Buncombe County

WCQS Becomes BPR Classic

3 hours ago

Blue Ridge Public Radio is proud to announce that WCQS will now be known as BPR Classic - the same station longtime listeners love and trust, just with a new name.  

A year ago, Blue Ridge Public Radio launched WCQS’ sister station, BPR News, a 24-hour news station that complements the mix of music and news found on WCQS. Now, Blue Ridge Public Radio is strengthening the family resemblance by renaming WCQS as BPR Classic.


Asheville city council is scheduled to meet twice on Tuesday, its first regularly scheduled meetings since the release of a body camera video that showed a then-city police officer beating an unarmed black man last year.  


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hundreds of times a year across North Carolina, officials who control everything from the taxes you pay the city to the tuition required to attend public universities meet behind closed doors to conduct sensitive business on behalf of the public they serve.

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Lack of housing and parking topped the list of concerns for local businesses in the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce's annual 'Business Walk'.  The survey of more than 300 local businesses focused on whether those businesses saw growth in 2017, and what they felt needed to change to improve the business environment in the area.  Housing topped the list of areas where businesses wanted to see change, with 40% of respondents including it in their response.  Pa

Matt Bush BPR

Candidate filing for the 2018 North Carolina General Assembly elections ended this week, and both parties will field enough candidates to ensure all 170 seats will be contested this year.  It’s making Democratic Governor Roy Cooper very happ - and confident.  Cooper has been in office for 14 months, but his legislative power remains quite limited.  That’s because Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly allowing them to override any vetoes from Cooper, something they did nine times last year.  But the Governor is confident that will change next year, in par

Candidate filing for the 2018 election wrapped up Wednesday afternoon.  A flurry of late filings - mostly Republicans in Buncombe County - ensured that all of Western North Carolina's General Assembly seats will see a contested general election.  That's a step up from two years ago, when five of the seats featured unopposed general elections or only one candidate from a major party.

As the opioid epidemic deepens, the need for foster parents has exploded in Western North Carolina.  That was one of the findings of a series of stories from the Asheville Citizen-Times that explored many topics and issues around opioid abuse in the region.  Reporter Alexandria Bordas joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the series, which took 5 months to compile.  


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina law that cancels primaries this year for judicial seats has been partially halted.

A federal judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction directing state election officials to hold primaries for appellate court judgeships in May. But U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles refused to restore primary elections for local trial court seats.

Democrats sued to overturn the law and asked Eagles to step in, with candidate filing for other races starting Feb. 12.

Matt Bush BPR

Buncombe County commissioners have been holding town hall meetings in recent months regarding opioids.  Those gatherings have touched on several topics, but have had one common goal – educating people on how powerful the painkillers are and how easy it is to become addicted to them.

Matt Bush BPR

The 2nd annual Asheville Women's March took place Saturday.  Thousands filled Memorial Stadium before marching up Biltmore Avenue to Pack Square, the site of last year's women's march.  Around 10-thousand attended last year, and thousands showed up for this year's march which featured many female elected officials from around the region.  Asheville has had a woman as mayor since 2005, and the city council is now majority female following last year's election.  The women's march in Asheville wasn't only one held Saturday in Buncombe County, as a similar event took place in Black Mountain.

Matt Bush BPR

There will be no wind chill advisory overnight Saturday into Sunday morning for Western North Carolina, but bitterly cold temperatures are hanging around. Because of the continued cold snap, the city of Asheville has extended a ‘Code Purple’ alert through January 10th.  That means homeless shelters will extend hours and allow more people to stay at them. 


The Buncombe County Tax Office says it's experiencing long lines this week as residents try to pre-pay their 2018 property tax bills.  This is in response to the tax bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump.  That bill imposes a $10-thousand combined limit on the deduction of state and local income and property taxes.  There is no limit for this year.  The Buncombe County Tax Office says while residents can prepay to avoid that deduction limit for next year, it's likely that it won't qualify for a deduction since the county does not generate official 2018 prope

The federal investigation into former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene has been one of if not the biggest local government story in the region in 2017.  Greene retired at the end of June after nearly 20 years on the job.  Shortly after, federal authorities confirmed she was being investigated, but did not specify for what.  Through dribs and drabs information about the final months of Greene's tenure came out, including the awarding of hefty bonus packages to high-sa

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The nation's largest electric company has agreed to seek a lower rate increase on more than a million North Carolina customers and charge a lower potential profit margin, but still wants nearly $200 million a year to clean up the toxic byproducts of burning coal.

Buncombe County released documents Friday afternoon regarding former county manager Wanda Greene, who is currently under federal investigation.  Among the documents released confirms an internal county audit uncovered 'questionable' financial transactions around the time Greene retired in June.  Other documents showed Greene provided the media with inaccurate information regarding payments made to the Tryon Equestrian Center.

Matt Bush BPR

Buncombe County is suing five manufacturers and three wholesale distributors of opioids, as the number of overdoses in the county on those drugs has sharply risen again this year.  It’s an approach other governments at all levels across the U.S. have tried.

Incumbent Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer breezed to an easy re-election, while Vijay Kapoor, Sheneika Smith, and incumbent Gwen Wisler won city council seats.  Meanwhile, three-quarters of those who voted in Asheville said no to creating city council districts, even though a state law passed earlier this year by the Republican-dominated General Assembly mandated the Democratically-controlled city do so for the 2019 election.  

Warren Wilson College

The president of Warren Wilson College says a plan to offer free tuition starting next year to incoming students from North Carolina is part of a push to diversify the student body on campus.  Dr.

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Population and job growth continue to be strong in the Asheville region, but wages are lagging far behind.  That's according to a report released by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County.  The report studied a six county area (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, Transylvania) and found the average wage per job is $44,800.  The national average is $62,100.

BPR Tech

Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times partnered on the first of two forums with candidates for Asheville City Council Monday.  You can watch it on the BPR News Facebook page.  It will be aired this Friday October 27th at noon in place of The State of Things.  The second forum will be held Monday October 30th at noon and can be viewed live on the Citizen-Times website and

Federal authorities have been tight lipped about the investigation into former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene.  She hasn't been charged with anything, but there has been a whirlwind of activity and revelations since Greene retired earlier this year after 20 years in the position.  The latest is that she awarded herself with a $241-thousand 'retention incentive' right before she retired - meaning she

Matt Bush BPR

Opponents of Duke Energy’s plan to raise monthly rates close to 17% packed a public hearing in Asheville Wednesday night.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding a series of public hearings across the state to get ratepayer reaction to Duke’s plan.  The average bill could go up close to $18 a month if the commission approves Duke’s request.  It’s the utility’s desire to use some of that new revenue to clean up coal ash that had many in attendance angered, like Hartwell Carson of Mountain True.

Thursday October 5th is the 'termination date' for the contract between Mission Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina.  If no agreement between the two is reached by then, customers of North Carolina's largest insurer will find themselves 'out of network' for non-emergency visits at facilities operated by Western North Carolina's largest healthcare provider.  This would affect hundreds of thousands of people in the region, meaning they would either have to pay more for non-emergency visits, or switch insurers and/or doctors.  There has been little movement between both sides sin

N.C. Public Division Of Health

The opioid crisis is affecting all of the U.S., and Western North Carolina in particular.  And it is showing no signs of slowing down in the region's most populous county.  In the first 8 months of 2017, 230 visits to emergency departments were reported in Buncombe County, as opposed to just 84 during the same time frame last year.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow evening in Asheville where residents can weigh in on Duke Energy’s request to raise rates almost 17%.  If approved, the average Duke ratepayer would see their bill rise close to $18 per month.  The Utilities Commission, which has the final say on whether the rate hike takes effect, is holding public hearings across the state.  Wednesday’s in Asheville is the only one scheduled for Western North Carolina.  It starts at 7 pm in courtroom 1A of the Buncombe County Courthouse.  Opponents of the raise are also

Federal authorities announced earlier this year they are investigating former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene.  No details, much less charges, have been released regarding the probe.  Greene retired after more than two decades on the job over the summer shortly before the investigation was confirmed.  It set off a chain reaction in county government.

Early voting gets underway Thursday in Asheville for the city's primary election, which will take place on October 10th.  Voters will pare down the number of candidates for city council from 12 to 6, and for mayor from 4 to 2.  Those who advance will face off in the general election on November 7th, when voters will choose a mayor and 3 city council seats.  The lone early voting site is at the Buncombe County Election Services building at 77 McDowell Avenue in Asheville.

Matt Bush BPR

Nearly all counties in Western Carolina are now home to self-serve kiosks where people can learn more about mental illness – and determine whether they might be suffering from one.  The kiosks are really just a computer screen, with no keyboard and a phone is attached to the screen.  With just a few touches on the screen, users can learn the symptoms of several common mental health conditions says Jessie Smathers of Vaya Health, which helped place the kiosks around the region.

Bookings through Airbnb skyrocketed in the past year in Buncombe County.  A study commissioned by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority showed demand for rentals through the site increased 105% in the past year.  Hotel room bookings grew only 3% during the same time.  The growth in Airbnb demand comes despite its murky legal status in Asheville.  Airbnb rentals are legal in "commercial" parts of the city, but illegal in "residential" parts.

Matt Bush BPR

Student resource officers at several Buncombe County middle and high schools will have overdose-reversal kits for the first time ever.  The kits contain Narcan, the brand name for a nasal spray administered to those who have overdosed on opioids.  The kits are being made available through collaboration between the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Vaya Health, and the Buncombe County Sheriff's office.