OTTER-LY ENGAGING: The Nature Center’s otter inhabitants draw kids and adults alike to watch their antics, which can be playful, cuddly and athletic, all in the space of a few minutes. Photo courtesy of the WNC Nature Center

The incredible shrinking subsidy: WNC Nature Center achieves 3-year reduction goal in one year

When the WNC Nature Center learned the city of Asheville’s subsidy for the facility would shrink by more than half over three years, the environmental education attraction wasn’t immediately sure how it would make up the funding shortfall. But it didn’t take long to figure it out: the Nature Center met the three-year goal in only one year. The attraction is expanding to meet demand, and visitation is setting new records nearly every month.

UNION DAYS: Approximately 90 workers and organizers of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Local Div. No. 128 pose for a picture in April 1913. Despite North Carolina’s status as one of the least unionized states in the country, current-day local union chapters such as ATU 128, have a long history of organizing and advocating for workers’ rights in the Southern Highlands. Photo via the Norh Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville North Carolina

Labor pains: WNC unions at a crossroads

In Western North Carolina and across the country, labor unions seem to be a dying breed these days, and many local residents don’t seem overly concerned about it. Yet WNC’s complex history of unionization stretches back to the late 19th century. From high-profile labor disputes and the emergence of “right to work” laws to the […]

Mayor Esther Manheimer recognizes Steve Mitchell as the city's Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Virginia Daffron

State legislator moves to force Asheville’s hand on district elections

City Council moved ahead with plans to poll city voters on whether or not they’d like to see districts put in place for seats on the Council. Three new members of the city’s school Board of Education were appointed, and the issue of homestays in accessory dwelling units returned to the Council chamber.

EXPLORING THE PAST: Interns at Xpress will research Asheville's rich history.

Calling (college) students of history for new summer internship

Put on those latex gloves, we’ve got primary source material to look into! Mountain Xpress has announced a summer internship for college students interested in local history. Summer interns will have the opportunity to research Asheville’s historic citizens, buildings, events, triumphs and tragedies. In addition, you will learn of, and develop contacts with, local historians and […]

BUILDING CULTURE: From the ancestors of the Ani Katuah to the first European settlers and later tobacco farmers, the evolution of human settlement and existence in the Southern Appalachians can be traced through the structure and buildings they erected to support their ways of life. The Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University documents the evolution of built structures in its latest exhibit, Shelter on the Mountain, on display through May 28. Photo of an open cathedral-like hayloft of the 1951 gambrel-roof barn built by Delbert and Charlie Shelton in the Shelton Laurel community. By Earthsong Photography/ Don McGowan

Rural Heritage Museum highlights history of WNC barns

From the Ani Katuah to white settlers and tobacco farmers, barns and buildings have played a central role in defining the culture of the Southern Appalachians. Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands traces the evolution of local building practices.

ROCK STARS: For 70 years, the Mineral Research Laboratory in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood has worked with mining companies around the world to come up with efficient ways to harvest and process minerals, as well as educate the public on North Carolina’s mineral resources. Utilizing its unique pilot plant (above), the lab has the capability to provide data on the cost and scale of operations for companies to use in commercial enterprises. Photo by Max Hunt

Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting-edge solutions

For 70 years, the Minerals Research Laboratory on Coxe Avenue has collaborated with mining companies and educational institutions to develop more efficient processes for extracting the state’s mineral resources as well as ways to reuse potentially harmful byproducts.

Trudie Henninger. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Arboretum

Julian Award winner Trudie Henninger: Connecting kids with nature as citizen scientists

For several weeks this past spring, Trudie Henninger led a class of kindergarteners outside to monitor and study the changes in nearby redbud trees. The process was slow. The kids grew restless. “They’re not doing anything, they’re not doing anything!” they insisted. But then one day, the whole class came running inside, chanting, “They’re blooming, […]

NEW PLANS, NEW CONCERNS: Members of the Swannanoa community met with Community Advisory Group members, federal and state environmental officials Thurday, Dec. 1 to discuss future plans for the Chemtronics Superfund site. Photo by Max Hunt

For the record: EPA reviews 2016 Record of Decision, presence of new contaminan­ts at Chemtronic­s site

Swannanoa residents met with members of the Community Advisory Group, federal and state environmental protection officials Thursday evening to review the 2016 Record of Decision for the Chemtronics Superfund site. The EPA also revealed the presence of a new contamination detection on the property.

Melissa Wilson with a student. Photo by Emma Grace Moon

Julian Award winner Melissa Wilson: Commitment and empathy in the classroom

At 19, Melissa Wilson was a single mother, working at McDonald’s and living below the poverty line. She decided to enroll in a class at A-B Tech that was part of the college’s jobs placement program. With it came free child care. Unfortunately, the class itself didn’t speak to Wilson. “I was training for an […]