Regional Report Western December 2012
Sandy gives ski season a lift
Superstorm Sandy was a nasty trick for the East Coast, but what it brought to North Carolina’s mountains was a treat for the ski industry. Almost a foot of natural snow and cold temperatures, aided by round-the-clock snowmaking, allowed Sugar Mountain Resort, near Banner Elk, to open on Halloween, the earliest start in its 43-year-history, and Cataloochee Ski Area, in Maggie Valley, to open in October for only the second time in 52 years.
Sugar Mountain had one of its best opening-day crowds, marketing manager Kim Jochl says. “This could definitely be a record-breaking season if we can stay open.” The resort opened Nov. 12 last season but closed a couple of times that month as mild weather cut the season to 110 days, compared with a more typical 120 to 125. “From a financial standpoint, it was one of the worst seasons ever.” With a cooler winter forecasted and a $250,000 investment in eight high-tech snowmaking machines, Sugar Mountain is optimistic about this season.
More than 300 people showed up Oct. 31 to ski at Cataloochee, a record-setting opening. It typically opens a few slopes a week or two before Thanksgiving. Last season was its best ever, and the resort has posted attendance increases the past several years. General Manager Chris Bates attributes the trend to the $3 million the resort invested the last six years in snowmaking equipment. Newer machines can crank out in five minutes what used to take 90.
"The sun comes up every day.”
— — Bill Johnson on what he learned from being ousted as CEO of Duke Energy Corp. just hours after the Charlotte-based utility merged with Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc. in July. In November, the former Progress CEO was named chief executive of Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned utility that generated $11.8 billion of revenue last year — $58 million from parts of western North Carolina. Source: Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press
LENOIR — Woodgrain Millwork will open a plant here, investing $8 million and creating 170 jobs within five years. The Fruitland, Idaho-based maker of molding, doors and windows will pay an average annual wage of $29,981, on par with Caldwell County’s average of $29,640.
ASHEVILLE — Mission Health named William R. Hathaway chief medical officer at Mission Hospital. He had been its chief of staff and will continue to work part time at Asheville Cardiology Associates.
ETOWAH — Henderson County reached a $6 million settlement with Louisville, Ky.-based Lexon Insurance that will go to build infrastructure at the beleaguered Seven Falls luxury development. Lexon put up the bond to insure the infrastructure’s completion. The project’s developers declared it bankrupt in 2009.
BREVARD — Transylvania Regional Hospital became a full member of Asheville-based Mission Health. It had been under a management agreement with the system since January 2011.
ASHEVILLE — City Council members approved a business-improvement district downtown that will pay for tasks such as picking up trash, removing graffiti and cleaning sidewalks. Businesses will be levied a 7 cent tax for every $100 of property valuation. It will be in effect three years and would then need to be approved again by council members.