News

Last week, Hurricane Florence quickly grabbed the headlines from a major sporting event happening right here in Western North Carolina. The World Equestrian Games kicked off just as the storm was moving towards the coast.  After a short delay earlier this week, the spotlight is once again shining on the Tryon Equestrian Center. But as Helen Chickering reports, the real horse story is down the road.

Matt Bush BPR

A group that holds a weekly needle exchange program - and the West Asheville bookstore that hosts it - will both appeal violation notices issued by the city of Asheville.

Lilly Knoepp

  

  As Hurricane Florence barreled toward Western North Carolina, businesses and homeowners alike battened down the hatches. Farmers though had a different job - saving a product that is always at the mercy of the elements.

Appalachian Growers in the Cowee Valley outside of Franklin just put their first seeds in the ground in April. Last Friday, they were rushing to get their first harvest in from the fields before the storm.

Join BPR's Mike Cooper and Helen Chickering for Live@Aloft September 30th from 5 to 8 p.m. The Aloft's monthly rooftop party and concert series benefits local charitable organizations. Admission is $5, benefits BPR, and includes door prizes! The evening will be hosted by local comedian and Moth StorySLAM host Betsy Puckett and feature the music by Jesse Barry and The Jam, a cash bar, and [weather permitting] a spectacular moutnain viewe and sunset In keeping with the Aloft's pet-friendly policies, well behaved four-leggeds are are welcome. 

Photo courtesy of Western Carolina University

 Western Carolina, Elizabeth City State University, and UNC Pembroke all decreased both their instate and out-of-state tuitions through a program funded by the legislature this year.  In-state students now pay just $500 per semester under NC Promise.

NASA

If you're looking to help following the devastation in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence, here are some organizations helping victims of the storm -

A Just Florence Recovery - Resources and support for frontline-to-frontline relief and mobilization in Eastern NC

North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund - Operated through the office of the governor

Matt Bush BPR

Around a dozen students and staff from UNC-Wilmington are beginning their second week living on the campus of UNC-Asheville because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.

Magnetic Theatre

As Asheville’s Magnetic Theatre prepares to open its new show, 13-year-old Cory Silver has two concerns.

“Of course my main goal is to pull it off,” he said. “But my second goal is definitely to not offend anybody.”

Walker Golder

The greatest effect of Hurricane Florence will be felt along the coast from Bald Head Island to Topsail Beach says Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines Robert Young.

Young, who heads the Western Carolina University program in partnership with Duke, has been studying the coast on many front including helping coastal communities plan for sea level rise and hurricanes.

NOAA/STAR via NPR.org

How much does climate change contribute to storms like Hurricane Florence?  Asheville climate scientists are warning climate change is contributing to more powerful storms.  Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive, housed in The Collider in downtown Asheville, says it's like giving the storms steroids.  He spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

The Latest: WNC Escapes Any Major Damage From Florence

Sep 12, 2018
Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

(Monday 5 p.m)  The National Park Service says portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway  are now open. Click here for the latest.  The entire Parkway and most  of its facilities, visitor centers and campgrounds, were shutdown on Friday in anticipation of storm damage from Florence.  A stretch of the road to the south and east of Asheville - from the Tanbark Ridge Overlook to the French Broad Overlook - is now open, as well as the far western end of the Parkway from the Pisgah Inn to its terminus in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The U.S. Forest Service on Monday said all roads and recreation facilities in the Nantahala National Forest were scheduled to re-open on Tuesday, while nearly all similar sites in the Pisgah National Forest would do the same on Wednesday.

(Monday 12:00 p.m.) A flash flood watch is no longer in effect for the BPR listening area, as damage appears to be minimal throughout Western North Carolina after Florence blanketed the area with rain Sunday as a tropical depression. 

Expected flooding of the Swannanoa River in Biltmore Village did not occur, as the river only crested at 7.68 feet at 7:15 last night.  It's flood stage is 10 feet, and the U.S. Geological Survey was predicting the river would crest at 12 feet early Monday.  In Black Mountain along Flat Creek flooding caused the evacuation of three mobile home parks Sunday afternoon with a shelter set up nearby at the Swannanoa First Baptist Church.  The shelter in McDowell County at the YMCA in Marion was closed late Sunday evening.

The majority of road closures in the region this morning were in Yancey County, but many have been cleared according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.  The lone closure still active as of noon Monday is on Whittington Road near US 19 near Burnsville.  The road there is closed in both directions.  

(Sunday 10:15 p.m.) A flash flood watch remains in effect through Monday evening for Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Yancey, and eastern Polk and McDowell Counties as the final remnants of Florence pass through Western North Carolina. 

Minor flooding overnight remains possible among streams and rivers, but it appears the region avoided widespread damage from the storm.  There are several road closures in rural parts of Yancey County, and two roads closed in Transylvania County due to flooding.  To get the latest road closures from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, head here. 

(Sunday 5:30 p.m.) As a flash flood warning expired late Sunday evening for parts of Buncombe, Henderson, and Polk Counties, Buncombe County opened its first emergency shelter.  It’s at the Swannanoa First Baptist Church, and that opening comes in response to voluntary evacuations at three mobile home parks in Black Mountain.  Information from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the Swannanoa River will crest above flood stage in the coming hours and cause minor flooding overnight.  At the USGS monitoring point in Biltmore Village, the Swannanoa is expected to crest at 12 feet overnight, which is two feet above flood stage.  That would cause minor flooding in that area before the river recedes back beneath flood stage by noon tomorrow.  To put the 12 foot number in perspective, the river was at just over 14 feet in late May of this year when Biltmore Village flooded, doing minor damage to several businesses.  When the area saw its worst flooding in 2004, the river was at over 18 feet.

Two other emergency shelters are open in Western North Carolina Sunday evening.  The first is at the YMCA in Marion, while the other is at the Polk County Middle School in Mill Spring.  There are no widespread mandatory evacuation orders at this time in the BPR listening area.

Duke Energy is reporting just under 23-hundred outages in Buncombe County at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.  No other county in the BPR listening area is above 600.  Asheville City and Buncombe and Henderson County schools have all announced they will operate on a 2-hour delay Monday morning. 

(Sunday 1 p.m.) A flash flood warning is in effect until 5:15 p.m. for parts of Western North Carolina as rainfall from Tropical Depression Florence picks up in the region.

 

The official alert from the National Weather Service - 

The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Southwestern McDowell County, Northwestern Rutherford County, Eastern Henderson County in western North Carolina, Western Polk County in western North Carolina, and Eastern Buncombe County in western North Carolina until 515 PM EDT.

* At 1213 PM EDT, Doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated that locally as much as 3 or 4 inches of rain has fallen today across the warned area. As periods of occasionally heavy tropical rainfall redevelops across the eastern slopes this afternoon, developing areas of high water and flooded streams are expected. * Some locations that will experience flooding include - Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Tryon, Lake Lure, Old Fort, Saluda, Chimney Rock Village, Chimney Rock State Park, Bat Cave and B.R. Parkway-Craggy To Little Switzerland.

Matt Peiken | BPR News


Like the artform it’s dedicated to, Asheville Bookworks is hidden. You could stand right in front of its building in West Asheville and patronize four other storefronts without ever knowing—because there’s no sign to tell you—the entrance is tucked onto the side.

That’s worked just fine for the screenprinters, papermakers and mixed-media book artists who, since 2004, have regarded Asheville Bookworks as their town square.

The 2nd Asheville Moth GrandSLAM happens Monday, October 29th at Diana Wortham Theatre. The theme is "When Worlds Collide." Tickets are on sale online now.

Becca Scott of the Southwestern Commission

  It’s no secret that there is a housing problem in Western North Carolina. Prices are booming as the demand for mountain homes outweighs the supply in all price brackets.

Representatives from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, U.S. Department of Agriculture, local nonprofits, county commissioners and many more came together to talk about how to bring more affordable housing to the area at a housing and economic development summit in Sylva, NC.

 

The city of Asheville on Monday announced it was opening up the bidding for the naming rights to the U.S. Cellular Center.  Opened as the Asheville Civic Center Complex in 1974, the naming rights were sold to U.S. Cellular in 2011 for $1.35-million.  The contract with the firm expires at the end of 2019.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Carol Anderson's book "One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy" is an extensive look at voter suppression methods past and present.  She spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb about her book and about suppression efforts taking place in North Carolina.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

BPR will be interviewing candidates for state races in the 2018 midterms.  Our series of conversations starts with Norm Bossert.  Bossert is a Democrat running in the heavily Republican Senate District 48, which encompasses Henderson, Transylvania and southern Buncombe counties.  It's currently represented by Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards.  Bossert spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

Last month, the winner of the 2018 Blue Ridge Public Radio Ticket To Ride Summer Raffle was selected at random and announced live, on the air. Michael Carlebach of Asheville couldn't believe his luck, but was absolutely delighted. He bought the ticket because he thought it was a fun way to support the station, but he didn't think he'd actually win. 

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty via Asheville Citizen-Times

Ballots are finalized (we think) for the high-stakes November mid-term elections.  Voters will be deciding a state Supreme Court race, the fate of 6 amendments to the state constitution, who goes to Congress and who goes to the legislature.  Western Carolina Univeristy political scientist Chris Cooper breaks it all down with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.  

September 9 marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, but how many of us really know what to do when we see or hear things that could be construed as “red flags?”

Courtesy of Western Carolina University

  Some locations shine in summer or winter but arguably the mountains are the best when there is a chill in the air and bright colors are on the trees.  

 

Now that summer is winding down, we can expect the leaves to start changing says Beverly Collins, a biology professor and the proclaimed autumnal soothsayer of Western Carolina University.

 

Matt Peiken | BPR News


Browse around the Cottage Craftsman, a gift shop in the center of Bryson City, and you’ll see candle holders, wall hangings, baskets, pottery, jewelry, a small selection of wine.

Paige L. Christie is too modest to point them out on her own—and they do look a bit out of place— but if you ask her about the fantasy novels displayed on a small stand near the register, she’s more than happy to tell you a little bit about the author.

“I’ve been developing the world of my novels since I was about 14 years old,” Christie said.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal investigators in North Carolina are seeking an enormous number of voting records from dozens of election offices weeks before the midterm elections, demands that may signal their expanded efforts to prosecute illegal voting by people who are not U.S. citizens.

The U.S. attorney's office in Raleigh issued subpoenas in recent days on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the North Carolina elections board and more than 40 county boards in the eastern third of the state, according to the subpoenas and the state board.

Matt Bush BPR

The number of visitors at Dupont State Forest more than doubled this decade.  It’s just one of the many outdoor destinations that has helped form Asheville and Western North Carolina’s national profile.  Something else is now getting national attention – the region’s industry that builds the products those outdoor visitors use.

NC General Assembly

A panel of federal judges formally backed off Tuesday the idea of requiring a new congressional map for North Carolina's fall elections, one week after broaching the possibility when the judges declared the current lines illegal partisan gerrymanders.

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty via Asheville Citizen-Times

North Carolina's highest court decided Tuesday that two proposed amendments to the state constitution addressing judicial vacancies and the state elections board will be on the ballot this fall.

Both referendums were fought by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, but the state Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision denying his request to block for now the questions for those amendments from appearing on ballots.

Two stations. One goal. Zero fundraising interruptions. The Fall Fund Drive is happening right now! Your donation makes everything you hear on BPR Classic and on BPR News possible. Support what you value: responsible reporting, journalism with insight and meaning, culture celebration - and no program interruptions.  The goal is $200,000 by September 26 for uninterrupted programming. 

Pisgah - Tuscola High School Football Rivalry Rolls On

Sep 4, 2018
Bill Killillay/Killillay.com

With fall fast approaching, high school football is already underway, and in Western North Carolina there’s no bigger rivalry than the one between two Haywood County high schools.

Lilly Knoepp

  As Mission Health announced its sale to HCA for $1.5 billion dollars, Western North Carolina’s other major hospital system, Duke LifePoint, is going through its own merger. For-profit Duke LifePoint is moving forward in a merger with much larger for-profit healthcare system RCCH Healthcare.

 

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