City Council OKs Annexation of Property for Park

During its Dec. 14 meeting, Asheville City Council approved the annexation and initial zoning district designation of RS-2 (Residential Single Family Low Density District) of a 10.88-acre property planned for a city park in south Asheville.

Guided by Council’s goal of a well-planned and livable community, this voluntary annexation is consistent with the Living Asheville Plan’s vision to support non-residential development compatible with surrounding neighborhoods that enhances opportunities for future residential infill, and promotes access to well-maintained parks and open spaces for all who live in the city. The annexation passed unanimously.

Located near multiple residential communities that are located within city limits, the continuous tract of wooded land is bound by the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sweeten Creek Road, Sgro Athletic Complex and a railroad right-of-way.

The city purchased the undeveloped property from Carolina Day School for $1.5 million in September, using bond money from a 2016 referendum approved by voters (of which $2 million was allocated for park land acquisition). The purchase price is $200,000 below its Buncombe County tax assessed value of $1.74 million.

“South Asheville is one of the fastest-growing areas of our city, but community members who live there have access to fewer parks than those in the rest of the city,” said Peggy Rowe, interim director of Asheville Parks & Recreation. “This exciting opportunity was made possible by parks and recreation team members working to identify undeveloped land close to single-family and high-density residential areas to provide more equitable and accessible parks, recreation and active living opportunities. … With the transformational power to connect communities, this park will foster resiliency and build civic pride.”

Future enhancements on the property may include parking and passive recreation amenities such as walking trails and areas for picnicking, bird watching and nature bathing. These decisions and park naming will be determined through a public engagement process expected to take place in 2022.

Moderate hiking paths already exist that connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

In addition to development of the park, Asheville Parks & Recreation and Carolina Day School previously announced they are advancing a partnership to allow the use of Sgro Athletic Complex for community recreation when school athletics are not in session.

Fields within the complex adjacent to the planned park will support the City’s need for additional space for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, and other outdoor field sports. Carolina Day School plans to improve the fields through conversion of grass surface to turf to increase durability and new lighting to extend use during evening hours.

AdventHealth Hendersonville Named Leapfrog Top Hospital

Highlighting its nationally recognized achievements in patient safety and quality, AdventHealth Hendersonville has been named a Top Hospital by The Leapfrog Group for the first time in its history.

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit, empowering patients to find the highest-value care to give consumers the lifesaving information they need to make informed decisions.

The Leapfrog Top Hospital Award is acknowledged as one of the most competitive awards American hospitals can receive. The Top Hospital designation is bestowed by The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers recognized as the toughest standard-setters for health care safety and quality.

AdventHealth Hendersonville is the only hospital in Western North Carolina to earn the distinction for 2021.

“Earning Leapfrog’s Top Hospital designation for 2021 is truly a testament to the intentionality of our quality and safety work. This honor is not achieved by accident. It is the result of a proactive commitment to design and deliver health care that is reflective of the safest recognized practices,” said Gretchen Nicholson, MBA, MT, CPHRM, CPHQ, director, AdventHealth Hendersonville Office of Collaborative Improvement.

“To earn this national award is an incredible accomplishment at any time, but I couldn’t be prouder of the AdventHealth Hendersonville team for achieving The Leapfrog Group Top Hospital Award in the midst of the global pandemic. We are truly honored to be part of this elite recognition for our commitment to provide high quality care safely and compassionately,” said Brandon Nudd, AdventHealth Hendersonville president and chief executive officer.

More than 2,200 hospitals were considered for the award. Among those, AdventHealth Hendersonville received a Top General Hospital distinction.

The Leapfrog Group selected a total of 149 top hospitals nationwide as Top Hospitals.

“We are pleased to recognize AdventHealth Hendersonville as a Top Hospital this year,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “Even with the continued strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, AdventHealth Hendersonville has demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to excellent health care in the Western North Carolina community. We congratulate the board, leadership, staff and clinicians who put their patients first.”

NC Farms App Promotes WNC Agriculture

A collaborative initiative launched by Buncombe County Farmland Preservation has made it possible for several smaller WNC counties to showcase agriculture in their communities.

Soon after Buncombe County joined the Visit NC Farms App in the summer, Farmland Preservation Coordinator Ariel Zijp began to look for a way for smaller, surrounding counties to benefit from the mobile app’s impact.

“The City of Asheville’s local foodshed extends well beyond county lines into the entire WNC region,” Zijp said.

To showcase how interconnected and important the agriculture community is, Zijp reached out to surrounding counties to collaborate on a regional approach to enable them to join the Visit NC Farms app.

“Our neighboring counties were familiar with the app, but initially faced challenges in joining and highlighting agriculture in their communities. We were able to use our resources and success with the App to build partnerships and enable five new counties join the app,” Zijp said.

Haywood, Madison, Mitchell, Jackson and Swain counties will all be able to feature their agribusinesses via the Visit NC Farms app.

“Ariel’s initiative to work with several of our surrounding counties on a regional approach to the Visit NC Farms program is exactly the type of cross-county collaboration that benefits the people and farms of Western North Carolina,” said Buncombe County Commissioner Terri Wells.

The NC Farms app was developed by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS).

For more information, download the NC Farms app.

Project Linus to Sort Blankets for Children

The Western North Carolina Chapter of Project Linus will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 5, to process blanket donations.

Chapter members create and donate handmade blankets to children in crisis that provide a sense of security and warmth.

Blankets are given out in 12 counties in Western North Carolina. The local chapter has donated more than 82,700 blankets over the past 13 years.

Blankets can be quilted, crocheted, knitted or no-sew fleece.

There are local drop-off spots for donations.

For more information, or to contribute to Project Linus, contact Ellen Knoefel at 828-645-8800 or; or Pat Crawford, 828-883-8746.

Embroiderers Set for Project Linus Work Day

The Laurel Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America (EGA) will meet in person on Thursday, Jan. 6.

The program will mark the annual outreach to Project Linus, a non-profit that creates and donates handmade blankets to children in crisis.

EGA members will be creating no-sew fleece blankets with instruction provided by Roberta Smith.

In addition, there will be a short presentation by Ellen Knoefel, the coordinator of the local chapter of Project Linus.

The Laurel Chapter meets at Cummings United Methodist Church, 3 Banner Farm Road, Etowah/Horse Shoe. Registration is from 9:30 to 10 a.m., followed by a short business meeting. The program runs to noon. Visitors are welcome.

For information, call Mary Ann Wyatt, 828-551-7719, or Janet Stewart, 828-575-9195.

NC’s Hoppin’ John Makes Top 20 Christmas Food List

North Carolina’s Hoppin’ John ranked 18th among iconic Christmas foods, according to a survey conducted by

The survey polled 3,485 Americans, who rated the nation’s favorite holiday dishes and desserts. New Hampshire’s pumpkin pie took first place, with Alabama’s crescent recipes coming in second, featuring buttery crescent rolls, crescent fruit cobbler.

In third place was Utah’s green bean casserole.

But it was North Carolina’s Hoppin’ John that served up a side of history with its placement on the food list.

Hoppin’ John is a dish that dates to the Civil War, featuring peas and rice. “It’s a classic winter warmer and the perfect addition to any Christmas meal,” the survey noted.

The black-eyed pea is said to bring about prosperity and luck, which is why it’s a Southern staple over the holidays and, in particular, New Year.

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