Macon County

Cory Vaillancourt

Western North Carolina has four seats in the state senate.  Two of those will be open seats in next year’s election, including the one that represents the state’s westernmost counties.

Lilly Knoepp

  The Franklin Town Council unanimously approved a special use permit to build a new Angel Medical Center. BPR was at the meeting. 

 HCA Healthcare will build the new facility off of Hunnicutt Lane and Center Court Drive in Franklin.  The for-profit company purchased the hospital as part of its acquisition of the Mission Health system.

“The facility will really be based on what Franklin and Macon County need.” 

 That’s Angel Medical Center CEO and CNO Karen Gorby. She presented the most recent plans for the new hospital. 

Lilly Knoepp

An ancient Cherokee mound in Franklin has now officially been turned over to a local nonprofit.  BPR attended the commemoration of the transfer. 

Locals gathered in a pavilion on the Greenway near the Nikwasi Mound to mark the sacred site’s handover to the Nikwasi Initiative. Bob McCollum is on its board.

“Good morning,” says McCullom. The crowd responds: “Good morning!”

“What a great day that has been a long time in coming,” he says. 

Lilly Knoepp

 For the first time ever, North Carolina’s seven westernmost counties met to discuss how to solve the opioid crisis.  BPR was at the summit in Bryson City.

For Graham County Commissioner Connie Orr, the issue is personal. Her son has been battling addiction since he was prescribed Vicodin at 15 years old. He’s now 51. 

“From that time until now my son has been fighting the addiction of opiates which has moved not only to opiates but to heroin, meth or any drug that is available right now,” says Orr. 

Lilly Knoepp

  As part of the sale of Mission Health to HCA, the for-profit health system promised to build a new hospital in Macon County.  BPR talked to Angel Medical Center’s CEO about when ground will be broken for the new facility.

A new Angel Medical Center was in the works long before the HCA sale says CEO and CNO Karen Gorby.

Lilly Knoepp

Nantahala Health Foundation has hired Lori Bailey as executive director of the organization. The new nonprofit health foundation formed after the February sale of Mission Health to for-profit HCA Health.

Lilly Knoepp

  Rural broadband access in Western North Carolina has seen funding and supportive legislation in recent months.  

 

BPR spoke to those who have been working on the issue for years about what these strides could mean.

 

Lilly Knoepp

The lawsuit against the Franklin Town Council members in response to their decision to transfer the deed to the ancient Nikwasi Mound has been withdrawn.

 

Gloria Raby Owenby, one of the plaintiffs, says that the group’s legal counsel explained that the injunction would take months or years. The group wasn’t willing to wait that long with an “uncertain outcome,” says Owenby, who explained that the group never hired an attorney. She says that the lawsuit could be brought up again at a later date.

 

Lilly Knoepp

The Franklin Town Council has voted to transfer the deed to the ancient Nikwasi Mound to a nonprofit.   

The hall broke out into applause after the town council voted unanimously in favor of transferring the property to the Nikwasi Initiative - a nonprofit made up of representatives from Franklin, Macon County, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Mainspring Conservation Trust.

Hope Huskey is on the board of the Nikwasi Initiative and a member of the Eastern Band.  

 

Lilly Knoepp

  Last year over 25,000 people marched at the state capital in Raleigh to support public school teachers through the Red 4 Ed NC cause. This year they’ll do it again on May 1st.

 

Franklin High School teacher John deVille is the vice president of North Carolina Association of Educators. He’s also on the Red 4 Ed advisory board.  He says May 1st isn’t a protest.

 

NMPJ

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama features monuments for lynchings that occurred in more than 800 U.S. Counties.  That includes Buncombe, Haywood, Macon, and Cherokee Counties in Western North Carolina.  Exact replicas of each monument have also been created, with designers hoping they are taken to be displayed in the counties here each lynching has occurred.  That hasn't happened yet for those destined for Western North Carolina.

Lilly Knoepp

Last week, the Franklin Press reported that five plaintiffs had filed an injunction against the Franklin Town Council to block them from voting to transfer ownership of the Nikwasi Mound to local non-profit The Nikwasi Initiative.

Lilly Knoepp

 Celebrations of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King echo across the nation today.

Macon Country has celebrated with a service including chruches from across the county for more than 25 years .

“Now is the time to lift our Nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood,” says Reverend Mozart Moliere.

Moliere is the pastor at Burgess Chapel in Franklin. His rendition of Dr. King’s “ I Have a Dream” speech brought the audience to their feet at First United Methodist Church.

Lilly Knoepp

  Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin kicked off their 10th year anniversary celebration last week.

 

Before the theater in Franklin was built, the biggest plays in town took place at the local high school. Now 10 years later, general manager and artistic director Scotty Corbin estimates that over three-quarters of a million people have attended shows at the theater.

 

“Our actual birthday is July 3rd but we’ve decided let’s make it a year of celebration,” says Corbin.

 

Lilly Knoepp

  The North Carolina Department of Commerce released its economic development ratings for all 100 counties. Here’s more on what that means and how Western North Carolina ranked:

 

Lilly Knoepp

  Republicans in Macon County were celebrating the passage of four out of the six amendments on the ballot. The two amendments that failed would have limited the governor’s power to structure the state elections board and appoint judges.

Lilly Knoepp

 Incumbents at the state and federal level did very well in Western North Carolina.  BPR caught up with the Macon County Republican Party in the town of Franklin as they celebrated their victories.

Macon County, a traditionally conservative county, stuck with that trend. State Senator Jim Davis (R) and State Representative Kevin Corbin (R) both won. This will be the 5th term for Davis and the 2nd for Corbin.

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.

wunc.org, Michel Tronchetti

A common frustration for residents throughout the mountains of Western North Carolina is the lack of high speed internet access.   They now have a place where they can vent. BPRs Davin Eldridge has more…

Author's Note: a link to the survey is provided at the bottom of the article.

Davin Eldridge

The opioid epidemic is unavoidable – even on Halloween in Western North Carolina.  BPR’s Davin Eldridge reports on a 'spooky' holiday decoration that some parents think went too far in calling attention to the problem.


Davin Eldridge

In the age of the internet the future of the American department store has grown increasingly uncertain.

Earlier this year, Toys "R" Us—a company with nearly 900 stores across the country— filed for bankruptcy. Kmart and Sears underwent another round of store closings—from nearly 1,600 last year, to just over 1,200 this year.

Whenever these so-called “big box” stores close, it can often stifle development in the communities they once served, and hurt the bottom line of nearby small businesses. BPR’s Davin Eldridge takes a look at the little-known phenomenon of “ghost box stores”, and how these stores impact Western North Carolina in their own small way.

Climate Mayors

“Adopt, honor, and uphold”—this is what some 359 mayors from across the U.S. have pledged to do for their municipalities. It’s a commitment made by so-called “Climate Mayors” to advocate policies in keeping with the Paris climate agreement. It calls for the creation of a twenty-first century clean energy economy, reduced greenhouse emissions, investments in renewable energy and electric vehicles. BPR’s Davin Eldridge visited with two such mayors in a deeply red part of Western North Carolina…

Davin Eldridge

Local governments in the far reaches of Western North Carolina are working to lure more internet service providers to the region.  BPR’s Davin Eldridge spoke with a few homegrown providers about the growing demand for quality internet service, and why it's such a difficult area to do this kind of business in the first place.

Matt Bush BPR

Mission Health says its decision to stop delivering babies at Angel Medical Center in Macon County was made to keep the hospital open.  Mission estimates around 400 children a year are currently born at the Franklin facility, roughly one per day.  CEO Dr. Ronald Paulus says labor and delivery care at Angel Medical loses the hospital between $1 and $2-million per year, which he says puts all the other healthcare done at the facility in jeopardy. “We can’t let one program, even important, put all of the care at risk for a rural community.  We just can’t do it.”

Macon County Sheriff's Office

In the midst of a national opioid addiction crisis, doctors in North Carolina are prescribing more and more painkillers.  Western North Carolina is no exception, according to reports.   But a simple clerical error from one such report has helped motivate one mountain community to better tackle the crisis at home. 

ncwg.gov

The U.S. Forest Service says all but one of the wildfires burning in western North Carolina was caused by man-made forces.  That includes the 'suspicion of arson', but that does not mean the fires were caused on purpose.  Only further investigation will be able to confirm that.

The more than 20 wildfires burning throughout western North Carolina have been aided by severe drought conditions and continued windy, dry weather.  Rain is forecast to fall finally in the region, but not until next Wednesday morning.

ncparks.gov

    

For a few short weeks, every year, the mountains of Western North Carolina are renowned for their bright autumn leaves. The generations have brought to the region countless so-called “leaf-lookers” enthralled by their fiery shades of yellow and red come mid-October. Even this year, when area biologists are expecting fall leaves to be duller, and less-vibrant, all local economists can see on the horizon is the color of money for the mountains.

New In-Roads For WNC Public Transit

Sep 22, 2016
ashevillenc.gov

 

For millions of people across the United States, the beginning of their day starts at a bus stop.

 

WNC's Burgeoning Tourism Industry

May 31, 2016
Davin Eldridge

 

On the tailgate of an old rusted red pickup truck, a bumper sticker reads, “Why is it called tourist season if we can’t shoot em’?”.  

 

The vehicle is parked alongside dozens of others in the fields of Darnell Farms, just outside of Bryson City, for its seventeenth annual Strawberry Jam farm-raising event. In the air an aroma of boiled peanuts and kettle-cooked corn mixes with the sounds of bluegrass and children playing, along the banks of the nearby Tuckasegee River.

Pages