WITH AN ECONOMIC IMPACT OF OVER $400 MILLION
It’s being touted as potentially North Carolina’s biggest-ever sports event: the 2018 World Equestrian Games will be held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, about 80 miles west of Charlotte, Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday.
The news caps off a string of economic development announcements this week in Charlotte as one of the closest gubernatorial races in the nation nears the finish line. One of the most divisive issues of the campaign has been House Bill 2, a law limiting LGBT protections that has led to to the cancellation of business expansions and sporting events such as the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte.
“This is bigger, with all due respect, than the All-Star Game, a football game, a basketball game – combined, times two. This economic impact is huge,” McCrory said of the 13-day equestrian competition during a news conference at the Charlotte Chamber.
News of the equestrian games comes on the heels of other major economic development updates:
▪ Earlier Friday, state officials announced the Hula Bowl, the college football all-star game that hasn’t been played since 2008, would come to Raleigh in 2018.
▪ Earlier this week, the online loan marketplace LendingTree announced plans to add 314 workers in Charlotte thanks to nearly $5 million in incentives, effectively doubling its size locally.
▪ And also on Friday, door maker Jeld-Wen said it is getting $2.4 million in incentives to add 200 jobs in Charlotte as it builds a new corporate campus in southwest Charlotte. Jeld-Wen is currently headquartered uptown.
Both Tryon and LendingTree have North Carolina government ties: Gov. Pat McCrory’s former commerce secretary, Sharon Decker, currently serves as Tryon International’s chief operating officer. And McCrory once served as a director of Tree.com, the former name of LendingTree’s parent company. The state ethics commission last year dismissed a complaint filed by a liberal advocacy group over his past ties to the company.
And Belissimo and his wife, Katherine, have close ties to McCrory. Last year, they held a fundraiser for McCrory at their home in Campobello, S.C., according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. And in late October, McCrory appointed Belissimo to the board of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
According to the N.C. Commerce Department, the N.C. Rural Development Authority in 2014 approved a $295,755 community grant to build a water line needed for the equestrian center. And in April 2016, McCrory announced that the same agency made a $500,000 grant to Rutherford County to support the reuse of a building by US Precision Construction, a firm controlled by the entity that owns the equestrian center.
Following Friday’s announcement, when asked whether HB2 came up during the bid to bring the equestrian event to North Carolina, Decker said Tryon had been asked about it “occasionally,” but that ultimately it wasn’t a deterrent.
“We’re a private facility so the House bill requirements around restrooms does not apply for us. We are a non-discriminatory facility. We value and celebrate diversity in every form,” Decker said.
Jamal Little, a campaign spokesman for Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat running against McCrory, cited the “severe damage on our state’s economy” caused by HB2.
“While he continues to try to ignore the economic damage done by HB2, voters have not forgotten. We’ve lost the NCAA championship games, the ACC tournament, the NBA All-Star game, and countless concerts and conventions – while the governor calls HB2 irrelevant,” Little said.
Responding to comments from Cooper’s campaign, McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz said: “Only Roy Cooper would consider positive economic news a bad thing for our state. Just goes to show you that Cooper has been rooting for North Carolina to fail all along in order to advance his own political career.”
The equestrian games will take place Sept. 10-23, 2018 in Mill Spring. The last time they were held in the U.S. was in 2010, when officials say they had an overall economic impact of $200 million in Lexington, Ky. The 2014 games were held in Normandy, France.
The event is “the major international championship event” that includes eight core equestrian disciplines: show jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining, Tryon International said.
From The Raleigh News-Observer
" (I THINK) THIS IS A PRETTY CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF A LOCAL MEDIA KINDA GINNING UP A STORY"--County Manager Steve Wyatt
There is apparently some on-going confusion among parents, employees, and school officials regarding the future of Edneyville Elementary School. The school board would like to see a new facility built costing $24 million, county commissioners seem to favor renovating the current facility at a cost of only $9 million, and there’s even been some talk of closing the school and moving the students somewhere else.
All that is being reported this week in the local newspapers and on their web sites after a meeting earlier this week of some 65 Edneyville parents and four school board members in the school library.
County Manager Steve Wyatt told WHKP News on Wednesday that it’s the media that’s stirring up the confusion.
In comments today (Thursday) on WHKP News, Wyatt says a lot of the confusion is due to reporting in the Hendersonville Lightning that seems to indicate (report) the county wants to close Edneyville Elementary School.
“Let me be clear”, Wyatt said this week to WHKP’s Tippy Creswelll. “There’s been no conversation or consideration of closing that school.” He said figures supplied by the school board show that enrollment in the school has been declining and discussions have taken place about the best way to deal with that issue. Wyatt added, “I think this is a pretty classic example of the local media (kinda) ginning up a story, to be honest with you.”
The county manager said he feels that decisions on school buildings should be made jointly between the school board and the commissioners. But he says what drives those decisions is how the school buildings will be paid for, pointing out they may be paid for with a bond issue...or the county may put up the land on which the school is located (and the building itself) as collateral. Commissioners of course are responsible for making those decisions and for controlling county finances
Steve Wyatt added he cannot say when any final decision will be made on the future of Edneyville Elementary.
He said this week, "I hope there will be continuing conversations and information exchanged as we go forward, but I would be guessing at a time frame."
By Larry Freeman and Tippy Creswell
Hendersonville City Council has agreed to move ahead with a proposed new hotel downtown on the old Grey’s Hosiery Mill property on Grove Streert.
They will receive proposals for the project from developers starting December 2 and continuing through February 28.
City Manager John Connet said the city remains open to new ideas. "We will absolutely accept the proposals and allow city council to entertain those proposals and review them in to see what is best suited for that particular site and for the community in genera”. The city has owned that now-delapidated property for about 30 years and all previous attempts to re-vitalize it have failed.
In their meeting Thursday night, city councilk cleared the way for Larry Baber to move the steel structure of his Atha Plaza building to create a new 3150 square foot building on a five acre light industrial site off Waddell Drive known as Sugarloaf Commercial Center. A new Publix grocery store is slated for that former Atha Plaza site on the Greenville Highway.
And city council formally endorsed NC DOT’s over-all plan to widen I-26 to six lanes through HendersonCounty…with one exception. Council is concerned about DOT’s plan to re-design the I-26 intersection with Highway 64 East, where traffic is already bumper-to-bumper near Highland Square. Council wants DOT to look at other possibilities in re-designing that interchange to make it safer and improve traffic flow. The I-26 widening project is only in the planning stage now…with funding not yet approved and with right-of-way acquisition set to start in 2018…with construction to begin in 2020.
By Larry Freeman
The N.C. Forest Service is joining forces with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to warn people in Western North Carolina that the lack of rainfall in the area has increased the probability of wildfires.
The little rainfall last week did almost nothing to relieve moderate to extreme drought conditions in Western North Carolina.
Western North Carolina attracts a lot of tourists coming to see the changing leaves in autumn or for extended stays to hunt. Some of these visitors will camp or rent cabins, where they may have a fire that could escape into areas where fuels are readily available due to the drought.
Fire experts agree that this fall’s wildfire season has the potential to be bad, especially if there are heavy winds. Due to the high probability of a campfire escaping and causing a wildfire, the National Park Service has issued a halt to all campfires in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as has the U.S. Forest Service in the backcountry of the lands they manage. Those building campfire in an established campground should use existing fire rings if possible and clear a safe area around them of at least 10 feet. Campers should also be sure to never leave campfires unattended, and ensure they are completely out before leaving.
As autumn progresses, many homeowners will be cleaning up their yards and burning debris such as sticks and leaves. “With nearly 40 percent of all wildfires in the state beginning with careless debris burning, and fuels being readily available, it’s important to be especially vigilant as dry grass and leaves in the neighboring woodlands can easily be ignited by an ember, putting you, your neighbors, the general public, and emergency responders at risk,” said Greg Yates, Mountain Regional Forester with the N.C. Forest Service.
There are many factors to consider before burning debris or lighting a campfire. Always check the weather prior to burning, and follow state and local regulations. Have an adequate safe distance from other flammable material, especially wooded areas and flammable material that may lead to houses. With all fires, be sure to tend to it until the debris pile or campfire is completely out.
“Everyone needs to be careful when burning; it’s not just campfires and burning yard debris that can cause a wildfire when it’s this dry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, all the sticks, leaves, logs and other vegetation in the forest are right there and ready to burn if ignited, and it won’t take much to get them going.”
Another concern is that with the cooling weather many people will be heating their homes with wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Often, users will dispose of ashes in a wooded area. If these ashes aren’t completely extinguished, they could cause a wildfire. Always be sure ashes are dead out, and dispose of them in a metal container with a cover.
Landowners with electric fences should also be aware that dry, high grass, is susceptible to catching fire from even the smallest of sparks. A grass fire can quickly consume a barn or home and spread to wooded areas.
While less common, a spark from a passing train, a dragging trailer chain, or any spark caused by machine use, or even a lit cigarette, can ignite dry fuels such as grass and leaves.
Careless debris burning is the top cause of wildfires in North Carolina. The N.C. Forest Service encourages residents considering debris burning to contact their county forest ranger. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest. To learn your county ranger’s number or more safe burning tips, visit the N.C. Forest Service website at ncforestservice.gov.
NC GOVERNOR MCCRORY TAKING STEPS TO KEEP GAS SUPPLIES FLOWING IN NORTH CAROLINA TRIPLE A CAROLINAS PREDICTS PRICES WILL GO UP AND THEIR WILL BE SHORTAGES---BUT THEY ARE ADVISING MOTORISTS NOT TO PANIC AND RUSH TO FILL UP OR TOP OFF THEIR GAS TANKS
State officials took steps Tuesday to try to stave off fuel shortages in North Carolina after an explosion and fire at a gasoline pipeline in Alabama, but AAA Carolinas warns that gas prices are likely to rise.
"The Colonial Pipeline disruption is a transportation challenge, not a production challenge,” Governor Pat McCrory said Tuesday.
McCrory also extended the state law against price gouging, which was still in effect after Hurricane Matthew. Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory’s opponent in next week’s election for governor, urged people to report instances of price gouging, which state law defines as “a price that is unreasonably excessive under the circumstances.”
“Consumers are our eyes and ears on the ground, and we use their complaints to investigate possible price gouging,” Cooper said. “If you spot excessive prices during this time of crisis please let us know.”
The Raleigh News and Observerr reported Wednesday morniong that consumers can report suspected price gouging online at www.ncdog.gov or by calling 1-877-566-7226.
McCrory said Colonial Pipeline Line 2, which carries diesel, airline and heating fuel, was also shut down Monday but was operating again at diminished capacity. Colonial Pipeline connects Gulf Coast refineries with 13 southern and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia.
Monday’s explosion occurred when a track hoe struck the pipeline, killing one worker and injuring five others, according to Colonial Pipeline. The fire continued to burn Tuesday, and firefighters built an earthen berm to contain the burning fuel, according to the Associated Press.
The explosion comes less than two months after a Colonial Pipeline leak near Helena, Alabama, shut down the pipeline for 12 days and resulted in higher prices and fuel shortages in North Carolina. McCrory said it’s not clear whether the fuel reserves that were depleted then have been rebuilt.
But AAA Carolinas says motorists should expect gas prices to rise as a result of the shutdown, as suppliers switch to barges and long-distance trucking to get fuel to the region.
“If September’s shutdown was any indicator of what we should expect, prices are definitely going to spike at the pump,” said Tiffany Wright, public relations manager for AAA Carolinas. “We saw price spikes of 20 to 30 cents in some areas, and there were a ton of stations with bagged pumps due to shortages.”
To try to conserve fuel, McCrory also ordered that state employees not take any non-essential trips.
MORE THAN 4,000 POUNDS COLLECTED
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office along with community partners Hope Rx, TRIAD Henderson County, Wingate University, Henderson County Partnership for Health, and other supporting organizations are celebrating a milestone. The drug disposal program in Henderson County has surpassed 4,000 pounds of medications collected through the permanent collection box and various drug take back events in the community.
Sheriff Charles McDonald implemented the permanent collection box and drug disposal program in April 2013. Over two tons of medications have been collected, weighed and incinerated; these drugs have been kept out of our landfills and water supply and out of the hands of children or would be abusers. Through wonderful community partnerships and agency wide support of the Sheriff’s strategic plan objectives, the drug disposal program has grown in scope and reach over the past three and a half years.
Where: Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Impound Lot (400 4th Avenue East, Hendersonville, NC)
WITH ALMOST NO RAIN FOR OVER TWO MONTHS...AND...
RATHER THAN "STAGE 2-A" WATER RESTRICTIONS...
The City of Hendersonville is preparing a “state of emergency” due to the lack of significant rainfall since mid August…which will enable the city to draw water from the French Broad River.
Utilities Director Lee Smith told WHKP News on Monday that forecasters are confirming what WHKP has been reporting…that the current dry weather pattern is not likely to change before the middle of next week. Stream flow levels, says Smith, appear to be holding up in the Mills River, which is the city’s primary source for water. And the city has had “stage one” voluntary water conservation measures in effect for a couple of weeks. which is hopefully reducing water consumption by ten per cent
So, rather than move to the next level of water restrictions…which would be “stage 2-A” or mandatory restrictions, which would prohibit all outside and non-essential use of city water and reduce usage by another ten per cent …the city will likely tap into the French Broad River. The city already has a line to that river, but will need to use a temporary pump to get water flowing into that line and on its way to the Mills River treatment plants
This will also require a “state of emergency”, which Smith says should be no problems with Hendersonville already in the “severe drought” category and some other nearby counties like Cherokee, Clay and Macon classified as being in “extreme drought”. Smith could not say for sure when the city might take this emergency step, but he did say that “stage 2-A” restrictions would not be considered unless we go another three to four weeks with no rain.
Smith points out the last drought we experienced that was this severe was in 2008, and had actually carried over that year from below average rainfall in 2007. It was after the devastating drought of 2008 that the city moved forward with getting that back-up line into the French Broad River. The city also has an agreement with the City of Asheville to purchase water from them if necessary, which is available through their regional water plant on Highway 191 in Mills River.
Smith says the city is fortunate this time that the drought in oiccuring in October, which is usually a dry month and when water usage is reduced anyway…rather than in the middle of the summer growing and irrigating season like the drought of 2008.
By Larry Freeman and Tippy Creswell Updated 5pm 10/31/16
WITH NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS CALLED INTO THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT ABOUT POLITICAL YARD SIGNS BEING REMOVED OR STOLEN, MAJOR FRANK STOUT WITH THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT HAS ISSUED THIS FRIENDLY RMINDER...STEALING OR REMOVING POLITICAL YARD SIGNS IS AGAINST THE LAW:
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL STATUTES
§ 136-32. Regulation of signs.
(b) Compliant Political Signs Permitted. - During the period beginning on the 30th day before the beginning date of "one-stop" early voting under G.S. 163-227.2 and ending on the 10th day after the primary or election day, persons may place political signs in the right-of-way of the State highway system as provided in this section. Signs must be placed in compliance with subsection (d) of this section and must be removed by the end of the period prescribed in this subsection.
(c) Definition. - For purposes of this section, "political sign" means any sign that advocates for political action. The term does not include a commercial sign.
(d) Sign Placement. - The permittee must obtain the permission of any property owner of a residence, business, or religious institution fronting the right-of-way where a sign would be erected. Signs must be placed in accordance with the following:
(1) No sign shall be permitted in the right-of-way of a fully controlled access highway.
(2) No sign shall be closer than three feet from the edge of the pavement of the road.
(3) No sign shall obscure motorist visibility at an intersection.
(4) No sign shall be higher than 42 inches above the edge of the pavement of the road.
(5) No sign shall be larger than 864 square inches.
(6) No sign shall obscure or replace another sign.
(e) Penalties for Unlawful Removal of Signs. - It is a Class 3 misdemeanor for a person to steal, deface, vandalize, or unlawfully remove a political sign that is lawfully placed under this section. A Class 3 misdemeanor, the least serious type of misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of 20 days in jail and a $200 fine.
(f) Application Within Municipalities. - Pursuant to Article 8 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes, a city may by ordinance prohibit or regulate the placement of political signs on rights-of-way of streets located within the corporate limits of a municipality and maintained by the municipality. In the absence of an ordinance prohibiting or regulating the placement of political signs on the rights-of-way of streets located within a municipality and maintained by the municipality, the provisions of subsections (b) through (e) of this section shall apply. (1921, c. 2, s. 9(b); C.S., s. 3846(r); 1927, c. 148, ss. 56, 58; 1933, c. 172, s. 17; 1957, c. 65, s. 11; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; 1977, c. 464, s. 7.1; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1030, s. 39; 1993, c. 539, s. 981; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2011-408, s. 1.)
On the ballot for local voters in this year’s general election, is the chance to vote “for” or “against” the proposed quarter cent sales tax for Henderson County. This would be a new and additional tax and it could raise as much as two and a half million dollars in revenue.
Henderson County County Manager Steve Wyatt told the county’s Local Government Committee on Co-Operative Action Tuesday that he is certain that if that sales tax is approved by the voters, he will be instructed by the county commissioners, early in the new year, to include a reduction in the county’s property tax rate in tHe 2017-18 new county budget. CountyCommission Chairman Tommy Thompson agreed there would likely be a reduction, but he said he could not say how much at this time.
The committee, made up of elected mayors and council members in all the county’s municipalities, expressed concern in the Historic Courthouse at their meeting Tuesday that very little information or publicity on the quarter cent sales tax is being put before the public. Even though the tax is solidly endorsed and supported by the county commissioners, Wyatt pointed out the county is not allowed to advertise or campaign for the tax.
Fletcher Mayor Bill Moore and council member Bob Davy and Fletcher Town Manager Mark Bieberdorf raised questions about animal enforcement in Fletcher…and it was agreed the town would be working with the county and the sheriff’s department on animal control issues.
Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk and City Manager John Connet discussed with the committee the city’s “stage one” water conservation measures, explaining that local car washes will continue to operate during “stage one”. It is the goal of “stage one” voluntary measures to reduce consumption in the city’s water system by 10 per cent.
By Larry Freeman