Local Scoop


Asheville, North Carolina News

Archive for December, 2007

City of Asheville to propose converting to hybrid buses

Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Hybrid Buses

Asheville City leaders want to use state transportation funding to begin converting the Asheville Transit System‘s diesel buses into diesel hybrids some time in the next year. Ordering only of five of the new hybrid buses would give Asheville one of the biggest hybrid bus fleets in North Carolina.

The five buses would come at the cost of $3 million. Funds would come from both state and local taxpayer coffers. The purchase will most likely depend on the State of North Carolina giving Asheville $2.7 million in transportation funding.

The hybrids would be an element of a program that would replace Asheville’s 16 older diesel buses, which were purchased in 1996. While the hybrids would cost 30 percent more than standard diesel buses, they would use 25-50% less diesel fuel as well as reduce maintenance costs.

City Councilman Brownie Newman says that fuel savings is one of the major reasons to support the hybrids. Also among the stated reasons are improved air quality and lower noise levels downtown, among other advantages the hybrid buses would provide.

Asheville’s new Winter Warmer Festival

Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Winter Warmer Festival

Asheville has a new beer festival. To be held at The Garage, The Winter Warmer Festival will be from 3:00pm to 7:00pm on January 19th, 2008. The Garage is a new music venue on Fairview Road, close to Biltmore Village. It can be found next-door to the French Broad Brewing Company. The festival will feature only local beer brewed in Asheville, food and live music.

Mark Lyons of Asheville Brews Cruise, the bus service that takes beer lovers around to local breweries for tours, is organizing the festival. He says that just because it’s winter, that doesn’t mean people stop drinking beer.

Usually, beer festivals happen in the warmer months. April and the Hickory Hops is pretty far away, and it is even longer until Asheville’s famed Brewgrass Festival in September. In the meantime, beer lovers can put the Winter Warmer on their calendars. Tickets are $35, and it covers the beer, a souvenir glass, and North Carolina barbecue.

To get more information on the festival, visit the >Winter Warmer Beer Fest web-site.

Plenty of room for more pets at Asheville’s newest dog park

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007
Azalea Dog Park

Even after receiving good reviews from pet owners, the newest dog park in Asheville still isn’t drawing large crowds. On Saturday, December 22nd, not even half of the 140,000 ft.2 Azalea Dog Park was being utilized. Finished last summer, the Park is on Azalea Road by the Swannanoa River. The Park has two fenced-in areas, one for small dogs and the other for larger canines.

The Azalea Park is the second dog park in Asheville, with the first being the French Broad River Dog Park, located just off of Amboy Road on Asheville’s West side. The Park is open every day between 7:30-8:00am, and closes one hour before dark. All dog owners are to clean up after their pets and keep them on leashes unless they are inside one of the fenced areas. Aggressive animals’ owners are urged to retreat from the park with their pets immediately.

Even though the number of attendees is not up to the Parks & Recreation Department’s expectations, the assistant director of Asheville’s Parks and Recreation Department, Debbie Ivester, is not concerned:

“Because it’s so new, not everybody has heard about it yet,” she said. “We have a few ways to get the word out, and people are going to be picking up on it more and more.”

The Basilica of St. Lawrence houses oldest art in Asheville

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Under the great dome of the Basilica of St. Lawrence is the body of the man who built the historic structure as well as some priceless pieces of 17th century art.

Filled with works from Germany, Spain, Italy and many other places, much of the church’s art is at least a few hundred years old. Asheville is well-known for its art, and the Basilica of St. Lawrence contains some of Asheville’s oldest and most spectacular pieces.

Spanish architect & Asheville resident Rafael Guastavino, a famed architect/builder commissioned to help construct the Biltmore Estate, built the Basilica along with fellow architect R.S. Smith. Built in the Spanish Renaissance style using a method of design for which he was already famous, Guastavino liked embedding layers of flat tiles in strong mortar to create thin but surprisingly strong, arched vaults.

The Basilica of St. Lawrence’s dome is purported to be the largest unsupported dome in North America at 82 feet by 58 feet. There are no reinforcing beams in the structure.

In the Chapel of Our Lady (to the left of the main altar) stands a painting by the 17th century Italian painter Massimo Stanzione, above the door to the sacristy. "The Visitation" depicts Mary, mother of Jesus, talking with her cousin Elizabeth. Surrounding the sanctuary are stained-glass windows designed by Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany.

How to decorate like Asheville’s Biltmore Estate

Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Biltmore Estate & House Christmas

More than a million people visit Biltmore Estate in Asheville, and about 300,000 of them visit during Christmas season. Planning the decorations for the eight thousand acre Asheville attraction is quite a large task, to say the least. Luckily, Biltmore Estate employs a well-trained staff to prepare the House and its surrounding areas for the Holiday Season. Biltmore Estate’s decorations include 150 Christmas trees, 25,000 ornaments, 25,000 lights and 1,500 poinsettias. Even though many of Biltmore’s decorations maybe out of your price range, your house can still benefit from some of its decorating tips.


First, find a theme that matches your decorations, and think about the colors in the room where you will set up your tree. Your house should show your guests something about you and your family. You can also mix between homemade and store-bought ornaments. Keep in mind that green and red are not the only colors you can use to decorate and make sure you have a theme that repeats throughout all of your decorated rooms.


Make sure to shape your tree before adding any Christmas lights. Asheville’s Biltmore Estate makes use of 50 light strands, with six inches of space between each bulb. That means a tree that is six feet tall needs a total of eight sets of lights.

Warning: Never plug in more than six strands of lights together and never plug in more than six strands to a single outlet. Adding more lights could cause an electrical fire.

Working from the top of the tree down, weave the lights up and down across the branches. Take a step back, and look at the tree every once in a while to be sure the lights are placed so that the tree is evenly lit. Next, add garland or any other drapery before you add your ornaments. This keeps the garland from knocking off and breaking any of your precious ornaments.

What you put on top can make or break a tree, and most many tree decorators put the tree topper on last. Putting it on before you stand the tree up can save quite a lot of frustration. You can bet the staff at the Biltmore weren’t standing on rickety step-ladders while trying to put their tree toppers on last, especially as one of their trees is a 38-foot Frasier Fir. Also, make sure your Christmas tree skirt matches the rest of your decorations. You don’t need to run out and buy one either– an old tablecloth will suffice as long as it goes with everything.

The Biltmore Estate will celebrate Christmas until January 1, 2008 and some of the special events include:

Candlelight Christmas Evenings

Offered by reservation only. Luminaries lead the way to the house’s front door. The Biltmore House appears much as it would have during 19th century—- by fireplace and candlelight– it will be an experience that you will certainly remember.

Biltmore Activities and Packages

The Winery will offer tours, cooking demonstrations and wine tasting throughout the Christmas season.

Ticket Information

Tickets prices will vary based on date and time. Persons ages 10 to 16 are half of the regular adult price. Kids nine and under are *free* when they are with a paying adult. See the Biltmore Estate web-site for more information, as special online rates are available.

Pack Square to receive new trees

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007
Pack Square

Asheville’s Pack Square Park will get new trees today. Selected for inclusion in the Park are six London Plane trees and eight European Hornbeams. They will be placed in the space between Asheville City Hall, the Courthouse and Vance Monument, according to the Pack Square Conservancy.

London Plane trees are a hybrid that is similar in appearance to a sycamore, but have superior disease resistance. European Hornbeams are a medium-sized tree with bright green leaves that turn a beautiful yellow in autumn.

More trees and shrubs will be planted as work in various areas is completed. The park itself is scheduled for completion in April of 2009; work will begin on the 4,200ft2 pavilion in early 2008.

For more information, visit the Pack Square Conservancy web-site, or call (828) 252-2300.

UNC Asheville Students to Perform at White House

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

UNC Asheville’s Chamber Singers will treat White House visitors to a choral concert on Wednesday, December 19, 2007. The University only formed the Chamber Singers a year ago, and already they are accepting invitations to prestigious concerts around the nation. The concert will take place during the White House’s Annual Christmas VIP tours.

Melodie Galloway, a teaching assistant in the music department of UNC Asheville, sent away the application to perform. “Because the Chamber Singers was formed just over a year ago, I knew it was a long shot. But I wanted to pursue the opportunity because I knew how valuable the experience was to me,” said Galloway said in a UNCA press release.

While in Washington, the UNCA Chamber Singers will also perform for sick and injured veterans at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital. They also have concerts lined up at the Koshland Science Museum and the Annondale United Methodist Church. The Chamber Singers will be singing traditional Christmas carols such as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Gloria, Coventry Carol and many more classic favorites.

You can hear the UNC Asheville Chamber Singers perform And So It Goes by Billy Joel (click the hyperlink for a direct playing of the mp3 file).

Henry Rollins coming to Asheville

Monday, December 17th, 2007
Henry Rollins

Former Black Flag front man and spoken word orator extraordinaire Henry Rollins is coming to Asheville’s Orange Peel on February 22nd at 8pm. The show will be all spoken word and is entitled "Provoked".

Tickets for the show in Asheville went on sale December 14 and can be obtained through Ticketmaster, Etix.com and Ticketweb. The show will surely incite and show insight, while also enraging and enlightening the crowd.

"Not many people can hold a crowd of hundreds transfixed for three hours using only a microphone and a flat black backdrop, but Renaissance Man Henry Rollins is one of them," said a Reno Gazette reviewer. "Rollins’ talks are so fluid, it’s hard to tell how much is planned, how much is off the cuff."

In the show, Rollins rants about current events like the war in Iraq and the media, all the while weaving in personal experiences in places like Syria and Australia.

Rollins also hosts "The Henry Rollins Show" on the Independent Film Channel. His past guests have included Iggy Pop and actor Don Cheadle.

Tickets for the Asheville show are available through Ticketweb.com.

NC Stage Company Presents: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Live Radio Play

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

The North Carolina Stage Company will present It’s a Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Play December 18 – 23, 2007 here in Asheville. In a well thought-out adaptation of the James Stewart classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, playwright Joe Landry takes the film to another place, a 1940s radio station on Christmas Eve. The five characters in the production will play all of the movie characters and use old-fashioned sound effects. The play is a fresh look at the Christmas movie we all know and love.

The play is being directed by Hans Meyer, who will also act the role of Clarence the Angel in the show. Other stars include Lauren Fortuna as Mary Bailey, Willie Repoley as George Bailey, Joe Sturgeon in multiples roles including Uncle Billy and Mr. Potter, and Kathryn Temple as several characters including bad girl Violet Bick. This show sold out last year, so make sure to get your tickets early.

Showtimes are as follows:

December 18 – 23, 2007
Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30pm,
Early Shows – Saturday and Sunday at 2:00pm

See the NC Stage Company web-site for more information, or to purchase tickets, visit Tix.com.

Former Tourists manager voted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Former Asheville Tourists manager Billy Southworth has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Completing the season with a record of 75-62, Southworth lead the Tourists to the Piedmont League (1920-1955) title in 1935. To win the championship, the team beat the Richmond Colts in the minor league playoffs four games to two.

Southworth is the second manager of the Asheville Tourists to be voted into the Hall at Cooperstown. Asheville’s other Hall of Fame Manager is Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tourists in 1968.

Manager of the early 1940s St. Louis Cardinals Dynasty, he managed 13 seasons in the Majors; including seven seasons over two different stints in St. Louis, KY. His teams grabbed three pennants and two World Series titles.

Said Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement issued to the press,

"On behalf of the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization, I would like to offer congratulations to the late Billy Southworth and his family and friends on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame,"

Continuing his praise, Mr. DeWitt Jr. went on:

"Billy Southworth oversaw one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history and it is gratifying to see his career accomplishments recognized by the Veterans Committee."

Posting a winning 1044-744 record as a Major League manager, Southworth also won another pennant in 1948 while managing the Boston Braves. Billy Southworth passed away in 1969.