Archive for Local News

Man Arrested for Weekend Murder in Cherokee County

OriginalAccording to Cherokee County Communications shortly after 8:30 P.M. Sunday night they received a call for assistance at a Peachtree Community address.

The caller stated there had been a domestic dispute and a man had been shot.

Officers said upon arrival EMS provided services to the man shot, but the attempts made to provide lifesaving measures were not successful for the victim, Michael C. Davis, 30.

During the investigation a search warrant of the residence was completed and several items were seized as evidence.

Cherokee County arrested Kelvin Wayne Blaylock, 59, for murder. He was taken to the Cherokee County Detention Center and is being held without bond.

SMHS Science Teacher Selected For Presidential Award For Excellence

Amanda ClappAmanda Clapp, science teacher at Smoky Mountain High School, has been selected as a 2015 North Carolina State Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). She is one of only four secondary school science teachers to receive this honor, and is now eligible to receive the national PAEMST award, the nation’s highest honor for kindergarten through twelfth grade math and science teachers.
As a state finalist, she will be recognized by the North Carolina Science Teachers Association at their annual conference in November, by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction at an awards ceremony in December, and by the North Carolina State Board of Education at their December meeting.
Up to two teachers from each state will receive the national award which will include participation in a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, a $10,000 award, and a Presidential certificate.
“We are very proud of Mrs. Clapp,” said SMHS principal, Jake Buchanan. “She is an exceptional teacher and this is a very deserving honor.”

WCU astronomers to host eclipse viewing party Sept. 27 at Jackson County Airport

Western Carolina University will host a lunar eclipse viewing event at the Jackson County Airport on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27.

Astronomy faculty from WCU will set up telescopes for viewing the eclipse. The viewing party will begin about 9 p.m. and end around 11:30 p.m.

Lunar eclipses occur when the moon, Earth and the sun are aligned so that the shadow of the Earth is cast on the moon. The September lunar eclipse is a total eclipse, which means that the moon will be completely covered by the Earth’s shadow.

“Telescopes will be set up to observe the moon during the eclipse, and people will be able to observe it with the naked eye,” said Paul Heckert, WCU professor of astronomy and physics. “People who are interested can also watch the eclipse from their homes, as no special optical aid is needed.”

Partial eclipse should begin about 9:07 p.m., with total eclipse occurring at about 10:11 p.m. and continuing until 11:23 p.m. Partial eclipse will continue until 12:27 a.m.

Heckert is hosting the event with his colleague Enrique Gomez, associate professor of astronomy and physics.

The lunar eclipse viewing event is free and open to the public. If the evening is completely overcast or if it is raining, the event will be canceled.

N.C. Mountain State Fair has second-largest attendance on record

Beautiful weather and family-friendly entertainment drew large crowds to the N.C. Mountain State Fair at the WNC Agricultural Center. The fair hosted 190,327 people during its 10-day run, which came to an end Sept. 20.

“We had the second-largest attendance in fair history, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way this year’s fair has turned out,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The N.C. Mountain State Fair is a great way to start the fall season and celebrate the best that Western North Carolina has to offer.”

The 2015 edition of the N.C. Mountain State Fair featured more than 75 food vendors, nearly 40 carnival rides and 4,000 animals on display. New attractions included Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Sensations, Rowdy Rooster, Galaxy Girl and Southland Dairy Farmers’ Mobile Dairy Classroom. The fair also expanded the Mountain Heritage Circle with 51 crafters and artisans educating the public on their heritage crafts.

The Mooternity Ward saw 19 calves born during the fair. In the livestock shows, both youth and adults competed in beef cattle, dairy cattle, goat, llama, rabbit, sheep and swine contests. More than $50,000 in prize and sponsorship money was awarded to livestock winners.

The fair also held 11 cooking contests, including a new tomato contest and the first-ever Mast General Store and Lodge Dutch Oven Cook-Off. Thirteen-year-old Nate Worley of Leicester was a big winner in the cooking contests. He placed in eight of 11 contests, and took home blue ribbons in four of them.

On Wednesday, the fair set an attendance record with 14,882 people for its annual Ingles Day. Fairgoers who brought five cans of food received free gate admission that day. Nearly 21,000 pounds of food was collected and donated to MANNA Food Bank.

Summer Visitation at Park Continues with Strong Numbers

More than 3.9 million people visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park this summer, just shy of last summer’s numbers.
The park says 3,958,131 people visited during June, July and August this year, down from 3,963,131 in 2014, pushing the park to its highest visitation since 2000.

Visitors increased at the main entrances at Gatlinburg and Townsend, Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolina, but dropped off in the outlying areas of the park during 2015.

The greatest increase was at the Cherokee entrance, where 749,131 visited in 2014 and 804,611 in 2015, a 7.4 percent increase.
Park visitation for the year is up nearly 5 percent.

Teen Vaping Study

Teens are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes not to get their tobacco fix, but instead to inhale pot.

A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that teens have devised ways to turn e-cigarettes into devices for hashish oil, marijuana, wax and other cannabis products. Researchers surveyed 3,847 Connecticut high school students about their drug and e-cigarette use and found that students using e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis was 27 times higher than the adult rate.

According to the study, 5.5 percent of the students surveyed had used an e-cigarette to vaporize cannabis. In total, nearly 30 percent of students said they had tried marijuana or hashish in some form. Of those students who already smoked marijuana, 18 percent had used an e-cigarette to “vape” the drug.

WCU Offers Open House at Biltmore Park

Prospective students will have an opportunity to find out about the wide variety of graduate and professional programs offered by Western Carolina University during an Open House set for Tuesday, Sept. 22, at WCU’s instructional site in Asheville.

The event will be held at WCU’s location in Suite 100 at 28 Schenck Parkway (beside P.F. Chang’s) in Biltmore Park Town Square. The Open House will be a drop-in, and interested individuals can come by anytime between 5 to 7 p.m. to enjoy refreshments and talk to WCU faculty and staff.

WCU’s offerings taught either partly or entirely in Asheville include doctoral programs in educational leadership and nursing practice; master’s programs in accountancy, business administration, counseling, English, health sciences, nursing, public affairs, social work and technology; bachelor’s programs in mechanical engineering and nursing; and several certificate programs such as professional and technical writing, and family nurse practitioner.

For more information, call 828-654-6498 or email biltmoreparkinfo@wcu.edu.

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept. 10

Thursday, Sept. 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day, co-sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health organization (WHO) The IASP and WHO are encouraging people to light a candle near a window at 8 p.m. to show support for suicide prevention; to remember a lost loved one through suicide; and for the survivors of suicide.

This year’s theme is “Suicide Prevention: One World Connected.” Every year, over 800,000 people die from suicide; this roughly corresponds to one death every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined.

Suicide is the fifth leading causes of death among those aged 30-49 years in 2012 globally. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15-29 years age group in 2012 globally. Overall, it is estimated that during 2012 for each adult who died of suicide there were over 20 others who made suicide attempts.

The psychological pain that leads each of these individuals to take their lives is unimaginable. In 2012, suicide accounted for 1.4 percent of all deaths worldwide, making it the 15th leading cause of death. Mental disorders —particularly depression and alcohol use disorders — are a major risk factor for suicide in Europe and North America; however, in Asian countries impulsiveness plays an important role.

Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved. Connectedness is crucial to individuals who may be vulnerable to suicide. Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of suicide and, conversely, that having strong human bonds can be protective against it.

Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a life-saving act.

Jackson County Receives NCAAC Recognition

Commisioner NC

Jackson County Commissioner Brian McMahan was recognized by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for meeting the requirements for the Master level in the Local Elected Leaders Academy. A Master has completed a minimum of 66 credits (18 orientation credits + 30 focused in-depth credits + 18 elective credits).

The Local Elected Leaders Academy, a partnership with the UNC School of Government, the N.C. Association of County Commissioners and the N.C. League of Municipalities, offers local elected officials the knowledge and skills needed to lead and govern their communities.

County commissioners are recognized for their participation in both educational programs and service to the Association. The starting place for earning credits is the orientation program, the Essentials of County Government. As commissioners increase education and service, they earn credits toward recognition at three levels: Practitioner, Master and Mentor. The NCACC tracks credits and recognizes participation every year at the Annual Conference.

“LELA recognizes county commissioners who have dedicated themselves to becoming effective local leaders for their communities,” said NCACC Executive Director Kevin Leonard. “The roles and responsibilities of county commissioners are constantly changing, and the LELA program helps them keep up with the latest information.”

Troopers and Wildlife Officers Increasing Patrols on the Highways and Recreational Boating Areas during the Labor Day Holiday Period

flathead-lake-boating-funThe Highway Patrol along with the Wildlife Resources Commission will be increasing patrols this Labor Day holiday in an effort to save lives.

Whether on the Road or On the Water, law enforcement officers across the state will be on the lookout for impaired drivers by conducting DWI checkpoints on highways and near recreational boating areas as well as public service announcements that educate motorists on the dangers of drinking and driving. According to AAA, 35.5 million people are expected travel during the Labor Day period. It is anticipated that 86 percent of travelers will get to their destinations by a car.

Operation “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink & Drive” is a multi-agency initiative that is designed to combine law enforcement resources to ensure that all motorists can safely travel on highway and waterways during the summer months. The Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to be careful as the summer months come to an end.
Last year in North Carolina, troopers investigated 13 fatal collisions and 388 injury collisions over the Labor Day weekend. This included 4 fatal collisions and 31 injury collisions that were attributed to alcohol and/or drug impairment.
“On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink & Drive” initially kicked off during the Memorial Day holiday weekend and was extremely successful. The initiative is focused on three key summer travel holiday weekends; Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

“With summer coming to an end, we realize that more people will be traveling on the highways and waterways. Unfortunately, some operators will choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence,” said Lt. Jeff Gordon, spokesman for the State Highway Patrol. “Whether you’re operating a vehicle or boat, impaired driving can have the same deadly consequences.”

The operation will begin on Thursday 3rd and conclude at midnight on Monday, September 7th.

Buncome County Assault Investigation; Victim Had Fingers Cut Off

Buncombe County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating an assault that occurred this morning in the Arden area.

The call for assistance to 31 Field Crest Road came in at 6:57 am; deputies arrived at the residence at 7:12 am.

The assault occurred between acquaintances; one person was injured and transported to Mission Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The suspect in this incident is not in custody.

Investigators believe this is an isolated incident, and that there is not an ongoing danger to public safety; the persons involved in this incident were acquainted with each other.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing.

TVA seeking comment on coal ash study

The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public input on a study for closing coal ash storage sites.

The agency wants input on the scope of its Environmental Impact Statement to address the disposal of ash and other coal combustion residuals at its coal plants.

CCRs are byproducts from the burning of coal or its emissions, such as fly ash.

The purpose of the EIS is to help TVA comply with the CCR Rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April.
It will consider the impacts of two primary closure methods, as well as examine the impact of closing 11 of TVA’s impoundments within three years.
Comments may be submitted online at http://www.tva.gov/environment/reports/ccr/ , or emailed to CCR@tva.gov.

TVA supplies power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Rising Temperatures and Acid in Streams Could Limit Trout Habitat in NC National Forests

A newly published research study that combines effects of warming temperatures from climate change with stream acidity projects average losses of around 10 percent of stream habitat for coldwater aquatic species for seven national forests in the southern Appalachians – and up to a 20 percent loss of habitat in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in western North Carolina.

Published in the online journal PLOS ONE, the results represent the first regional assessment in the U.S. of aquatic habitat suitability tied to the combined effects of stream temperature and acidity. Authors of the article include researchers from E&S Environmental Chemistry, Inc., the U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon State University.

Previous research has shown that stream-dwelling species in the southern Appalachian region are particularly vulnerable to climate change and that many coldwater species are already shifting their ranges in response to warming temperatures. Headwater streams, which provide the coldest available habitat in many areas, are often assumed to be the ultimate refuges for coldwater species, but many of these species are also acid-sensitive – and many headwaters of the southern Appalachian region are already too acid to support them.

The researchers focused on streams draining seven national forests in the southern Appalachian region, first mapping out how much of the area’s current habitat is suitable for acid- and heat-sensitive aquatic species such as the native brook trout.

“We then used models to forecast future habitat loss in the national forests from expected temperature increases in the region,” says Andrew Dolloff, research fishery biologist for the Forest Service Southern Research Station and a co-author of the study. “Our goal was to help watershed managers identify and assess specific stream reaches that are potentially vulnerable to stress from warming, acidification, or both.”

Of the seven national forests studied, the Pisgah and Nantahala in North Carolina contained the most coldwater habitat – and are predicted to have the greatest losses in suitable habitat for acid-sensitive coldwater species. In these forests the combined effect of acidification in headwater streams and stream warming will restrict acid-sensitive coldwater species such as brook trout to a narrowing band of mid-level stream reaches, increasing the likelihood that these species will disappear locally and possibly regionally.

Though they seem discouraging, results from the study will help Forest Service managers classify watersheds in response to human-produced stressors and develop regional climate adaptation plans. Forest managers and aquatic biologists can use the study’s data on specific streams for restoration planning and to assess the need for intervention (liming, riparian afforestation, native fish reintroduction) in stream reaches that are potentially vulnerable to warming, acidification, or both.

Wife Charged with Murdering Husband in Cherokee County

A Florida woman is facing a murder charge in the shooting death of her husband at their vacation home west of Murphy.

In addition to the murder charge, Cherokee County Sheriff Office investigators also charged Maria Brickman, 53, of Fort Myers, Florida, with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury.

Robert Jon Brickman, 70, suffered a gunshot wound Wednesday night following an argument with his wife. The victim died the next day.

Deputies were called to the couple’s home on Laurelwood Circle around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday regarding a domestic situation.

After deputies found Robert Brickman with an apparent gunshot wound, he was airlifted to a Tennessee where he died Thursday morning.

The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation.

Maria Brickman is being held without bond at the Cherokee County Detention Center. She is scheduled for a court appearance on the charges Wednesday morning in Cherokee County District Court.

Apply for WNC AgOptions grant by Nov. 13

WNC Agricultural Options is now accepting grant applications from farmers diversifying or expanding their businesses. With funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, WNC AgOptions is distributing a total of $178,000 to Western North Carolina farmers in 2016. The application deadline is Nov. 13.

WNC AgOptions helps offset farmers’ risk of trying new ventures with $3,000 and $6,000 grants.

“The WNC AgOptions program is an excellent example of grant funds providing direct support to those who need it most,” said Ross Young, Madison County Extension director and WNC AgOptions steering committee leader. “Our farmers are arguably the most important people in our society. I sincerely appreciate the Commission’s interest in supporting western North Carolina agriculture.”

The commission has supported the mountain region throughout major changes in agriculture, ensuring farmers continue farming.

“Farmers in Western North Carolina have proven time and time again that they are very innovative, resourceful and creative in how they produce and market their products,” said Bill Teague, chairman of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “Our board is committed to the success of farmers in the targeted counties and we know these grants will encourage many successful projects.”

Applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension agents by Oct. 16 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org or at local Cooperative Extension Centers. Extension agents remain a resource for farmers throughout the year as they complete their projects.

Since 2004, WNC AgOptions has awarded nearly $2 million to farmers. Grants often pay for a simple improvement that make a big difference, such as the purchase of an air-forced refrigerator at Perry’s Berry’s in Burke County. The cold storage reduced Owners Debbie and Terry Perry’s blueberry losses from 20 percent in 2014 to less than 5 percent in 2015.

Cooling their berries immediately after harvest enhances the quality of their product, which they sell to a variety of customers, including Food Matters in Transylvania County, Fonta Flora Brewery in Burke County and Blind Squirrel Brewery in Avery County.

WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Applicants are encouraged to attend information sessions, which will be held throughout the region in the next two months. Check the WNC AgOptions website for exact dates and locations or call Project Coordinator Jennifer Ferre at 252-4783

Smokies telethon tops $200,000

Friends of the Smokies raised $202,351 recently through its 21st annual “Friends Across the Mountains” telethon thanks to hundreds of callers, online donations and help from sponsors Dollywood, Mast General Store, Pilot Flying J and Tennessee State Bank.

Since 1995, Friends of the Smokies’ telethons have raised more than $3.2 million in support of America’s most-visited national park. The “Friends Across the Mountains” telethon aired Thursday night on WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee, and WLOS in Asheville.

“It was heartwarming to see the support pledged by so many individuals during Friends of the Smokies’ telethon. Their gifts will have a lasting impact on the Smokies and we are truly thankful,” said Cassius Cash, superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

During the broadcast, Sugarland Cellars presented a $20,000 check to the organization. Since 2012, the Gatlinburg winery has offered four limited edition varietals with custom labels created by renowned artist Robert A. Tino. Each bottle sold generates a $5 donation to Friends of the Smokies.

Tennessee State Bank also presented Friends of the Smokies with a $15,860 check for proceeds from the bank’s Smoky Mountain Charity cards. Tennessee State Bank customers can carry the debit and credit cards featuring artwork of the Great Smoky Mountains by Robert A. Tino for a $10 annual fee, 100 percent of which supports Friends of the Smokies.

Telethon donations can still be made online at www.friendsofthesmokies.org/donate to help fund more than $800,000 of Park needs this year to protect black bears, educate school children, and preserve historic log cabins and churches from Cades Cove to Cataloochee Valley

Great Smokies Health Foundation Awards “2015 Thrift Shop Grants”

Great Smokies Health Foundation awarded 23 Grants totaling $73,510.00 to non-profit and governmental agencies in Jackson & Swain Counties from the “2015 Thrift Shop Grant Program”. on Thursday, August 27, 2015 at the Great Smokies Health Foundation Thrift Shop, 965 Skyland Drive in Sylva and on Friday, August 28, 2015 at the Great Smokies Health Foundation Thrift Shop, 112 Plateau Street in Bryson City.

The following agencies received grant funding: Community Services of Swain Inc., Cullowhee Community Safety & Parks Association, Inc., Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, HIGHTS/Whee Market, Jackson County Department of Public Health, Habitat For Humanity for Jackson Neighbors in Need in Jackson County, Life Challenge of Western North Carolina, Inc. , MedicForce, Mountain Projects/Circles of Hope in Jackson County, Reach of Macon County, Reach Out and Read Carolinas, Smoky Mountain Pregnancy Care Center, Swain County Caring Corner, Swain County Health Department, Swain Family Intervention Services, Inc., Sweet Thoughts Alzheimer’s Support, The Community Table, United Christian Ministries of Jackson County, Vecinos Inc. Farmworker Health Program & Webster Enterprises.

The mission of the “Great Smokies Health Foundation Thrift Shops is “to raise money to support the health needs of our community by selling, at an affordable price, items donated by and sold to our customers”. “The 2015 Thrift Shop Grant Program is a way to make an impact in the health and wellness of the communities we serve, said Michele Garashi-Ellick, Executive Director, Great Smokies Health Foundation.”
To receive additional information contact Michele Garashi-Ellick, Executive Director of the Foundation at (828) 507-2270 or E-mail: greatsmokieshealth@gmail.com.

Church Shooting In Haywood County

Maple Grove Baptist Church

Maple Grove Baptist Church, Waynesville


UPDATE: 01:12pm (08/20/15)

The State Bureau of Investigation was requested to investigate the officer involved shooting that occurred at a Haywood County church yesterday.

The incident took place at the Maple Grove Baptist Church located at 2501 Stamey Cove Road, in Waynesville.  Officers from Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a 911 call claiming four people were shot. After a brief standoff, Wade Allen Baker, 44, of Clyde, was pronounced dead at the scene. Four law enforcement officers were involved in the shooting.  They have been identified as officer Brennan MeHaffey, of Maggie Valley PD, deputy Jamie McEntire, of the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and officers Heath Presley and Tyler Howell, of Waynesville PD. There were no other individuals or shooting victims located at the church, as the caller had claimed. As with all officer involved shooting investigations, the investigative report will be delivered to the District Attorney’s office once complete.

(07:38pm 08/19/15)

At approximately 3:15pm on Wednesday, Haywood County Sherriff Dispatchers received a 911 call concerning shots being fired from the vicinity of Maple Grove Baptist Church on Stamey Cove Road. Officers responded and found a lone gunman inside church. Gunfire was exchanged between the suspected gunman and law enforcement. No law enforcement or personnel were injured. EMS were called in to render aid. It is believed that the gunman is deceased, but that is not confirmed at this point. The SBI has been called in to investigate. No one else was injured in this incident.

Famers should have corn tested

Dry weather means that farmers are harvesting their corn a little earlier this year. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler is encouraging farmers to have their corn tested for aflatoxin to prevent contamination of feeds and food.

Aflatoxin is a byproduct of the mold Aspergillus flavus, and can be harmful to both humans and livestock.
“Corn that has been harvested from areas that suffer from drought will be highly susceptible to aflatoxin,” said Troxler. “Farmers in drought–stricken areas are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this testing. We have six drop-off locations at research stations across the state to make it easy for farmers to submit samples.”

Some farmers may need to have corn samples tested for crop insurance or quality assurance purposes. These samples must be submitted to a grain marketing location certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The tests cost $22.20 per sample.
For insurance or quality assurance purposes, farmers must submit a 5-pound sample of shelled corn by mail, UPS or FedEx to a USDA-certified grain marketing location. The following locations can conduct USDA-certified testing, and they will accept samples between 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays:
Cargill Soybean Plant
Attn: Jason Jernigan
1400 S. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC 27603
Grain Grading Office
Attn: Judy Grimes
407-G South Griffin St.
Elizabeth City, NC 27909
Farmers who grow or buy bulk corn to feed to their own animals can have it tested for free by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Constable Laboratory, 4000 Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh. This Laboratory is not on the Risk Management Agency’s approved testing facility list; therefore, results from this location will not be accepted for insurance claims.

Farmers may drop off 5-pound samples of shelled corn at the Constable Laboratory or at one of six agricultural research stations. Forms for submitting samples will be available at the laboratory and the following collection sites:
• Border Belt Tobacco Research Station, 86 Border Belt Drive, Whiteville, 910-648-4703;
• Peanut Belt Tobacco Research Station, 112 Research Station Lane, Lewiston-Woodville, 252-348-2213;
• Tidewater Research Station, 207 Research Station Road, Plymouth, 252-793-4118;
• Lower Coastal Plain Tobacco/Cunningham Research Station, 200 Cunningham Road, Kinston, 252-527-3579;
• Piedmont Research Station, 8350 Sherrills Ford Road, Salisbury, 704-278-2624;
• Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, 74 Research Drive, Fletcher, 828-684-3562.
Samples mailed via the US Postal Service should be sent to:
N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Food and Drug Protection Division
Attn: Forage Testing
1070 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1070
Samples mailed via FedEx or UPS should be sent to:
Forage Testing, NCDA&CS
4000 Reedy Creek Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27607
For more information about the aflatoxin testing program, call George Ferguson, feed compliance officer, 919-733-7366.

Mountain State Fair offers new attractions, rides and more

Each year, thousands of visitors flock to the WNC Agricultural Center for the N.C. Mountain State Fair to celebrate the people, agriculture and traditions of Western North Carolina. This year, organizers are adding new rides, attractions and exhibits to the lineup of annual favorites.
“This year, we’ve brought in several new attractions,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We’ve also expanded the footprint of Heritage Circle to highlight even more traditional crafters that continue to add to the region’s rich culture.”

Heritage Circle adds exhibitors

Heritage Circle will feature craftspeople offering daily demonstrations, ranging from molasses making and blacksmithing to pottery and basket weaving. New exhibitors will demonstrate traditional canoe-building techniques and teach fairgoers how to dye fabrics using natural materials. Visitors will have a chance to ask artisans about their crafts and the traditions intertwined with the mountains of North Carolina. In addition, visitors can purchase unique handmade gifts from exhibitors.

New attractions on midway

The midway is one of the more popular draws for many visitors. James H. Drew Exposition will return with a full midway featuring more than 40 rides and carnival games for the whole family. Crowd favorites, such as the chair lift and Seattle wheel, will return along with three new family-friendly attractions:

The Balloon Ferris Wheel, a pint-sized Ferris wheel, has eight enclosed cars that rotate around a smiling sun.
The Lollipop Swing, another miniature version of a popular fair attraction, will send children soaring through the air in seats attached to colorful lollipop arms.
The Black Forest Fun House offers children a unique place to explore and have fun.
Ice Cream Eating Contest

One of the new competitions is the Ice Cream Eating Contest, sponsored by PET and Ingles. The contest will be held in the Davis Event Center at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Anyone 5 and older attending the fair the day of the contest is eligible to participate, but space is limited. Registration will take place the day of the event, and all contestants must be registered by 6 p.m. The competition has five categories: ages 5-7; 8-12; 13-17; 18 and older; and celebrity. Trophies will be awarded to winners, and ribbons will be given to second- and third-place finishers in each category.

New performances aim to educate and dazzle

The fair will have four new performing attractions in 2015:

The Mobile Dairy Classroom teaches children about the dairy industry with the help of a live dairy cow. Instructors demonstrate how to milk a cow, describe how milk gets from the farm to the consumer, and answer questions from the audience.
Horses Horses Horses! is a performance featuring 12 miniature stallions, a Friesian horse and a black Arabian horse. The horses will waltz, dance and perform other tricks to the delight of the crowd.
Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Sensations joins the entertainment lineup with lots of high-flying aerial acts. The act includes juggling, trampoline routines, skating tricks and cloud-swinging.
Rowdy Rooster and his sidekick, Diesel the Weasel, perform an interactive puppet show that’s well-suited for families with small children.
Save money with advance tickets

The 2015 N.C. Mountain State Fair runs Sept. 11-20 at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher. Advance tickets are now available at area Ingles stores, the WNC Agricultural Center and the WNC Farmers Market. Fairgoers can save $2 on admission tickets and 50 percent on ride tickets by purchasing in advance. More information about the fair is available at www.mountainfair.org.