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'Ask Matt': How come our meters cost more than Asheville's?

Q. Why did Hendersonville's new water meters cost twice as much as Asheville's?

Two years ago the City of Hendersonville invested $11.6 million to replace 25,000 water meters with new electronic units and installed monopole receivers throughout the county. The new meters send a digital signal to an operations center, which generates reports for billing and water system maintenance. No house-to-house meter reading is required. Water Department officials told me that the telecommunication system alone cost $2 million but the daily data flow from in-ground meters could save customers money by "red-flagging" high water usage. By comparison, the Asheville project cost $7 million and replaced 57,000 meters but with less electronic capability. Asheville meter readers can stay in their vehicles but still must drive through each neighborhood to pick up a signal.


Q. Why doesn't Publix lease the former Harris-Teeter building on Spartanburg Highway and can they compete here?
Publix is designing its new Asheville store as well as others to be 49,000 square feet. The vacant Chadwick Corners space only has 33,000 so I suspect that's a deal-breaker. Plus there's the issue of the floor slope that sent unattended buggies crashing into one another or into startled shoppers. Plus Spartanburg Highway is already grocery store saturated. Besides the new Harris-Teeter and the expanded and remodeled Fresh Market, the neighborhood is supposed to be getting a super Ingles in place of the current Ingles store. Even so, look for Publix to flex its considerable muscle somewhere in supermarket-happy Hendersonville. "Publix is aggressively seeking additional locations in North Carolina," said Maria Brous, the PR person at the company's Lakeland, Fla., headquarters. Sounds like we could be in for a real food fight.

Q. What happened to the Mother Earth News and are John and Jane Shuttleworth still here?

Jane Shuttleworth still resides in the area on land that was once the magazine's research center. John passed away in Colorado four years ago. Both moved here from Ohio in 1973 to start the Mother Earth News, a bimonthly magazine printed on large unbleached paper that featured articles on ecology, sustainability and outdoor living. "The magazine was big in the 1980s," Jane Shuttleworth recalls. "At one time we were printing over one million copies." The magazine was later sold to a New York publisher who took it in a different direction. It is still in publication under the same name — but with a glossy cover. Dave Adams, the financial officer for golf course designer Tom Fazio, worked for the magazine for nine years and served as its president at one time. In 1990, when Mother Earth News left town, Richard Freudenberger and other magazine staffers stayed behind and launched Back Home magazine, which still operates out of Flat Rock.

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