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County parks’ bathrooms MIA? Friendly dragonfly?

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Buncombe County Parks such as Lake Julian have not been in full operation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that impacted when bathrooms were open. In this file photo, Finn Hilgeman, 2, and his dad, Spencer, toss feed to a pair of geese at Lake Julian Park on Jan. 30, 2020. (Photo: ANGELI WRIGHT/ASHEVILLE CITIZEN TIMES)

Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart-aleck answers and the real deal:

Question: With Buncombe County’s parks, the bathrooms still haven’t reopened. Why is that?

My answer: Hey, I’m sure all the little tykes “holding it” till they get home have not used any alternate “facilities.”

Real answer: Lillian Govus, director of communications and public engagement with Buncombe County, answered this one.

“We open most restroom facilities only when those facilities are under full operation (i.e. pools, sports facilities, etc),” Govus said. “With COVID-related closures, we obviously were not at full operation.”

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The bathroom status is seasonal under normal conditions, as well.

“Every year, we begin winterizing our bathrooms in October and close the restrooms until April,” Govus said. “Out of all of our facilities, we have currently used portable toilets at two facilities, the remainder of our facilities are operating under their status quo in terms of seasonal bathroom availability and activity levels.”

Buncombe County Parks and Recreation operates the Buncombe County Sports Park, Lake Julian Park, Charles D. Owen Park,  Hominy Valley Park, Collier Cove Nature Preserve and the following river parks: Alexander, Bent Creek, Corcoran Paige, Glen Bridge, Hominy Creek, Ledges Whitewater and Walnut Island.

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As a “general rule of thumb,” Govus offered this reminder: “Bathrooms are typically only opened during staffed, high-activity periods.”

Also, special consideration is in place at the county’s heavily-used Sports Park.

“At the Buncombe County Sports Park, we have worked with the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association to open the bathrooms on a limited basis for peak demand during weekend practices and games,” Govus said.

Question: Each day for the past two weeks or so, I have been greeted at my garage door by a large and friendly dragonfly. He buzzes around, quite close, and I see the same fly many times during the day. I have often remarked that when I die I would like to be reincarnated as a dragonfly because they are so cool and powerful looking. My question is, what can I do to make better friends with “Mad Max”? Is there some type of food I could leave out? How can we get to know each other better?

My answer: Look, take it slow with the dragonfly. Let it come to you and maybe suggest a friendly coffee or a hike. And for cryin’ out loud, don’t propose marriage on the second date.

Real answer: Sorry bub, but your friendly neighborhood dragonfly is a stone cold killer.

“All dragonflies are predators on insects, including other dragonflies, if there is enough of a size difference,” said Thomas H. Martin, head of the Biology Department at Western Carolina University. “Maybe this friendly dragonfly is helping with our abundant mosquitoes (at least at my house).”

My house, too, Martin. Bring on the first frost!

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But let’s get back to making this little fella or fellette happy.

“I’ve read that plants that attract small pollinators will help attract dragonflies, such as Joe-Pye Weed, black-eyed Susans, Yarrow, and Meadow Sage,” Martin said. “Having a nearby pond or larger stream will, of course, encourage multiple species of dragonfly and damselfly visitors, as that is the habitat where many species lay their eggs and where their young live until adulthood.”

Good luck. If it doesn’t work out, I recommend eharmony’s insect/human dating site.

That’s based on a friend’s recommendation. Swear.

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 232-5847 or jboyle@citizen-times.com.

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