Well, encoding issue is fixed. Sort of. After digging around I found that the routines in my CMS are forcing the use of ISO-8859-1 which makes it difficult to easily convert to UTF-8. It isn’t impossible, but it isn't what I want to work on right now. I’m saving that exercise for another day.
Instead, I decided do what any quick and dirty programmer does. I just changed the encoding on the template. It is a simple solution that is technically correct, even if a bit limiting should I want to use those other characters. It works for now, though, and I can get back to other things — like fixing the rest of the template and playing with some other Perl frameworks.