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This week’s headline

 

Earthquake shakes up Weaverville

by James Matthews

 

Flat Creek — Residents were all shook up after an earthquake rumbled through the Flat Creek and Weaverville areas.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a 2.5 magnitude earthquake was monitored in an open field half a mile from the intersection of Flat Creek Church Road and Simon Trail. The quake occurred at 10:43 am at a depth of approximately 2.6 miles beneath the earth’s surface.

The quake’s epicenter was calculated to be within half a mile of North Buncombe Elementary School, a mile from North Buncombe High School and roughly three and a half miles from downtown Weaverville.

North Buncombe High employee Selena Burrell said, “I was the only one in here that felt it. I was standing up in my office and I was like, ‘was that thunder?’”

Weaverville resident Bill Boughton said, “The funny thing was is that I heard it as much as felt it. It was like a rumble.” He continued, “It sounded almost like a big air-conditioning starting. It kind of went long and I felt a little bit of shaking. It was very subtle. Feels like a big bulldozer driving by.”

NBHS Principal Jack Evans described it, “I did feel it. Funny thing is that we are having so much construction going on here, I thought it was just that. It was ‘boom,’ though, and it was rumbling afterwards.” NBHS Assistant Principal Kim Mason added, “I just thought they were moving stuff when I heard that noise in my office.”

Jupiter Fire Department reportedly felt the quake and received a few calls as to ‘what the boom was.’ Weaverville Police Chief Greg Stephens said that he felt it as well, describing it as a “loud rumble.” The police department has been fielding questions about it since it occurred.

North Buncombe Elementary which was very close to the epicenter reported that they felt two tremors that were roughly 30 minutes apart. Despite being so close, the quake did not otherwise disrupt the school day.

According to the US Geological Survey website, “The largest earthquake in the area (magnitude 5.1) occurred in 1916. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike the inland Carolinas every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt about once each year or two.” It goes on to state that, unlike well-known, named, fault systems, like the San Andreas fault in California, North Carolina does not have a well-known fault running underground. “The inland Carolinas region is far from the nearest [tectonic] plate boundaries, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea. The region is laced with known faults but numerous smaller or deeply buried faults remain undetected. Even the known faults are poorly located at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few, if any, earthquakes in the inland Carolinas can be linked to named faults.”

According to the USGS, there have been 13 earthquakes in Western North Carolina, between June of 1980 and Monday, none of which were more than magnitude 4.

For more information about earthquakes, visit <earthquake.usgs.gov>/.

 
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Woodfin ranks as 14th

safest NC town

By Heather Berry

Woodfin – For the second consecutive year, Woodfin has been ranked in the top 20 as one of the safest towns in North Carolina, according to rankings made by SafeWise.com.

“Obviously we’re proud to be recognized for our efforts,” said Woodfin Police Chief Brett Holloman, “but we’re even prouder of the fact that the police department has been able to help maintain the safe, small town feel that is so important to our citizens. The only reason we’re able to do that is because of the deep support from the citizens and our elected leadership.”

Woodfin’s ranking is based upon North Carolina towns with a population of 4,000 or more in 2013. The ranking includes crime statistics, which show the chances of a Woodfin resident being a victim of a property crime as 30 percent less than the national average. In addition, Woodfin violent crimes, according to the SafeWise data, rate 2.75 per 1,000 incidents and property crimes at 17.80 per 1,000 incidents.

“I’d just like to echo what the Chief said about how critical it is to the success of any police department to have the support of the community they serve,” said Woodfin Mayor Jerry VeHaun. “The people of Woodfin have always supported our first responders and in an atmosphere where the public is really supportive its easier for our department to recruit and retain high quality law enforcement officers and that helps us keep our community safe from violence and theft.”

Weaverville Police Chief Greg Stephens acknowledged the safety ranking in a written statement: “Chief Holliman has always been very respected by me and others in the law enforcement profession.”

Chief Stephens also pointed out how some towns, like Weaverville, maintain similar safety standards, but go unrecognized.

“It is, however, very unfortunate that other towns in Buncombe County aren’t recognized for their hard work and dedication just because those towns have a population of under 4,000 citizens,” said Chief Stephens. “Weaverville has a very low crime rate,” he continued, “with a population of 3,800 and our officers (as well as the officers in other towns in Buncombe County) do a fantastic job, day in and day out, for the citizens we serve.”

SafeWise.com is a nationwide comparison search engine designed to help consumers find the best security systems based upon their location and needs. On the SafeWise website, Woodfin is described as “a recreation enthusiast’s dream.”

The SafeWise Woodfin summary continues, “Affordable, gorgeous, and decidedly relaxed, Woodfin also has an impressively low property crime rate.”

Anyone interested in viewing the data, can visit the SafeWise website at: http://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-north-carolina-2015/.

 

Past headlines

 
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Arvato loss leaves dent in town budget

By Heather Berry

Weaverville – The demise of the local branch of Arvato Digital Services this spring has deeply impacted the town of Weaverville’s budget. Aggressive efforts are underway nationally to find a tenant for the property, according to officials with the town of Weaverville and county economic development. With 416,500 square feet and sitting on a 35-acre landscaped campus, the Arvato property, is listed with a private broker for $16.9 million.

“The Arvato site is the single largest industrial opportunity in Western North Carolina at the moment,” said Clark Duncan, director of business development with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.

“While it’s a terrible loss, it’s also an opportunity,” said Duncan. He compared the loss of Arvato to the loss of Volvo in 2010. “The loss of Volvo, at the height of the recession, was terrible timing, but left us with a large and unusual piece of industrial real estate we could take to the marketplace.”

Town Manager Selena Coffey admits the loss has put pressure on council members and administrators to tighten their belts and find other sources of revenue to offset the tax casualty. A property tax rate increase of, at least two cents, is a possibility in light of the revenue losses, but Coffey wants the public to know town officials are working hard to make up for the loss in a variety of ways.

“When we lost Arvato, it was a big hit,” Coffey said. “It’s huge for our budget.”

Both Coffey and Duncan said they hope for a job-creator in terms of a new Weaverville industrial tenant. “We hope for a major manufacturer who can help pay the tax bills in Weaverville and bring high-quality jobs to Buncombe County,” said Duncan.

A manufacturer and distributor of compact discs and DVDs, was a fixture in Weaverville for more than 30 years. Property and equipment taxes from Arvato totaled $288,390 in 2012. In addition, the company paid approximately $100,000 for a privilege license annually. The North Carolina State Legislature eliminated the privilege license tax in 2015.

“A lot of folks think, ‘Well, Arvato still owns the building, so they are still paying property taxes,’ and that’s true, however, the company was also paying personal property taxes on the equipment,” explained Coffey.

Arvato’s taxes have steadily declined since 2016 when the company began reductions. Coffey wants residents to see the losses as relative.

For 2016, the town of Weaverville will not receive monies from the privilege license and the total from property and equipment taxes will equal $131,822.

“Around 2012, Arvato let the town know that it was their intent to move out,” said Coffey. “They began moving out their equipment which represents personal property taxes.”

At this point, no one company in particular has shown a serious interest in the Arvato property. The Buncombe County Economic Development has been working with the town of Weaverville in an effort to feature the property find a buyer.

“Economic development featured the Arvato property on their website as a top site for site selectors, across the nation, to consider,” said Coffey. “In the next four to six months, hopefully, we will have people coming from across the country to take a look.”


 

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