(Little Things Blog) Have you ever been walking through the woods and noticed an oddly shaped tree? If you’re like me, chances are you probably didn’t give it any thought and simply continued on your way.
But once you learn about about Dennis Downes, I guarantee you’ll never look at trees the same way again!
For nearly 30 years, Dennis has been touring America’s countryside, searching for and documenting unique trees. He’s even built a special society around them!
But these trees, totally inconspicuous save for their strange shapes, have a very special place in America’s history — and serve a fascinating purpose! Over 100 years ago, these trees were purposefully bent, and their odd shapes communicate very important messages.
(Asheville Citizen-Times) The city is proposing $1.3 million in fee hikes for a range of services used by residents and visitors alike.
The increased fees and charges would be for things such as drinking water, stormwater system maintenance and fire inspections. Fees make up more 35 percent of all money taken in by Asheville, just behind property taxes, at 36 percent. The total operating budget for this fiscal year, ending June 30, is $180 million.
The most direct impact to residents will be increases in water rates and a fee charged to maintain stormwater systems, which deal with rainwater draining off homes and other buildings.
(Asheville Citizen-Times) A deal passed in a split vote Tuesday night doesn’t seek to recover funding spent on what Chairman Brownie Newman called “frankly, poor decisions,” but it could move officials past a longstanding dispute over how to use money that was promised to fund new construction at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and nothing more.
That’s despite the fact that Buncombe County transferred more than $15 million of the revenue to its own coffers and later used the money to pay employees, including corrupt administrators Greene and Jon Creighton, and to fund operational needs long before commissioners voted to expand the use of the tax.
Newman and commissioners Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Amanda Edwards voted against the proposal Tuesday night. Dissenting commissioners said the county should take more time to deliberate an official vote on the deal, which falls short of a $130 million plan for new construction that was pitched to voters during the 2011 referendum. They also acknowledged the handling of the tax has damaged relations between the county and A-B Tech — and the public.
(Asheville Citizen-Times) I did indeed ask Asheville Police Department spokeswoman Christina Hallingse for crime stats at Asheville Outlets going back five years, and she delivered. Keep in mind that the Outlets opened in May 2015, so the data from 2014-April 30, 2015 is for the previous tenants or unfinished property.
“Thirteen percent (220 calls) involved shoplifting, larceny and business breaking and entering, crimes consistent with major retail areas,” Hallingse said. “Of these calls for service 0.3 percent of incidents (six total incidents) are categorized as violent crimes —rape, homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.”
Hallingse also noted that Asheville Outlets is located within the Police Department’s Adam District, which encompasses West Asheville.
(Jennifer Bowman) More than $400,000 of sales tax revenue that officials said would fund only new construction at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College instead was diverted to pay county employees, including corrupt administrators Wanda Greene and Jon Creighton.
Buncombe government also began using the revenue to pay for A-B Tech operations long before county commissioners decided to expand use of the tax.
Records released to the Citizen Times show none of the nearly $16 million transferred to the county’s own coffers was spent on capital projects. That amounts to about 20 percent of all revenue generated by the tax, a pot of money that community leaders promised would fund a $130 million building plan at A-B Tech when they pitched it to county voters almost eight years ago.