FINDING FRACE AND GOD: "Why do I argue with people who don't agree with me? Because when they go home at night, they've got to think about this stuff."

Straddling frontiers: Out to the Nations conference tries to reconcile Christian, LGBTQ community

It’s no secret that the Christian and LGBTQ communities have often found themselves at odds — each a thorn in the other’s side. But the Out to the Nations conference intends to reaches out to LGBTQ people in the Southeast who’ve felt ostracized or hurt by the church, offering them the possibility of finding a new path and personal connection with God.

The Appalachian Studies Association held its 38th Annual Appalachian Studies Conference last weekend at Eastern Tennessee University. Photo by Max Hunt.

Mountain medley: Reflection­s on the 2015 Appalachia­n Studies Conference

In an ongoing effort to connect those dispersed communities, the Appalachian Studies Association held its 38th annual conference last month in Johnson City, Tenn. The one-of-a-kind event unites scholars and musicians, activists and academics, to celebrate the often misunderstood region’s distinctive heritage, culture and physical landscape.

The roof of Asheville City Hall.

City Council to hear preliminar­y steps in evaluating shape of Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

Asheville City Council has a light schedule for its regular April 14 meeting. Council members will hear a resolution to approve preliminary steps in evaluating the condition of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, as well as tackle some administrative tasks in Buncombe County’s purchase of a 137-acre plot on Ferry Road near Bent Creek from Henderson County.

ORCHARD PROJECT: Volunteers came out on a beautiful day to plant an orchard on a formerly vacant green space in the Hillcrest Apartment complex.

In photos: Hillcrest get an organic boost from GreenWorks

Asheville GreenWorks partnered up April 11 with volunteers to transform an empty green lot at Hillcrest Apartments into an orchard. GreenWorks received a grant to plant its sixth community orchard at Hillcrest, with 24 ball-and-burlap apple trees and 36 blueberries. The goal is to promote better access to food, greenspace, shade, community pride and jobs.

THE HUB: Here’s Pack Square circa 1930, looking east, with Asheville City Hall and both the 1903 and 1928 Buncombe County Courthouses in the distance. Photo by George Masa. Original photo held by the NC Div. of Archives & History, this print courtesy of North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, North Carolina

Honor system: Vance Monument restoratio­n raises troubling questions

The upcoming restoration of the Vance monument is said to honor the memory of Zebulon Vance, Confederate military officer and wartime governor. But there’s another side to this story. By many accounts, Vance was a white supremacist who supported and profited from slavery. Many are saying that it’s important to consider what ideals and what history the momunment reflects — and also what is absent.

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Buncombe County approves $6.8 million land purchase for economic developmen­t investment

At the April 7 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board split down party lines for the approval of a $6.8 million land purchase, pursuing an economic development project with an unnamed company. The purchase was approved 4 to 3, but a resolution to establish a policy for recording closed session meetings was shot down 3 to 4.

CONTROVERSIAL CONTENTS: Because the sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal in North Carolina, Marshall farmers Kate and Kevin Lane sell raw milk from their Jersey cows under a state-approved label that marks it as pet food. The farm expects to be distributing about 100 gallons of their milk per week to customers in the Asheville area this summer.

Raw deal? Asheville’s taste for unpasteuri­zed milk

Raw milk comes straight from the cow — it hasn’t been pasteurized (heated to high temperatures for specific lengths of time to kill potentially harmful pathogens). Though both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn against unpasteurized dairy products in no uncertain terms, the product remains in high demand.

JET SET: Some Enka-Candler residents would like to restore the historic jet on display at Enka Middle School.

Expect a big turnout at CleanUp Candler April 9 community meeting

Can a community initiative rise from the ground up, with no leaders and no set agenda? The answer is yes, and it’s apparent in newly affixed “Ole Town Candler” bumper stickers and a CleanUp Candler campaign that’s taking off via a Facebook page. And on Thursday, April 9, the initiative takes another step forward with a community meeting at Enka Middle School.

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County Commission­ers to hear property acquisitio­n request, rezoning and legislativ­e updates

Two public hearings will be held at the April 7 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, one on a Ferry Road property acquisition and the other a rezoning request for Monticello Road.

The board will then hear a resolution on recording closed sessions, the state of the Asheville Regional Airport, a new legislative update and a tax penalty waiver request.

A 500 acre fire tore through the slopes above Ridgecrest on Tuesday afternoon. As of Wednesday at noon, the fire has been 50% contained.

UPDATED The morning after: Photos from the Black Mountain/R­idgecrest Wildfire

Around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, a brush fire caused by unknown sources in the Ridgecrest area of Buncombe County erupted across the ridgeline. Spurred by gusty winds and dry conditions, the blaze soon spread across the mountains bordering Black Mountain, destroying several homes and forcing residents to flee to safety as state and federal Park Service officials, along with firefighters from across Western North Carolina, came in droves to battle the wildfire.