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KIDNAP AND HOMICIDE VICTIM TOMMY BRYSON'S WIDOW SAYS CELL PHONE SERVICE IS NEEDED IN REMOTE AREAS OF MILLS RIVER

KIDNAP AND HOMICIDE VICTIM TOMMY BRYSON'S WIDOW SAYS CELL PHONE SERVICE IS NEEDED IN REMOTE AREAS OF MILLS RIVER

CELL PHONE SERVICE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN SOME REMOTE AREAS  

MILLS RIVER TOWN COUNCIL MET THURSDAY NIGHT   

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Mills River Town Council heard an appeal Thursday night from Mrs. Lynn Bryson, the widow of kidnap and homicide victim Tommy Bryson, who says that cell phone service is needed where she and some others live on the remote ends of North and South Mills River Roads. Mrs. Bryson, and some others who live in the area, pointed out there is no cell tower in that area so cell service is not available. She says she has a land-line, but if that line should be “down” for some reason, they have no access to emergency communications.

Mrs. Bryson says she has no idea if cell service would have helped this summer when he husband was kidnapped close to their home and later killed in the alleged crime spree of defendant Phillip Michael Stroup II who is now facing capital charges of kidnapping and homicide and a host of other crimes. But she said that cell phone service might help prevent some other serious crime from happening in that area in the future.

Mrs. Bryson appealed to local cell phone companies like Verizon and US Cellular to consider the area for a possible cell tower.

Mills River Town Council and Town Manager Jeff Wells said they would contact the cell phone companies and other providers and encourage them to somehow provide that needed cell phone service in that remote area of Mills River.

Mills River Council also Thursday night introduced Michael Ring...he is the Executive Director of the new assisted living facility now under construction on Highway 191 near Banner Farm Road. He said they hope to be accepting applications from prospective patients soon and should be open and in operation within a couple of months. They’ll be hiring staff as well, as their offices are temporarily located in the former Mills River Hardware building across the road from the construction site.

And during “public comment” time, Mills River Council also heard from citizens who are concerned about speeding along Highway 280 and in the vicinity of Highway 191. The speed limit along a portion of Highway 280 from the new Ingles to Turnpike Road was recently lowered to 45 miles per hour, but the citizens point out that speed limit is frequently violated, especially during “rush hour” periods, and more enforcement is needed.  By Larry Freeman. 

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TWO ARRESTED FOR DRUGS AND GUNS

TWO ARRESTED FOR DRUGS AND GUNS

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ON BIG HUNGRY ROAD    

On the afternoon of August 30, 2017, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to assist the Department of Social Services (DSS) at the residence of Anthony Darryl Stanford. Deputies were informed there were unserved warrants for Stanford’s arrest and that he could be in possession of drugs and guns. This information led to deputies entering the residence ahead of DSS to secure the scene. While making contact with Stanford, deputies could smell marijuana being emitted from the residence and as a result, the Sheriff’s Office Direct Enforcement team was called to assist. Three-quarters of a pound of marijuana, a loaded .45 caliber handgun and drug paraphernalia were located.

On September, 13, 2017, Anthony Darryl Stanford, age 27 of 848 Big Hungry Road in Flat Rock, was charged with felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, felony maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance and misdemeanor child abuse. He was arrested and released from the Henderson County Jail under a $6,500.00 secured bond.

WITH IRMA GONE, HURRICANE SEASON IS FAR FROM OVER

WITH IRMA GONE, HURRICANE SEASON IS FAR FROM OVER

TROPICAL DEPRESSION 14 HAS FORMED FAR OUT IN THE ATLANTIC (SEE BELOW)

 ANOTHER TROPICAL SYSTEM IS DEVELOPING NEAR THE LEEWARD ISLANDS ON IT WAY TO THE CARIBBEAN    

AND HURRICANE JOSE IS STILL ACTIVE IN THE ATLANTIC   THE ATLANTIC

HURRICAN SEASON DOES NOT END UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH   

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DEPRESSION MOVING WESTWARD WITH NO CHANGE IN STRENGTH...

SUMMARY OF 1100 PM AST...0300 UTC...INFORMATION
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LOCATION...12.8N 30.7W
ABOUT 500 MI...805 KM WSW OF THE CABO VERDE ISLANDS
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...35 MPH...55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...W OR 280 DEGREES AT 10 MPH...17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1009 MB...29.80 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
--------------------
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
------------------------------
At 1100 PM AST (0300 UTC), the center of Tropical Depression
Fourteen was located near latitude 12.8 North, longitude 30.7 West.
The depression is moving toward the west near 10 mph (17 km/h), and
a westward motion with some decrease in forward speed is expected
over the next couple of days.

Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher gusts.
Some slightly strengthening is possible, and the depression could
become a tropical storm over the weekend.

The estimated minimum central pressure is 1009 mb (29.80 inches).

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HURRICANE IRMA LED TO THE DEATH OF AN EDNEYVILLE MAN

HURRICANE IRMA LED TO THE DEATH OF AN EDNEYVILLE MAN

THE ONLY DEATH RELATED TO IRMA IN NORTH CAROLINA   

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Hurricane Irma and its aftermath have caused one death in Western North Carolina.

A Henderson County medical examiner said an Edneyville man died Tuesday from carbon monoxide poisoning. The man was using a generator to power his home after severe weather knocked out electricity in the area. Local authorities have not released the victim’s name or age.  Irma caused widespread power outages all along the Blue Ridge in the Edneyville, Fruitland, Bat Cave, Middle Fork, and Gerton areas.  Most power was not restored until Thursday.

The death of the Edneyville man is the first death in North Carolina related to Hurricane Irma.“Kristin and I are saddened by this news and send our deepest sympathies to the victim’s family and friends,”according to N.C. Governor Roy Cooper.

Cooper encouraged any North Carolinians using generators to be sure to follow all safety guidelines.

“When the power goes out, generators can be a lifesaver. But used without good ventilation, generators can be deadly,” Cooper said. “If you have a generator, please make sure you operate it safely.”

MILLS RIVER ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL CHAD AUTEN NAMED "PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR"

MILLS RIVER ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL CHAD AUTEN NAMED "PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR"

SURPRISED BY SUPTERINTENDENT BO CALDWELL AT THE SCHOOL FRIDAY MORNING   

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Chad Auten Named 2017-18 HCPS Principal of the Year

UPDATED 3 PM SEPT. 15 – Chad Auten, principal at Mills River Elementary, was named the 2017-18 Principal of the Year for Henderson County Public Schools this morning. He was surprised with the news in front of the entire student body in a staged assembly, where he gave credit to his school family.

“I’m Principal of the Year because of the teachers that are here, and the students that are here,” Auten said, addressing the school. “I feel blessed every day to come to work with you guys.”

Each school year, the Principal of the Year is nominated by and voted on by his or her peers – the other 22 principals in the Henderson County Public Schools system, giving special significance to the designation.

“It’s an awesome group of principals I work with – the best in the state,” Auten said. “So it’s quite an honor to be chosen by them.”

In his fifth year as principal at Mills River Elementary, Auten has fostered a sense of community among his students, staff, and Falcon parents, who describe the school on social media and in the hallways with #ThePlaceToBe.

“Mr. Auten is a dedicated and passionate leader who loves his students, staff, and community,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Scott Rhodes. “He has created a school culture where all stakeholders take pride in making Mills River Elementary #ThePlaceToBe.”

Auten joined Henderson County Public Schools in 1998 as a Career & Technical Education teacher at Apple Valley Middle after graduating from Illinois State University, and taught for six years before being named assistant principal at West Henderson High in 2004. After three years at West, Auten became principal at Edneyville Elementary in 2007, and remained there for six years. In 2013, he became principal of Mills River Elementary, where he’s served ever since.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, Auten holds a Masters in School Administration from Western Carolina University.

At Friday’s assembly, Mills River Elementary’s data manager, Nita Owens, reminded students that as they practice the leadership habits they’re learning in Franklin Covey’s The Leader In Me, they should watch how their principal speaks and acts.

“As we are learning our 7 Habits, we have no further to look for a role model than Mr. Auten,” Owens said.

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MOST OF PISGAH NATIONAL FOREST RE-OPENS AFTER STORM DAMAGE

MOST OF PISGAH NATIONAL FOREST RE-OPENS AFTER STORM DAMAGE

Most Recreation Areas and Roads Reopened on National Forests in North Carolina

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ASHEVILLE NC - September 13, 2017 - The U.S. Forest Service has reopened most recreation areas and roads on the National Forests in North Carolina.

Damage assessments are ongoing following Hurricane Irma. Some areas and roads were impacted heavily and will remain temporarily closed until they can be safely reopened.

The health, safety, and well-being of the public is our number one priority. Visitors should continue to take precautions. Be aware of the potential for rising water and falling trees and limbs. Low lying areas are especially vulnerable to rapidly rising and swift water and should be avoided during and after major storm events.

The following National Forest System Roads and recreation areas will remain temporarily closed until further notice:

Pisgah National Forest

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Appalachian Ranger District

NFSR #74 Stony Fork Road
NFSR #63 Big Ivy Road

Nantahala National Forest
Tusquitee Ranger District
NFSR #351 Nelson Ridge Road

Nantahala Ranger District
NFSR #367 Little Yellow Mountain Road
Cliffside Recreation Area, including Van Hook Glade Campground
Standing Indian Campground

For additional information outdoor safety please visit the following webpage: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r8/home/?cid=fsbdev3_066387

HENDERSON COUNTY TOURISM REFLECTS 30 YEARS OF GROWTH

HENDERSON COUNTY TOURISM REFLECTS 30 YEARS OF GROWTH

THIRTY SUCCESSFUL YEARS OF LOCAL TOURISM   

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In October 1987, a newly formed organization called Henderson County Travel & Tourism set out to strengthen the local tourism industry, bring more people to the area and increase visitor spending.
Thirty years later, the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority, as the group is now known, celebrates three decades of tourism promotion efforts, which have boosted the county to 15th in North Carolina for visitor spending.

In 2016, visitors spent $274.62 million in Henderson County, and the Visitor Center on Main Street greeted 266,800 visitors from all 50 states and 39 countries.
Many factors govern that success. Henderson County has long been a travel destination, dating back to its founding as a summer retreat for residents of the South Carolina Low Country. Today Hendersonville’s vibrant Main Street, abundant cultural attractions, beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and overall welcoming atmosphere make it attractive to visitors.

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The Henderson County TDA has leveraged those resources by developing strong relationships with local businesses and community organizations to maximize the visitor experience. “When I started in 212, my goal was to empower the industry to help itself,” says Beth Carden, executive director of the Henderson County TDA. “We help people develop their business infrastructure and strengthen partnerships. And businesses have responded. They work with each other and work with us, and together we have improved our position in tourism.”

Henderson is one of the only counties in the state with its own tourism conference for local partners.
Carden followed inaugural tourism director Melody Heltman, whom Carden calls a savvy leader. The TDA now employs six fulltime staff members and three part-time. More than 50 volunteers help run the Visitor Center on Main Street, which is open seven days a week. A TDA board of nine appointed members oversees the organization.

Signs of tourism growth continue, including two new hotels, which opened in the past year, and two more scheduled to open by year’s end.
To learn more about the Henderson County TDA, the Visitor Center and the local area, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call (800) 828-4244.

LOCAL NEWS UPDATES: SCHOOL ENROLLMENT UP, SUPERINTENDENT GETS PAY RAISE; BIG SWEEP TAKES TONS OF GARBAGE FROM LOCAL RIVERS; SPINNING WHEEL RUGS CLOSING; FAIR RE-OPENS; HIGHLAND LAKE ROAD MEETING CANCELLED;  NEW COURTHOUSE MONUMENTS;  HUNGER WALK; MORE...

LOCAL NEWS UPDATES: SCHOOL ENROLLMENT UP, SUPERINTENDENT GETS PAY RAISE; BIG SWEEP TAKES TONS OF GARBAGE FROM LOCAL RIVERS; SPINNING WHEEL RUGS CLOSING; FAIR RE-OPENS; HIGHLAND LAKE ROAD MEETING CANCELLED; NEW COURTHOUSE MONUMENTS; HUNGER WALK; MORE...

FROM WHKP.COM LOCAL NEWS   

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SCHOOL BOARD MEETING

IN A RECENT COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEETING, IT WAS LEARNED THAT EDNROLLMENT IN hENDERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS NOW OVER 13,000.  SUPERINTENDENT BO CLDWELL'S SALARY WAS RAISED 5 PER CENT TO KEEP HIS COMPENSATION COMPETITIVE WITH THAT OF OTHER SUPERINTENDENT IN NEIGHBORING SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

BIG SWEEP

THE 30TH ANNUAL BIG SWEEP RIVER AND STREAM CLEAN-UP RECENTLY REMOVED TONS OF GARBAGE FROM LOCAL WATERWAYS.  OVER 100 VOLUNTEERS PARTICIPATED.

SPINNG WHEEL RUGS IS SHUTING DOWN

After eight decades downtown, Spinning Wheel Rugs/Mountain Rug Works is shutting down, as a result of changing market dynamics.

Over the last two months, textile equipment has been gradually emptied from the three red brick buildings on North King Street that once housed Spinning Wheel Rugs/Mountain Rug Mills. Dye vats, frames for hooking rugs and other equipment have been bound mostly for other, functioning textile mills.

“It is with warm thoughts and sadness that we close this era of manufacturing rugs,” Gill Morgan told the Times-News.  Morgan has co-owned Mountain Rug Mills with his wife, Judy, since 1994

MOUNTAIN STATE FAIR RE-OPENED TUESDAY 

WAS CLOSED MONDAY BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER

The fair will continue through Setember 17.  

.NEW COURTHOUSE MONUMENTS

Henderson County's Historic Courthouse will soon have new monuments honoring the Charters of Freedom, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Commissioners have approved he new monuments which will be installed on the south side of the courthouse square, in front of the courthouse steps. 

HIGHLAND LAKE ROAD

MEETING CANCELLED:    NC DOT will be holding a public meeting this coming Tuesday September 12 from 4 to 7 pm in the City Operations Center on Williams Street...to discuss plans to widen and improve Highland Lak Road in the Village of Flat Rock.  The plan is to widen the road, straighten some curves, and place a greenway adjacent to Flat Rock Park.  At least two Flat Rock Council members oppose the plan, along with some members of the community who want the road preserved the way it it.  Mayor Bob Staton says the plan will happen, and he cnourages the Village Council to work with NC DOT.  MEETING WILL BE RE-SCHEDULED LATER   

HUNGER WALK SEPT. 16

Sponsored by the county Hunger Coalition, this year's walk is set for September 16th.  Registrstion will be at 8am at Shelter #1 in Jackson Park with the walk starting at 8:30am.  This yesr's goal ia to raise $100 thousand to fight hunger in our community.  The public is encouraged to participate.

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

Henderson County’s Board of Commissioners took no action last week on Osceola Lake owner Tony Leoni’s offer to sell the lake to the county for $3 million. At their meeting this week, commissioner’s told Leoni only that they take it under consideration and stay in contact.

Commissioners also debated the best way the provide sewer service to the new $25 million Edneyville Elementary School. Options were discussed, but no decision was made. A closer look and a study will follow-up that discussion.

And county commissioners approved re-zoning for some property in East Flat Rock from residential commercial to industrial. Commissioners and the Partnership For Economic Development pointed out that prime industrial sites in other parts of the county are becoming scarce.

LAUREL PARK CIVIC ASSOCIATION CHANGE

The 58-year old Laurel Park Civic Association recently voted to dissolve itself and create a new non-profit called The Friends of Laurel Park. The vote to do this was 133 eligible voters for, and only 3 against it.

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MAIN STREET’S DAD’S COLLECTIBLES HAS MOVED TO SALUDA

Dad’s Collectibles owner Mark Ray announced recently he’ll be moving that business from North Main Street in downtown Hendersonville to Saluda.

Ray Says he been an admirer of the Saluda area for a long time, and the move will allow the business to take a more regional look at tourism.

Lasr Saturday was the last day for the store on Main Street.

FEI WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES COME TO TRYON IN ONE YEAR

FEI WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES COME TO TRYON IN ONE YEAR

TO THE TRYON EQUESTRIAN CENTER   

One Year Until FEI World Equestrian GamesTM Comes to North Carolina, USA

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Tryon, N.C. USA (September 12, 2017): The one year to go countdown to the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM Tryon 2018 (WEG) was launched today. With more than 500,000 people expected to attend the 2018 Games, the 12-day spectacle of equestrian champions is one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar and will be the largest equestrian event in North Carolina’s history. Mark Bellissimo, CEO of host venue Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Tryon, N.C., announced today that tickets will go on sale to the public on Monday, October 16, 2017. Competition action at WEG 2018 runs from September 12 through September 23, 2018, with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for September 11.

A variety of ticketing types and prices will be offered such as an All Games Pass for each week of competition or both weeks, an All Session Day Pass, All Session Discipline Pass, as well as individual event tickets, and opening and closing ceremonies. Ticket prices vary, but include an inexpensive Day Pass that gives attendees access to event grounds and expo only. A complete list of ticketing options will be available online at www.tryon2018.com or www.Ticketmaster.com.

In addition to announcing ticket sales, TIEC has today released a “Destination Tryon” video to showcase the region where the 2018 Games will be held. Prior to winning the bid to host WEG 2018, Polk County, North Carolina dwelt as a hidden gem, tucked away in the bucolic Blue Ridge Foothills, bordering South Carolina. Surrounded by bold mountains and scenic foothills, the area is conveniently located within an hour of top cities including Asheville and Charlotte in North Carolina and Greenville in South Carolina. The rural community now joins the league of iconic destinations around the world - like Normandy, Stockholm, Rome and Aachen - to host equestrian sport’s most distinguished championships.

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For WEG 2018, Bellissimo is focusing on the love of horses to bring added attention to equestrian sport and touch a broader audience of horse enthusiasts globally, highlighting the important role horses have played throughout history.

“All of our nations were discovered on the back of a horse and these amazing animals continue to provide livelihood, transportation, security, entertainment, friendship, therapy, and sport around the world. The love of the horse is universal and profound. The Games is an incredible stage to show the world how important and valuable this creature is and celebrate our relationship with them,” said Bellissimo.

Fédération Equestre Internationale President Ingmar De Vos shared his excitement about the forthcoming Games at TIEC.

“Marking one year to go to the FEI World Equestrian Games is always a very exciting time and we’re really looking forward to the spectacular event that Tryon will bring,” Ingmar De Vos said. “The Games are the greatest gathering of the best athletes and horses from across the globe and hundreds of thousands of people will have the opportunity to enjoy the magic of equestrian sport as world champions are crowned across the eight FEI disciplines. The USA is renowned as a country of horse lovers and is also hugely successful in the sport so we are delighted to have this, the FEI’s flagship event, back in America once again.”

United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) President Murray Kessler is pleased that the WEG is coming back to the United States for 2018 and will be hosted all at one venue at TIEC.

"We are confident that Mark Bellissimo and his team at Tryon will host an exceptional World Equestrian Games next year. Having the Games in the U.S. gives us an opportunity to celebrate the joy of horse sports with millions of Americans in a way that will help grow engagement and participation in all equestrian sports in this country." said Murray Kessler, President U.S. Equestrian.

The Games are expected to have tremendous economic impact to both Western North Carolina and the South Carolina Upstate. The previous WEG held in Normandy (FRA) in 2014 had an estimated economic impact of $400 million and attracted 575,000 spectators. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper praised the organizers’ success in bringing the Games to the Carolinas.

“The World Equestrian Games are an incredible opportunity for North Carolina, and we are pleased to host this event,” said Governor Cooper. “We applaud the efforts of Mark Bellissimo and the organizers at Tryon International Equestrian Center to bring this global event to North Carolina and stimulate economic growth for our state as a result.”

Held every four years alternating with the Olympic Games, the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM combines the world championships for jumping, dressage and para-dressage, eventing, driving, reining, vaulting and endurance into one massive 12-day event.

Click here to watch the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM Tryon 2018 promo video.

ACCOMMODATIONS
Accommodations for the 2018 WEG are being managed by Connections Housing, a full-service sourcing, housing and event management company. With 30 years of experience serving events in a range of industries, Connections has two full-service, fully-owned call centers and will oversee all aspects of the housing process from contracting and room block management to reservations and post-event analysis. Accommodations will open to the public on Monday, September 18. For more information about accommodations, visit www.tryon2018.com.

MEDIA INQUIRIES
For media inquiries, please visit www.tryon2018.com or contact one of the following press officers: National Media - Carly Weilminster at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 410-245-7441; International Media - Niki McEwen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0044(0)203 176 0355. For more information from the FEI, please contact Leanne Williams This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 0041-21-310-4747.

ABOUT THE TRYON INTERNATIONAL EQUESTRIAN CENTER
Tryon International Equestrian Center at Tryon Resort, host of the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM Tryon 2018, is one of the world’s premier equestrian lifestyle destinations. From carousel to competition, the mission of Tryon Resort is to celebrate the magic of the horse, grow equestrian sport, and increase access to this majestic animal. With first-class facilities for hunter/jumper, dressage, and eventing competitions, the facility will soon accommodate all eight equestrian disciplines. Tryon Resort is a spring, summer and fall haven for equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for connoisseurs of diverse cuisine and shopping, lodging getaways, and family entertainment. Learn more at www.tryon.com.

ABOUT THE FEI WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES™
The FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG), which are administered by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport, is the major international championship event for the eight core equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining. For more information, visit www.tryon2018.com and http://www.fei.org/tryon-2018

A CLOSER LOOK:  WHAT DOES THE PROPOSED NEW "PARTNERSHIP" AMONG HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS MEAN  FOR LOCAL HEALTH CARE PATIENTS

A CLOSER LOOK: WHAT DOES THE PROPOSED NEW "PARTNERSHIP" AMONG HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS MEAN FOR LOCAL HEALTH CARE PATIENTS

AT THIS POINT, MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS.  

PARDEE HOSPITAL UNC HEALTH CARE A PART OF THE ANNOUNCED "PARTNERSHIP"   

UNC HEALTH CARE AND CAROLINAS HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS   

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Local health care, and the county-owned Pardee Hospital, have gone through many changes in the last decade.  Most physician are now hospital-employed, and there are health care alliances, affiliations, and  "partnerships" all over the map among hospitals, physicians, universities, and other providers.  Now, a proposed new "partnership" involving two of the largest hospital systems in North Carolina (of which Pardee Hospital will be a part) will likely create one of the largest health care systems in the country.  Both systems are huge economic engines.

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"A positive move for all of us."---Pardee CEO Jay Kirby

As the UNC Health Care system, which manages Hendersonville’s Pardee Hospital under a contract agreement with Henderson County which still owns the hospital, moves toward a “partnership” with Carolinas Health Care system...there are a lot of questions about how this will affect local health care and local patients and physicians,

First of all, as we have reported, this proposed “partnership” is not a full-fledged merger...at least for now, it’s only a “partnership” between the two very large health care systems. But “partnerships” can lead to mergers.,.and if that happens with these two health care systems, the merger will create one of the largest health care systems in the country, involving more than 50 hospitals and over 90,000 employees.

The Chapel Hill-based UNC Health Care system is part of the University of North Carolina, and relies of state money for funding. For that reason alone, the announced “partnership” will likely come before the N.C. General Assembly...possibly for review, scrutiny, changes, and probably even for final approval.

A key budget writer in the legislature, State Representative Chuck McGrady from Henderson County, told WHKP News last weekend that he knew only what has been reported in the media about the "partnrtship" and he’ll have to learn more before taking a position on the “partnership”.

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McGrady did point out that clearly, health care systems are merging in advance of possible Obamacare “repeal and reform” and before any Medicaid reforms. He said he’s sure to hear from Pardee Hospital and other hospitals on this issue. As part of the process, legislators like McGrady will also be hearing from lobbyists on both sides as the “partnership” issue moves forward and towsrd the General Assembly.  And it is worth noting that former and powetful Henderson County state senator Tom Apodaca, now reportedly lobbying in Raleigh, represents the UNC Health Care system.

The “bottom line” is...at least right now, how the “partnership” will finally shape up depends on a number of factors, including what’s done in the General Assembly.

The new “partnership” will reportedly have it’s own over-all board to answer to, so it’s not clear how accountable that board and the “partnership” will be to system-managed local hospitals like Pardee and to local patients and other local stakeholders like Henderson County which owns the brick ans morotar at Pardee and the ground on which it stands.

But the day the “partnership” was announced, Pardee CEO Jay Kirby made it clear that “...we (Pardee) are a local hospital and will retain our own local board.” Kirby said, “I know there will be questions and possibly even concerns.” But in a statement to hospital employees, physicisns and to the public, he said “I want to assure you that this will be a positive move for all of us.”

The next step in this “partnership” process is apparently rounding up legislative support by both hospital systems.

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But a lot of questions about this “partnership” are still hanging out there, including where home base will be for the new arrangement. UNC Health Care is based in the Chapel Hill area, while Carolinas Health Care is in Charlotte.  The prospect of a health care "monopoly" is a legitimate concern, along with the co-mingling of state or public (UNC Health Care) with private (Carolinas Health Care) assets.  And the possible loss of local accountability as a large system grows even larger is another big concern.  

UNC Health Care has more information available at www.togetherinhealthcare.org.

By Larry Freeman, whkp.com. 

09/05/17