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
LESSON LEARNED ON THE WIDENING OF I-26
A WHKP Station Editorial
October 16, 2016
NC DOT plans to spend a whopping $445 million to widen I-26 in Henderson and Buncombe Counties. That’s a lot of money, but I-26 needs a lot of improving---mainly widening and re-surfacing. When DOT unveiled their plans to do this, the Times-News reported that the local environmental group, Mountain True, would be “keeping an eye on the environmental and community impacts as the project moves forward.”
Let’s be clear: we are SO thankful this widening is finally coming and we fully support the so-called “hybrid” option of widening it to six lanes in Henderson County, and to eight lanes in Buncombe County. But it should be noted that it was Mountain True’s predecessor, ECO or the Environmental Conservation Organization, that led the fight to shoot down the first, best, and least expensive opportunity to widen and improve I-26 a decade and a half ago. That organization, their supporters, and a few mis-guided city officials who thankfully are no longer in office, successfully diverted about $85 million that DOT had in their hands for the widening at that time to another highway project in another part of the state..
We recall some of their arguments against the widening at that time. The smoke and fumes from all that traffic, they said, would kill the trees and pollute the air. Those additional lanes, they said, would invite more traffic…especially those dreaded big trucks that boost the economy and deliver the goods into and out of western North Carolina. Their’s was basically an anti-business, anti-growth argument. So, we’ve all been held to four lanes, to regularly increasing congestion, mounting frustration, and creeping delays.
What would have cost about $85 million a decade ago and made all our lives much easier an safer---that $85 million that a handful of condescending environmentalists caused to be sent to another road project down state---has grown by $361 million to become the $445 million project NC DOT is proposing to start in 2020.
Think about this. That $361 million that those busy-bodies, all in the name of a clean environment, cost us by delaying for a decade and a half the widening of I-26, COULD have, in Henderson County dollars, built SIX new Hendersonville High Schools; NINE new Health-Science Centers, SEVEN new Innovative High Schools; or EIGHTEEN new $20 million law enforcement training centers….with money left over to raise teachers salaries and buy computers for every kid in Henderson County public schools
Granted, that $82.5 million back in 2002 would have widened about 13 miles of I-26 only in Henderson County. But pro-rate it down. The tens of millions those protestors cost us by killing the deal for no valid reason in 2002 still could have built a lot of schools and libraries, put scores of better trained deputies on the road, raised teacher’s pay, and paid off much of the county’s debt service.
And that’s not to mention the dollars lost to all of us in gas, time and productivity while sitting in traffic jams for the last fifteen years in those four congested lanes of I-26. Or the many millions spent over the years trying to patch up and hold together that rough and inadequate stretch of road that could have been, should have ben, used to improve other roads in the county.
All that begs the question…do we really NEED the 2016 updated version of ECO, now known as Mountain True or any other so-called environmental watch dogs, “keeping an eye” on the widening project for us THIS time?
We’ve had our differences with NC DOT, but they’ve had decades of experience with I-26 and the growth of this area. They are far better equipped to know what we need for an interstate highway. The environmental folks, God love ‘em, best serve this community when fishing old tires out of the river and re-cycling Christmas trees. By delaying the widening of I-26, all the environmentalists accomplished was costing the taxpayer’s money---a LOT of money, interfering with economic growth, and inconveniencing the motoring public
This has been a WHKP station editorial. As always, we invite your comments…on our comments.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman
LEAF PICK-UP IS STARTING; BOYD PARK RENOVATION IS CONTINUING
Work has started on the Boyd Park Renovation Project in Downtown Hendersonville. The park improvement project will include removing the existing fence, asphalt, lighting, and a few trees in preparation to rebuild the two tennis courts. New fence and new lights will be installed after the courts are repaved and receive the court surface treatment. A new accessible ramp will be installed along the Bearcat Boulevard side of the park. New lights will also be installed around the Laura E. Corn Mini Golf Course. The project is expected to be completed around mid-November to early December.
For questions, please call Public Works at (828) 697-3084.
On not bag their leaves. Residents are asked not to place their leaves in the road as they could be washed down to the storm drain and cause flooding in the road., the City of Hendersonville starts their bulk fall leaf collection for City Residents. Collection will continue until the end of December. 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 through December. Leaf piles are picked up from homes about every 10 to 14 days but, depending on the volume of leaves placed out for collection, the piles could be picked up sooner or later than that time. Also, this collection process is separate from our brush collection crews so residents will need to keep the brush and leaves in separate piles. Residents are asked to
For questions about this project, please call the Public Works Department at (828) 697-3084.
Work has started on the Oklawaha Greenway Trail between Patton Park and 7th Avenue to remove some dead trees and hazardous limbs over the trail. These trees have been evaluated by a certified arborist and have been deemed unsafe and in need of removal. The City of Hendersonville has accepted bids and awarded the project to Epperson’s Tree Service of Saluda.The project is anticipated to span five working days or more, depending on the weather. In the interest of public safety, the trail will have to be closed between Patton Park and 7thAvenue while work is underway.
The City of Hendersonville will sponsor a secure, Shred Day for City residents on not for businesses. The public can simply drop their documents off or stay and watch their documents destroyed. The event will happen rain or shine. If the shredding truck fills up before , the event will be over., from , in the parking lot of Patton Park, 59 E. Clairmont Drive. American Security Shredding, Inc, will have their shredding truck in the parking lot to allow residents to dispose of sensitive materials. Residents of Hendersonville are invited to bring up to two boxes (or 50 lbs.) of paper items to be shredded. Suggested items to shred are financial statements, cancelled checks, credit card statements, payroll stubs, insurance forms, old tax returns, forms from doctor's offices, etc. This is
During this time, the Hendersonville Police and Henderson County Sheriff’s will host a Drug Take Back stop to allow citizens to dispose of expired/unused medication, such as prescription & over the counter pills, vitamins, ointments, and patches.
(No chemotherapy drugs, needles or EpiPens will be accepted.)
To make this part of a community outreach effort, the City is asking that residents coming to the event to bring items to donate to the Storehouse and IAM. Suggested items are canned fruits & vegetables, canned chili & beef stew, and toiletry items.
Does your home have a smoke alarm? According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the answer is likely yes: NFPA research shows that most American homes have at least one. But do you know how old your smoke alarms are? If you’re like most people, you’re probably not so sure.
A recent survey conducted by NFPA revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. This lack of awareness is a concern for The Hendersonville Fire Department and NFPA, along with fire departments throughout the country, because smoke alarms don’t last forever.
“Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire, but I’ve also seen the tragedy that can result when smoke alarms aren’t working properly,” says Chief Joseph Vindigni of the Hendersonville Fire Department. “That’s why we’re making a concerted effort to educate Hendersonville residents about the overall importance of smoke alarms, and that they do have a life limit.”
NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, requires smoke alarms be replaced at least every 10 years, but because the public is generally unaware of this requirement, many homes have smoke alarms past their expiration date, putting people at increased risk.
Fire Prevention Week is October 9-. As the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, NFPA is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait - Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” to better educate the public about the critical importance of knowing how old their smoke alarms are and replacing them once they’re 10 years old.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase). The Hendersonville Fire Department also says smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and that batteries should be replaced twice a year or when they begin to chirp, signaling that the battery is running low.
For more information on smoke alarms and this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”, visit www.firepreventionweek.org or contact the Hendersonville Fire Department at (828)-697-3024
FINALLY, AFTER A DECADE OF DELAY AND CONGESTION...
There was almost nothing in the way of opposition---and a general attitude of “finally, let’s get on with it”--- as NC DOT conducted its public hearing Thursday night on widening 22 miles of I-26 between Hendersonville and Asheville.
NC DOT laid out three options in that hearing at Biltmore Baptist Church. One would widen the whole stretch to 8 lanes; one would widen it to 6 lanes; and the third option, the one preferred by NC DOT and most likely to be the end result, is a hybrid of those to plans which would widen the Henderson County part of I-26 from the U.S. 25 connector south of town to 6 lanes up to the Highway 280/Airport Road connector at the county line---and then widen the remainder of I-26 from that point north to where it connects with I-40 just south of Asheville to 8 lanes.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be a whopping $445.7 million dollars, which will include a new Blue Ridge Parkway over-pass bridge.
As of Thursday night, DOT’s time-line has them completing an environmental impact study and making a final decision next year, followed by right-of-way acquisition in 2018 , and the actually starting construction in 2020.
Reportedly, funding has already been secured for the Buncombe County portion of the widening project…and, hopfully, is in the “pipeline” for the Henderson County section.
By Larry Freeman
Donald Trump, Jr made a stop in Mills River Thursday to campaign for his father.
Thursday, Trump Junior was campaigning at Jason Davis's North River Farms.
It wasn't just farmers who tunred out...word had been circulating in the local Republican community for several days that Trump Junior was coming. He was scheduled to travel on to a similar campaign stop at Lake Norman near Charlotte Thursday.
Trump was in the Tar Heel state and in western North Carolina to shore up conservative and Christian support after the embarrassing video of his father was released last week.
The latest polls show Trump Senior trailing Hillary Clinton by two per centage points in North Carolina.
(PHOTO FROM NEWS 13)
Mills River Town Council Thursday night approved two resolutions of support for changes in the configuration of two intersections.
The Town is asking NC DOT to change the busy intersection of Highway 191 and Banner Farm Road to accommodate large tractor-trailer trucks that are now backing up traffic as they attempt to turn onto or off of those roads. A number of local agricultural industries with large trucks now use that intersection.
For the same reason, the town is proposing to use state economic development funds to improve the intersection of Banner Farm and School House Roads. NC DOT says council’s passage of the resolutions if the first step, and if approved and funded, the projects could start as soon as in the next 6 to 8 months.
Mills River Town Council also Thursday night approved a zoning change along some parts of Banner Farm Road to allow for new industry. That part of the community is already home to Flavor First Growers and Packers, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Trihisthil, and Van Wingerdens. Norafin, a German-based manufacturer, is looking to locate close to Bold Rock and bring over 40 new jobs to the area.
A number of residents in a nearby subdivision expressed concern over the change in zoning and the new industry, but they were reassured by a Norafin representative and by Andrew Tate of the local Partnership for Economic Development that the new industry would not be disruptive to the community or detrimental to property values in the subdivision.