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The Top 10 (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5): Emergency HQ, big snow, Publix, 7th Avenue

The evolving restaurant scene, a stunning election upset, the sustained power of homeowners pushing back against new roads and a big December snow storm made the Lightning’s Top 10 news stories of 2018. Here’s our seventh annual look at the top stories of the year.

No. 10. Emergency headquarters

Dedicated on Nov. 2, the county’s new Thomas H. Thompson Emergency Services Center proved its worth with weeks. “In this case we had a trial by fire because we’ve been in it a month and then we had 2 feet of snow,” County Manager Steve Wyatt said of the Dec. 8-9 snowstorm that paralyzed the county. Soon after the county activated the Emergency Operations Center for the first time in the new facility on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 8, first responders would feel its benefits. “It gives them a base that is heated and there’s places for them to rest and you’re not freezing,” Wyatt said. “You can actually have a place to rest between calls. It’s a good environment. It’s a good investment.” Emergency Management Director Jimmy Brissey was along the county leaders who helped design the 57,000-square-foot facility. “I call it a model facility,” he said. “It’s a great example of collaboration and a great example of the commitment the commissioners made to public safety.”

No. 9. Megan’s miracle


Megan, shown with Chloe, a Yorkshire teacup, back home in Hendersonville two months after getting a new heart.


A torrential downpour deprived Megan Edney of an emergency helicopter transport from Mission hospital to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. That was just the first day of what her father, County Commission Chairman Michael Megan EdneyMegan EdneyEdney, would later describe as a “rollercoaster ride from hell.” Thanks to the work of a cardiologist and heart surgeon and their team at Levine, the ride would end happily for Megan and her family. In an astonishingly short time, the transplant network located a new heart for Megan, who suffered from a rare disease that results an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle. A heart transplant is the only cure. “Miracles do happen,” Michael exulted on Facebook when Megan’s new heart was found. Added her mom, Lisa: “They never had another heart patient to our knowledge that got a heart that quick. We were expecting the long haul.” A month after the successful transplant, Megan returned for one of what will be regular checkups. “She looked amazing,” said Dr. Gonzalo Wallis, her cardiologist. “That girl is resilient and those parents are resilient. She basically went through three surgeries back to back to back and she recovered amazing.”

8. A white (pre-) Christmas

DukeSnow2A big winter storm, rare for December, broke single-day snowfall records, caused almost 12,000 homes to lose power and closed school for a week. Days after the Dec. 8 and 9 storm, many secondary roads were impassable. Duke Energy staged more than 800 crew members out of its Hendersonville operations center. The National Weather Service reported snowfall totals of 11 to 18 inches. Declaring a state of emergency, Gov. Roy Cooper urged North Carolinians to stay off the roads. “Enjoy the beauty but respect the danger,” he said. While Hendersonville shops and restaurants lost a weekend of Christmas shopping and more, hotels did a big business housing storm refugees and emergency crews.


7. Publix opens

The opening of another supermarket a few hundred yards from three other grocery stores might not seem like big news. Publix was, because of the anticipation, its brand (“where shopping is a pleasure” and its location (“where shopping’s in a floodplain”). News broke of the store in 2015 (the Lightning’s No. 6 story that year) and two years passed before the Florida-based grocer broke ground. Engineers filed and refiled requests to build at the chronically flooded corner of Greenville Highway and White Street. But Publix knew what it was doing all along when it picked a spot — come hell or high water — that would intercept Flat Rock and Kanuga shoppers before they could push on to the many incumbent competitors. Grand opening crowds overflowed the store’s lot and parked across White Street near Stein Mart and ever since the new store on Mud Creek has remained busy.

6. Foodie festival, Libation Nation

A new French restaurant, the (promised) debut of the long-awaited rooftop restaurant, a coffee-shop/taproom/bottle shop, pizzerias, soul food with a Jamaican accent, fare from the tip of South America, new microbreweries and even a brandy bar headlined the beverage and dining scene in 2018. Downtown, the opening of Shine, in the 200 block of North Main, A server celebrates on opening day at Dry Falls Brewing Co.A server celebrates on opening day at Dry Falls Brewing Co.combined with the newly opened French Broad and Harvey’s at The Henderson, ramped up what downtown development coordinator Lew Holloway calls the growing “foodie destination” appeal of downtown. Some spots flickered out, too. Although Lime Leaf Thai Fusion, Flat Rock Ciderworks and Jongo Java all closed their doors this year, their spaces were snapped up immediately. The French Broad opened in the Lime Leaf’s old digs at 342 N. Main, Mike’s on Main annexed the cider taproom space for Mike’s 303 and Never Blue chef/owner Jesse Roque leased the Jongo Java spot for an expansion with a promised new menu. Beyond Main Street, diners could get everything from oxtail to southern fried chicken at Dreadlife Kitchen in Edneyville and sample specialties from Chile, Peru and Puerto Rico at Cono Sur in Mills River. Appalachian Coffee Co. drew crowds to a renovated coal supply depot along the railroad tracks on Fifth Avenue West. And on the craft brewery front, Triskelion opened its taps on Seventh Avenue, Dry Falls blazed the southern frontier on Kanuga’s Busy Bend and Mills River Brewing Co. broke ground on a new brewhouse and taproom on Banner Farm Road.

5. Seventh Avenue renaissance


Although the promise of revitalization on Seventh Avenue has been a perennial on the Lightning’s Top 10 list for five years, 2018 felt like the year that the revival was taking hold. Marco’s Pizza, Triskelion, the Brandy Bar and the Amazing SeventhAveA rendering shows a possible residential development in the Historic Seventh Avene District.Pizza Co. all opened, checking the private development box. The Hendersonville City Council checked the public box of public-private partnership in a big way — committing to a new cop shop on Ashe Street, adopting a zoning overlay district to encourage commercial and residential development and rolling out a new streetscape proposal. A pioneer of the then-struggling commercial area, Southern Appalachian Brewing Co., is about to get a new neighbor up the hill, in Guidon brewery, and Bearwallow Brewing Co. plans to open on Seventh at Locust. That raises the potential for the brewery district as a destination. If the city can install more inviting crosswalks across Sixth Avenue to reach the district, the link from Main Street and a renovated Grey Hosiery Mill to once-bustling Seventh Avenue would be complete.

Coming Dec. 26: Nos. 4 and 3