Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quick hits: N.C. Zoo is great, and UNC still wants to do some doctorin' in the west

National organization calls N.C. Zoo one of the best in the world

"A national organization says the North Carolina Zoo is one of the best in the world," according to the AP.

"Association of Zoos & Aquariums CEO Jim Maddy says the zoo near Asheboro meets the group's highest standards.

"Maddy praised the zoo after announcing his organization has again awarded accreditation to the facility.

"The zoo has been accredited since 1984. Every five years, zoos and aquariums have to undergo a rigorous application process if they want to remain accredited. The process includes a detailed inspection and a formal hearing. ..."

UNC again pushing western medical training

"The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is again pushing plans to open a branch campus of its medical school to train doctors in Charlotte," according to the AP.

"The Charlotte Observer reported the new proposal to train doctors in Charlotte and Asheville is a scaled down version of the plan offered two years ago that failed to win legislative approval.

"UNC-Chapel Hill had proposed training 50 doctors in Charlotte and 20 in Asheville in 2008. The new plan calls for a dozen students to train in Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte starting in 2013. Eight doctors would train at Mission Health System in Asheville. ..."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gazetteer fun: D-F

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968. (Kudos to Michael Hill at the N.C. Office of Archives and History for undertaking the updating of William Powell's monumental publication.)

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This version will look at random listings that begin with letters, D, E and F. (Click here to see A, B & C.) There are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.

Day Book, community in n(orth)e(ast) Yancey County on Jacks Creek. Alt. 2,350. Post office est. about 1815 and named for a book in which names were recorded of settlers moving west. Another version of the traditional origin of the name is that it came from a time book kept for employees of a local lumber company.

Eupeptic Springs, community an former resort (1860s-1870s), n(orth)w(est) Iredell County. Known as Powder Springs prior to development as a resort by Dr. John Ford, who renamed it Eupeptic (good digestion).

Fayette County was formed in July 1784 when an act of the General Assembly divided Cumberland County into Fayette and Moore Counties. It was intended to honor Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), who visited the United States that year. Fayette County retained the courthouse in Fayetteville. In October of the same year, the act was amended to retain the name Cumberland for the county.

The North Carolina Gazetteer is published by UNC Press. To order one, click

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mayberry among TV's most memorable fake towns

The entertainment blog romow has a list of the 11 most memorable "TV Cities that Don't Exist," which includes good ol' Mayberry.

The Andy Griffith Show could rightly be called the most successful spin-off of all time. In the slow-paced, fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, Sheriff Andy Taylor serves as a straight and narrow policeman who breaks up moonshine distilleries and other crooked operations. Mayberry, which could be any non-urban part of North Carolina, is the epitome of relaxed southern living where community and non-violent mediation matter most.
Of course, we could remind the folks at romow that Mayberry is basically a real place called Mount Airy. But we'll let it slide.

Among the other choices are Springfield ("The Simpsons"), South Park, Colo. ("South Park"), Hazzard County, Ga. ("Dukes of Hazzard") and Quahog, R.I. ("Family Guy"), among others.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The uncertain future of N.C.'s wild horses

North Carolina has long been proud of the wild horses that roam our coast. (We even promote a link to the Shackleford Banks horse foundation under our links section.) But these animals face an uncertain future because of tourism, according to the AP.

On a stretch of barrier island without paved roads, some of the last wild horses in the eastern United States are seeing their world get smaller each year.

A boom in vacation homes in the last 25 years in this remote place has seen the descendants of colonial Spanish mustangs confined to a 7,500-acre sanctuary on the northern tip of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. And now the herd itself may shrink along with its habitat.

A plan backed by the federal government would see the herd reduced from about 115 horses today to no more than 60 in a bid to stop the animals, designated North Carolina’s state horse this year, from competing with federally protected birds for increasingly hard-to-come-by resources.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the plan will reduce harmful behavior by a species it considers a nuisance. But residents who rely on the horses to bring in tourist dollars or who simply cherish the mustangs as a symbol of the country’s spirit worry it could bring about the collapse of the herd through hereditary diseases and other complications of a shallow gene pool.

“The American wild horse is disappearing from our country,” said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a nonprofit group that manages the herd. “To me, they’re as much a symbol of freedom as the bald eagle.” ...

Thousands of mustangs once roamed the Outer Banks, descendants of horses brought during an ill-fated Spanish colonial mission in the 1520s. But Highway 12 has been steadily moving north through the barrier islands, reaching Corolla in the 1980s and bringing rapid development with it.

Huge, brightly painted vacation homes now line the road, and even pop up behind the dunes on Corolla’s beach, accessible only by vehicles with four-wheel drive. Once the paved road ends, there’s no development except vacation homes, some as big as mansions. ...

The horses around Corolla are in a unique situation. Unlike their counterparts farther south in Shackleford Banks, the mustangs don’t have any kind of federal protection.

In fact, on its website, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge describes the animals as something of a pest: “The Fish and Wildlife Service considers the horses to be nonnative, feral animals and not a natural component of the barrier island ecosystem,” it reads. “These animals compete with native wildlife species for food and fresh water.”

The management plan calls for the size of the herd to be kept at 60, meaning horses in excess of that number would have to be captured and put up for adoption to new homes off the island, while remaining mares would be treated with contraceptive medication to stop them from becoming pregnant. ...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wilmington-based 'One Tree Hill' enjoys record season premiere

“'One Tree Hill' started its eighth season Tuesday night, but it’s not getting old with viewers. The show helped The CW score its best Tuesday in a year," says the Star-News.

According to The CW, the made-in-Wilmington drama posted the network’s largest audience (2.2 million viewers) in its new 8-9 p.m. Tuesday lead-off position since Oct. 20, 2009.

The show premiere was watched by 10 percent more viewers than the season seven finale, which aired in May. ...

In the coveted 18-34-year-old female demographic, the show scored No. 1 in its time slot in markets including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland.

We'll see if it can keep up the momentum. The premiere featured several twists that you normally expect for a season finale, not a premiere. There's also a "are they dead or alive?" storyline that could work well or, if dragged out, could state that the show has finally jumped the shark. Let's hope not.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gazetteer fun: A-C

The highly entertaining and educational North Carolina Gazetteer has been updated for the first time since it was first published in 1968. (Kudos to Michael Hill at the N.C. Office of Archives and History for undertaking the updating of William Powell's monumental publication.)

For those unfamiliar with the book, it is quite simply a listing of place names in North Carolina. Some are well-known, most are not; some are funny, some are sad and some are just ... quirky. It's a must-have for natives and "furriners" alike.

We figured we would highlight some of our favorites from the book every now and then. This first version will look at random listings that begin with letters, A, B and C. There
are some 2,ooo-plus listings in the Gazetteer, so feel free to search for your own faves.


Aho, community in s(outhern) Watauga County near the heads of Stony Branch, Moore Branch, and Buffalo Creek. It is said that a group of men gathered to select a name for the community but, being unable to agree on a name, decided that that next word spoken by any one of them would be accepted. After a long silence, B. B. Dougherty arose, stretched, and said "Aho!"

Bloodrun Creek, rises in w(estern) Chatham County and flows s(outh)w(est) into Brush Creek. Local tradition says that a "hot skirmish" occurred between small bands of Whigs and Tories during the Revolutionary War. Each side, not wishing to reveal its losses, buried its dead secretly. One of the sites selected as a burying ground was near the small stream, and it was given its present name to commemorate the shedding of blood in the battle.

Chicamacomico, the name given to three communities on n(orthern) part of Outer Banks, e(astern) Dare County, s(outh) of Pea Island: formerly North Rodanthe, South Rodanthe, and Clarks, now known as Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo.

The North Carolina Gazetteer is published by UNC Press. To order one, click

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy 75th birthday, Blue Ridge Parkway!

"The Blue Ridge Parkway is throwing a celebration for its 75th birthday," says the AP.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue and the principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were slated to attend a kickoff ceremony Friday morning for the parkway’s anniversary festival. The ceremony takes place at the parkway’s Cumberland Knob Recreation Area in North Carolina near the Virginia border.

The weekend festival will feature music, crafts and other activities at Cumberland Knob and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia.

Road construction began Sept. 11, 1935. It now covers 469 miles from the edge of Shenandoah National Park south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There also will be a remembrance Saturday for the 2001 terror attacks.

Image from cakecentral.

ENC tourism up

People sure hit the beaches this summer.

As summer fades to fall, midyear lodging numbers confirm reports from area coastal towns that summer 2010 was an improvement over the previous year.

“I think overall we had a pretty good summer,” said Surf City Mayor Zander Guy. “The day tripper business has been tremendous this year.” ...

Whether they came for the day or overnight, Crystal Coast Tourism Authority Executive Director Carol Lohr said visitors also made a strong appearance along the Carteret County’s beaches and at area attractions.

“I think we’re seeing a bit of a turn in the economy,” she said. “We had perfect beach weather, which is always good, and I think people wanted to get out and spend time together with their family. We’re a good value for the dollar.”

Lohr said the Crystal Coast may have also seen some visitors over the summer who came here instead of the Gulf of Mexico due to the oil spill.

According to the July 2010 Monthly Lodging Report conducted by Smith Travel Research, the latest numbers show an upward swing in occupancy, good news for tourism in North Carolina.

Statewide, hotel/motel occupancy increased 9.8 percent in July 2010, compared to July 2009. When looking at the Eastern region, which includes Lenoir, Greene and Jones, as well as Carteret, there was a 10-percent gain in occupancy rates when comparing July 2009 to July 2010. ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Quick hits: Reflecting on 'Oz' in Beech Mountain, and Brevard is super cool

Old Land of Oz park gears up for annual festival

"When you drive up the steep, winding roads of this small town, past its ski slopes and under a bright green bridge, you'll see an old white farmhouse and a massive pair of ruby slippers. Suddenly, you know you're not in Kansas anymore," writes the News & Observer.

"At its debut in 1970, this was a cutting-edge theme park built in part to keep ski workers employed from June through October. The Land of Oz has been closed 30 years and is a desolate remnant of the magical retreat it was.

"But the park makes an annual comeback during the first weekend of October, when several thousand flock to the Autumn at Oz party. The two-day event started 17 years ago as a small reunion for former park employees such as Andy Harkins, 57, who was a Tin Man in 1971. It grew to more than 8,500 last year. ..."

Brevard a 'cool' small town
"If the notion of town-wide square dances with an old-time caller sounds appealing, then Brevard is your kind of place," says Budget Travel.

"Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains 45 minutes south of Asheville, the redbrick town is an outpost of authentic Appalachia. Every Tuesday night in summer, locals block off Main Street, a bluegrass band strikes up, and everyone lets loose. Longtime Atlanta resident Ginger Lipscomb, 64, is one of many who were drawn by Brevard's history. She first came in 2005 to visit friends. 'Then I started annoying them because I wanted to come every weekend.' Lipscomb now runs Stones Jewelry Store out of a century-old storefront.

"Across town, patrons head to 68-year-old Rocky's Soda Shop for chocolate malts or to the 1934 Co-Ed Cinema, complete with a gleaming marquee and ornate ticket booth, for first-run films. At day's end, there's no better spot to relax in the cool mountain air than the porch of 149-year-old Red House Inn, just one more historic—and homey—side of Brevard. ..."

Friday, September 03, 2010

Fall color guess: Above average color this year

The good folks at Ashvegas have a post about a Western Carolina University professor who predicts above-average fall foliage color in the mountains this year.

Apparently the extremely-hot temps this year is good news ... in a sense that the leaf colors should be vibrant.

Visitors to Western North Carolina’s mountains can look forward to a vibrant display of color this autumn, predicts Kathy Gould Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster.

That’s because weather conditions during the spring and summer point to an above-average fall color show, said Mathews, WCU associate professor of biology specializing in plant systematics.

“It’s been a hot year in North Carolina, with above-average temperatures this summer. Rainfall has been slightly less than average during the spring and summer. These are two factors I look at when thinking about the timing and quality of fall leaf color change in the mountains,” Mathews said.

“While your garden may not have fared so well because of the soaring temperatures in June and July, the well-established trees and shrubs of our forests do not appear to have been adversely affected. All of which should lead to very nice color change this October,” she said.

Mathews believes that the formation of ample yellow, orange and red pigments in the leaves seems to correlate with dry weather throughout the year. The drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be, she said.

“I predict this fall color change will be variable throughout the Southern mountains, but on the whole we should expect to see rich and attractive color change this season.,” she said.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lees-McRae and its North Carolina Building

Lees-McRae (at about 700 students) isn't the biggest college in North Carolina, but the school in Banner Elk may be in one of the prettiest settings.

We drove past LMC a few weeks ago, and it struck me how little I know about it. So I began reading up on it some. I discovered some interesting things, such as the existence of the Order of the Tower, some sort of society that
meets in the campus landmark that was "originally built to distribute water to the campus. Once taken out of service, it was renovated to serve as a meeting place for the Order of the Tower. It currently houses the campus chimes."

Also, LMC, like
my alma mater, has a gymnasium named for William Reynolds. LMC has an alum who has participated in a Tour de France. And -- presumably because of its location -- the school has buildings named for nearby states of Tennessee and Virginia.

But Lees-McRae also boasts North Carolina Building, described on the
school's map as being in "the center of campus." The beautiful, stone building (pictured, via wikipedia) contains classrooms, a modern language laboratory, and faculty offices. "This structure, completed in 1922, is the first of the three permanent buildings planned by the Reverend Edgar Tufts founder of Lees-McRae."

This got me thinking: Do other schools have buildings/landmarks named for Our Great State? I know N.C. State has the Court of North Carolina ("Court of the Carolinas," as it is known) which was once home to a tree from all 100 counties in the state.

Any other schools that honor our state in a similar way?