(Mountain XPress) The holidays mean decadence. Fatty foods proliferate, bank accounts go negative and children risk becoming spoiled. In the spirit of overindulgence, Asheville can now add fresh Maine lobster to the holiday table. Especially since this well-armored delicacy is now available fresher and at a cheaper price than in area grocery stores. How is this possible in WNC, which lies 1,200 miles from Maine, the nearest lobster locale? Enter Michael Scharf, owner of the local Lobster Club. Scharf’s company is a buyers’ club, but lacks the requirements usually associated with such ventures: there is no commitment, no membership fee and (best of all) no minimum order.

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WNC hospital deal moves forward

Posted: December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

(Asheville Citizen-Times) A Tennessee-based company is a step closer to acquiring two Western North Carolina hospitals. The board of the WestCare Health System, which includes Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva and Swain County Hospital in Bryson City, announced this week it has signed a “a memorandum of understanding” to be acquired by Duke LifePoint Healthcare. “It is a step in the process,” said Lucretia Stargell, director of corporate relations for Harris and Swain hospitals. “It starts the due diligence process.” The deal could be finalized next spring.

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(WRAL News) The federal government is raising questions about how North Carolina pays managed care companies that provide services to mentally ill and developmentally disabled people at the same time the state is looking at making broader use of managed care to control Medicaid costs. State officials say they were “surprised” by the missive and seem unsure what to make of the federal government questioning a system that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS, has reviewed and approved numerous times. At the very least, the letter roils the bureaucratic waters at a time when state lawmakers and the McCrory administration are trying to push forward with a remake of the state’s Medicaid system.

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(WLOS News 13) An Owen High School student is arrested and several others suspended after eating brownies, reportedly laced with marijuana. The principal tells News 13, one student brought the brownies to school and shared them with his friends. That student was arrested after authorities found marijuana inside his vehicle, on school grounds. Law enforcement was immediately made aware of the situation, soon after, arresting the young man who brought the brownies to school.

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(Asheville Citizen-Times) Residents living near land proposed for development in eastern Buncombe County raised concerns Wednesday over traffic and other potential problems. About 60 people met at the Riceville Fire Department for an introduction to the development proposal, which calls for building about 300 homes and 50 rental units on rural land near Warren Wilson College Traffic in the area already gets congested around peak times, some residents said. Copper Coggins, who is attempting to sell the land, said it’s time to let go of the property, which she has owned since the 1970s, although it’s been in the family for more than 200 years.She was trying to sell it for about a year and a half before Case came along. She described him as a “pragmatic progressive” that listens well.

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(Mountain XPress) About 150 community leaders gathered Dec. 11 to discuss Asheville’s strengths as a tourism destination, learn about new projects in the works, and share ideas for the future. “Asheville has a really strong brand. We hear about Asheville all over the country,” reported keynote speaker Mike Konzon, principal at PGAV Destinations, a global leader in the the business of planning and designing tourism sites. He encouraged local leaders to maintain the sense of the town’s authenticity – even as it takes intentional steps to increase visitation. “Authenticity is what separates Asheville from Greenville or any other place people want to go,” he said.

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(Asheville Citizen-Times) The North Carolina Arboretum will increase its daily parking fee from $8 to $12 per personal vehicle, effective Jan. 2. The arboretum will offer half-price parking for personal vehicles the first Tuesday of each month. Entry had been free on those days. The increase comes as a result of reductions in state resources that have impacted the arboretum’s operations and financial planning. The organization has lost more than $1.3 million in state funding in recent years.

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(New York Times) Gannett Company, one of the nation’s largest newspaper chains, will try to expand its advertising and circulation revenue by inserting parts of its flagship newspaper, USA Today, into its local newspapers. Beginning in January, Gannett will add 12 to 14 pages of USA Today content each day to 35 newspapers. [Including the Asheville Citizen-Times] That means readers, along with their local news, will get a broader mix of news from the USA Today content.

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(Asheville Citizen-Times) Another new restaurant, Vue 1913, has opened in the Omni Grove Park Inn. It’s one of several changes to the hotel in the past year, including the purchase of the hotel by Omni and the addition of casual-format Edison restaurant and bar. According to a press release sent from the hotel, Vue 1913 is an “American Brasserie, an American twist on a European style restaurant.” The release says the restaurant is headed by chef James Lumley, whose winter menu highlights classic restaurant fare, such as onion soup, baked brie and a seafood tower with oysters, shrimp, crab and lobster tails. Appetizers start at $8 and entrées at $21.

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