Home Blog

Rhythm & Brews concert series starts today

0

That headlining act starts 7 p.m. The two openers are “countrygrass” duo Redleg Huskey of Asheville at 5, then at 6 p.m. is Angela Easterling & The Beguilers of Greenville, S.C. with Americana.

The two-block site is South Main Street on the 200-300 blocks, near the Visitor’s Center. The free family-friendly outdoor event features local foods, craft beer, wine and cider; and a Hands On! Children’s Museum activities booth.

Tellico is fronted by Anya Hinkle on vocals, fiddle and guitar. She sings with a piercing, nasal mountain twang true to mountain music. Bassist Greg Stiglets has a smoother voice, in singing some leads. Aaron Ballance plays dobro, Jed Willis mandolin and clawhammer banjo. The Asheville-based band augments old-time with bluegrass-type resonator guitar, and Americana blends.

Fast-paced “Can’t Go Home Again” is one of Hinkle’s finest vocal recordings, along with her on the somber ballad “Forsaken Winds.” They are off of the debut CD of 2015, entitled Relics and Roses. It includes their original, snappy-titled “Hawkeye Pierce and Honeycutt Blues,” with Stiglets on harmonica and Bob Dylan-esque vocals. The CD closes with a cover of two Neil Young tunes. Tellico has recorded with noted bluegrass guitarist Jon Stickley on some of its songs. The band has played MerleFest.

Rhythm & Brews series is on the third Thursday from May into September. The concert June 21 is a special one. The Broadcast, a premier rock band out of Asheville, is the headliner. Openers are Hendersonville High graduating senior Izzi Hughes, then Strange Avenues.

Headlines and their openers are Urban Soil (Modern Day Society, Bobby Wynn) on July 19, The Company Stores (Daniel Sage, Carolinabound) Aug. 16, then Los Colognes (Hustle Souls, Laura Laughter & Tim Levene) on Sept. 20.

For info on other upcoming special events in Downtown Hendersonville, check downtownhendersonville.org.

Incoming sheriff Griffin eyes body cams, district supervising

0

Lowell Griffin

Lowell Griffin unseated Charlie McDonald as sheriff in the GOP primary last week, by a large 18 percent margin at 59-41 percent. Griffin got 7,287 votes on Tuesday, May 8.

Griffin spoke in depth to The Tribune about his plans on various priority issues, for when he takes office in a half-year. He said he eyes a new training center but minus an outdoor shooting range, and sees more pressing immediate needs for the sheriff’s budget and services.

For instance, he calls for body cameras on all officers in the field, which was a point of contention with McDonald. They both want more school resource officers — and preferably from ranks of regular staff.

Griffin is planning a restructure with supervisors for areas of the county, which he said would be a first in Henderson. He said incorporated areas of the county deserve sheriff’s patrol too to a regular extent, but should pay for extra coverage such as in high-traffic business zones.

He campaigned in part for greater continuation of staff under a new sheriff. He told The Tribune restructuring may move some out of their current posts, but rather than be let go he would look to transfer them to areas where they could contribute more.

Meantime, McDonald concludes his six years as sheriff in December. That is when his successor is sworn in at the commissioners’ meeting after the general election of Nov. 6. Technically, the sheriff’s race is not decided until then. Two other GOP primary winners also loom prohibitively as victors in November. That is unless a write-in candidate emerges and bucks odds, since there are no Democrat or Libertarian candidates for their offices.

District Attorney Greg Newman got over two-thirds of the vote to decisively defeat Mary Ann Hollocker in the GOP primary.

In a much closer race, Rebecca McCall beat Don Ward by 329 votes (6,104-5,775 votes), getting 51.4 percent of the GOP primary vote, for commissioner in District 4 in the Edneyville area.

In a Democratic primary, Pat Sheley rolled over Michelle Antalec with 71 percent of the vote. She will take on Commission Chr. Mike Edney, in the county-wide vote Nov. 6 for the District 1 seat for the Flat Rock area.

Griffin, 52, a 1984 Edneyville High grad, reacted to his upset win in his first public election. It “felt like I was hit by a truck,” he said Thursday when back to work as an operations captain in Polk County. He supervises narcotics investigations under Sheriff Donald Hill, who is soon retiring.

Griffin was a Henderson County deputy then supervisor in various divisions for 20 total years, in 1992-2012. He was a specialized instructor, inaugural county bomb squad member, and incident commander who coordinated with rescue units.

“Patrol is exciting, and the backbone of the county. You are the first line of defense, the first one responding to any emergency. I enjoyed tactical training, being on the explosives and investigative teams. But when you dial 911, patrol is usually what gives you help.”

The sheriff’s race marked a rare time in the county that a sitting sheriff was voted out of office — and in the primary, to boot. Ab Jackson, who hired both of the latest candidates, was beaten by George Erwin in 1994.

But a productive transition is anticipated. Griffin said he spoke with McDonald on election night May 8. “We had a very cordial call. We agreed we’ll start soon, for the transition. I have every reason to believe Sheriff McDonald will make this as painless as can be.”

Griffin figures that by late September, he can “focus completely” on sheriff matters here. That is after he organizes security for the World Equestrian Games that run in Polk County, for two weeks in September. Meanwhile in coming weeks, he said, he will use accumulated comp time with some of that pertaining to Henderson County.

The most explosive issue in sheriff and commissioner races has been plans for a new outdoor law enforcement training facility and noise of outdoor shooting. The cost of up to $22.5 million was another issue.

First and foremost, McDonald’s defeat was deemed a trigger for county commissioners to abandon plans the current sheriff supported to build a new outdoor training center for incident tactical maneuvers and with a firing range. That is apt to happen this week.

Commissioners met Wednesday morning, May 16. That is a mere week before the May 23 deadline to buy the land by Saluda eyed for the project. After then, the property is back on the open market. Nearby residents rallied against the site due to what they thought would be excessive noise and traffic.

“Given the long-term design and implementation process of a ‘Law Enforcement Training Center’ project, in consultation with Chairman (Mike) Edney,” County Mgr. Steve Wyatt stated in a memo, “it is my recommendation that further work on the project be suspended until the incoming sheriff assesses and determines the overall needs of the department.”

Wyatt added about Sheriff-elect Griffin “it is our duty and responsibility to work with him, within our resources, to help him accomplish the mission of the sheriff’s department to protect and serve our citizens.”

Griffin does not foresee an outdoor range as part of any new facility in this county, but sees value in training tactically outdoors. “We have to step back to the chalkboard, and take a long hard look at exactly what we need, what it’d cost and take logistically,” Griffin said of a training facility. “We need to look at the real options in our region. It should be multi-dimensional to assist not only law enforcement but also train fire, EMS and rescue responders.”

He said a training facility can best be afforded as a regional one, bringing in revenue from area agencies for using it and perhaps educational and other state money to help construct it.

“I have ideas for a training center concept,” he further told The Tribune. “Blue Ridge Community College would be the perfect place” such as on its ballfield, since it no longer has athletic teams. “We need a partner. It could be under the control of the college. Education is what they do. First responders typically attend community college basically tuition-free. But the college gets reimbursed for the training” by state community college money. A training facility there would be “strengthening our community college, and our community” through better-trained officers.

Fee revenue comes in “if we develop something other agencies would travel to, to use.” In turn in area collaboration, local officers could go to existing area outdoor ranges to avoid building one here. He cited “state of the art outdoor ranges” he has satisfactorily used such as two in Rutherford County, and another in Greenville (S.C.) County. “There are outdoor ranges very close we could use.”

Private businesses can also be used, he reasons. He noted that already, many officers hone their aim in Rex’s Indoor Range off of Upward Road near I-26 as well as in the WNC Justice Academy’s indoor range in Edneyville.

Griffin’s priorities include adding “dedicated” school resource officers (SRO) for “strengthening school security.” Several school board members and candidates call for resource officers in all schools. SROs went first into all four high schools in the county, then some middle and elementary schools.

Griffin said existing county money can go for school security which is saved from a smaller-scaled training facility or holding off on one for now. Beyond more SROs, he said other steps include “re-engineering existing facilities to maximize security needs, and adding or updating camera systems.”

A new federal program is calling for SRO training for non-current officers, too, such as retired police and military.

U.S. Rep Mark Meadows, the local congressman, introduced two bills in March to pay for more armed school resource officers in schools to deter and protect against violent outbreaks. His latest Protect America’s Schools Act adds $1.5 million to the Community Oriented Policing Services’ School Resource Officer (SRO) program nationwide.

His new Veterans Securing Schools Act authorizes a state or local agency to better cut through red tape to hire military veterans as SROs stationed at schools. Meadows stated the two bills “provide schools both adequate resources and trained personnel” as “common-sense solutions to safeguard our children in school.”

Griffin cautions against ‘just sticking someone (a trained retiree) in there, with a patch on them calling them ‘security.’ At some point, we may consider supplemental security such as volunteers to assist officers in a school. I can see that” for those meeting strong security skill and standards such as eye-hand coordination and keeping cool while swiftly reacting to a crisis.

“I very much prefer an actual officer into the school,” Griffin said. “It will require extreme vetting” for SROs. “They have to interact with the kids, and not be an intimidating factor. SROs become part of school culture. Many form a bond with students, and are adult role models.”

Doing so takes an enhanced combination of communication skills, along with proficiency as an officer. He reasons it is tough for retired officers or military away from the rigors for years to “connect with the students, and identify with their problems. A trained resource officer can identify issues that may be arising in a child’s life at home.”

Griffin is sensitive to the wishes of county and school officials. “I as a sheriff cannot just appoint somebody to walk into a school. Whatever the school board and administration want for school security, we need to work collaboratively to make that happen.”

Body cameras was a major campaign issue for Griffin, as part of the broader issue of greater transparency of actions. He wants to require officers wear body cameras for any public interaction. That can secure up-close evidence such as a view of illegal guns and substances in a car. He said Hendersonville police and many nearby counties use body cams, but not yet Henderson County. “They’re deployed all around us, in many different versions.”

A fascinating task is choosing what type of body cam system to use here, and weighing amenities versus costs. One way is to “integrate with the in-car camera.” For instance, anytime the officer turns on the car’s emergency flashers and/or sirens, the system is set to automatically turn on both the in-car camera and body camera. “It stays activated, throughout the interaction.” Not having to manually start the camera enables the officer to focus on other crisis tasks.

Yet on top of auto-activation, many systems have an on/off switch for the body cam for the officer to use. This is good when flashers or other auto-triggers do not happen. The tricky part is accountability. The officer could flip off the camera, in theory only after finishing the interaction in order to avoid wasting tape. This has to be “in accordance to policy,” Griffin said, and not to avoid incriminating evidence.

Storage of video can be on a costlier in-house server, or “cloud-based” over the Internet, Griffin noted. The system “cost fluctuates wildly. If you buy their cloud storage, some nearly give you the equipment.” Costs are more for newer tech, and dropping in time, Griffin said. “Technology has come so far” and ironically Henderson can get state-of-the-art systems by buying body cam systems after other counties do.

The video oversight works both on the investigating/arresting officer, and the person checked out such as in a traffic stop or at a residence. All involved would be monitored by the body camera for sight and sound, in addition to existing in-car camera filming.

Griffin speaks from experience on this issue. “I have cameras on a few officers in Polk, including (drug) interdiction officers. It shows the actual abuse an officer may take leading up to an arrest or use of force.” That can deter outbursts, he reasons. “People should realize what you’re saying and your very actions are going to be captured. We can replay exactly what has happened” in court.

He said a body cam offsets a rising trend of suspects or others nearby recording on a smart phone. “I don’t want our officers to be exposed. I don’t want the suspect to go to court with better video evidence.”

Footage is a good step toward prosecution, augmenting solid policing, Griffin said. “Nothing is perfect. Attorneys have attempted to challenge videos. It all comes back to the interpretation, by the judge or jurors.”

Whether or not on film, the “interaction should be professional, from start to finish,” he said. “The officer should not be acting for the camera. The officer has to be extra vigilant, to document everything. These videos are not held to the same standard as an officer is required to be.” He said there are apparent instances when “the suspect has edited video, or shown an excerpt taken out of context.”

As for McDonald’s caution that an officer might be overly-cautious if on film up close, Griffin countered that “officers are used to being on video, as long as they are in front of their car. Already, every patrol car has an in-car camera.” The body cam would cover a fuller area, and beyond the stopping point such as on-foot pursuits.

A bonus is the officer can better relax, if also equipped with a recorder. A suspect “might attempt to be intimidating, telling the officer that they’ll put him on video,” Griffin said. “The officer says ‘I have no problem with that, because I’m capturing it on video myself.’ That prevents it from escalating” in tensions.

New sheriffs can terminate at will (without proving cause), and tend to clean house to varying extents after election. Griffin campaigned in part to do much less of that. He said he wants to give benefit of doubt, and look at options. “‘What’s right for the county’ is the first question I have to ask” in a personnel decisions. One factor for retaining an officer on the bubble is “the county has invested much money into these folks,” and would have to spend to train replacements. Another is officers “have real problems, and bills to pay. I want to do everything I can for them.”

Thus before terminating, he would “look first at the possibility of re-assignment. See if they can prove to me they are truly an asset. I don’t anticipate many” departures, he added. “but in reorganizing the department, some may face a different job assignment.”

First in reorganizing, he wants to instill “district supervisors” for various areas of the county. That setup is used elsewhere. Supervisors such as lieutenants and perhaps even captains would spend some time on patrol for community policing to boost relations with citizens and gain insights, he said. “I want to redirect some energy within the walls, to outside and put some supervisors back out into the community.”

This includes incorporated areas such as Flat Rock and Mills River which do not at least yet have police as do Hendersonville, Fletcher and Laurel Park. On one hand, he said, “we should not force these municipalities to ante up for public safety” at a level comparable to unincorporated areas. They deserve a “standard patrol format like the rest of the county.”

But he said it is sensible for those towns to pay more for extra service, at a level and cost agreed on. “We should sit down. We have to look at crime rates, population to be covered and other variables. Mills River has a growing business district. If they want coverage over and above what the rest of the county gets, then the town has to be (financially) responsible for that.” Griffin said in negotiating service and fees, “I definitely want to be reasonable.”

President Trump was right to pop Obama’s fantasy

0

Each week the editors of The Tribune are selecting a communication from the Buncombe County Republican Party we feel will be of interest and value to our readers. You can learn more about your local Republican Party’s efforts at BuncombeGOP.org

Republican President Donald Trump made the extraordinary decision to pull out of the Iranian nuclear accord. Predictably, he was attacked from all sides and – excepting Israel and Saudi Arabia – found his administration once again walking the lonely road less traveled.

The Buncombe County Republican Party would like to applaud our President’s decision. Would you like to know why? Here’s a quick list.Prognostications of catastrophe and disaster were immediately forthcoming. See picture above for an example of an earlier real disaster that was largely ignored. More on that later

1. Iran’s support for the verification process has been persistently deceptive and fraught with intrigue.

2. Iran persistently verbalized their commitment to undo and/or ignore the agreement.

Iran’s promise to “annihilate” Israel has remained firmly in place.

Iran has accelerated their role as the world’s largest terror export county.

Iran’s has maintained a persistently hostile relationship with the US since the accord.

Iran is actively and militarily asserting its position in Libya, Syria, Lebanon and other middle east countries and their missile development program is on after-burner.

This was never a Senate verified treaty of law – it was an Obama treaty.

Israel just revealed Iran’s pattern of lying on their weapons grade stockpiles, nuclear actions and ambitions.

The two historically adversarial middle-east countries (Israel and Saudi Arabia) with the most to lose if Obama is right about Iran’s sincerity have been united in affirming he is wrong.

World leaders with a pattern of placating aggressive nations are repeating the same postponement sentiments with Iran. Speaking of postponements, did you know that Iran never signed the agreement?

President Trump has been clear – “The Iran deal is defective at its core – one sided, horrible and disastrous.” Once again, he demonstrates a level of courage and realism that perplexes antagonists. We live in a world where image has become the standard over reality – but that doesn’t mean we have to participate in the ruse. He doesn’t.

The BCGOP has another reason we appreciate the President’s action. It is an appropriate response toward the nation that served as the chief importer of IED’s during the Iraq war. A startling number of allied personnel were killed and maimed by Iran’s dark touch – and there was never accountability.

Last week our President spoke up for the men and women impacted by passive indifference to Iran’s earlier actions in Iraq. We thank him for effectively saying, “No, my administration will not support an agreement that opens the door for Iran to develop and one day apply an IED of catastrophic proportions.”

In contrast to his predecessor – our President understands the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Update: Now the real work begins…

The often unpleasant and divisive strains of the primary season are behind us. Now it’s time to lay aside accumulated animosities, hurts and disappointments and step toward our real advisory – Asheville’s liberal-progressive-socialists.

That sort of re-set doesn’t occur by accident. Letting go of negative feelings, attitudes and experience demands conscious thought, effort and maturity. Nobody can make us do it. It’s sort of like recovery from surgery. Initially one has to force themselves out of a comfortable hospital bed.

We have a solid pool of candidates for the upcoming election. They need our help. Importantly, they also need to feel they represent a positive political movement people can embrace. Republicans have a great set of principles and a strong political platform – locally we also need the attitude, unity and positivity to bring those values to life.

There are a lot of undecided, confused, turned-off or discarded voters in Asheville, Buncombe and WNC. It’s our job to work together to nudge them in the right direction. To succeed – you and me have to start with you and me.

Want an example of a good unity effort? How about 15th District Republican candidates Amy Evans and Nathan West having breakfast together on election day.

Impressive…

Commissioners hear funding requests

0

The budget presentation from Asheville City Schools was more difficult to follow. The PowerPoint presentation shared color photos of children of different races smiling together, but in attempting to find out how much or how much more was being asked of the county, the numbers didn’t add up. Adding to the confusion, the slide entitled, “Funding Requests” listed $2,894,773 in sales tax collections and $9,109,713 in school taxes. The $1,284,928 labeled “requested increase in the county general appropriation and funds to add new programs and positions” left one guessing where the remainder of the $2,296,867 in additional needs, summed from previous slides, would find funding.

Superintendent Dr. Denise Patterson noted the school system was offering a $2000 sign-on bonus for qualified math instructors. That left one wondering what heartless soul would subject sweet children to the burden of understanding math in a world that doesn’t want to hear about it.

Needs highlighted by Patterson included staffing the Montford North Star Academy and Asheville Primary schools to accommodate new students, who were obviously coming from other schools in the system. One hall of the Montford school would be dedicated to students requiring an alternative learning situation. This could include students who need to care for their babies, youth who break a leg and can’t attend regular classes, or children with emotional needs that require intensive counseling. More staffing was needed at Asheville High, too. During her presentation, Patterson frequently fielded commissioner questions about behavioral health issues in city schools.

In addition to teachers, the city schools needed to add social workers, a counselor, a school resource officer, a nurse, and a behavioral assistant. The school must match state mandated pay increases of 4% and 3%, respectively, for certified and non-certified personnel, while keeping up with rising costs for hospitalization and retirement benefits and keeping class sizes below legislated caps. Ongoing capital improvement projects also require funding.

Both Baldwin and Patterson played along with the commissioners’ third strategic priority and spoke of efforts to hire more minorities. Baldwin said the Latino and African-American student populations needed role models, insinuating people of different races cannot learn from one another and thereby reinforcing ancient myths concocted to segregate the brotherhood of man into tribes and silos.

According to the county’s budget document, ACS received a $11,503,729 general-fund allocation last year. While the last budget posted on the ACS web site is for FY 2016-17, last year’s budget, including extensive capital investments, was estimated to be $29.8 million. ACS is projected to begin the year with a $2,858,864 fund balance, compared to BCS’ $10,600,506.

In lieu of a PowerPoint presentation, A-B Tech supplied a necessary-and-sufficient spreadsheet describing the community college’s request for funding increases this year. At $6,500,000, the request was 3.5% greater than last year’s, and it was broken into broad categories with a few explanations. A packet offering greater detail was distributed to the commissioners at the meeting.

While budget information for the last two years for the school is difficult to find online, last year’s county budget allocated $9,057,785 specifically to its capital improvement projects. According to the NC Community College System web site, the school is expected to bring in $10,562,906 from tuition and registration this year. The state would pay $39,565,409 for salaries and curricula plus $40, 437,335 for services like childcare, the small business center, specialized training, and campus security.

At the worksession, President Dr. Dennis King left reporters to their own devices in answering basic questions their readers would certainly ask, and took the post-mathematical approach to budgeting: storytelling. Following a brief introduction, half a dozen people working with the school shared how A-B Tech is advancing the county’s strategic priorities.

Michael Carter, coordinator for the colleges Skills Training Employment Program, told how the STEP program lifts people from poverty. It offers guidance, financial support, compensatory and occupational training, and placement services for persons receiving food stamps, a group Carter calls “the opportunity population.” The program helps participants become proactive in navigating their own way out of poverty, rather than taking the traditional route of labeling and prescribing. He said people thrive when provided opportunity.

Next, King told how, when leaving campus one day, he stopped to see why ambulances had gathered. He learned a student, Stuart Mosely, had been found dead in a campus bathroom, the victim of a heroin overdose. Since then, Mosely’s mother, Anne Seaman, has turned her heartache into a campaign to prevent other mothers from experiencing the same.

She told how AB Tech has since integrated opioid awareness training into the school’s Success and Study Skills course, which is required for all students. The school has also hosted an opioid forum and invested in broadscale advertising. By late summer, the school should be operating a safe space, where opioid users can chat and network without judgment.

Third up was Jennifer Bosworth, chair of the school’s Early Childhood Department. As many of her students come from backgrounds early childhood education strives to eradicate, she is searching for ways to help them work through trauma, dysfunction, poverty, illness, and other issues like young single motherhood, that have traditionally prevented people from pursuing a career path. “Our field and our community need more teachers so that there can be more classrooms so that we can meet the strategic priorities set forth by the county,” she explained.

Following a brief update on the growth and successes of the school’s basic law enforcement training, an adjunct professor spoke excitedly about students’ enthusiasm for innovatively applying sustainability principles, not only inspired by the Sustainability Technologies program, but trickling through everything, including the school’s Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast.

Fire Department Requests

Following the presentations by the schools, the commissioners heard requests for tax increases from the county’s fire departments. Twelve of twenty districts requested increases ranging from 0.80 cents for North Buncombe to 6.50 cents for Fairview, bringing rates from a low of 8.50 cents in Biltmore Forest to a high of 20.0 cents in Barnardsville.

Reasons for the increases included making wages competitive. Chiefs told how embarrassed they were over the low wages they were paying. Swannanoa’s fire department had been referred to as the minor leagues, as its chief trained firefighters to accept jobs in better-paying districts. West Buncombe’s chief said 21 of his 32 employees did not earn a living wage; eight fulltime employees lived outside the county and one outside the state. Skyland’s stressed the importance of having good benefits in a stressful field where 50% of employees are expected to experience at least one disabling injury in the line of duty.

Some stations needed new fire engines, the going rate for one being around $500,000, representing a 500-percent increase over the last 30 years. Grants are available to help, but chiefs said they were very competitive. The recommended useful life for an engine that will be the “first out the door,” is fifteen years, while backup engines can last up to 30 years. One chief said he was the lucky recipient of one of the grants only because all his trucks were over 30 years old, and when he received the grant, he was told he wouldn’t be eligible for another one for some time.

Another reason departments wanted more money was to invest in criteria that would qualify their districts for a better ISO classification, which, in turn, would spell lower insurance rates – for some people on certain policies. This could be achieved by hiring more firefighters and/or building new substations.

Commissioner Mike Fryar wasn’t particularly impressed by Fairview’s request. Building a new substation, he was told, could score better commercial insurance rates. Fryar asked how many commercial establishments were in Fairview, and if the quantity justified increasing rates on all the residents in the district. He was told the better insurance rates could be used to recruit more business to the area. As greater evidence of playing insurance games at the expense of logic, the substation was needed primarily because the second phase of the upscale Southcliff development, but not the first, was going to be a sliver beyond ISO’s five-mile threshold.

AVL’s Habitat for Humanity helps dreams come true

0
A Lowe's volunteer nails together a frame for an interior wall Friday May 11, 2018 at Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity's newest neighborhood in Arden. As part of National Women Build Week, Lowe's and women volunteers across the country have come together to build homes together.

By Dasha Morgan – This month Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity celebrated the completion of five family homes on the Jon Kraus Way in Arden, pictured.

This Arden neighborhood is close to employers and near a transit line, located between Beale and Ducker Roads. On Thursday, May 3 a dedication and key passing to the new owners took place. Five families, the Norris/Hunter Family, the Parrott Family, the Moyski Family, the Chrisman Family and The Hutchinson Family all were given the keys to their newly built homes.

Some of the homes were open for a tour. Over the past few months volunteers provided approximately 1,650 hours of volunteer labor on each Habitat house, which keeps costs down and helps to make Habitat home ownership affordable for those purchasing them. The community all pitched in to help these families own a home of their own, something affordable and reasonably priced in a safe area.

Some of the builders were college students who came here over their spring break. In March, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity had an influx of student volunteer groups, who spent their spring break working on construction sites. The participating Collegiate Challenge Groups this year were the University of Florida, Lesley University (MA), a Florida team, the College of Charleston, and the University of Wisconsin. They worked mainly on the Jon Kraus Way in Arden but some worked on the Shiloh Community Garden.

Construction Services Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Wallace said, “We were so excited to welcome these Collegiate Challenge teams and other student groups from around the country. The amount of spirit and energy the students bring is infectious! We couldn’t be happier that these young adults chose Asheville, NC, and our Habitat affiliate to make memories and connections that will last a lifetime.”

The groups were housed at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, allowing them to enjoy the beauty of the mountains with access to hiking trails nearby. Each group participated in a dinner with families who were in the process of becoming Habitat homeowners, allowing the volunteers an opportunity to get to know the people they are helping through their volunteer labor.

As May 5-13 was this year’s National Women Build Week, Habitat and Lowe’s worked together to build new homes. April 17th construction began officially for Women Build House #13 also on Jon Kraus Way in Arden. Volunteers worked diligently under the watchful eye of Construction Supervisor John Meadows to build frame for the walls and raise them. Several Blueprint Sponsors were present at the job site. Then on Friday, May 11th, in Arden Habitat and Lowe’s hosted a special volunteer work day, where volunteers worked alongside future homeowner Ashley Blankenship on this Women Build House #13. At noon they shared a potluck lunch, and a short speaking program was held with remarks from renowned cookbook author and homesteader Ashley English of Small Measure.

“Lowe’s is in the business of helping people improve and maintain their homes,” said James Frison, Lowe’s Director of Community Relations. “Lowe’s Heros have helped build hundreds of Habitat homes across the country, and National Build Week is another chance for Lowe’s to reinforce our long-standing commitment to Habitat, Women Build and communities where our employees and customers live and work.” Since Lowe’s national partnership with Habitat for Humanity began in 2003, the home improvement company has committed more than $63 million to Habitat and helped nearly 6,500 families improve their living condition.

Habitat is a partnership between homeowners, community volunteers and sponsors. Strong and loyal partnerships with local faith communities, as well as businesses like Avl Technologies, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Eaton, Johnson Price Sprinkle, and Wells Fargo, invest, time, money and friendship to build new energy efficient houses. Often employees of the sponsoring business help with the building of the home. Partnership opportunities range from single-day sponsorship at the $1,000 level to a full-house sponsorship for $55,000.

Much like the “barn raising,” in past American history, the community volunteers and the future homeowner work together to build an energy efficient affordable house. The Habitat homeowners themselves contribute at least 200 hours of “sweat equity” (volunteer work) and then repay a 30-year, affordable mortgage to Habitat. Habitat then uses this mortgage income to build more houses.

Sponsors provide the funding needed to purchase and develop land and buy construction material. In addition, the ReStore in Biltmore represents a sustainable funding source for the Asheville Area Habitat by selling donated home goods and building supplies at affordable priced to the general public. Proceeds cover administration expenses and help fund the organization’s building programs.

Founded in 1983 as the first Habitat affiliate in North Carolina, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH) has so far built 315 new houses and repaired more than 200 homes, providing 1,350 adults and children with safe, decent housing. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. Habitat offers a “hands up,” not a “hand out.” Habitat builds homes and then sells them to qualified families at no-profit. Community volunteers help keep costs down. They also offer an affordable Home Repair program. For more information go to www.ashevillehabitat.org.

Memphis Belle permanently displayed at Dayton’s U.S. Air Force Museum

0
Capt. Robert Morgan, Memphis Belle pilot, thanking his ground crew. Left to right: Cpl. Oliver Champion, SSgt. Max Armstrong, Sgt. Ware Lipscomb, Sgt. Leonard Sowers, Sgt. Charles Blauser, Sgt. Robert Walters, and crew chief MSgt. Joseph Giambrone.
Capt. Robert Morgan, Memphis Belle pilot, thanking his ground crew. Left to right: Cpl. Oliver Champion, SSgt. Max Armstrong, Sgt. Ware Lipscomb, Sgt. Leonard Sowers, Sgt. Charles Blauser, Sgt. Robert Walters, and crew chief MSgt. Joseph Giambrone.

By Dasha Morgan – A three-day celebratory event (May 17-19) is taking place at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH.

Invited dignitaries and some of the family members of the Memphis Belle crew were at a private event in Ohio for a sneak-peak of the restoration exhibit on May 16th and the events to follow. Captain Morgan’s oldest son, Robert, and his youngest daughter, Peggy, were honored to attend the ceremony for their father.

Other family members of the crew were there also. The celebratory event also included three B-17 Flying Fortresses, six P-51 Mustangs and three WWII-era trainer aircraft on static display. Viewers may tune in to this LIVE event on the Memphis Belle exhibit opening page on the museum’s website at: www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Boeing-B-17F-Memphis-Belle-Exhibit-Opening

Memphis Belle crews flew through perilous, flak-filled skies dodging Nazi Germany fighters on missions over mostly France and Germany beginning in November 1942. The plane was based at the 324th Bomb Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy) in Bassingbourn, England.

The crew marked its 25th wartime mission bombing a German Navy submarine pen at Lorient, France on May 17, 1943. The USAAF chose the aircraft for a highly-publicized war bond tour from June-August 1943, and its crew was celebrated as national heroes. The aircraft and crew are the subject of two widely-seen Hollywood movies (one in 1944 and another in 1990).

A large number of people have each played an important part in ensuring the aircraft survived. Col. Morgan named the bomber after his girlfriend Margaret Polk of Memphis, Tenn. He then had a pin-up art piece by a 1941 George Petty Illustration in Esquire magazine put on the side of the plane. However, the romance didn’t survive the war. The Memphis Belle Memorial Association had the plane on display for a number of years and played a large part in the plane’s survival. Unfortunately the Association members realized that the renovation would be too costly to continue, and thus the Air Force stepped in to continue with restoration.

Many hands have been involved in this project—including many volunteers— with new paint, the attachment of propellers and the plane’s nose and tail. For the past 13 years, workers have labored to meticulously restore the Memphis Belle, scraping paint, bending metal and fabricating parts, since the Boeing built bomber arrived in 2005. Many parts, long since out of production, have caused restorers to make new parts by hand, sometimes with only a fragment of an old part or without blueprints.

Parts had to be made, as they were no longer available. Dale Burnside, a retired General Motors engineer and former Air Force tanker pilot in the Vietnam war, worked tirelessly on the iconic plane with a volunteer crew of three. They restored gun turrets and put windows back into the plane. Much has been a labor of love for this iconic plane which helped to defeat the Nazis in World War II.

Courageous moments are captured in the Museum’s World War II Gallery with a variety of engaging and evocative exhibits to tell the proud story of the US Army Air Forces during the war. The new exhibit has interactive displays, rare archival film footage and many personal artifacts. Artifacts are on display from seven of the crewmembers including several war-time uniforms; a flight suit; combat boots; flying goggles; dog-tags; pilot’s wings and other rank insignia. In addition, rare color archival footage—some of which has never been seen by the public before— can be seen.

Guest speakers, book signings, films, and many other activities both inside and outside the Museum are all a part of this celebratory event. The new exhibit tells the complete story of the historic Memphis Belle, its crew, and their missions. In addition, it addresses the many myths associated with the aircraft.

Specifically, Thursday evening, the 17th, will be a Living History Film Series of the Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944).Throughout the day on both Friday and Saturday there will be many activities and displays to see, including a WW II aircraft flyovers throughout Saturday.

The Air Force Band of Flight and the Air Force Band of Mid America will perform on Friday evening by giving a free concert with Glenn Miller music. For those unable to be present, there will be live streaming of the event. Viewers may tune in to this LIVE event on the Memphis Belle exhibit on the museum’s website at: www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Boeing-B-17F-Memphis-Belle-Exhibit-Opening

Schedule is subject to change.