Betsy Rogers Reporting Article: Business
Fewer people are leaving behind their carbon footprint and staying fresh and clean by purchasing foods grown locally. Buying local foods is a national trend, and a great number of grocery stores are providing more organic and locally grown groceries than in years past. Demand for locally grown food is because of the many benefits associated with local produce, according to Brad Clark, the manager of Earth Fare. These benefits include being more eco-friendly, containing more nutritional value and boosting the local economy. â€œWhen produce is shipped to the U.S. from places like Mexico, California and Chile, the amount of nutrients in the food is decreased by at least half of what the food item initially contained,â€? said Kate Peek, a senior majoring in nutrition at Auburn. Vitamins have become more popular in recent years in efforts to prevent malnutrition, according to Peek. Peek says that people lack basic nutrients now more than ever because farmers are more concerned with the shelf life of their produce and pick fruits and vegetables before they are ripe and use preservatives. Obesity and health problems are issues in the U.S.; therefore, health experts are encouraging Americans to choose fresh foods rather than fast and fried food, according to The Birmingham News. Alabama ranks second in the country for obesity and fourth for diabetes, according to the state health department in The Birmingham News. Approximately 85
percent of Alabama high school students and 77 percent of adults have fewer than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Local food is not as accessible as and more expensive than unhealthy food, according to The Birmingham News. “Local farmers in Alabama cannot produce the quantity required to feed the state and at a good price if they continue their lifestyle and not persist to be more business oriented,” said Yolande Wersinger, the owner of Dayspring. In most states, local farmers have joined together in business to sell their produce at a farmers market or hold various events where they set up stands with other farmers and sell their food, according to Wersinger. This allows customers access to a large variety and quantity of fresh, healthy foods offered at a better price. “I’m afraid Alabama is going to be the last state to realize that if you want to be successful in selling locally grown food as a farmer, you have to work and coordinate with other local farmers,” said Wersinger. “A huge problem is that I’ll have customers come to my store and be disappointed in the small vegetable and fruit selection available and annoyed they made the trip.” Earth Fare is a growing chain, and the store in Auburn is in the process of making connections with local farmers and helping their business by selling their produce in the store. “Unfortunately, many farmers here are skeptical and think our store will put them out of business, but in reality it will help both their business and ours,” said Clark.
Earth Fare encourages all of the community, including Auburn students, to buy local. On Wednesday nights, there is a student discount on all products; On Thursday nights, there is a family special that provides six children a free meal with every adult that spends $5. There are also many events held throughout the year involving local foods. Earth Fare hosted an event this September to show their support for local shopping called “Local Fest.” Fifteen large tents were set up outside of Earth Fare’s doors with vendors from the Auburn-Opelika area displaying their merchandise. Live music was playing which created a fun, lively atmosphere for shoppers to walk around and visit each vendor. “When citizens and students practice habits of supporting local farmers, it is a win-win situation,” said Margaret Kloess, a senior at Auburn. “Buying locally not only stimulates the economy, but provides a higher quality of produce and complimentary health benefits. I support Earth Fare and hope the support of local farmers increase to become a way of life for the students and citizens of Auburn.”
Betsy Rogers Reporting Article: Culture Events Speech
Little feet, high-pitched laughter and pure innocence all bring to mind children, who inspired the artwork in the 2010 Spring Collection of Sisavanh Phouthavong and Jarrod Houghton. Approximately 75 undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Art and artists within the community stood in Biggin Gallery and listened intently to the presentation on Monday. Phouthavong and Houghton shared their passion, inspiration and the symbolic meaning of the artwork they created together as husband and wife. “Sisavanh was a previous professor of mine, and it was great seeing her three-dimensional artwork,” said Calvin Martin, an industrial design graduate student. “After viewing her previous work, her style is very evident in this collection.” Inspired by their children, the main artwork presented by the artists was titled Insectophobi. This included six sculptures of a three-dimensional, hollow, bronze dress approximately 2 feet in height. Each dress was unique and covered with bugs. The dresses represent how the environment plays a major role in their daughters’ lives, according to Houghton. Excavation is another artwork that was a highlight. It included four paintings that represent a sense of home and were inspired from old, rundown buildings and their children. “The feeling or reaction we were aiming for was one of nostalgia, old and decrepit,” said Houghton.
To give this effect in each painting, 10 to 12 old Victorian wallpapers on the canvases were heavily sanded down. Also, an oval frame was in the upper left-hand corner with a picture of one of the daughters inside. That picture represented the artists’ personal sense of home. Another artwork represented four natural disasters: a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami and volcano. The title for each sculpture is the location of the natural disaster being represented. This sculpture included five aluminum branches with tiny, sharp pins sporadically placed along the braches. Each pin attached to the branch had a dainty, colorful disc in the center. The sharp pins represent the bad and danger of the sculpture, but the colorful discs make it appear beautiful. This reinforces the underlying message of this artwork that something dangerous or ugly can also be seen as beautiful. “The technical ability presented was impressive. The use of metal, wood, wallpaper and various materials to create their artwork was a true inspiration,” said John Doyle, an industrial design graduate student. The Spring Collection is a collaborative body of work created to reveal the artists’ shared experiences of human anxiety, phobia, taboo and dreams, according to the Current 2010 Collaborative Artist Statement. In using materials such as bronze, iron and encaustic, Phouthavong and Houghton created this work to symbolize unsightly requirements for nature’s survival and its magnificent beauty through innocent eyes, according to the Current 2010 Collaborative Artist Statement.
The Spring Collection is a collaboration of both artists’ work, but they have different backgrounds and strengths. Phouthavong’s work is a mixture of drawings, paintings, sculpture, animation, performance and sound-based installations, according to her general artist statement presented by the College of Liberal Arts with the Department of Art. Currently, Phouthavong is teaching advanced level painting courses at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. She has exhibited her work throughout the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, and her artwork is also presently being represented by the gallery Tinney Contemporary in Nashville. Houghton’s strength is sculpting, and he is currently an assistant one-year professor in foundations at Middle Tennessee State University, according to his bibliography presented by the College of Liberal Arts with the Department of Art. His artwork has exhibited nationally in Alabama, California, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, Missouri and internationally. “It was nice to see how two artists can collaborate together while still maintaining their own style,” said Martin.
Betsy Rogers Reporting Article: City Council meeting
No clucking occurred at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, although many jokes were cracked regarding urban chicken keeping. Lengthy negotiations discussed whether raising chickens in the city limits should be permitted. The City Council voted to have the Planning Commission take a look at the issue before making a final decision. Benefits of raising chickens include education for children, better tasting and fresher eggs and high-quality fertilizer from their droppings, according to Councilwoman Sheila Eckman. Eckman also pointed out that a large number of progressive cities allow for urban chicken keeping, and it has become a growing trend. Councilman Dick Phelan was the only person to state he disagreed with urban chicken keeping. “There is no way I want chickens being raised next door to me,” said Phelan. “That is the last thing I want to happen.” In other discussions, Auburn University’s Student Government Association made changes for this year’s Homecoming Parade was another topic discussed, along with the possibility of building a skate park near the intersection of Samford and Glenn Avenue. In regards to urban chicken keeping, the newer subdivisions will most likely prohibit the raising of chickens by the covenants, but the older neighborhoods probably will allow for it, according to Eckman.
“There’s something very rewarding in being able to go out and collect your own food,” said Julie Meadows, a resident. Meadow’s husband was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. One of his requirements was to have a large amount of protein in his diet. As a vegetarian, having the option to raise chickens in his own backyard would be beneficial for his condition. Raising chickens was a big part of Meadow’s children’s education as well. It taught them about the food chain, and Meadows said she feels people now, more than ever, are unaware of where their food comes from. A couple main concerns regarding raising chickens in the city included the containment of the chickens and the possible diseases they could carry. With personal experience in raising chickens, Meadows affirmed that chickens generally stay close to home, and they can have their wings clipped so they cannot fly over a fence or escape an enclosed yard. Meadows also confirmed that chickens do not have to be vaccinated against any diseases. “It seems incredibly arbitrary that chickens wouldn’t be allowed when we allow dogs, cats and other animals with nuisance,” said Rebecca Retzlaff, professor in Auburn’s community planning program. Many people have neighbors who own mean or annoying pets, and chickens can be better pets and less trouble to neighbors sometimes than most other animals, according to Retzlaff. In the other two major debates covered at the City Council meeting, the new plans for this year’s Auburn’s SGA Homecoming Parade passed, but the building of the skate
park to be located near the intersection of Samford and Glenn Avenue will remain undeveloped until funds are available. Changes for Auburn’s SGA homecoming parade involve closing parts of College Street, Magnolia Avenue, Gay Street and Thach. In the past, the parade took place on the campus concourse. In the parade floats will be displayed, decorated by fraternities and sororities, and no candy will be thrown, according to Emily Riley, SGA’s representative to the city council. With the current state of the economy, even though the skate park was approved in 2009 its construction will remain on hold until more resources are available. A large group of kids in Auburn love to skateboard and desperately want the skate park to be built, according to resident Clara Clothiaux. Skateboarding is popular in Auburn, but also happens to be one of the fastestgrowing sports in the nation, according to the Biscayne Times. “The sport is ranked sixth in the U.S. in terms both of number of participants and popularity,” according to Lara De Souza, spokeswoman for Miami’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “One in every ten teenager owns a board.”
Betsy Rogers Reporting Article: City Council meeting
No packs were formed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, although many concerns were howled regarding coyotes being seen near the Town Creek Park and Grove Hill area. Lengthy negotiations discussed the coyote sightings in the two areas and possible solutions to solve the problem. “Most sightings reported involved coyotes chasing dogs that were unleashed and running around the park,” said Parks & Recreation director Becky Richardson. “The coyotes would run away when they spotted the owner, so many people in the park have seen the coyotes, but there has been no interaction.” Debate concerning the city’s contract with the Lee County Humane Society was another topic discussed, along with the announcement of Employee of the Month Award. In discussing the reason for coyotes moving into the two neighborhood areas is that they roamed in search of food, and they have been able to do this because they are amazingly adaptable animals, according to Dr. Jim Armstrong, a professor of forestry and wildlife sciences. “The coyotes serve a purpose, but can be controlled and may need to be reduced in numbers,” said Armstrong. “There is a fine line between reducing the numbers of coyotes and totally eliminating them, and the main problem concerns people loosing cats, poodles and other pets to the coyotes.” Foot traps, specifically the soft hold leg trap, is a possible solution for catching the coyotes, according to Richardson. The foot traps would not harm the coyotes, but
simply trap them in place. Once trapped, Parks & Recreation would contact Animal Control and leave them responsible for the decision of what to do with the coyotes. If the trappings are permitted, they will only be located in areas where the trappings can be controlled and signage can be placed, according to Richardson. There are two types of signage, and they are being worked on by City Manager Charles Duggan, Parks & Recreation and U.S. Department of Agriculture. A graduate student is working with the school of wildlife and sciences to create signage that will display how to deal with various wildlife, and not just coyotes, according to Richardson. These signs will be displayed in every Auburn park. The second type of signage, if the trappings are approved, will be used to close certain areas of the park and cemetery. USDA stated that the most efficient way to control the number of an unwanted species is to shoot the animals once caught, according to Richardson. Parks & Recreation will not allow this to happen however because there is an ordinance against using guns in the city. Many cities besides Auburn are also having a problem or have dealt with coyotes, and complaints have been published in various cities and counties across the nation. Huron County, Ontario, for example, has a coyote problem and it could get ugly, according to Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek in an article from Clinton News Record. "There are a lot of issues and it's not as easy as it looks to try and solve the problem," said Van Diepenbeek.
In considering the other two major debates covered at the City Council meeting, the city’s two year contract with the Lee County Humane Society was approved, and Vernard Hobson with the Environmental Services Department was awarded Employee of the Month. The Lee County Humane Society’s fees are split between Auburn, Opelika and Lee County, according to Duggan. This fee includes provision of services for housing, tending, administering and disposing of stray and unwanted animals. Auburn’s fee is $88,643. Hobson is thought of highly by his media supervisor, took the initiative to perform random acts of kindness to strangers within the community and created a tool to remove tissue a more environmentally friendly way from the tress downtown after a football game victory, according to Mayor Bill Ham. “For his efforts as a great team worker and ‘just take care of it’ attitude, Vernard is truly deserving of this special recognition,” said Ham, as he then posed with Hobson to take a picture displaying the award.
Betsy Rogers Reporting Article: City Council meeting
Sky high expectations were brought up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Lengthy negotiations discussed the concern of whether Skybar Café should maintain their patio area facing West Magnolia Avenue as an extended lounge. The City Council voted in favor of Skybar’s request and approved it. This Skybar patio was designed in August 2009 for use as a waiting vicinity for people to pick up or drop off patrons. “Subsequent to that, a table appeared, chairs appeared, and people appeared and drinks appeared,” said Forrest Cotten, planning director. Debate concerning the downtown Auburn Block Party that took place this past weekend was another topic discussed, along with the resolution adopted at the last City Council meeting to install the traffic circle at Cary Drive between South Cary Drive and North Donahue Drive. In discussing the use of the patio at Skybar, when the Planning Commission declined to consider this issue, the city of Auburn subsequently called for it to be taken to court. City Manager Charles M. Duggan, Jr. said that not only was the patio being used illegally as a lounge area shortly after it was built, but Skybar ignored all complaints about the patio’s purpose and asked for forgiveness. Councilwoman Sheila Eckman said, “I am irritated they didn’t follow the law originally and now they want forgiveness.”
Councilman Arthur Dowdell agreed with Eckman, “I don’t see any problem in approving it. I think it’ll be a nightmare, and if we have the power to approve it, why not, if the landowner is in agreement with it?” Even though no public safety violation has been reported regarding this patio, the City Council is charged by law to weigh health, safety and welfare issues when applying conditional use approval, according Duggan. Eckman said she is concerned if a catastrophe were to occur at Skybar, safety is an issue and might involve a mass exiting disaster. In considering the other two major debates covered at the City Council meeting, the Block Party was already passed two weeks prior to this meeting, and the resolution for a traffic circle was adopted at the last City Council meeting. A resident requested for a delay in the building of the traffic circle and asked the City Council to consider sidewalks instead. The Block Party was a hit, according to Chris Kearns, with Badger Properties Real Estate Investments. Kearns thanked the City Council for allowing the event to take place and for the letters he received regarding the success of the Block Party from a few vendors on College Street. “During the Block Party I had 18 percent of my business, and this past week 25 percent of my business for the day was done during the Block Party,” said Davis Wilder, a new Realtor in downtown Auburn. The request on Cary Drive between South Cary Drive and North Donahue Drive concerned a complaint regarding the resolution adopted at the last City Council meeting to install the traffic circle.
“Not only will they be costly, but they will not solve the speeding problems,” said Charles Segrest, a resident in the neighborhood. “For the cost of these things, we can put in a lot of sidewalks.” He requested that the City Council reconsider the resolution and delay the development of the circles.