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TRYON EQUESTRIAN PARTNERS PURCHASES TOUCHSTONE FINE CABINETRY

TRYON EQUESTRIAN PARTNERS PURCHASES TOUCHSTONE FINE CABINETRY

TOUCHSTONE FINE CABINETRY PURCHASED BY TRYON EQUESTRIAN PARTNERS 

OVER 67 AREA JOBS SAVED   

Rutherfordton, NC - January 30, 2018 - Less than three days after it learned that United Cabinet Holdings had announced to staff that it was permanently closing the Touchstone Fine Cabinetry business and factory and thus eliminating over 67 employees, Mark Bellissimo, the CEO of the Rutherfordton-based modular manufacturing plant United States Precision Construction (USPC) and Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, announced to employees on January 12 that his partnership has contracted to purchase the company's assets with the goal of keeping remaining employees jobs intact. The transaction closed yesterday, Monday, January 29.

The quick chain of events began when USPC Chief Operating Officer Jason Hunsinger learned of the news from a Touchstone employee. USPC is currently building several hotels for Tryon International Equestrian Center this year, and Hunsinger realized an opportunity. He immediately informed Bellissimo and TIEC Chief Operating Officer Sharon Decker.

US Precision Construction (USPC) has acquired Touchstone Fine Cabinetry, based in Rutherfordton, NC.

With a short timeline to decide, Bellissimo and Decker met a representative of the United Cabinet Holdings, the company that owns Touchstone Fine Cabinetry, as well as the company managers. After a series of informational meetings and a factory tour, and conferring with the other Tryon Equestrian Partners, the decision was quickly made to purchase the company.

Bellissimo complimented United Cabinet Holdings Managing Partner Matt Ogden and his organization saying, "They were very good corporate citizens and allowed us to quickly structure a deal to that allowed us to collaboratively preserve the jobs versus just selling off assets."

"We were very impressed with the management team and the operating staff, so while somewhat risky, it was an easy decision to purchase the business to preserve it and complement our efforts at USPC," said Decker.

The second key factor for Bellissimo was owning the 220,000 square-foot building that houses the Touchstone business in order to be able to make critical structural enhancements to improve the efficiency of both businesses. Bellissimo praised building owner Billy McBrayer who did not have intentions of selling, but later agreed to the deal after Bellissimo said his goals were to save the jobs and breathe new life into the company.

"I am very thankful to both Matt and Billy, and give them a lot of credit for ensuring that this opportunity was feasible and had a successful outcome to preserve an important business within the community," said Bellissimo.

When reflecting on the quick chain of events that led to purchasing a business, Bellissimo said, "It's not what I thought was going to happen on Tuesday morning when I woke up, but I was inspired by the management team, the product, and the opportunity to both complement the USPC business and preserve the jobs. The staff are proud of their company and with the right tools and investment, this is an opportunity for us to work together and turn it around. The tremendous support this community has given us inspires us to invest more and we will continue to look for opportunities to strengthen our business and the local economy." said Bellissimo.

Production Manager Chris Britton's initial concerns were quickly relieved upon meeting Bellissimo.

"My biggest concern when we heard the plant was closing was how the employees on the floor were going to be affected. Obviously, with the prospect of someone buying the business it was hugely important to us that they saw what we did, but when we went and saw Mark's vision of what's going on with USPC and the equestrian center, that was the game changer," said Britton. "When you see someone like Mark who is that excited about what's going on and they want to make you a part of that vision, that is huge. Then, we realized how big that could be for [Touchstone], for this county and our employees."

Controller Amy Torvinen is a Rutherford County native who shared Britton's concerns for the Touchstone Fine Cabinetry employees.

"My main concern was the families that we employ. When we realized there was interest in the company, I really thought we were going to sell our business and walk away and I would go do something else with my life. Then, in 12 hours I was totally sold on the vision and it was exciting and I'm so very thankful for the challenge and looking forward to it."

Bellissimo announced that he will restore everyone's health benefits and vacation according to their tenure at the previous company to ensure that their transition is as smooth as possible. There will also not be any disruption or delays in their employment.

Tryon Equestrian Partners Lisa Lourie and Roger Smith, who are both residents of the area, were eager to meet their new company employees.

"I'm proud to live in this community and am constantly impressed by the tremendous talent we have here. This is a great opportunity to give back to the people who continue to support our efforts. I get great joy in being a part of this team," said Smith.

"I'm looking forward to our partnership helping to make this area a leader in the manufacturing industry once again. Who knew that investing in equestrian sport would lead to this wonderful opportunity to positively impact the community?" said Lourie.

Tryon International Equestrian Center is hosting the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in September 2018 which will attract 500,000 attendees over 13 days from 70 countries and 50 states. USPC is aggressively constructing multiple hotels to accommodate lodging needs for the global event. In addition to servicing Touchstone's existing customer base, they will now provide cabinets and furniture for USPC, which includes the lodging properties as well as other commercial and residential products that USPC will create in the future.

To learn more about Touchstone Fine Cabinetry visit www.touchstonefinecabinetry.com

RABID RACCOON IN EDNEYVILLE;  BE SURE YOUR PETS ARE VACCINATED

RABID RACCOON IN EDNEYVILLE; BE SURE YOUR PETS ARE VACCINATED

PROTECT YOUR PETS   

Raccoon tests positive for rabies
Make sure your pet is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination.

Hendersonville, NC (January 30, 2018) – A raccoon that fought with a pet cat has tested positive for the rabies virus. County officials received confirmation today from the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This is the first positive rabies case in Henderson County this year. Deputies will be posting flyers and contacting residences within a mile radius of the intersection of St. Paul’s and Beehive Rd in Edneyville.

The event happened Sunday, and the owner shot and killed the raccoon. Both the raccoon and cat were taken to Animal Services, and the raccoon was sent to the state lab. Because the cat had not received the rabies vaccine, it will be euthanized and sent to the state lab to be tested for rabies. The raccoon and/or cat may have interacted with other pets or wild animals in the area, so residents should be alert for any unusual behaviors or sickness in their pets or wildlife.

Anyone who may have had contact with an unfamiliar pet or wild animal recently should contact a Communicable Disease Nurse with the Department of Public Health at 828-694-6019 immediately. If you think your pet was exposed or have questions, call the Henderson County Sheriff Office's Animal Enforcement Division at 697-4911.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease affecting the central nervous system. Rabies can be prevented but not cured. A healthy animal or human can get rabies when bitten, licked or scratched by a sick animal.

Officials with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Animal Enforcement Division and the Department of Public Health are urging residents to ensure their pet’s rabies vaccination is current and to contact a veterinarian immediately if their pet seems injured from an unknown cause, displays unusual behaviors or appears sick—even if the animal is current on its rabies vaccination.

For more information about rabies, visit the Health Department’s website at hendersoncountync.org/health and click on the Communicable Disease link.

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ARREST MADE IN IN-DOOR MARIJUANA GROWING OPERATION

ARREST MADE IN IN-DOOR MARIJUANA GROWING OPERATION

ON SALISBURY ROAD   

On Thursday, January 25, 2018, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team executed a search warrant at 214 Salisbury Rd, Hendersonville, NC, in connection with a drug investigation being conducted by the Sheriff’s Office Direct Enforcement Team (DET). During the search of the residence, detectives encountered an operational indoor marijuana grow operation, which was safely dismantled. In addition, detectives seized approximately 347 grams of processed Marijuana, approximately 2.7 grams of extracted THC resin, a quantity of methamphetamine, multiple drug paraphernalia items, and six (6) firearms, to include an assault rifle and shotgun. Detectives also contacted the Henderson County Department of Social Services after it was determined two school age children lived in the residence; the children were not at home during the subsequent search and arrest.

Jonathan Zion Mills, age 43 of 214 Salisbury Rd. Hendersonville, NC was arrested and charged with:

Felony Manufacturing Marijuana
Felony Possession with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, or Deliver Schedule VI Controlled Substance
Felony Possession of Methamphetamine
Felony Maintain a Vehicle, Dwelling, or Place for Controlled Substances
Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia

Mills was released from custody after posting a $24,200.00 bond.

HENDERSON OIL CO.AWARDS GRANTS TO LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

HENDERSON OIL CO.AWARDS GRANTS TO LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

FOR NECESSART MATERIALS AND PROGRAMMING   

Henderson Oil Company awarded a total of $7,500 in ExxonMobil Educational Alliance grants to 15 Henderson County Public Schools on Monday, Jan. 29, supplying elementary, middle and high school principals with extra funds for necessary materials and programming.

Atkinson Elementary, Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Clear Creek Elementary, Dana Elementary, Edneyville Elementary, Glenn C. Marlow Elementary, Mills River Elementary, Upward Elementary, Flat Rock Middle, Hendersonville Middle, Rugby Middle, East Henderson High, Hendersonville High, North Henderson High and West Henderson High each received $500 to fund school-specific local programs.

Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Dana Elementary, Mills River Elementary, and Upward Elementary intend to spend their funds on Google Chromebooks for the classroom. At Rugby Middle, the grant will supplement Project Lead the Way robotics programs and help fund the N.C. Science Olympiad registration and travel costs; West Henderson High also plans to use the funds for the N.C. Science Olympiad. Atkinson Elementary will use the funds to support its participation in the Muddy Sneakers outdoor science program.

East Henderson High, Hendersonville High, Glenn C. Marlow Elementary, and Hendersonville Middle will use the grant to pay for science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) resources and clubs, while the funds will support the UpStart Coding Club at North Henderson High and help pay for software for at-risk students at Flat Rock Middle. Clear Creek Elementary will use the funds to purchase supplies for its annual family engagement Science Night, and Edneyville Elementary plans to use the grant to help fund the school’s robotics team.

ExxonMobil Educational Alliance grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. This year 4,400 grants totaling $2.2 million were awarded to schools across the country. Henderson Oil Company Vice President Barry Edwards said the 4,400 grants were spoken for only 90 minutes after the application window opened. “That shows the impact of this program,” he said.

Henderson Oil Company was awarded 30 of these $500 grants for a total of $15,000. Since 2000, Henderson Oil Company and ExxonMobil have provided $218,750 in education grants to North Carolina, South Carolina and east Tennessee. Of that number, $118,250 has been awarded to schools in Henderson County.

“$500 is a small chunk at a time, but I hope it makes an impact for our students,” said Henderson Oil Co. President Bill McKibbin. “Every little bit helps,” said HCPS Superintendent Bo Caldwell. “I’m proud to be part of a community that pulls together,” he said.

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PARDEE UNC HEALTH CARE:  ":HEARTS CAN'T WAIT TO BE HEALTHY"

PARDEE UNC HEALTH CARE: ":HEARTS CAN'T WAIT TO BE HEALTHY"

IN FEBRUARY     

Pardee UNC Health Care to Host 28-Day “Hearts Can’t Wait to Be Healthy” Challenge

Pardee UNC Health Care announced it will host a 28-day “Hearts Can’t Wait to Be Healthy” challenge throughout the month of February. In honor of American Heart Month, the challenge will focus on eating well, staying active, reducing stress and scheduling regular screenings. Pardee will also hold weekly contests on its Facebook page. Participants can post photos or videos related to each week’s specially selected challenge, and Pardee will select a winner each week in February. To see the daily challenges and the social media contest rules, visit https://www.pardeehospital.org/heartchallenge/.

“The best news about heart disease is that it is preventable and you have the power to reduce your heart disease risk,” said Martin Sullivan, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist at Pardee Cardiology Associates. “We encourage the community to join us for this month-long journey to better health.”

Pardee UNC Health Care is a not-for-profit community hospital founded in 1953 and is managed by UNC Health Care. The hospital is licensed for 222 acute care beds. Pardee has several locations separate from the main campus, including a comprehensive physician practice network, a cancer center, two urgent care locations and five orthopedic clinics. For more information or to find a physician, visit www.pardeehospital.org.

ASHEVILLE AIRPORT SETS NEW PASSENGER RECORD IN 2017

ASHEVILLE AIRPORT SETS NEW PASSENGER RECORD IN 2017

"THANKING WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA TRAVELERS FOR FLYING FROM THEIR LOCAL AIRPORT"  

The numbers are in, and Asheville Regional Airport annual passenger numbers were at their highest ever in 2017.

Last year, 956,634 passengers used the airport, compared to 826,648 in 2016, which is a 15.7 percent increase.

2017 was the fourth consecutive record year of passenger utilization, and the annual numbers are more than 50% higher than they were just five years ago.

“The airport has been growing during the past few years, and 2017 was especially significant,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., executive director. “The airlines expanded their services with larger planes and more seats and frequencies to existing destinations, and a new airline and route was also added. Equally important, our region’s travelers continued to use their local airport.”

“On behalf of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board, I would like to thank Western North Carolina travelers for flying from their local airport,” said Bob Roberts, Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board chair.

“When travelers make the decision to use their local airport, they contribute to the overall strength and vitality of the region at large. Much of the credit for the continued growth at AVL goes to our local communities, and we thank you.”

Western North Carolina’s recognition and significant success as a prime tourist destination has been key to the airport’s utilization and air service growth, airport officials added.

Highlights: Airline Statistics

Allegiant Air
20% more seats in the market compared to 2016, including new flight to Newark, NJ
American Airlines 10% more seats in the market compared to 2016
Delta Airlines 1% growth in load factor compared to 2016
Elite Airways New airline in 2017 serving Vero Beach, FL
United Airlines 87% increase in seats in the market compared to 2016, primarily driven by Newark year-round, daily service (increased from a seasonal route) and increases in frequency of flights to and from Chicago

THE FUTURE OF THE HHS HISTORIC STILLWELL BUILDING LIKELY TO BE AN ISSUE IN THIS YEAR'S LOCAL ELECTIONS

THE FUTURE OF THE HHS HISTORIC STILLWELL BUILDING LIKELY TO BE AN ISSUE IN THIS YEAR'S LOCAL ELECTIONS

UPDATE:  HENDERSONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE DAVID RHODES HAS NOTIFIED COUNTY ATTORNEY RUSS BURRELL THAT UNDER THE "NORTH CAROLINA PUBLIC RECORDS LAW", HE IS REQUESTING AN OPPORTUNITY TO INSPECT OR OBTAIN COPIES OF ALL PUBLIC RECORDS THAT PERTAIN TO THE HENDERSONVILLE HIGH SCHOIOL PROJECT...SPECIFICALLY ANY CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN ANY OF THE CURRENT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND COUNTY MANAGER STEVE WYATT, INCLUDING ANY CORRESPONDENCE WITH ARCHITECT CLARK  NEXSEN, COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS, AND MEMBERS OF HENDERSONVILLE CITY COIUNCIL  WHKP NEWS WAS MADE AWARE OF THAT FORMAL REQUESAT LATE ON MONDAY.  

Henderson County commissioner’s plans are right on track for constructing an all new $53 million campus for Hendersonville High School.

The city has approved all the necessary permits and zoning changes...and that portion of Ninth Avenue West which will be absorbed in the new campus has been closed to traffic.
That new HHS campus is destined to become a welcoming centerpiece to Hendersonville and to the downtown area, being built on the former Boyd property at the busy Five Points intersction on the Asheville Highway. In fact, demolition of the buildings on the Boyd property should begin in February; dirt will begin to be moved on the project late in the winter or early in the spring; construction of the new high school will likely start this November with completion set for 2020.

But Hendersonville High School students, faculty, alumni, and citizens concerned about the preservation of historic buildings...are currently left with more questions than answers about what will happen to the treasured current high school building, designed and built about a hundred years ago by acclaimed local architect Erle Stillwell.

Following a definite outcry of support for the old building that’s been going on now since plans for the new campus were announced, county commissioners appear to have committed to the preservation of the Stillwell building, indicating on numerous occasions that demolition is not an option. And last year, commissioners appropriated a million dollars for improving the structure of the Stillwell building. John Mitchell, who is the county’s director of business and community development, points out that money is being used to improve the chiller in the building, put a new roof on the building, upgrade the stairwell towers, and refurbish the masonry on the building.

Still, how the old building will be used in the future is very much up in the air and that has raised concerns and suspicions among some supporters that the building may eventually come down.

Historically, such decisions about local school building are made by the elected board of public education. But because the commissioners control the money, they say, that decision making process concerning a new Hendersonville High School was taken out of the hands of the school board and assumed by commissioners. And now, and in a recent commissioner’s workshop, the school bord was asked to make recommendations...at some point in the future...to the commissioners concerning future use of the Stillwell building.

Many supporters of the old building say they’d like to see it used for classrooms as part of the new campus. But commissioners seem determined that that won’t happen and that the old building will not be a part of the new campus. So, a number of possible other
uses have been mentioned including re-locating county school’s central offices into the Stillwell building from the old Rosa Edwards School building on Fourth Avenue West. Suggestions are floating around, but as of now, there is no set date, no indication when a final decision will be made on what’s in store for the Stillwell building going forward...and that indecision tends to raise more suspicion and doubt among Stillwell supporters about the future of the building, particularly in “back and forth” comments on social media. Following that recent commissioner’s workshop for example, there were multiple comments on Facebook from Stillwell building supporters skeptical of the commissioner’s plans for the building’s future.

A three-member majority of the board of county commissioners will be on the ballot for election and re-elecion this year, and three school board members will be elected later this year as well. The future of the historic Stillwell building, and when and how that decision is handled, and how it has been handled up to this point, will undoutedly weigh heavily on the minds and hearts of many local voters and Hendersonville High School supporters as they cast their ballots in the local elections this year.

By WHKP Radio and WHKP.com News Director Larry Freeman

SHERIFF MCDONALD FACING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT BY FORMER DEPUTY

SHERIFF MCDONALD FACING DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT BY FORMER DEPUTY

UPDATE:  SHERIFF MCDONALD'S OFFICE RELEASED THE FOLLOWING FORMAL STATEMENT ON THE TURNER LAWSUIT ON MONDAY:   "Were Mr. Turner willing to provide a release for his personnel file, then we would be at liberty to respond to the allegations in greater detail. Until such time, however, all we can say is, these claims are without merit, and we will gladly provide a copy of our responsive pleadings as soon as they are filed with the court."   

Sheriff McDonald holds our veterans in the highest regard, as he himself and many others in the office are veterans. This agency has a unique and thorough understanding of their sacrifice and value to our nation. Sheriff McDonald appreciates that numerous veterans have proven to be a most valuable asset when they seek a career in law enforcement. They bring leadership and decision-making skills, the ability to work within a team, and a proven commitment to mission success and the welfare of the organization.

According to information presented to WHKP News, Henderson County Sheriff Charlie McDonald (pictured) is facing a civil lawsuit, filed in federal court in Asheville, by a former deputy.

The civil suit was filed by Geoffrey Turner, and states that:

“During his employment with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Plaintiff was subjected to unlawful discrimination and retaliation and was constructively discharged from his employment because of his disabilities, his history of disabilities, and his being regarded as a person with a disability; because of his request and need for accommodations for his disabilities; because of his military service; and because of his opposition to and complaints of discrimination and harassment.”

Turner’s disabilities reportedly involve a hearing loss, incurred during his military service, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Turner is a veteran of the National Guard, who served three tours of active duty and his tours included service in both Iraq and Afghanistan

The complaint, which requests a jury trial, states that Turner served in various positions within the the sheriff’s department during his time of service there and refers to several sheriff’s department employees who were supervisors and/or co-workers of Turners.

WHKP News spoke with Sheriff McDonald about the pending civil suit, and he stated “I believe that transparency is always the best policy except in cases involving ongoing court proceedings or personnel matters...I am constrained from speaking on those issues”.

McDonald, who is up for election this year and is facing opposition from at least one announced candidate, also said, “There is a small but shrill group supporting my opposition that is attempting to use the media at every turn by making accusations against me and my administration that they know I am powerless to speak out against.”

Regarding the pending civil suit and what he perceives to be campaign tactics by his opposition, McDonald added “I believe that the common sense of the voting public will see through these antics as I am sure they will increase in the months to come.”

In his complaint against McDonald, Turner is asking the federal court:

“1. That all issues of fact raised by this pleading be tried by a jury; 2. That the Court declare that the acts and practices complained of herein were illegal and prohibit Defendant from engaging in such action in the future; 3. Actual and compensatory damages under the ADA; 4. Lost wages and other benefits under USERRA; Case 1:17-cv-00334-MOC-DLH Document 1 Filed 12/07/17 Page 32 of 33 33 5. Liquidated damages under USERRA; 6. Reasonable attorney's fees pursuant to federal law; 7. The costs incurred by Plaintiff in connection with this action; 8. Such interest as may be allowed by law; and 9. Such other and further relief as may be just, proper, and necessary to afford complete relief to Plaintiff.”

Turner is being represented by GRIMES TEICH ANDERSON LLP in Asheville.

There is no indication at this point when the case will actually be scheduled for trial.

By Larry Freemahn 10 AM   01/29/18

 

 

 

 

 

WELLS FARGO BANK IN LAUREL PARK ROBBED ON MONDAY

WELLS FARGO BANK IN LAUREL PARK ROBBED ON MONDAY

ROBBERY SUSPECT APPREHENDED AND IN CUSTODY   

According to witnesses in the area, the Laurelo Park branch of Well Fargo Bank was robbed during the day light hours on Monday.

Laurel Park Police Chief Bobbie Trotter told WHKP News that a lone white male went into the bank and demanded money.  Chief Trotter said he did not display a weapon and left the bank with an undisclosed amount of money. The stolen money was recovered,

Based on his description Laurel Park Police apprehended the suspected robber a short time later in Laurel Park Village.  At the time oif his arrest Chief Trotter said the suspect has a small black BB pistol in his pocket.

The robbery suspect is Michael David Hill of Hendersonville.  Hill has been charged with one count of common law robbery and is being held in the Henderson County detention facility under $50 thousand secured bond. 

 

 

FIRE CLOSED SIERRA NEVADA TAPROOM MONDAY

FIRE CLOSED SIERRA NEVADA TAPROOM MONDAY

ABOUT $100,000 IN DAMAGE DONE    

It was a chimney pipe where the fire occured at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Mills River that closed the brewery’s taproom and restaurant for the day, and while the fire was under control, fire crews were still on the scene late Monday, according to Mills River Fire and Rescue Chief Rick Livingston.

The fire, which began around 10 a.m., was in one of the flue pipes that extends from a cooking oven to the roof of the building, he said, and resulted in approximately $100,000 in damage. No injuries were reported.

Livingston said the fire appeared to have been the result of creosote buildup in the pipes, as the brewery uses real wood in their cooking, and that crews had started preparing for the restaurant’s lunchtime meal when the fire broke out.

An alarm system alerted employees to the fire, and local departments received the call just after 10 a.m. for the fire, which Livingston compared to a chimney fire in a residential structure, just on a larger scale.

The fire was contained to the ventilation system leading from their cooking ovens to the roof and a ventilation assistance unit on the roof, he said.

No injuries were reported, and crews were able to contain fire quickly, working from the kitchen, attic and roof with a foam and water mixture as well as dry chemical.