Lower gas prices expected to fuel increase in Labor Day travel

(Winston Salem Journal) Lower gas prices are expected to encourage motorists in the Triad and statewide to pack in one more summer trip during the extended Labor Day weekend, according to a AAA Carolinas report released Wednesday. More than 1 million North Carolinians are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the five-day period, which begins Thursday. That’s up 1.3 percent from a year ago. Of those travelers, 870,000 will be driving and 81,000 will be flying. Gas prices, as of Wednesday, were down 3.4 percent statewide to an average of $3.349 a gallon for regular unleaded. Prices were down 22 cents since the July Fourth holiday and down 12 cents year over year.

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One month after City Council says Pack Board unfit to run facility, County Commissioners commit nearly $400K of tax payers money toward Pack Place

(Asheville Citizen Times) The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a motion 7-0 to maintain about 96 percent of the funding it originally tabbed for Pack Place. During the 2015 budget process, the commissioners and the Culture and Recreation Authority Board approved an appropriation of $409,076 for Pack Place, and that money could only be paid to the Pack Place board. The funding includes $185,000 for utilities; nearly $181,000 for operations and maintenance to be split among three entities based on square footage, unless the partners come up with a better plan; and $3,925 per month for July and August for the Pack Place board. County manager Wanda Greene made a presentation showing that the county made a $6.9 million cash investment to Pack Place from fiscal year 1988-2008 while the city contributed $6.8 million during the same time period. Since fiscal year 2009, however, the county has given about $2.5 million while the city has given $284,000, according to the county.

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ARCHIVE: (July 19, 2014City leaders push for changes, say the nonprofit has not taking care of Pack Place’s needs since it opened 22 years ago.

Asheville may pay to keep RAD apt. project ‘affordable’

(Asheville Citizen-Times) City government is considering paying the developer of apartments and retail space planned for the River Arts District more than $760,000 in return for limits on residential rents in the project. City Council has set an Aug. 26 public hearing on the proposed incentive grant for RAD Lofts, to be located on the former Dave Steel property at the “five points” intersection where Roberts Street, Depot Street, Lyman Street and Clingman Avenue meet. The development will contain 209 apartments, 48,500 square feet of commercial space, including a community grocery store and a two-story underground parking deck at a development cost estimated at about $52 million. Developer Harry Pilos said he hopes to begin construction by November. RAD Lofts promises to significantly increase activity in the neighborhood, bringing what Pilos said would be about 350 residents to what is now an empty lot. It has also prompted worries that it will contribute to gentrification.

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Mission Health Receives Duke Endowment Grant to Expand School-based Telehealth program

image(Staff Reports, 1350 WZGM) ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Mission Center for Telehealth has received a two-year grant of more than $700,000 from The Duke Endowment to make comprehensive healthcare for children in rural communities more convenient and accessible by expanding the Health-e-Schools program, a collaborative telemedicine effort with The Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI).

Telehealth is the method of providing health care, health information, and health education across a distance. Using secure telecommunications technology physicians, nurses, and health care specialists can assess, diagnose and treat patients without requiring them to be physically present in the same location. In the Health-e-Schools program, a student or faculty member joined by a school nurse is connected to a healthcare provider at another location. School based telehealth provides access to acute care visits, primary care visits, and specialty visits. The collaborative approach between the Center for Rural Health Innovation and Mission Children’s Hospital allows patients to access providers with both organizations.

“School-based centers have been proven to also improve academic outcomes by increasing attendance, grade point averages and high school graduation rates. In our communities, it can be difficult for working parents to ensure their children receive preventative healthcare or follow-up care, leading to missed days of school and higher use of hospital emergency departments,” said Steve North, MD, MPH Outpatient Medical Director at the Mission Center for Telehealth and Founder and Medical Director of The Center for Rural Health Innovation. “Telehealth is emerging as the preferred solution to improve access to care and improve health outcomes, especially in rural communities.”

The Health-e-Schools program helps bring exceptional care to young patients by increasing classroom attendance for students and decreasing time away from work for the parent or student caregiver. With this grant, the program will increase access in public schools, further improving comprehensive health outcomes and academic outcomes and decreasing overall health expenditures. Mission Children’s Hospital and the Mission Center for Telehealth have been collaborating with the CRHI to provide pediatric cardiac care through its primary program, MY Health-e-Schools, since early 2014.

“This Duke Endowment grant will assist Mission Health in providing the best evidence-based care to patients regardless of where they may be located. It will help assure improved care, cost savings and convenience for patients,” said Bryan T. Arkwright, MHA, Director of the Mission Center for Telehealth. “The expansion of the Health-e-Schools program will help bring exceptional care to some of our most vulnerable, our children.”

The Duke Endowment grant is to be disbursed in two installments, $401,207 in 2014 and $300,000 in 2015. The MY Health-e-Schools established by the CRHI is currently available to approximately 4,000 school-age students in rural school districts in Mitchell and Yancey counties. By 2016, this endowment will allow the MY Health-e-Schools program to be available in at least 12 new public schools in another two rural school districts, reaching a potential 5,000 additional school-aged children. The first district targeted for implementation is McDowell County Schools.

FOr more information contact:
Jerri Jameson
Mission Health
Public Relations Manager
890 Hendersonville Rd., Suite 100
Asheville, NC 28803
(828) 213-4815 – Office

ZZ Top cancels Biltmore concert due to medical situation of band member

(Staff Reports, 1350 WZGM) ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Biltmore has just received word that ZZ Top has cancelled its show at the estate, scheduled for Wednesday, July 30.

Due to the unexpected surgery of bassist Dusty Hill, the band has cancelled six dates on their upcoming tour including the Biltmore concert. While it is expected Hill will make a complete recovery following two weeks of recuperation, ZZ Top’s management was unable to reschedule during Biltmore’s concert series due to the band’s fully booked tour.

Biltmore is notifying guests and will automatically issue refunds for the cost of concert tickets. Concert organizers hope to host ZZ Top for its annual Biltmore Concert Series in the future.

Asheville council to take up Pack Place issues

(Asheville Citizen-Times) City Council is scheduled to take on the controversial issue of who is responsible for what at Pack Place on Tuesday, potentially pushing the nonprofit that has operated the cultural center out of the picture. Council is scheduled to vote on leases for space in the building between the city and each of its three occupants: Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Earth Science Museum and Diana Wortham Theatre. That would bring to an end the primary mission of the nonprofit, also called Pack Place, and raise questions about whether Buncombe County government will continue to pay for utilities and other costs to operate the building. Building occupants may take on more of the burden of keeping the building in good condition.

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Asheville graffiti initiative makes headway

(Mountain XPress) Asheville’s new initiative to clean up graffiti seems to be making headway. Starting July 1, the city began offering property owners up to $500 in assistance toward the cost of removing the illicit markings from their buildings. And as of today, July 16, 67 property owners have requested support and 9 locations have been cleaned up, according to Brian Postelle, the city’s public information specialist. “The clean up is expected to ramp up toward the beginning of next week now that many of those who have signed up have completed the necessary waivers allowing contractors to access their property,” says Postelle. The temporary city assistance, which is funded in part by a $30,000 gift from an anonymous donor, ends Sept. 30. To request the funding, property owners can call 259-5960, email 123graffitifree@ashevillenc.gov or use the Asheville App, available for free download here.

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Think small, grow big: Urban farming, without the farm

(Mountain XPress) Many in Asheville may think their living situation doesn’t allow for a garden. Perhaps they live in an apartment building, have only a small yard, have a landlord who restricts use of the yard or move too frequently to establish a garden. Falconhurst Community Garden is a backyard garden for people who may not have a backyard. It’s also a perfect example of something big that grew from something small. The garden began 10 years ago, in a small space between two homes in West Asheville, when Abby Walker and her neighbor decided to grow vegetables for their families in a tiny communal garden. Over time, other neighbors became interested in participating in the neighborhood garden, but that would require a larger space. In the back of the Walkers’ property sits a hillside where five different properties converged — once “an extra, unmowed, unused space,” Walker says. Four years ago, Walker and her neighbors decided to turn part of that space into a communal backyard — now used by 10-30 community members to grow food and hold neighborhood potlucks and gatherings.

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Meadows’ Bill Releasing ‘Road to Nowhere’ Funds to Swain County Advances

(Staff Reports) 1350 WZGM –  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Agreement Act of 2013, H.R. 3806, introduced by Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), advanced through the House Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday. The bill directs Congress to release funds to Swain County, NC for the “Road to Nowhere.” Currently, the National Park Service (NPS) is withholding $4 million that was allocated to Swain County back in 2012 as part of a settlement with the federal government over a road that was supposed to be constructed as payment for the county when they conveyed land to the NPS for Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1943, but the road was never built. After a long back and forth, the county reached a settlement in 2010 with the federal government, which agreed to pay Swain County $52 million.

The county has received an initial payment, but the $4 million allocated in 2012 is being held up by the NPS. “The residents of Swain County are still waiting on funds that were allocated by Congress more than two years ago. I hope my colleagues in the House will join me in fulfilling this promise to the people of Swain County by bringing this bill to the floor for a vote,” Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said.

In May, Congressman Meadows and former Congressman Heath Shuler, testified together before the House Sub-committee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation urging it to release the funds allocated to Swain County. “I thank Congressman Shuler for his willingness to partner with me to assist my constituents in Western North Carolina. I also thank Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) for their help in moving this legislation forward,” Meadows added.

Common Core elimination bill heading to Governor for signature

(Associated Press) The Common Core curriculum standards that dictate what’s taught in grade school classrooms across the state are on their way out. The House approved a compromise bill, 71-34, Wednesday to rewrite the statewide curriculum to better tailor it for North Carolina students. The bill now heads to Gov. Pat McCrory; in a statement released minutes after the bill was passed, he said he would sign it. The bill repeals Common Core for the state’s K-12 standards and directs the State Board of Education to come up with new ones. A new standards advisory commission would be formed to make recommendations to the board. The commission would be made up of 11 members, some appointed by legislative leaders, one by the governor and others by the State Board of Education.

Read the full report HERE>

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