Around the region: Belle Chere in Asheville, Panthers in Spartanburg

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCPA) is moving ahead with plans for an inland port in Greer that likely will draw more distribution centers to the Upstate. SCPA is coordinating the inland port project with Norfolk Southern to improve the flow of international container traffic between the Port of Charleston, Upstate South Carolina and neighboring states. The inland port will be used to convert 50,000 all-truck container moves to more efficient multimodal transport, says SCPA.
The ports authority plans to construct the inland port on a 100-acre site in Greer. The property was purchased by SCPA in 1982 for a potential inland port site, but the project did not forward until recently. This month SCPA approved the negotiation of a $1.1 million engineering contract for the project. The authority also has allocated $23.5 million in capital spending to start work on the inland port in fiscal year 2013.
(source:, 7-10-12; The Journal of Commerce, 7-9-12)

Visitors will pack the streets of downtown Asheville this weekend for the 34th Annual Bele Chere music and arts festival. The largest free street festival in the southeast will feature art, food and plenty of music. Headliner bands at this year’s event include: Lucero, Los Amigos Invisibles, David Mayfield Parade, ArtOfficial and Brandi Carlile. Local bands, such as Doc Aquatic, Boys in the Well, Crazy Horse & Colston, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra and The Buchanan Boys also will perform, along with local Grammy Award winners David Holt and Balsam Range.
The festival, produced by the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department in coordination with the Bele Chere Board of Directors, will take place Friday from noon to 10 p.m., on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
The festival was launched in 1979 as a way to revitalize the downtown business district. Merchants collaborated on the project and selected the name “Bele Chere,” which means “beautiful living” in an ancient Scottish dialect. The event has grown steadily over the years and now includes a popular show by the Purina Ultimate Air Dogs, a children’s area with crafts, rides and performances and many art exhibits. For more information about the festival, visit

Carolina Panthers’ fans will have a chance to watch up close Cam Newton and the rest of the team in Spartanburg over the next three weeks. The team is returning to Wofford College campus for its 18th season of summer training camp in Spartanburg. The players will participate in the first practice on Saturday. A Training Camp Kickoff Party will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium plaza. The party will resume from 8:30-9:30 p.m., following the team’s first practice, which starts at 6:30 p.m.
“The city benefits greatly from the Panthers’ presence here every July and August,” said Spartanburg Mayor Junie White, who also will host on Saturday the second annual Mayor’s Ball Run beginning at 5:30 p.m. at city hall. The Kickoff Party will include live entertainment, activities for the entire family and the team’s first summer practice. Admission to the practices is free.
(source:, 9-25-12)

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A new $60 million healthcare education center in Greenville is expected to have a major impact on healthcare services in the region. The Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center opened last week its new Health Sciences Education Building. The 91,000-square-foot building, located next to the Greenville Memorial Hospital on Grove Road, will be home to the new University of South Carolina School of Medicine, featuring a patient-simulation center that lets students practice on high-tech mannequins that respond to treatment. The new Health Sciences Education Building also will be home to a USC-certified registered nurse anesthetist program and the Greenville campus of the S.C. College of Pharmacy.
Michael Riordan, President and CEO of the Greenville Hospital System, says the new four-year medical school will help address a shortage of physicians in the Upstate and help drive the region’s economy. “This is going to help us attract businesses from other states that want to be here,” said Riordan.
(source:, 7-23-12)

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College is one of 16 community colleges in the state to receive an “exceptional” rating for the 2010-11 school year. The North Carolina community college system issued ratings based on the performance of each of its 58 colleges across seven core areas. The areas evaluated for the ratings include: passing rates on licensing and certification exams, performance of college transfer students, passing rates of students in developmental courses, success rate of developmental students in subsequent college-level course and client satisfaction with Small Business Center services.
(source: Asheville Citizen Times, 7-24-12)

Night hunting of feral swine and coyotes on private lands begins in North Carolina on Aug. 1. The temporary rules take effect to control localized populations of the animals, which are non-native to North Carolina and destructive to the landscape, livestock and domestic animals. The N.C. Wildlife Commission approved the rules this month for night hunting of the animals with a light. The rules do not allow access to any property. Landowners must provide permission to access a private property. Hunting on Sundays is allowed on private lands only with archery equipment. The N.C. Wildlife Commission does not currently have any rules permitting night hunting of feral swine and coyotes on public lands.
(source:, 7-24-12)

The North Carolina Wildlife Commission’s website now offers an interactive map with information about more than 500 public fishing areas in the state. The North Carolina Interactive Fishing Map allows visitors to search for public fishing access sites by address, county or zip code. The site provides information about the type of access available, the primary fisheries present, directions to the site and the ownership and management of the site. Visitors to the interactive map can search lakes by fish species, type of water body and type of access, and even purchase a fishing license online. The wildlife commission says it is planning future updates to the map that will provide photos of the fishing areas and more information about them, such as the fish collected during biological surveys.
“Our goal is for the map to serve as a comprehensive information source for anglers looking for a publicly accessible place to fish in North Carolina, which is why we included sites that are managed by entities other than the commission, such as municipalities, state parks and other groups.”
(source:, 7-20-12)

Lake Lure is among 15 nominees in USA Today’s “Best Lake in America” contest. The nominees were chosen by editors from five regional magazines across the country.
“It’s such a beautiful place,” says Rutherford County publicist Michelle Yelton. “It’s one of the few places where you can hike to the top of a mountain then jump on a wakeboard.”
Lake Lure is the only North Carolina lake nominated for the contest. Votes for the contest will be accepted until Friday with a tweet to @USATODAYtravel.
(source: Asheville Citizen Times, 7-24-12)

New rules protecting sea turtles and the piping plover, a threatened shorebird, at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are drawing opposition from some regular visitors.  The rules, which took effect in February, restrict beach driving along the 65 shoreline miles of the national seashore from Ocracoke to south of Nags Head. Off-road vehicles are restricted from the Outer Banks beaches to help protect the animals that lay eggs along the shoreline. Some areas, which had been popular with surfers, surf casters, swimmers and shell collectors are now off limits to beach drivers for most or all of the year.
Some beach drivers are battling the new restrictions with lawsuits, while legislators in the U.S. House and Senate have proposed weaker, interim rules. Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville said the new rules are too restrictive and they harm the Outer Banks tourism economy.
However, Mike Murray, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, says the new beach access plan meets two goals: providing recreation and protecting natural resources. He adds that the national seashore must serve both visitors who like to bring their trucks and SUVs to the beach and others who want to get away from vehicles.
(source: Charlotte Observer, 7-16-12)