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Archive for July, 2011

Rarely Are Things Executed Perfectly

Hindsight is 20-20. Sherlock Holmes solved mysteries because Arthur Conan Doyle controlled the evidence. Sometimes one wishes one could just be thankful for the successful evacuation of 200 civilians and not nitpick. Nitpicking can find things that weren’t done, but it doesn’t do justice to lots of quick-thinking under pressure. I know, it is intended to improve performance through learning from mistakes. Anyway, an investigation is underway to see if the life of the honorable fireman Captain Jeff Bowen might have been spared. There is a lot of fodder for thought. It makes me grateful for Sonny of the Hendersonville Fire Department who knew exactly what to do when the Van Wingerden greenhouses caught on fire. It was a terrible blaze. A greenie was working her first solo shift at the water plant. Sonny called and asked her to take unprecedented action. Attempts to contact supervisors failed. Said greenie followed Sonny’s instructions, and damage was kept to a minimum. It is rare that events are executed so perfectly that nobody feels a need to investigate, and those involved are commended for their actions.

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Bele Chere Weekend

Everything this weekend in Asheville is Bele Chere. This year, businesses were allowed to set up tents in front of their stores rather than having to leave town. Cuts have been made in the size of the festival after Parks and Recreation returned to council two consecutive years asking for budget amendments to cover festival overruns. I served again in the role of “Miss Information,” giving out bad directions to passersby. Tons of folks said they happened to run into the festival and didn’t know anything about it. So much for PR. There was a good turnout, predictable in terms of the philosophy that in harsh economic times people are inclined to purchase small items for immediate gratification rather than saving for long-term investments. Some very good artists were not selling a whole lot. Very few people were seen carrying big-ticket items.

The best thing about the festival is everybody is friends, and one can share hugs with the most dastardly of political opponents.

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The Ashe Mountain Times used its freedom of the press to suppress the message of somebody exercising his freedom of speech. Reportedly, somebody in the teeny town of Lansing painted an obscene message on his truck. The only difference between this and normal graffiti is that it was directed toward town officials. These days, the mystery is only a matter of which obscene remark this particular citizen chose to make. There are so many choices.

Evidently, the town had no sign ordinance, and the nuisance ordinances don’t address paint on trucks. The squabbles ensuing over the incident are sure to fuel whatever fire initially set the paint in motion. Reportedly, a number of citizens called the town with requests to donate paint so government could fix the privately-owned truck. It is unclear whether or not the truck was on private property, as it was parked “between a downtown hardware store and the Lansing Fire Department.”

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Regifting from the Vacuum

Has anybody else noticed a lot of empty spaces in stores these days? Not to worry; the economy is turning around (perhaps in rapid 360’s). Swain County has practically completed the design phase for its Business Education and Training Center. Construction is being made possible with a grant from Duke Energy. Duke, on the third hand, would like to increase electricity rates by about 15% on average.

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I Feel So Inadequate

I flaunt my ignorance for believing everything I read in newspapers. The NCLB acronym stands for “Adequate Yearly Progress.” Perhaps the widespread erroneous references to “Annual Yearly Progress” are instigated by districts that didn’t realize that failing to be adequate still makes them winners.

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No Double-Dipping – I Knew That

The NC Department of Revenue’s Property Tax Commission ruled that Graham County cannot collect back-taxes from the TVA. Graham County argued the TVA owed them $79,000. TVA’s attorney argued the TVA gives the county $800,000 a year in lieu of taxes. Furthermore, the commission ruled the property pertinent to the Fontana Dam is owned by the federal government and therefore exempt from state and local property taxes. The county is welcome to take the case to the NC Court of Appeals, but Commissioner Raymond Williams is of the opinion it would be foolish to spend more taxpayer dollars on lawyers. Remaining to be settled is the fraction of the $800,000 due henceforth to the state’s newest town, Fontana Dam.

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Not News

The DOT is extending its study of proposed road improvements to accommodate environmentalist concerns. This time, the scenario continues to apply to Needmore Road in Swain and Macon counties.

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We Interrupt Our Regularly-Scheduled Programming

Asheville made national news. Captain Jeff Bowen of the Asheville Fire Department died in the line of duty. A four-alarm fire broke out in an office building in the exhausting heat this afternoon. 200 people were evacuated. Bowen was the only casualty. In contrast to all the eye-rolling that goes on on this blog for absurdities and power grabs in over-extended government, I salute Captain Bowen for making the ultimate sacrifice in a justifiable and honorable role of government. May the family accept the very rare praise from this harsh critic as condolences.

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Slow

Today is a slow day for local news. How slow is it? Why, it is almost as slow as the payback time for the solar panels Henderson County will install to heat water for the detention center. Well, according to the article, the net gains are already returning, as the investment was made with free porkulus. $71,000 of it will be spent on the design, purchase, and installation of solar panels. The county will save $3000 annually until the fifteen-year maintenance contract expires. You may argue the county may never break even, but who cares? The dollar is supposed to be destroyed long before anybody’s going to notice.

While on the subject of payback time, the daily stories about what local celebrities think about what may, might, must, can, could potentially happen with proposed redistricting continue.

On another matter of time, it is a good thing people have birthdays. That way, there is a reason for making good material from good thinkers newsworthy. It is further a good thing that Milton Friedman was not born February 29. If you will be in Raleigh this Friday, you may enjoy an event hosted at the JLF headquarters.

Lastly, there is a heart-warming story in the Hendersonville Times-News about a citizen who acted fast, expended some effort, and took advantage of small-town amenities, like knowing the assistant fire chief, to save a person in dire need.

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Moonshiners’ Gadsden

Perhaps the NC League of Municipalities supports involuntary annexation because towns and cities want something besides restaurants seeking liquor licenses growing the tax base. Here’s a story about a typical request for voluntary annexation.

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