Waynesville

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are inviting the public to help with an effort to research the African American experience in southern Appalachia.

According to a news release, participants in open house events will have the opportunity to learn about the history of African Americans in the park and share their personal experiences or family stories.

Matthew Westmoreland via AP / Associated Press

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A University of North Carolina-Charlotte student who was killed when he tackled a gunman who opened fire inside a classroom has been posthumously awarded military honors.

Buncombe County Schools

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina has announced it will establish the Riley Howell Foundation Fund in honor of the Waynesville college student who died during last month's shooting on the campus of UNC Charlotte.  The fund will support families affected by gun violence.

Jess Stone/Smoky Mountain News

The body of Riley Howell was returned to his hometown of Waynesville Thursday via a procession of police that traveled from Charlotte.  Howell and a fellow UNC Charlotte student were killed Tuesday after a gunman started firing into a classroom on campus.  Howell died after tackling the guman, saving untold numbers of lives according to police.

UNC Charlotte

Tuesday's shooting at UNC Charlotte has been felt in several Western North Carolina communities, including Asheville and Waynesville.  Although Charlotte may seem a world away, when the names of the two deceased were announced Wednesday morning, tiny Waynesville in Haywood County learned it had lost one of its own.

Buncombe County Schools

One of the two UNC Charlotte students killed in a shooting on campus Tuesday evening was a native of Waynesville and a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville.  21-year-old Riley Howell is being hailed as a hero for rushing the suspected gunman during the shooting, preventing further loss of life.  

Waynesville To Incentivize Affordable Housing

Jan 21, 2019
A Shot Above of WNC/Allen Newland photo

The affordable housing crisis may be Western North Carolina’s most pressing problem.  One Haywood County town is taking concrete steps towards a solution.

September 9 marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, but how many of us really know what to do when we see or hear things that could be construed as “red flags?”

Meadows Says He Won't Support Privatizing Vets Health Care

Aug 13, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows is playing a leading role in the national health care debate.  While back home in his district on recess, Meadows engaged in a series of events with veterans, talking about benefits and health care.

But not everyone was happy to see him.

Folkmoot's Cultural Exchange Goes Both Ways

Jul 23, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

You can’t just invite several hundred foreign performers to a festival in Western North Carolina without showing them some good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.  And that’s just what many local volunteers do each year, serving as a bridge between cultures at Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival.

Cory Vaillancourt

Waynesville’s Folkmoot Festival is again underway.  In its 35th year, organizers say the folkdance festival has never been more relevant - or more necessary.

Holly Kays


Holly Kays studied creative fiction in college and saw herself on a path to becoming a novelist.

 

“Everybody who likes to write is writing a book at some point,” she said. “Most of those books never actually wind up being written.”
 

Like most budding novelists, Kays has another job to pay her bills. Unlike most, Kays works for a sympathetic boss.

Cory Vaillancourt

Every corner of the United States has its own special, niche ingredient that’s as much a part of the culture as it is of the cuisine.  For Western North Carolina - love ‘em or hate ‘em – it’s ramps. 

#MeToo Rallies In WNC Seek To End Stigma Of Being A Victim

May 3, 2018
Cory Vaillancourt

Just six months after the emergence of the #MeToo movement, change has begun to occur. In Western North Carolina, change showed up as a first-of-its-kind rally in Waynesville – where spectators said even though progress has been made, there’s still a long way to go.  Someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every 98 seconds. Even more startling, less than one percent of offenders ever face jail time for their crimes, due in large part to the stigma of identifying as a victim.

Cory Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

8 out of 10 Americans live 'paycheck to paycheck' according to the employment website Career Builder.  That's just one of the factors contributing to homelessness that Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt studied before he decided to voluntarily go 'homeless' for three days late last month.  He sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss his experiences and the resources for the homeless he encountered in Haywood County.  Vaillancourt's travels took him from his home i

Waynesville has more galleries per capita than Asheville. BPR Arts & Culture Producer Matt Peiken captured a view from Waynesville's Main Street, meeting artists and gallery owners along the city's monthly visual arts showcase "Art After Dark."

Funny Business In The Mountains Sees Growth

Nov 6, 2017
NPR.org

As long as there’s a stage, there’s really no telling where a comic can be found—even in areas like Western North Carolina—where local talent has flourishes, and local business captures part of a $300 million industry. BPR'S Davin Eldridge takes a look at the comedy scene of the mountains. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Mountain Towns Split On How They Will 'Do Brunch'

Oct 26, 2017
NPR.org

North Carolina’s so-called ‘Brunch Bill’ gives local governments the option of allowing alcohol sales as early as 10 a.m. on Sundays, instead of the usual time of noon.  Hendersonville and Asheville quickly adopted the law. But to the west, there’s still plenty of debate about the bill in some communities. BPR’s Davin Eldridge reports on the contentious new bill and it's status within the region--examining which side of the issue each town is now on--and how a period of only two hours each week can differ so much between them as a result.

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.

NCSU Mountain Research Station

Hemp, Hops and Truffles – sounds like an ingredient list for a new craft beer  All three are being studied as potential alternative cash crops here in Western North Carolina.  BPR's Helen Chickering takes us on a field trip to the  Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. 

Corey Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

North Carolina is home to around 100 monuments to the Confederacy.  Governor Roy Cooper says all should come down in the wake of the death of a woman who was counter protesting a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia.  But a 2-year-old state law prohibits local governments from removing the monuments without state approval, keeping many of them in place for t

The 34th annual Folkmoot Festival gets underway Thursday in Waynesville and runs until July 30th.  What started more than three decades ago as a showcase for folk dancing has transformed into a 'meeting of people' designed 'to build global relationships, foster cultural understanding and develop community prosperity.'  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt joined BPR's Matt Bush to discuss the festival's history and evolving mission, as well as what to expect at this year's gathering.

Matt Bush WCQS

Federal funding could soon be coming to eight different projects in western North Carolina after governor Roy Cooper recommended each receive money.

Matt Bush WQCS

Efforts to speed up wireless internet service throughout western North Carolina are speeding up themselves, thanks to a six-city partnership.

Wifi has rapidly speed up throughout the region in the last decade, but Bill Sederburg says it’s time for the next step.  The coordinator of the West Next Generation Network says that is “gigabit” internet service.

“It means much faster downloads for video.  It means the ability for hospitals to have branch campuses (that can) access to MRI and X-ray images and stuff like that”, according to Sederburg.

Haywood County Schools

The Haywood County School board has voted to close Central Elementary School in Waynesville on a 6-to-2 vote.  Board Chairman Chuck Francis, who as Chair did not vote, called it a "heartbreaking decision," and a day he hoped would never come.  He cited funding cuts and declining enrollment, partly due to the opening of a charter school nearby, as reasons for the action.  He spoke with WCQS's Jeremy Loeb. 

Central Elementary Principal Jean Ann Yates e-mailed a statement to WCQS: 

In Their Words: Rep. Joe Sam Queen

Apr 14, 2015
blueridgeheritage.com

We’ve been hearing from area lawmakers over the past week.  Many were home last week for their version of spring break and that gave us a chance to speak with many of them.  Today we hear from Joe Sam Queen.  He’s a Democrat representing Haywood, Jackson, and Swain counties in the state House. 

Area Democrats are not backing down on their call for the state to expand Medicaid, something the Republican-led General Assembly has refused to do.   Queen says North Carolinians are already footing the bill.