BBQ, live music, and craft fair lovers are going to have to find someplace other than the foothills and Tryon to go this summer for a “fix”… the Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce has canceled the 2017 Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival. Festival organizers attribute the demise of the festival to three things: 1)decreased attendance, 2)lack of funding, and 3)ongoing contract negotiations with the Town of Tryon for the use of Harmon Field.
The recommendation to cancel the long-standing summertime BBQ festival came recently during a festival committee meeting. The festival’s primary purpose has been to raise funds for the Chamber of Commerce through a nationally recognized family oriented two-day event…and a Chamber spokesman says the last three festivals have failed to meet their financial goals and expectation.
So, according to Chamber President Kathy Toomey, “…it became painfully obvious that we needed to take a break and rethink how the festival should continue.”
High insurance costs for the use of Harmon Field were also a factor in the decision to cancel the festival.
THE CURENT POST OFFICE LOCATION ON FIFTH AVENUE WEST WAS SOLD LAST SPRING TO THE HENDERSONVILLE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH FOR JUST OVER A MILLION DOLLARS
CHURCH PLANS ARE TO EVENTUALLY LEVEL THE POST OFFICE BUILDING AND USE THE 1.52 ACRE LOT FOR A 141-SPACES CHURCH PARKING LOT
U.S. Postal Service media spokesman Philip Bogenberger in Charlotte confirmed for WHKP News in an e-mail this week that an announement is scheduled to be made this spring of a new location for the Hendersonville Post Office.
The postal service does not own the current Fifth Avenue West location and after the deal was made to sell the property to the church, the USPS was giving until this fall to find a new location and move out.
Postal service officials said at the time of the sale that a smaller facility was desired, and Boigenberger this week told WHKP News the new location has not been determined yet but will be soon.
Bogenberger said the new post office location "...will offer the same retail services as the current location and will not impact mail deliveries to Hendersonville residents and businesses."
There had been some speculation earlier that the USPS would re-locate the post office to the larger sorting facility near Sam's Club...but Bogenberger said again this week that the USPS is committed to a new loction as close as possible to the current one.
By Larry Freeman 01/19/17
HIGHWAY 64 WEST TO BE WIDENED FROM BLYTHE STREET TO DANIEL DRIVE
NC BDOT is indicating that the Highway 64 widening project through Laurel Park may begin as early as 2019.
Officials from the N.C. Department of Transportation as well as business owners attended a recent Laurel Park Town Council meeting and discussed details of the Highway 64 widening project.
The NC DOT is considering two options to widen the highway between Daniel Drive and Blythe Street and add bike lanes and sidewalks. One option adds a center turn lane. The other option features a landscaped or concrete median with three roundabouts at the Laurel Park Shopping Center, Daniel Drive and Blythe Street.
Brian Burch, division 14 construction engineer, said NCDOT has only received aboiut three dozen public comments so far, most of which are in favor of the three-lane plan with no roundabouts.
He said, "That’s not a tremendous amount of public input, but that’s where we are today.”
Over the next few weeks, NC DOT officials will look over traffic data and comments from the public and town officials before probably making a decisioin by February.
WHKP NEWS ALSO INQUIRED ABOUT LOWES STORES IN BREVARD AND ASHEVILLE
The Associated Press is reporting that North Carolina-based home improvement retailer Lowe's says it's told approximately 2,400 full-time workers they will be laid off.
A statement from the store said the majority of the cuts are at the store level, with other cuts occurring at distribution centers, customer support centers and vice presidents at the company's corporate office in Mooresville.
The company said it's providing severance and outplacement resources to displaced workers.
WHKP News reachecd out to Karen Cobb who is the Manager of Corporate Public Relations for Lowes at their corporate offices in Mooresville. Here is her response:
Larry, thanks for asking about how Hendersonville area Lowe’s stores are affected by the company’s recent announcement about staffing changes.
We are shifting some roles and responsibilities versus eliminating them, so that the vast majority of associates affected will have the opportunity for new roles at Lowe’s. Unfortunately, the store model will also result in the reduction of approximately 1-2 assistant store manager positions per store.
In addition, we have consolidated some leadership positions in our Customer Support Centers and Distribution Centers, impacting about 37 employees nationwide, and approximately 10% of vice presidents in the corporate office in Mooresville, NC. In total, this impacts less than 1% of our workforce, approximately 2,400 employees.
The changes made are all about investing in the future of Lowe’s as we continue to respond to the dramatic shifts that are reshaping the retail landscape. Lowe’s financial position is strong and the fundamentals of the home improvement industry are solid, nevertheless we must continue to evolve and ensure that we are delivering the best experience for customers and remain the go-to destination for their home improvement needs.
At its core, we are implementing important and necessary staffing model changes at our Lowe’s stores that will enable us to better serve customers’ evolving shopping preferences. These actions will ensure that we are aligned and organized to deliver on our strategy and to provide the best shopping experiences for customers.
While the majority of employees who are affected by these actions will transition into new roles, we deeply regret that a small percentage of employees will not be continuing with the company. It is always difficult to make decisions like these that affect people, but sometimes they are necessary in order to meet the evolving expectations of consumers as we invest for the future. We greatly appreciate and value the contributions made by all of the individuals impacted, and we will be providing them with a transition package including severance and outplacement support.
While staffing decisions are not easy, we are continuing to invest in the future of our business. Over the next three years, we expect to spend $3.6 billion in capital, including plans for 15 to 20 new stores per year, and create approximately 4,000 store-level jobs.
Lowe's employees have received a letter from Robert Niblock, Lowe's CEO, that shared information about the changes. I've attached a copy.
Let us know if we can help with any additional questions.
Manager, Corporate Public Relations
Lowe’s Companies, Inc. | Mooresville, NC 28117
COMMISSIONER HAWKINS POINTS OUT THE COUNTY CAN AFFORD TO BUILD BOTH THE NEW EDNEYVILLE SCHOOL AND THE PROPOSED NEW HHS CAMPUS
In their day-long budget session Tuesday, county commissioners announced their plan to replace the aging Edneyville Elementary School.
After recently touring the aging facility, Commissioner Tommy Thompson made a motion to construct an entirely new school.
At the urging of Commissioner Charlie Messer, Thompson added a provision to save the gymnasium building for future community use. A new gym will be constructed for the school.
An estimated project cost of $25 million was presented by Henderson County Manager Steve Wyatt, who also presented a possible construction schedule showing building programming starting almost immediately in February 2017, construction in March 2018 and completion by October 2019.
Commissioner Grady Hawkins said the county can "very well afford" to construct both a new Hendersonville High and Edneyville Elementary without an additional burden on county taxpayers.
Extending sewer service to the site was also discussed to replace the 40-year old septic system at Edneyville Elementary.
HIGHER DENSITY AND ZONING CHANGES RAISE SOME CONCERNS
As growth in the Hendersonville-Asheville area is expected to continue and maybe even exceed expectations, the need for adequate housing---affordable workforce housing in particular---is beginning to be recognized and addressed by some local governments.
Hendersonville’s city management and planning board, for example, are beginning to move into the earliest stages of possible zoning changes that will permit higher density, more affordable, workforce housing in parts of Hendersonville.
In the city, 80 multi-family units are currently under construction in the Cedar Terrace project located near Cedar Bluff Apartments behind Sam’s Club. The developer, Flatiron Properties in Charlotte, is planning to build 80 more in the same area in what they’re calling Lakewood Terrace.
Another developer, Pendergraph Companies in Raleigh, is planning to construct about 72 multi-family units on Signal Hill Road to be known as Signal Ridge. These would be two and three bedroom units, and the project was approved by the city planning board almost two years ago in March 2015. Not much has happened since then and WHKP News has reached out to Pendergraph for an update on what their current plans area.
Oklawaha Village on North Main Street and on the banks of Mud Creek is already under construction and it includes some 78 multi-family units in addition to 15 single-family lots.
Out in the county, some major projects include the Seasons at Cane Creek built by Southwood Realty of Gastonia which is located literally in the heart of Fletcher. And River Stone, built by Windsor/Aughtry, on Butler bridge Road which has a new section now under construction.
Although it was approved by the county planning board, county commissioners late last year turned down a Miami developer’s plan to build “The Sanctuary At Eagles Nest Horse Shoe Bend Farm” on South Rugby Road…which would have been 225 rental units and apartments on 85 acres. Residents in the area expressed concerns about the higher density, increased traffic and other strains in existing infrastructure. Similar concerrn about higher density have stalled some attempts to allow more workforce housing in the Town of Mills River.
And those same concerns are likely to come up again whenever higher density, workforce, or more affordable, housing is proposed.
Larry Freeman 01/15/17 Updated 5am
The Town of Fletcher has been asking the county commissioners for a new library for Fletcher for years…the commissioners have not moved on that although they have made some offers for a co-operative effort with the Town of Fletcher.
Recent, the volunteer group called New Fletcher Library Partners, a steering group working toward building a new library facility in Fletcher, commissioned a study on library needs in Fletcher that’s recommending a $4.5 million facility to accommodate the community's needs for decades to come.
The study shows that the Fletcher branch of the county library is the busiest in the Henderson County Public Library system, according to a press release from the library partners.
The study's project overview describes the branch, at 120 Library Road, as having an estimated service area population of 21,000 people, an annual circulation of more than 100,000 volumes and an average annual number of visitors approaching 80,000.
"The New Fletcher Library Partners see this as proof that a new facility is badly needed," the organization said in a news release. Copies of the study are available to the public at Fletcher Town Hall and the Fletcher Library.
The NFLP has been advocating for a new library to serve the area for the next 25 to 30 years since October of 2015. Its efforts include the study, completed at a cost of $11,640 by Local Government Solutions of Charlotte, as well as a petition drive that has so far garnered nearly 1,000 signatures. A public meeting for input was also held and was well-attended, according to the release.
Serving as the impetus of the group's formation, a 2015 study found numerous issues with the library's capacity, including a lack of space, poor function locations within the building, crowding, demands outpacing library accommodations, insufficient parking and more.
Going forward, the group plans to meet with state and local agencies to determine programs to raise the estimated $4.5 million project cost, and has set a goal to have that completed by 2020. The NFLP thanked the county library Board of Trustees, the library staff, town of Fletcher and the Henderson County Board of Commissioners for their support.
Some streetscape changes may be coming to Hendersonville’s Seventh Avenue East area.
Some preliminary plans revealed recently to City Council and to the Seventh Avenue East Advisory committee.
These changes could involve planted medians and new signage.
The streetscape plan is an effort to revitalize the area, and it’s only in the planning stages.
The public and stakeholders are being asked for feedback and for opinions on what will and won't work.
Another meeting is planned for February.
By Larry Freeman
Hendersonville city Public Works has been busy this winter rebuilding the two tennis courts at Boyd Park.
Public Works Director Tom Wooten said the courts have been completed.
Crews have also been finishing a handicapped-accessible ramp that will be located along the Bearcat Boulevard side of the park.
New lights are also being installed around the Laura E. Corn Mini Golf Course.
Wooten said the park renovations are being completed this winter, so the public can enjoy them this spring and summer.
COUNTY MAY BE ASKED FOR MORE SCHOOL MONEY TO PAY FOR CLASS SIZE REDUCTION
Henderson County public school officials will soon have to decide…whether to ask the county commissioners for about $3.5 million in additional school funds for the new school year starting late this summer…or make cuts internally within the school system. This comes after the General Assembly last year mandated a reduction in class size for grades k through 3.
Such a reduction will require more teachers, mobile units, supplies and materials…and the legislature passed to additional state money to pay for the mandate.
County school board members also were told Tuesday night that Jeff Roper, principal of Flat Rock Middle School, announced Tuesday that he will retire after 28 years with the school system. Roper will rtetire at the end of January.
By Larry Freeman