Demolition of Haywood Street parking deck begins March 11

(Mountain XPress) The demolition of the downtown city-owned vacant parking structure at 68 Haywood Street near the corner of Page Avenue is slated to begin the second week of March and be completed by the end of the month. Use of the parking structure, sometimes called the Handipark, was discontinued in 2010. Outside contractors could begin installing safety fences and barricades as soon as Feb. 28, and demolition is scheduled to begin March 11. Nearby businesses have been consulted and the city’s project manager says the demolition will take into consideration the sensitive location and populated area. (1350 WZGM is located at 46 Haywood St., on the same block – if you hear any banging in the background – you’ll know what it is.)

Read the full story HERE>

School Club Controversy: Fabricated?

(WLOS News 13) School officials say reports they denied a Pisgah High student the chance to start a secular group are completely false. The story has gone viral with an article published in the Huffington Post. Reports allege Kalei Wilson wanted to start an atheist club for teens and got nothing but resistance. The school’s attorney says the entire story is a fabricated lie. Numerous national news outlets had run with the story without ever actually interviewing anyone at the school system and may have went solely on information grounded in an online post by the student. Now, the people involved won’t grant interviews.

See the full report HERE>

Climbing comes to Asheville’s River Arts District

(Asheville Citizen-Times) After 20 years, Stuart Cowles is still hanging around town. But Cowles, the owner of Climbmax Indoor Climbing Center, will be hanging — climbing, reaching and growing — in another part of town, when he expands his longtime Wall Street business into the River Arts District. The groundbreaking for the new Smoky Mountain Adventure Center took place Tuesday at 173 Amboy Road, sitting in between the French Broad River Park and Karen Cragnolin and Carrier parks, and across the street from city-owned parking and a greenway. It will house the RAD’s first permanent climbing wall and add to the ever-growing outdoor recreation options in the once-gritty factory-turned-arts-eatery-and tourism-friendly river corridor.

Read the full story HERE>

Swannanoa Valley Museum announces moderate hikes to historic locations

(Mountain XPress) Almost 50 people have now completed the Swannanoa Valley Museum’s popular, but strenuous Swannanoa Valley Rim Explorer Hike Series, and more than two-dozen hikers have already registered for the 2014 series. But many Swannanoa Valley residents have expressed interest in learning the fascinating history of the valley on more moderate hikes. So beginning March 15 and continuing once a month through October, the Museum will offer a new moderate hiking series, consisting of eight, approximately 3-mile hikes to historic locations around the Swannanoa Valley, one in each of their communities. For interested hikers, two free informational meetings will be held – one on Thursday, March 6 at 7:00pm at the Swannanoa Valley Museum and a second on Tuesday, March 11 at 7:00pm at Black Dome in Asheville.

Read the full story HERE>

Drought Impacts Beer Industry

(WLOS News 13) Some local breweries are counting their blessings after some beer makers in the western U.S. struggle from drought. Many breweries out west that had used river and stream water now have to use ground water with a higher mineral content. That content is said to negatively alter the taste of the beer. Joey Justice, head brewer at Highland Brewing Company says 85 percent of beer is water, so it’s no surprise a large supply of good quality water has helped Western North Carolina’s beer industry thrive. Justice says working with conservation groups like the Southern Applachian Highlands Conservancy to protect watersheds is key to protecting the local beer industry.

See the full report HERE>

Duke may be forced to move coal ash dumps

(Asheville Citizen-Times) North Carolina regulators say they may force Duke Energy to move a pair of leaky coal ash dumps, more than three weeks after a massive spill coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Tuesday it plans to reopen Duke’s wastewater discharge permit and consider changes that would require the company to remove its remaining coal ash from the site at Eden to a lined landfill away from the river. The agency’s statement makes no indication whether similar permitting changes are under consideration for Duke’s other 13 dumps in North Carolina.

Read the full story HERE>

Council approves major housing development, moves Haywood Road plans forward

(Mountain XPress) After a back-and-forth on the usefulness of the city’s housing policies, Asheville City Council signed off on the 192-unit Avalon development tonight, though not without some dissenters. The project originally came up at the new Council’s very first meeting last December. However, the site was zoned for industrial development, something Council is keen to attract, leaving them reluctant to turn it over to residential use. Due to that worry and concerns about the lack of affordable housing, the developer, Gastonia, S.C.-based Triangle Real Estate, agreed to delay the project until the issue was resolved.

Read the full story HERE>

Hominy Creek Clean-Up Continues

(WLOS Channel 13 News) Clean up continues this morning on a fuel spill that made its way into a Buncombe County waterway more than a week ago. Seven boom rigs are in place along Hominy Creek to catch any remaining diesel, and keep it from making it into the French Broad River. Despite the ongoing work, many people were out this weekend enjoying the water. The visitors say that not cleaning the spill quickly can have other far-reaching consequences. “I don’t think the powers that be really recognize the huge economic impact that the recreational side of these waters have.”

See the full report HERE>

Asheville Food Truck Showdown March 15 as part of tattoo expo

(Mountain XPress) Asheville is a city with some of the best food in the South East and some of the most innovative cuisine is found in our local food trucks. If you’ve wondered what the best food truck in the area is, you can find out at the First Annual Asheville Food Truck Show Down on Saturday March 15. Dozens of food trucks will meet in the parking lot of the Masonic Temple at 80 N. Broadway from noon – 8 pm to compete for the title of “Best Truck in Asheville.” Our celebrity judges will have the difficult task of choosing “The Best Truck in Asheville” while the public enjoys the great food and music.

Read the full article HERE>

Dale Jr back in Victory Lane – at Daytona 500

(Asheville Citizen-Times) Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruised down pit road, stopping just long enough for Rick Hendrick to climb halfway inside his window for the short lift to Victory Lane. Once there, Junior slipped from the beloved No. 88 Chevrolet, bounded past TV cameras and hugged every single crew member he could find to thank them for getting him his second Daytona 500 victory. This was a celebration 10 years in the making.

Read the full story HERE>

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