Duke Energy reports that the coal ash pond at their LakeJulian power plant in Skyland has now been completely cleaned up.
The pond, which dates to 1982 and was 90 feet deep in places, contained 3.7 million tons of coal, nearly all of which went to the AshevilleRegionalAirport and into lined containers to expand and update the airport’s runway.
"It’s the completion of a really transformational project here," said Jason Walls, the local government and community relations manager for Duke Energy in Western North Carolina. "This is the first site, the first basin in North Carolina that’s been fully excavated, and we’re really excited about that. It marks the opportunity now to shift from excavating coal ash into the transformation to new, clean burning natural gas power generation."
The excavation of the pond, opened in 1982, began in 2007 and ended Sept. 29. On Tuesday, dump trucks, steam rollers and earth movers were grading the site for the next step in the Western Carolinas Modernization Project.
An expanded natural gas line to the Lake Julian Plant should be complete in 2019, and a $1.1 billion natural gas-fired plant to generate electricity will also be operational that year — on the site of the now-empty coal ash pond. Construction on the gas-fired plant will begin next year.
"ONWARD AND UPWARD" TOWARD THAT CENTURY MARK!
This week, WHKP celebrates a milestone...70 years of “full service” broadcasting to the citizens of Henderson County and our western North Carrolina coverage area.
From its founding by a handful of visionary local businessmen in the early days of “local” radio broadcasting, WHKP has been locally owned and operated and continues to be as we enter our 71st year.
Literally dozens of community leaders and broadcast professionals have served our area through staff affiliation with WHKP over these seven decades, including two North Carolina Association of Broadcasters “Hall of Fame” honorees, Kermit Edney and Art Cooley.
After “signing on” on the stage of the Carolina Theater on Main Street on October 24th 1946, when Mayor Al Edwards prayed the first prayer on the station and M.M. Redden, Senior introduced us to the community, WHKP served first from its original studio in the Bowen Hotel on Church Street, then re-located to its transmitter and tower site on the banks of Mud Creek in a newer and modern “Radio enter” in the 1950s.
“Where The Heavens Kiss The Peaks” has survived five devastating floods in its 70 year history. The first one, in October 1964, knocked the station off the air for ten days and led to the state-wide award winning documentary “Floodwaters ‘64” (and walls lined with seven decades of honors and recognitions), which prompted the move to "higher ground" and to the five-level first “Broadcast House” on the corner of Duncan Hill Road and Four Seasons Boulevard in the 1970s, and eventually to the current “Broadcast House” facility at 1450 Seventh Avenue East.
WHKP was among the first to see the advantages in clearer and more powerful "FM" radio and in the mid 1950s, introduced WHKP-FM---"7800 watts of radiated sound power". WHKP also started an AM radio station in Canton, and over the years operated stations in Brevard and Tryon. In the late 1970s, WHKP introduced western North Carolina’s first full power, 100 kw. FM stereo country music giant, WKIT “Kit Kountry”.
From “live” coverage of the very first North Carolina Apple Festivalsin the 1940s and 50s, to the Piedmont plane crash, to the “Triple Murder”, and the death of Carl Sandburg in the 1960s..,.to instant and comprehensive coverage of local news, weather and sports events in the community today, WHKP continues its tradition of leadership and excellence in local broadcasting.
With a "core" staff of associates with broadcast experience totaling almost 300 years, and with consistent, familiar, and pleasant personalities and with the information the community needs and deserves, WHKP continues to be your “good neighbor”…at 1450 AM…and now at 107.7 FM and anywhere in today's digital world at whkp.com.
With seven decades of service and experience “under our belts”, and with gratitude for our listeners and for the local business community that continues to support us so faithfully, WHKP is optimistically moving forward…in the words of General Manager Art Cooley, "onward and upward…toward that century mark…as Hendersonville’s radio station of record”.
IF CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN DOES NOT RUN FOR CHAIR AGAIN
"THE HILL" CALLS MEADOWS A "CONSERVATIVE RABBLE ROUS
The conservative rabble-rouser who successfully led the charge to oust Speaker John Boehnerlast year is running to become the next chairman of the far-right Freedom Caucus, The Hill has learned.
In an interview Monday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said he hopes to replace founding Freedom Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who several sources say is expected to step down after leading the influential bloc of ultra-conservative House members the past two years.
“I would like to throw my hat in the ring for that position,” Meadows said in a phone interview after campaigning with GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence in North Carolina.
“If Jim doesn’t run and I’m reelected” to Congress, Meadows continued, “then I would certainly look to try to gain some support to replace him, only if it was with his blessing and the blessing of the majority of the Freedom Caucus.”
Meadows clarified that he would back Jordan “110 percent” if the chairman decided he wanted to stay on for a third, one-year term. A Jordan spokesman said his boss was focused on electing Republicans on Nov. 8.
The nearly 40 members of the Freedom Caucus will hold an internal election on Nov. 28, a few weeks after House Republicans elect their leadership team for the 115th Congress. Freedom Caucus bylaws state that the group’s chairman must be selected from the group’s nine-member board of directors.
The possibility of Meadows heading the Freedom Caucus comes during a difficult stretch for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). A Freedom Caucus lawmaker, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), is vying to become chairman of the 178-member Republican Study Committee or RSC. Having a Freedom member leading that caucus — the largest on Capitol Hill — could pose additional headaches for the Speaker, who himself is an RSC member.
Leaders of the Freedom Caucus recently held a conference call in which they discussed the possibility of backing a challenger to Ryan in next month’s Speaker’s race. Meadows told a local radio station last week that the effort to oust Ryan is “picking up some steam” after the Speaker said he would not defend or campaign with the GOP’s nominee, Donald Trump.
"A lot of people who believe so desperately that we need to put Donald Trump in the White House — they question the loyalty of the Speaker," Meadows told WAAV radio in Wilmington, according to CNN.
But Meadows told The Hill he’s entirely focused on electing Republicans in the Tarheel State on Nov. 8, not the internal GOP leadership races. On Monday, he introduced Pence at a rally at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., describing the Indiana governor as very “upbeat.”
“My whole focus is really more on the presidential race, the governor’s race and my race for Congress,” said Meadows, a real-estate developer who represents the western edge of North Carolina. “To waste any energy on leadership races would be taking our eye off the goal.”
One of the nine House conservatives who co-founded the Freedom Caucusin early 2015, Meadows is the only declared candidate in the chairman’s race so far. Given his popularity within the group, several Freedom member say he’d be hard to beat.
“Mark has already proven he’s a great leader. He will be able to build onto what Jordan started,” said retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), a co-founder of the caucus. “He doesn’t back down from a fight.”
That was the case in the summer of 2015, when Meadows unexpectedly introduced a resolutionon the House floor to oust then-Speaker Boehner, an Ohio Republican, in the middle of his third term. The “motion to vacate” resolution detailed a litany of complaints against Boehner, including that he limited amendments too much and punished those who disagreed with him.
The resolution festered during Congress’s summer recess that year, and Boehner resigned from Congress shortly after lawmakers returned to Washington that September. When Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suddenly bowed out of the race to replace Boehner, Ryan — the Ways and Means chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee — reluctantly agreed to take the job.
Meadows has already proved to be a thorn in Ryan’s side. During a meeting in the Speaker’s office in May, Meadows and Jordan threatened to force a floor vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen unless Ryan held impeachment hearings.
In Monday’s interview, the mild-mannered Meadows said he is cordial with Ryan but not a close friend. However, Ryan did host Meadows at a dinner earlier this year with small group of lawmakers.
If Meadows does succeed Jordan, he would likely become part of Ryan’s group of informal advisers, which meets in the Speaker’s office weekly. The group includes leaders of the various factions of the House GOP Conference: the Freedom Caucus, RSC and the centrist Tuesday Group.
“If I’ve got something that’s important as it relates to policy or something that is critical, I will reach out to [Ryan] and have a discussion,” Meadows said.
“It’s a professional relationship, not a personal one.”
BOARD OF ELECTIONS ON CENTRAL STREET, VILLAGE OF FLAT ROCK TOWN HALL, FLETCHER LIBRARY, ETOWAH LIBRARY
Record numbers of early voters turned out Thursday---and they turned out early---for the start of early “One Stop” voting at the Board of Elections on Central Street.
By mid morning Thursday, lines of voters were waiting outside on all sides of the Election Board building; every parking space was full; nearby parking lots were packed; and lines of cars were parked all up and down Central Street…with a deputy directing traffic and helping motorists onto and off of the Old Spartanburg Highway. A total of 541 had voted ny noon.
Elections Director Beverly Cunningham told WHKP News the crowd beganb to ease up by mid day Thursday. She suggested that motorists, when leaving the Election Board. drive around behind the buikding and exit on Edney Street...that will alleviate congestion.
The early voting continued at the Board of Elections on Friday and resumes on Monday from 8:30am to 6pm and on Saturday October 29 and November 5 from 8:30 until 1pm…
The early “One Stop” voting starts Monday at the three other local sites in addition to the Board of Elections office: Village of Flat Rock Town Hall, the Etowah Library, and the Fletcher Library. Their hours will be from 10am to 6pm and Saturdays from 8:30am to 1pm.
No photo ID is required; same day registration is being permitted, and “curbside” voting is available for the handicapped.
Remember…no “straight ticket” voting is allowed this time---each office must be voted for individually, which is taking up more time for voters and is likely contributing to the back-up.
Election Board officials say be sure and don’t block the drive-ways, and don’t drive the wrong way or double parkon their narrow drive-ways.
All 35 precinct polling places in Henderson County will be open for voting on election day from 6:30am to 7:30pm.
By Larry Freeman
DAVIS ARENA DOORS OPENED AT 9AM, THE RALLY STARTED AT 12 NOON
Tickets were required to get into the Donald Trump appearance and rally at the WNC Ag Center in Fletcher on Friday, but they were free and made available on various Tump web sites.
Lines began forming outside the Davis Arena long before the doors to the arena opened at 9am. Large TV network satellite trucks were on the scene, and protestors began showing up just before 9am in an area cordoned off for them outside the arena. Western North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows and former Congressman Charles Taylor spoke to the crowd while waiting for Trump to appear. Both Meadows and Taylor shared jokes about Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to the applause of the crowd. North Carolina Republican Part Chairman Robin Hayes, a former member of congress and one-time GOP gubernatorial nominee, was the master of ceremonies for Friday's event.
Trump appeared on stage and began speaking about 12:40pm He noted there were pink and white "Women For Trump" signs in the audience and predicted he would do very well with women voters. Much of what Trump had to say to the WNC audience had to do with jobs and trade, complaining of what he called bad trade deals and jobs lost due to the policies of Obama and Clinton. He was aslso critical of the way informatioin has been handled by the current administration leading up to the current assault on ISIS in Mosul. Trump said he had spent over $100 million of his own money on the current campaign, and was critical of big donors...and he vowed to go after big donors, big business, and the major news media that Trump said "...has enriched themselves at your expense."
Trump wrapped up his speech at almost exactly i:30pm, by telling the crowsd "We're going to make America safe again...we're going to make America great again." He did not mention the focus of much major coverage late this week, which is whether or not he will accept the election results if he looses,
Trump's Friday visit to the AG Center was his second trip to the Asheville area this campaign cycle---he previously appeared at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville.
North Carolibna is considered a "batleground" state in the presidential race this year, and most recent polls have Clinton leding Trump in the Tarheel state by two percentage point, well within the margin of error.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman. Updated 2:09pm. 10/22/16
The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Counbcil Thursday pointed out that Henderson County's drought situation has worsened...and the county now joins eight others in the "severe" drought classification.
The NCDMAC strongly advises all water users in the counties that are indicated on the US Drought Monitor Map as suffering from Severe Drought (D2) conditions to enact the following precautions in addition to previous advisories until further notice:
With stream flow levels falling in Hendersonville's primary source for water, the Mills River, the City of Hendersonville this week imposed "stage one" voluntary water conservation measures. Utilities Director Lee Smith says the goal of "stage one" is to reduce water consumption by ten per cent. Should the situation worsem, the city now has the option of tapping into the French Broad River for water or purhasing water from the City of Asheville. Stream flow levels would have to fall before 35 cubic feet per second for seven consequtive days in order for mandatory water restrictions to be imposed.
A growing concern with the lack of rainfall is the fire danger...amnd fire officials are predicting that situation to worsen exponentially as the drought continues AND as the leaves fall and crete a combustible situation on the ground.
National Weather Service forecasters says that after some scattered shoiwers late this week, no rainfall is in the forecast for western North Caroilina for at least a week.
Farmers in the area are expressing concern...saying there is little grass for livestock and some cow and dairy farmers are already relying on winter stockpoilkes of hay and silage to feed their animals.
By Larry Freeman
WAY ABOVE THE LONG TERM AVERAGE
October 19th is Hendersonville’s average date for our first killing frost of the fall season. But instead of “frost on the punkin”, local folks have been experiencing record setting heat for the past two days.
Tuesday’s official Hendersonville high, recorded at WHKP---the National Weather Service official weather observation station for Hendersonville---was 82 degrees which broke the previous record high for the date in Hendersonville of 81 degrees set on October 18th 1909.
Wednesday’s heat was also record setting. Hendersonville’s high on Wednesday of 83 degrees tied the record-setting 83 degree reading in Hendersonville on the 19th in both 1941 and 1985.
The high temperature Wednesday at the Asheville Regional Airport was 84 which broke the previous record high for the date in Asheville of 83 set on October 19th 1938.
Charlotte recorded a high of 88 on Wednesday the 19th which broke their old record of 82 set on the 19th of October 1938.
Hendersonville’s long-term average high temperature on October 19th is 65; the average over-night low for the date is 38.
A cold front will bring a chance for rain Thursday into Friday, then lower temperatures…but they will likely remain slightly warmer than average into and through the weekend.
By Larry Freeman
In their meeting Wednesday, county commissioners approved three economic development incentive packages, including Project Roan, relating to the German-based manufacturing company Norafin---which will be located on Banner Farm Road in Mills River and will bring more than 40 new jobs to the area, and Project Emerald, relating to automotive parts manufacturer Elkamet---which is in East Flat Rock and represents a multi-million dollar investment inb Henderson County, Inc. and which plans to expand from their current site in East Flat Rock.
The commissioners also approved a financing contract for the Innovative High School project which will soon be under construction on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College.
And commissioners voted to opt out of "gender re-assignment" coverage in the health care policies for county employees.
CITY COUNCIL WILL VOTE ON IT NOVEMBER 3RD
IF APPROVED, "REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS" TO DEVELOP IT WILL GO OUT EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR
Hendersonville's City Operation Center on Williams Street was almost filled Tuesday night with local folk getting their first look at a “boutique” hotel project that wil l likely develop at the site of the old Grey’s Hosiery Mill on Grove Street.
That 1915-era dilapidated property has belonged to the City of Hendersonville for about 30 years and many previous attempts to do something with it have failed…the last major effort coming about a decade and a half ago was to make it a performing and cultural arts center.
This time, city officials commissioned the Development Finance Initiative of the UNC School of Government…and they feel a 100 plus room boutique-type hotel is a viable option for the property. The downtown Dogwood Parking Lot is another location being considered for the boutique hotel project.
Under the UNC plan, the core of the old mill building would be saved and become a part of the new project; the annexes to it would be torn down; and a probable five-story hotel would be developed around it.
At he public meeting Tuesday night, there was no real opposition expressed to the hotel possibility…but there were questions. One question concerned parking and City Manager John Connet pointed out that parking, or a possible parking deck, is not part of this plan but the city is always looking at ways to mitigate the downtown parking challenge.
Now that the hotel possibility has been laid out for the public, city council will likely have an “up or down” vote on it at their November 3rd council meeting. And if the concept is accepted by the council, Mayor Barbara Volk says requests for proposals to develop the project will go out early in the new year, probably in January or February.
By Larry Freeman