Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick hits: State to buy another WNC landmark and Asheville is 'easy'

State to buy Grandfather Mountain
"The state government plans to buy Grandfather Mountain and preserve the private park and popular tourist attraction against development," said various news outlets.

"North Carolina will gain ownership of the nearly 6,000-foot mountain and its surrounding 2,600 surrounding acres in Avery, Watauga and Caldwell counties, said Jack Morton, a board member of Grandfather Mount Inc. The deal, to be announced Monday, will cost about $12 million.

"The state will also acquire an easement around the mountain to enhance its preservation efforts, Morton said.

"Grandfather Mountain is known for its Mile High Swinging Bridge, challenging hiking trails and wildlife habitats, including a home for black bears. The park is home to dozens of endangered species and is recognized by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve. ..."

Asheville an 'easy' fall weekend getaway

"Imagine a place where the local paper advertises an 'organic mechanic,' the streets teem with bandana-wearing banjo players, and tempeh is common on menus, and you have the crunchy Southern mountain retreat of Asheville," writes MSN Travel.

"Encircled by the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, and a five-minute drive from the bucolic Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina town has been drawing travelers in search of a holistic holiday since the late 19th century. ... While downtown Asheville has plenty to offer, access to the outdoors is the real draw. The surrounding mountains seem to peek out from behind buildings in every corner of town. George Vanderbilt felt the call of these mountains in 1895, when he constructed the grand estate Biltmore (1 Approach Rd.; 877/245-8667;; tickets $47) and the 75 acres of gardens, which are bursting with hundreds of chrysanthemums through the end of this month. And along the Parkway, the foliage is at its peak from mid- to late October. Asheville’s tourism Web site ( makes weekly recommendations of the best drives for taking in the kaleidoscope of colors. ..."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Third largest sound stage in the world to be in Wilmington

"EUE/Screen Gems Studios officially broke ground Thursday on Stage 10, what will become the third largest movie sound stage in the world," says the Wilmington Star-News.

"State and local government officials joined studio executives, members of the film council and others at the North 23rd Street film studios in Wilmington for the occasion. Because of inclement weather, a box of sand inside another sound stage stood-in for the studio’s back lot. It was, perhaps, Stage 10’s first involvement in movie magic.

" 'Now we can do the larger films and the economic benefits in Wilmington will be significant,' said Chris Cooney, president of EUE/Screen Gems Ltd., which owns the studios in Wilmington and in New York.

"Cooney said there had been occasions when filmmakers wanted to shoot in Wilmington but needed a stage larger than the 7,200 to 20,000 square foot facilities here.

"Stage 10 will be 37,500 square feet in area and will have no columns to get in the way of camera operators. It will also house a 50 X 50 X 10.6-foot deep indoor water tank which can be used for underwater filming. ..."

As Borat would say: "Very nice."

UPDATE: Hard Rock Park to reopen in '09

I had mentioned yesterday the report that Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach had closed. Word now is that it will reopen in 2009.

"After an inaugural season rocked by poor attendance and tight credit markets, Hard Rock Park wants to reorganize its debts, cut costs and market the park to a wider audience in an attempt to survive in 2009," says the Charlotte Observer.

"The park, off of U.S. 501, blamed a drop in tourism and its own inability to advertise out of the Myrtle Beach area for its cash problems, which forced it to grind to a halt Wednesday when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"The park plans to reorganize under Chapter 11 and reopen in April. Under Chapter 11, businesses keep their creditors at bay while trying to rework their debt."

Hard Rock Park apparently "did not have cash for enough out-of-market advertising - which had a 'devastating' effect on attendance, according to documents.

"About 80 percent of visitors decided to come to the park before they came to Myrtle Beach, the park said in the documents.

"The park owes at least $343 million and has between $100 million and $500 million in assets, according to court filings. ..."


Thursday, September 25, 2008

UPDATE: Old North State motto lost in translation?

Last week or so I posted this query about an old N.C. state seal.

Came across an old book, American Symbols: The Seals and Flags of the Fifty States by M. B. Schnapper, which includes an interesting (and up until now unknown-to-me) history about North Carolina's state seal.

One of Nostre Caroline's early seals (around 1663) includes the phrase "Que Sera Tamen Respexit." This obviously predates the motto of "Esse Quam Videri" (To Be Rather Than To Seem), which was authorized in the 1890s.

The question, for you Latin experts out there, is what does that old motto actually mean?I went to an expert (an Internet translation site) which spit this out:"And sera nothwithstanding regard."

Somehow, I don't think this is what King Charles II had in mind.Obviously, "que sera" means " what will be will be." But what about the rest of it. For the record, Schnapper never divulges it either.

No one ever came forth to answer this question, so I went to an expert.

"The line comes from Virgil, Eclog 1, line 27: 'Libertas, quae sera tamen respexit inertem . . .'" replied Zola Packman, an assistant language professor at N.C. State University and a Latin expert.

Packman states that "Que Sera Tamen Respexit" "roughly" translates to "Liberty, which, (though) late (in life), looked upon (me), inactive (as I was)."

"The speaker is an ex-slave, so the liberty spoken of was meant to be that of a free, ie non-slave, man," Packman responded in an email. "I suppose that when used as a motto it must be understood to refer to a population, or an area, and that the freedom is meant to be understood as freedom from foreign occupation."

Thanks for the feedback! And how cool is it that there is a professor named "Packman" at NCSU?

Lexington BBQ: Authentic America

Time magazine has listed "Authentic America" items from all 50 states. North Carolina's entry: Barbecue - of the Lexington variety.

"The state legislature has designated Lexington the 'hickory smoked barbecue capital of North Carolina,' and that's serious business in a state known for its pork," says Time. "More than 20 'cue restaurants operate in Lexington — even though the town has a population of just 20,000. So who's eating all that pig? A lot of it gets gobbled up by visitors who come for smoky pork shoulder, often served chopped and dressed with tangy vinegar and ketchup. Lexington Barbecue (10 U.S. Hwy. 29-70 S., Lexington; 336-249-9814), a simple roadside shack known locally as the 'Honey Monk,' is the town's institution and has lines out the door most days, but other nearby restaurants offer an equally good barbecue fix."

Quick hits: Bad news for SE N.C./NE S.C.

Tourism drops at N.C. beaches
"It appears there were fewer visitors to beaches in southeastern North Carolina this year," according to published reports.

"The Star-News of Wilmington reported that many operators in New Hanover and Brunswick counties reported fewer visitors and less spending than last year. ...

"In New Hanover, the room occupancy tax collected in the first six months of 2008 was slightly lower than the same time last year.

"In Brunswick County, there was a slight increase for the first six months of the year, although June collections were down 7 percent. ..."

Hard Rock Park owner files Chapter 11
"Hard Rock Park has closed for the year after losing a whole lotta money," according to the Star-News.

"The owner of the Myrtle Beach amusement park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday, ending an inaugural season that fell far below projections for the 55-acre, $400 million rock ’n’ roll attraction. When it opened in April, park officials planned to stay open through what it called 'rocktoberfest' and even have some programs during the Christmas season. ..."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall in BR

Those that know me know that Blowing Rock is one of my favorite places in the state, and also in the world. Perhaps there is no better time of year than autum to enjoy everything that "BR" has to offer. (And we are, after all, officially in to autumn.)

Here are just a sampling of the festivals and events coming up in the High Country.

-Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train - Oct 3 thru Nov 1
-Blowing Rock Fall Weekend - Oct 4 & 5 -- a personal favorite.
"Join us in Blowing Rock for two popular events back-to-back. Art in the Park will take place on Saturday fron 10am-5pm. This juried art show features over 100 artists, and is the last show of the year. On Sunday, enjoy the sounds of Die Rheinlanders Oktoberfest Band. This group is one of the most anticipated of the year. The free concert will begin at 4pm in Blowing Rock Memorial Park on Main Street."
-Autumn at Oz - Oct 4 & 5
"Join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and Toto! Once a year, the gates to the theme park open to greet visitors for the Autumn at Oz Festival, where colorful scenes and characters bring the beloved story of the Wizard of Oz to life. The 15th anniversary of Autumn at Oz also features a mini-museum, delectable treats and face painting! Beech Mountain. Call the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce for more information: 1-800-468-5506"

-17th Annual Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain - Oct 11 & 12

-28th Annual Apple Festival at Hickory Ridge Homestead- Oct 11

-31st Annual Woolly Worm Festival - Oct 20 & 21 - never been to this but have ALWAYS wanted to. A North Carolina legend.
"This is one of the most highly anticipated and well-attended events in the High Country. Woolly Worms are the feature attraction here, when the caterpillars are raced upward on lanes of string in a chase for prize money and public acclaim. The champion woolly worm is examined by festival forecasters who pronounce an official forecast for winter based upon the particular coloration of the victorious caterpillar. Food, Crafts, fun for everyone! Banner Elk."

-30th Annual Valle Country Fair - Oct 18
-Haunted Horn - to be announced
-3rd Annual Valle Crucis Punkin Festival - Oct 25
-Blowing Rock Halloween Festival - Oct 25

And as if that's not enough, don't forget the Blowing Rock fall foliage!

Friday, September 19, 2008

UNC Charlotte to (possibly) add football

Just what North Carolina needs: another Division I football program.

UNC Charlotte will add football to its athletics department IF boosters ante up, says the school's chancellor.

UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois "recommended Thursday the school field a football team by 2013, but with one lofty condition to measure support: Fans need to raise $5million in six months to help build a $45.3 million stadium complex. The clock would start running if trustees approve Dubois' proposal at their November meeting," writes the Observer.

"Dubois announced his decision to the school's 13 trustees, suggesting the $5 million be raised by selling 5,000 personal seat licenses – much like the ones the Carolina Panthers sold to build Bank of America Stadium.

"The licenses – Dubois called them 'Forty-Niner Seat Licenses' – would sell for $1,000 each, just for the right to buy season tickets.

" 'The cold stark financial reality we face is that those who say they want football are going to have to help pay for football,' Dubois told trustees. 'We need to see support demonstrated now.' ..."

The 'BBQ Bowl' gets underway on Saturday

Nationally-ranked East Carolina will travel to Carter-Finley Stadium tomorrow for the latest bout in what the N&O's Caulton Tudor (correctly) calls the state's greatest football rivalry.

"As traditional rivalries go, it's still an infant," writes Tudor. "The winner doesn't get to stake claim to an oak bucket dating to Teddy Roosevelt's administration (or earlier), or a victory bell mounted on a funky little wagon, or anything else that equates to tangible evidence of an important outcome. It's not even a conference game, probably never will be. ...

"The impact of those early State-ECU games on regional football interest was immeasurable. That's why the game in Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday will be among the most emotional played anywhere in the nation. It's rivalry for the sheer sake of rivalry. ..."

It's a game without a name, which says a lot about the impact/importance of the game itself.

But Dave Singleton has thrown out some ideas for the game.

"Looking around the country, other long-standing traditional football games have adopted, over time, unique handles. There’s the Carolina’s Clash, which Raycom marketing execs cooked up for a game between NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill in Charlotte, The War on the Shore, The World’s Largest Cocktail Party and so on. Many are named for seemingly random trophies, which mean little except to the competitors: The Old Wooden Bucket, The Keg of Nails, The Old Rusty Tweezers (OK, I made that last one up, but you get the idea.)

"So now, some 12 years later, I still yearn to find the perfect label for the game. The series, such as it is, still divides households, still creates upheaval and still generates exceptional pigskin exuberance. We just need something to call it…

"Here’s a few I’ve since come up with, followed by why they just don’t work. I invite you to come up with ideal solution for this little problem and post it in the comments section below.

"Backyard Brawl: Would be perfect, except it’s taken.

"The Frontyard Fisticuffs: too violent…. and silly.

"War on (US Hwy) 64: Greenville is on 264, so not geographically correct, and a might cumbersome.

"The Tobacco Bowl: Rich in heritage, but totally not PC.

"Carolina Conflict: Contrived, besides the word Carolina is too deeply buried inside the name of NC State to be actually relevant.

"The Oyster Bowl: except we’re the only ones with any natural proximity to Our Favorite Mollusk (42nd St. Oyster Bar notwithstanding). I believe that we used to play William and Mary annually in a regular season ‘Oyster Bowl’ many moons ago.

"Farmers Vs. Freaks, Plowboys Vs. Pirates, Plunderers, Pillagers etc… Stereotypical, and antiquated. Nope, wouldn’t recommend these at all."

One person suggested the "BBQ Bowl." Sounds about right.

The Pirates are favored for the fifth time in the last eight games, and you can expect a lot of purple in the stands.

"As we have have said many times, this is ECU’s Super Bowl, every year," says StateFans Nation. "This is especially true when the Pirates are favored, and even more so when favored and playing in their favorite place to riot, Carter Finley Stadium. Nine out of ten NC State fans don’t give a rat’s ass about the game, other than a little schadenfreude when the hillbillies go home disappointed. We don’t remember any Wolfpack tears shed when then-AD Jim Valvano cancelled the series and pledged never to renew it. You see, Valavano - like most thinking people - didn’t see the logic in scheduling games that mean the world to your opponent, and nothing to your own institution (other than the significant chance of serious property damage)."

Yep, it's a rivalry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Old North Carolina motto lost in translation?

Came across an old book, American Symbols: The Seals and Flags of the Fifty States by M. B. Schnapper, which includes an interesting (and up until now unknown-to-me) history about North Carolina's state seal.

One of Nostre Caroline's early seals (around 1663) includes the phrase "Que Sera Tamen Respexit." This obviously predates the motto of "Esse Quam Videri" (To Be Rather Than To Seem), which was authorized in the 1890s.

The question, for you Latin experts out there, is what does that old motto actually mean?

I went to an expert (an Internet translation site) which spit this out:

"And sera nothwithstanding regard."

Somehow, I don't think this is what King Charles II had in mind.

Obviously, "que sera" means " what will be will be." But what about the rest of it. For the record, Schnapper never divulges it either.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Elon among nation's beautiful campuses

MSN Travel has a slideshow up of some of America's most beautiful college campuses, and Elon University makes the grade.

"Elon is nestled in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, between the mountains and the beach," says the site. "This photo shows the historic heart of the campus, which includes Alamance Hall and Fonville Fountain."

Congrats, Fighting Christians. (Elon will always be the Fighting Christians to me.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

'One Tree Hill' keeps on keepin' on

I'm only posting this because -- for whatever reason -- there seems to be intense interest (particularly across the globe) about the TV show "One Tree Hill." Enjoy.

When One Tree Hill debuted in the fall 2003, creator Mark Schwahn remembers, the ratings were so low that "even my mother didn't know we were on the air."

"We didn't even know if we would get a season two," he said. "We were the lowest-rated show on any channel the week we debuted, but we were the only show to pick up every week for the next six weeks. We were so low, we were like a test pattern."

But backed by an ardent fan base, who still travel from all over the world to coastal North Carolina in hopes of seeing one of the show's young stars, One Tree Hill survived to a sixth season, airing at 9 p.m. Mondays on the CW [according to the Associated Press]. It reached the magic 100 episodes needed for syndication in March, and with this season matches the tenure of Dawson's Creek -- the teen-angst drama that preceded One Tree Hill in Wilmington and on the WB.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick hits: Birthdays, growth, death & all-around nice people

A lot to get to today, folks ...

Andie at 50
"If you're not sure 50 is fabulous, you need to talk to Andie MacDowell," says the Charlotte Observer.

"The model/actress known for her work in films such as 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' and 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' and as a face of L'Oreal beauty products for more than 20 years says her life is full, frantic and fun. And she wouldn't have it any other way.

" '(Baby boomers) are not children, and we want to see our age reflected in the media,' she said in a recent interview with the Observer.

"The Carolina girl who celebrated the big 5-0 in April is the keynote speaker at the Dress for Success 'Look at Her Power' fundraiser next Thursday at the Charlotte Merchandise Mart. ..."

McDowell has lived in the Asheville area for years.

Carowinds to add new roller coaster
"A new 'boomerang-style' roller coaster is coming to Carowinds next season, the amusement park announced [yesterda]," according to the Observer.

"The 125-foot-high Carolina Cobra, the park's 12th and second-tallest coaster, will travel the same track forward and backward. It'll be located near the entrance of Boomerang Bay, Carowinds' water park.

"Riders will be pulled up 125 feet and sent down a 120-foot drop, with a 65-degree descent into three inversions, including a cobra roll and a 360-degree loop, according to a news release. The train will then go up another hill, then released backward along the same path. The ride will have a newly designed, exclusive 28-passenger train, the first of its kind in the United States, according to the park. ..."

Chimney Rock State Park to grow
"The Nature Conservancy has acquired 56 acres that will eventually be included in Chimney Rock State Park, the group said Wednesday," according to (who else?) the Observer.

"The conservancy has worked since the early 1980s to protect land in the area west of Charlotte, called Hickory Nut Gorge.

"The new acquisition will protect property between the state park and the conservancy's Bat Cave preserve.

"N.C. legislators created the state park at Chimney Rock, a longtime tourist destination, in 2005. The state has bought about 3,500 acres for the park in Hickory Nut Gorge. ..."

Death of an American giant
"The country's tallest eastern hemlock, reaching to the sky from a cove of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, towers 173.1 feet from its 5-foot-thick base to its last pencil-thin sprig.

"The tree is 400 years old, armored in rough bark, and dead," says that paper in Charlotte.

"Millions of hemlocks across the Southern Appalachians are dying, victims of an Asian insect that has moved faster than efforts to stop it. The trees' collapse will change these forests, from warbler nesting habits to the temperature of trout streams, unlike anything since the 1930s. That's when a foreign fungus finished off another keystone tree, the chestnut. ..."

N.C. residents are nice folks, according to study
"As Andy Griffith might say, we beat everything.

"At least when it comes to being nice," says the News & Observer.

"Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom surveyed more than 600,000 people to develop a personality map for the United States. North Dakotans are more sociable. People in New York are more high strung.

"As for Tar Heels, we're among the 'friendliest and most dutiful,' the study said.

"It took six years of research to reach that conclusion. A few reruns of 'The Andy Griffith Show' probably could have saved some time and said as much. Still, academic proof is welcome.

" 'I'm happy to see that others are learning what we have known for a long time -- that nothing could be finer than to live in North Carolina,' Gov. Mike Easley said. 'People here are pretty cool.' ..."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wilmington makes digital TV history

On Monday, the eyes of the world were on Wilmington, as the Port City became the first to switch to all-digital TV. The Los Angeles Times was there. So was the AP, Bloomberg News and the Washington Post.

"And there were four – count ’em, four – Japanese TV networks taping the proceedings," wrote the Star-News. (Photo courtesy of the paper.)

“We are here because Japan is switching to all-digital in 2011,” Maki Hatae, a New York-based producer for NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, told the paper. “Fewer people in Japan have cable than in the U.S., she added, “and we want to see how the transition goes, what obstacles people might encounter.”

"But Monday’s event ... was a celebration of how well the Port City and its surrounding counties got the message out about the historic changeover. ...

"The FCC announced Wilmington had become the official lab rat for the national digital changeover back in May. The change only affects TV owners who are not connected to cable or satellite TV, about 7 percent of the total market. Those owners need to buy a digital conversion box in order to receive a TV signal. The boxes are available at area electronics stores and, with a coupon obtained from the government by registering at, cost as little as $10. The FCC recently announced that more than 36,000 local households had requested 67,000 coupons, and redeemed 25,000 of them.

"If anything, Monday’s event was like a big coming out party for the city and a the national switch, which will not happen until Feb. 17. The streets outside Thalian Hall were crowded with media trucks, and in the parking lot the NAB had set up a large information booth featuring a truck tricked out to look like a huge TV screen, with rolling messages like those in football or basketball stadiums telling how 'You can make the switch one of three ways,' or advising 'the benefits of DTV.' ..."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Pirates riding high

Yes, Wake Forest is the lone ACC college football team in the Associated Press top 25 this week at No. 20, but East Carolina is perhaps the best team in the state.

The Pirates jumped from unranked to No. 14 in the poll (and up to No. 20 -- one spot behind Wake -- in the USA Today poll) after knocking off Virginia Tech last week and demolishing then-No. 8 West Virginia this week.

It's no surprise that "Purple Pride" is riding high.

"The Pirates had gone 3-20 before [coach Skip] Holtz arrived four years ago, and they are not in a conference that receives an automatic bid for the Bowl Championship Series," says the News & Observer.

"It just goes to show what good coaching can do," said [Pirate Club president Grant] Jarman, who saw purple flags flapping on cars around town all day Sunday. "This is a proud Pirate nation right now."

With a favorable schedule ahead, ECU could just crash the BCS party.

"The Pirates have two distinct schedules left, an ACC schedule and a Conference USA schedule," writes Lenox Rawlings. "The C-USA schedule looks harder, with road games against Central Florida and Southern Miss. The ACC road games: N.C. State on Sept. 20 and Virginia on Oct. 11. The rest: Tulane and Alabama-Birmingham on the road, Houston, Memphis, Marshall and Texas-El Paso at home, plus the C-USA title game.

"Winning them all is incredibly difficult in any league. Each ECU game seems manageable, based on the offense's versatility behind quarterback Patrick Pinkney (41 completions in 51 passes so far) and the running brigade that replaced Chris Johnson (1,423 yards rushing in 2007). Coach Skip Holtz, who has a far smaller ego than his preening father, Lou, praised the defense for containing West Virginia's Patrick White (97 yards rushing, 72 yards passing). The Mountaineers rolled up 599 yards in a 48-7 romp over ECU last year but gained just 251 this time.

"That's why ECU folks want to party like it's 1991, when the Pirates rallied past N.C. State 37-34 in the Peach Bowl and finished No. 9."

Don't remind me.

Quick hits: News from one end of the state to the other

Fewer visitors to the Smokies
"Chip and Michelle Goodman enjoyed a quiet morning around the fire at Cataloochee Valley campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"At 9.5 miles to the gallon, the rig [they drive] isn’t cheap to drive," says the A C-T.

"That didn’t stop the Goodmans from making the 300-mile trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the park for a vacation. But the couple did scale back just a little.

" 'We were planning on going to Florida,' Chip Goodman said. 'We were going to the Keys and we changed our minds.'

"For the Goodmans, the change in plans put them in the Smokies, where they had a bit more elbow room than they would have found a year ago.

"With gas prices setting record highs this summer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park says visitation is down 5 percent at its main entrances.

"The Blue Ridge Parkway is down 5.4 percent with 9.3 million visitors so far this year. ..."

Penland School a mecca for artists
"My image of a mountain crafts school has always been of a collection of old buildings in which people, almost all of them on the sunset side of 50, use traditional techniques to produce traditional items — the sort of stuff that graced Appalachian homes in the days when you made it yourself or did without," writes Bill McGoun for the Asheville Citizen-Times.

"I had suspected that the Penland School of Crafts, northwest of Spruce Pine in Mitchell County, would be different, and a recent visit confirmed my suspicions. Most of the students I saw are still waiting for their 30th birthdays and some of the buildings are new both in age and in style. And, while the techniques may be traditional, the products most certainly are not. ...

"Penland grew out of a weaving program established in 1923 by Lucy Morgan to help mountain families make extra money. Today, there are classes in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, other metals, photography, printmaking, textiles and wood. There are one- and two-week classes in the summer, one-week and eight-week sessions in spring and fall.

"There is no permanent faculty, thus each class is unique. For instance, this summer there were 14 different glass classes with a total of 20 instructors. Subjects included beads, Venetian figures, lampworking, glass sculpting, goblets and working sheet glass. There will be a beginners’ class this fall and sculpting and imagery classes next spring. ..."

Nags Head a top-10 'car-free' destination
Sherman's Travel offers to places to vacation where you can "[l]eave the pump behind." In fact at some of these spots, cars are "optional -- or altogether banned."

North Carolina's Nags Head made the list, which can be found here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rain was good news for state's apple crops

North Carolina's apple farmers were sure glad to see all the rain that Tropical Storm Fay dropped on the western part of the state, particularly in Henderson County, the "state's largest apple producer, with 150 growers and more than 6,000 acres of orchards," said the AP.

"An extension agent said farmers are concerned about the path of Tropical Storm Hanna, which is expected to cross North Carolina later in the week. ...

"Another state agriculture specialist said the rain could allow a second cutting of hay so cattle farmers will have more winter feed for their herds.

"Bill Yarborough, a state agriculture agronomist, said the benefit to crops and cattle from the rain could top $1 million.

" 'A lot of hay they were having to use was the hay they had put up early to feed animals through the winter,' Yarborough said. 'And groundwater reserves are still low. This is taking some of the pressure off, but we're still not out of the woods by any stretch.'"

Hendersonville held its annual Apple Festival last week, as well. Click here for coverage of that.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A major 'Boone' in ASU fundraising

First of all, my apologies for such a horrible pun in the headline. However, the good folks up in Boone should be proud of themselves with word coming that Appalachian State University's fundraising efforts are reaching all-time highs.

The school's "supporters set a single-year school record in giving this past fiscal year, with donations of $24.7 million, ASU officials said.

"The donations of cash, securities, and other gifts, such as real estate, were nearly double the amount given the previous year," says the Winston-Salem Journal.

"The biggest single item was an estate gift of more than $8 million, which will provide money for scholarships, equipment and instruments at the Hayes School of Music. ...

"The success of the Mountaineers' three-in-a-row national champion football team also played a role in the increased giving.

"Donations for student-athlete scholarships were $2.3 million, about $1 million more than the previous year. Donations for the Athletic Facilities Enhancement Campaign, which includes improvements to the football stadium, were nearly $2 million, which is also about $1 million more than the previous year. ..."