N.C. Senate bill may dissolve AdvantageWest, Citizen-Times reports

Part of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s plans to turn the Department of Commerce into a public-private partnership that would be run like a business, Senate Bill 127 would mandate the dissolution of regional organizations like AdvantageWest and strip it of state funding. It passed a second reading in the Senate Monday night, May 13, by a 31-17 vote.a

Wilson, N.C., becomes first community in N.C. to offer ultra-fast Internet

Remember Asheville’s bid to get Google’s 100 gigabit Internet service? Consider that the average Internet speed in the U.S. is about 7 megabytes per second (hint: that’s so much slower than gigabit service, it feels like old dial-up speeds), that about 48,000 Western North Carolinians don’t have access to 4 Mbps service (the FCC definition of a broadband minimum), that North Carolina ranks 27th in broadband speeds (10 spots behind Guam). Now take a look at what one small town down east has done on its own.

Citizens organize to fight power-plant proposal in Transylvania County

“Transylvania County could become home to a bio/renewable diesel fuel plant, the first of its kind in Western North Carolina,” the Hendersonville Times-News reported on April 3. Local residents have organized a campaign to fight the proposal, noting that a facility that generates power by burning MSW (municipal solid waste) could turn mar an otherwise pristine valley near Brevard, possibly diminish air and water quality and bring unwanted industrial traffic to the valley.

State tells Western Highlands Network its contract will end in July

On Friday, April 5, the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance notified the Asheville-based Western Highlands Network that it’s terminating its contract, effective July 31. WHN coordinates mental-health, substance-abuse and developmental-disability services in in Madison, Mitchell, Yancey, Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, Polk and Rutherford counties.

Politics and apologies: Saga continues in controversy over Fryar’s appointment to A-B Tech&#82

Political wrangling and a series of apologies continue in the case of Buncombe County Commissioner Mike Fryar’s blocked appointment to the A-B Tech board of trustees. Earlier this month, A-B Tech President Hank Dunn rushed the swearing-in of Madison County commissioner Wayne Brigman; the move negated Fryar’s appointment because state law allows just one local […]

Climate change, agriculture & Warren Wilson College scientist Laura Lengnick

Just 1 percent of headlines these days cover environmental news, despite findings that 80 percent of readers, listeners and viewers want to hear more, according to the nonprofit initiative, Project for Improved Environmental Coverage. Asheville’s fortunate to be near the center of environmental studies, activism and interest — in part due to the work of such experts as Warren Wilson College professor/scientist Laura Lengnick.

The History Press: Local author Danny Bernstein launches book on Mountains-to-Sea Trail-attachment0

The History Press: Local author Danny Bernstein launches book on Mountains-to-Sea Trail

You may be familiar with the Appalachian Trail, which trots through North Carolina. But do you know about the state’s own Mountains-to-Sea Trail? Author and hiker Danny Bernstein will discuss the trail and her new book, Mountains to Sea Trail Across North Carolina, on Tuesday, March 5, at Diamond Brand.

Got broadband? If not, local nonprofit MAIN wants you to map it-attachment0

Got broadband? If not, local nonprofit MAIN wants you to map it

Although broadband or high-speed Internet access is fairly common in Asheville, many Western North Carolinians can’t get it if they wanted to, largely because the infrastructure doesn’t exist. Thanks to a grant, MAIN has a mapping tool that could help get access to the nearly 48,000 WNC residents who are missing out on the digital revolution.

Views from the vortex: In Part 2, more elders evoke our town-attachment0

Views from the vortex: In Part 2, more elders evoke our town

Part 2: Several months ago, Asheville resident Jim Chatham contacted Xpress concerning a project he was leading. Inspired by Eno Publishers’ 2012 release, “27 Views of Asheville,” Chatham challenged graduates of his periodic writing seminar, “Turning Your Life Into Literature,” to take a whack at producing their own verbal snapshots of this unique community. Twenty-one of them heeded the muse and subsequently gathered to share their respective offerings. Here’s the second batch of “views” (part 1 published on Jan. 2). (photos by Max Cooper)