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LOWES TO ADD 45 THOUSAND SEASONAL EMPLOYEES THIS SPRING

LOWES TO ADD 45 THOUSAND SEASONAL EMPLOYEES THIS SPRING

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – The spring season kicks off the busiest time of year for home improvement projects. To meet customers’ needs, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is now hiring more than 45,000 seasonal employees, supplementing its more than 235,000 U.S. store employees.

In-store seasonal positions include cashiers, lawn and garden associates, stockers and assemblers of outdoor products. The company is also hiring loaders to assist the increasing number of customers who order products online at Lowes.com and pick them up at their local store – a trend that accounts for approximately 60 percent of Lowe’s online orders. Hiring is underway and will continue on a market-by-market basis, with seasonal positions typically supporting stores between the months of March and September.

“Our goal is to meet customers wherever they are – whether in stores, online or at home – with the support, inspiration and solutions they need to tackle their home projects,” said Jennifer Weber, chief human resources officer. “Seasonal employees play an important role in helping customers during this peak period, and we’re excited to welcome them to the Lowe’s team.”

Lowe’s seasonal positions offer competitive pay, flexible hours and a 10 percent employee discount. They can also lead to potential growth opportunities: In 2016, nearly half of the company’s seasonal employees transitioned into part-time and full-time positions, enabling them to take advantage of incentive programs, 401(k), a discounted stock purchase plan, tuition reimbursement and paid time off for community volunteering.

A 2016 Freedom Award winner, Lowe’s is committed to hiring and training veterans, active military and their spouses. The company employs more than 13,000 veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve.

To learn more about available positions in your area and apply online, visit jobs.lowes.com. You can also apply at your local Lowe’s store.

DOLLAR GENERAL TO ADD 500 NEW JOBS IN NORTH CAROLINA

DOLLAR GENERAL TO ADD 500 NEW JOBS IN NORTH CAROLINA

JOBS WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE HENDERSONVILLE AND FLETCHER AREAS   

Dollar General (NYSE:DG) announced Friday they plan to create approximately 500 new jobs throughout North Carolina in 2017 as part of the company’s new store growth plan. The creation of these new jobs are part of Dollar General’s overall 2017 fiscal year growth plan in which the major discount retailer plans to add 1,000 stores and create approximately 10,000 new jobs in the states it serves.

“Dollar General looks forward to welcoming new employees who want to grow with us as we expand throughout the states we serve,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s chief executive officer. “These new jobs reflect the organization’s commitment to seize growth opportunities and further deliver Dollar General’s value proposition of everyday low prices on quality merchandise to customers in 1,000 new locations in 2017. Since joining Dollar General in 2008, I’ve had the privilege to see the company grow from approximately 72,000 employees to more than 130,000 anticipated employees by end of the 2017 fiscal year. It really is an exciting time to be a Dollar General employee.”

The creation of these approximate 10,000 new jobs will represent a roughly nine percent overall increase to its workforce and mark the largest one-year employee increase through organic store and distribution center growth in the company’s 78-year history.

As all hiring functions are managed online, candidates looking to join Dollar General must apply for all new positions online at www.dollargeneral.com/careers.

“This year’s continued growth presents numerous opportunities for candidates looking to begin and develop their careers at one of America’s fastest-growing retailers,” said Bob Ravener, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief people officer. “Candidates should look to Dollar General as a great career choice for numerous factors including our variety of training and development programs, focus on internal advancement within the company and mission of Serving Others.”

Dollar General plans to use its robust and best-in-class training programs to support the company’s commitment to one of its operating priorities of investing in employees as a competitive advantage. The company is expected to invest more than 1.5 million training hours in employees in 2017 to promote education and development throughout the year.Training magazine recently recognized the company among its Training Top 125 for the sixth consecutive year, ranking #8 on the list.

ONE MILLION DOLLAR GOAL MET FOR PARDEE'S CANCER CENTER

ONE MILLION DOLLAR GOAL MET FOR PARDEE'S CANCER CENTER

Pardee Hospital Foundation’s Brian Robinson Challenge Reaches $1 Million Goal

Hendersonville, N.C. – Pardee Hospital Foundation announced today that Brian Robinson’s $1 million fundraising challenge for the Foundation’s Capital Campaign has been met. Nearly 180 people donated to the campaign with individual gifts ranging from $25 to $50,000. Of those donors, 64 gave $1,000 or more to the campaign and 55 people made their first contribution to Pardee Hospital Foundation. The challenge’s three largest gifts were all from new donors who were inspired by Robinson’s challenge to the community and decided to pledge their support to their new hometown as well.

Brian Robinson pledged $500,000 to the $6 million Capital Campaign for the new Pardee Cancer Center. In a surprise public announcement at the Pardee Hospital Foundation’s 19th Annual Women Helping Women luncheon on October 28, Robinson issued a challenge to the community to raise an additional $250,000, which he would match dollar for dollar to reach a total of $1 million. This is the largest gift to the campaign since it began in April 2015, pushing the total raised to date to $5 million from 515 donors.

“The enthusiastic response to Brian’s challenge has been gratifying and heartwarming,” said Kimerly Hinkelman, executive director of Pardee Hospital Foundation. “With less than $1 million to go, we are reaching out to people to encourage them to help us finish this historic achievement and become a part of the future of health care in Henderson County. Not only will the Cancer Center treat and cure thousands of our friends, family members and neighbors over the next 25 years, but the Health Sciences Center will help to educate and produce a majority of health care providers who will take care of us for the next 50 years.”

“I am honored to match the community’s generous $250,000 contribution, bringing the total to $1 million for the new Cancer Center at Pardee,” said Robinson. “Our community is strongest when we work together and I am proud to call Henderson County my home.”

Pardee Hospital opened its new Cancer Center in December 2016 through an innovative collaboration with Henderson County, the City of Hendersonville, Wingate University and Blue Ridge Community College. The new, state-of-the-art health sciences building also houses Pardee Surgical Associates as well as existing programs in allied health care, pharmacy, and physician assistant studies from Blue Ridge Community College and Wingate University.

Robinson is originally from east Tennessee and became affiliated with the region as an actor with the Flat Rock Playhouse many years ago. He only recently decided to put down roots in Henderson County to make it his permanent residence, buying a home in Flat Rock in 2015. When asked why this gift and why give to the Cancer Center at Pardee Hospital, Robinson notes that he’s been blessed with good health his whole life and like so many others, took it for granted. It was on a recent two-week intensive health retreat in California that Robinson says he underwent a transformative experience that at the time wasn’t apparent. It was only upon his return and a visit to the Cancer Center with his friend and capital campaign committee member Debbie Rouse that the true impact of his retreat surfaced. This behind the scenes tour was instrumental in Brian’s “aha” moment.

Pardee Memorial Hospital Foundation was approved as a nonprofit foundation in January 1996. The Foundation exists to educate and inspire the community to support Pardee Hospital. Since its inception, the Foundation has generated more than $30 million in pledges and cash gifts for Pardee services. For more information, visit www.pardeehospitalfoundation.org or call 828-233-2700.

WNC'S MEADOWS PUSHES REPEAL OF OBAMACARE

WNC'S MEADOWS PUSHES REPEAL OF OBAMACARE

Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) released the following statement calling on Republican leaders to bring H.R. 3762, which repealed the Affordable Care Act through budget reconciliation in 2016, to the floor for a vote:

“Health care will be better and more affordable once Obamacare is repealed. We committed to the American people to repeal every tax, every mandate, the regulations, and to defund Planned Parenthood. That’s what the American people expect us to do – and they expect us to do it quickly. Therefore we strongly encourage Republican leadership on Capitol Hill to take up the Affordable Care Act repeal bill that already passed the House, the Senate, and went to President Obama’s desk in early 2016. There’s no reason we should put anything less on President Trump’s desk than we put on President Obama’s now that we know it will be signed into law. We strongly encourage that this bill be brought to the floor for consideration as soon as possible so we can begin undoing this law that is hurting American families.”

DUKE ENERGY AGAIN "SHARES THE WARMTH" WITH INTERFAITH ASSISTANCE MINISTRY

DUKE ENERGY AGAIN "SHARES THE WARMTH" WITH INTERFAITH ASSISTANCE MINISTRY

Duke Energy's Craig Debrew presents a check to IAM's David Cook...to help provide home heating assistance for those in need  

Duke Energy says it’s time again to “Share the Warmth”

· The company, its employees and customers team up to raise funds to help families struggling to pay their winter energy bills

· The program provided Carolinas customers with $1.4 million in bill assistance in 2016

CHARLOTTE – Unseasonably warm temperatures right now might fool a few robins or crocuses, but Duke Energy employees know that it’s a long way to spring. That’s why the company is continuing its 31-year tradition by partnering with employees and customers to lend a hand to those struggling to pay their energy bills.

Through its Share the Warmth program, the company works with more than 80 local agencies in the Duke Energy Carolinas service territory to aid qualified senior citizens, families and other customers with financial assistance.

The company annually matches up to $500,000 in employee and customer contributions during the heating season.

“We are committed to providing affordable energy to all of our customers, but we know some struggle to keep their homes warm during the winter,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “As we move through another heating season, we want to remind our customers of the resources and support available to help with their winter bills.”

In 2016, Duke Energy, its employees and customers provided $1,400,000 in bill assistance to North Carolina and South Carolina customers through Share the Warmth.

Since the program’s establishment in 1985, it has provided more than $34.4 million to those in need. Duke Energy offers similar energy assistance programs across all of its service territories.

“We greatly appreciate the many customers and Duke Energy employees who contribute to Share the Warmth and our other energy assistance programs each year,” said David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “Their generous support provides a meaningful impact for thousands of people across the Carolinas.”

Contributing online to Share the Warmth is quick and easy and contributions may be tax deductible. Additionally, Duke Energy provides energy efficiency products, services and information to help customers save energy and money. For more information and to contribute to Share the Warmth, visit duke-energy.com.

THE YANKEE GROUNDHOG SAW HIS SHADOW---BUT GRETA AT CHIMNEY ROCK DISAGREES

THE YANKEE GROUNDHOG SAW HIS SHADOW---BUT GRETA AT CHIMNEY ROCK DISAGREES

PHIL SAW HIS, MEANING 6 MORE WEEKS OF WINTER---UP NORTH       

But here in Western North Carolina, we're thinking the Chimney Rock groundhog might have a better idea of what's to be expected here.

Greta the Groundhog made her debut at the State Park's 12th annual Groundhog Day event.

Greta is taking over for fan favorite Grady the Groundhog after he passed away last year.

Organizers say Grady was 60-percent accurate on his forecast predictions. When it comes to picking the Super Bowl winner, his odds dropped a bit...he was right 33-percent of the time.
Peter O'Leary, Mayor, Chimney Rock Village, "Grady had been here for a number of years and had done a pretty good job of predicting. I think it's neat that we've been able to carry on the tradition with Greta, the new standard bear and we'll see how she does."

As for Greta's prediction, she did NOT see her shadow this morning, so that means Spring is just around the corner!
She's also predicting the New England Patriots to beat the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Punxsutawney Phil made his famous weather prediction Thursday morning, emerging from his burrow to see his shadow.

That means, according to Groundhog Day tradition, the U.S. will brave another six weeks of winter.

The groundhog, emerging from a sleep, squealed as he was pulled from his burrow about 7:15 a.m. He was hoisted into the air and placed on a stump before his official prognostication was made.

It was Phil's 131st prediction, an institution in the Western Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney that dates back to 1886. On Thursday morning, hundreds of people descended on Gobbler's Knob as a light snow fell to watch Phil be coaxed from his burrow.

To the unfamiliar, Groundhog Day is perhaps one of America’s weirdest traditions. Every Feb. 2, people wait for a large, furry rodent to see his shadow and then we predict the weather based on the animal’s actions.

But the winter holiday has a long history rooted in everything from early Christian traditions in Europe to 19th century American newspapers. Here is everything you need to know about how Groundhog Day got its start.

The idea of Groundhog Day comes from an ancient Christian celebration known as Candlemas Day, which marked the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. On Candlemas Day, clergy would bless candles needed for winter and distribute them to the people, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's website says. Superstition held that if the day was sunny and clear, people could expect a long, rough winter, but if the sky was cloudy, warm weather would arrive soon.

The Germans then expanded on this tradition, introducing the hedgehog to the mix. They believed, according to the Groundhog Day website, that if the sun appeared and the hedgehog saw his shadow, there would be six more weeks of bad weather, or a “Second Winter.”
Groundhog Day in the United States

Many of Pennsylvania’s early settlers were German, and they brought this tradition with them, switching the hedgehog for the groundhog, which could be more easily found in their new home, according to the Punxsutawney site.

In 1886, the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper printed the first news of a Groundhog Day observance. The next year, everything fell into place. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob, according to History.com, and the newspaper’s editor declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s official weather-forecasting groundhog.
What Groundhog Day is like today

Since then, the tradition has grown in popularity with many other cities across the country hold their own Groundhog Day celebrations. But none are as elaborate as the one that takes place at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every Feb. 2. This year will by Punxsutawney Phil's (or rather his descendant's) 131st prediction.Tens of thousands of visitors show up for the event each year, according to the official website, and in case you can’t make it in person like Bill Murray in the 1993 hit movie Groundhog Day, there is a live stream of the prediction for all to watch.

THE WILMA DYKEMAN STORY FEBRUARY 23RD AT BRCC

THE WILMA DYKEMAN STORY FEBRUARY 23RD AT BRCC

The Savior of the French Broad River- The Wilma Dykeman Story

 The Cherokee who lived along the banks of the French Broad River called it "the long man" and the creeks that fed it "the chattering children." The French Broad is considered one of the oldest rivers in the world and today it has become a key recreational area with tens of thousands each year enjoying its waters for fishing, boating, swimming, while the River Arts District has become an important destination for many.

But the river had declined to become a toxic cesspool as a result of paper factory runoff, straight piping of sewage and more. Wilma Dykeman, an author of 18 books, was livid that people had forgotten that rivers are more than bodies of water, but a living breathing organism that connects people and wildlife and community. Through her landmark book, The French Broad and her activism, long before the environmental movement took off, Dykeman wrote that it was a false choice to choose between protecting the environment and protecting jobs. You can have both. She said, "There is only one respectable course for a free citizen and that is to shoulder his share of the responsibility for the 'killing,' for the pollution because, just as the river belongs to no one, it belongs to everyone and everyone is held accountable for its health and condition."

The Center for Cultural Preservation is pleased to be able to celebrate Wilma Dykeman, a true hero of mountain culture and our area’s natural inheritance by hosting a program along with the Wilma Dykeman Legacy Foundation featuring Jim Stokely, Wilma’s son in a multi-media presentation about Wilma’s life, her legacy and her impact today.

The Savior of the French Broad River- The Wilma Dykeman Story will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, February 23rd at Blue Ridge Community College’s Thomas Auditorium. There is a $5 registration fee and advanced registration is strongly recommended by registering online at www.saveculture.org or calling the Center at (828) 692-8062. In case of inclement weather, the weather date is Thursday, March 2 at the same time and location.
The Wilma Dykeman program will be followed on March 30th with a special performance on the history of mountain music from the highlands of Scotland and Ireland to the Southern Appalachians titled Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland/Ulster to Appalachia
On Saturday, May 6th at Tigg’s Pond Retreat Center, a signature presentation of the Center’s new film, Come Hell or High Water Remembering the 1916 Flood will be screened including musical performances, hors d'oeuvres and hard cider.
The Center for Cultural Preservation is a cultural nonprofit organization dedicated to working for mountain heritage continuity through oral history, documentary film, education and public programs. For more information about the Center contact them at (828) 692-8062 or www.saveculture.org

HENDERSONVILLE AREA GAS PRICES STAY DOWN

HENDERSONVILLE AREA GAS PRICES STAY DOWN

Average retail gasoline prices in Hendersonville and Asheville have fallen 1.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.27/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 259 gas outlets in western North Carolina. This compares with the national average that has fallen 3.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.26/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Asheville during the past week, prices yesterday were 42.3 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 2.2 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 6.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 46.2 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on January 30 in Asheville have ranged widely over the last five years:
$1.85/g in 2016, $2.12/g in 2015, $3.30/g in 2014, $3.40/g in 2013 and $3.52/g in 2012.

Areas near Asheville and their current gas price climate:
Spartanburg- $1.99/g, down 2.4 cents per gallon from last week's $2.01/g.
Knoxville- $2.01/g, down 3.3 cents per gallon from last week's $2.04/g.
Greenville- $2.01/g, down 3.0 cents per gallon from last week's $2.04/g.

"For the 22nd straight day, the national average for a gallon of gasoline has dropped, the longest such streak since last summer,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. "Average prices now stand at their lowest thus far in 2017 and the lowest since before Christmas, thanks primarily to weak demand for gasoline and also bulging inventories of gasoline."

"Soaking weather on the West Coast has certainly dampened motorists appetite for gasoline, while in the Midwest, weak demand has led to a surplus of winter gasoline, leading some stations in the region to offer the nation's lowest price: $1.52 can be found at a gas station in Oxford, Ohio. But before motorists celebrate such cheap gas, the sweet deal likely won't stick much longer as we've been waiting since last week to see such loss-leaders to disappear. However, we may continue to see the national average moderate during the next week, with the exception in the Great Lakes- where a price adjustment of sorts is still expected," DeHaan said.

HENDERSON COUNTY TOURISM HAS A NEW WEB SITE

HENDERSON COUNTY TOURISM HAS A NEW WEB SITE

Henderson County TDA Launches New Web Site

The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority is proud is announce the launch of their brand new web site

VisitHendersonvilleNC.org. The website had a major re-design making the new site mobile responsive for use on all devices. The
sleek new site was designed as a comprehensive, one-stop gateway for visitors to make it easier to plan trips and see what
Henderson County has to offer. It is also a fantastic tool for local people to use, as a resource directory. Some of the new
interactive features include: a search button, trip-planning tools, more photographs, social media links, slide shows, and a video
gallery.

The redesigned of the http://www.visithendersonvillenc.org website is a part of an ongoing initiative by the Henderson County TDA
Board, in promoting Hendersonville as a year round vacation destination. The experienced team of Big Boom Designs out of
Asheville developed the site.

HENDERSON COUNTY'S DROUGHT CLASSIFICATION MODIFIED TO "MODERATE DROUGHT"

HENDERSON COUNTY'S DROUGHT CLASSIFICATION MODIFIED TO "MODERATE DROUGHT"

RAIN AND SNOW THIS WINTER GRADUALLY IMPROVING OUR DROUGHT SITUATION   

That five to seven inch snowfall, plus some periods of rain, have taken Henderson County out of the "severe" drought category---and as of last Thursday, we are now classified as being in "moderate" drought along with ten other nearby western North Carolina counties.

Climatologists caution though that we are still a long way from completely ending the drought situation that began in this region just over a year ago.

Below is the breakdown from the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.

Counties Under Current Advisory

D2 - Severe Drought
Cherokee County
Clay County
Graham County
Macon County

Total: 4

D1 - Moderate Drought
Buncombe County
Cleveland County
Haywood County
Henderson County
Jackson County
Madison County
McDowell County
Polk County
Rutherford County
Swain County
Transylvania County

Total: 11

D0 - Abnormally Dry
Alexander County
Alleghany County
Ashe County
Avery County
Burke County
Caldwell County
Catawba County
Davie County
Forsyth County
Gaston County
Iredell County
Lincoln County
Mitchell County
Rockingham County
Stokes County
Surry County
Watauga County
Wilkes County
Yadkin County
Yancey County

Total: 20