buncombe county board of commissioners

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

A task force appointed by Asheville City Council and Buncombe County commissioners voted Thursday to recommend the removal of the 65-foot high Vance Monument from downtown Asheville's Pack Square.

The partisan divide in Western North Carolina between its most populous jurisdiction and those that surround it only grew further following Tuesday's election results.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Buncombe County board of commissioners is now the largest local government body to support the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in its legal fight with the Catawba Indian Nation over a proposed casino in the Charlotte suburbs.   

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

The 12 members of the task force that will determine the future of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville have been chosen.  By the end of the year, the task force is scheduled to determine whether to the remove the 65-foot obelisk from Pack Square and relocate it, or leave it in place and repurpose or recontextualize it.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Artists on Sunday completed a mural that spells out 'Black Lives Matter' in Pack Square around the now shrouded Vance Monument, which sits near where historians believe enslaved people were sold prior to the Civil War.

BPR

Scaffolding is going up around the Vance Monument as the city prepares to shroud the 75-foot obelisk in Pack Square in downtown Asheville.   

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.

Buncombe County

Buncombe county residents who think they may have symptoms of COVID-19 can get answers and connect to resources with a new online  Self -Checker .  The  digital tool was created by a COVID-19 think tank started by Emergency Preparedness Director Fletcher Tove with support from the Mountain Area Health Education Center.   The idea for the online resource came from a local climate scientist who also worked to develop and program the self-checker.  BPR’S Helen Chickering reports.

Buncombe County commissioners on a 4-3 party line vote Thursday approved a resolution supporting more community testing and contact tracing before social distancing guidelines can be eased in the county.  

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.

Candidate filing in North Carolina for the 2020 primary election ended on December 20th.  The primary will be held on March 3rd, 2020.  The deadline to register to vote on that day is February 7th, 2020.  There is no same day registration on primary day.  There is same day registration during the early voting period before the primary.  Early voting for the 2020 primary election runs from February 13th to 29th.  The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail for the primary election is February 25th, 2020.

On Tuesday, a federal grand jury announced an 11-count indictment against former Buncombe County commissioner Ellen Frost.  She's accused - alongside former county manager Wanda Greene - of using more than $575-thousand in funds from the county's Economic Development Incentive Fund for personal activities.  Prosecutors allege that Frost and Greene attempted to coverup the expenditures by claiming the funds were used to advertise the Asheville Regional Airport at equestrian events in North Carolina and Florida.

About 50 people have gathered at a gallery inside the Refinery Building in Asheville’s South Slope. It’s a whos-who among people in local dance, theater, music, the visual arts.

They’re here as a nascent arts alliance, putting new effort behind a familiar message—that city and county officials should prioritize the arts in their annual budgets.

Artists in Asheville aren’t unique in this sense—artists everywhere apply and compete for funding from their state and regional arts councils. They’re the custodians of the portion of your tax dollars that fund arts and culture in our communities.

Joseph Wiseman, the contractor involved in the final of three indictments against former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene, plead guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.  His guilty plea is the fifth prosecutors have achieved over the past year for an investigation into corruption and fraud in Buncombe County government.  He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced.

Avril Pinder, the deputy county manager for New Hanover County in Eastern North Carolina, has been appointed county manager for Buncombe County.  She is the full-time replacement for Wanda Greene, who retired after 20 years in the job in 2017.  Greene was indicted three separate times in 2018 by federal authorities for corruption and fraud.  Buncombe County commissioners appointed Pinder following a unanimous vote at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Court documents filed Thursday morning show that former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene will plead guilty, ending a corruption and fraud scandal in county government that stretched back more than a decade.  The filing comes a day after the Buncombe County board of commissioners reached a settlement agreement in its lawsuit against Greene, and a day after a judge accepted a plea deal with a former assistant county manager who was charged alongside Greene. 

Democrats hold a 4-3 edge on the Buncombe County board of commissioners.  Each party has an incumbent on the ballot this fall, with another seat open thanks to Democrat Ellen Frost declining to run for re-election.

Add in the Wanda Greene scandal - which occurred right under the noses of commissioners from both parties for decades – and a high stakes election is now even more so.

On Wednesday October 17th, Blue Ridge Public Radio and Mountain Xpress hosted a forum with the candidates for the District 2 seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.  Republican Glenda Weinert and Democrat Amanda Edwards are running for the seat being vacated by Democrat Ellen Frost, who declined to run for re-election.

On Tuesday October 16th, Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times hosted a forum with the candidates for the District 3 seat on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.  Republican incumbent Robert Pressley and Democrat Donna Ensley took part in the forum.  Pressley was first elected to the board in 2016.