Thursday, March 29, 2007

Plan to save a million acres in N.C. 'falling short'

Not good.

"Rising land values have shoved North Carolina well off track with its drive to set aside 1 million acres for preservation by 2009," says the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"Spending on measures that include buying property, development rights and easements have brought in less than half that amount since work started in 1999.

"Advocates say that’s not likely to change — even with the recent $24 million private and public deal that made Chimney Rock North Carolina’s newest state park. ...

"The lag in the N.C. Million Acre Initiative comes at a time when the South is losing more private land to development than any other region. In North Carolina, the rate of development in 2005 was twice that of conservation efforts. ..."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Old Salem tabbed as a top 10 place to find your farming roots

Old Salem (in Winston-Salem) has been named as one of the top 10 "places to dig up old dirt on farming" and to "see where our food comes from" by USA Today's Travel section.

The selections were compiled by Judith Sheridan, secretary/treasurer of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (, a volunteer organization that promotes agricultural tourism and living history.

Regarding Old Salem, Sheridan says that "folks often come here for the four museums — a toy museum, decorative arts museum, children's museum and the Town of Salem, a historic Moravian community. But this place has always been famous for its gardens." USA Today says that "You'll see fruit and vegetables growing in the many different gardens as well as wheat, flax and cotton. 888-653-7253; ."

Quick hits: Lottery down, Bele Chere downsizing

State's lottery revenues down
"One year after the North Carolina Education Lottery launched, revenue is 26 percent below projections," says

"The state began selling its first scratch-off tickets a year ago Friday. To date, the lottery has brought in $885 million, less than three-quarters of the $1.2 billion state lawmakers expected in the lottery's first year.

"Lottery officials continue to adjust the available games to try to bring in more revenue. A $5 NASCAR-themed game that was unveiled Tuesday offers a top prize of $100,000 and gives players a chance to win NASCAR-licensed merchandise or a trip to a NASCAR race. ..."

Bele Chere scales down
"The Southeast’s largest free street festival soon could be not so large or so regional," writes the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"This year’s Bele Chere, which will run July 27-29, will likely have a smaller budget and will use more local artists, food and music.

"The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to act on recommendations from the Bele Chere board of directors that include using a greater percentage of bands from Western North Carolina, making vending booths cheaper for local artists and starting a local microbrewery booth. ..."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

'Just beginning' for Daughtry

Chris Daughtry, who grew up "picking potatoes and corn" on a North Carolina "spread with chickens, goats, ducks and hunting dogs," has done pretty well for himself since not winning American Idol.

"Since placing fourth in the Fox juggernaut last year, Chris Daughtry has strengthened into the fifth season's gold medalist. Make that platinum," wrote USA Today. "Daughtry, the fastest-selling rock debut since SoundScan began tabulating sales in 1991, has sold 1.9 million copies in 16 weeks, and first single It's Not Over is a top 10 smash on multiple formats with sales of 871,500 downloads to date. His ballad Home replaces Daniel Powter's Bad Day as this season's exit anthem, sure to goose sales through May.

"This post-Idol course, less a career path than his fantasy stairway to heaven, 'has far exceeded anything I ever expected,' Daughtry, 27, says. ..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

All-North Carolina team

You wanted the best. You got the best. The all-North Carolina team.

First, a few notes.

I picked teams that could play together -- a point guard, a shooting guard, two forwards and a center -- not just the five best players, followed by the next five.

Field goal percentage is often a misleading statistic because it includes 3-point percentage. I remove 3-pointers from the equation and use 2-point percentage. See the Stephen Curry entry.

This is a down season for the North Carolina teams, mostly because it's a down season for Duke, N.C. State and Wake Forest. Another reason is the talent in the state is young. Of the 10 players selected, three are freshmen and two are sophomores. There is only one senior.

First team

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, forward, sophomore
18.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 53.8 2-point percentage

Hansbrough is a fine player, but that's not the whole story:

1. Hansbrough was a 21-year-old sophomore this season (born: Nov. 3, 1985). So he was two years older than many of the players in his class and the same age as some juniors and seniors. That's one reason why he was one of the best freshman of all time last season -- he was 20 years old.

There are a couple explanations for this. The first is his birthday is in November, and the cut-off date in many school systems is in October. The second, according to my source, is he went from a public school to a private one in first grade and repeated that grade.

2. Hansbrough was not a unanimous all-ACC first-team selection, no matter what the ACC office tells you. Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times knows better.

Kyle Hines, UNC-Greensboro, forward, junior
20.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 56.0 2-point percentage

Southern Conference player of the year.

Brandan Wright, North Carolina, center, freshman
14.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 65.2 2-point percentage

Stephen Curry, Davidson, shooting guard, freshman
21.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 40.8 3-point percentage

Stephen (pronounced Stef-un) wasn't offered a scholarship by any ACC school. Virginia Tech, where he wanted to go, offered him a chance to walk on. That's it. Pat Forde of tells the whole story.

Curry shot 53.5 percent from 2-point range, 40.8 percent from 3-point range and 85.5 percent from the free throw line for a total shooting percentage of 179.8.

For a frame of reference, J.J. Redick shot 175.7 as a freshman, 181.8 as a sophomore, 175.6 as a junior and 180.5 as a senior.

Jason Richards, Davidson, point guard, junior
13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 3.1 turnovers

Richards is second in the nation in assists, first among players in the NCAA tournament.

Second team

Arizona Reid, High Point, forward, junior
21.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 52.8 2-point percentage

Great name, great game.

Ben McCauley, N.C. State, forward, sophomore
14.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 59.5 2-point percentage

McCauley edges out Brandon Costner of State, Josh McRoberts of Duke, Vladimir Kuljanin of UNC-Wilmington and Jeremy Clayton of Appalachian State.

Kyle Visser, Wake Forest, center, senior
17.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 58.8 2-point percentage

Visser really improved. He had not averaged more than 5.0 points a game before this season.

Ty Lawson, North Carolina, point guard, freshman
10.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 2.1 turnovers

DeMarcus Nelson, Duke, shooting guard, junior
14.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 53.5 2-point percentage

Ayden's festival to be the 'official' collards festival

There are several festivals in North Carolina honoring collard greens, but it looks like Ayden's might become the "official" one.

"North Carolina already has three official state festivals: the Hertford County Watermelon Festival, the Fair Bluff Watermelon Festival and Folkmoot USA in Waynesville as the official international festival," says the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"The N.C. Apple Festival in Hendersonville could make a similar move [as Ayden]. The festival occurs every Labor Day weekend and is now in its 61st year. But no one knows whether it’s recognized as an official festival." It should be noted that "[n]ot all festivals are rushing toward state recognition.

"The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will probably not seek official state designation for its Ramp It Up Festival, which starts March 31 to coincide with the start of the trout season, said Phil Werz, festival spokesman."

The article talks about the economic impact of festivals in the state. Asheville's Bele Chere brought in about $12 million and 167,000 people to the mountains in 2005. The N.C. Apple Festival impacts Henderson County with more than $25 million.

"Ayden Collard Festival organizers said they hoped visitors would do more than just visit the town, which is a suburb of Greenville, N.C.

" 'We’re hoping if we get people coming from all over the place, maybe they’ll want to live here,' said Joe Echel, the festival’s vendor committee chairman. 'It’s a nice place for people to live and start a business.' ..."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Musical to honor Moses Cone

The Blowing Rock Stage Company will present in June "The Denim King," a musical tribue to Moses Cone, the textile magnate who built his mansion in Blowing Rock. (The house, shown on a cloudy day, is pictured.)

The play is presented and commissioned by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. It was written by Dr. Janet Barton Speer, based on the book, "A Mansion in the Mountains" by Philip Noblitt.

Kenneth Kay is directing the play, and the music and lyrics are by Jonathan Thomas Oaks.

For more information, go here.

State-Carolina ACC final draws huge TV ratings

If house- and yardwork around the Triangle appeared neglected on Sunday, there's a valid reason why: the ACC Tournament championship game.

The tournament final between N.C. State and North Carolina drew mammoth ratings in the Raleigh area. According to WRAZ researcher Gerald Belton, the the average quarter-hour ratings during the game Sunday afternoon were 22.0 with a 45 share, which represents 221,000 households.

"That's a huge number for this market, on par with what a highly anticipated Duke-Carolina basketball game would draw," said the Raleigh News & Observer.

"The peak time for viewing was between 2:45 p.m. and 3 p.m., with a 32.1 rating with a 58 share, or 323,000 households."

Monday, March 12, 2007

RPI in North Carolina

The final rankings, with each team's overall record against Division I opponents and its record against Division I opponents from North Carolina:

Only three teams from North Carolina made the NCAA tournament. I'm not sure if that's a record low, at least since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, but I bet it's close.

2. North Carolina (28-6, 8-1), ACC champions
vs. Eastern Kentucky, Thursday at 9:40 p.m.
15. Duke (22-10, 4-3), at-large berth
vs. Virginia Commonwealth, Thursday at 7:20 p.m.
48. Davidson (27-4, 7-2), Southern Conference champions
vs. Maryland, Thursday at 12:20 p.m.

59. Appalachian State (22-7, 7-3)
89. N.C. State (18-14, 8-3)

State beat three NCAA tournament teams in the ACC tournament before it lost to North Carolina in the championship game. The Wolfpack entered the top 100 in the RPI and made the NIT. It plays at Drexel on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Feel free to discuss the Wolfpack's run in the comments, since there hasn't been a post about it yet.

Who knows how State would have done, if it had Engin Atsur for the whole season, or if Cedric Simmons or Andrew Brackman wouldn't have left the program? But this team's effort was always admirable.

I couldn't be happier that Sidney Lowe is the coach of my alma mater. I should write an entire post to explain exactly why. But Lowe's coaching (and his red sport jacket) received some positive reviews over the weekend. Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times and Pat Forde of hit the highlights.

121. Wake Forest (15-16, 5-5)
146. UNC Charlotte (14-16, 1-1)
185. High Point (18-10, 4-1)

208. UNC Greensboro (16-14, 6-7)
246. Western Carolina (9-20, 3-9)
249. UNC Asheville (8-19, 0-5)
262. UNC Wilmington (7-22, 1-3)
264. Gardner-Webb (8-21, 2-6)
270. North Carolina A&T (13-17, 0-0)
273. Campbell (12-17, 2-2)
299. Elon (5-23, 3-8)

304. Winston-Salem State (2-24, 0-1)
312. East Carolina (3-24, 1-3)

Coming soon: the all-North Carolina team

Friday, March 09, 2007

Miami's Haith knows what we're talking about

Miami Hurricanes men's basketball coach Frank Haith, a native North Carolinian, could definitely relate to our discussion about childhood ACC tourney memories.

"This is the greatest tournament in the country, the crowd, the fans," Haith told the Wilmington Star-News. "Obviously growing up in North Carolina, Friday afternoons in high school, when the TVs are turned on and the teachers aren't teaching but we're watching the ACC tournament, obviously it's very special."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pavilion rides find new home

We've discussed previously that the demise of Myrtle Beach's Pavilion is not necessarily N.C.-related; however, it's important to realize that so many North Carolinians have fond memories of the now-defunct slice of Americana.

That's why it's a big deal that the Pavilion's rides have found a new home, according to The Sun News.

"Some rides from the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park will find a new home at Broadway at the Beach, Burroughs & Chapin announced today," said the paper.

"The new mini-park, to be called the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, is slated to open sometime this summer, be open year-round and feature the following rides from the former Myrtle Beach landmark: the historic carousel and German organ; the Pirate Ship; the Wave Swinger; Caterpillar; arcade and midway games; and a number of kiddie rides. A retail store and special historical section also are planned."

Unusual or 'offbeat' hotels

It may not have the quirkiness of the Ice Hotel or posh tented camps, but I've always been curious about the Fire Mountain Bed & Breakfast in Highlands, N.C. After all, you have the option of spending a night or two in a tree house, for crying out loud.

Unfortunately, Fire Mountain's accomodations don't rank among Sherman Travel's Top 10 Offbeat Hotels -- but it's got to be close.

Writes Shermans about its top 10: "There's a hotel out there to satisfy most every curiosity—whether you're into marine life, wildlife, or Eskimo life ... [s]o say goodbye to so-so lodging and catch your zzz's in one of our favorite offbeat hotels. ..."

A tree house sounds cool to me.

Are there other unique accomodations in North Carolina aside from Fire Mountain's tree houses?

Ocracoke: Second-best beach for shells

North Carolina's Ocracoke Island has been named the second-best beach for shells, by Coastal Living magazine.

No. 1 on the top 10 list is Florida's Sanibel Island.

"The rare Scotch bonnet, state shell of North Carolina, sometimes turns up [on Ocracoke's beach]," writes the magaziine. "Even during the frenetic summer season, few tourists venture outside Ocracoke Village at the south end of this 16-mile-long Outer Banks island. In winter, when restless weather stirs up all sorts of treasures from the deep, only the gulls are likely to share the northern beaches. Stephen 'Dr. Beach' Leatherman ranked Ocracoke third on his 2006 'top beaches' list. ..."

Behind Ocracoke are beaches in Bandon, Ore.; Galveston, Texas; Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii; Flag Ponds Nature Park, Lusby, Md.; Cumberland Island National Seashore, Ga.; Eleuthera Island, The Bahamas; Great Peconic Bay, Long Island, N.Y.; and Stinson Beach, Calif.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's that time of year again

As a native North Carolinian, few things elicit the excitement of the ACC basketball tournament. And even though this year's tournament is in a foreign land (Tampa, Florida), some 700 miles from where it should be (Greensboro or, at the very least, Charlotte or Atlanta), there's still some excitement for the tournament in this 32-year-old body that hasn't been present to a tournament in about 6 years.

And, believe it or not, I have the North Carolina public school system to thank for that excitement.

After all, "ACC Tournament Week" in elementary and middle school was almost like an in-school vacation. I can remember teachers pretty much making up lesson plans based around the tournament. Specifically, math teachers would have students calculate just how far it is between, say, College Park and Tallahassee. Or history teachers would have students research the Morrill Act (which paved the way for Land Grant colleges), or how the different schools were founded. And so on and so on.

The whole week was topped off when TVs were wheeled into the classrooms to watch the Friday morning and afternoon session of games from the tournament. And, of course, schoolchildren wore their favorite teams colors. Of course, being that we were in North Carolina in the 1980s and early 1990s, the classrooms were pretty much split between red and light blue. (There was no such thing as Duke fans back in those days. And I remember just one Wake Forest fan, K.C. Gold. I always respected that about him.)

For those of you who grew up in North Carolina, do you have similar memories? And for those that did not, was there a similar level of excitement for "the tournament" in your state?

Monday, March 05, 2007

RPI in North Carolina

This week's college basketball rankings, with each team's overall record (through Sunday) and its record against the other Division I teams in North Carolina:

The overall records have been changed to each team's record against only Division I opponents, because that's how RPI is determined.

Davidson won the Southern Conference tournament and passed Appalachian State and UNC Greensboro fell out of the top 200.

3. North Carolina (25-6, 7-1)
14. Duke (22-9, 4-2)
50. Davidson (27-4, 7-2)
61. Appalachian State (22-7, 7-3)

114. N.C. State (15-14, 7-2)
124. Wake Forest (14-15, 5-5)
139. UNC Charlotte (14-15, 1-1)
185. High Point (18-10, 4-1)

208. UNC Greensboro (16-14, 6-7)
248. Western Carolina (9-20, 3-9)
251. UNC Asheville (8-19, 0-5)
262. UNC Wilmington (7-22, 1-3)
268. Gardner-Webb (8-21, 2-6)
272. Campbell (12-17, 2-2)
279. North Carolina A&T (12-16, 0-0)
300. Elon (5-23, 3-8)

303. Winston-Salem State (2-24, 0-1)
316. East Carolina (3-23, 1-3)

Next week: final rankings and the all-North Carolina team.

Quick hits: N.C. primary update & luring the Final Four

Bill seeks earlier N.C. primaries
"By the time North Carolinians vote in next year's presidential primary, the races in each party will have long been determined," writes the Charlotte Observer.

"That's why some state legislators want to move the 2008 primaries, now scheduled for May, to Feb. 5. That's the date at least 20 other states are considering as an option for their primaries, a de facto national primary day that likely would decide the nominees.

"Candidates usually only stop in North Carolina to refuel their checkbooks on their way to early primary states, such as South Carolina. Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, for example, visits Charlotte for a fundraiser on Friday. Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York comes April 2.

"On Thursday, a state Senate committee is expected to start debate on a bill to move up the N.C. presidential primaries.

" '(Candidates) come here to raise money,' said state Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, who introduced the bill. 'We can wave to them as they go down the street to the fundraiser, and we can wave to them again as they go to the plane to Iowa and New Hampshire.' ..."

Greensboro seeks 2012 Final Four
"The reviews are in, and by all accounts, Greensboro knows how to throw a basketball party," writes the News & Record.

"The ACC Women's Tournament final Sunday between North Carolina and N.C. State was sold out for the fifth straight year in Greensboro. And for the eighth straight year, the tournament set an attendance record with 69,159 fans showing up.

"But the party's only getting started. Many of those fans will be back in three weeks when the NCAA women's regional tournament rolls into town. And both the ACC and NCAA women will be back at the Greensboro Coliseum next year.

"So now that Greensboro has proven its love for women's basketball, the question is: What's next?

"The short answer: Nothing, for now.

"But city officials are hoping to parlay all this basketball madness into something bigger: the women's Final Four in 2012. ..."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Quick hits: I've got some good news, and some bad news ...

Some items found while scanning the web today ...

Seafood festival wins regional award
"The North Carolina Seafood Festival [pictured] held annually in Morehead City has been recognized for the designs that covered posters and T-shirts during its 20th anniversary," according to a news release.

"The North Carolina/South Carolina Association of Festivals and Events awarded the Seafood Festival first place in T-shirt design and second place in poster design for last year's event.

" 'We are truly grateful to receive these coveted awards and many thanks to our poster and T-shirt artist, Anna B. Cordes,' said Seafood Festival Executive Director Stephanie McIntyre. ..."

N.C. tops nation in farm losses
"North Carolina may soon have to decide between progress and loss of a way of life," according to the Dunn Daily Record.

"For the past two years, the state has won a title it may not want to keep - Tops in Farm Loss. North Carolina lost 1,000 farms in 2005, tying Florida and Tennessee for first place in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2004 it wasn't even a tie; with a loss of 3,000 farms, North Carolina lost hands down.

"Director of Public Affairs for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Conservation Services Brian Long said the title is one the state would like to lose, and soon.

" 'North Carolina had 54,000 farms in 2002 and at the end of 2005 we were down to 48,000,' he said. 'That is a 6,000 farm loss over a period of just six years and we've got to take steps now to stop it. It's been one of Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler's main priorities in recent years.' ..."