Matt Bush

News Director

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016.  Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C.  For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor.  Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis.  Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.

Matt has a B.A. in broadcasting from Point Park College in Pittsburgh.  His M.A. is in media entrepreneurship from American University in D.C.  In May 2017, he will graduate from the 35th class of Leadership Asheville at UNC-Asheville.

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Matt Bush BPR

Asheville police arrested four people Friday morning for attempting to vandalize a Confederate marker in Pack Square downtown.  Police say protestors gathered around the Vance Monument before 8 a.m. Friday.  Several then attempted to damage the smaller marker in front of the monument that has a plaque with the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Arrested were 27-year-old Nicole Townsend, 45-year-old Amy Cantrell, 30-year-old Hillary Brown, and 34-year-old Adrienne Sigmon.  All are from Asheville and all four face charges of Damage to Real Property.

Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

What did indigenous peoples think of eclipses?  How did they interpret and react to them?  Those are just a few of the topics that will be covered in a class at UNC-Asheville this fall inspired by Monday's total solar eclipse that will pass through Western North Carolina.  BPR's Matt Bush spoke with the two professors that will lead the class - Juan Sanchez-Martinez (modern languages & indigenous studies) and Britt Lundgren (physics).    

Michael Zeiler / GreatAmericanEclipse.com

Unless you're walking to your spot to watch Monday's total solar eclipse in Western North Carolina, you will be sitting in some kind of traffic.  Authorities are expecting heavy traffic just about everywhere in the region, compounded by the fact many of the rural roads in the path of totality are only two lanes.  Karen Chavez of the Asheville Citizen-Times has been reporting on all parts of the solar eclipse.  She joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the advisories that will be in effect, and what authorities are urging motorists to do on Monday.

Paul Deans / TravelQuest International

Where will you be watching the total solar eclipse this Monday?  Hotels, campgrounds, and many viewing along the path of totality in Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sold out long in advance of the eclipse.  But Karen Chavez of the Asheville Citizen-Times says don't worry if you haven't booked anything, there are still plenty of places you go to see the eclipse.

Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

Bernard Arghiere of the Astronomy Club of Asheville has been speaking at events all across Western North Carolina ahead of the total solar eclipse that will pass through the region on August 21st.  He says the most common question he gets is when should people take off their special eclipse glasses during the event to see it.

Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

The total solar eclipse will be here in less than a week.  Thousands will watch the eclipse within the 'path of totality' in Western North Carolina.  Bernard Arghiere is with the Astronomy Club of Asheville.  He's been speaking to groups across the region ahead of the eclipse.  He says the question most commonly asked at those meetings - when is it safe to take your eclipse glasses off when watching the eclipse?

APD

UPDATE 9:50 a.m. Tuesday - Asheville police have arrested 38-year-old Michael Patrick Faulkner and charged him with simple assault for the incident that took place Sunday evening at a demonstration in Pack Square.  The Asheville native is charged with assaulting a WLOS television reporter during a Facebook live stream.  Earlier story below -

Matt Bush BPR

Around 100 people demonstrated in Pack Square Sunday night.  They were there to honor Heather Heyer, the counter protestor who was killed at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mission Health announced Thursday it wants to continue accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, but only for those who receive it through the healthcare exchange set up through the Affordable Care Act.  But the insurer rejected Mission's offer, saying it's unfair to those who have Blue Cross Blue Shield through other means, such as their jobs.

Matt Bush BPR

The city of New Orleans earlier this year removed statues of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee.  Asheville has its own monument to a Confederate leader – Zebulon Vance, who served as North Carolina’s governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during the post-war Reconstruction period.  The future of the prominent landmark in Pack Square - home to two other monuments honoring the Confederacy - is now under debate, as is the lack of equivalent commemoration of Asheville’s deep African-American history.

Author Steven Nash is well-versed on Zebulon Vance, and the post-Civil War period known as Reconstruction when Vance became a U.S. Senator and political powerhouse in North Carolina.  He wrote the book "Reconstruction's Ragged Edge: The Politics of Post-War Life in the Southern Mountains".

Matt Bush BPR

The Vance Monument in Pack Square is one of downtown Asheville’s most recognizable landmarks.  It honors Zebulon Vance, North Carolina’s governor during the Civil War and U.S. Senator during the Reconstruction period.  It has stood for over a hundred years.  But following the removal of Confederate flags and statues in Charleston and New Orleans, the discussion over the future of the Vance Monument in Asheville is becoming unavoidable.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's Democratic attorney general is responding to budget cuts imposed by Republican lawmakers by laying off about 9 percent of his agency's attorneys and telling local prosecutors they'll have to take over more courtroom tasks.

Attorney General Josh Stein on Thursday described his response to legislators deciding in June to cut $10 million from his budget despite objections from police chiefs and district attorneys. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's office operations were also cut.

Asheville Buncombe County Christian Ministry

The Western North Carolina branch of a national program designed to connect veterans with social service programs is expanding.  NCServes - Western, which is a part of the national AmericaServes network, will connect veterans, active service members and their families to more than 40 agencies and service providers throughout the region.  NCServes - Western covers the following counties - Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Transylvania, and Yancey.

Pexels

Earlier this year, Buncombe County Republican Party chairman Dr. Carl Mumpower put out the offer - for anyone who wanted to debate him on any topic, he'd give $100 to charity for each event.  His first debate since making that offer will take place this weekend.

North Carolina's largest health insurance company is pulling back on its requested price increase for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Wikicommons

Asheville voters will decide this fall whether they want city council districts or the current system of electing members at-large.  That’s even though the North Carolina General Assembly already passed a measure forcing the city to draw districts for the 2019 election.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday morning about foreign agents and attempts to influence the U.S. election. The panel is among the bodies investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Senators had requested Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, to appear as witnesses. Instead, they are in closed-door discussions for now.  Live streaming is expected to start around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

GreatAmericanEclipse.com

The solar eclipse is less than a month away.  Thousands will come to Western North Carolina to see it, but there is one scenario that could ruin everyone’s fun – what if it rains that day?

Ron Cogswell/Flickr

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told lawmakers in a statement on Monday that he "did not collude... with any foreign government."

Kushner is meeting behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday and the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Both panels are investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and whether any members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A revised lawsuit says transgender people in North Carolina are still effectively prevented from using restrooms matching their gender identity under a law that replaced the state's notorious "bathroom bill."

The amended complaint filed Friday in federal court says the replacement law continues the harms of its predecessor by leaving restroom policies in the hands of state lawmakers and preventing local governments or school systems from setting rules or offering guidance.

Wikicommons

The filing deadline is noon on Friday July 21st for candidates wishing to run for offices in this fall's municipal elections in Buncombe County.  Asheville, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin will all be holding elections this fall for mayor, city council, town council, or board of alderman seats (Woodfin will also hold an election for its Sanitary Water & Sewer District Board of Trustees).

The 34th annual Folkmoot Festival gets underway Thursday in Waynesville and runs until July 30th.  What started more than three decades ago as a showcase for folk dancing has transformed into a 'meeting of people' designed 'to build global relationships, foster cultural understanding and develop community prosperity.'  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt joined BPR's Matt Bush to discuss the festival's history and evolving mission, as well as what to expect at this year's gathering.

Matt Bush BPR

Matt Coffay, a Democrat who earlier this year announced he would seek the party's nomination for North Carolina's 11th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, has announced he is dropping out of the race.

UNC-Asheville

UNC-Asheville will hold an emergency drill on campus Wednesday.  An active shooter scenario will be played out.  David Weldon is the emergency management director for the university.  He says they evaluate all responses during the drill, but there are a few things in particular he and his team will put some extra focus on this time around.  “Can we set up a call center to take in information from family and friends that may be coming into the university?  We will show that and our ability to do it", Weldon says.

Pexels

Beer and babies – they may sound mutually exclusive at first but many breweries and other establishments that serve alcohol in and around Asheville are trying to cater to both.  Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Mackensy Lunsford took a look at how beer and babies have been mixing in the area - in particular, how br

Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows says he’d like to see GOP leadership in the House follow that of the Senate and delay their scheduled August recess.  The reason – Congress has passed very little of President Trump or the Republican Party’s legislative priorities.  That includes repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.  Meadows says he doesn’t understand why the Senate cannot pass a bill, even if it’s one

Amazon.com

The North Carolina General Assembly has been adjourned for almost two weeks.  Dozens of bills passed by lawmakers in the final days of this year’s session await a signature from Governor Roy Cooper before becoming law.  Some affect drivers in the state.

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