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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Power bills are going up slightly for Duke Energy households in central and western North Carolina this week.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission last week ordered that new rates for Duke Energy Carolinas customers can take effect starting Wednesday.

The order means residential customers will see a tiny increase on power starting this week. The typical household will start seeing bills rise by about 84 cents a month from around $104. Residential power bills will increase an extra 1.2 percent after four years.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken to his Turkish counterpart about an American pastor detained on terrorism and espionage charges.

It could be a possible indication the NATO allies are trying to ease tensions that flared this week after President Donald Trump said the U.S. would impose sanctions in retaliation. Turkey has called that a "cheap threat."

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed legislation approved by Republicans during this week's special session that alters North Carolina ballot language for constitutional referenda and a state Supreme Court race this fall.

Cooper's vetoes of the two bills were expected. His office and legislative Democrats blasted the changes as reversals on previous legislation and ways to hide the content of proposed constitutional amendments and interfere in this year's most important court election.

Matt Peiken | BPR News


The remote, Western North Carolina town of Highlands is known for its leafy mountains, tony shops and pricey living. Only 941 people claimed it as their home on the last census.

That doesn’t seem to deter some of the nation’s top young stage talent from spending their summers at Highlands Playhouse, building up their resumes and entertaining a largely senior audience with the tried and true in musical theater.

UPDATE - FRIDAY 12:30 P.M. - Michael Greene plead guilty Friday morning in federal court in Asheville to one charge of conspiracy, related the charges that he and his mother Wanda Greene misused Buncombe County-owned credit cards for thousands of dollars of personal purchases over a 10-year period.  He faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250-thousand fine when he's sentenced at a later date.  Michael Greene has also been ordered to forfeit $11, 732.21 that prosecutors say represents the amount of "proceeds obtained, directly or indirectly, from the offenses plead

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was among a bipartisan group of twenty attorneys general to urge Congress this week to do more to improve election security.  The move comes in the wake of President Trump's widely-condemned news conference in which he appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agency conclusions that Russia attacked the 2016 election.  Stein told BPR's Jeremy Loeb the president's behavior was "disgraceful."

Photo courtesy of Mission Health

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital will stick with Mission through its potential sale to Hospital Corporation of America.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina legislature returned briefly to business Tuesday so Republicans could wrest the seemingly ordinary work of adding titles to proposed constitutional amendments on November ballots out of the hands of a state panel controlled by Democrats.

Folkmoot's Cultural Exchange Goes Both Ways

Jul 23, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

You can’t just invite several hundred foreign performers to a festival in Western North Carolina without showing them some good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.  And that’s just what many local volunteers do each year, serving as a bridge between cultures at Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Robert Beatty was still in his 30s when he sold his tech company for millions of dollars and moved with his wife and three daughters from Michigan to 32 acres of green forest in Fletcher.

 

Beatty never had to work again, and his story could have ended there. But success in business was just one of his two life goals. Beatty set a detailed, determined plan to fulfill the second.

NC Insider

Voters in North Carolina will decide the fate of six constitutional amendments on their November ballots.  Among them is one requiring photo ID to vote, one that takes the power of commission appointments from the governor and gives it to the legislature, and one that caps the income tax rate.  Colin Campbell is editor of NC Insider.  In his latest column, he says voters will be asked to approve the amendments before knowing fully how they'll be implemented.  He spoke with BPR's Jeremy Loeb.

Lilly Knoepp

The U.S. government came through on a 75-year-old promise to Swain County when it paid the final dollars of a settlement for the so-called “Road To Nowhere” this month. However, officials say that the county won't see the additional funding until next year.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy is in the process of completing the installtion of more than 1-million so-called 'smart meters' in Buncombe County.  The meters will allow Duke to record power usage directly without having to send someone to read the meter.  A handful of customers in Buncombe County have tried to opt out of using the meters - an action that has consequences.  Jason Sandford of AshVegas spoke with those customers to see what happened to them. 

Cory Vaillancourt

Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival is again underway.  In its 35th year, organizers say the folkdance festival has never been more relevant - or more necessary.

Helen Chickering/BPR

The Trump administration took another swipe at the Affordable Care Act recently in announcing that it's cutting funding to ACA 'navigators' 72 percent, from $36 million to $10 million.  In North Carolina, the cut is even more severe: an 85 percent cut from $3.4 million to $500,000.  That will hurt the efforts of navigators to help get people enrolled in health insurance.  Jackie Kiger is an attorney and ACA navigator with Pisgah Legal Services

Eakin Howard


Brooklyn Reese is 12 years old and, when she’s healthy, she’s sort of a second mother to her younger sister and brother.

“Before I got sick, I had a lot of responsibility, because Izzy, she had trouble with math and homework, so when we got home from school, I’d help her with her homework,” she said. “And I’d take care of Jackson and give him a sippy and make him a peanut butter sandwich.”

Courtesy of Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University has been searching for a new chancellor since February. They hoped to have chosen a successor for Dr. David Belcher, who passed away last month, by the start of the 2018 fall semester.

 

Today, UNC Board of Governor’s chair Harry Smith announced that the candidate for chancellor has withdrawn from consideration.

 

Lilly Knoepp

 

The future of Angel Medical Center in Franklin NC is still uncertain 1 year after the labor and delivery unit closed its doors.

 

Franklin Mayor Bob Scott tries not to sound pessimistic.

 

“I always had dreams that Angel would be a regional medical center. I don’t see that happening now,” says Mayor Scott.   

 

Maggie Valley's 'Ghost Town' Could Reopen Later This Year

Jul 12, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

The tiny Haywood County town of Maggie Valley has long been a familiar tourist destination – especially when its well-known mountaintop amusement park was operating.  Opened in 1962, Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town in the Sky was a wild west-themed amusement park high atop Buck Mountain in western Haywood County.

In its day, the park attracted crowds that powered an economic development engine that drove motels, restaurants and related attractions to a town that had a five-lane road, but just 200 residents.   

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's congressional map is still unconstitutional, election advocacy groups and Democrats wrote Wednesday, even though the U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected a lower court decision that threw out the map due to excessive partisanship.

Asheville native Jackie Grant is now president of the North Carolina Bar Association.  She was inaugurated at the NCBA's annual meeting last month.  The A.C.

Courtesy of Western Carolina University

 Fondly is how Western Carolina students will remember Western Carolina Chancellor David Belcher says Claire Lemke.  Belcher passed away June 17th.

 

Lemke was the first recipient of a scholarship in fine and performing arts that Chancellor Belcher established last year in honor of his wife.  Lemke received $1000 for the spring semester of her senior year.

 

Holly Kays


Holly Kays studied creative fiction in college and saw herself on a path to becoming a novelist.

 

“Everybody who likes to write is writing a book at some point,” she said. “Most of those books never actually wind up being written.”
 

Like most budding novelists, Kays has another job to pay her bills. Unlike most, Kays works for a sympathetic boss.

Cory Vaillancourt

Replacing the leader of a high-performing organization is never easy.  But that’s what Haywood County Schools did this week after the March departure of a longtime superintendent who led the district to new heights. But as the district looks to the future, it didn’t have to look far for a replacement.

The Martin Luther King Association of Asheville & Buncombe County is partnering on a new scholarship program with UNC-Asheville.  The university will offer up to $5-thousand in grants for students who are nominated by the local MLK Association.  Dr.

Natural Born Leaders


Mike Martinez doesn’t like talking about growing up in Union, N.J., but he will say moving to Hendersonville as an 18-year-old saved his life.

“I was getting in trouble in ways I don’t necessarily want to talk about, but I was not headed on a good path,” he said. “I’m not even sure I’d be alive if I lived in New Jersey.”

This July, listeners of Blue Ridge Public Radio will hear some new programming - while a public radio staple is moving to a new time in our lineup.

Lilly Knoepp

Twenty-five years ago, representatives from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the League of Women Voters, the National Rifle Association and many more came together at the First Presbyterian Church in Franklin NC.

 

What brought this diverse group together?  

 

Former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman will not face federal charges for his role in the beating of an unarmed black man last August, the office of U.S.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Four of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's nominees to state positions were rejected Thursday by the Republican-dominated General Assembly, including two choices to the State Board of Education he announced over a year ago.

The legislature, meeting in a joint House-Senate session, voted against the confirmation of Sandra Byrd of Asheville and J.B. Buxton of Raleigh for the state education board. A third choice, current member Reginald Kenan of Duplin County, was reappointed to an eight-year term.

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