The North Carolina General Assembly has been in session for two months.  While a handful of bills have passed both chambers and been signed by Governor Roy Cooper, hundreds more await action by lawmakers.  Western North Carolina legislators have introduced several, and those bills run the gamut of issues and party priorities.  

Cass Herrington / BPR News

Asheville City Council delayed action on approving a redevelopment proposal for a section of the Asheville Mall that includes the now defunct Sears building. The $45 million dollar project would include retail space, a movie theater and more than 200 units of housing.

Critics of the project say it lacks the streetscape and infrastructure needs of the area, as well as for the anticipated addition of new residents.

BPR News

Local faith communities gathered outside of the Islamic Center of Asheville Friday afternoon to show their support for the Muslim community in the wake of the mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand.   BPR's Helen Chickering spoke with supporters and members. 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Asheville is going to be full of researchers this weekend – the professional kind, as the 42nd annual Appalachian Studies Association conference takes place at UNC Asheville.  The conference this year is being called "AppalachA'ville" as a nod to the host city, which organizers believe can be example for other cities in the region on how to grow and innovate. 

Cory Vaillancourt

The controversy over Congressman Mark Meadows’ denial of racism claims leveled against President Donald Trump made national headlines.  But what do constituents of color in his own district think of Meadows words?

Last Fall Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order directing North Carolina to step up its efforts to combat and adapt to Climate Change. This week, state officials are in Asheville gathering public input as they shape a plan to meet those goals.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talks with Department of Environmental Quality Public Information Officer Sharon Martin about the upcoming meeting.

City of Asheville

Asheville has a new city attorney on its payroll. City Council has unanimously approved the appointment of Brad R. Branham to the post Tue. 

He’s currently the assistant city attorney for the city of Charlotte.

City Council announced the decision yesterday following a special meeting.  The city says in a news release Branham isn't necessarily a newcomer to Asheville -- he went to UNC Asheville for undergrad. 

Lilly Knoepp

It’s Sunshine Week - which media outlets use to underscore the importance of government transparency and access to public records.  The Sylva Herald recently had to take legal action against Western Carolina University over a public document regarding the Cullowhee Dam. Herald reporter Dave Russell joined BPR’s Lilly Knoepp to talk about why the Jackson County paper felt the document was important enough to fight for.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

courtesy of the artist

It’s named for one of the most performed composers in history, but the Asheville Symphony’s Amadeus Festival is about far more than Mozart.


This Saturday and Sunday, venerated rock guitarist and annual Christmas Jam founder Warren Haynes joins the symphony for the first orchestral renditions of music he’s associated with, from Government Mule, the Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead to his solo work.
Flickr/Creative Commons

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In June 2005, a 63-year-old woman was thrown from a tram at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. The vehicle tipped over onto her, seriously injuring her shoulder and requiring years of treatment. The state paid out $85,000 more than a decade later.

Curt Worden/Gloria Bailen

Romances on film sets go back to the silent era. Rarely do we hear about romances like that of Gloria Bailen and Curt Worden.

Bailen and Worden had both worked behind the scenes for ABC television—Bailen as a producer, Worden as a videographer—but didn’t really know each other. Bailen’s friends recommended him and she hired him, 26 years ago.

“I was a freelancer and I was doing a video, and I needed a crew,” Bailen recalled.

 Asheville’s Brandi Hillman, co-owner of Hillman’s Beer and Josh Dorfman, CEO of the nonprofit climate business incubator The Collider are among the sixteen members of governor Roy Cooper’s new entrepreneurial council.  The group is charged with helping design policies that encourage entrepreneurship, foster economic development and support sustainable high quality jobs.                             Josh Dorfman says an important part of the council’s mission is helping shape the state’s entrepreunial bra

'Opportunity Zones' Ripe For Investment

Mar 7, 2019
NC Department of Commerce

A little-known provision in the Trump tax cut bill has the potential to bring economic investment in some of the poorest areas of the country, including all across Western North Carolina.

Many local governments have economic incentive policies designed to lure new businesses, but an overlooked provision halfway through President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 gave poverty-stricken census tracts a new tool for their economic development toolboxes, called “opportunity zones.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Creative Commons



Western North Carolina’s two most populous counties have differing policies when it comes to working with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The North Carolina Democratic Party is calling on Western North Carolina Republican Rep. Cody Henson to resign after a criminal summons was issued against him this week by the Transylvania County's Sheriff's Office.

Creative Commons

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Promoting what he calls North Carolina's "chance for a bold future," Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday formally unveiled his budget proposal, which includes expanding Medicaid, raising teacher pay, borrowing for school buildings and helping revive rural communities.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Southern Conference basketball championships return to Asheville this weekend.  Both the men's and women's tournaments will be played at the Arena at the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Western Carolina University

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees chose 3 candidates for chancellor to send along for consideration to the UNC System Board at their most recent meeting.

Interim UNC System President Dr. William Roper, who has served since Margaret Spelling stepped down, will consider the candidates.

WCU has been in search of a chancellor since 2017 when the late chancellor David Belcher stepped down after being diagnosed with brain cancer.


Dan Kowal/Jackson County NAACP

 The Jackson County NAACP believes that a local law is a violation of  their constitutional rights so they met with Sylva town leaders to make their case.

Activists protested at the bottom of the courthouse steps in Sylva almost every Wednesday last year. Their most recent protest was against President Trump’s executive order for a state of emergency to deal with the crisis at the border - and to appropriate his requested $5 billion from Congress to build a wall.  


Earlier this decade, Buncombe County voters narrowly approved a quarter-cent sales tax hike to further fund A-B Tech.  Years later, it was revealed the revenue raised by that tax hike wasn’t totally going to the school, but was instead being used to balance the county budget. 

Lilly Knoepp

  On the 200 year anniversary of territory being taken from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee in Macon County, the Franklin town council is moving toward a compromise to give that land back.  


The Franklin Town Council took an historic step Monday night to give the sacred Nikwasi Mound to a nonprofit organization run in part by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee -The Nikwasi Initiative.


Cass Herrington / BPR News


Last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested nearly 300 people across North Carolina. Those arrests are still sending shockwaves throughout Western North Carolina’s Latinx community.

Scott Sturdy

Kitty Tsunami is surf-punk-garage-pop band in Asheville led by the couple Meg Caldwell and Tommy Tsunami. They spoke with Blue Ridge Public Radio as they released their debut full-length album, titled “Cosa Nostra.”


Kitty Tsunami shares the stage with local improvisational/atmospheric band Pink Mercury March 11 at the Mothlight to close out the Winter Music Series from the Asheville Area Arts Council and Asheville FM. Here, the couple tell a little about themselves and their music.

The city of Asheville will drop violation notices against a West Asheville bookstore that hosts a weekly needle exhange program.  The decision comes after months of negotiations between the city, Firerstorm Books & Coffee, and the Steady Collective, which ran a weekly needle exchange at the bookstore on Haywood Road.  The decision to drop the violations came after The Steady Collective committed to having a medical professional on site during its event at the bookstore.

Associated Press

Kelly Darden Jr. still remembers one of the first times he experienced the "black friend defense."

Back in high school, a group of white classmates dressed in Confederate-inspired clothing as part of a social club called the "Rebel Rousers" and insisted they weren't racist when confronted because some of them knew Darden, who is black.

"It was insulting," the 64-year-old Greenville, North Carolina, man recalled Thursday. "I was insulted by it even when it was occurring."

Frank Stasio and his team are coming back to Asheville for two days of broadcasts of 'The State Of Things' from the studios of Blue Ridge Public Radio!  Thursday March 7th and Friday March 8th, 'The State Of Things' will come live from BPR's studios.  You can hear the show every weekday at noon on both of our channels, with a re-broadcast at 8 p.m. weekday nights on BPR News.

Blue Ridge Public Radio classical music host Chip Kaufmann announced that he will retire later this year, after nearly 36 years of service to the station. Kaufmann started as a volunteer with the then 10-watt WUNF (on the UNCA campus) in the summer of 1983. His career as a classical music host happened purely by happenstance, when station staff found out he had a classical music collection.


The North Carolina Department of Transportation says it will re-open one lane of Interstate 40 in Western North Carolina in each direction at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.  A 20-mile stretch of the road from exit 20 in North Carolina (state route 276/Jonathan Creek Road) to the Tennessee state line has been closed since a rockslide occurred at milemarker 7.5 Friday evening.

Courtesy of the Invisible History Project/Josh Burford

The everyday lives of activists and community members in Western North Carolina didn’t make it into the history books.  A UNC Asheville professor is launching a project to bring to light the untold queer stories in our region.

Here’s more on the project - and how it’s a part of a larger preservation effort across the Southeast.


Queer history is presented as a narrow space, says Josh Burford. It’s mostly just for the urban, white, wealthy  and able-bodied. Burford wants to change that perception in the South.


Last month Asheville City Council members and school officials gathered to address  the growing  gap in discipline rates and academic achievement between  black and white students in the district.

High school students have had a lot to say about racial disparity on campus.