(Ashvegas) The Asheville Downtown Association has had some conversations around the issue, and so has the West Asheville Business Association. The issue was also brought up at this weekend’s Asheville City Council retreat. This all reminds me of the effort city officials put into cracking down on graffiti back in 2007. The Asheville Police Department created a special unit to tackle the problem, which police officials said at the time was connected to increased gang activity. Police actually made several arrests and highlighted those arrests.

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(Asheville Citizen-Times) The offices at Eblen Charities in Asheville are filling up each day with people in search of help with their heating bills. January was one of the coldest in recent memory, pushing up demand for electricity, natural gas and other heating sources. That will show up in higher heating costs across Western North Carolina. “Colder weather in general increases customers’ energy use, and with that increased usage comes increased bills,” said Kristina Hill, spokeswoman for Duke Progress Energy.

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(Asheville Citizen-Times) Buncombe County Schools will make up snow days on April 18 and on June 11, Superintendent Tony Baldwin said at Thursday’s school board meeting.The April 18 school day, which is Good Friday, will be an early release day, with students getting out two hours early to accommodate families who may have plans for spring break.

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(Sylva Herald) If one more day is missed because of bad weather – and there was no word of plans for today (Thursday) at press time – students will go Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., including lunch. The earliest Saturday school would be held is Feb. 8. There is a caveat: Saturday classes only replace missed days Mondays through Thursdays, and occur the same week the day is missed; a snow day on a Friday, however, wouldn’t be made up on a Saturday: any missed Fridays, or two or more days in one week, mean that days will be added to the end of the year. Missing Friday and going on Saturday wouldn’t give parents adequate time to prepare and make schedule adjustments, Superintendent Mike Murray said during a Jan. 27 school board meeting. Jackson County public schools have canceled classes five days this winter.

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(Ashvegas) Gannett announced on Thursday that it was closing down its printing operation at the Greenville News in Greenville, S.C., a move that will cut a total of 117 jobs there. A story printed on page B3 of the Friday edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times also reports the news, saying that Gannett had reached an agreement with Halifax Media Group to print its two papers at Halifax facilities in Spartanburg, S.C., and Gastonia, N.C..  The 42 full-time and 75 part-time employees may get a shot at working at the Spartanburg and Gastonia printing plants, according to the story.

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(Asheville Citizen-Times) In the new World War II movie “The Monuments Men,” George Clooney and Matt Damon are army officers assigned to save historic artworks before they were plundered or destroyed by Hitler. Asheville’s Biltmore Estate played a similar top-secret role when precious art was stashed at the big house house during the war. Famous works by Rembrandt, Raphael, Anthony van Dyck, — even Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington portrait — were whisked away from Washington’s National Gallery of Art by train and hidden at the estate to protect against attack.

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(Ashvegas) Loyal reader Lydia tells me that she’s helping to organize Asheville’s first WordCamp, an affordable two-day conference entirely focused on all things WordPress. The event is May 30-June 1 at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s Enka campus. Tickets are expected to go on sale in early March. They will cost around $40.

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(Ashvegas) From ‘Farm to Home Milk’ release: “Home Fresh Craft Beer Delivery— We are currently talking with Asheville Growler about delivering 32 oz re-fillable growlers of beer. The bottle would have a deposit and be refillable like the milk bottles. They would be filled with beer in a CO2 chamber to assure freshness – about 3 weeks if unopened. We would have a rotating IPA, Dark beer (stout, porter etc.), Ale, and a lager. Cost would be around $8.99 per growler with a $3.00 bottle deposit credited back each week. How many current customers think they might add beer to their weekly order???”

Offer comments on the idea HERE>

(Asheville Citizen-Times) Natural gas and water service along Sand Hill Road were restored over the weekend following a gas line rupture and massive fire, and City of Asheville crews reopened the road to traffic Sunday night. Sand Hill Road near the Orchard Street intersection, which was damaged by the explosion, reopened at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, city spokesman Brian Postelle said. City crews also had to replace a 12-foot section of 24-inch water main that was damaged in the explosion and fire, he said. The Friday afternoon eruption, that shook buildings, released a fireball that could be seen for miles.

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