Lilly Knoepp

Reporter

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network.  She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science. 

Lilly Knoepp

  The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded more than $2 million dollars in grants to organizations in Western North Carolina.

 

The biggest check went to the Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission for $1.25 million dollars.  That money will expand the Western North Carolina Farmers Market in Asheville, by investing in a new facility that will teach entrepreneurs about food safety as well as develop food-centric entrepreneurial projects,  often using the produce sold at the farmer’s market.

Courtesy of Western Carolina University

Students at Western Carolina University using the NC Promise program - which lowers tuition to $500 per semester - were happy to share what the program meant to them at an event on campus this week. The UNC System is promoting NC Promise after a study found only 14 percent of North Carolinians knew about it.

Noah Crawford of Rutherfordton is the first member of his family to go to college, and was one of the Western students who shared with UNC system president Margaret Spellings how NC Promise made it possible for him to attend college.

Lilly Knoepp

  The Mission Health sale to HCA still sits on the desk of the North Carolina Attorney General waiting for approval. A local group of citizens have invited a former Missouri governor - who worked on a similar deal with HCA - to speak to the Attorney General’s staff in North Carolina about what he learned from his experiences.

Former Missouri governor Jay Nixon has been in public office for over 30 years.

Photo courtesy of Southwestern Community College

 Debates are a chance for candidates to share their views with constituents in hopes to win their votes. One local debate series gives candidates that opportunity while also showcasing what local students care about says Dr. Bucky Dann of Southwestern Community College.

 

“The debate tonight is hosted by the class members our Social Problems class here at Southwestern Community College,” announced Dr. Dann who is the debate moderator.  

Lilly Knoepp

 

  Five years after it started, the Moral Monday movement is still going in North Carolina.

 

On Monday, you could hear chants of, "What do we want? Justice! How we gonna get it? Vote!”

 

These chants echoed across from the Macon County Courthouse as the Moral Monday rally made its way to Franklin. The movement began in 2013 as religious leaders and others were arrested for protesting at the NC State Legislature in Raleigh.

 

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jones

  Two years ago, wildfires scorched the mountains of western North Carolina. The Camp Branch Fire around Wayah Bald in Macon County burned over 3,000 acres but only destroyed only one structure.

 

Lilly Knoepp

This summer, the North Carolina Legislature voted to make early voting hours uniform from 7am to 7pm. However, county budgets had already been finalized so many election boards weren’t able to pay for extended weekday hours which resulted in some locations closing.

Lilly Knoepp

Mission Health has finalized their deal with HCA but it isn’t done yet. The deal is currently on the desk of NC Attorney General Josh Stein. Stein is expected to approve or amend the deal near the end of November.

Mission Health’s deal will affect 18 counties in Western North Carolina so each community has a chance to send letters to Stein voicing their concerns about the deal or their support.

Photo courtesy of Southwestern Community College

  There isn't just a lack of hospitals in rural Western North Carolina. There is also a need for more trained medical professionals to care for the population from doctors and nurses to CNAs.

 

This summer, Southwestern Community College secured over $20 million dollars from the federal, state and county governments for a new health sciences building.

 

Lilly Knoepp

The first piece of a project connecting historical sites of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee is complete.  When the full project is finished, a cultural corridor will run over 60 miles along the Little Tennessee River from Rabun County in Georgia to the town of Cherokee on the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina. The effort has been a long time coming.

Photo by Bear Allison (Courtesy of The Museum Of The Cherokee Indian)

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is hoping to improve attendance and inspire new artists through its newest expansion.

 

A new room at the Museum of the Cherokee won’t be full of any ancient artifacts.  Museum director Bo Taylor says, instead, it will be a gallery space for local artists.

 

Courtesy of Harris Regional Hospital

  Non-profit Mission Healthcare’s $1.5 billion dollar sale to for-profit HCA Healthcare is all but done. However, this isn’t the first for-profit healthcare system operating in Western North Carolina.

 

For-profit Duke LifePoint purchased facilities in Jackson, Haywood and Swain county four years ago. Now it’s going through its own changes.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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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