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Archive for March, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Hosts ‘Peanuts Easter Beagle Express’

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

BRYSON CITY, NC – The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is pleased to announce our Peanuts Easter Beagle Express on Friday, April 2nd, and Saturday, April 3rd, 2010. Trains will depart the historic Bryson City depot at 10:30am.

The train will travel along the Tuckasegee River, cross over the Fontana Lake Trestle and into the Nantahala River Gorge for a 4 ½ hour journey. Celebrate springtime aboard this festive Holiday event.

Passengers will join Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown and our Easter Bunnies for old fashioned Easter fun during the 1 hour layover at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Festivities include an Easter egg hunt with special prizes, egg decorating, storytelling, coloring sheets, temporary tattoos, snacks with Snoopy and more. There will also be plenty of opportunities for pictures, so do not forget your camera!

Advance tickets are required, as seating is limited. Adult tickets are $49.00 and children two and up are $29.00. Ask about our Crown Coach upgrades and upgraded dining option!

Admission to the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum is included with ticket purchase. Without tickets, admission to the museum is $9 for adults and $5 for children.

Proud member of the American Heritage Railways family. Visit our sister railroads in southwest Colorado at the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and in east Texas at the Texas State Railroad. For more information and reservations please call 800-872-4681 or WWW.GSMR.COM.

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino to Open New State-of-the-Art Events Center

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

CHEROKEE, NC – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel unveiled plans for a new 3,000-seat Events Center making it the region’s leading concert, events and entertainment venue. Opening celebrations are scheduled Labor Day Weekend 2010.

Hosting top-tier talent including country, comedy, and rock, sporting events and production shows, the three-level Events Center will include VIP suites, box seating and 1,000 balcony seats. Modular seating will be used for conventions, sports programming, catering and special events.

Concession areas will be located on all floors; LCD screens throughout the pre-function area. The stage will be 60′ by 40′, framed by 32′ screens with HD resolution. A D&B J Series Line array speaker system with theatrical lighting includes MA Lighting Grand MA2 console and Martin Intelligent lighting instruments. Green Room includes flat-screen televisions and dressing rooms.

The Events Center is part of the 56-acre property’s $633 million expansion to position Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel as the Southeast’s premier gaming destination and world-class entertainment and tourism destination. Scheduled for completion in 2012, the expansion is the most significant hospitality development underway in the Southeast and one of the largest in the U.S.

The “Master Plan” adds a third tower (532 luxury guest rooms/suites) providing the most accommodations in North and South Carolina, entertainment and VIP lounges, 18,000-square-foot spa, digital poker room, Asian gaming room, new restaurant and retail outlets, and parking garages.

Harrah’s Cherokee also is renovating current casino facilities and doubling the casino floor size to 195,000 square feet. Recently opened as a guest amenity is nearby Sequoyah National Golf Club, an 18-hole, par 72 championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones II and Notah Begay III, owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and managed by Troon Golf, developer, marketer and manager of upscale golf properties.

In June 2009, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, owners of Harrah’s Cherokee, approved a referendum which permits wine, beer and spirits to be served on the casino floor, in restaurants, cafes, VIP lounge, and guest accommodations via room service.

Harrah’s Cherokee is located 50 miles from Asheville at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Downtown Market Celebrates Expansion this Weekend with Opening of Amazing Savings

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Market invites everyone to celebrate this Saturday, March 27th as Amazing Savings Grocery re-opens in the Market’s 6,000 sq ft warehouse becoming downtown Asheville’s only FULL-sized grocery store. You are cordially invited to join them as they grill (FREE) hot dogs and hamburgers for the masses from Noon to 3pm on Saturday.

We have another exciting project that will be completed in time for this weekend’s festivities. Focal Points, the Market’s new consignment gallery for fine arts & antiques, will celebrate their Grand Opening featuring 18 new merchant booths. Enjoy live music from great local musicians all weekend long — well-knowns including local River 98.1 morning radio host and singer Aaron Lafalce, Lindsey Liden and his Chompin’ at the Bit String Band, Black Mountain vocalist Valorie Miller, American Folk Singer & songwriter Matt VandeBurgh, Accordion player Brett Brothwell, and singer/guitarist Jimmy Jeff, among others. Our talented artists & crafters and our amazing merchants will offer sweet weekend deals on art and treasures! Enjoy delicious foods, sampling, children’s activities, our own Robo the Clown (alias Jesse Cowan), and an open-invitation Sat/Sun chess tournament. Come on down and celebrate all weekend long!

Biltmore Park Town Square Hosts the Spring Market

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – On Saturday, spring will officially arrive, and Biltmore Park Town Square is gearing up to host the first celebration of the new season. From March 25th to March 28th, Town Square will welcome the Junior League of Asheville’s Spring Market, which will offer a variety of activities that are sure to put a spring in your step.

A Spring Soiree on Thursday evening, March 25th, will kick off the four-day extravaganza. Guests, with a $25 ticket, will enjoy food, drinks, a silent auction, exclusive shopping at the market, and live music by Whitewater Bluegrass Company. Money raised at the kick-off party, as well as from the market, will support the Junior League’s mission to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, and improve the community.

Friday will be dedicated to the market, where customers will find one-of-a-kind items from special collections brought to Asheville by merchants from around the area and all over the country. Visitors can peruse an array of art, jewelry, clothing and accessories, children’s toy’s, health and beauty products, gourmet food, and more–making for the perfect place to find everything you need for spring.

On Saturday, the day will begin with an exciting start as runners participate in the Spring into Action 5k, which will take them around the beautiful Biltmore Park neighborhood before they end with a strong finish by Reuter Family YMCA. Afterwards, shopping will resume, and while parents enjoy the retail selections, children can enjoy brunch with the Easter Bunny (don’t forget to bring your cameras!).

Asheville Fire Department Recieves International Accreditation

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Asheville Fire Department initially became the first department in Western North Carolina to receive international accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) back in 2005. The Asheville Fire Department is one of 138 fire/rescue agencies in the world to achieve the accredited agency status.

Every 5 years a peer assessment team sets forth in a rigorous self-assessment and on-site evaluation of our department in order to determine if they should recommend us for reaccreditation. The CFAI self assessment process has been under development for more than 20 years and has involved hundreds of fire service professionals.,/p>

“The accreditation standards are challenging and ensure taxpayers that their fire department is providing responsible, accountable services,” explains Fire Chief Burnette. “It’s comparable to receiving service from an accredited hospital or attending an accredited college. Asheville citizens can be very proud of the department’s commitment to service and demonstrated performance.”

The goal of accreditation is to provide continuous quality improvement and to enhance service delivery to communities. Accredited departments are required to renew accreditation every five years and as of March 9, 2010 the Asheville Fire Department was approved as an accredited agency for another five years by the Commission on Fire Accreditation.

For further information regarding accreditation please contact Fire Chief Scott Burnette at 828-259-5640.

Kimberly Avenue Improvements Begin

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The city of Asheville will make improvements to Kimberly Avenue over the next few months. Contract work on preliminary road repair began this week. Repair work is necessary before milling, resurfacing and restriping can be completed. Repair work is expected to continue through mid-April. Weather permitting, the majority of the work is estimated to be completed by mid-May.

The Kimberly Avenue project also includes the addition of a bicycle-climbing lane on the golf course side of the street. The bicycle lane is being installed in accordance with the city’s Comprehensive Bicycle Plan. Bicycles and motor vehicles will share the southbound lane as called for in the plan.

Parking in the area between Country Club Road and the intersection with Gracelyn Road and Griffing Boulevard will be changed as a result of the project. On-street parking will no longer be allowed on the east side of the street between Country Club Road and the intersection with Gracelyn Road and Griffing Boulevard; it will be allowed on the west side. Parking between Evelyn Place and Country Club Road will not be affected.

Periodic land or road closures will be necessary. Access will be maintained for emergency vehicles, residents and pedestrians. When one lane is closed, flaggers will direct traffic through the closure. When the road is closed, traffic will be detoured.

The project requires the Monday-Friday Dial-a-ride portion of Asheville Transit Route #5 to be closed March 15 through April 16. Saturday Dial-a-ride service along Kimberly Road will be provided throughout the project. Dial-a-ride requests for Asheville Transit require a rider to call 828-253-5691 at least one hour ahead of requested service.

This is one of several transportation infrastructure projects in Asheville funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funding was awarded by the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization in a competitive process and is administered through the North Carolina Department of Transportation. If you have comments, concerns or questions about this project or about other ARRA-funded transportation projects, please contact Barb Mee at 232-4540 or [email protected]

You can learn more about other ARRA-funded projects in which the city is involved by visiting www.ashevillenc.gov, calling ARRA project manager Brenda Mills at 259-8050, or emailing Ms. Mills at [email protected]

Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute to Host ‘Green Monday’

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Can you imagine Asheville with 15-minute transit service on major corridors, where your kids could independently visit their friends? Do you want to bike or walk on a Greenway to work each day? Do you need sidewalks to connect your neighborhood with local businesses?

Envisioning a Low Carbon Transportation Future is the topic of the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute’s next Green Monday, March 22, 2010, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., in the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce second floor conference room. Admission is free and open to the public.

Our current transportation infrastructure occupies the largest portion of land, is the single highest federal spending infusion into Asheville, and has resulted in the highest sources of carbon emissions in Buncombe County. Is it possible to use pedestrian walkways, bicycles, vanpooling, carpooling, telecommuting, and flex-work schedules as a means to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion? How do we pay for it all?

Moderator Yuri Koslen, Transportation Planner for the City of Asheville, and panelists Mike Sule from Asheville on Bikes and Get There Asheville; Hanna Raskin from the Asheville Transit Commission; Bruce Emery, Transportation Planner with the Asheville Design Center; and Heather Strassberger, Transportation Regional Planner for Land of Sky and the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization will explore these options and more. Please join us next Monday and add your voice to the conversation!

Green Mondays provide experts, regional leaders, citizens, and students with an open forum for understanding and advancing possible pathways to sustainability. Through its Green Monday series, the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute intends to share information, solicit new ideas, and develop consensus in pursuit of sustainable community and economic development. Green Mondays are sponsored in part by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Progress Energy.

The mission of the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute is to drive knowledge into action, solving societal problems today and for generations to come by harnessing world-class environmental, economic, and energy research to collaborations among researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, government officials and community activists.

For more information, please contact Janna Zonder at [email protected] or 828-505-3547. Or visit our website at www.blueridgesustainability.org.

Billy Jonas to Play Concert Benefit for ASAP

Friday, March 12th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Billy Jonas will play a benefit concert for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) on March 21. The concert will be held at the Orange Peel, with doors opening at 2:30p.m. and the perfomance beginning at 3:00p.m.

Cost is $10 for kids age 2 and up, and $15 for adults. Call the Peel at 828-225-5851 for more information.

Renee Owen at Rainbow Mountain School, organizer of the concert, says of Jonas, “Seeing Billy Jonas perform live is not so much a concert as it is an experience. Known primarily as a percussionist, Jonas is much, much more. His singalongs and music–much of it made on found-object instruments–bring smiles to faces aged 2 to 80. A Billy Jonas performance combines singalongs, bangalongs, and whisperalongs. Improvised songs featuring audience participation are a mainstay.”

Asheville Art Museum to Screen Cult-Classic ‘True Stories’

Friday, March 12th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Asheville Art Museum invites you to a screening of True Stories on Saturday and Sunday, April 3 and 4, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. each day. This film screening is free with Museum Membership or admission.

True Stories is a cult-classic starring David Byrne with music by the Talking Heads. This film portrays a gallery of eccentric personalities including the “laziest woman in the world” with her array of time-saving gadgets and a man with a “Wife Wanted” sign on his front lawn, all residents of the fictional town of Virgil, Texas.

The film’s notable cast includes John Goodman, Swoosie Kurtz and Spaulding Gray. Writer and director David Byrne said, “When I see a place for the first time, I notice everything — the color of the paper, the sky, the way people walk, doorknobs, every detail,” he says. This film might alter your own impressions for a time as well.

This event is held in conjunction with the exhibition Limners to Facebook: Portraiture from the 19th to the 21st Century.

AB Tech Students Honored at Foundation Scholarship Luncheon

Friday, March 12th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – Earning a college degree was a dream that didn’t seem likely for Yelena Litvinchuk. A native of the Ukraine who grew up in Russia, she struggled to simply find food.

“In order to get a good education in Russia, you need to have a lot of money, which my family never had. In the United States, you can be a hardworking, honest employee and make a good living. In Russia, you can scarcely make a living if you work honestly and pay all taxes,” said Yelena, an A-B Tech Associate in Science degree student.

Yelena spoke about her childhood in Russia under Communist Party rule at the A-B Tech Foundation Scholarship luncheon March 11. She is a recipient of the Adelaide Key Scholarship.

Yelena said her parents were not allowed to continue their education after high school because they did not belong to the Communist Party. “I remember those days, when we prayed for food and would find several rubles on the street, which helped us to buy bread,” she said.

Even though law changed and Yelena was allowed to attend college, money was still an obstacle. “As far as education is concerned, neither financial aid nor a loan system is available,” she said. Believing she would never go to college, Yelena found everything changed when she had the opportunity to move to the United States.

As soon as she arrived, she started work in a factory and found A-B Tech. Having an interest in the medical field, she enrolled in the Surgical Technology program in 2003. “I will confess it was very challenging for me with my poor English to get through the program. Almost every night, I read my books with a dictionary till early morning. Sometimes, I just sat and cried with a book in my hands,” she said.

Yelena’s perseverance paid off. She graduated with her diploma in August 2004, and landed a job in her field at a local hospital. “I enjoyed working in the operating room and helping other people, but I wanted to expand my limited medical knowledge,” she said.

Yelena decided to come back to A-B Tech to complete an associate’s degree, then transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree and prepare herself for pharmacy school.

“You help us to find our career path and a place in this big world. I hope that one day we will be able to help someone else in our turn,” she said as she thanked Adelaide Key, a community volunteer, philanthropist and former member of the A-B Tech Foundation Board of Directors, for her scholarship.

Foundation Board Chair Nancy Miller announced the following new endowments and scholarships at A-B Tech: an anonymous gift of $30,000 to endow Dental scholarships; the Bill and Alice Hart Endowment Scholarship; the Jennifer and Jason Hill Annual Scholarship; the Mike and Martha Cochran Memorial Scholarship and the Yesterday’s Tree Endowment.