HI: 58 LOW: 37
Only one minor injury was reported after a car struck a school bus carrying several elementary school students Tuesday afternoon on U.S. Route 25.
The wreck occurred at about 2:15 p.m. on Route 25 northbound between mile markers 5 and 6 near the Flat Rock exit.
A car struck the rear of the bus and became lodged underneath. The driver, Nicholas Payton, 22, of East Flat Rock, reported minor injuries including a facial laceration, neck pain, scratches and bruises.
The bus was carrying fifth-graders from Clear Creek Elementary who were attending Henderson County Public Schools' week-long Outdoor Education program at Camp Glen Arden.
None of the students were injured, and were taken back to school on another bus, Superintendent David Jones said at the scene.
The bus driver told Jones that she felt an impact or flat tire, and then heard students say that a car was stuck under the bus. When she stopped, Payton came up to the door.
Jones said the driver of the car told the bus driver that he had looked down for a moment, and when he looked back up, he had struck the bus and become stuck underneath.
Payton said he was on his way home after visiting friends and had his cellphone in his lap in case of emergency. He felt something happening on his phone and looked down briefly to see what it was.
Payton said that when he looked up, he saw he had hit the bus. With his windshield and driver's side window broke, he crawled out the passenger side and ran to the bus to check on the students.
Payton was not taken to a hospital and said he would probably see a doctor Wednesday.
The N.C. Highway Patrol is investigating and said charges may be pending.
Blue Ridge Community College to Partner with The Gorge Zipline to Offer Zipline Canopy Tour Guide Training
Blue Ridge Community College will offer a forty-hour Zipline Canopy Tour Guide Training course beginning in November. Course information will prepare students to work as zipline guides and prepare completers to sit for Level I Certification from the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT).
The course will meet November 5-13 on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community College Henderson County Campus. Hands-on instruction will take place on November 15-16 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at The Gorge Zipline adventure company at the Green River Gorge in nearby Saluda. The fee for the course is $125.
The course is limited to 20 students and pre-registration is required. Registration for the course is available online at www.blueridge.edu/continuing-
Introduction to Bicycle Mechanics is also planned for November. Other new outdoor leadership courses planned for 2015 include Wilderness First Responder and Survey of Outdoor Leadership.
Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) has released the following statemen regarding the potential Ebola crisis:
First and foremost, my heart goes out to the victims of Ebola both domestically and abroad. To date, Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 4,400 people around the globe. The Obama Administration assured the American people that Ebola would not spread to the U.S., but due to a lack of preparedness and a breakdown of basic protocol, it did.
The U.S. needs to immediately halt flights from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This is a potential public health crisis—we can’t afford to wait any longer. Today, the President announced a new ‘Ebola Czar’ to oversee the situation. I am not confident that appointing another bureaucrat is the answer. This seems like nothing more than an attempt to appear to be addressing a problem while actually doing very little to solve it.
Along with more than 100 of my colleagues in the House, I have publicly called on the Obama Administration to use its authority to suspend travel from the afflicted nations. American lives are at risk—it’s time for real action.
The Board of Trustees of Flat Rock Playhouse has named Lisa K. Bryant its fourth artistic director in the 62-year history of the theater.
Bryant has served as the Playhouse’s acting artistic director since May and prior to that was the associate artistic director beginning in 2012.
Bryant brings a long history of artistic excellence, leadership and collaboration to her new role, according to a news release issued Monday morning. “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “My Fair Lady,” “Cats,” “Once On This Island” and “RENT” are some of the shows Bryant has directed at Flat Rock Playhouse. Each has received rave reviews and delivered solid box office results, the release says.
“Lisa is admired by several generations of Vagabonds for her artistic vision, her management skills, her passion for the YouTheatre program, and her respect for everyone who works on The Rock,” Playhouse Board President Cliff Stalter said in a prepared statement. “She is the right person to lead Flat Rock Playhouse artistry into the future.
“Since becoming acting artistic director in May, Lisa has demonstrated every attribute we are looking for in our new artistic director,” Stalter said. “It became clear that we do not need to conduct a national search. We have the best candidate right here. The public’s response to both the shows she has directed and the season she has put together for 2015 confirms for us that she has a natural feel for the type of theater our community wants to support.”
WNC WOOLY WORMS...FROM BANNER ELK TO POWDER CREEK...ARE ALMOST SOLID BLACK THIS FALL
THE FORECASTERS WHKP RELIES ON, INCLUDING THE OLD FARMER'S ALMANAC, ARE UNANIMOUS...IT'LL BE A COLD AND SNOWY WINTER IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. RAY'S WEATHER SERVICE AGREED THIS WEEKEND. THE ASHEVILLE AREA IS LIKELY TO RECEIVE A TOTAL OF A FOOT AND A HALF OF SNOW THIS WINTER!
Area and national forecasters seem agree, based on the likely formation of an El Nino pattern far away in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
Ray's Weather Center, a localized weather source based in Boone and covering Western North Carolina, in releasing its annual Fearless Winter Forecast on Friday predicted overall cold temperatures and above-average snowfall – to the tune of 18 inches in Asheville. The city averages about 12 inches per winter.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, in its winter forecast released Thursday, also predicted cooler-than-average temperatures and above-average precipitation, though without being specific about snowfall.
While other factors are involved, both forecasts are based largely on the likelihood that an El Nino pattern will set up by the end of the year. El Nino, a periodic warming of tropical Pacific waters, can affect weather around the world, generally bringing cooler, wetter weather to the Southeast.
"The wild card, I think, is how strong the El Nino will be," said Ray's Weather Center founder Ray Russell.
He said an El Nino "is a huge factor in the southeastern U.S."
In the last El Nino, in 2009-10, Asheville marked one of its snowiest winters on record, with 39.2 inches. And the city in 2009 ended up with 62.13 inches of rain, well above the 45-inch average.
If the El Nino pattern holds true, look for snow amounts to pick up as the winter progresses, Russell said.
"El Nino winters tend to have less snow in the first half and more in the second half," he said.
Russell reminded readers to keep a long range forecast in perspective.
"We put the best science to it that we could, but at the same time in any long range forecast things can happen," he said. "Everyone should take any long range forecast with a grain of salt."
Climate Prediction Center meteorologist Dave Unger said a cooler-than-normal temperature forecast for the Asheville area is pretty solid. But forecasting precipitation is more difficult because the city is near the border of where above-average meets below-average outlooks. The spine of the Appalachian Mountains is the line of separation.
"It's a close call on precipitation, but you're more on the wet side than the dry side," Unger said. "Tennessee is on the dry side."
Elsewhere in the U.S., the CPC's winter outlook calls for above-average precipitation across the southern tier, from the southern half of California, across the Southwest, South-central, and Gulf Coast states, Florida, and along the eastern seaboard to Maine. Above-average precipitation also is expected in southern Alaska and the Alaskan panhandle. Below-average precipitation is likely in Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest.
The forecast calls for below-average temperatures in the south-central and southeastern states, but warmer-than-average temperatures in the western U.S., extending from the west coast through most of the inter-mountain west and across the U.S.-Canadian border through New York and New England, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.
The rest of the country falls into the "equal chance" category, meaning temperatures and precipitation could go either way.
In its annual prediction, the Farmer's Almanac also is calling for a chilly, wet winter in the eastern U.S.
At the 37th Annual Woolly Worm Festival this weekend in Banner Elk, the champion woolly worm also made a similar prediction.
The Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper called Henderson County Sheriff Charlie McDonald's planned Citizens Preparedness Division a "possee"...but in an interview with WHKP News on Friday, the sheriff said that's not it at all. And in this politiucal season, he says he's not at all surprised that there are those who would use something like that to, as he put it, "shoot us in the leg".
McDonald described that planned division as a group of over a dozen right-minded, patriotic, local citizens willing to be trained and give the time to the community to supplement sheriff's department resources in such critical situations as the "Blizzard of 1993" when manpower is spread thin.
He said they will have no arrest power, yet they'll have the traning and committment to help when needed in extreme situations, and he citedd a number of examples in rcent county history when local "good citizen volunteers" have been called upon to assist law enforcement, including the Piedmont Airlines plane crash in the 1960s, school fires in the early 70s, the manhunt on Sugarloaf Mountain in the l980s, and the winterblizzard in the 90s. "It's a matter of being prepared and pro-active rather than reactive," said the sheriff.
In the interview with WHKP News on Friday after the Citizen-Times article appeared Friday morning, Sheriff McDonald said the "Citizens Preparedness Division" is something he's had in mind since he was sworn in two yerars ago to replace Rick Davis as sheriff...but McDonald said he'd had more pressing issues with the department to address first. He promised that if re-elected, there would be some other forward-thinking changes made in the department starting on November 5th.
McDonald won the Republican primary election for sheriff back in May by a wide margin over several challengers, including some in local law enforcement and he's being opposed in the general election by Democrat Marty Katz, is a former law enforcement officer in New Jersey and Florida.
Here is part of Friday morning's Citizen-Times article:
For now, the group includes 15 people. All had to pass background checks. And each has gone through low-level training so they can work at a deputy's side during emergencies "in keeping with the right that a sheriff has to deputize a posse."
McDonald, in interviews in recent weeks, called the effort forward-thinking, though it stands out in North Carolina, where law enforcement agencies typically give volunteers duties rarely extending beyond filing papers or directing traffic.
Some police departments and sheriff offices do seek volunteers to deepen connections in the community.
But McDonald said he was approached with the idea of the Preparedness Division by someone with a military background, and he has not publicized the group's role.
Division members are not authorized to carry guns when assisting the department, McDonald said, "unless there was an exigent need to deputize personnel for a specific crisis event."
That's something he would like to be able to do, if necessary, he said. He mentioned a natural disaster like the Blizzard of 1993 as an example of when the group might be used.
"We aren't there yet, but certainly I want to be prepared for that eventuality," he said. "Having good citizens pre-vetted and trained to a basic level, to be able to aid and assist the Sheriff's Office, is forward-thinking and good civic posture for any community that is committed to law and order and constitutional freedoms."
The training was offered over eight months starting late last year. Participants learned how to search a building for an intruder and ride with a patrol officer, among other aspects.
They also learned how to disable guns they might find lying around to make a scene safe for an officer.
Some in the group were interested in preparing their families for a massive emergency, the sheriff said. McDonald said the training goes beyond that.
"You can stack ammo and food in your basement for the next 10 years, and that is your prerogative; you can do that," he said. "But what I'm really looking for is folks who are willing to kind of crossover and take responsibility for looking after their neighbors."
FROM BLUE RIDGE NOW.COM BY TIMES-NEWS REPORTER NATHANIEL AXTELL
(A PODCAST OF THE FORUM IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE WHKP.COM WEB SITE FEATURED AUDIO)
It was billed as a candidates’ forum, but the discourse Tuesday between state Sen. Tom Apodaca and his Democratic challenger, Rick Wood, sounded at times more like a terse debate.
The candidates’ first in-person exchange of the campaign season — during an on-air forum at WHKP radio — found Wood and Apodaca clashing over school spending, Medicaid growth, tax reforms, voting law changes, fracking and coal ash.
During one of the forum’s more combative moments, Wood challenged Apodaca to disclose how many cases of voter fraud in North Carolina have been successfully prosecuted in the last two years.
The retired educator said election reforms pushed by GOP lawmakers — including ending same-day registration and pre-registration of high school upperclassmen — seemed “aimed at limiting voting by certain groups of people, rather than getting a voter ID.”
“It’s hard for me to believe anybody that’s lived in Western North Carolina any time at all hasn’t been familiar with what used to go on in Madison County up until four or five years ago with voter fraud,” Apodaca shot back. “It was just a way of life over there. So to hear that it’s not a problem — no, it is a problem.”
Lawmakers got rid of same-day registration because “it was scary how lenient that was,” Apodaca added. “And there needs to be time to see who this person is.” Election officials told lawmakers it was too hard to track 16- and 17-year-olds after pre-registering them, he said.
Wood also challenged Apodaca on school vouchers, saying the GOP’s “opportunity scholarships” give public funds to private schools unaccountable to state standards. He said the program’s biggest recipient was Greensboro Islamic Academy, with $90,000 going to 43 students.
“We don’t know what that school teaches,” Wood said. “Senator, should our tax dollars be going to schools like that?”
Apodaca said the $10 million voucher program, modeled after one in Louisiana, is aimed at giving mostly poor, inner-city kids a way out of failing public schools. He added that Christian private schools are also eligible for the scholarships.
“I think this is something worth looking at,” he said. “These aren’t regular children. These are impoverished children that have no opportunities, that have no other options. So why should we go against them so hard? I do not understand why the other side dislikes poor children that much.”
Wood also went at his opponent on the environment, calling Apodaca a “Johnny Come Lately” for sponsoring legislation to clean up toxic coal ash ponds after accepting $68,500 from Duke Energy during his 12 years in office. He also criticized the senator’s vote to “fast-track” hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
“I believe government should be on the side of the people, not puppets to Duke Energy,” Wood said.
“I’m not going to be getting anything from Duke Energy now,” Apodaca said wryly, referring to his coal ash cleanup bill. “They’re not particularly happy with me. Speaking of Johnny Come Latelys, his (Wood’s) party had (control) for 140 years. What in the world did they do? Not a dang thing.”
Coal ash is tied to fracking, Apodaca said, because Duke wouldn’t need to generate electricity from coal if there was a better supply of natural gas. Moreover, he said, fracking isn’t a threat to WNC because gas deposits lie farther east and a new state fracking law is the “toughest... in the country.”
Much of the forum focused on questions about public education. Wood said Apodaca bragged that the Republican-led legislature increased funding for public schools, but failed to mention that the state has several thousand more students to teach.
“So if you have more students and you’re spending just a little bit more, you really get behind,” he said. “And we’re getting behind in a lot of ways.”
Wood cited Republican cuts to textbook funding, instructional supplies, teacher positions and teacher assistants, despite larger class sizes and greater testing requirements being placed on teachers’ shoulders statewide.
“Yes, I ran an ad last year saying K-12 (spending) was right at $7.9 billion,” Apodaca said. “Well, I’m happy to report this year that it’s $8.2 billion. So no matter how you look at it, spending on education has increased.”
He said the largest cuts to teacher positions and textbooks came at the hand of Democrats in 2008 and 2010, and that a $500 million reduction charged to Republicans in attack ads was simply taking an outdated accounting method called negative reserves “off the books.”
“In this year’s budget, we actually reduced the class size for K-3,” Apodaca said. “My question there is, well, what are they doing with the money? We did allocate it to cut classroom sizes and then I hear the folks out in administration saying we’re having enlarged classrooms.”
One of the reason the legislature doesn’t have enough money to give all teachers a sizeable raise, Wood said, is due to a GOP-sponsored tax reform bill in 2013. Quoting State Budget Director Lee Roberts, he said the state took in $313 million less in July, August and September than the same time last year.
“That illustrates that the tax cuts that my opponent brags about will leave our state a $1 billion shortfall when they meet next year to appropriate a new budget,” Wood said. “That will mean even more cuts to our local schools.”
But Roberts also said this week that revenues in the first three months of the fiscal year were at 98 percent, Apodaca countered. Besides, he said, the tax reforms put in place by Republicans won’t be realized until April 2015, “so you really can’t say you don’t have the money.”
The candidates also differed on the benefits of the tax overhaul, with Wood charging that “70, 80 percent of North Carolinians” — primarily lower-income and middle class citizens — will actually see an increase in their overall tax burden due to the loss of their Earned Income Tax Credit and expanded sales taxes.
WHKP News Director Larry Freeman asked Apodaca if his taxes were going to go up.
“You call me after you fill them out, because the data I’ve seen is that over 85 percent of North Carolinians are going to have a lower tax bill when this is implemented,” Apodaca said. “Also, the Earned Income Tax Credit is gotten by those who have no income, so it’s just an additional income stream for them, another revenue item for the unemployed.”
The two candidates did agree on the value of term limits, with Wood pledging to limit himself to three terms if elected. Apodaca said it was most important to limit the terms of House and Senate leaders. For rank-and-file members, he said, elections and aging keep turnover fluid.
“If you go in as I did, as he would as a minority, back-row member, it took me four years to learn how to get to the building,” Apodaca joked. “And then you can do two more years. I mean, you’re not able to accomplish anything. Longevity has its place... many times, some of your older legislators are your best legislators.”
Wood said the real problem in Raleigh isn’t longevity, but partisanship.
“We need to work together and find common-sense solutions, not blaming the other party,” he said. “Democrats made mistakes when they were in power, many mistakes. Republicans are making some of the same mistakes now. We’ve got to work together.”
To listen to the entire forum, visit WHKP’s archive at www.buzzsprout.com/11590/212350-candidate-forum-featuring-rick-wood-tom-apodaca-moderated-by-larry-freeman.
WHKP WILL PRESENT A SIMILAR FORUM WITH SHERIFF'S CANDIDATES INCUMBENT CHARLIE MCDONALD (R) AND CHALLENGER MARTY KATZ (D) AT 9AM TUESDAY OCTOBER 28TH
THE ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES AND WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY SAY: IT'S IME FOR OCTOBER'S FALL COLOR
Western North Carolina's annual fall color display should draw more tourists this October than last year when a federal government shutdown stymied some travelers, according to a new study from Western Carolina University.
With the national parks open and fall colors forecast to be especially good this year, hotel occupancy rates should increase in 21 mountain counties, according to the second annual "October Tourism Forecast for Western North Carolina."
The report is developed by students in a senior-level "Tourism Strategies" class taught by Steve Morse, economist and director of the Hospitality and Tourism Program in WCU's College of Business.
"The federal government shutdown during the first 15 days of October in 2013 resulted in little growth in tourism last year because of the closure of campgrounds and visitor centers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway," Morse said.
"Our analysis indicates those who did not travel to the mountains last October may have a stronger desire this year to feed their fall foliage yearning."
The students analyzed data supplied by Smith Travel Research, a leading source of information for the hospitality industry. The students' forecast also is based on declining gasoline prices, new tourism marketing campaigns by the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau and by Smoky Mountain Host promoting WNC as an outdoors destination, improving economic conditions and "pent-up travel demand," Morse said.
Another factor, Morse said, is the improving outlook for leaf-lookers in the mountains, as WCU fall foliage forecaster Kathy Mathews, associate professor of biology, says the chances are increasing for a brilliant fall color season this year. "Brighter colors should attract even more tourists this year," Morse said.
In the tourism study, the WCU students divided 21 WNC counties into five groups; examined the total number of hotel rooms sold and the overall occupancy rates for October 2013; compared weekday and weekend occupancy rates from last October; and determined the average change in the number of hotel nights sold for October during the previous three years. The students' predictions, by region:
Region 1 – Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Macon counties: A 2.7 percent increase in October 2014 tourism compared to last October.
Region 2 – Haywood, Jackson, Transylvania and Swain counties: A 3.3 percent increase in October 2014 tourism compared to last October.
Region 3 – Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes counties: A 2 percent increase in October 2014 tourism compared to last October.
Region 4 – Burke, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties: A 1.7 percent increase in October 2014 tourism compared to last October.
Region 5 – Buncombe and Henderson counties: A 3.7 percent increase in October 2014 tourism compared to last October.
Ty Marion, a senior from Hendersonville majoring in hospitality and tourism, said the project provided a new perspective on the annual fall color show. "Since the leaves start changing colors in early October and continue for the rest of the month, tourists travel from all over, which increases everything from the demand of hotel rooms to revenue," said Marion, a 2007 graduate of East Henderson High School.
The "October Tourism Forecast for Western North Carolina" is part of a series of reports about travel trends in the mountain region to be provided by Morse and his students.
For more information about WCU's Hospitality and Tourism Program, visit the website hospitalityandtourism.wcu.edu. For a copy of the tourism forecast report, call 828-227-3386.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals will hold a session of court in Hendersonville on Monday, October 20 at 1:00 p.m. The appeals court will sit in the former main courtroom (now used for meetings of the County Commissioners) of the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hendersonville, and will be open to the public.
The court session was scheduled by the Court of Appeals, which usually holds court in Raleigh, after an invitation by the Henderson County Bar Association, the local group for Henderson County lawyers. “We’re very excited that the Court has accepted our invitation to visit Hendersonville,” said Bar Association President Anderson Ellis. “This is a terrific opportunity for the residents and students of Hendersonville to experience first-hand one of the higher levels of our state judicial branch. We hope that everyone will take advantage of the visit to become familiar with how our appeals court works.”
In North Carolina, civil and criminal cases first go to trial in the District and Superior Courts, which are conducted in each county in the state. If a case is appealed from these courts, unless it is a murder case in which the death penalty is given, it is heard by the Court of Appeals. The Court reviews cases for errors of law and legal procedure, and its fifteen judges are elected and serve eight-year terms.
The three-judge panel of Judges Linda McGee, Robert Hunter, and Sanford Steelman are set to hear two cases in Hendersonville. The first case, Bottom v. Bailey (COA 14-564), is an appeal from Buncombe County and addresses the mishandling of funds involved in a “check kiting” scheme. The second case, Town of Black Mountain v. Lexon Insurance Company (COA 14-740), is also an appeal from Buncombe County, and revolves around bonds issued for the construction of a subdivision that fell through due to the recession of 2008-2009. Each case has two parties, and each party is given 30 minutes to argue; each case will take approximately one hour, and the court session will run from 1:00 p.m. until approximately 4:00 p.m.
Henderson County Public Schools and Historic Johnson Farm announcethat Joy Owens of Hendersonville, NC is theFarm Director.
Owens was hired after a search and interview process, and began work at the beginning of school year 2014-15. (She succeeds Farm Director Ingrid McNair who retired August 31, 2014)
Owens is a resident of Henderson County, anda product of Henderson County Public Schools. She attended Mills River Elementary School, Rugby Middle School and West Henderson High School.
She attended Furman University in Greenville, SC, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BS Degree in Sustainability Science. During her time at Furman, she served as year-long manager of Furman Farm, an organic farm on campus. She supervised a staff of eight students in a work study program, and managed other student volunteers as well as volunteers from the Greenville community.
She also worked as an Education Intern with the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. While there she participated in the Climate Friendly Parks project, gave house tours, cared for animals, and was exposed to all aspects of the park and its education programs.
Owens is currently accepting reservations for school field trips at the farm. Since coming to Historic Johnson Farm, she has been involved in studying what the teams of farmvolunteers have done in the past. She is involved in organizing andputting her personal stamp on all the planned educational activities offered at the farm.
Owens started a Facebook page for the farm, to compliment and add to the farm website at www.historicjohnsonfarm.org.
Everyone associated with Historic Johnson Farm is looking forward to a bright future under her direction.
Historic Johnson Farm is open Tuesday – Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. There is no charge to walk the grounds. Visitors may enjoy one of the guided tours of the brick farmhouse, boarding house and other buildings at 10: am and 1:30 pm at $5 for adults, and $3 for children. Preschoolers are admitted free. It is located at 3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville, NC across from Rugby Middle School. Call 828-891-6585 for more information.