Helen Chickering

All Things Considered Host, Reporter

Helen Chickering is a reporter and host of All Things Considered on Blue Ridge Public Radio.  She joined the station in November 2014.

Helen grew up in Texas.  Her broadcast career began in television news in 1985 at WLBT, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi.  There she did everything from news to weather and found her niche in medical reporting.  Over the next 20 years she covered health and science news on both local and national levels, including 5 years in Charlotte at the CBS affiliate, WBTV.   In 1998, Helen helped launch the health and science desk at NBC News Channel, the network's affiliate news service.  She became the first journalist to serve as president of the National Association of Medical Communicators and was on the founding board of the Science Communicators of North Carolina.  

In 2012, Helen and her family moved to Asheville from Chapel Hill and she started working as a freelance producer and as a Montessori teaching assistant.  A longtime NPR listener, she was thrilled to land a job at Blue Ridge Public Radio.   Helen is an active member of the Asheville Science Tavern and a guest lecturer and an advisory board member at the University of North Carolina's Medical and Science Journalism Program.

Ways to Connect

BPR News

This week community advocates, education and business leaders from across the region are gathering in Asheville to tackle an issue that has connections to both climate change and hunger - food waste.   Some of the most creative and successful solutions are happening on college campuses.  BPR's Helen Chickering visited UNC Asheville where some small changes are making a big difference.

BPR News

In 1976, before climate change was really on the public radar, North Carolina created the State Climate Office.  Today, it is the second largest state climate office in the U.S. This summer, Kathie Dello took the helm and became the first woman to serve as North Carolina's state climatologist.  Dello was in Asheville this week and talked about her role with BPR’s Helen Chickering. 

BPR News

In 1976, long before climate change was on the public radar, North Carolina created the State Climate Office.   Today, it is the second largest  office in the country.  This summer, Kathie Dello took the helm, becoming the first woman to serve as North Carolina's state climatologist.  Dello was in Asheville this week and talked about her role with BPR’s Helen Chickering. 

 

Buncombe County Schools

Educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement are gathering in Asheville this weekend to tackle what has been dubbed “an unaddressed public health crisis.”  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with one of the conference organizers who is helping shine the spotlight on the issue here in Western North Carolina.

UPDATE: 10/31 : The Davis Event Center at the Ag Center in Fletcher is back open for events.   That’saccording to a statement by the Department of Agriculture. This comes more than a month after a Legionnaires outbreak was linked to the Mountain State Fair at the Ag Center.  More than 140 people came down with the respiratory illness that is contracted by breathing in water droplets that contain the Legionella bacteria.

scientist.com

It's been a month since health officials announced the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to the Mountain State Fair.  

WNC Ag Center

 

Update:  10/18   NC health officials report a fourth person has died in the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.  No details about the patient have been released.  So far, 141 cases have been confirmed.

@ncstatefair

 

Update 10/16:  On the heels of the Legionnaires' outbreak linked to September's Mountain State Fair in Fletcher,  health officials are taking proactive measures as the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh prepares to open tomorrow.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

Garret K. Woodward

Noted banjo picker and Western North Carolina native Raymond Fairchild has died, following a heart attack.  He was 80. Fairchild performed at the Grand Ole’ Opry on numerous occasions and was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2015.  Last month, Fairchild appeared in BPR’s “Exploring Southern Appalachia” series.   

Fairchild’s final arrangements haven’t yet been announced.  In addition to his storied banjo career, he and his wife Shirley ran the Maggie Valley Opry for more than 30  years.                                                      

CDC

Update 10/10:  State health officials have confirmed a second death in the Legionnaires' outbreak  connected to September's  Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.   Eighty-eight people have been hospitalized.

allbacteria.com

Update:  10/10

State health officials have confirmed a second death in the Legionnaires' outbreak  connected to the Mountain State Fair in September.   Eighty-eight people have been hospitalized. 

Petrey Family

 

  Update: 10/9 State Health officials say there are now more than 130 confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease tied to last month's Mountain State Fair in Fletcher. The family of a man who allegedly contracted the respiratory illness after attending the event spoke publicly on Wednesday.   Blue Ridge Public Radio's Helen Chickering reports.

rti.org

Child care centers in North Carolina are now required to test for lead in their tap water.  The Commission for Public Health, the public health rulemaking body for North Carolina, has adopted a rule requiring the testing after a study of 86 centers in Central North Carolina found one in six had at least one tap with elevated lead levels.

NC DOT

Another wave of construction is coming  to I-26 in Buncombe and Henderson Counties.  The North Carolina Department of Transportation  anounced on Wednesday the project to widen nearly 17 miles of I-26 from U.S. 64 in Hendersonville to Brevard Road in Asheville is getting underway.   The expansion is part of a bigger construction project around the Brevard Road interchange.   

Plans are to widen the interstate to four lanes in each direction from Brevard Road to U.S. 25 Business. The stretch from U.S. 25 Business to U.S. 64 will be widened to three lanes each way.

WNC Ag Center

10/3 Update:  4 p.m.

State Health officials have released preliminary findings of their investigation into the source of the Legionnaires' outbreak at the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, September 6-15. 128 cases of the severe lung infection have now been confirmed. One person has died. State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore told reporters during a phone conference that fairgoers who were diagnosed were much more likely to report being in the Davis Event Center - an indoor facility.

"The second thing that has come out of the data so far is that people who were diagnosed were much more likely to be walking by hot tub displays when in the Davis Event Center, " says Dr. Moore, "Then a third finding we think is relevant is that people who developed Legionnaires disease attended fair in latter half of fair compared to people who didn’t get sick."

CDC

Health officials have confirmed two cases of vaping-related lung illness in Buncombe County.  Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Stacey Wood told BPR News few details are known about the cases at this time and it is unclear if the two are among the five North Carolina cases highlighted  in a September  report by the Centers for Disease Control.  

BPR News

Students in Western North Carolina joined their peers from around the world and skipped school to walk the picket line in what they are calling  a Global Climate Strike.

Hundreds of young activists marched through downtown Asheville holding signs and chanting “Hey hey!  Ho ho!  Climate change has got to go!”

The group gathered in Pack Square where speakers from local high schools rallied the crowd.  Protestors then marched to the Buncombe County Courthouse steps where they held a climate 'die-in'.

BPR News

An Asheville business program created to support women and communities of color who want to do business with the city  just got a makeover.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

Checking the weather today is as easy as checking your cell phone.  But did you know you can also monitor soil conditions and even levels of solar radiation plants use to grow?  It’s all thanks to a state network of climate stations.  BPR’s Helen Chickering takes us to the newest station in Asheville  that also doubles as a college classroom.

North Carolina is stepping up efforts to combat e-cigarette addiction.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

BPR

Volunteers working to raise awareness about sex trafficking here in Western North Carolina are using bars of soap as part of a new strategy to reach out to victims. BPR’s Helen Chickering explains.  

Diane Hendrix

Have you been missing a voice on the air at BPR?  So have we.   Last month, Barbara Sayer signed off after nearly four decades in public radio here in Western North Carolina.   If you know Barbara, you know she’s the kind of person who quietly slips out the back door.  Fanfare is not her calling card.  We wanted to honor that while still giving her a proper goodbye and a thank you and thought this would be a great opportunity to take a look back at BPR's (and Barbara Sayer's) incredible history here in Western North Carolina. 

www.e2.org

A new report finds North Carolina’s clean energy jobs grew 3.5% last year, nearly double the statewide employment growth of 1.9%.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

Pisgah View Ranch

A dude ranch outside of Asheville has become North Carolina’s 40th state park.     On July 19, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 535 into law, creating Pisgah State View Park.    The 16-hundred acre parcel  in Candler is home to Pisgah View Ranch.    Senator Chuck Edwards  (R-Henderson)  introduced the bill in April and notes that the land  has been owned by the same family since 1790.

2018 was the wettest year on record in North Carolina. Now a new report finds during that very wet year, a spot in Western North Carolina broke a rainfall record.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

By Nancy Pierce provided courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

An update on a story we’ve been following since the spring of 2017 when four New York artists purchased Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon.    Last summer the property was designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This week, the organization is launching a crowdfunding campaign to boost efforts to restore the house. BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

North Carolina has a lot of work to do when it comes to addressing women’s health and wellness.  That's the finding of a state commissioned report released in Asheville this week at Mountain Area Health Education Center. BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

After a national search with input from the community,  Asheville has named Chris Bailey as the city's new Police Chief.  

BPR News

This story is developing.

Just shy of her two year anniversary on the job, Asheville City Schools Superintendent Denise Patterson has resigned effective immediately.    In her letter of resignation  Patterson cited medical reasons.  In January 2018 she spoke with BPR's Matt Bush.  You can find that story here.

creative commons

North Carolinians who want the  legislature to expand Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of additional adults are gathering across the state this evening.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.   

Pages