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ZOO SAYS GOODBYE TO AFRICAN ELEPHANT

Just like an elephant never forgets, the Asheboro Zoo will never forget Little Diamond, the 36-year-old female African elephant who died late in the evening on June 17.

Little Diamond had been at the zoo in Asheboro since 1995, after being born in Knoxville Tennessee in 1978. Little Diamond was famous for being the first African elephant born in North America.

It became apparent on June 13 that Little Diamond had begun showing signs of colic when she ceased eating and appeared to be more lethargic than usual.

She was treated by Chief Veterinarian Mike Loomis, but her condition did not improve. After Little Diamond succumbed to her illness Loomis determined that she had suffered from an impacted large intestine from ingesting sand.

“Little Diamond” had been part of our elephant family for 20 years,” said Zoo Director David Jones. “This is a very sad loss.”

Diamond is survived by the six companions of her herd at the zoo who remain at the zoo and include four females and two males ranging in age from 12 to 40.

COMMUNITY DISCUSSES UNION STATION PLANS

Community leaders met June 17 in the Ishi Pentecostal Temple in Winston-Salem to discuss plans for the city’s historic Union Station building located at 300 South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, currently home to Davis Garage. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, dates back to 1926 when it served three railroads that connected many major cities in the state. During the 1940s as many as 18 trains and 500 passengers per day came through Union Station, but closed in 1970 with the decline of passenger rail service.

The city has partnered with the architectural and interior design firm Walter Robbs to find a way to utilize the space. There are currently plans to extend a few local bus lines to the station when it is finished, but not all of the space would be used for transportation. Firm vice president Rence Callahan said they have met with city leaders as well as faculty from Winston-Salem State University about the potential for economic development in the area.

“This building is a fabulous piece of architecture, and when it’s restored it could be the showpiece of East Winston,” Callahan said at the meeting while emphasizing that it would not replace the main bus station downtown.

He said the building is in good condition, and most of the work would be restorative. Each floor is 12,000 square feet.

At the meeting, residents in attendance tossed around a variety of ideas that included turning the building into a museum to preserve the history of the station, using it as a business center for meetings and using it for commercial development in an effort to bring more businesses to the area surrounding the university.

Marva Reid, a member of the Winston- Salem Neighborhood Alliance, said she has been involved with the restoration project since 2006, when the city discovered they would receive federal funding.

She has fond memories of the days when trains ran in and out of Winston-Salem.

“Being a little girl, I remember coming to the station, using the station,” she said. “We used to always drop my mother off because she used to go to seminars out of town. But I remembered the activity, just to see people come and go and sitting down waiting for the next connection. But the place is just beautiful.”

FORSYTH PROJECTS INCREASED HOTEL TAX

The Forsyth County Tourism Development Authority voted unanimous approval of Visit Winston-Salem’s 2014-15 budget and Marketing and Sales Plan at their monthly board meeting June 17, according to a press release. The $3.16 million budget represents a 9 percent revenue increase for sales, marketing and promotional activities over the 2013-14 budget. The additional revenue is based on a projected increase of hotel occupancy tax collections in Forsyth County.

The plan includes a $17.5 million renovation of the Benton Convention Center—a project that has been in the works for three years. Visit Winston-Salem plans to use a variety of marketing strategies, which include publishing articles and photos in trade publications, in-state digital advertising, and direct mail. Renderings of the center’s renovations will be displayed at upcoming trade shows and sales calls.

Visit Winston-Salem is also partnering with Visit NC to host 600 delegates from the Travel South Showcase, which is an annual convention that is organized around southern cultural heritage in 2016.

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