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 A letter from 51 teachers at West Henderson High School at least temporarily changed the mind of the local school board...and stopped the state's so-called 25 per cent contract and pay plan.

This came as State Representative Chuck McGrady, who co-chairs the state House Education Appropriations Committee, was hearing emotional stories of concern and hardhsip from teachers and administrators in the Henderson County Association of Educators.

The Hendersonville Times-News reported Tuesday that the Henderson County School Board voted unanimously Monday to table a second reading and vote on a state-mandated plan to select which teachers will receive four-year contracts and raises in lieu of “career status,” or tenure.

The General Assembly passed a budget bill last year that abolishes tenure, enacted in 1971 to protect educators from being dismissed or demoted without due process, and requires schools to identify 25 percent of their teachers to receive four-year contracts and $500 annual raises in its place.

School board members reluctantly Ok'd a draft plan to implement the state law last month, but tabled a second vote required for passage Monday after hearing a letter from 51 teachers at West Henderson High that was read aloud.

“We do not wish to participate in a law that seeks to divide and conquer, rather than unite a group of adults who work together every day to help young people prepare for their futures,” the letter read. The signees asked the board to follow the lead of other systems that “are choosing to fight the law.”

Last week, the Buncombe County School Board passed a resolution that requests the General Assembly “rescind all provisions of the Appropriations Act that eliminate career status for those teachers who already have been awarded” tenure. It further asks to use the state’s allocation for 25 percent contracts toward recruiting, retaining and rewarding “excellence in teaching.”

On Monday, Henderson County school board members asked that a similar resolution in opposition to the state’s mandate be drafted for consideration at their next meeting. It wasn’t clear whether board members intend to pass the resolution in place of the “contract selection plan,” or in concert with its adoption.





 Pardee Hospital announces an affiliation with UNC Health Care            

Pardee Hospital was recently ranked as the sixth most affordable hospital in North Carolina by independent consumer financial advisor, NerdWallet. This ranking looked at the highest number of affordable treatments along with patient satisfaction to compile rankings. The University of North Carolina Hospitals, a Pardee affiliate also placed ninth on this distinguished list. Pardee was one of only two hospitals within western North Carolina, the other being MedWest-Haywood.     

Alan House, Chief Financial Officer at Pardee Hospital, commented, “Every hospital strives to be recognized for both quality and affordability. Pardee Hospital has shown that it is dedicated to providing the best value to patients in western North Carolina.”

NerdWallet had the following remarks about Pardee Hospital, “This non-profit’s commitment to high standards of care and cost efficiency yields a patient satisfaction rate of 73 percent. Pardee provides affordable treatments for pacemaker implantation, diagnostic cardiac catheterization and heart rhythm disorders. It was the first and only hospital in North Carolina to be accredited for quality care by the International Organization for Standardization.”

NerdWallet assists consumers nationwide with comparative data that allows for more informed decisions, and their “Best Hospitals” tool is getting attention as price transparency becomes more prominent. For a list of the top ten hospitals, visit NerdWallet.

Using CMS Medicare Provider Charge Data, NerdWallet calculated which of the 50 largest hospitals in North Carolina (of 88 total) has the lowest price for each of the 100 most common medical procedures. They then summed the number of times that each hospital had the lowest price and ranked based on which hospitals had the highest number. The data are for services billed for Medicare patients. Patient satisfaction ratings were obtained from HCAHPS, a nationally administered survey on patient satisfaction. “Satisfied” was taken to be patients who reported, “I would definitely recommend this hospital” on this survey. 

NerdWallet offers an unbiased ranking of data collected, in a clear and easy to understand format. NerdWallet offers financial guidance on finance, investing, education shopping and health care. NerdWallet has been recognized as a “Best For Your Health” in Kiplinger’s best financial products for consumers catagory. It has received recognition by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their “Best Hospitals” application that helps consumers understand health prices and quality together. It has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Reuters and MSN Money.



Mills River Logo

Fundraising is no walk in the park, but that didn't keep Mills River Town Council from tackling some tough issues about fundraising for Mills River Park last Thursday night.  Key items for discussion included recommendations from the Town’s Park Committee. Those recommendations impact how the nonprofit, Mills River Recreation Foundation, pursues funding for future phases in the park.

“Mills River Recreation Foundation is a nonprofit separate from the Town created to fund-raise for the Mills River Park future phases.  We have been generating ideas for how to raise money in support of the park this summer, but we wanted to make sure that the methods we use would be acceptable to the Town so that our partnership is able to better benefit the community,” Mills River Recreation Foundation President, Jollene Austin said. 

The Mills River Park Committee made two key recommendations about fundraising that were considered at the Town Council meeting and supported by Council.  The first was in support of having commercial sponsor-ships in the park.  The second was not to allow fundraising events in the park that include alcohol.  The park rules currently prohibit alcohol and tobacco use in the park.

“The Town’s Park Committee is charged with making recommendations to Council about anything park related.  We highly value their advice on how we make use of and plan for the park.  Our Town Council sought their guidance in these decisions so that they could better inform Mills River Recreation Foundation on their fundraising strategies.  Ultimately, all three groups have the same goal of seeing the park develop for our citizens,” Mills River Town Manager Jamie Laughter said. 

The Mills River Recreation Foundation is encouraging any individual, business or organization with fundraising ideas or opportunities for the park to contact Jollene Austin at (828) 699-7575

For more information regarding this press release, please contact Jaime Laughter at (828) 890-2901 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


After many years of indecision on what to do with the "city owned" Grey's Hosiery Mills property on Grove Street, City Council decided Thursday night to allow the property to be marketed by a group with a successful track record of marketing historic properties.

The Hendersonville Times-News is reporrting Friday that by a 4-1 vote, Hendersonville City Council approved a plan to allow Preservation North Carolina to market, sell and profit from the sale of the city’s last historic industrial building Thursday night.

Council members Jeff Miller and Steve Caraker noted that they were running out of time to secure a developer for the Grey Hosiery Mill with the sunset of a state tax credit looming on the horizon.

Councilman Jerry Smith preferred to try to sell the property through an auction first and said that if the city didn’t get any respectable bids, it could always allow PNC to take over the land at that point.

City Manager John Connet said three developers have expressed interest in the property. He said PNC has a national reputation for successfully taking historic parcels threatened by demolition or disuse and connecting them with developers who protect the site’s historical integrity.

He recommended the city maintain ownership of the property, but give PNC “the option to receive the property as a donation, if they were able to find a suitable project. So ultimately they would be like a real estate agent. They would market the property, vet any proposals and look for the best option of using the property. They would suggest that we give them one year… to market the property and evaluate all proposals.”

He added, however, that the council would have “limited control” of the project and any proceeds from the sale of the property would go to PNC to support the nonprofit.




The Henderson County Education Foundation on March 20 will enshrine nine more into its Education Hall of Fame, for exemplary contribution to local public schools.


The nine are former Supt. Dr. Dan Lunsford and these retirees: principal Julia Trimble Redden; basketball coaches-teachers Drew Brannon and Rick Wood, first-ever Child Nutrition Director Ruth Sass; and teachers Bobbie L. Caldwell, Madeleine C. Duncan, Linda B. Flynn and Sara Lee Nickell. All but Redden are living.


“The Class of 2014 is a very diverse class,” HCEF Executive Director Dr. Don Jones said. “We have a college administrator (Lunsford), who was our superintendent for the merger. We have a 40-year coach (Wood), who has contributed on the school board, History Initiative (as current chairman) and Kiwanis Club. Drew Brannon has taught, coached, and he’s served in Soil and Water Conservation for 40 years. Ruth Sass was our first child nutrition director. The teachers inducted have made distinctive contributions. And Julia Redden was the face of Valley Hill School for 43 years.”


The keynote speaker is eloquent Board of Public Education Chairperson Ervin W. Bazzle.


The 12th annual TD Bank/HCEF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies will be Thursday, March 20 in Hendersonville Country Club. A half-hour social time begins at 5:30 p.m. Dinner starts at 6 p.m., also downstairs in the large Horizon Room.

This is HCEF’s main fundraiser, to help pay for scholarships and grants. Park Ridge Health and Selee Corp. return as banquet sponsors, joined by retired banker J.W. Davis and three universities Lenoir Rhyne, Mars Hill and Wingate.


Each inductee, as plaques note, has shown “measurable influence or made significant contributions to the growth and development of education in Henderson County.” To get nominated a person normally must have served at least 10 years in local schools, and be retired from local public schools for at least five years or else be deceased. Lunsford was superintendent for eight years, not quite a full decade locally. But he garnered such support that he was chosen, in Category III as “other contributor to education.”

The hall is one of merely a handful across the state on such a scale and the only one in western North Carolina, State Supt. June St. Clair Atkinson said as banquet keynote speaker in 2006.


Here is more on each upcoming inductee:


Dr. Dan Lunsford shepherded in the merger of city and county schools in 1993, despite much objections initially. His innovations include requiring athletic directors be assistant principals and head coaches, alternative school, Junior ROTC at East and West Henderson, lighting at baseball fields, and a food service warehouse. Supplemental teacher salary was uniform, in his era. He has been president of Mars Hill since 2002. Mars Hill expanded into a full university last August. Lunsford is the most recent superintendent to join the HCEF Hall of Fame.


Julia Trimble Redden (1878-1951) has the earliest legacy of 2014 inductees. She is considered among the very earliest female principals in North Carolina, going back nearly a century to the Twenties. She was Valley Hill School principal officially by 1927-28, but as early as 1923-24. She was at Valley Hill for 43 years, starting as a teacher in 1902. In earlier years she may have been classified as more of a lead teacher, when actually acting as a headmaster. She is described as authoritative. She taught grades 5-7, then high school grades by the mid-Twenties. She retired in 1945.


Rick Wood is still involved in education, as a school board member. He coached boys’ varsity basketball for 40 years, the last 17 with West Henderson until retiring in 2006. Previously, he coached at Edneyville for two years. His Falcons were unbeaten before falling in the 1992 state title game. The 1994-95 squad produced current boys varsity basketball coaches Joey Bryson at North Buncombe and Ronnie Coren at North Henderson, and Luke Manuel who is West’s athletic director. Wood emphasized teamwork, sportsmanship, citizenship and academics. He taught history, most enjoying going over Civil War battles. His autobiography is 40 Seasons: The Life of a High School Basketball Coach.


Drew Brannon has also contributed to local education in various ways. He taught for 10 years at Mills River Elementary, and coached boys’ basketball and track. Previously, he taught and coached at Dana Elementary for two years. He was in Mills River High School’s last class, of 1960, before high school students went to then-new West Henderson. Brannon helped commemorate Mills River School, via the local History Initiative. He is a longtime major booster of West Falcon athletics. He helped Wood start recreation basketball on Saturdays, for seventh and eighth grade youth. Brannon has much impact in local farming, having served as county Soil and Water Conservation District chairman for 40 years.


Bobbie L. Caldwell taught for 30 years, mostly home economics in Rugby Junior High. She started in Fletcher High School in 1957-59, as among merely five teachers there. She next taught in Fletcher Elementary for eight years, starting in 1965. Then she shifted to Rugby Junior High/Middle. She taught language arts, history, science and math as well as entry-level home economics “exploratory.” Finally, she focused solely on home economics at Rugby for 14 years, from 1978-92. Skills included cooking, sewing, child care and interior decorating. Caldwell started Rugby’s award-winning parliamentary procedure teams, molding leaders.


Madeleine C. Duncan taught sixth grade for 30 years combined, at East Flat Rock Elementary then Flat Rock Middle School. She taught at Balfour Elementary for six years. After the school burned on her wedding night in 1971, classes were held in trailers. At Flat Rock, she mostly taught language arts. Students read the novel that spawned a hit movie, often preferring the book and thereby appreciating literature. In both schools, she put together a book of her students’ poetry. She has volunteered since retiring in 2006, such as in helping monitor state testing locally.


Linda B. Flynn taught for 31 years, mostly fourth grade in Mills River Elementary School in 1986 to 2007. She was very comprehensive about a subject, such as by researching the Wright Brothers’ historic flight in person at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. She personalized history, getting a B-17 crew of WWII veterans including her father to talk to students. She shared values of her youth, working hard on a farm. She’d call on a struggling student to answer questions, to get that youth more involved. She rewarded her class daily with “story time.”


Sara Lee Nickell is among teachers cited by noted author Robert Morgan, a local native, as his most influential educators. She taught English and world history in Flat Rock then East Henderson high schools. She also taught drama at East. She was among longest-serving teachers at East Henderson, for 31 years from its opening in 1960 until retiring in 1991 as head of the English department. Her first year, 1955-56, was in East Flat Rock Elementary. She led East Henderson to victory in a statewide United Nations speaking contest in the Sixties, winning a week-long trip to the U.N. in New York City.


Ruth Sass was the first child nutrition supervisor, in 1973-95. Previously, she was a hospital dietician then child nutrition consultant for schools statewide. She served both city and county schools in a joint service, for 20 years leading to the 1993 merger. Her menu analysis revealed half of schools were not meeting basic requirements. She standardized menus, improving nutrition. She saved money with bulk purchases. The local system gained an unusual honor when all of its schools received state awards of excellence for meal operations, and for several years.


The banquet price is $40 per plate. “We again anticipate a sell-out,” Dr. Jones said. Paid reservations are available through March 15, and can be made online at, or by calling Nancy Brackett at 698-8884.



Based on the long-term average, Hendersonville should be receiving close to five inches of total precipitation in the month of February. 4.76 inches of precipitation, which includes rain, sleet, melted snow, etc. is our "average" for the month. But this year, Hendersonville received less than half the normal amount. In fact, this year's total precipitation for January was only 2.20 inches.

That total, by the way, included the two and a half inches of snow measured at Broadcast House on February 13th...and the trace that fell a day later.

The monthly precipitation totals are observed and recorded at WHKP, Hendersonville's official "weather observation station" for the National Weather Service. And the long-term averages are based on daily weather records for Hendersonville that date back to 1898.

The month of March is typically a "wet" month, with an average total of over 4 inches of precipitation of precipitation for the month.







BRCHS opens new health center in Spindale


Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) is pleased to announce the opening of its newest location, the Rutherford Health Center (RHC), in Spindale, NC.  RHC offers medical and behavioral health services, as well as a discount pharmacy and plans are underway to add dental services next year.  Open five days a week, the Rutherford Health Center is currently accepting new patients starting March 3rd, 2014.  Please call 828-288-2881 to make an appointment.  Walk-in patient appointments are also accepted daily for both medical and behavioral health care.

Located at 187 South Main Street in Spindale, RHC takes over the clinical space previously used by the now-closed Rutherford Community Health Center.  RHC recently underwent the renovations necessary to operate as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), including upgrades to Information Technology and Medical Equipment.  The Rutherford Health Center staff will include four medical providers, two licensed behavioral health counselors, clinical support personnel and a practice manager and while services will be focused on the residents of Rutherford County, RHC is open to those seeking a medical home in neighboring counties as well.

Just like other BRCHS locations, Medicare, Medicaid and most major insurances are accepted.  For those who are not insured, services are offered on a sliding fee discount, but no one is turned away because of their inability to pay.  Medications are offered at a discount to RHC patients through the BRCHS 340B pharmacy program and effective April 1, will be housed down the street at Spindale Drug.

“The need for access to primary care services continues to grow in our region, particularly among vulnerable, underserved populations,” said Shannon Dowler M.D. Chief Medical Officer at BRCHS. “We have positioned ourselves to be responsive to this critical need with this new site. This allows us to increase access to care for Rutherford County residents and live out our mission to provide quality healthcare that is affordable and accessible to all.”




N.C. Forest Service



As Henderson County Emergency Management Co-Ordinator Rocky Hyder has said on WHKP's news, we are now in the most dangerous season of the year for forest fires, grass and woods fires, and for most all outdoor burning.

And the Asheville Citizen-Times reported a fire destroying at leat three acres in the Fletcher area late Sunday.

A brush fire was burning over 3 acres of a mountaintop on Sunday night. Fletcher Fire Department and the N.C. Forest Service were working to get in under control.


Tony Creasman, a firefighter with the forest service, said no homes were in danger from the blaze, which was reported around 6:50 p.m. He said the fire was on a mountain behind the area’s old brick plant.

He speculated it started because of a campfire and windy conditions.









Hendersonville will begin the spring leaf collection for City residents. Residents are asked to rake their leaves as close to the street, curb or sidewalk as possible without placing the leaves in the road or on the sidewalk.

Residents do not need to call for this service because our staff will continue collecting leaves for the entire month of March. Leaves will be picked up from homes approximately every 10 to 14 days but depending on the volume, the leaves could be picked up sooner or later than that time.

Please remember this collection process is separate from our brush collection. Residents should keep the brush and the leaves in separate piles. Please do not bag your leaves.

For questions about this project, please call the Public Works Department at (828) 697-3084.






Margaret Justus Prim


Margaret Justus Prim, 84, of Hendersonville died Thursday, February 27, 2014 at the Elizabeth House in Flat Rock. 

She was the widow of the late William S. "Bill" Prim, who was a former Henderson County commissioner, co-owner of Spearman and Prim Furniture Company, and a radio talk show host on WHKP Radio for many years.

Mrs. Prim was the daughter of the late Fred Justus who operated the historic Justus Pharmacy on Main Street for many years.  Mrs. Prim was also was a long-time member and former deacon of the Hendersonville First Presbyterian Church.  She had also volunteered over the years with the Interfaith Assistance Ministry and the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

She was a graduate of Hendersonville High School and the Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing.  A devoted care giver, she had been involved over the years with Pardee Hospital, the Henderson County Health Department, and the original local Migrant Clinic 

Arrangements for Mrs. Prim are being handled by Thomas Shepherd and Son Funeral Directors.