Large Emerald Found at Hiddenite Cut into Beautiful 65 Carat Gem

Here’s a neat story about the recent discovery of a very valuable emerald right here in North Carolina.

Named the “Carolina Emperor,” the stone has been cut into a 65 carat jewel and may be worth $1 million dollars or more.

The find was made last year on a farm near the small town of Hiddenite, located in Alexander County.

The locality has been well known since 1879 when a geologist named William Earl Hidden visited the area to search for what the native farmers called “green bolts.”  While Hidden was there, he also discovered a green variety of the mineral spodumene which was later named “hiddenite” after him.  Subsequently, the community also came to be called by the same name; it is today probably North America’s best known source for emeralds.

I myself visited the location several times in my youth.  However, I was never lucky enough to find an emerald.

If you’re interested in reading further on this topic, Greensboro Public Library has a couple of useful titles.  Try In Search of the Scarce Gem Hiddenite and the Emeralds of North Carolina by M. Richard Harshaw, Jr., as well as History of the Gems Found in North Carolina by George Frederick Kunz.

Crowd Size at Beck Rally Debated

As many will no doubt be aware, Conservative  talk show host and political commentator Glenn Beck led a big rally at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial this past Saturday.

Labeled “Restoring Honor,” the rally promoting religious and patriotic themes and co-sponsored by (among others) the Tea Party Movement, numbered Republican Party vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin among its numerous speakers.

As has often been the case in the aftermath of other big Washington political demonstrations of the past (such as the Million Man March), post-event debate in part focuses on the question of just how many people were actually in attendance.  Estimates of the numbers at the Beck event range wildly from less than 100,000 to more than one million.

Regardless of your political convictions, Beck and his followers are attracting a lot of national attention.

If you’d like to learn more about Glenn Beck, Greensboro Public Library’s holdings include several books which he had a hand in either authoring or editing.  These include Arguing with Idiots:  How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government and An Inconvenient Book:  Real Solutions to the World’s Biggest Problems, as well as a new novel we have on order called The Overton Window.

Keeping an Eye on Earl

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center and elsewhere in the U.S. are closely monitoring Hurricane Earl, which today was upgraded to a Category 3 storm with winds of  111 mph or more.

The predicted track at this point suggests the storm will likely remain offshore as it skirts up the east coast, probably approaching the Carolinas by Friday.  But there’s still room for error in the forecast. 

According to the National Hurricane Center:

This is a good time to remind everyone that NHC average track forecast errors are 200 to 300 miles at days 4 and 5.  Given this uncertainty . . . it is too soon to determine what portion of the U.S. East Coast might see direct impacts from Earl. 

In any event, even if we dodge this bullet, we’re at the height of the hurricane season and the tropics are getting pretty active with Danielle, Earl and a thus far unnamed low pressure system all concurrently swirling around out there in the Atlantic.   

Also in the news this week, by the way, was the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which of course struck the Mississippi/Louisiana coast in 2005.

If you’re interested in hurricanes, Greensboro Public Library might have something for you.  Try some of these books and DVDs:  Hurricanes! by Gail Gibbons (juvenile); Storm World:  Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney; Storm that Drowned a City (NOVA DVD);  Hurricane Katrina Strikes the Gulf Coast:  Disaster & Survival by Mara Miller; Hurricane Watch:  Forecasting the Deadliest Storms on Earth by Jack Williams and Bob Sheets; and Inside the Hurricane: Face to Face with Nature’s Deadliest Storms by Pete Davies.

Grand Openings for McGirt-Horton Branch Library and Greensboro Historical Museum’s “Voices of a City” Exhibit

Part of the "Voices of a City" exhibit at Greensboro Historical Museum.

Just in case you don’t know, Summer 2010 has witnessed two very important events for the Greensboro Public Library system. 

First, just this past week our McGirt-Horton branch library moved into a beautiful new building.  

Just a bit of history:  In 1986 the McGirt-Horton Branch Library opened as a one-room community reading station in Claremont Courts.  The Library soon outgrew that space and moved in 1989 to a leased facility in a shopping center on Phillips Avenue.  In 2006, voters approved $3.5 million to construct a new 10,000 square foot library. 

The new building is located in the same shopping center where the branch was formerly located at the corner of Phillips and Woodbriar Avenue.  This building will be one of the first LEED Certified libraries in North Carolina.  LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is concerned with many aspects of “green building.”

When you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by the McGirt-Horton Library.  We’d love to see you!

Secondly, in late July, Greensboro Historical Museum opened its new state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot exhibit entitled “Voices of a City:  Greensboro, North Carolina,” consisting of a tapestry of first-person observations and remembrances that tell the story of Greensboro’s history dating back to the early 1700s.

The galleries that make up “Voices of a City” present Greensboro’s history in eight thematic sections, blending historical artifacts, photos, portraits, letters and other documents with the latest technology to enhance each museum visitor’s experience.  Multi-sensory media used in “Voices” include video stations, hand-held audio wands, interactive touch screens providing written and visual information, audio of oral history recordings and ambient sound.

If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, please come to the Museum to see this interesting new exhibit about the history of Greensboro.

Teaching Money Skills for Life

Fall series kicks off August 30

Future Cents in an interactive series of workshops that will help give teens a reality check about money management. How many of us as parents see them repeating our mistakes with money. Give them the tools that they need to succeed and not fall into traps. Take advantage of the free workshops that teach young people to live beyond today and investing in their future. For more: See details about programs, information about the iPad drawing and resources.

The kick off event is Monday evening, August 30 and will present banking topics and Keys to Money Mastery.  Algenon Cash wears many hats in this community. As owner and managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, writer, radio personality, and community enthusiast, Mr. Cash has his hands on many projects.  Currently, he is integrally involved with Future Cents, the Greensboro Public Library’s financial education project for teens.  “I firmly believe that financial literacy is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Americans do not understand basic skills such as how to balance a checkbook. Programs such as Future Cents are creating a discussion about a critical issue facing our youth,” says Cash.

Fall series kicks off August 30.

NC Unemployment Declines in July

Unemployment in North Carolina fell to 9.8% in July, the News and Record reported today.  The state’s jobless rate had exceeded 10% every month since February 2009.

Earlier in August, the Labor Department reported that national unemployment for July remained unchanged versus the previous month at 9.5%.  A state-by-state analysis shows that jobless rolls declined in 27 states and the District of Columbia, rose in 20 states, and remained unchanged in 3.  But North Carolina was one of only a handful of states which saw a statistically significant change.  Overall, summer unemployment around the country is pretty flat.

Please remember, if you’re jobless Greensboro Public Library would like to help.  You might want to check out our Job and Career Information page.

We’ve also got some good news for job seekers.  Our new Career Counselor, Kim Hailey, just started this week!  We expect Kim to be a great addition to our staff.

Site of Lost Civil War Prison Found in Georgia

Most everyone has probably heard of the infamous Andersonville prison camp where thousands of captured Union soldiers died of starvation and disease during the Civil War.  Andersonville’s Confederate commander, Henry H. Wirz, was later tried and convicted for war crimes. 

But probably few have heard of the prison which replaced it, Lawton Camp.  And now that prison’s location, long forgotten, has been rediscovered, it was announced Monday in Georgia. 

Hundreds also died there, but when invading Federal cavalry happened upon Lawton Camp in late 1864, they destroyed virtually every vestige of it, so enraged were they by the sight of a huge mass grave where their comrades in arms had been buried. 

Located in Magnolia State Park just north of Millen and in a section of Georgia which has been particularly hard hit by the Great Recession, residents are hopeful the prison camp site will attract visitors and help boost the local economy.  The far better known Andersonville site is visited by well over 100,000 people per year. 

If you’d like to learn more about Civil War prisons, Greensboro Public Library has plenty of resources.  Try some of these items:  Libby Prison Breakout: the Daring Escape from the Notorious Civil War Prison by Joseph Wheelan; The Horrors of Andersonville:  Life and Death Inside a Civil War Prison by Catherine Gourley (young adult); Escape from Andersonville:  A Novel of the Civil War by Gene Hackman (fiction); Andersonville (DVD of film drama); Andersonville Journey by Edward F. Roberts; Portals to Hell:  Military Prisons of the Civil War by Lonnie R. Speer.

Another Disputed Discovery: Are Negatives Really by Ansel Adams?

Ten years ago a Fresno, California, man named Rick Norsigian made a garage sale find of sixty-five negatives which he came to believe were by the famous American photographer Ansel Adams.  Late last month, at a Beverly Hills press conference, he announced experts who had studied the writing on the negative sleeves had identified the hand as that of Adam’s wife — adding considerable weight to Norsigian’s claim.  The estimated value of the negatives if authentic:  $200 million.

But an 87 year-old Oakland woman named Marion Walton, who just happened to have some prints very similar to Norsigian’s in her home and saw a clip of the Norsigian press conference on television, almost immediately disputed the claim.  She thinks the photos were taken by her Uncle Earl.

Today, KTVU TV in Oakland reports that another panel of experts who have examined and compared the Norsigian plates with Ms. Walton’s prints agrees that indeed Uncle Earl — Earl Brooks, who back in the 1920s apparently did a lot of picture-taking in one of Adams’ favorite haunts, Yosemite — was the artist, not Adams.

Norsigian will probably continue to argue his case, but I think at this point we can at least score one for Uncle Earl.

If you’re interested, Greensboro Public Library has a number of books on or by Ansel Adams.  These include:  America’s Wilderness:  The Photographs of Ansel Adams, with the writings of John Muir, edited by Elaine M. Bucher; Ansel Adams:  America’s Photographer; A Biography for Young People by Beverly Gherman (juvenile); Ansel Adams:  A Biography by Mary Street Alinder; Ansel Adams:  Classic Images by James Alinder and John Szarkowski; Ansel Adams:  Letters and Images, 1916-1984, by Ansel Adams, edited by Mary Street Alinder and Andrea Gray Stillman; foreword by Wallace Stegner; Ansel Adams, An Autobiography, with Mary Street Alinder; and Ansel Adams, Our National Parks by Ansel Adams, edited by William A. Turnage and Andrea G. Stillman.