London Odds & Ends: Glee’s Dianna Agron to Star in McQueen & More

first_img Dianna Agron Set for McQueen Glee star Dianna Agron and stage vet Stephen Wight (Don Juan in Soho) will take on the roles of Dahlia and Lee McQueen, respectively, in the world premiere of James Phillips’s play McQueen. Directed by John Caird, the show is set on a single London night and steps into the fairy story landscape of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s mind. The production begins performances at the St. James Theatre on May 12, with opening nights scheduled for May 19 and May 20. Here’s a quick roundup of London stories you may have missed today. Kit Harington Eyes 2016 Stage Return Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington is aiming to return to his stage roots. Before spending literally years shooting in snow as Jon Snow, Harington made his name on the boards, originating the role of Albert Narracott in London’s War Horse. He told the Daily Mail that he is considering going back to the theater in 2016. No word yet on the project or location, but we (of course!) think it’s time he followed his Thrones co-star Emilia Clarke and made his Broadway debut! Judi Dench & More to Star in The Vote This sounds like an “Event” with a capital “E”! Mother-daughter duo Tony and Oscar winner Judi Dench and Finty Williams, Broadway alums Paul Chahidi and Hadley Fraser, Catherine Tate and more will star in The Vote. Set in a fictional London polling station, the play, written by Finding Neverland’s James Graham, dramatizes the final ninety minutes before the polls close in this year’s U.K. General Election. There will be two weeks of performances at the Donmar Theatre from April 24 through May 6 in the run-up to a live TV broadcast on May 7 (the day the Brits go to the polls). View Commentslast_img read more

Brendan Kinney named VPR’s vice president for development and marketing

first_imgVermont Public Radio,Brendan Kinney has been named Vice President for Development and Marketing for Vermont Public Radio.  Kinney will oversee all of VPR s fundraising efforts, including major and planned giving, membership, underwriting, foundation grants, and capital campaigns. He ll also be responsible for crafting a strategy to reach new listeners. Kinney joined VPR last month. About VPRListener-supported Vermont Public Radio has been serving the people of Vermont and the surrounding region since 1977. As Vermont’s only statewide public radio network, VPR is a trusted and independent source for news, music, conversation, NPR programming, and much more.  The stations of Vermont Public Radio serve more than 170,000 listeners each week.  For more information about VPR and VPR Classical, coverage maps, schedules, and streaming audio, visit www.vpr.net(link is external). Kinney comes to VPR from SUNY Plattsburgh, where he served as Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of Marketing and Public Relations. Previously, he was Director of Saint Michael s College Annual Fund and Advancement Services. I am excited to join the team at Vermont Public Radio, Kinney said.  VPR is a very strong organization, thanks to the loyal support of its individual members and business underwriters. I look forward to helping VPR realize its ambitious and forward-thinking vision for the future. Source: Vermont Public Radio. 3.4.2010 Kinney holds a Bachelor s degree in English and a Master s degree in Education from Saint Michael s College. He serves as a member of the Essex Town School District Board of Directors and resides in Essex with Mary Brodsky and their three children. “We are delighted to welcome Brendan to VPR, said VPR President Robin Turnau. His 15 years of work in development and public relations, along with his leadership experience and enthusiasm for public radio, will help VPR achieve its goals of growing our local news effort and web presence, as well as expanding the VPR Classical network.”last_img read more

Multicolored Multisport

first_imgMOUNTAIN BIKE RIDEPLANTATION TRAILCanaan Valley, W.Va.There is no piece of singletrack in West Virginia more famous than Plantation Trail in Canaan Valley. The eight-mile long “ribbon of pain,” known for its continuous rock gardens interspersed with soupy bogs, has become synonymous with fat tire fun in the Mountain State. It’s a bucket list trail on every Southern mountain biker’s must-ride list.“Everyone comes in asking to ride Plantation Trail,” says Van Morales, a local biker and mechanic at Blackwater Bikes in Davis. “But honestly, most people aren’t ready for Plantation. It’s become famous because it’s so consistently brutal from end to end. It’s fun, but only if you think rock gardens are fun.”The truly hardcore will attempt to ride Plantation as a 16-mile out and back, which can be tough but rewarding, as the rolling trail has a completely different feel depending on the direction you take it. Most use Plantation as the highlight of a variety of loop rides. Either way, Plantation is a fat tire rite of passage. During fall, the trail will put you in the middle of a dense hardwood forest mixed with patches of red spruce. It’s eight miles of rock drops and rock hops. So be prepared to come out the other end tattered. Full suspension is a good idea. Disc brakes are a must.LogisticsTrailhead: Well-marked on WV 32 south of Davis.Mileage: 16 miles if you do the out and back.Bike Shop: Blackwater Bikes, in downtown Davis.JACKRABBIT TRAILHayesville, N.C.There may not be a more appropriately named trail system in the South than Jackrabbit, a 14.5-mile network of singletrack on the edge of Lake Chatuge that was built for riding bikes as fast as, well…a jackrabbit.“We actually built it because we needed a place to take school kids to ride,” says Joanna Atkisson, president of the Southern Appalachian Bicycle Association, the group responsible for this purpose-built trail system. “But adults like to ride too. This is a system that provides that ‘yeehaw’ moment, whether you’re a kid or an adult.”The stacked-loop system cruises through a peninsula jutting into Lake Chatuge on the North Carolina/Georgia border. The trails are packed with rolling dips, banked turns, and optional jumps and log rides. With no significant climbs and very few rocks and roots, Jackrabbit has become known as a flow-riding paradise.“It’s the kind of system where you don’t have to worry about what’s around the next corner,” Atkisson says. “Good bikers can trust their instincts and glide through it, reaching top speeds.”The majority of the trails meander through the woods, occasionally dipping down to the lake. The forest is full of sourwoods and maples that turn red and orange in the fall. For the best view of the lake, head to High Point trail, the most technical piece of singletrack in the system, with just over a mile of roots and a steep climb and descent. From the crest, you can see the lake below and the surrounding mountains in the distance. For the quintessential Jackrabbit experience, ride Burrell Cove, a 1.7-mile roller-coaster path packed with dirt jumps and tight, twisting turns.LogisticsTrailhead: 4.7 miles east of Hayesville on US 64, then follow the signs to the Jackrabbbit Recreation Area.Mileage: 14.5.Bike Shop: SpinLite Cycles, in Blairsville, Ga. is the closest shop to Jackrabbit. Appalachian Outfitters in Murphy has lots of local knowledge as well.TRAIL RUNEXPLORE PARKRoanoke, Va.A number of developers and land managers have had grand plans for Explore Park, an 11,000-acre county-owned forest outside of Roanoke. It has been operated mainly as a living history museum for the last several years, while being courted by developers as the home for the next great Southern amusement park. When the economy tanked, so did any grand plans for development—which is just fine for trail runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. While the living history museum may be closed because of budget concerns, the trails that traverse the forest are wide open.The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) designated eight miles of singletrack inside the park, all of which can be accessed via the Blue Ridge Parkway just ten minutes from downtown Roanoke. Even though mountain bikers ride them, the well-maintainted system of trails is perfect for trail runners. The trails are scenic, fast, and fun.“It’s an IMBA-designed trail system of flowy, twisty, turny trails that cut through the heart of this park,” says Josh Gilbert, owner of Mountain Junkies and maintainer of the Explore Park trail system. “There are some roots, but it’s not overtly technical or difficult.”The system consists of interconnected loops (un-named) that create a generally fast and flowing trail run through a hardwood forest that comes alive every fall. The Intermediate Trail offers the most remote experience and the Expert Trail runs by the Roanoke River. Explore it on your own, or sign up for the Into the Darkness Night Trail Run (Oct. 22, mountainjunkies.net) for a seven-mile run that cruises along the Roanoke River and hits three miles of the park’s tight singletrack.LogisticsTrailhead: Find Explore Park at milepost 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside of downtown Roanoke.Mileage: The eight-mile system offers a number of loops and distances.Running Shop: Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke.DUPONT STATE RECREATIONAL FORESTBrevard, N.C.The 10,400-acre Dupont State Recreational Forest sits between the small towns of Hendersonville and Brevard, just across the valley from the mountains that comprise Pisgah National Forest. The two large tracts of public land aren’t more than 20 miles apart, but they couldn’t be more different. While Pisgah is steep and rugged, the mountains of Dupont are far more mellow and rolling. Where Pisgah has gnarly singletrack with waterbar drops and rock gardens, Dupont has more sustainable singletrack and devil-may-care fire roads. Point being, if you’re going for a long trail run during peak fall foliage season and you want to keep an eye on more than your feet, consider Dupont.“It’s my favorite place to run,” says Lydia Odell, a runner and waterfall hiking guide who covers both Pisgah and Dupont. Odell likes the forest so much, she’s begun staging trail races in Dupont, including the brand new Dupont Forest 50K. “I like the rolling mountainside as opposed to Pisgah National Forest, where a typical run is two miles up, two miles down. You can run harder in Dupont. Plus it’s gorgeous.”And more runners are adding Dupont to their favorites list, thanks to a new breed of running camps and trail races that utilize the forest’s mild fire roads and gorgeous singletrack. Set out for a 10-mile run in Dupont, and you can tick off riverside singletrack, massive waterfalls, and craggy domes before your legs start to quiver.For lots of singletrack in a remote stretch of the forest, Odell suggests hooking up Jim Branch Trail with Ridgeline Trail for three miles of scenic running with good climbs. Dupont has 85 miles of trails and dirt roads, most of which are interconnecting, so those of you looking for longer runs are only limited by your imagination and lungs.LogisticsTrailhead: The Lake Imaging trailhead sits off Staton Road in the middle of Jim Branch and Ridgeline.Mileage: Three and up. Follow the Dupont Forest 50K course and you’ll knock out two 15-mile loops that traverse some of the most remote trails in the park.Outfitter: Looking Glass Outfitters has the gear and local beta, just a few miles from Dupont’s entrance.FLATWATER PADDLENEW RIVERPembroke, Va.One of the few rivers in the country that flows north, the New is free flowing for 70 miles from Claytor Lake Dam into the Bluestone Reservoir in West Virginia. Much of this stretch of river is relatively mild as it passes through small mountain towns, offering a number of short slow-moving canoe trips that are becoming increasingly popular during the summer. During the fall, however, the New can get downright lonely.“Our canoe rentals drop dramatically in October, but canoeing the New in the fall is phenomenal,” says Bill Wright, a guide with Tangent Outfitters in Pembroke. “The water’s higher, the fall foliage is amazing, there are no crowds, and with the leaves beginning to fall off the trees, you can see more of the rock formations on either side of the water.”Arguably the most scenic stretch of the New runs between Eggleston and Pembroke, where the river runs between isolated high cliffs and rolling mountains with little development outside of the occasional fishing cabins and campgrounds. The seven-mile run also has a handful of straightforward class II rapids, easy enough for beginner paddlers to handle, but just exciting enough to keep things interesting. Shortly after you put in at Eggleston, keep an eye out for natural arches on the cliffs that tower above the river. Cliffs with pocket caves and natural arches continue to rise from the river as you move downstream, but your view is dominated predominantly by the multi-colored hardwoods that cover the slopes. Also keep an eye out for bald eagles, as a pair of nesting birds have taken up residence on the cliffs above this stretch of river.LogisticsPut In: On Old Depot Street, outside of Eggleston.Mileage: Seven.Outfitter: Tangent Outfitters, in Pembroke, has canoe rentals, guided trips, and local beta.LAKE JOCASSEE, S.C.Lake Jocassee is probably most famous for its waterfalls, a handful of dramatic plunges that drop into tight, secluded coves in the corners of this man-made lake. Many of those waterfalls begin as narrow creeks, high on the “Blue Wall,” the steep escarpment that separates the piedmont from the mountains with some slopes rising 2,000 feet towards the sky. Paddle Jocassee during the fall, and it’s as if that “Blue Wall” that forms the backdrop to the lake has been tagged with graffiti…in a good way.The 7,500-acre Lake Jocassee features 75 miles of largely undeveloped, mountainous shoreline. The Foothills Trail runs along the western edge of the lake, passing through arguably the wildest forest in the Upstate. The mountains surrounding the lake are primitive and remote, and the lake itself is just now being discovered as a world-class kayak destination. Know where you’re going, and you can spend days paddling Jocassee, exploring the lake’s maze of waterfalls, finger-like coves, and rock cliffs. If you know where you’re going.“I think most people will paddle around Lake Jocassee all day long, get frustrated, and never see anything,” says Stacy Clark, owner of Get Outdoors, a new kayak guide company servicing the underused lake. Clark has begun taking clients on half-day and full-day treks, but plans to start offering multi-day excursions this fall. “In my opinion, Jocassee is the most beautiful place in the world. But it’s like the Louvre. You need more than one day to see it.”But you can sample Jocassee’s goods in a day. For a quick trip, head to the three-tiered Wright’s Creek Falls. Put in at Devil’s Fork State Park (the only public boat access) and veer to the left across the main body of Jocassee into the Thompson River Branch of the lake. You’ll have to cross a couple of miles of choppy open water, but motorized boat traffic is pretty minimal, so the only trouble should be the wind. During low water, you can walk behind the falls and picnic on a “beach.” In high water, you can paddle behind the falls. If you want to keep exploring, continue to head toward the mouth of the Thompson River. The branch will narrow, and several small creeks will feed the lake via tight coves. In a couple of miles, you’ll hit the mouth of the Thompson, which meets the lake in a torrent of whitewater and rocks.LogisticsPut-In/Take-Out: Devil’s Fork State Park has public boat access. Wright Creek Falls is to the left “across the pond.”Mileage: It’s up to you. If you head to Wright Creek Falls and explore Thompson River Branch, you’re looking at 10 miles round trip.Outfitter: Jocassee Outdoor Center has maps, rentals, shuttles, and kayak tours through Stacy Clark and Get Outdoors.ROAD RIDECUMBERLAND, MD.Cumberland could easily be considered the two-wheel hub of Maryland. Rocky Gap State Park just outside of town has primo singletrack, and two major rail trails meet in downtown (C&O Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage), giving the small town of 20,000 a thriving bike touring economy. Though road riding gets little attention with all of Cumberland’s trail options, the road routes that traverse the rolling hillside outside of town are absolutely divine, particularly during the fall leaf season.The town of Cumberland is nestled in a bowl, so you’ll run into some hills no matter which direction you go. To maximize scenery and minimize opportunity for human error, follow the arrow cues laid out by the Western Maryland Wheelmen for their annual charity ride. The arrows are permanently painted on the streets, so you won’t have to worry about directions or complicated cue sheets, and the charity route heads east to take advantage of ridge climbs and natural scenery. You’ll have cues that lead you on 21-mile, 37-mile, 63-mile, or 100-mile ride options. Take the longer routes (the 63-mile ride has 4,750 feet of climbing) and you’ll cruise by two lakes, top out on two ridges, and have expansive views from high points along the roads.“It’s incredibly scenic during the fall,” says Kurt Detwiler, a bike guidebook writer who calls Cumberland home. Detwiler says the route was actually designed to maximize fall foliage views, but the charity ride was moved to summer to take advantage of better weather. “The route goes through lots of woods with hardly any development, low traffic, great vistas. It can be cold during the fall, but the scenery is outstanding.”LogisticsTrailhead: The ride begins at Canal Place in downtown Cumberland.Mileage: 21 to 100, depending on your legs.Bike Shop: Cumberland Trail Connection, in downtown, has all the info as well as bike rentals.TOWNSEND, TENN.There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Townsend, Tennessee. Even though the small community of 300 sits on the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most popular national park in the country, Townsend sees only a fraction of the visitors that neighboring gateway towns see. The town has embraced its sleepy nature, branding itself as “the peaceful side of the Smokies,” and cyclists are beginning to embrace that sense of serenity as well, as they look for a quintessential Smokies road biking experience, without all the Smokies traffic.“You can pedal rural roads for four hours and see only a few cars,” says Matt Alexander, an avid road cyclist and managing partner of Dancing Bear Lodge, an expansive lodge and restaurant that caters to bicyclists, hosting training camps and organized rides. “The roads are in great shape and the scenery is fantastic. And it’s East Tennessee, so there are no boring flats. There’s always a climb, downhill, or set of curves up ahead.”The Foothills Parkway is the primo ride in the area. The 18-mile western section of the Parkway begins in Townsend and climbs Chilhowee Mountain to its peak at Look Rock offering views of the Smokies to the southeast and the Tennessee River Valley to the north. You can reach the same spot via one of three much shorter-but-steeper roads, which average 15 percent grades and max out with a brutal 30 percent grade climb.“You feel like your kneecaps are going to fall off,” Alexander says, explaining that Blount County didn’t have road zoning laws until 2000, which is why the area has such steep grades.Not up for the hurt? The Townsend Bicycle Trail is a nine-mile greenway that parallels the Little River, giving casual bikers an option for a mellow spin with plenty of foliage views and no climbing.LogisticsTrailhead: Pick up the Foothills Parkway west of Townsend on US 321. The Townsend Bicycle Path runs through town and the Dancing Bear Lodge property.Mileage: Nine miles for the greenway; optional to reach “The Top of the World,” which is what locals call the peak of the Foothills Parkway.Bike Shop: Cycology Bicycles in Maryville, Tenn. is the closest shop to Dancing Bear and Townsend. The Dancing Bear Lodge is the epicenter for bike routes, rides, and post-ride grub.WHITEWATERYOUGHIOGHENY RIVERDeep Creek Lake, Md.The Upper Youghiogheny River in Maryland is one of the premiere class IV-V whitewater destinations in the Eastern U.S. Consistent releases from Deep Creek Lake feed the 10-mile stretch of water almost every Monday, Friday, and Saturday during the summer, making the Yough a warm-weather staple for Mid-Atlantic boaters and rafters. Unbeknownst to most, the dam releases continue into the middle of October, giving rafters five opportunities to paddle this adrenaline-pumping river in the midst of peak foliage season.“The number of guided trips drops dramatically in October,” says Nancy Zbel, co-owner of Precision Rafting in Friendsville, Md. “But the river is gorgeous this time of year, with the leaves changing all around you. It’s one of the best rafting trips you can take.”Obviously the temperature drops in October, so wetsuits are common on the river, but Zbel says it’s not as cold of a trip as you might think. “We have a lot of days in October when we’re on the water and it’s 70 degrees. Plus, the water releases from the top of Deep Creek Lake, so it’s been warming up all summer. It’s typically not that cold.”The Upper Yough is a 10-mile trip that gets progressively more adventurous as you paddle downstream. You’ll start with 1.5 miles of easy ripples, move to a few miles of class III water, then the river hits its peak with four miles of non-stop class IV-V whitewater. When you’re in the mix of all that frothing water, it can be difficult to separate one rapid from the next. Run the river, however, and you’ll remember the big-water bliss of Charlie’s Choice, Triple Drop, and National Falls—three class IV-V rapids sandwiched on top of each other.Looking for something more mellow? Try the Lower Yough, for class II-III+ rafting through the 20,000-acre Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsyvlania. The 7.5-mile Lower Yough runs year-round thanks to constant releases from the Yough Dam in Confluence, Pa., but guided trips tend to peter out late in October.LogisticsPut-in/Take-out: Most outfitters operate in Friendsville, Md., the take out for the Upper Yough. The put-in is 10 miles upstream at Sang Run.Mileage: 10. Outfitter: Precision Rafting, in Friendsville, is one of the most respected boat operations in the Mid-Atlantic.Release Dates: There are five scheduled releases of the Upper Yough in October (1, 3, 7, 10, 14). The last day to paddle is the 14th, which happens to be peak foliage season most years.OCOEE RIVEROcoee, Tenn.While day hikers and car trippers flock to the high peaks during fall foliage season, the South’s rivers are left essentially abandoned. But the foliage view from the belly of a raft can be just as spectacular as the shot from a mountaintop. Consider this when planning your fall trip, because many of the South’s rivers enjoy recreational dam releases through October.“It’s my favorite time on the river,” says Fletcher Haaga, a Tennessee boater and raft guide on the Ocoee River with the Ocoee Adventure Center. Like most rivers, the Ocoee’s visitation rises with the mercury as more adventurers flock to “America’s whitewater river” during summer break. “There are 20 companies on the river, so Saturdays in July get a little crowded,” Haaga says. “But in October, school is in session and most people aren’t thinking of rafting. The air may be a bit cooler, but the water temperature is the same. It’s dam released, so the water stays warm all the way through October.”The water is so warm through October, Haaga says most clients don’t even bother with the wetsuits that the Ocoee Adventure Center provides. They raft the Ocoee in their shorts, just like summer. Only in October, they have one of the most popular whitewater destinations all to themselves.The Middle Ocoee enjoys regular dam releases every weekend until October 30. It’s a five-mile, class III+ roadside run with nonstop whitewater. If the Ocoee is known for one thing, it’s big splashy waves, which you start hitting immediately after put-in. Double Trouble may be the most popular rapid on the river. It’s a fast collection of waves with two massive holes offering big splashes for rubber boats. The rapids tend to turn rafts into roving bounce houses.The road follows the Middle Ocoee through the majority of the run, so it’s not the most remote whitewater destination in the South, but the gorge is steep, with mountain slopes rising on each side of the river. Couple the scenery with whitewater, and you’ve got the recipe for a killer fall trip.LogisticsPut-In: Boats launch at the base of Dam #2 and run five miles to Dam #3.Outfitter: The Ocoee Adventure Center runs trips on Saturdays and Sundays throughout October. Check out their outpost in Ducktown on US 64 a few miles from the put-in. Photo: Samuel Wakefield Photo: Rudy Setiawan Photo: Olive Grossman Photo: Tom Daly Photo: Tom DalyTiming is everything. It’s a cliché applicable to love, economics, and especially outdoor adventure.The importance of timing is probably never more relevant than during peak leaf season. For a couple of weeks every year, Mother Nature puts on a show—a last gasp before taking a long winter’s nap.And make no mistake, Ma’ Nature is bragging during fall leaf season. She’s showing off. Luckily for us, she’s the most boastful here in the Southern Appalachians. Other mountain ranges may be taller, snowier, and rockier, but very few are as colorful during the fall.Time it right, and you can find yourself in the middle of an epic Southern adventure while the mountains are transforming into a Technicolor dream right before your eyes. Here are a handful of adventures that are awesome any time of the year, but downright incendiary during peak leaf season.THE FALL BACKPACKING TRIPSHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARKBig Meadows Campground, VirginiaIt’s debatable about what elements the perfect fall foliage backpacking trip has to have. But one thing’s for certain: you have to have big views from a high summit. This two-night trip through the heart of Shenandoah National Park crosses the highest mountain in the park, offering a dramatic perch. Not enough to lure you into the backcountry? How about an optional rock scramble and an 80-foot waterfall?Go in late October, early November for peak fall color, but be prepared to share the views. “You’ll see the most people in the park during foliage season,” says Howard Thompson, co-owner of Appalachian Outdoors Adventures in Luray. “But the views are outstanding.” Keep in mind, both campgrounds close mid-November.LogisticsTrailhead: Hawksbill Gap (MP 45.6) on Skyline Drive to Lewis Mountain Campground (MP 57.5)Total Mileage: 15 (not including side trips).Outfitter: Appalachian Outdoors Adventures, Luray, Va. Day one: five miles Start in Hawksbill Gap (milepost 45.6) and climb Lower Hawksbill Mountain Trail for one mile for the first killer view of the weekend. Hawksbill is the tallest mountain in the park, at 4,050 feet. The summit is rocky and has broad views from an observation platform. Take Lower Salamander Trail, which has more great views from rocky outcroppings, for .8 miles to the A.T. then head left on the A.T. for 3.4 miles to Big Meadows Campground. Grab a walk-in site which are first come, first serve. Explore the wide meadow, which sits at 3,500 feet, and if you have the energy, take a quick and easy side trip to Blackrock, a rocky knob with good views of the surrounding peaks.Day two: ten miles From the Big Meadows campground, take the Lewis Falls Trail two miles to the 81-foot falls, then connect with the A.T., heading south for another eight miles toward Lewis Mountain Campground. Before you reach the campground, you’ll want to take the .3-mile side trip to Bearfence Rocks, a short, technical rock scramble to a bird’s eye perch at the top of a steep outcropping. It can be a bit hairy if you’re not used to scrambling, but the 360-degree view is outstanding. The short, technical hike is like a mini Old Rag, but without the crowds. Follow the A.T. south to Lewis Mountain Campground.GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARKForget about hiking the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in October. You can do it, but you probably won’t find the solitude you’re looking for.“The park is crazy busy on the weekends in October, especially on the Appalachian Trail,” says Vesna Plakanis, owner of A Walk in the Woods, which runs multi-day trips into the park during peak foliage season. “The A.T. is obviously spectacular, but there are some nice upper elevation areas off the A.T. that see far fewer crowds.”Even with the crowds, it’s hard to beat the Smokies in October. With its miles of uninterrupted views in the midst of a color change, the peaks and valleys form a sort of kaleidoscope effect that’s hard to match. If you’re looking for that quintessential Smokies experience and need high elevations with long-range views littered with reds and yellows and oranges, Plakanis suggests looking to the ridgeline southeast of the A.T., where the less popular Benton Mackaye Trail runs along the crest.“Over in the Cosby section of the park, you can get up high and avoid most of the crowds,” Plakanis says.Check out this two-night trek that tops out just shy of 6,000 feet. It features a fire tower view before dropping into the Cataloochee Valley to peep some elk during prime rut season.LogisticsDay One: 6.2 miles Hike the six-mile Baxter Creek Trail, which starts at the Big Creek Trailhead, but quickly begins climbing to the crest of 5,842-foot Mount Sterling. It can be a brutal climb, gaining more than 4,000 feet in six miles. The trail passes through a deciduous forest that should be in bloom mid to late October, and ends in a high-elevation evergreen ecosystem. At the top of the mountain, set up camp at Backcountry Campsite 38, then strike out for the Mount Sterling Fire Tower, a 60-foot perch built by the CCC in the ‘30s that offers 360-degree views. From the observation platform, you can see Cataloochee Valley to the south and Max Patch to the east. The mountain is just shy of 6,000 feet, so it receives less attention than other peaks in the park, but the view is just as impressive.Day two: 5.5 miles Continue hiking southwest on Mount Sterling Ridge trail, which runs about a mile high in elevation, paralleling the Appalachian Trail on an opposing ridge. You’re actually hiking a piece of the Benton Mackaye Trail at this point. In 1.5 miles, head south on Pretty Hollow Gap Trail, which drops gently off the ridge following the creek of the same name. You’ll pass through pockets of old growth and remnants of mighty hemlocks. Pull up for the night at Backcountry Campsite 39.Time it right, and you can drop into the valley after setting up camp at dusk and try to view some of the elk, which were reintroduced to the park in 2001. Cataloochee Valley is the hub of elk activity inside the Smokies, and October is their rut season, so there’s a good chance you’ll hear the distinctive elk bugle and maybe see some bull sparring.Day three: 6 miles From the campsite, hike south on Pretty Hollow Gap Trail, continuing south as it joins Palmer Creek Trail for a short distance. Then head east on the Little Cataloochee Trail for five miles until it meets Cove Creek Road where your shuttle awaits. Your trek along the edge of the valley will take you under the canopy of huge poplars, but also by historic churches and cabins, remnants of the community that called the area home before the park was created.Trailhead: Big Creek Trailhead, off exit 451 on Interstate 40 at the North Carolina/Tennessee border. You’ll need two cars. Note: You could create a smaller loop hike that wouldn’t require a shuttle by beginning and ending at Mount Sterling Gap, but you’d miss the hike up Baxter Creek Trail.Mileage: 17-18, not including side hikes.Outfitter: A Walk in the Woods offers guided hikes and backpacking trips. Mast General Store, in nearby Waynesville, has gear and provisions.DAY HIKESTONE MOUNTAIN WILDERNESSJefferson National Forest, Virginia The 3,270-acre Stone Mountain Wilderness is one of Virginia’s newest Wilderness areas, designated in 2009.  The south-facing rocky mountain is actually the northern edge of Cumberland Mountain, dominating the Virginia/Kentucky border. The 14-mile Stone Mountain Trail traverses the ridgeline from Roaring Branch to Cave Springs, passing by giant boulders and sheer cliffs that offer lots of exposure.Most hikers enter the trail from Cave Springs, but the best portion of the Stone Mountain Trail lies on the other end. Hike a seven-mile out and back that begins at Roaring Branch, on the northeastern end of Stone Mountain, and you’ll cruise over boulders, around cliffs, and get the 360-degree view from High Butte. The hike begins with a mile of stone steps as you follow Roaring Branch up the mountain. The steep climb from the trailhead keeps a lot of would-be hikers away, so it’s likely you’ll have the rolling ridgeline all to yourself. Expect a few creek crossings, and if you go after a rain, keep an eye out for small waterfalls as you climb Stone Mountain. The highlight of the trip comes at 3.5 miles, where you’ll hit High Butte, which offers a big view of Powell River to the south and Black Mountain and Kentucky to the north.LogisticsTrailhead: Roaring Branch, on Roaring Branch Road outside of Big Stone Gap, Va.Total Mileage: 7Outfitter: Nothing close.PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE TOWERUnicoi, Tenn.There was a time when fire towers stood proudly on tall peaks across the Southern Appalachians. But when spotting fires by air became cheaper in the 1960s, most land managers began systematically decommissioning the towers that once stood sentry over our forests. Today, only a fraction of the fire towers that once covered the mountains are still standing, and most of those are in such disrepair from decades of neglect, they’re unsafe to climb. The Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower in the Cherokee Forest of East Tennessee was one of the worst offenders until the forest service and a local advocacy group spent $125,000 to completely renovate the structure, in hopes of turning the tower into a tourist destination.Mission accomplished. The old tower was refurbished and a new observation platform was added, giving you a 360-degree panoramic view of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. From the tower’s perch on top of 3,520-foot Pinnacle Mountain, you can see the town of Unicoi below and the Unicoi and Unaka Mountains in the distance, which right about now should be set ablaze with red, yellow, and orange foliage.Hike the brand new Pinnacle Mountain Trail, which climbs 1,500 feet up the mountain in a series of switchbacks over 4.5 miles, connecting the town of Unicoi to the newly revamped tower. It’s a nine-mile round trip, but the grade is manageable, and the tread is smooth and wide. The views don’t open up until you reach the top, so commit for the full hike.LogisticsTrailhead: At the future site of the Tanasi Arts and Heritage Center, off I-26 at exit 32.Mileage: Nine miles roundtrip to the tower and back.Outfitter: Uncle Johnny’s in nearby Erwin has gear and local beta. Photo: Tom Daly Photo: Samuel Wakefield Photo: J.R. Petskolast_img read more

Lubitz named state courts administrator

first_imgA veteran administrator with experience in state and federal courts has been named the new state courts administrator by the Florida Supreme Court.Robin L. Lubitz, second in command of the North Carolina Administrative Offices the Courts, will become the fifth state courts administrator, succeeding Ken Palmer, who died of cancer in April. Palmer had held the job for 17 years and was a nationally recognized leader in court innovation.Lubitz said it will be a challenge to follow Palmer, as well as to implement a 1998 constitutional amendment requiring the state to pick up more financing of the trial courts.“Under Ken Palmer, Florida established a national reputation for leadership and innovation in court administration,” Lubitz said. “I will do my best to build on his legacy of excellence as we implement the constitutional amendment on court funding and strive to make Florida’s court system the finest in the nation.”Chief Justice Charles Wells said Lubitz, 53, is well qualified for the post.“Rob Lubitz brings a wealth of experience with issues that lie at the very core mission of state courts,” he said. “And his hands-on experience as a top-level administrator in both state and federal programs shows him very well suited to the tasks we face here in Florida.”Lubitz’ resume includes being associate director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, executive director of the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission, executive director of the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, and deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.His last job with the North Carolina courts’ administrative office included helping oversee a court system with 5,300 employees and a budget in excess of $360 million.Lubitz, who is moving from Raleigh, North Carolina, is expected to assume his duties full time early this year. Lubitz named state courts administrator Lubitz named state courts administratorcenter_img January 1, 2002 Regular Newslast_img read more

Small credit unions feel pinch of regulatory burden

first_img 7SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Ron JoossCEOs of small credit unions wear a lot of hats. It comes with the territory.“Some days you might find me working the drive-thru if we’re busy,” Anne Heggelund, president of Marathon County Employees CU, Wausau, Wis., told News Now. “Other times I’ll jump on the teller line.”The hat small credit union CEOs are most likely to don these days would be labeled “Compliance.” And with that hat usually comes a major headache.Since the beginning of the financial crisis, credit unions have been subjected to more than 190 regulatory changes from at least 15 different federal agencies resulting in more than 6,000 Federal Register pages to review and implement, according to CUNA’s Department of Economics and Statistics. There also have been other changes such as extensive and ongoing modifications to the National Credit Union Administration 5300 Call Report and examiner demands for implementation of a wide variety of best practices.Credit unions of all sizes are feeling the regulatory burden, and it stands to reason that smaller credit unions especially feel the pinch. continue reading »last_img read more

No matter the distance: Catholic schools support Australia wildfire families

first_img10th graders Olivia Snyder and John Pupillo-Gerchman started “Bands for a Cause,” in which the duo designed and now plans to sell red wristbands to raise money for Australians affected by the fires. “I think it’s great that they’re getting involved. The cute little pictures that they drew, the little sayings that they wrote. I think it’s wonderful,” Suh said. “The whole school is involved in this and they’re eager to help in any way shape or form.” Pupillo-Gerchman and Snyder’s idea came from the Google 20 Time initiative in teacher Mimi Suh’s classroom. Google 20 Time is a push from Google to give employees 20 percent of their work day to focus on a project they are passionate about. “I feel a lot of compassion for the victims. What happened is very sad and I feel really bad about it,” Pupillo-Gerchman said. “It’s really important because I really like to give back.” Suh took this concept and applied it to her English classes, with the only catch being the project has to be based in service. Suh told 12 News Snyder and Pupillo-Gerchman will attend WE Day in Baltimore on March 30, which celebrates student involvement in service projects. But some students even went a little deeper. Students within the district raised more than $2000 to help families at Lumen Christi College in Pambula Beach, New South Wales, a K-12 school. “I think it’s great what they’re doing, what they chose for their project,” Suh said. “I have all of my students involved in these Google 20 time projects, and they have a service component attached to it because our school is all about giving back.” BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Students with the Catholic Schools of Broome County system are helping out Australia as the country faces devastation from wildfires. In addition to the wristbands and funds raised, elementary schools in the CSBC wrote cards for families, expressing sympathy and compassion during a difficult time. The money was raised through “dress down days,” where students paid $1 to dress in regular clothes instead of school uniforms.last_img read more

COVID-19: South Sulawesi cancels mass religious event, but not before thousands arrive on site

first_img“We’ve cancelled [the event] because of the critical situation. We hope the spread of the coronavirus may be stemmed soon so that the event may be resumed,” Nurdin said.Read also: North Sumatra traces residents who attended virus-stricken religious gathering in Kuala LumpurHe said that the 8,223 participants who had already gathered in Pakkato village since Wednesday would be immediately put in isolation in a designated area.Meanwhile, 411 foreign citizens who were to participate in the event would also be isolated at a hotel that the local administration had officially designated as a quarantine spot, he said. “We have prepared a hotel where 411 foreign nationals will be quarantined,” Nurdin said, adding that the foreign visitors included people from Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand and Singapore.Domestic visitors from outside the province would also be quarantined at the Makassar Haj Dormitory before they return to their home regions, he said.“They will return to their home regions in accordance with their plane or boat tickets. We’ll try to acquire tickets for those who have yet to secure tickets,” Nurdin explained.Event participants who are South Sulawesi natives were to be returned to their home regions on Thursday. The administration had cooperated with a local military base and local police to provide buses and trucks to transport the event participants home, he said.“We have coordinated with every regent and mayor [in the province]. Once [the event participants] arrive in their home regions, they will have to be immediately quarantined for 14 days. It could either be self-isolation at home or a quarantine in a designated area,” Nurdin said.He called on the people of South Sulawesi to refrain from panicking as the local administration and authorities had already anticipated the situation.All event participants previously undertook thermal scans upon their arrival in the province. One participant was found to have a fever and has since been referred to the Haji Hospital in Makassar, according to Nurdin.Read also: Three Indonesians who attended mass prayer in Malaysia test positive for COVID-19Sentot Abu Thoriq, a member of the event committee, told The Jakarta Post that they had no choice but to comply with the administration’s policy.“We only gathered to pray together, listen to sermons and be closer to Allah. Local bureaucracy was apparently more scared of the coronavirus, which is a tiny organism. We had no other choice but to cancel the first Ijtima in Asia,” Sentot said, adding that the South Sulawesi administration should be responsible for the safety of all event participants.The grand tabligh event was originally to take place from March 20 to 22.It was previously reported that neighboring Malaysia recorded a spike in its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases following a similar Islamic event that had taken place within its borders late last month.Indonesia’s death toll from COVID-19 jumped to 19 on Wednesday, the highest in Southeast Asia to date, as the government announced that the number of infected people had reached 227. (rfa)Topics : The South Sulawesi provincial administration has cancelled an international Islamic event that was set to take place in Pakkato village, Bontomaranmu district, Gowa regency over heightened concerns about COVID-19, but not before thousands of participants had already arrived at the site.The cancellation was agreed upon following a meeting between administration officials and representatives of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in South Sulawesi on Thursday morning.South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah said the event, a grand tabligh (mass Quran recitation), was canceled because of the current public health emergency. It was imperative that the administration heeded President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s advice and suspended any form of mass gathering throughout the province, he said.last_img read more

Government pays $3.76b for land in 77 strategic projects

first_img“The projects’ development over the next five years is expected to involve a total of 19 million [workers],” Airlangga said.President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has raised concerns over land acquisition for strategic national projects and has asked ministers to solve the problems quickly.“I have received reports that the biggest obstacle [in strategic national projects] is land acquisition,” Jokowi said on May 29. He asked ministers to accelerate the projects to speed up the nation’s economic recovery.Jokowi ordered the acceleration of programs that could fuel the economy, such as the land certification program, the transmigration land legalization program and the social forestry program. “I would like to ensure that these programs continue as planned,” he said.Topics : The agency, which is responsible for the reimbursement of state-owned companies for land acquired in strategic national projects, has paid Rp 22.24 trillion to toll road operator PT Jasa Marga, Rp 11.88 trillion to construction company PT Waskita Karya and Rp 6.35 trillion to construction firm PT Hutama Karya.Basuki said the agency had procured land worth a total of Rp 4.38 trillion from March 16 to June 24 – during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the agency would continue to reimburse funds to help companies endure depressed toll road traffic.The government has said it will continue the development of strategic national projects during the COVID-19 health crisis with the addition of 89 projects with an estimated investment value of Rp 1.42 quadrillion.Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto said recently that the new projects were an addition to the existing 223 strategic national projects and were expected to employ about 4 million additional workers each year from 2020 to 2024. The Finance Ministry’s State Asset Management Agency (LMAN) has reimbursed Rp 53.3 trillion (US$3.76 billion) owed to state-owned companies for land acquisition in 77 strategic national projects, including toll roads and irrigation systems, as of June 24.The agency paid Rp 47.7 trillion for land acquisition in 40 toll road projects, Rp 3.5 trillion for 25 dam projects, Rp 1.3 trillion for seven railway projects and Rp 539 billion for a port project, LMAN president director Basuki Purwadi said on Friday.“The government’s commitment to build infrastructure will continue as it does not only boost economic growth but also creates jobs and connects regions,” Basuki told reporters in an online press briefing, adding that the government was hoping to improve the reimbursement process.last_img read more

Four talking points as Arsenal throw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Watford

first_imgEmery struggles to find the right balanceIn Arsenal’s game against Liverpool at Anfield last month, Unai Emery opted to play with a midfield diamond in support of a speedy front two of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe in the hope of catching the league leaders on the break.Although Arsenal ultimately suffered defeat, it was a ploy that showed promise with the willing Pepe, in particular, relishing the opportunity to scamper after long balls forward. Another aim was to pack the midfield in an attempt to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool’s energetic pressing game.Against Watford, Arsenal’s first away game since that trip to Merseyside, Emery elected to play a diamond again, with his two most creative players – Mesut Ozil and Dani Ceballos – shoehorned into the same side, with Granit Xhaka and Mateo Guendouzi providing the industry. Instead, Sokratis passed the ball straight to Cleverley inside the area and the former Manchester United man swept a well-taken first-time finish under Leno to not only bring Watford back into the game but change the entire complexion of the match.From that point on it was one-way traffic, with Watford outnumbering Arsenal’s number of attempts on goal from 23 to four in the second period. Eventually, they got what they deserved with Roberto Pereyra netting the equaliser after another dreadful piece of Arsenal defending.For the second time in his four-game Arsenal career, David Luiz conceded a penalty after lazily dangling a leg out to bring down Pereyra and the Argentine, deputising for Watford’s regular penalty taker Troy Deeney, made no mistake from the spot.AdvertisementArsenal might possess one of the best attacks in the Premier League but their defence is simply not up to top-four standard.Watford show signs of life under FloresBefore the season started, Watford were considered to be in the group of teams in with a chance of breaking the top-six duopoly in a year in which both Manchester United and Chelsea are in the process of major re-modelling projects.However, a dreadful start to the campaign had them rooted to the foot of the table by the arrival of the first international break, culminating in the sacking of Javi Gracia who had overseen a gradual deterioration in results over the course of this calendar year.It took less than half an hour for Watford to name Gracia’s replacement and there was plenty of surprise when it was revealed that Quique Sanchez Flores would be returning, just over three years after he was sacked. Skip Ad Coming Next PLAY Quique Sanchez Flores was back in the Watford dugout three years after his departure (Picture: Getty)Flores had been dismissed due to a perception that his brand of football wasn’t entertaining enough but judging on his first game in charge that may not be the case this time around. Watford were for the most part sensational.There is plenty of attacking talent in this Watford squad, with the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra and the exciting Ismaila Sarr, all well capable of providing moments of magic, while Abdoulaye Doucoure is unquestionably one of the best central midfielders outside the top-six.On this evidence, Flores might just be able to get them all firing once more and should that occur, Watford will fly up the Premier League table again in no time. This really should have been their first victory of the campaign. by Metro Skip Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice in the first half at Vicarage Road (Picture: Getty)With Lacazette sidelined, Aubameyang returned to his natural position and he demonstrated his killer instinct in front of goal with two predatory finishes. The first was wonderfully executed as he swivelled on the half-turn to collect Sead Kolasinac’s pass behind him, before firing a low shot into the corner.The second was a typical poacher’s finish as he ghosted into a position at the far post to tap in Ainsley Maitland-Niles pass across the six-yard box. Those goals were Aubameyang’s 36th and 37th in his 54th Premier League game.It’s a phenomenal strike-rate from a player whose efforts in English football appear to have been under-valued outside N7. 1 min. story SPONSORED Read More Read More Read More 1/1 About Connatix V67539 Full Screen Read More Read More Rio Ferdinand tells Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop struggling Video Settings Advertisement Arsenal threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 against Watford (Picture: Getty)Watford showed fighting spirit in abundance as they recovered from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against Arsenal in a breathtaking clash at Vicarage Road.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had given Arsenal a seemingly comfortable lead at the interval with two typically ruthless finishes before Arsenal shot themselves in the foot by gifting their hosts two goals in the second period.Sokratis Papastathopolous’ errant pass was seized upon by Tom Cleverley to score before David Luiz conceded a penalty which was converted by Roberto Pereyra.Here are the four main talking points from the game…ADVERTISEMENT Manchester United captain Harry Maguire Oliver Young-MylesSunday 15 Sep 2019 6:44 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link788Shares Visit Advertiser website GO TO PAGE / Four talking points as Arsenal throw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Watford Aubameyang shows he’s the main manArsenal suffered a blow before the game with the news that Alexandre Lacazette would be absent due to an ankle injury picked up in the north London derby. The Frenchman is one of Arsenal’s most influential players, but when he plays it often means Aubameyang is shunted out to the flank.AdvertisementAdvertisementAlthough Aubameyang is accomplished when playing out wide, he is infinitely more dangerous when deployed through the middle. That was evidenced against Spurs when Aubameyang fired off three shots in the final 23 minutes after Lacazette had gone off, compared to one in the 67 minutes before with him on the pitch. Dani Ceballos struggled to exert his influence on proceedings (Picture: Getty)It was a slightly surprising decision, considering Watford’s new boss Quique Sanchez Flores is renowned as a defensive coach and as such, Watford’s defensive line would have been situated far deeper than Liverpool’s was, thus denying space in behind for the forwards.More of an issue, though, was the balance in midfield which looked all wrong in the opening stages. Ozil struggled with the pace of the game and Watford were able to bypass Arsenal’s midfield at will and pepper shots on goal, having four in total in the opening 20 minutes.AdvertisementAdvertisementAubameyang’s goal against the run of the play altered the pattern of the first half but regardless, Emery would have seen enough to know his away game strategy still requires fine-tuning.Arsenal’s defensive woes continueOne of the main changes that Emery instigated when he assumed control of Arsenal after Arsene Wenger was to encourage his goalkeeper and defender’s to build from the back by playing short passes into midfield.Over a year on from Emery’s appointment, though, and Arsenal are still not particularly adept at it. Mateo Guendouzi twice ceded possession inside his own penalty area and was fortunate that Watford were unable to capitalise.Despite those near-misses, Arsenal continued to try and play out from defence and eventually they paid the price for it. Bernd Leno knocked the ball square to Sokratis and the Greek defender attempted to find Guendouzi on the D. Advertisement Top articles Commentlast_img read more

IORP trialogue ‘close to successful closure’, says Eurogroup president

first_imgNegotiations on the revised IORP Directive are “close to successful closure”, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup, said ahead of a trialogue meeting on 15 June.The Dutch finance minister said the “next and hopefully last” trialogue meeting between the European Commission, member states and European Parliament to settle details of the Directive was due to take place this evening.He provided the update when addressing the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) on 14 June during a meeting discussing the soon-to-conclude Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU.Dijsselbloem said the council was “working very hard to facilitate the finalisation of the negotiations between the co-legislators” on the proposal for IORP II. “I think we are close to a successful closure there,” added Dijsselbloem.ECON is chaired by Italian MEP Roberto Gualtieri, who Dijsselbloem noted had already mentioned today’s scheduled trialogue meeting in his remarks to the committee.Dijsselbloem’s comments on the IORP negotiations come after Brian Hayes, Irish MEP and the rapporteur on the project of the directive’s revision, earlier this month said that disagreements remained on cross-border funding and the use of custodians  – referred to as depositories within the legislation.“We have made progress in a number of key areas, but it’s fair to say quite a number of outstanding issues remain,” he said on the occasion of the launch of a business plan for a European pension-tracing service in Brussels on 1 June.He said the discussions were “very intensive”.Thomas Mann, another MEP and a member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, had previously spoken about tension over the designation of pension funds as financial service providers but still said he hoped the revised IORP law would be finalised by June at the latest.last_img read more