Buncombe County

Former Buncombe County commissioner Ellen Frost plead guilty Monday morning in federal court to one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.  

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Buncombe County commissioners Tuesday evening approved a resolution supporting reparations for the Black community in the county.  The resolution – passed on a 4-3 party line vote - does not create a commission to determine what reparations will be like the city of Asheville OK’d last month.  

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Buncombe County removed a memorial to Confederate soldiers that stood outside the county courthouse early Tuesday morning.  It's the second Confederate monument to be removed this month in downtown Asheville after Asheville city council and Buncombe County commissioners approved such removals last month following a week of protests calling for racial justice.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Asheville City schools will rename Vance Elementary School in West Asheville.  Superintendent Gene Freeman made the announcement Tuesday at a board of education meeting.

Matt Bush

In a narrow 4-3 party line vote Tuesday night, Buncombe County commissioners approved a resolution to remove two Confederate monuments in downtown Asheville.  The decision came one week after Asheville City council approved the same resolution unanimously.

 

Buncombe County high school seniors will still graduate this weekend.  But it won’t be like they imagined. 

Courtesy of Camp Watia

Summer camps are a big part of the culture of Western North Carolina. There are over 70 camps of all types for kids of all ages at the western end of the state. Many are still deciding if they will close due to COVID-19. 

Singing songs around a campfire, canoeing, team building - these are all activities that are associated with summer camp. They are also activities that require close contact - something that isn’t possible in a social distancing world of COVID-19.  

“Capture the flag is a big activity for us that we do every Sunday.”

Buncombe County will require the wearing of face masks in most indoor public settings starting next week.  The decision comes as North Carolina enters 'Phase 2' of its reopening Friday afternoon after restrictive stay at home orders due to COVID-19.

$5M TDA Relief Bill For Small Businesses Helps Hotels, Too

May 20, 2020
Mark Barrett

When the Rev. Tami Forte Logan learned that the Buncombe County Tourist Development Authority and allies won legislative approval to offer $5 million to small businesses crushed by the pandemic, she didn’t join the chorus of congratulations.

Food Donation Chain In Near Gridlock, Manna Chief Says

May 9, 2020
Nick Peters

The main floor of Manna FoodBank’s warehouse in Asheville is a beehive of activity as scores of staff and volunteers pack, load and wrap food for distribution. Boxes, pallets, and forklifts still abound, but the vibe has changed.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Buncombe County has modified its local ‘stay home stay safe’ order so that it aligns with the new statewide order in North Carolina that allows many retail businesses to reopen Friday at 5 p.m.  

'We Proved That We Can': Pandemic Speeds Criminal Justice Reforms

May 5, 2020
Buncombe County Sheriff's Office

Coronavirus has led to dramatic changes in crime and justice in Asheville from the courtroom to the cop on the street.

Reported crimes are down, police are making fewer arrests and inmates are being sprung from jail.

Buncombe County will revise its ‘stay home stay safe’ declaration to further align with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide stay at home order.  The new Buncombe County order goes into effect Friday morning May 1st at 6 a.m. 

ExploreAsheville.com

The tourism industry for Buncombe County has brought in just 7% of what it normally would in the month of April.  That means the county has lost over $150-million dollars in visitor spending this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a figure which will only grow as stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements head into May.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

When the North Carolina General Assembly reconvenes next week, lawmakers will look at a bill that would set aside $5-million in recovery funds for tourism-related businesses in Buncombe County.  

Resúmenes para la semana del 13 de Abril

Apr 14, 2020
Luis Martinez

NUMERO DE CASOS 

 

Hasta el pasado Lunes, funcionarios de la salud de Carolina del Norte confirmaron que hay más de 4,800 casos de COVID-19, 86 personas han fallecido y 313 pacientes se encuentran hospitalizados. En el Oeste de Carolina del Norte se han confirmado cerca de 200 casos. 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

FIND THE LATEST COVID-19 CASE COUNT IN NORTH CAROLINA HERE.  FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS CLICK HERE.

Buncombe County this week released demographic information on confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county.  The numbers showed the county isn’t seeing the disproportionate number of cases affecting African-Americans that the state has thus far.

Asheville resident Peter Landis was one of the first confirmed 'community spread' cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County.  The 71-year-old retired journalist was told on March 23rd he had tested positive, one week after he had been tested at his primary care physician's office.  Landis had not traveled in recent months, and said he was not in contact with a known confirmed case of COVID-19.  He has since recovered, and spoke with BPR's Matt Bush over the phone to discuss his symptoms of the virus, and what he wants people to know about his experience.  You can hear the whole interview above.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

(3/31 2:45 p.m.)  Asheville police have identified the suspected shooter in this morning's shooting outside the Buncombe County courthouse as 29-year-old Shane Tilman Kent of Asheville.  Kent died at the scene after authorities say he fired shots at a law enforcement officer.

Lilly Knoepp

On Thursday, Buncombe County officals kicked off its new weekly meetings to update the public on Coronavirus(COVID-19).  

 

Rest areas along both sides of Interstate 26 near the border between Buncombe and Henderson Counties will close Friday as part of the overall widening project on the road.

Buncombe County

Buncombe County commissioner Mike Fryar died Sunday at the age of 72.  A post on his campaign's Facebook page says he died at Mission Hospital in Asheville surrounded by family and friends.  A cause of death was not released.

Lilly Knoepp

Few issues have dominated the news in Western North Carolina as much as healthcare in 2019.  BPR spoke with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein about the year’s events: 

Stein has been working with attorneys general from across the country to build a single framework for a $48 billion dollar financial settlement from pharmaceutical companies and distributors to pay for the effects of opioid crisis, which has hit Western North Carolina especially hard. 

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.

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.

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.

Buncombe County

Buncombe County officials say several mature tulip poplar trees will likely have to be removed in Alexander River Park because someone stripped large sections of bark off of each one.  The county recreation services believes a mechanical saw was used to remove the bark. 

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.

A federal grand jury announced an indictment of former Buncombe County commissioner Ellen Frost Tuesday afternoon.  Frost is accused of participating in a scheme with former county manager Wanda Greene to use $575-thousand in county funds to sponsor and promote events at two equestrian centers not located in Buncombe County.  The indictment alleges that as a horse owner herself, Frost had a personal interest in promoting and supporting those venues.  Frost and Greene allegedly tried to cover up the expenditures by claiming the money was spent to advertise the Asheville Regional Airport at equestrian events.

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.

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