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LOCAL BRIEFS: Candlemas, 'End of Bias' study, Dogwood grants

Jazz fiddler featured at St. James concert

Fiddle player and jazz musician Andrew Finn Magill will be the featured artist for the 2022 Candlemas Concert taking place at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at St. James Episcopal Church. The concert event, now in its 32nd year, will raise funds for three local organizations working to alleviate hunger in Henderson County: Interfaith Assistance Ministry, Hendersonville Rescue Mission and The Storehouse.
The yearly benefit concert, presented by the St. James Outreach Commission, celebrates the ancient Christian holiday of “Candlemas,” commemorating Mary’s return to the temple at Jerusalem to present her son to God.
Tickets to this in-person concert are $25 each and may be purchased by visiting the Hendersonville Visitors’ Center, Diamond Rush Jewelry in Laurel Park, or the St. James reception desk. Tickets may also be purchased online at by searching “Candlemas” in the NEWS section. Alternately, tickets can be purchased by contacting Tari Watson at 352-490-1056 or St. James is located at 766 North Main St. in Hendersonville. For the safety of all, masks will be required at the concert regardless of vaccination status.

Council on Aging names Birge as interim director

Ruth Birge, an experienced nonprofit leader in the community for the past 15 years, has been named interim executive director of the Council on Aging, board chair Jill Hart announced.
Effective immediately, Birge will fill in for Keith Logan, who is leaving the organization after five years to pursue employment along the lines of his original career in software development. Birge will lead an organization that, among other things, runs the Meals on Wheels program for more than 400 residents of Henderson County, provides liquid nutrition, congregate meals, and caregiver services to aging adults in the community.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Ruth’s caliber, experience, and local knowledge to lead the Council on Aging while we take the next couple of months to conduct an extensive search for a permanent director,” Hart said.
A former publisher of the Times-News, Birge has served as executive director of the United Way of Henderson County and continues to serve today on several areas boards while leading Vision Henderson County, a comprehensive leadership program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Blue Ridge Community College designed to develop community leaders and promote networking.

Church series explores 'End of Bias'

The Racial Justice Team of First Congregational Church is offering a book study of a new book, “The End Of Bias: The Science And Practice Of Overcoming Unconscious Bias,” beginning Feb. 1. The study will take place on Zoom for four Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m.

“The End of Bias,” by Jessica Nordell, is a transformative, groundbreaking exploration into how we can eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination, the great challenge of our age. The study will explore evidence-based practices that can be a new approach to the topic. Discussions will be led by Racial Justice team members. The book is available on Amazon and Google in Kindle format, hardcover and Audible. For more information and the Zoom link, contact Patti Clay or

Dr. Spearman taking patients

Maridee Spearman, a board-certified obstetrics and gynecological physician, will join the clinical team at Pardee OB/GYN Associates on a full-time basis, Pardee UNC Health Care announced. Spearman has been seeing patients for several years at Pardee, but made the switch to full-time on Jan. 5.
Dr. Spearman earned her medical degree from Medical University of South Carolina and completed her residency at the University of New Mexico Hospital. When not practicing medicine, she enjoys anything outdoors, including hiking, boating, golfing and painting.
Spearman is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment call 828-696-0897.

Dogwood accepting opioid grant applications

Dogwood Health Trust announced a second round of funding for opioid-related collaborative planning grants available to the counties, municipalities, or the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in Dogwood’s 18-county service region in Western North Carolina, including the Qualla Boundary. The Request for Proposals is posted at Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. Feb. 14. Award notifications will be made by the end of April 2022.
Dogwood also announced nearly $2.7 million in funding from its first round of opioid-related collaborative planning grants. Buncombe, Graham, Henderson, Madison, McDowell, Rutherford, Transylvania and Yancey counties all received a grant to assist with planning and preparing to use the funding that is expected to be distributed from the state as a result of the national opioid settlement.
“As a result of the historic $26 billion national opioid settlement agreement, every county in our state is expected to get a boost in funding for their opioid remediation efforts,” said Dr. Susan Mims, interim CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. “The timing of this settlement is fortunate since substance misuse and related deaths have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our goal is to ensure the region establishes the necessary collaborations and plans now, so Western North Carolina is well equipped to use the settlement funds when available to improve health and wellbeing across the region.”
Each opioid planning grant provides up to $300,000 per year for up to two years to support collaborative planning projects between counties, municipalities, or tribal nations and nonprofit organizations and other community partners that align with a memorandum of agreement that governs the use of opioid settlement funds in North Carolina.