Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Highway 321 headaches over, for now

The barricades are gone, so are the flashing signs announcing the schedule of road closures.

All four lanes of Highway 321 are now open for traffic going up into the mountains between Lenoir and Blowing Rock.

A $63 million widening project caused major traffic headaches for the past six years along the 7 mile stretch of highway.

Twice each week, for several hours at a time, the road would shut down completely for blasting. At other times, lanes were blocked, traffic slowed to a crawl and sometimes it would take an hour to get through the construction zone.

The project was supposed to be finished in August of 2008 but cutting through the mountains took longer than officials expected. There is still some paving to be done in the lower section of the project when the weather warms up but the road is in shape to stay open until then, said officials.

On Wednesday, Alan Kirby was seen directing traffic around a small work project. "There are a couple of small things left to do, but nothing major, he said. Wednesday was his last day on the job. Kirby expects to be unemployed for a few weeks "Then when they come back to do some paving I'm supposed to come back and help but after that I don't know what I will do."

The company that handled the project, English Contractors out of Virginia, paid thousands of dollars in penalties for not completing the project on time, according to state officials.

Though the barricades are down on this project, Highway 321 will see them again, say officials. The final stretch of the two lane portion of the road, between Blackberry Ridge and Blowing Rock, is slated to be widened to four lanes. Bid will be let on the project this summer with construction expected to begin next year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Casting call for cover band reality show

TriStar Entertainment is conducting an open casting call and looking for twelve enthusiastic cover and tribute bands for a Tribute/Cover Band reality television show. We are scouring the globe in search of the best cover and tribute bands dedicated to the 80's rock/metal scene. To be considered, please email a presskit that includes a bio, band photo, along with links to music and videos.

In addition to bands, we are also casting for three hosts, male and female. We are looking for someone who isn’t shy on camera and can talk about all things 80’s. Please send a bio, photos, videos, portfolio to the email below for consideration.

Please email

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heavy rain does not stop revelers on Beale Street

There was a soggy start to the New Year's Eve celebration on Beale Street Friday where thousands were expected to ring in 2011.

Hours before the planned Gibson guitar drop at the Hard Rock, rain dropped on Beale Street.

Thunder drowned out a drummer as the band Rock Sugar conducted a sound check in the stormy weather.

Organizers said they were on pins and needles all week.

"It's always been cold, but the precip out here hasn't been a problem," said Mike Glenn with the Beale Street Merchants Association.

Organizers anticipated upwards of 40,000 people for New Year's Eve, partly because of the crowd in town for the Liberty Bowl.

"We did not come prepared for the rain," said Beale Street visitor Eric Dunn.  "Just leaving the Liberty Bowl to see the O'Jays and, man, we didn't know it was going to be like this."

"We had no rain all Summer long," said Doug Akers, visiting from Kentucky.  "Anytime you get a little, 70 degrees and New Year's Eve, let it rain."

Organizers advised no one under the age of 21 will be allowed on Beale Street on New Year's Eve after 11:00 p.m.