WNC

STR Inc.

Keep the momentum going is the message from the latest analysis of Buncombe County’s lodging market by hotel industry tracker STR Incorporated.  The report was presented on Friday by STR’s Bennjin Lao at an event hosted by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and the Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

BPR

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a pair of living teddy bears make their debut at the  Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville.     BPR’s Helen Chickering has a preview.

The Fed Cup women’s tennis tournament is in back in Asheville this weekend with the U-S taking on Australia.  The first match is Saturday, but action has been happening all week with events and activities designed to get kids interested in tennis.  BPR’s Helen Chickering stopped in on a Fed Cup tennis clinic at the U.S. Cellular Center.

BPR

You’ve probably heard about the movement to reduce the use of plastic straws, which can’t be recycled and end up in landfills and in the environment. As BPR’s Helen Chickering reports, local environmental groups are on a mission to expand that campaign here in Western North Carolina.

In 2018, the nonprofit Asheville Greenworks kept more than 161,000 pounds of hard to recycle materials out of the landfills in Western North Carolina.  During free events held throughout the year in Buncombe County,  volunteers collected everything from televisions to empty toothpaste tubes.  The organization is kicking off it's first  Hard 2 Recycle event of 2019, on Saturday, January 19th in West Asheville. 

BPR

A few weeks ago, we introduced you to biologist Rebecca Helm who moved to Asheville to study jellyfish.  While working on the piece, BPR’s Helen Chickering connected with  another marine pioneer  -  who brought sharks  and marine science to Hendersonville. 

mountainjellyfish.com/Rebecca Helm

Tourists flock Western North Carolina for the mountain views, hiking trails and attractions like the Biltmore House.  Sea life is not on the list, but that could change.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has the story of an unexpected find in the Western North Carolina waters that prompted a marine biologist to move to the mountains. 

Good news for last minute insurance shoppers. Pisgah Legal Services, in partnership with Mission Health is hosting a free enrollment event Saturday, December 15 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.  at the Mission Health/AB Tech Conference Center at 16 Fernihurst Drive.  No appointment is needed.

Getty Images

Last year, more than half a million North Carolina residents signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.  With less than two weeks left in the 2019 open enrollment period, there is concern that those numbers will be down.  BPR’s Helen Chickering checked in with Pisgah Legal Services managing attorney Jackie Kiger . 

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:

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(Update: 11/29/18) The chicken pox outbreak that began at an Asheville private school in late October is far from over according to the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services.  The latest numbers show 37 students at the Asheville Waldorf School along with 4 people in the community have contracted the virus.  Health officials are not releasing details about the additional cates, saying only rhat they are connected to the  outbreak at the school .  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a chicken pox outbreak is not declared over until 42 days have passed without a new case. 

In a statement on its website, the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services says based on the timing of the most recent case in the community, the outbreak will continue into 2019.  The state health department says it's the largest chicken pox outbreak in the NC since the vaccine was introduced in 1995.  

The Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services says the chicken pox outbreak at an Asheville private school has now spread to more than 30 students. (update: 11/19/2018 - 36)   And as BPR’s Helen Chickering reports,  the school has a history of high vaccine exemption rates.

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.

A number of familiar names and offices are on the 2018 midterm election ballot, and there are those 6 amendments everybody is talking about.   What is likely not so familiar are the county races for  Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.   If you haven’t heard about it, you are not alone.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports. 

What We're Watching As Election Day Nears

Oct 25, 2018
Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

Early voting numbers are up in North Carolina with Election Day less than 2 weeks away.  What do the early numbers tell us?  Who's up and who's down?  What are the big races to look out for?  BPR's Jeremy Loeb discusses the latest with Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper.

Lilly Knoepp

This summer, the North Carolina Legislature voted to make early voting hours uniform from 7am to 7pm. However, county budgets had already been finalized so many election boards weren’t able to pay for extended weekday hours which resulted in some locations closing.

Lilly Knoepp

Mission Health has finalized their deal with HCA but it isn’t done yet. The deal is currently on the desk of NC Attorney General Josh Stein. Stein is expected to approve or amend the deal near the end of November.

Mission Health’s deal will affect 18 counties in Western North Carolina so each community has a chance to send letters to Stein voicing their concerns about the deal or their support.

Photo courtesy of Southwestern Community College

  There isn't just a lack of hospitals in rural Western North Carolina. There is also a need for more trained medical professionals to care for the population from doctors and nurses to CNAs.

 

This summer, Southwestern Community College secured over $20 million dollars from the federal, state and county governments for a new health sciences building.

 

BPR

State health officials have extended the immunization deadline for public school students to November first - to give more time to families impacted by Hurricane Florence.  Meantime, in Western North Carolina, health officials are facing a different kind of vaccination challenge – the growing number of parents who are choosing not to immunize their children.   BPR’s Helen Chickering has been following the newly formed immunization coalition as it works to reverse that trend.  She checked in with them in September, during one of their meetings.

Last week, Hurricane Florence quickly grabbed the headlines from a major sporting event happening right here in Western North Carolina. The World Equestrian Games kicked off just as the storm was moving towards the coast.  After a short delay earlier this week, the spotlight is once again shining on the Tryon Equestrian Center. But as Helen Chickering reports, the real horse story is down the road.

BPR

The Tryon birthplace of singer, song writer and Civil Rights activist Nina Simone has been named a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The nonprofit is teaming up with the four New York City artists who bought the small wooden cottage in 2017.  The organization will devise a plan to rehabilitate the house so that it might be used by future artists.

Federal officials say treatment is underway to clean up contaminants at the former CTS Corporation factory in Asheville.  

Below is the news release from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Health officials have confirmed four cases of pertussis, (whooping cough) in Buncombe County. Three other cases have been identified, which health officials say are connected to the four lab-confirmed cases.           BPR's Helen Chickering spoke with Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services medical director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore about pertussis, the cases and what health officials are doing to help stop the respiratory illness from spreading.  

Here’s more from Buncombe County Health and Human Services:  

BPR News

Among the thousands of teachers who filled the streets of North Carolina's capital Wednesday, were hundreds of educators from Western North Carolina.  Many who were unable to make the trip to Raleigh attended satellite rallies, including one in Asheville. 

“Thank you so much for coming today”

Around 10 o’clock Wednesday morning, teachers and supporters who couldn’t make the rally in Raleigh, gathered at THE BLOCK off biltmore in  downtown Asheville to make posters and phone calls to lawmakers

ASPCA

A one of a kind dog shelter has opened its doors in Buncombe County.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA – unveiled its new  Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Weaverville.  The Center is the first-ever permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and study of fearful, anxious – often unadoptable dogs. Most are the victims of cruelty or neglect.   BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.  

Southwestern Community College

If you visit a National Park, there’s a good chance you’ll cross the path of a ranger who was trained right here in Western North Carolina.  Southwestern Community College in Sylva is one of only seven colleges in the nation that offers the National Park Service Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Academy. 
 The program is one of the oldest in the country and just graduated its 100th class.  BPR’s Helen Chickering visited the academy while school was still in session.

March 14 is National Pi Day, a time to celebrate the mathematical constant, 3.14 and a good excuse to eat pie.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with UNCA Math Professor Sam Kaplan about why the irrational number deserves its own day, why math intimidates many of us, and his work in the community - outreach that uses math as a platform to help local students sharpen their leadership skills. 

Leonardo da Vinci may be best known for his artistic masterpieces, but he was also an accomplished engineer and scientist.  That mix of science and art helped inspire a local group of artists, scientists, teachers and citizens to launch the area’s first arts and science festival.  BPR’s Helen Chickering caught up with one of the organizers, biologist Jason York.

Asheville’s first Arts and Science Festival will be held on Saturday, March 31 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Salvage Station.  The event is free and welcomes all ages.

Climate City is just one of Asheville’s many nicknames.  A local nonprofit is working to elevate that moniker to a new level.  In March,  the climate innovation center,  The Collider, is kicking off ClimateCon 2018.  The business of climate is the headline event of the conference that organizers say – has something for everyone.  BPR’s Helen Chickering spoke with Megan Robinson, The Collider’s Executive director.

The 2018 Fed Cup brings international professional tennis competition to  Asheville  Feb. 10-11 for the USA vs. Netherlands World Group First Round.

The weekend competition features tennis star Venus Williams and her sister Serena, who is making her debut after maternity leave and who, on Friday, made an Asheville teen’s dream come true. 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) —  North Carolina state officials are asking for input from residents about a plan to relocate three Confederate monuments away from state Capitol grounds.  Officials have established an online page to collect comments from the public about the relocation proposal. To comment on the plan: Click here.  

Pages