News from Asheville

Asheville named #1 foodie destination in the US

ASHEVILLE – National notice is pouring in for a Blue Ridge Mountain city.Asheville has climbed the ranks to claim the No. 1 spot on Yelp’s 2022 Foodie Cities list as the top U.S. destinations for foodies. Asheville earned the top ranking in Yelp’s “Top U.S. Foodie Destinations of 2020,” too, particularly for its offerings of handcrafted artisanal chocolates.Yelp conducted a food survey of “Small Towns, Big Flavor” to find the highest ranked food destinations in the U.S. The company’s data science team searched for cities with populations under 250,000 with the highest restaurant ratings from out-of-towners and considered what reviewers loved about them.Read this:Which Asheville restaurants are top-rated on Yelp?Related:What Asheville’s two James Beard Awards wins mean for the restaurants, cityAsheville is noted to have “a unique mountain-to-urban creative food scene” and a flare for “blending the flavors of the American South with Appalachian fare.”Cúrate, a Spanish tapas bar, and Chestnut, a craft food and cocktail restaurant, were named Yelp reviewers’ favorites. Guests are recommended to make a reservation for the eateries, and order fried eggplant and lamb skewers at Cúrate.Asheville’s latest claim to food fame comes at the tail of two of the city’s restaurants winning awards at the James Beard Foundation Awards in June. Cúrate won for Outstanding Hospitality and Chai Pani won for Outstanding Restaurant.In other news:Inside one of Esquire’s ‘Best Bars in America’ found in downtown AshevilleTwo other North Carolina cities made Yelp’s list — Kill Devil Hills ranked No. 4 and Wilmington ranked No. 7. Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, rounded out the East Coast’s destinations with the No. and No. ranking, respectively. Savannah’s chef Mashama Bailey of The Grey won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef in the U.S.Yelp’s 2022 Foodie Cities1. Asheville2. Hawaiian Islands3. San Luis Obispo, California4. Kill Devil Hills (Outer Banks)5. Bend-Redmond, Oregon6. Charleston, South Carolina7. Wilmington8. Boise, Idaho9. Santa Fe, New Mexico10. Savannah, GAGeorgiaTiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at tkennell@citizentimes.com or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times. 

4 Asheville-area homes selected as finalists in HGTV's 'Ultimate' homes

Four Asheville-area homes have been selected as finalists in HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt 2022. This year, 77 homes across the nation are finalists, and the four local homes are represented by Beverly-Hanks.The annual online competition, spanning from June 28 to Aug. 2, features homes in eight different categories: amazing kitchens, beachfront homes, countryside retreats, curb appeal, downtown dwellings, homes with a history, outdoor escapes and waterside homes. The winners will be selected by consumers, who can view the featured properties on HGTV.com and vote on their favorites.  A winner from each category, along with an overall favorite, will be chosen based on the highest number of votes received.  “We are very pleased to have four of our listings in the contest this year,” Sandi Alguire, luxury marketing specialist at Beverly-Hanks, said in an HGTV press release June 29. “From world-class urban living in downtown Asheville to a private lakeside retreat in Brevard, these homes showcase the quality and breadth of options available to homeowners in Western North Carolina. It is an honor to be included among this year’s nominees and share our beautiful region with so many.” This is not the first time a Beverly-Hanks Asheville home has been featured in HGTV’s competition. Last year, its luxury condo at 75 Broadway Street #301 in Asheville won the top spot in the Downtown Dwellings category. Three months after winning the national title, the third-floor residence sold for $2.85 million, making it the highest sale in downtown Asheville at the time, according to Beverly-Hanks Realtors. Which Western North Carolina homes are in the running?Nominated in the Downtown Dwellings category is a luxury condo at 23 Rankin Ave. The condo with original exposed brick and Biltmore Estate hemlock floors is currently on the market for $2,995,000. Nominated in the Curb Appeal category is a white colonial home at 215 Kimberly Ave. that features a brick walkway up to the front door. The house recently sold in June for $2.6 million despite an appraised value of $722,200, according to Buncombe County assessment property records.  The final two area homes are featured in the Countryside Retreat category: 10 Creek Hollow Court in Arden and 16 Boot Lake Lane in Brevard. According to county records, both properties have sold: 10 Creek Hollow Court sold in June for $4,755,000, $1.7 million over its appraised value, according to county records ; and 16 Boot Lake Lane, sold in May for $1.2 million, over $700,000 above its appraised value, according to county records.Ryley Ober is a news intern with the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. News tips? Email her at ROber@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter @ryleyober

Murphy AD, girls basketball coach Ray Gutierrez resigns after consolidation setback

Murphy athletic director and girls basketball coach Ray Gutierrez announced his resignation Wednesday, citing the recent denial of grant money for Cherokee County’s high school consolidation plan, which he views as an indication that moving out of the area would be best for his school-aged children.A plan to consolidate three of Cherokee County’s high schools — Murphy, Hiwassee Dam and Andrews — received approval from the county’s board of education and board of commissioners in the past two years, with the new school scheduled to be open by 2025. The contentious plan hit an early road block in May, when the district’s needs-based school construction grant proposal wasn’t among the 42 that received approval from the North Carolina Department of Public Institution in Raleigh. The rejection is expected to delay the opening of the school, and upon learning of it, Gutierrez began looking at other options.”Some leaders in the community were opposed to it, and I didn’t really understand why,” Gutierrez told the Citizen Times. “[There’s] a lack of vision and uncertainty of what’s going to happen in Cherokee County schools and in particular Murphy High School.”BITTERSWEET:Bulldogs girls basketball named co-champions after COVID-19 cancels state title gameREPEAT:Bulldogs repeat with dominant win over PrincetonGutierrez, whose two sons are entering 5th and 7th grade, respectively, realized his children might not get the chance to enjoy the new high school.”Now’s the most important time in their lives,” Gutierrez said. “If a community could provide them a [better] education … I would do that for them. I looked around, found a great school and from that point on, I wouldn’t say it’s an easy decision … but it’s definitely a better situation for them.”Gutierrez has accepted a teaching job at North Cobb Christian School in Kennesaw, Georgia, where his sons will enroll in the fall. He does not plan on coaching at the high school level. His departure was first reported by Fetch Your News. A Murphy alumnus, Gutierrez had been with the Bulldogs for five seasons after spending four years at Hiwassee Dam.The facilities at the county’s existing high schools are in need of upgrades, Gutierrez said, increasing the urgency to open a consolidated school, increase funding to the current ones or both.He could stomach the facility discrepancy between Murphy and schools across the state line in Georgia, but now, neighboring North Carolina counties have lapped Cherokee, he said.”It’s Clay County, Graham County, Swain County,” Gutierrez said. “Seeing the importance of education and how much dollars go into resources for kids, it’s eye-opening to me. … Why can’t we have what they have? Why are we not funded like they’re funded?”Gutierrez had preferred to stay out of the consolidation debate — “I’m not a politician by no means,” he said — but seeing the conditions of the Bulldogs facilities every day led him to believe the county needs a firmer improvement plan than currently exists.   A former three-sport athlete at Murphy who married his high school sweetheart, Gutierrez said he “can’t imagine” Cherokee County without Murphy High School, making the initial thought of consolidating high schools rather shocking.However, members of all the communities in the county interact with each other regularly, he said, and improving the conditions for the county’s students should take precedent over any other concerns.”What’s important is like, what are we doing to help these kids out right now?” Gutierrez said. “If it means shutting down Murphy High School … that we can provide better education facilities for the kids of Cherokee County, then I’d be all for it. … That’s what it’s about.”The Bulldogs won seven state championships during Gutierrez’s tenure, including two girls basketball titles. He made the school’s first football coaching hire in nearly 40 years, choosing Joseph Watson to replace Hall of Fame head coach David Gentry upon the latter’s retirement last year.Gutierrez does not plan on recommending a successor, but feels there are many capable candidates at the school.Informing his girls basketball team and the rest of his Bulldogs inner circle of his departure was a difficult process, Gutierrez said, but one they understood aligned with the emphasis on family he’d instilled at the school since 2016.”I loved what I did at Murphy. The athletic director job and the coaching aspect of it, I could reach so many different kids and have a positive impact on them,” Gutierrez said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve got two boys, and I want to make sure I’m a great dad to them.”

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Weather Report –

Another round of heavy rain is heading for WNC   Ashevillewx-Meteorologist Hunter Ward prnsed713uhcmm7c4t99i7u1  ·    Another round of heavy rain is heading for WNC. If you live near a stream or river, be prepared to head to higher ground! A life threatening situation could unfold as another 1”-3” of rainfall appears to be heading for…