western north carolina

A KOSU reporter interviews a man in a white shirt and straw hat sitting outside, in front of a car.
Courtesy America Amplified

BPR will deepen its engagement with communities across Western North Carolina this year by partnering with other public radio stations in a national initiative called America Amplified.

Pandemic is financial bonanza for HCA

Oct 26, 2021

Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, which operates Asheville’s Mission Hospital and five other hospitals in Western North Carolina, reported Friday that it made $2.27 billion in profits in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, triple the amount in the same period last year.


An article in Rolling Stone magazine reports that two people who planned the rallies ahead of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. - both whom are now cooperating with Congressional investigators - have said they talked with seven Republican members of the House of Representatives or their offices ahead of the day about attempts to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss.  Among them is Western North Carolina’s Madison Cawthorn. 

Matt Bush

Outside of Old Fort, the Western North Carolina railroad bends around Andrews Geyser.  The man-made fountain is named after the vice president of the company that owned the railroad, built in the 1870’s. 

Now, the thousands of laborers who did the work are finally memorialized at the site too.  

Dr. Dan Pierce

A memorial to the incarcerated laborers that built the railroad into Western North Carolina in the late 1800's will be dedicated this weekend - culminating an effort by historians and community leaders to bring attention to a crucial piece of history in the region that had long been ignored or forgotten.

North Carolina lawmakers hope to have redistricting completed by the end of this month.  There are plenty of proposed maps floating about right now, but Western Carolina University Dr. Chris Cooper urges people not to overreact to any of them - because the only map that matters is the final one.

Cawthorn pointedly defies laws banning knives on school property

Oct 11, 2021
David Wheeler

For the second time in as many months, Rep. Madison Cawthorn faces a potential criminal complaint for carrying a weapon — in the latest incident, a “combat” automatic knife similar to a switchblade — in a public school building.  

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The last decade saw significant population growth in Asheville.   But that didn’t lead to similar growth in the city of the principle driver of climate change.  

#NC11: Eric Batchelor withdraws from primary race

Oct 6, 2021

The field of challengers to Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn’s renomination narrowed Sunday with the withdrawal of Army veteran and Haywood County deputy sheriff Eric Batchelor.

Undiscovered Acts Flourish At MerleFest

Sep 23, 2021
Cory Vaillancourt

There was plenty of disappointment last year when MerleFest became a casualty of the pandemic.  This year, the show went on.  America’s premier “traditional plus” music festival returned, once again giving undiscovered acts their chance to shine.

Two long-time members of Transylvania Regional Hospital board of directors resigned Monday, saying they were “embarrassed” to have supported the sale of the Mission Health System to giant HCA Healthcare and that they now fear for the future of the Brevard-based community hospital under HCA’s profit-driven management.


On August 17th, historic flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred devastated Western North Carolina.  Haywood County was hit hardest, as six people were killed in the Cruso, Canton, and Bethel areas.

Matt Bush

On August 17th, flash floods caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred left six people dead in Haywood County, and devastated homes and businesses there and in neighboring Buncombe and Transylvania Counties.  While the analysis is ongoing of what caused such rapid and destructive flooding in these tight spaces, one reason is inescapable - climate change.

COVID Surge: 51 Dead In August. 'We're Running Out Of Ambulances'

Sep 11, 2021

Jessica Vaughn, a 33-year-old mother of five, was found dead in her Asheville apartment. The cause: COVID-19.

Brianna Justus, a 31-year-old expectant mother, went from healthy to COVID intensive care patient at Mission Hospital in less than a week. Her baby, delivered by emergency cesarean section, survived. Brianna Justus did not.

Congressman Madison Cawthorn, Republican representing western North Carolina, spoke this week to Macon County Republicans in Franklin. The organizer estimated the crowd at more than 200 people. The Macon County Republican Party posted a 1-hour, 28-minute video on its Facebook page, but removed it after Cawthorn’s remarks attracted nationwide scrutiny. A copy of the video can be found on YouTube here.

Courtesy of Western Carolina University

Despite recent severe weather, this year’s fall leaf forecast for Western North Carolina is looking bright. Here’s when colors will be at their peak:

The fall colors of red, orange and yellow will be best at high elevation in mid-October says Professor Beverly Collins, who teaches biology at Western Carolina University.

“I think our color change at Cullowhee, which will be at about 2,000 ft will be at about end of October,”  said Collins.  

Cory Vaillancourt

Video footage from a Republican Party event last weekend showed Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn speaking about January 6th insurrectionists in a much different way than he had previously.  Those remarks have people from both parties calling for a rebuke or his removal.

Haywood Declares State Of Emergency As Ida Arrives

Aug 30, 2021

(Tuesday 4:30 p.m.)  The latest weather updates and advisories can be found here.  Haywood County declared a state of emergency as the remnants of Tropical Depression Ida pass through the region. The county also issued a voluntary evacuation order for the areas still rebuilding from the last floods along the Pigeon River: Cruso, Bethel, Lake Logan, Center Pigeon, Canton, and Clyde.  

WNC Flood Survivor Recounts Harrowing Tale

Aug 30, 2021
Natasha Bright

Residents in Haywood County are holding their breath that remnants of Hurricane Ida don’t add to their misery this week.  For some, the trauma of what happened two weeks ago is still front and center.     


Dr. Darin Waters will take over next month as North Carolina's Deputy Secretary for Archives and History.  The job in the state department of Natural and Cultural Resources comes with many responsibilities, including being North Carolina's state historian.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

A request for a federal disaster declaration for areas of Western North Carolina devastated by last week’s flood will be coming soon according to Governor Roy Cooper, who toured affected areas again on Wednesday.  

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Monday is back-to-school day for students across North Carolina, including those in Union, Cabarrus, Iredell, Gaston, Lincoln and Catawba counties.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools opens Wednesday.

The Boring Co.

We're looking into the future of transportation as part of our Rebuilding Charlotte series. No, the topic isn't light rail, but we will talk hydrogen-powered rail and tunnels, autonomous vehicles and even flying cars. Joining WFAE's "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry is Ely Portillo, who has looked into these technologies for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Portillo also writes for the newsletter Transit Time, which is a collaboration among the Urban Institute, WFAE and the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Out Of The Shadows: Moonshining In The 21st Century

Aug 19, 2021
Cory Vaillancourt

Among the many regional delicacies produced in the Smokies is one that’s got a little bit of a stigma to it. In Haywood County, it’s also a cultural tradition that’s always been in danger of disappearing. But there is hope, and it comes from the most unlikely of places.

Dr. Chris Cooper

The 2020 U.S. Census figures arrived last week eagerly anticipated - and late (for a variety of reasons). 

Scott McLeod / Smoky Mountain News

This page is no longer being updated.  To get the latest info, go here. 

(4p.m. Sunday)  Release from Haywood County Emergency Services: Search efforts today focused on locating the last remaining person still unaccounted for following Tropical Storm Fred.   Five individuals have been confirmed dead — Frank Mungo, 86, Franklin McKenzie, 68, Judy Mason, 73, Charlene Mungo, 83, all of Cruso have now been identified and families notified.

The fifth victim, Frank Lauer, Sr., 74, of Cruso was located today, and his family have been notified. “I extend my deepest condolences to Mrs. Lauer and her family. We are holding the Lauer family close in our hearts, and are praying for them now in the time of their loss,” said Sheriff Greg Christopher

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Buncombe County commissioners voted Wednesday afternoon to reinstate a indoor mask requirement for public buildings and facilities.  The measure goes into effect immediately.

Under a Carolina-blue sky, shaded by the oaks framing Pack Square, the small crowd formed a loose, attentive circle around a man speaking and gesticulating with the fervor of a revivalist. This was David Hurley, 37, a candidate to become the Buncombe county sheriff in 2022. 

But, he told the crowd, he wouldn’t be your typical sheriff. 


Updated Aug. 18. 2021 12:06 p.m.

Masks will be required in indoor public places in the city of Charlotte and unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County starting Wednesday at 5 p.m., making it among the largest cities in the South to have a mask mandate. The measure applies to anyone 4 years old and older, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, and will last until at least Sept. 1.

Allen Newland / A Shot Above photo

This page is no longer being updated.  To get the latest info, go here.

(6:00 p.m. Wednesday)  Emergency crews were still conducting searches for people who remain unaccounted for in both Haywood and Transylvania Counties late Wednesday afternoon, 24 hours after heavy rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred flooded many portions of Western North Carolina.