RETURN OF THE RAIL: For more than 20 years, a collective of WNC communities between Asheville and Salisbury have strived for the return of regular passenger rail service into the region. At a March 2 meeting, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee outlined a new three-pronged strategy to reinvigorate freight service, expand excursion train opportunities and explore a pilot thruway bus service into the region through Amtrak. Photo by Max Hunt

WNC Rail Corridor Committee hatches new strategy

For more than 20 years, the WNC Rail Corridor Committee has worked tirelessly to prove the economic viability of restoring the historic rail link between Salisbury and Asheville. With changes in the rail industry looming and younger travelers showing increased interest in train travel, the committee is partnering with towns and municipalities and freight rail companies to pursue a new, three-pronged strategy.

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ICYMI: Xpress feature reads of the week

Ahh, Spring is in the air! The tourists are buzzing around downtown and the lovely smell of Bradford pear trees is wafting on the breeze….which means we’re probably in for a heavy frost or one more freak snow shower in the coming weeks. Anyway, here’s some feature stories from the past week, if you’re looking […]

INTERACTIVE EDUCATION: The new Zaniac Asheville STEM education center, which celebrates its grand opening on April 19, engages children grades kindergarten through eight through interactive learning modules, game-based curriculums and hands-on instruction to foster interest in technology and engineering principles at an early age. Photo courtesy of Zaniac Corporation

Zaniac brings innovative STEM education to Asheville

A recent Forbes magazine article asked whether Asheville could be “an emerging Silicon Valley.” And while some locals might wonder where the jobs that one might expect to come with such a claim are to be found, there’s little debate about the importance of getting young students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — […]

EXPLORING THE OPTIONS: Following a series of varying financial education seminars, author, educator and activist Jessica Gordon Nembhard will deliver the keynote speech on cooperative economics at this year's Bringing It Home conference.

Bringing It Home conference encourages community business ownership

If you want to bring home the bacon, first, you’ll need to bring home the tools to succeed, say the organizers of the Bringing It Home conference. And that applies to all of us, whether you’re trying to dig your way out of personal debt or start a million-dollar business. Accordingly, this year’s conference is broadly aimed at all of us, particularly those who sometimes feel left out of the standard entrepreneurial model.

Duke Energy Progress' coal-fired power plant at Lake Julian is slated to be replaced with a pair of large natural gas generators.

State holds line at two natural gas units for Duke

Published by Carolina Public Press by Frank Taylor If Duke Energy-Progress is disappointed with the N.C. Utilities Commission’s decision Monday to approve only two of the three natural gas units the company had requested permission to build at its Lake Julian site, the company’s official response did a good job of hiding it. “We appreciate the […]

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New Dawn Midwifery unexpected­ly closes after 19 years

After 19 years of providing Asheville women with pregnancy and gynecology services, New Dawn Midwifery is closing. Jan Verhaeghe, founder and president of New Dawn Midwifery, is retiring. “We are making referrals for providers, and we are offering care up through March 31. We have enjoyed every client in our practice,” Verhaeghe says. The center offered prenatal […]

CROP ROTATIONS: Once a dominant crop across WNC, tobacco production in the mountains has all but disappeared in the wake of the Tobacco Transition Payment Program, commonly referred to as the "Tobacco Buyout," which did away with the long-standing federal quota system and changed the landscape of farming in the region. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina

Smoke and mirrors: the death of tobacco in WNC

Few crops have been as central to North Carolina’s economy and culture — or as controversial — as tobacco. Historically, its high market value and the relative ease of growing it made tobacco a staple for many Western North Carolina farmers. As late as 2002, 1,995 mountain farms grew tobacco. The crop’s prevalence, however, was […]