Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Some of what’s going around:

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help raise money for the recovery of Britten Olinger, the track coach at Montreat College who was severely injured in a crash on Feb. 27 in downtown Black Mountain. A speeding car smashed into Britten, who suffered a severed spinal cord. As of this weekend, more than $77,000 of a $150,000 goal had been raised. Here’s more from the page:

My brother will never walk again. Britten has spent the last 10 years teaching athletes how to run. He has been a track and cross country coach for all of his adult life. He is currently coaching track at Montreat College in Black Mountain, NC.

To say that my brother loves to run is an understatement. He has studied the art of running, he has mastered the technique, and he has supported numerous athletes in his coaching career. We have faith that God has a plan; there is a reason and Britten has the will.

He is an inspiration to so many people. He is a true servant to God. His smile, oh man, his smile! His smile can light up the room and his laugh is contagious. He has the ability to make you feel important and he has the ability to make you feel needed.

Britten’s recovery will take over a year, and he will spend a considerable amount of time in ICU. To say he has a long road to recovery is an understatement; however, he has all the training to win the race.

Did I mention he has a 10 month old baby girl? His daughter Kolbie is his whole world! Britten is married to Samantha Olinger of Virginia Beach, VA. They have a precious family of 3 dogs and a sweet baby girl.

We are asking for your help. Please consider donating to help Britten win the race! He has been training his whole life, and God has placed the toughest road in front of him. I have complete faith my brother is strong enough, because he is #brittenstrong.

The LaZoom Room, the new bar by the folks of the ever-popular LaZoom comedy bus tour, opens Friday on Biltmore Avenue in downtown. The location is 76 Biltmore Ave., right next door to the French Broad Food Co-Op.

Word on the street: At least a couple of downtown bars had been serving shots of CBD oil with an alcoholic drink until Alcohol Law Enforcement moved in to shut down the practice.

The Asheville Hippies will make their debut on June 29 at McCormick. That’s the name that the Asheville Tourists will adopt for one night only, as they wear custom tie-dyed jerseys with the word “Hippies” on it. The jerseys will be auctioned off to raise money for charity.

The West Coast-based yeast-maker White Labs, which is opening a lab on Charlotte Street in Asheville, is also opening a full-service restaurant and tap room. White Labs is hiring a GM for the restaurant/taproom operation.

-Asheville Wordfest is set for April 18-23. The event, a celebration of poetry, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

-The new Find Your Line bike shop web site looks spiffy.

Condom Coutoure, the big Planned Parenthood fundraising event featuring local designers who make amazing clothing out of condoms, is March 11 at The Orange Peel.

-The Thirsty Monk’s Sour Fest is coming up March 20.

Jay Lively, a Warren Wilson College graduate and former assistant basketball coach (and former player on the team), has been hired to lead the college’s alumni relations office. He takes over the for the recently retired Rodney Lytle.

-Speaking of Warren Wilson College, the college campus is remembering the life and work of former philosophy professor John Casey, who died recently. Here’s more from

His death was announced to the campus by email within hours. By 4 p.m., retired and current staff and faculty members, students, alumni and community members gathered at Morris’ Community Pavilion to remember the beloved teacher.

“Our lives are experiences to be fully lived,” Casey wrote in an email to campus Feb. 16. “However, this life of experience rests on an illusion of separation. Separation is a good thing in experience. Feeling separated from friends prompts us to seek new friends, loss of a lover prompts looking for a new love and separation from success prompts renewed effort.”

At the pavilion, stories of Casey’s wit and endless wonder came to the forefront. Each tale was funnier than the next. But they were separated by periods of silence to give the grieving time to reflect on a life well-lived. At one point, an owl could be heard hooting in the distance. Warren Wilson’s mascot is an owl. The owl is also associated with wisdom. For a period spent remembering a philosopher who worked at Warren Wilson College, the bird’s timing could not have been more appropriate.

Casey’s rare form of wisdom was shared time and again in office 307 of the Jensen Humanities and Social Science Building. In fact, still plastered to the outside face of the door is a note written in black marker: “Dear John Casey, It finally sank in! – Wyatt Smith.” While the note does not expound upon what “it” is, it is safe to assume Smith is referring to one of Casey’s countless lessons.

“But in reality, there is no separation, only is, existence, one stuff, Brahman, Yahweh, God, Tao, Wakan Tanka. These are just names, and as such they already imply separation. Words and thinking require distinctions, so you cannot think your way out of thinking and so out of separation,” Casey continued in his email. “I believe I’m prepared to be a ‘one timer’ going straight to ‘is.’”

The professor’s love for the land, particularly Warren Wilson College’s campus, was well-known. He helped create land use plans for the College and spent a career opening minds to the dangers of climate change. In 2012, the Mountain Xpress noted his environmental ethics course was “the class he came here to teach.”

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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