Friday, August 31, 2007

A sad, shameful and despicable chapter in our fair state's history

"The looks on their faces were somber as they listened to recordings of the stories of those who were forcibly sterilized under North Carolina’s eugenics program," writes the Winston-Salem Journal.

"About 300 people came to Winston-Salem State University yesterday for an opening reception and to see the state’s new exhibit explaining the program.

" 'Look at the ages, 13, 14,' said Johnetta Huntley, a counselor at Parkland High School. 'They’re all young.

" 'Our children need to be exposed to this so they won’t let something of this nature happen again.' ..."


North Carolina has much to be proud of as a state. The sterilization program, which lasted from 1929 until the 1970s, is not one of them.

"A five-member board made decisions to sterilize young and poor women and men, many of them against their will. More than 7,600 people were sterilized," wrote the Journal.

"People who viewed the exhibit said they were shocked that states endorsed and carried out such programs. ...

" 'This is something that you would expect in Nazi Germany,'" said Bobbie Linville of Winston-Salem.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blowing Rock to honor 'Mitford'

"Not a day at work goes by that a stranger doesn’t approach Bill Stroh with questions as he clips and snips the flowers or buffs the wooden floors at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church.

"Stroh is the sexton at the 89-year-old stone church in Blowing Rock, but to fans of Jan Karon’s books (photo courtesy of, he is working at the fictional Lord’s Chapel in the village of Mitford.

“Sometimes people knock on the door late at night and say they just have to see it,” he said. “I get a lot of people wanting to photograph me because they think I’m the sexton in the book, and I say, 'No, I took his place.'”

The books revolve around the life of an Episcopal priest at a church in the fictional town of Mitford, which is set in the foothills along the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The town of Mitford was inspired by Blowing Rock, where Karon lived in the 1990s.

The steady stream of people who visit Blowing Rock to see the inspiration for Mitford is about to become a wave of devotees. Organizers expect up to 18,000 people during the first Mitford Days in Blowing Rock. The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce is getting 50 phone calls daily about the festival, officials said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The majestic N.C. mountains

OK, so these are a few weeks later than I originally noted, but here are some photos from the Boone/Blowing Rock area taken in mid July.

The first is, obviously, Grandfather Mountain. Even at 32 years young, I was quite nervous about crossing it. (I don't remember being so nervous the first time I did it -- some 20 years ago.)
Next are more Grandfather photos, including the attention-seeking bears, the freedom-seeking Bald Eagle and a water-seeking panther/cougar.

Next are some photos from a couple of hikes we took while along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'm embarrassed to say that I do not remember what they are all called, but suffice to say they weren't too far from the Linn Cove Viaduct or the Parkway itself. So there. Now go find them with those kinds of hints. (Warning: I went a little Ansel Adams/B&W crazy here.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

D.G. Martin on our mountain 'lighthouses'

One of North Carolina's greatest ambassadors, D.G. Martin, has penned a wonderful column on North Carolina's mountain "lighthouses."

"Our mountains, beautiful as their rolling, forested peaks are, provide few landmarks as dramatic as Grandfather," he writes. "Even Mount Mitchell is masked by other nearby high peaks in the Black Mountain range.

"However, a few other North Carolina mountains or outcroppings stand out from their surroundings in ways that leave their viewers in awe.

"Stone Mountain (near North Wilkesboro), Pilot Mountain (near Winston Salem), Crowders Mountain (near Gastonia), and Chimney Rock (near Asheville), along with Grandfather, are among my favorites. Like the lighthouses that are symbols of our coast, these outcroppings are my mountain icons. ...

"Like our lighthouses, each of these mountain icons has its special story. 'Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas: A Field Guide to Favorite Places from Chimney Rock to Charleston,' by UNC-Chapel Hill professor Kevin G. Stewart and Mary-Russell Roberson, persuades its readers that the geological story of the creation of each of these landmarks is almost as compelling asits visual impression. ..."

Hugh Morton's photo of the Charlotte skyline from Grandfather Mountain courtesy of Blue Ridge blog.

Cattle farmers struggling in Western N.C.

The drought -- which is reaching historic proportions in Western North Carolina -- is having a major impact on cattle farmers in the west.

"Cattle farmers in the western region are short 800,000 rolls of hay. One cow can eat 3,000 pounds of hay over the winter, so farmers are scrambling to find an ample supply," says the Associated Press.

"Perry Morrow, a Haywood County cattle farmer, said he's about 170 hay rolls short of the 400 hay rolls he heeds to get through the winter. He has already marked some of his 200 head for sale.

"Still, Morrow said would like to keep as many as is financially feasible. He supports the idea of getting feed alternatives from across the state, but he worries about the cost. ..."

Friday, August 17, 2007

'When I think of N.C., I think of ...'

With all due respect to my Sandlapper friends, I must concede one thing: As a North Carolinian, I almost never find myself feeling jealous of South Carolina -- save for the fact that Charleston is perhaps my favorite U.S. city and, I have to admit, I really do like Hootie & the Blowfish. (And, of course, our neighbors to the south are among the nicest anywhere. So there.)

Having said that, I do have to give credit where credit is due. And in this instance, I'm jealous of the fact that South Carolina has produced one of the most iconic symbols anywhere in the world. I'm talking, naturally, about the S.C. flag. And more importantly, I'm referring to the palmetto tree and crescent that adorns the flag.

Simply put, it's a very cool symbol. You see it everywhere, even here in the Old North State. I imagine it's for three reasons that it's so popular: 1) People really love South Carolina; 2) It's just a really neat, unique symbol; and 3) it's become a defacto symbol of the South (not unlike the Bonnie Blue). I may be wrong about that last one, but that's the feeling I get, at least.

So, I'm jealous. Jealous that South Carolina has such a cool symbol. It looks good on hats, shirts, belts, stickers, etc. Our grand state doesn't quite have anything like that.

But could it?

S.C.'s symbol has reached a status not unlike "I (HEART) NY" or the slogan, "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas." I'm not saying that N.C. can approach those. But it's worth a discussion.

Here are some potential options:
-The flag: North Carolina's flag is not as unique as S.C.'s or even Maryland's, but it's a ready-made symbol. One proposal would be to use the the star with the N on the left and the C on the right, as opposed to the whole flag. But stars as symbols are kinda overdone. (Go Cowboys!)

(By the way, did you know there was an official salute to the state flag? It's kinda new: "I salute the flag of North Carolina and pledge to the Old North State love, loyalty, and faith.")

-State symbols: Nothing really stands out here, save for the Cardinal (boring, in my opinion) or the Pine tree. But S.C. has the tree symbol monopoly.

Folks could use the Carolina Tartan more -- but that's available, I believe, to both Carolinas.

I think Ohio would be even more upset if we tauted the whole "First in Flight" that much more.

Any other state symbol ideas? The Venus Fly Trap? The Plott Hound? The Emerald? All cool things, but, again, I think they would be hard to translate to non-North Carolinians.

-One "dark horse" suggestion: The pig. While we may disagree on what kind of barbecue we prefer, we can all agree that N.C. BBQ is better than anywhere else in the world.

Do you have an idea for what could be the absolute best symbol for the state of North Carolina? The winning choice will receive some N.C.-related prize.

(Oh, and as a Wolfpacker, I refuse to accept a tar heel as a widely-used symbol for ALL of North Carolina.)

(S.C. flag courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quick hits: Tiger's course boom and Boone's backyard

Tiger Woods to plot new course in WNC
"Tiger Woods will design his first U.S. golf course for The Cliffs at High Carolina, adding cachet to plans for the 3,000-acre exclusive community in Swannanoa and Fairview," writes the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"Woods and Jim Anthony, president of The Cliffs Communities, made the announcement at the company’s The Cliffs Valley community Tuesday, with the world’s top golfer promising a personal touch.

" 'I’m pretty detail-oriented, and I want to do things right,' Woods said. 'I’ll be up here as often as it takes to make things right.'

"Woods said he will own a home or property in the development and that he plans a walking course with a 'minimalist' design. ..."

Boone one of '10 great' small towns with big backyards
"Get a glimpse of the simpler life — and get in shape at the same time," writes USA Today. "Small towns can offer big outdoor adventures in the waning days of summer. Sarah Tuff, co-author of the new 101 Best OutdoorTowns: Unspoiled Places to Visit, Live & Play (Countryman Press, $19.95), shares her picks with Kathy Baruffi for USA TODAY. ...

"Boone has a built-in air conditioner for the summer months that turn the rest of the South sticky: the Blue Ridge Mountains, which keep temperatures at a lovely 75 degrees in August," Tuff says. "The town, 100 miles north of Asheville, stays hip, thanks to Appalachian State University. Get jazzed at Espresso News before heading into the Pisgah National Forest for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Rafters rollick along the Nolichucky and French Broad rivers." 800-852-9506; visitboone ..."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Quick hits: Canes and Caswell

Dry N.C. begs for a hurricane
"If you're looking for a sign that the drought is nothing to trifle with, consider the fact that some people have begun uttering the unthinkable," writes the News & Observer.

" 'It's one of those years where people actually wish for a hurricane,' said Keith Edmisten, a cotton specialist with N.C. State University's crop science department. 'It's not a good thing to say. But it's that bad.'

"On Thursday, the N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council released a map showing all but six of the state's 100 counties in some stage of drought. The map shows a state increasingly under the grip of a merciless heat wave. And there is more bad news.

" 'There appears to be very little relief in sight,' said Woody Yonts, chairman of the advisory council. 'Our water supplies are starting to feel this.' ..."

A Caswell celebration
"Kinston will be bursting with activity beginning Sunday as the community welcomes visitors from throughout the state, including former governors, Masons and even modern-day descendants of Gov. Richard Caswell," writes the Free Press.

"Caswell, who died in 1789, was elected as the first governor of North Carolina in 1776. The Maryland native held the position until 1780 and was elected again to serve from 1784-1787.

"Jo Huettl said Wednesday that the eight-member Lenoir County Colonial Commission and a 50-member steering committee have spent about a year preparing the celebration. Huettl is the head of the Colonial Commission.

" 'We’re honoring him because he had never really received any recognition,' Huettl said. ..."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Eldrick planning N.C. golf course

Tiger Woods may be planning to design his first North American golf course in Western North Carolina.

"Woods, the top-ranked player in the world, has signed a contract to develop a course at The Cliffs at High Carolina, off Interstate 40 in Fairview, according to []," writes the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"Cliffs Communities sent out invitations last week saying they and Woods would 'present' a press event Aug. 14 but did not give details.

"The news conference will be held at Cliffs Valley in Travelers Rest, S.C. Woods confirmed on Tuesday from the PGA Tournament that he would be at the event. ...

"The course would be Woods’ first design in the United States. His design company is building one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that will be ready for play in 2009.

"Woods would be another prominent name involved with golf courses in the Cliffs Communities. Jack Nicklaus designed the Walnut Cove course in Arden and the Keowee Falls course in South Carolina. ..."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Old barns stand as reminder of tobacco state's past

Jason Hardin with the Greensboro News & Record has a nice story about the plight of the old tobacco barns that dot the state of North Carolina.

"Tobacco barns were once a ubiquitous sight along rural Piedmont roads, but that's changing fast," writes Hardin.

"The N.C. State Historic Preservation Office estimates that, at tobacco's peak, perhaps a half-million of the barns dotted the state's landscape.

"The current figure might be a tenth of that, with thousands being lost each year, according to the office. ...

The old wooden barns once hummed with activity around harvest time, when farmhands packed them full of bundled tobacco. The tobacco would be heated to cure in the barn until it reached a golden-hued perfection and was ready for sale.

Eventually, larger metal barns replaced the old wooden barns, many of which were left to rot.

Catherine Bishir, an architectural historian with Preservation North Carolina, said the barns tell an important part of the state's agricultural history.

"They're the kind of thing that you take for granted until there's hardly any left," she said. "They're a vanishing breed."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bad boy (and Jax native) Adams tries to restore his good name

Singer/songwriter Ryan Adams -- a native of Jacksonville and a guy who honed his musical skills in Raleigh -- has no trouble making music. Since 2000, he has released nine albums, though this Associated Press article says it's more like 15. Adams' problem is that he doesn't appear to know how to "trim down" his work.

".. I really did believe in what I was doing," Adams told the AP. "I'm glad that the work is there and it will speak for itself later."

Adams, 32, is clear-eyed and determined these days. The North Carolina native, who played in the band Whiskeytown during the 1990s before turning solo, lives with his girlfriend in New York. He has been sober for more than a year after kicking a prodigious drug and alcohol problem, although he resists the easy assumption that sobriety has improved his art.

As a singer and songwriter, he's capable of work that is extraordinarily beautiful when you least expect it. Listen, for example, to "This House is Not for Sale," where he vividly captures the desperation of a man trying to stop his estranged lover from taking a final step away by reminding her of the good memories in the floorboards.

The gorgeous "When the Stars Go Blue" caught the attention of Tim McGraw, who recorded it and turned it into a hit single.

Stephen King even wrote the press release accompanying "Easy Tiger." "I won't say Adams is the best North American singer-songwriter since Neil Young," he wrote. "But I won't say he isn't, either."

Yet the sheer volume of his output means listeners need to sift through a lot of less remarkable songs to find the special moments, and many simply don't have the patience. He released three albums in 2005 alone, and one of them had two discs.

The industry shorthand: Adams lacks an internal editor and anyone strong enough to do it for him. ...

Adams goes on to say that he believes he's punished for refusing to adhere to an industry standard where artists spend a longer time polishing fewer songs, and new releases generally come every two or three years. Business usually dictates this schedule, to give record companies time to market the music.

"I felt I had, if not a gift, some kind of a drive that I couldn't explain that led me to make music at a good rate and I could focus on it for eight or 10 hours a day," he told AP.

Campbell U. leader Wiggins passes away

Dr. Norman Wiggins, the man credited with helping to make small Campbell College one of the more respected universities in the state, died yesterday. He was 83.

"Under Dr. Wiggins' 36 years of leadership as president," writes the Dunn Daily Record, "Campbell College grew into Campbell University and became the second largest private university in North Carolina and the second largest Baptist university in the world. He saw the development of five professional schools, the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business, the School of Education, the School of Pharmacy and the Divinity School.

" 'He changed a small, rural college to a university recognized around the nation,' said Dr. Bruce Blackmon of Buies Creek, school physician at Campbell for 24 years. ...

"A native of Burlington, Dr. Wiggins was a veteran of World War II, where he served in the Marines. He graduated from Campbell Junior College and in 1967 assumed the presidency of Campbell College and immediately began charting a course for the institution which would lead to the professional schools, sports camps and an award-winning and nationally recognized Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. He also led in the college's move to university status in 1979.

"During Dr. Wiggins' tenure as president, Campbell's educational programs were extended beyond Buies Creek as the university was among the first private schools to offer extended education opportunities to military installations, including Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, New River Air Base and Camp Lejeune. He was a pioneer in the development of international educational programs.

"His most notable international venture was the creation of the partnership between Campbell University and Tunku Abdul Rahman College in Kuala Lumpu, Malaysia, a partnership that now has spanned more than 25 years.

"Dr. Wiggins retired as president of Campbell in May 2003. ...

"Dr. Wiggins is survived by his wife, Millie, who resides in Keith Hills, near the Campbell University campus. ..."

State senate expresses 'profound regret' over 1898 Wilmington race riots

North Carolina's Senate approved a resolution Wednesday acknowledging the 1898 Wilmington race riot and "expressing profound regret" for the ugly chapter in the city's history, writes the Wilmington Star-News.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, was nearly identical to one sponsored by Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, and passed by the House in May.

The new version places blame for the riot on "political leaders and others" rather than a "white elite" as in Wright's bill. Also, the Senate resolution, unlike Wright's version, had the General Assembly express regret for the "violence, intimidation and force" used on Nov. 10, 1898, and the government's unsuccessful efforts to protect citizens.

On that day, a mob, pushed by a statewide white supremacy campaign, burned a black newspaper office, killed and injured black residents, and forced the city's multiracial government from power. The event is a part of an era that included the passage of North Carolina's racial segregation, or "Jim Crow," laws that would not be undone until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The Senate resolution credits Wright for leading the Wilmington Race Riot Commission, which completed a major study of the event, but does not list him as a sponsor of the legislation.