponsive, and there was a lot of blood, the co-worker testified.
Still on the line with Aileen Kelly, owner of the Inn, Erin McCormick screamed at the sight and rushed out of the house. Kelly called 911. The two returned to wait for officers to arrive.
Officers testified to finding an excessive amount of blood in the home, which trailed from the living room and kitchen down the hallway to where Davis was found. Eighty-three bloody shoeprints were photographed at the house and submitted for analysis.
Special Agent James McClellan, a 14-year veteran crime scene examiner with the State Bureau of Investigation, told the jury that he suspected a claw hammer could have delivered the blows he noticed on Davis' body. A hunt ensued. No hammer was found inside the residence, but there was one found submerged in rushing Grassy Creek 50 feet and 6 inches from a corner of the wrap-around deck on Davis' house.
Davis' broken cellphone, smeared with his blood, had been found alongside the creek nearly 55 feet outside of Davis' home two days earlier by passing hikers.
The laptop computer that witnesses testified Davis always had with him was missing from the empty computer bag in his home. Moore was missing too.
Officers found Moore at a rest area near the Fletcher exit on Interstate 26 around 1 a.m. Oct. 12. Davis' laptop was in his trunk. The soles of his shoes were bloody.
In a nearly hour-long interview at the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Moore denied having any altercation with Davis and eventually asked for an attorney.
After Monday's verdict, Whitlock said, “I don't think we'll ever know really what happened, and I don't think the defendant really knows what happened.”
If Moore was that strung out on drugs, Whitlock said, he didn't know what he was seeing “and any memory he's got, he's trying to reconstruct it. I just don't think it's there.”
Whitlock fears the beating occurred over a distance and lasted a while. When asked about Moore's apology, Whitlock said, “I'm glad he at least said something to me and he apologized, but … it's two years after the fact, and it's a little too late at this point for it to really affect me.”
Whitlock believes closure will come, but he couldn't feel it Monday.
“I'll feel some closure, probably not today, but over the coming weeks, I think I will,” he said. “I think the jury did a good job.”
Moore is appealing his conviction.
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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

West's Smith stays undefeated at 19-0

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:14
West Henderson junior Savannah Smith remained undefeated on Monday with a straight-set 6-0, 6-0 win over East Henderson's Dakota Tittle at Jackson Park.
Smith is now 19-0 in singles play, which includes wins over both No. 1 singles players at powerhouses Brevard and Carolina Day. She holds a career singles mark of 54-6 at West.
The Lady Falcons had a complete shutout Monday as they breezed to a 9-0 win over East Henderson.
In the last meeting between the two schools, West edged East 5-4 on Sept. 17 at West. In that match, East had its No. 1 singles player, Hannah Hill, and Smith won that match by a score of 6-3, 6-0.
On Monday, Smith faced East's Dakota Tittle, who is usually the Lady Eagles' No. 2 singles player. Smith won 6-0, 6-0.
In other matches, West's Carolina Herrera won 6-0, 6-2 over East's Amber Cornwell at No. 2; Kendall Gilliam won 6-4, 6-2 over Erica Storey at No. 3; Mary Elaine Bridges won 6-1, 6-1 over Mimi Geurrero at No. 4; Larissa Cooper won 6-1, 6-0 over Kaylee Kidd at No. 5, and Danie Cooper won 6-3, 6-1 over Kira Green at No. 6.
In doubles, Smith-Herrera defeated Tittle-Cornwell 8-0 at No. 1. At No. 2, Gilliam-Bridges defeated Guerrero-Kidd 8-1, and at No. 3, Cooper-Cooper won 8-3 over Storey-Green.
West improves to 9-7 and 8-4 in the WNCAC.
The Lady Falcons will return to action Tuesday at Franklin for their regular-season finale and then will be back at Jackson Park on Thursday for the WNCAC 3-A tournament.
Categories: News

Community briefs: Oct. 7

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 04:01
The Henderson County Heritage Museum invites the public to hear Henderson County native and best-selling author Robert Morgan read poetry and discuss his writing at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second-floor courtroom at the Historic Courthouse on Main Street, Hendersonville.
Copies of many of the author’s published works will be available for sale, and he will remain after the presentation to sign books during a reception in the Community Room, also located on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse. There is no admission fee.
Morgan last appeared at the Heritage Museum in August 2013, when he launched his latest novel, “The Road from Gap Creek,” a sequel to his earlier novel “Gap Creek,” which was an Oprah Book Club pick and New York Times best seller with over a million copies in print.
Morgan has created a body of work that includes fiction, poetry and biography. A native of Henderson County, he currently lives in Ithaca, N.Y., where he is a Kappa Alpha Professor of English at Cornell University. He is the recipient of grants from the NEA as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations.
Books available on Saturday include “Terroir,” “Gap Creek,” “The Road from Gap Creek,” “Boone: A Biography” and “Lions of the West.
For more information, call 694-1619 or visit HendersonCountyMuseum.com.
The Women’s Leadership Institute of Furman University is now accepting nominations for the Class of 2015.
Sponsored by Furman’s Center for Corporate and Professional Development, the Institute is led by women who have achieved prominence in business and in the community. In addition to sharing their successes and struggles, the session leaders demonstrate how women can excel in their careers, become more effective leaders, engage in their communities and build a powerful network.
The Women’s Leadership Institute, which begins Jan. 13 and runs through April 28, features guest speakers, corporate education forums, a professional career assessment and a one-on-one coaching session to enhance personal leadership styles. The sessions meet monthly on the Furman campus from noon to 2 p.m.
Graduates of the program are awarded continuing education credits to apply towards professional development requirements. Nominations for the 2015 Institute are due Thursday, and applications are due Oct. 31.
Categories: News

N.C. State commit Baldwin wins weekly honor

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 22:55
A tennis player won two matches to stay unbeaten; a volleyball player put up big numbers to help keep her team undefeated; and several football players had huge games to lead their teams to wins on Friday night.
There were several top candidates for this week's Times-News Prep Player of the Week award by Friday.
Then came Saturday.
East Henderson senior Tanis Baldwin, who announced Sept. 29 on Twitter that he has committed to N.C. State, won one of the most prestigious cross country meets in the state by taking the Boys Invitational title at Saturday's Wendy's Invitational at McAlpine Park in Charlotte.
He not only won but did it in a record time of 15:02, eclipsing his previous personal best by six seconds. He set that record last year when he finished runner-up at the 3-A state championship meet to Terry Sanford's Phillip Hall in Kernersville.
Baldwin won the individual cross country title his sophomore year with a time of 15:28. He'll be going for his second cross country title Nov. 1, a week following the 3-A West Regional meet at Jackson Park on Oct. 25.
Other candidates for the weekly award were West Henderson tennis player Savannah Smith, West volleyball standout Mary Catherine Ball and the Hendersonville football standouts Michael Schmidt and Cole Cleary.
Smith won two matches last week to improve to 18-0 in singles. She added another victory Monday to up her mark to 19-0. Ball had 15 kills against Brevard and 16 against Pisgah to help lift the Lady Falcons to a 19-0 record, and Friday night on the gridiron, Schmidt threw for 295 yards and Cleary had 10 catches for 204 yards to lead the Bearcats over Madison.
Categories: News

Jury to start deliberations in murder case

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 21:00
In closing arguments interspersed with objections from both sides, attorneys today challenged a Henderson County jury to think about what they've witnessed in the week-long murder trial of Daniel Clay Moore.
Moore is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Walter Cleveland Davis, but he has claimed he acted in self-defense, spurred by the threat of a sexual assault. Davis, a 52-year-old server at Esmeralda Inn, was found bludgeoned to death inside his Bat Cave home nearly three days after his Oct. 8, 2012, death.
After 21 witnesses and 183 exhibits submitted into evidence during the trial, the defense rested its case Monday morning. The case was given to the jury around 2 p.m.
In closing arguments, Moore's attorney, Todd Williams, told the jury that the hammer suspected to have been the murder weapon and retrieved from a flowing creek, did not contain the DNA of either Moore or Davis. He told the jury that his client elected to provide the context and fill in the gaps of what happened to Davis.
This is “not likely a first-degree murder case,” Williams said. He suggested that the blows were primarily on Davis' back because, as Moore said, Davis was on top of Moore and Moore was trying to dislodge his attacker.
In Monday morning testimony, Moore said Davis' bloody handprint on his shirt may have come from Davis grabbing him again, an act which could have prompted more blows from Moore, Williams told the jury.
“Evidence here does not show a cold-blooded killer,” Williams said, reminding the jury of Moore's past in the church and subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. “Mr. Moore is not guilty of first-degree murder.”
He asked the jury for a not-guilty verdict.
In his closing remarks, Assistant District Attorney Doug Pearson questioned why Moore would stay with Davis if Moore was afraid him.
“This was a violent horrific assault,” he told the jury. “It wasn't a sexual assault.”
Pearson contended that bloody towels in the house suggested Moore may have started to clean up the bloody crime scene and then panicked. Pearson told the jury that he believed the assault happened near the living room and that Davis went down the hallway in an attempt to escape by the only other way out of the house – the sliding glass door on his back bedroom.
“This was not a quick killing. … Think about how long it would take you to crawl if you were being beaten by a heavy object,” Pearson said, bringing the hammer, found near the crime scene, down on the prosecution's table.
He told the jury that the investigation found no reason as to why Davis' cellphone, smeared with his blood and a fingerprint, was found near the creek outside of his home. Pearson suggested it was thrown from the porch to prevent Davis from calling for help. He said that Moore then thought to take Davis' laptop and fled the home.
Pearson asked the jury to find Moore guilty of first-degree murder.
Check back with blueridgenow.com for more updates or follow Weaver on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EmilyWORDWeaver.
Categories: News

Review: 'Forum' features lively music, lots of laughs

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 18:13
Director Lisa K. Bryant brings together some new faces along with some Flat Rock Playhouse favorites to offer a night of Vaudevillian fun with lively music and lots of laughs in the current Main Stage production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," on stage through Oct. 26.
Based on the ancient Roman farces of Plautus (254-184 BC), the comedy's plot is a complicated web of star-crossed lovers, mistaken identities, seeming disasters and happy endings, all watched and largely instigated by the farce's stock character — the clever slave who wants his freedom.
Psuedolus is that slave who longs to live as a free man, played by Nick Santa-Maria with more than a nod to the great Zero Mostel, who played the part during its first Broadway run, winning a Tony for best actor in a musical in 1963.
Santa-Maria, seen earlier this season as Max Prince in Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," wowed audiences with the Sid Ceaser-like role and once again keeps us laughing with his innuendo, asides and one-line zingers. His lead in the opening number "Comedy Tonight" sets the right mood for the fun evening to come, and the charming duet with Hero, "Free," adds poignancy to the play.
FRP favorite Scott Treadway plays Psuedolus's fellow slave, the aptly named Hysterium, who ironically sings the funny "I'm calm." Treadway, as usual, provides some of the biggest laughs of the evening.
Hysterium's masters, Senex and his wife Domina, are played by other long-time vagabonds, Preston Dyar and Linda Edwards. Their antics, along with the rest of the stellar cast, keep the audience in stitches.
When Senex and his wife leave town to visit Domina's mother, their son Hero, played with a natural innocence by Sam Sherwood, is left to pursue the virgin call girl who lives next door, a role taken on by the talented Lily Tobin. She is no stranger to the FRP stage, having made previous appearances in "The Marvelous Wonderettes," " Hairspray" and Nunsense. Her performance as the ditzy blonde who can't count to five, singing about her one virtue in "Lovely" is one of the highlights of the evening.
Also outstanding is Jarid Faubel as the arrogant Capt. Miles Gloriosus, come to claim his virgin bride. The handsome Faubel, excellent in last season's "Deathtrap," is perfectly cast as the beefy Roman soldier whose conceit is only exceeded by his obtuseness. His solo "Bring Me My Bride," is another high point of the play.
Ralph Redpath, also a FRP favorite, has the small but endearing role of Erronius, an elderly father looking for his two long-lost children. After being tricked by Psuedolus, he begins making his rounds of the Seven Hills of Rome, showing up from time to time to the delight of the audience and ultimately bringing the play to its happy conclusion.
Other long-time FRP alumni grace the stage once again, including Jane Bushway and Betsy Bisson as two aging twin prostitutes, one with a walker and the other with a cane — great fun!
In addition, Scott Cote, who was wonderful as Harry the Horse in last season's "Guys and Dolls," is outstanding as the pimp Lycus, who along with Santa Maria, Dyar and Treadway, sings the forgivably sexist "Everybody Needs a Maid."
Although during Saturday night's performance, Flat Rock Playhouse bid a fond farewell to managing director Hillary Hart, who helped the playhouse through some difficult times, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is more evidence that the playhouse is still going strong, offering quality entertainment for the citizens of the Blue Ridge.
It's a comedy tonight!
Katie Winkler, a longtime resident of Henderson County, is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the North Carolina Writers Network.
Categories: News

Losing Dad: A teen finds purpose in grief

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 18:13
CHICAGO — Genevieve Liu sits back in bed each night, still thinking of her father before she sleeps. He used to sing the same song to his children at bedtime, often before he'd head to surgery to save the life of someone else's child.
"I'm leaving on a jet plane," Don Liu would sing. "Don't know when I'll be back again."
Then, incredibly, he left in a way no one could have anticipated: On a family outing in 2012, he drowned in Lake Michigan. That he died helping two children get to safety on a windy, choppy day did not surprise those who knew him.
His eldest, Genevieve, witnessed the horrid moments when her father was swept under by a rip current. She remembers the shrieks and tears before his body was found, and afterward. She describes sitting quietly, staring into space at a fast food restaurant during the trip from Michigan back home to Chicago.
"My dad was, by far, someone who understood me like no one else. Like, he always knew — everything," says Genevieve, who was 13 at the time.
"You wonder if you are going to be able to live the same life you always felt like you were supposed to."
It seemed inconceivable that she could get through the overwhelming grief. Yet, over the last two years, she has worked at it — helping herself, in part, by helping others like her.
Experts are still learning how children grieve, and how their process may differ from adults'.
Julie Kaplow, director of the Trauma and Grief Center for Youth at the University of Texas Health Science Center, says many of the measures of grief have been based on studies of elderly women. "There's been a taboo about talking to kids about death," Kaplow says, because adults want to shield them.
Initial research has found that kids who experience the drawn-out dying of a parent versus a sudden death tend to have a harder time adjusting, she says. But the grief reactions can become more complicated when the circumstances of the death are tragic or violent — or when the child feels helpless, Kaplow adds.
Behavior can offer clues about which children need intervention, though behavior can be hard to read as even healthy expressions of grief aren't always pretty, Kaplow says. Is the child finding outlets for grief that will eventually help him or her adapt to the parent's loss over the long term? Or is the reaction "maladaptive," making it difficult for the child to function in the world.
Amid her own struggles, Genevieve's mom, Dana Suskind, was determined to help her three children adapt in the best way possible.
"None of us can crawl into a fetal ball, even if that's what we really want," said Suskind, a surgeon and researcher at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, where her husband had been surgeon-in-chief. "So what do I do to . help take them to the other side of adulthood, so they can be stable and happy adults?"
At first, Genevieve says she spent a lot of time in her room at the family's home in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. She listened to music, slept a lot and didn't eat much.
She remembers entering eighth grade, not wanting to be known as "that girl whose dad died." But the label was inevitable, and ultimately isolating, she says.
"I got so much of my support from, like, grief counselors, friends, my parent," Genevieve says, shaking her head at those last two words. "My 'parent' that sounds so weird."
Still, she felt alone. She remembers not wanting to see a lot of friends, not wanting to feel like she had to explain her grief.
And there were family squabbles. Genevieve remembers the fights with her mom as "weekly scream-at-each-other and then 'I love you, I love you, I love you. Let's never fight again'" moments.
What she wanted, she says, was a return to the "unit" that this family had become — one that had begun with the melding of the lives and cultures of two young doctors, one Jewish and the other an American of Chinese descent, raised in Taiwan, who converted to Judaism.
Genevieve remembers her parents as best friends, who walked to work together most mornings.
She says her mother was strong for her and that she regrets not making life easier for her in return. "But I needed her to be the same person that she was with my dad, and that just wasn't possible."
A turning point came when her mom invited a girl from Genevieve's class to come over. The girl had lost her mother to cancer and Suskind thought it might be helpful for them to talk.
Genevieve was hesitant, but agreed and recalls how she and the girl, Isabel, lay on the floor of her room, talking about life — everything and nothing.
"It's almost like you don't have to talk because so much is already understood," Genevieve says.
Nor was there any expectation about how she was supposed to be feeling.
"Is my mom going to get married again?" she remembers asking.
"Are my siblings going to be OK?"
"Am I going to remember my dad in two months?'"
The rest of the time, they talked about the usual teenage topics, boys in their class and favorite teachers.
That experience prompted her to search online for support groups, and other teens who'd lost a parent. But she found nothing.
Genevieve wondered: What if she posted some of her own writing? She envisioned a forum or a blog - "a very simple format" to start a conversation.
Then she briefly met Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court Justice, at a speaking engagement in Chicago. Sotomayor had already been one of Genevieve's longtime heroes, and then she read the justice's memoir and learned that Sotomayor, too, had lost a parent.
"This could be so much more than a blog," Genevieve remembers Sotomayor telling her.
This encouragement — and the realization that there were adults who'd lost a parent and gone on to thrive, and that there might be a way she could help others like her — made her grief feel a little less heavy.
Genevieve began work on her website, which she named SLAP'D — Surviving Life After a Parent Dies.
The site includes a monitored forum, interviews with adults who've lost a parent, advice from experts, and tribute pages with photos, poetry and songs.
"People will share so much, nothing like they would in real life, face to face," says the 15-year-old who takes her role of managing the site so seriously that she has quit her school tennis team to devote more time to it. She hopes it might eventually be taken up by an organization for grieving children.
In one recent post, in which a young woman who lost her father describes arguments with her mother, Genevieve offers advice from her own experience, the young woman says, "I'm glad there's someone who knows how I feel."
In her daily interactions, there've been difficult times, including a school poetry reading when a fellow student recited a piece about drowning, sending Genevieve running into the hallway in tears. A teacher was there to help.
Having lost his own father when he was 4, teacher Chris Freeman also has offered support. Among other things, Freeman told Genevieve how his older sisters had reassured him how much his father loved him.
"I actually don't remember him very well, but I've been told how much he delighted in me and cared about me," Freeman says. And that helped.
Hearing that, Genevieve vowed to be more compassionate toward her brother Asher, 12, and sister Amelie, 9.
Not that the siblings have stopped fighting entirely. "I try," Genevieve says.
"I adore my siblings, to be honest. My sister is one of the strongest people I've ever met. And my brother reminds me so much of my dad."
At home, Genevieve is the "CEO of the house," as her mom likes to say, helping keep things running and her siblings in line, especially when Mom works long hours. But Genevieve has given up trying to fill her dad's role.
"I tried doing that, like playing baseball and stuff. But it doesn't work — and you don't really want it to, either," she says.
In her bedroom, the wall is filled with photos of her dad and some of his numerous awards, taken from boxes that came home from his hospital office.
Genevieve hung them, without her mom's permission — a little act of self-assertion. Finding control, and a voice, is important in the wake of an event that made her feel so helpless, she says.
That's a lot of the appeal of SLAP'D, giving herself and others like her a bit of say over how they grieve.
She says, "I love my dad, and I just hope that when I think about him it's not always about his death, or my grief, but just about him."
On the site, Genevieve's own tribute page includes family photos, and a reference to "Leaving on a Jet Plane."
She sang it with a friend at her father's funeral, and she and her mom also sing it at the cemetery on the anniversary of his death "to return the favor, I guess."
"He had the most beautiful voice," Genevieve says, softly, and smiles.
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On the Internet: http://www.slapd.com
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Martha Irvine is an AP national writer. She can be reached at mirvine@ap.org or at http://twitter.com/irvineap
Categories: News

Balfour students restore donated fire engine

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 15:59
There are workshops and class activities — then there are projects that unite the entire student body. Refurbishing a 1958 American LaFrance fire engine at Balfour Education Center is one of the latter, and it then will serve the school's Firefighter Academy.
Kent Parent, principal at Balfour, said students in the firefighting academy had approached him this past December about purchasing a fire engine they'd found on Craigslist to use in drills, but at $40,000, the rig was too costly.
He noticed an older model fire engine at Upward Christian Fellowship and found out it hadn't been used in eight years. Senior Pastor Andy Craver agreed to donate the truck to Balfour, where several different academies have aided in its restoration.
Balfour's Automotive Academy tackled the under-the-hood work, while interior design students reupholstered the truck's cab. Art Academy students are designing logos and decals for the truck, and Fire Fighter Academy students are buffing out the paint job.
"We had to go through and fix the brakes — it had no brakes when we got it," said Daniel Eller, automotive instructor.
He said the engine's starter, carburetor and distributor all had to be rebuilt, and the students reworked the electrical system to fix the lights and siren. Eller explained the siren uses a lot of amperage, or electrical current, and had burned up the siren's switch.
Fire Academy instructor Ted Barnett said Helen Owen, CTE director for Henderson County Public Schools, found the materials to reupholster the cab, and Balfour's interior design students stitched the new upholstery together.
"They took (out) the old seat that was burlap and straw and was torn up," Barnett said. "Their names are embroidered into the side."
The plan is to have the name of every student who has worked on the fire engine displayed somewhere, possibly incorporated into the graphic elements the art students are designing. Barnett added that any sponsors who want to help Balfour offset the costs of refurbishment also will have their names on the truck.
"It's got a good paint job on it," Parent said. "We've got to do some chrome work."
Last week, the Fire Fighter Academy students worked on buffing the paint job, and Eller said, "A lot of the chrome work can be re-dipped."
"Piece by piece, we'll get it all put together," Barnett said.
Once the overhaul is complete, Barnett said the Fire Fighter Academy will use the fire engine for class practicals — instead of borrowing one from neighboring departments such as the Hendersonville Fire Department.
"With this, we don't have to take a truck out of service from the city," Barnett said.
He said his students will practice pulling the truck up to a scene and unloading equipment. And if the truck's water pump works, they can practice unloading, using and reloading the fire hose and hooking it up to a hydrant.
The fire engine also will serve as a school mascot of sorts, since Parent and Barnett plan to drive it to future events such as Farm City Day and parades.
"We want to try and get it ready for the Christmas parade," Barnett said.
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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

Local couples, church leaders speak out for marriage equality

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:08
Browne Hollowell, along with other members of the LGBT community from Hendersonville, traveled to Asheville on Friday night to speak out during the Celebration Rally for Marriage Equality at the Renaissance Hotel as part of the annual Blue Ridge Pride.
“What brings me here tonight is that I want to tell them how I lost my partner and all of the trouble I had to go through because I had no conjugal rights as a married couple even though we considered ourselves married--we were not in the eyes of North Carolina,” Hollowell said.
Hollowell married Marlene Parry in Florida in 1992, but in November of 2013 Parry was killed in an automobile accident.
When Parry was left with severe brain damage, Hollowell was able to make end-of-life decisions on her behalf through an existing living will, but only after spending thousands in lawyers' fees.
“You gotta keep going—she wouldn't want me crawling in a corner, so here I am and that's why I am here tonight,” Hollowell said.
The Rev. E. Richard Weidler of First Congregational Church in Laurel Park joined in the group of speakers because he said he feels passionate about justice and fairness for all people, and believes the laws of North Carolina are neither just, nor fair when it comes to gays and lesbians.
As a pastor, Weidler said he is proud to be a member of the United Church of Christ for its history of standing up for civil rights.
In 1785 the United Church of Christ was the first Christian denomination to ordain an African-American pastor, followed by the first female pastor in 1853, and the first openly gay pastor was ordained by the UCC in 1972.
In 2006, the UCC lost nearly 20 percent of its member churches when it took a stand in support of marriage equality.
“But, we're the denomination who believes we are called to do what is right and what is just, and so we will do that,” Weidler said. “And what happens because of that happens.”
Before coming to Hendersonville, Weidler was a pastor in Maine and said that had he stayed there, he would legally be able to marry same-sex couples.
“Because I live in North Carolina, this freedom is taken away from me and so we are suing the attorney general and the state of North Carolina for the restriction that they have put upon me and other pastors restricting our freedom of religion,” Weidler said.
Weidler said his church has become known as an activist church in Hendersonville championing the right to marry.
Last year, he joined with 30 members of his church to march in solidarity alongside parishioners Mary Burson and Carole Kaiser to the Henderson County courthouse as they sought a marriage license—one that they were denied.
Weidler said sometimes it can be risky, even painfully risky, to take strong stands in support of equal rights for the LGBT community.
“But I am a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, and he continually challenged the unjust laws of his day and in so doing put himself in harm's way,” Weidler said. “I am following my call to follow in his footsteps."
For more information about Blue Ridge Pride visit www.blueridgepride.com.
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Reach Bindewald at renee.bindewald@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7890.
Categories: News

Teen invited to play in U.S. Army All-American Bowl

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:01
William Hinchliffe, 18, stood between two enlisted men Friday, proudly wearing black and gold during a special assembly at West Henderson High.
Accepted into the ranks of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, Hinchliffe and 124 other high school seniors will wear Army colors in January as they perform during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which features the country's top high school football players.
“The Army forges a unique strength,” Sgt. First Class John Fulton said during the trombone player's selection ceremony Friday.
Senior athletes and musicians with traits similar to those valued by the Army are chosen each year to play in and perform during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“They are dedicated, motivated and know how to lead a team,” Fulton said.
“There's a lot of discipline,” said Mollie Codyer, selection tour representative.
That's why, Fulton said, musicians like Hinchliffe are given the honor of wearing the Army's black and gold during the nationally televised football game.
In 2015, the bowl will be held Jan. 3 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, where the 125 band and color guard members will have six days to practice together.
“They show up already knowing (the routine),” said Allen Klaes, West's band director.
“They're supposed to know their parts and the steps,” said Ellen Grant-Keane, selection tour representative. “They have 24 hours of practice time together” in San Antonio.
The bar is set high for the young musicians, but they knew that going into the audition process.
Klaes said after they're nominated by their band directors, the high school seniors must send in audition videos of challenging materials chosen for them by the U.S. Army All-American March Band.
“Most kids look at the audition and go, 'Oh, I can't do that,'” Klaes said.
Not Hinchliffe. Described by Klaes as an outstanding musician and high academic achiever, Hinchliffe recorded a video of himself playing the required orchestral piece, as well as marching while playing other pieces.
He looks forward to the experience and said, “It's a huge honor to march and play with some of the best musicians in the country.”
In addition to thanking the Army and the Bowl's sponsors, Hinchliffe thanked his parents for tolerating him when he first picked up the trombone and “it sounded more like a dying cow than an instrument.”
“Trombone is a unique instrument. It really doesn't sound good when they first learn,” said Kelley Hinchliffe, William's mother. “But it got much better very quickly.”
Though Hinchliffe is the first band member from West to play in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, he's not the first from Henderson County Public Schools. Scott Ashcraft of Hendersonville High played the trombone in the 2012 band, and Ian Poole, of East Henderson High, played tuba in the 2009 band.
In addition to playing in his school's marching band, Hinchliffe plays in the all-district band and Hendersonville Community Band, and works part-time. He hopes to attend N.C. State University after graduating from West Henderson next May.
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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

Visitors join in traditional grape stomp

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:03
Lisa Campbell grasped the side of the large tub as she dipped her freshly manicured toes into the vat of Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes at Burntshirt Vineyards during its Annual Harvest Bash Saturday morning.
The grape stomp kicked off the day's events celebrating the harvest season.
“Grape stomping is still done in a lot of places in the old world, especially Portugal-- still very common,” Burntshirt General Manager Joe Scott said. “The fermentation process pretty much cleans everything, and people used foot power because that's what they had that was cheap and was available, and they made a party out of it.”
Scott said grape stomping is a great tradition to carry on and is perfect for a fall day. The manager also promised that the grapes used for stomping wouldn't be making their way into any of the wines, but were from a failed crop that was damaged by the frost at their higher elevation vineyard.
Campbell and her husband, Dan, were the first to jump in and get their feet going in the pit of grapes.
The couple traveled up from Greenville, S.C., for the event, saying they wanted to try something new together and make a day of it.
“The grapes are really, really cold,” Lisa Campbell said, joking that she should get a discount on her wine for helping to press the grapes.
Juice instantly began rise as the couple danced back in forth in the tub with their hands out to the side to keep their balance as their feet slipped from side to side, slapping more and more juice into the air.
Dan Campbell said stomping on the grapes felt like stepping on acorns that exploded under foot.
Frank Ritz of Hendersonville brought his family to the vineyard so his kids could take a swing at the long-standing tradition.
“This is the way that a lot of folks still make their wine,” Ritz told his 5-year-old daughter Arianna as she took off her shoes and rolled up her pant legs. “They crush the grapes and then they put all the stuff in it, and they put it in a bottle and they wait for it to become wine.”
Ritz then scooped up his daughter and lowered her into the tub, where she began dancing and swaying through the grapes and the juice.
Her little brother Frankie, 3, was not as excited by the grapes that were making his feet cold, and he got out as quickly as he went in.
“We wanted to let the kids squish grapes for their first time – we had to let them do it,” Ritz said.
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Reach Bindewald at renee.bindewald@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7890.
Categories: News

Mud Creek Baptist to apologize for racist past

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 09:53
A Henderson County church is apologizing for actions motivated by racism that caused its congregation to split in two in 1867.
Mud Creek Baptist Church will host a special service on Oct. 12 that will seek reconciliation with Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church for wrongs done in the past by its members.
“We should have done this a long time ago,” said Dr. Greg T. Mathis, pastor at Mud Creek Baptist.
The service will include a short video, a message from Mathis, and the dedication of a framed letter of apology to the current pastor and congregation of Mud Creek Missionary Baptist.
“I'm going to be preaching a pretty stern message from the Bible,” Mathis said. “Racism is an awful sin.”
The sermon will be part of Mathis' current sermon series “What a Christian Should Look Like.”
“You only have to look at a situation like Ferguson (Missouri) to know that there's still a lot of conflict in this country,” Mathis added. “We've come a long way but still have a way to go.”
The Rev. Matthew Tollison Sr., pastor of Mud Creek Missionary Baptist, said that he was “caught off guard” when he was approached about the special service and formal apology.
“It's a great gesture,” Tollison said.
In its letter, Mud Creek Baptist offers an apology for the church's post-Civil War policy for treatment of African-American members, and it seeks, with humility and contrition, reconciliation with Tollison and his congregation.
“I'm satisfied, and hopefully everyone else will think the way I think,” said Tollison, who has pastored the Mud Creek Missionary congregation for 19 years.
Tollison and Mathis said they have been friendly for years; Mathis has preached at Mud Creek Missionary occasionally over the years.
“I am grateful that our congregations have accomplished much through the years for the Kingdom of God,” Mathis read from the formal letter. “However, I am ashamed of some of the past history between our churches, and I know that Christ was not pleased.”
Tollison and Mathis said that the framed letters would be hung in prominent areas in each of the churches.
In the 35 years that he has been pastor at Mud Creek Baptist, Mathis had heard stories of the history between the two churches, but it wasn't until a search back into church minutes dating from just after the Civil War that details were revealed to him.
“I wanted to know why Mud Creek split into two churches,” Mathis said. “I highly suspect that in the South this happened all over.”
On April 27, 1867, the sixth order of business deemed that Mud Creek's African-American members “be allowed” the two back pews on the men's side when the house was not full.
In the same order of business, it was agreed that one of the white preachers would lead a service for the black members at 3 p.m. on the fourth Sabbath of every month.
“What really broke my heart is that if they came to worship, they had to sit in the two back pews if no whites were sitting there,” Mathis said.
A month following the 1867 decision, black members split from the church to organize Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church, now located on Roper Road in East Flat Rock.
For many years, the congregation had no permanent meeting site and would worship outdoors and in various locations until enough was saved to buy land and build a simple sanctuary.
The congregation moved the church to its current location in 1933.
Tollison says that two antique pews remain against the back wall in the church on Roper Road — simple benches made from planks of wood.
Other pews date from the 1960s — pews that Mud Creek Baptist donated to the Missionary Baptist church when the larger church built a new sanctuary in 1995.
The 15-minute video to be screened at the Oct. 12 service features Mathis interviewing Tollison and the Rev. James E. Roberts, pastor of Fairmont Missionary Baptist Church in Asheville.
“I am impressed by their spirit,” Mathis said. “They're not angry or bitter, and don't appear to be scarred or hurt.”
Asked what the two pastors had to say to the Mud Creek church family regarding racism and whether they think the nation has made strides against racism, Mathis noted that there is no mention in the Bible of different races — nations and tribes are mentioned, but there is only talk of a “human race.”
Worship services are at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. at Mud Creek Baptist. Tollison will be present at the 8:30 a.m. service on Oct. 12.
The public is also invited to a 2:30 p.m. service on Oct. 12 at Mud Creek Missionary Baptist to dedicate the framed letter that will hang in their church building.
Sunday morning services will be streamed live on Mud Creek Baptist's website, www.mudcreekchurch.org
For more information, call Mud Creek Baptist Church at 692-1262.
Mud Creek Baptist Church is located at 403 Rutledge Drive; Mud Creek Missionary Baptist is located at the intersection of Mine Gap Road and Roper Road in East Flat Rock.
Categories: News

Conservatives push purge of 132 voters from county rolls

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:40
Inspired by a Raleigh-based group called the Voter Integrity Project, a team of local conservatives has been scouring registration rolls and knocking on doors to root out what they believe is potential voter fraud in Henderson County.
So far, they've pushed the Henderson County Board of Elections to remove 132 voters from registration rolls after finding that they no longer live where they were registered to vote. Another 33 could be removed by the board at a hearing Oct. 15, according to election officials.
Jay DeLancy, an Air Force veteran who launched the Voter Integrity Project in 2011, says teams of “challengers” in Buncombe and Henderson counties have uncovered hundreds of incidents of voter irregularities through their research, discrepancies that erode fair elections.
“We would like to find anybody who is illegally registered and get them off the rolls,” DeLancy said. “In that process, we've got to weed through a bunch of people who've moved.”
The Henderson County team — including local Republican Party Chairman Glen Englram, Blue Ridge Tea Party Patriots member Judy Evans, and Ed Joran and Michael Eberhardt — followed a model used by VIP volunteers in Buncombe County.
First, they dug through voter rolls looking for addresses that had eight or more voters registered there. Then last spring, volunteers with the Blue Ridge Tea Party Patriots canvassed those addresses to see if the registered voters still lived there.
“They had something in the neighborhood of 300 names where the person who answered the door said, 'No, he doesn't live there anymore,' or 'No, he doesn't live here anymore,'” Englram said.
Armed with that list, the Voter Integrity Project mailed letters to those voters from its Raleigh office, asking them to respond. If one of those letters was returned as undeliverable, “that's really what allowed this team to go forward with these challenges,” Englram said.
Using a search engine tool developed by DeLancy's group, Englram discovered three unknown people were still registered to vote at his address on Millard J Drive in Hendersonville, more than three years after he and his wife, Ruth, moved there from Illinois.
With guidance from DeLancy, Englram challenged the registrations of 32 county voters, including two registered at his address. DeLancy calls these “phantom voters,” some of whom he believes are fictitious registrations designed to subvert honest elections.
In July, the Voter Integrity Project reported finding 739,041 registered North Carolina voters who are considered “inactive,” or missing a known address. DeLancy said the discovery confirmed that voter rolls have been “corrupted, and that conditions are ripe for wholesale voter identity theft.”
However, county election officials say inactive voters are not illegal or uncommon. Beverly Cunningham, director of the Henderson County Board of Elections, said about 6,000 of the county's 79,000 registered voters are considered inactive.
“We have hundreds of people who don't update their addresses when they move until they show up again to vote,” she said. Even on Election Day, they are allowed to vote after updating their addresses, though perhaps at a different precinct.
“They're a completely legal class of voter in every way,” agreed Election Specialist Cliff Marr. “When they come to the polls, we'll be asking them to update their addresses. Lots of people move from one (county) address to another. That doesn't disqualify them from voting.”
By law, if a county Board of Elections has not had any contact with a voter for a period of two federal election cycles, the voter is sent a non-forwardable mailing. If it doesn't come back as undeliverable by the Postal Service, the voter remains an “active voter.”
But if the mailing is returned as undeliverable by the Postal Service, the voter is sent a forwardable address confirmation mailing. The voter is required to return the confirmation mailing within 30 days or they're marked as an inactive voter.
Should an inactive voter not contact the county or participate in an election within two more federal cycles, they are removed from county rolls. The law allows citizens such as Englram and Evans to challenge registrations by presenting evidence the voters no longer reside in their registered voting precinct.
The system is far from perfect, though.
By focusing on addresses with multiple registrations, VIP volunteers have targeted voters at area assisted living facilities and retiree villas, including Golden Living Center on Hebron Road, Soundview Family Care on Kendrick Court and The Village of Wildflowers resort on Empire Lane.
“We've had at least two people call us and say, 'Our parents are still alive and living here at Lake Pointe Landing'” after receiving letters from the Board of Elections notifying them their parents' voting status was being challenged, Cunningham said.
She said those voters' street addresses were correct, but were “missing the unit number,” so it was returned as undeliverable to the Voter Integrity Project. Both voters were able to update their addresses before a second Board of Elections hearing removed them from the rolls.
But Ray and Virginia Eads weren't so lucky. The World War II veteran and his wife have lived in the same residence in Flat Rock for 14 years, but recently learned that their names had been removed from county voter rolls after Evans and Englram challenged their validity Aug. 7.
After receiving a mailed notice from Cunningham, the Eads showed up at the Board of Elections office Tuesday to re-register. They were just in time, as anyone removed from the rolls who doesn't re-register by Friday, Oct. 10 cannot vote in November's election.
The Eads, who've voted in every general election since 1996, said they never received any letter from the Voter Integrity Project and can't understand why they were removed. They suspect they were targeted because their street was renamed from Empire Lane to Daydreamers Lane by the county and the VIP test letter wasn't forwarded correctly.
“I'm a rabid Republican,” said Ray Eads. “They done messed up.”
Cunningham said any county voter can check their registration status online by visiting www.ncsbe.gov/webapps/voter_search.
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Reach Axtell at than.axtell@blueridgenow.com or 828-694-7860.
Categories: News

Family finds a hobby in molasses

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:38
The first year Mary Fowler and her husband, Ronnie, produced molasses, Mary made a scrapbook. She documented every step along the way, from sowing the seeds and scouring the region for a mill to purchase, to cutting and stripping the cane and canning the molasses.
“She was in it from day one,” Ronnie recalled.
As that first season drew to a close, Mary told her husband, “I hate to see it end.” And later, when she twisted the cap tight on that year's final jar, she was in tears.
“I cry because it's over,” Mary said.
It's surprising then that Mary Fowler doesn't care too much for the taste. She can tolerate it in gingerbread, cookies and muffins, she said, but she doesn't share the same affinity her husband does — he loves a big dollop on a biscuit or cornbread.
The Fowlers are in their fourth year of production, currently growing about an acre's worth of sorghum cane in Arden, not far from their home in Mills River.
The harvest season lasts about a month for the Fowlers. Having planted their seeds on May 30th of this year, Ronnie and Mary continued to work fulltime — Ronnie at Electrolux and Mary at Merry Maids — before putting their vacation time to use, taking Thursdays and Fridays off to cut and strip their cane.
“Both of us have been on jobs a long time,” Ronnie said. “Then we decided to get into this, and our summers are taken up taking care of our cane and our garden.”
“It's a lot of hard work, but I'd rather spend my vacation time doing this than doing whatever,” Mary said. “I just enjoy it.”
Their son-in-law, Brian McMahan, works alongside Mary stripping the cane that Ronnie cuts. At the end of each day, they haul the cane by pick-up truck six miles home.
The Fowlers have two mills there — one that runs off a Wisconsin gas motor and another that's wooden and mule-driven. The power mill is faster, Ronnie admitted, but Jill works just as well, he said, and harkens back to simpler, less modern time. What the motorized mill can do in two hours, Jill can do in four, according to Mary. She'll turn out about a pick-up load, but the Fowlers have to stop her every so often.
“If you went around in circles for two or three hours you might imagine what she feels like. When she gets tired, she'll stop herself. She'll stand there a few minutes, then she'll go at it again,” Mary said.
Saturdays start early for Ronnie and McMahan. By 4:30 a.m. the power mill is running, grinding cane for the day's first run of molasses. By daylight, Ronnie will have the fire going, and Jill hooked up to the wooden mill to grind the second run. The rest of the family — daughters Brandy McMahan and Jennifer Bradley, along with Bradley's husband Henry and children Hunter, 6, and Bryan Cate, 15, who goes by Boomer — are also on hand helping out. Bryan and Hunter seem to enjoy feeding the cane through the wooden mill as Jill provides the power.
“She just goes 'round and around and around and you just stick the cane in between two big rollers,” Ronnie said. “It goes in there and crushes it and the juices comes out.”
The Fowlers also have a miniature donkey, Biscuit, they'll sometimes hook up to the mill, though they can't put more than three or four stalks in at a time with her.
The juice is strained into one 25-gallon barrel at the mill before traveling through a pipe across their yard, to be strained once more and gathered in three more barrels the same size near the furnace. The juice is poured into a large wooden box set over a fire that brings the juice, in 75-gallon batches, to a boil.
During heating, impurities that look similar to algae rise up to the surface of the juice, which are skimmed off. The raw cane juice is naturally sweet, and as it boils it gets even sweeter. And of course, thicker.
For every 10 gallons of juice the Fowlers squeeze from their cane, they can expect one gallon of molasses.
Determining when the molasses has cooked long enough can be tricky. Take it off too soon, and the molasses can be too thin.
“Slow as molasses,” Mary said referencing the common saying. “It's got to be thick.”
Too late, the molasses can burn and “you might as well throw it away,” Mary said.
The Fowlers can tell by the bubbles, which start out small, about the size of a nail on a pinky finger. Then they grow larger and larger over the course of the morning before the juice hits the right thickness and sweetness.
“I had one lady one year ask how much sugar we added to it,” Mary recalled. “I said, 'We don't add anything,' and I showed her our barrels of juice that was waiting to be done for the second run. I said, 'This right here is all we put in there — no sugar, no additives, nothing. Just the pure cane juice.'”
The family sells what it makes by the quart, pint, half pint — whatever size a person wants, Mary said, though she's quick to point out what they do is by no means a business. They have customers who buy molasses each year because they really like it, but for the Fowlers it's merely a hobby, and for Mary especially, a way to pay tribute to the way things used to be done.
“You don't see this kind of stuff anymore,” Mary said. “And everything is modern, modern, modern, and I want people to know this is the way they did it in the old days. They used molasses to sweeten stuff, to make desserts with — if they were lucky enough to get the flour to make it with — that's the only way they had to survive, is to do it on their own.”
“I remember when I was growing up my dad always had a garden, always had a mule — he did like they did in the olden days. And that's what I enjoy.”
The Fowlers will continue their production through mid-October at their home at 151 Laurel Terrace Court in Mills River. They encourage people to come by and see how molasses is made.
Categories: News

Equestrian center dedicated

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:30
TRYON -- With the stables nearly full, the parking lots overflowing and traffic into the facility at a crawl, the Tryon International Equestrian Center was dedicated Sunday afternoon to the people who made it possible.
Despite ongoing construction, the dedication festivities had a carnival-like atmosphere. Children laughed on a hand-painted Venetian carousel, multiple bands played, and spectators and visitors chatted in large groups. Horses and riders showed off their skills in several arenas, and there were bursts of applause from the stadium at the end of every clear round of the grand prix course, which featured 19 fences exceeding 5 feet in height.
Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of the investment group behind the 1,400-acre project, said Sunday's festivities were the first buds of a blossoming vision. Bellissimo has helped develop billions of dollars in real estate, but he said the Tryon International Equestrian Center is special to him.
"It's been unbelievable," Bellissimo said. "In my life I might never get the opportunity to work on a project with this much potential to change a community."
When completed, the center will anchor a $100 million equestrian lifestyle project complete with housing developments, an RV park and Tryon Resort and Spa, featuring a sports complex and golf course.
Bellissimo said the volume of work done in the past eight months is staggering. Through his career in development, Bellissimo said he's not sure he's encountered more motivated and dedicated workers and officials who have allowed the project to march forward. Sunday, Bellissimo and the partners dedicated the center to the more than 600 workers who helped build it.
Ted Owens, chairman of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, said the partners have been easy to work with. There were no government incentives for the project and their development agreement was forged in an open session of the commissioners instead of between lawyers behind closed doors.
"In the 13 years I've been a commissioner, that's never happened," he said. "They haven't asked for anything except cooperation."
Owens said it is impossible to overstate the significance of the project on the Polk County economy.
"I refer to this as the BMW of Polk County," Owens said, referring to the automaker's decision to locate its North American manufacturing headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., a move that transformed the mill economy.
Salamander Hotels & Resorts will manage the Tryon Resort. Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, said she expects the project to be successful.
"There's no question," she said. "This is the prototype. … It's not just about the horses. … I think non-equestrians will find there is something here for them as well."
Bellissimo said he fell in love with the Tryon region when his friend and co-investor invited him to attend the Block House Steeplechase. As he learned about the area's deep equestrian roots, Bellissimo said he and his co-investors were inspired to find a way to revive that culture and help make it accessible to the community.
"There's a connection people have to the horse," Bellissimo said. "The horse has always been involved in American culture. There's always been this magical connection."
Sunday's celebration, including the $100,000 grand prix, which attracted leading riders from across the country and international contestants, was free. Bellissimo said maintaining the highest levels of access will continue to be a priority at the equestrian center.
Bellissimo said he rides a quarter horse for pleasure, his son plays polo and two daughters are show jumpers.
One daughter, Paige Bellissimo, said she hasn't had much of a chance to ride because she's been involved in launching the equestrian center. Many of the features of the center are based on her family's experience at horse shows across the country. While the facility is large, Paige Bellissimo said it is laid out compactly and the walk from one end to the other is only three minutes. The rings are clustered together, allowing spectators to enjoy events going on in multiple arenas simultaneously.
"It's a big day for equestrian sports in the United States," Paige Bellissimo said. "We're hoping to introduce this as an alternative" to the European show circuit.
George Morris, an Olympic rider and trainer who trained in Tryon in 1956 and 1958, attended Sunday's celebration and said the Tryon International Equestrian Center is an impressive facility he would place among the best in the world.
"You don't have to go all over Europe, but we haven't marketed our sport well in the U.S.," Morris said.
"This is a fresh slate, it's untouched," he said. "This is a stroke of genius."
Morris was one of five equestrians with ties to the Tryon community who were honored Sunday with arenas named for them. The large, outdoor arena where Sunday's grand prix was held now bears his name.
"It's a very big honor," Morris said. "Especially a ring of this beauty and potential. … If they named a back lunging ring after me, it would still be an honor."
Categories: News

Docket missing marriage of gays

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 08:28
WASHINGTON — A Supreme Court term that is starting with a lack of headline-grabbing cases might end with a blockbuster that helps define the legacy of the court under Chief Justice John Roberts.
While same-sex marriage is not yet on their agenda, the justices appear likely to take on the issue and decide once and for all whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry.
When the justices formally open their new term today, Roberts will be beginning his 10th year at the head of the court, and the fifth with the same lineup of justices. He has been part of a five-justice conservative majority that has rolled back campaign finance limits, upheld abortion restrictions and generally been skeptical of the consideration of race in public life.
His court, however, has taken a different path in cases involving gay and lesbian Americans, despite his opposition most of the time.
The court’s record on gay rights is comparable to its embrace of civil rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s under Chief Justice Earl Warren, said University of Chicago law professor David Strauss. “The court will go down in history as one that was on the frontiers of establishing rights for gays and lesbians,” Strauss said.
The justices passed up their first opportunity last week to add gay marriage cases to their calendar. But they will have several more chances in the coming weeks to accept appeals from officials in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin who are trying to preserve their state bans on same-sex marriage.
Those prohibitions fell one after the other following the high court’s June 2013 decision that struck down part of a federal law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
On the court’s plate in the new term are cases involving:
◆ Religious, employment and housing discrimination.
◆ The drawing of political districts in Alabama and Arizona.
◆ A dispute between Congress and the president over passports that is heavy with Middle East politics.
◆ A faulty traffic stop over a car’s broken brake light in North Carolina.
◆ The use of a law to prevent document shredding against a fisherman accused of throwing undersized red grouper overboard.
◆ The prosecution of a self-styled rapper whose Facebook postings threatened his estranged wife, an FBI agent and area schools.
Today’s a rg ument involves the North Carolina traffic stop that led to the discovery of cocaine in Nicholas Heien’s Ford Escort. A police officer pulled the car over when he saw the right brake light wasn’t working, although the left one was. Typically, evidence found in a car pulled over for a valid reason can be used against a defendant. But North Carolina’s quirky traffic laws mandate that only one brake light on a car be working.
The case tests whether the officer’s mistaken understanding of the law makes the traffic stop unreasonable and the ensuing search a violation of Heien’s constitutional rights. Among Heien’s arguments is that citizens can’t plead ignorance of the law when they are charged with a crime, so there shouldn’t be a double standard for the police. A divided state Supreme Court said the mistake was reasonable enough to justify the routine traffic stop.
On Tuesday, the justices will take up the case of Arkansas prison inmate Gregory Holt, who says his Muslim beliefs require him to grow a half-inch beard. Arkansas prison officials permit no beards, with the exception of inmates with certain skin conditions, who can have beards a quarterinch long.
Prison officials say their rule is a matter of security because beards can be used to hide prohibited items, and 18 states are backing the state’s argument. But groups across the political spectrum and the Obama administration say Holt has a right to grow a beard under a federal law aimed at protecting prisoners’ religious rights. More than 40 states already allow beards, with little evidence that inmates have tried to hide prohibited items in them.
Last term, the court was bitterly divided over the religious rights of familyowned corporations that objected to paying for women’s contraceptives under President Barack Obama’s health care law. This case appears likely to unite the court, said University of Notre Dame law professor Richard Garnett. “I think there’s every reason to expect agreement among the justices that Arkansas hasn’t even come close to satisfying the burden,” Garnett said.
The court’s calendar this fall also includes a foray into the online world. Anthony Elonis of Bethlehem, Pa., is challenging his conviction for using Facebook to post threats of violence. The issue in Elonis’ case is whether he had to intend to make the threats. The government argues that the proper measure is whether a reasonable person would feel threatened.
Elonis said his online postings should be considered speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and that he used the forum to vent his frustration over a series of events that included the loss of his job and the breakup of his marriage.
Beyond individual cases on the docket, court observers across the political spectrum are using the milestone 10th year to offer assessments of Roberts and the court he leads.
The liberal Constitutional Accountability Center has embarked on a yearlong study of the chief justice, noting that he said at his confirmation hearings he would pursue restraint and unanimity on the bench.
Some conservatives are dismayed by what they see as Roberts’ unwillingness to take big steps on key issues, and they have yet to forgive his vote to uphold Obama’s health care law in 2012.
With the court closely divided on key issues, a change on the bench can mean the difference between victory and defeat. That was indeed the case with the replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor with Justice Samuel Alito, affecting outcomes in cases on abortion, race and campaign finance.
Categories: News

Baldwin wins Wendy's, now has fastest time in the state

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 05:10
On Saturday at the Wendy's Invitational at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, East Henderson senior Tanis Baldwin captured the Boys Invitational race with a record-setting time of 15:02.
His time is the top time in a 5K race in North Carolina, and according to NCMileSplit.com, it's now the 11th-fastest in the country.
He eclipsed his previous personal best of 15:08, which he set in his junior year last season when he finished runner-up at the 3-A state championship meet to Terry Sanford's Phillip Hall at Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville.
Baldwin won the 3-A boys cross country state title his sophomore season with a time of 15:28.
In the girls race, East had two girls place in the top 50: Aimee Fish was 41st with a time of 21:04, and Jade Baldwin was 48th with a time of 21:15.
Up next for East's boys and girls will be the WNC Athletic Conference meet on Oct. 14 at Western Carolina University. The 3-A West Regional meet will be Oct. 25 at Jackson Park, followed by the 3-A state championships, which will be held Nov. 1 in Kernersville.
Categories: News

WNC breweries take honors in Denver

Sun, 10/05/2014 - 16:21
DENVER – Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada each took home a medal Saturday at the Great American Beer Festival, joining three smaller Western North Carolina breweries that earned hardware at the world's largest commercial beer competition.
Oskar Blues was given a silver medal in the Chocolate Beer category for its Death by Coconut, while Sierra Nevada was awarded the bronze for Imperial Stout with its fall seasonal Narwhal – the third consecutive year that a version of the beer has medaled since the dark brew debuted in 2012.
Meanwhile, Pisgah Brewing of Black Mountain (Chocolate Beer), Fonta Flora Brewery of Morganton (Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout) and Asheville's Wicked Weed Brewing (Specialty Honey Beer) each earned a gold medal in their respective categories. It was Wicked Weed's second consecutive GABF gold since opening its brewery and restaurant in downtown Asheville in December 2012.
For Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada, it continued a long string of success at the competition, which this year saw nearly 6,000 beers from a record 1,329 breweries from all 50 states judged in 90 categories, making it the most challenging year ever to win an award.
The competition is part of the three-day annual beer-tasting festival at the Colorado Convention Center, with 50,000 attendees from around the world. Online tickets sold out this year in about 30 minutes.
“I always love this time, because it's more about the camaraderie with the people you get to see, people in this industry that I truly respect who are in it for the right reasons,” Oskar Blues founder and owner Dale Katechis said Wednesday from his Tasty Weasel Taproom in nearby Longmont, Colo. “The awards are for the guys that are here doing the overnights six nights a week, busting their butts, who deserve some recognition for a craft and an art … for those reasons I'd love to see some (medals) come home.”
Joining the Longmont staff on stage to accept Oskar Blues' award was Zach Horn of Fletcher, who started at the company's Brevard brewery last year and this August was promoted to senior brewer.
The event gives breweries huge exposure on a national level, while a medal in the competition can forever change the fortunes of a beer company. For that reason, Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville was one of 460 first-timers that entered this year.
“A medal is huge,” said SAB co-owner and brewer Andy Cubbin via text message. “It puts you on the U.S. map; not just the state. I can't even imagine what it would do for distribution.”
The record number of entries at this year's competition is reflective of craft beer's surging growth, with now more than 3,100 breweries operating in the U.S. compared to about 40 when the GABF began in 1982. According to the Brewers Association, the most amount of breweries ever recorded at one time in the U.S. was about 4,100 in the 1870s. With about 1.5 new breweries opening per day throughout the country, that number may be surpassed in the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, 700-plus breweries poured more than 3,500 of their beers for attendees in the festival hall, which moved nearly 7,000 kegs over the three days.
Categories: News