Asheville

Matt Bush BPR

30 years ago Friday, the movie Bull Durham premiered.  The film merged baseball and romantic comedy, all while showcasing the state of North Carolina.  Filming locations in the state included Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilson, Old Fort, and Asheville.

Matt Bush BPR

Following a closed session meeting Monday morning, Buncombe County commissioners announced manager Mandy Stone will retire on July 1st after just 11 months on the job.  Her decision comes after a whirlwind of actions - and responses to those actions - following the announcement of further federal charges against her immediate predecessor Wanda Greene last Tuesday.  Stone took over the position when Greene retired last June.

Rejuvenated Lake Junaluska Looks Toward Second Century

Jun 11, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

For generations, Methodists from across the United States have converged on a small community in Haywood County that’s been a place of renewal and transformation.  But Lake Junaluska has undergone some transformation of its own over the past few years, and as the historic Christian retreat emerges from funding cuts and the Great Recession, it’s poised remain an important economic engine well into its second century.  

Federal officials say treatment is underway to clean up contaminants at the former CTS Corporation factory in Asheville.  

Below is the news release from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

hia.org & Donnie Rex

Farmers and fans of Industrial Hemp are gathering across the country this week to rally support for the once illegal plant.  North Carolina is one of forty-two states that allows the crop through pilot programs or for research. 

A small farm here in the mountains was chosen to help kick off the week long national campaign. BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

On a sunny breezy morning, Just outside of Asheville, in the scenic countryside of Leicester, a crowd gathered on a farm.  They were here to celebrate a plant come.

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene faces 23 new charges including wire fraud, federal program fraud, and money laundering.  Those charges were announced in a federal indictment this week.  They're in addition to the fraud, conspiracy, and embezzlement charges that were already filed against her in April for allegedly misusing county-owned credit cards to purchase personal goods.  Her son Michael, also a former Buncombe County employee, was also charged in that case.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the state budget bill Wednesday for the second year in a row, blaming legislative Republicans for a spending plan he says doesn't do enough for teacher pay, school safety and the environment.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly approved last week its $23.9 billion proposal, which adjusts the second year of the two-year budget approved in 2017. Cooper had until Monday to sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

Matt Bush BPR

The French Broad River winds its way through Asheville and provides some of the most picturesque scenery in the region. It’s also a major driver of Western North Carolina’s booming tourism industry. 

So how healthy is this vital asset?  Hartwell Carson has a short answer and a long explanation to the question of how healthy is the French Broad River.  First, the short answer.  “It’s good.  It could be a lot better," says Carson.

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene faces a new round of federal charges including  money laundering and wire and federal program fraud.  Shortly after the new charges were announced Tuesday evening, Buncombe County announced it would sue Greene and her son Michael to recover money the county lost due to her alleged actions.

Matt Bush BPR

Western Carolina University is unveiling NCDataDashboard.org, an online resource that shows key economic indicators and trends for all 100 counties in North Carolina.  The site includes 12,000 unique data series according to the school, including information on employment, workforce, land, infrastructure and industry GDP.  That data is broken down county by county.  Two of those instrumental in creating the resource, WCU economics professors Angela Dills and Edward Lopez, joined BPR's Matt Bus

UNC-Asheville

Dr. Nancy Cable has been named the new chancellor of UNC-Asheville.  She replaces Dr. Mary Grant, who left at the end of 2017 after three years on the job.  Dr. Joe Urgo served as the interim chancellor of the school since Grant's departure.  Cable will be the 8th chancellor in the school's history.  She starts the job on August 15th.

ncleg.net

Local sentiment is overwhelmingly against the legislature creating districts for Asheville city council.  Comments solicited by the legislature and obtained by BPR were negative on the prospects of districts, often scathingly so. 

You can read the comments here.  BPR removed names and addresses from the document.  

Matt Bush BPR

For the first time in several days, Western North Carolina is under no weather warning.  But thunderstorms are in the forecast Friday and over the weekend, leaving authorities to urge residents to stay alert and vigilant for flash flooding and landslides.  During a break in the rain Thursday morning and afternoon, cleanup efforts were able to take hold, but a major water leak in Black Mountain lead to a boil water advisory being issued.

WYFF Twitter Account

 

TRYON, N.C. (AP) — A TV news anchor and a photojournalist were killed Monday when a tree fell on their vehicle in North Carolina as they reported on flooding and severe weather associated with Subtropical Storm Alberto, the television station said.

WYFF-TV Anchor Mike McCormick and photojournalist Aaron Smeltzer both worked in the Greenville, South Carolina, market for more than a decade, anchor Carol Goldsmith said on air, breaking the news.

"Mike and Aaron were beloved members of our team — our family," Goldsmith said.

With heavy rains expected to return over the holiday weekend, authorities in Polk County are urging residents in certain areas to voluntarily evacuate.  This comes after last weekend's flooding and landslides that killed one person in the county, and authorities say they're worried should another catastrophic event occur, it might take them days to reach those affected.

Storied Breakfast Spot Re-Opens In Maggie Valley

May 24, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

For more than five decades, an iconic eatery in Maggie Valley served up healing helpings of homey charm and a hash brown casserole that can’t be beat.  That all changed last summer, when owner Brenda O’Keefe closed the restaurant, citing health concerns. Residents worried that it would be the end of an era, but a year later, under new ownership, Joey’s Pancake House is set to reopen.

In a move that supporters believe will aid in reducing racial disparities in the city, Asheville police will soon have to get written consent to search vehicles they’ve pulled over instead of just asking for it as is done currently.  City council approved the switch Tuesday by a 5-2 vote.  Cases where police have ‘probable cause’ to search a vehicle that’s been stopped will not be affected. 

Health officials have confirmed four cases of pertussis, (whooping cough) in Buncombe County. Three other cases have been identified, which health officials say are connected to the four lab-confirmed cases.           BPR's Helen Chickering spoke with Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services medical director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore about pertussis, the cases and what health officials are doing to help stop the respiratory illness from spreading.  

Here’s more from Buncombe County Health and Human Services:  

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina held its annual 'Power of the Purse' luncheon Tuesday.  Award-winning journalist and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa was the keynote speaker for the event.  She spoke about immigration, the changing demographics of the U.S., and women in philanthropy.  The last part is the focus of 'Power of the Purse' (BPR is a media sponsor of the event), and its organizers announced that $450-thousand in grants will be awarded to groups that work to prevent domestic and sexual violence.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is continuing to expand its news coverage of Western North Carolina.  After a national search, BPR has hired a full-time regional reporter that will be based in Jackson County. The station has also expanded partnership with the Smoky Mountain News.

Cory Vaillancourt

Every corner of the United States has its own special, niche ingredient that’s as much a part of the culture as it is of the cuisine.  For Western North Carolina - love ‘em or hate ‘em – it’s ramps. 

JIM WARREN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday quickly rejected a challenge to regulators who decided a clean-energy advocacy group broke electric-service rules by selling solar power to a church.

The justices heard oral arguments less than four weeks ago in the case involving NC WARN, which installed solar panels on a Greensboro church's roof and sold electricity to the church at rates below what Duke Energy Corp. subsidiaries charged.

Buncombe County Schools

Buncombe County schools on Friday announced they will be closed on Wednesday, the same day teachers from across North Carolina will rally at the state capitol in Raleigh.  The district joins several other large public school systems in the state in closing that day, including Asheville City schools, which announced earlier this week it would be closing Wednesday.

Commencement ceremonies take place this Saturday on the campus of UNC-Asheville.  The school's interim chancellor Joe Urgo says this year's graduating class is the largest in recent memory, while the incoming class of freshman this fall is the largest in school history.  Urgo sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss news at the school, including the search for a full-time chancellor (expect something by the end of May).  Urgo also discussed something he spoke about at a recent appearance in Western North Carolina by Margaret Spellings, the president of the University of North Carolina Syst

Matt Bush BPR

Asheville police sergeant Quentin Miller easily outdistanced four others for the Democratic nomination for Buncombe County sheriff.  

Asheville High School Facebook Page

Asheville City schools will close next Wednesday May 16th, becoming the latest district in North Carolina to shut down as teachers plan to rally that day at the state capitol in Raleigh for better pay, working conditions, and education funding.  The General Assembly convenes the 16th in Raleigh for its annual session.  The teacher rally is being organized by the state's association of educators.

Buncombe County district attorney Todd Williams defeated Ben Scales again, while Quentin Miller took home a very large and historic victory in the Democratic primary for Buncombe County sheriff.

#MeToo Rallies In WNC Seek To End Stigma Of Being A Victim

May 3, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Just six months after the emergence of the #MeToo movement, change has begun to occur. In Western North Carolina, change showed up as a first-of-its-kind rally in Waynesville – where spectators said even though progress has been made, there’s still a long way to go.  Someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every 98 seconds. Even more startling, less than one percent of offenders ever face jail time for their crimes, due in large part to the stigma of identifying as a victim.

Buncombe County Sheriff's Office

Electing a sheriff – even in one of North Carolina’s largest counties – doesn’t usually draw a lot of attention. But this year’s democratic primary in Buncombe County is different.  Voters will select a new sheriff for the first time in 12 years.  And law enforcement practices and reforms are center stage in the campaign because of an incident that took place within the county.

Raleigh has been the scene of a lot of partisan political discord this decade.  But the president of the University of North Carolina system says she’s thankful all that fighting has not impacted higher education funding.  Margaret Spellings says even in North Carolina’s polarized political atmosphere, selling members of the General Assembly on maintaining higher education funding isn’t real tough.

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