Is there a doctor in the hills?-attachment0

Is there a doctor in the hills?

The sometimes challenging road to health care in rural Western North Carolina extends beyond the curves of country back roads. Whether it’s dealing with the current physician shortage that affects all but Madison in the 16-county region or wrestling with social and economic barriers, local providers and patients share their challenges and plans to address rural health-care needs. (Cover by Emily Busey. Photo by Max Cooper.)

Back to school: Advocates see threats to public education in current legislation

They had to keep rolling out chairs April 23 for what was billed as a “Conversation about Public Education in North Carolina,” held at the Asheville City Schools board room on Mountain Street. A larger-than-anticipated audience of 60 people — educators, elected officials, parents, advocates — came to talk about the status of public education, and to offer some opinions.

Legislature heads toward crossover with more than 1,700 bills to pick through-attachment0

Legislature heads toward crossover with more than 1,700 bills to pick through

There are only three weeks left before the 2013 session of the N.C. General Assembly hits its crossover deadline of May 16. In general, that means to have a chance at becoming law, bills must have passed a third reading in the house or senate (whichever chamber initiated the bill) and moved to the other chamber by that date. More than 1,700 bills have been introduced since January (1,002 in the House; 725 in the Senate), including the recent arrival of Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed $49,590,935,190 budget for 2013-14. It’s going to be a busy time.

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.

State officials to visit Asheville, will discuss Gov. McCrory’s Medicaid proposal-attachment0

State officials to visit Asheville, will discuss Gov. McCrory’s Medicaid proposal

As part of an ongoing effort to speak with North Carolinians about Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed changes to the way the state’s Medicaid program operates, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos and N.C. Medicaid Director Carol Steckel will give a presentation about the plan in Asheville on Monday, April 22. This presentation is intended for the provider community, and will be held at 11:30 a.m. at MAHEC Education Center at 121 Hendersonville Road.

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.

DG Martin’s One on One: Good results from virtual education don’t come cheap

Mention online education around some of my friends and you will get an emotional reaction. Some senior university faculty members teach classes filled with several hundred students and they worry that famous online lecturers could take their places. Others wonder if they can transfer their talents to the online market and, if so, how much compensation they can demand for their extra efforts.