Chimney Rock named top attraction in N.C.

Published 8:34 pm Friday, November 20, 2009

Chimney Rock Park has been named the Attraction of the Year by the North Carolina Travel Industry Association.

The association cited the attraction for visitors to the park and its work to partner with the community to market the attraction and enhance it as a destination.

The association also cited the parks recent transition from private ownership to state ownership, and said the change will preserve one of the states most precious treasures.

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The North Carolina Travel Industry Association, established in 1955 to promote the tourism industry in North Carolina, presented the award at its recent tourism leadership conference in Greensboro.


Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat from Buncombe County, was elected to be N.C. Senate majority leader, making him one of the few Western North Carolina politicians to ever take a top leadership position in Raleigh.

He was elected unanimously by Senate Democrats to replace Sen. Tony Rand for the position, which is effectively the No. 2 post in the Senate. Rand will decide which legislation reaches the floor and oversee its handling. Nesbitt, a vocal supporter for mental health patients and Medicaid recipients, will also help lead efforts to hold on to the Democratic majority in the Senate.


North Cove Springs, a regional producer of bottled water from natural springs, plans to expand its production facility in McDowell County. The company will invest more than $6.3 million and create 138 jobs in Marion. The One North Carolina Fund contributed a $310,000 grant for the expansion.

North Cove Springs, owned partly by Able Rebuilders LLC, a national tools remanufacturer headquartered in Florida, taps water from natural springs. North Cove bottles, markets and distributes the spring water and naturally flavored water beverages to regional and national markets.

North Cove is entering a joint venture with Able Rebuilders to expand water production by adding another bottle line&bsp; at the existing Marion facility.


Timken has announced that it plans to create 100 jobs with a $3 million investment in its Spartanburg County distribution operation in Duncan. The move is part of the companys plan to consolidate its supply chain in North American. The company previously announced that it planned to consolidate distribution operations in Upstate South Carolina, citing higher shipping costs to maintain its Ohio distribution center.

Timken says nearly 90 percent of the manufactured products that go to its distribution centers come from the Southeastern U.S.

Timken is planning a larger 300,000-square-foot-facility in the Spartan Green Business Park in Duncan.


The Dorn VA Medical Center is opening a new outpatient clinic for veterans in Spartanburg.

The S.C. Department of Veterans Affairs said the new clinic in Spartanburg is larger, allowing expanded services.

The Boiling Springs Road clinic, scheduled to open on Monday, will focus on primary and mental health care. The old clinic, which will be replaced, has served more than 2,800 patients this year.


A federal judge ordered South Carolina to stop producing I Believe license plates, ruling the case is a textbook example of a constitutional prohibition of government endorsing a specific religion.

U.S. District Court Judge Cameron Currie found the plates violate the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution and its 14th Amendment. She singled out Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who advanced the legislation creating the plates.


Spartanburg City Council is moving ahead with its plans to annex more than 800 properties on the west side of the city.

At least one homeowners association has indicated plans to sue the city over the annexation, which will include 841 properties.

Spartanburg has estimated that it will receive about $500,000 annually in additional tax and fees as a result of the annexation. The city plans to begin extending services, including trash collection and police and fire protection, to the area beginning next month.

Some citizens in the area have said they do not want to be part of the city, and they should not be forced to become part of it.


S.C. Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) has proposed raising the speed limit from 70 to 80 miles per hour on highways in the state. He said the current limit is not enforced, and the state needs an actual speed limit. He says troopers should spend time focused on DUIs, and aggressive driving rather than people speeding 79 in a 70.

Other S.C. lawmakers have introduced bills to limit text messaging and cell phone use by drivers.

Similar legislation was introduced in recent years, but failed to gain enough votes.


The Land-of-Sky will manage $1.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds awarded to the forest service in North Carolina.

The funds will be used to create a cooperative marketing network for timber and nontimber products in Western North Carolina to stimulate the local forest products industry.&bsp; Land-of-Sky says the network should help unemployed and underemployed forest-products workers get back to work.


N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue has announced the creation of the first North Carolina Innovation Council, designed to foster strategic investments and policies in the knowledge and innovation economy.

The council will coordinate public and private investments and policies to promote innovation, help move innovate ideas from the lab to the marketplace more efficiently and strengthen collaboration among business, academia, state and local government.

The councils membership will include people with expertise in entrepreneurship, science, academic and government.


Sony Ericsson announced this week that it plans to shut down its facility in Research Triangle Park, which served as its North American headquarters.

The move sheds 425 jobs at the Research Triangle Park site, which also experienced large cuts earlier in the recession.

Sony Ericsson said it plans to consolidate its South American and North American business units in Atlanta, which is home to Sony Ericssons biggest customer, AT&T Wireless.


The N.C. State Health Director issued a fish consumption advisory for walleye and largemouth bass in Lake Gaston, located near the North Carolina and Virginia border.

The state found elevated levels of mercury in the lake. Mercury is a naturally occurring metal, but also can be released into the environment during some manufacturing processes. Previous studies found elevated levels of mercury in largemouth bass in all waters of North Carolina.


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported this week that the percentage of students qualifying for lunch aid hit a new high.

The school district says 51 percent of its 68,000 students receive lunch aid. The percentage receiving lunch aid was over 90 percent in 19 of the districts 171 schools and over 75 percent in 61 of the schools.

Officials cited the poor economy for the increase in the number of low-income families within the district. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and other districts in the state, used a higher cutoff than the federal poverty level to determine who qualifies.


Ronnie Parton heard someone in Waynesville won $1 million through the Powerball lottery, and he knew he had played. But he worked a couple more hours before he checked his ticket to see if it was him.

He then took his ticket to the store where he bought it and, jokingly, said he was there to collect his $1 million. Less than 12 hours later, he was driving back to Waynesville with a $1 million check in his pocket. Its just like pinch me and wake me up. Im dreaming,’ he said.

Parton said good things come to those who work hard, and added that he has worked hard all his life, getting through two plant closings and then going to work for himself.

I worked for the money to buy that ticket, he said. It wasnt given to me… and it was my lucky day. Thats all there is to it.


Two new winners in Asheville are among the 12 properties in Western North Carolina receiving AAA Four Diamond distinction for 2010. The Grand Bohemian Hotel and 1900 Inn on Montford joined the list this year.

A total of 15 restaurants and 26 accommodations in the state made the list this year.

Western North Carolina Four Diamond accommodations winners are listed below with number of years won: 1900 Inn on Montford (new winner), Grand Bohemian Hotel (new winner), Albemarle Inn (7 years), Inn on Biltmore Estate (9 years, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa (9 years). Others that received awards are Lovill House Inn in Boone (13 years), Innisfree Inn by the Lake in Cashiers (16 years), Old Edwards Inn & Spa in Highlands (5 years and the Greystone Inn in Lake Toxaway (24 years).

Western North Carolina Four Diamond restaurants that received the award this year were: Horizons in Asheville (17 years), Gamekeepper Restaurant and Bar in Boone (2 years) and Madisons Restaurant and Wine Garden in Highlands (new winner).