Since Duke first began using the practice in WNC in 2016, said company spokesperson Jeff Brooks, helicopters under the utility’s direction have deployed herbicides across more than 500 acres. That number may increase in the future as Duke pursues what it calls “an effective alternative” to ground-based management of vegetation along power lines.
Commissioner Amanda Edwards and Rachael Nygaard, the county’s director of strategic partnerships, proposed substantial revisions for Buncombe’s approach to Strategic Partnership Grants. The changes, which will likely be put to a vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5, included the establishment of a volunteer grant review committee, strict adherence to deadlines and standardized criteria for judging applications.
“Medicine Beyond Medication,” North Carolina’s first statewide symposium on narrative health care, will take place at the Mountain Area Health Education Center’s Hendersonville Road campus on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19. Presenters, including Dr. Rita Charon, will focus on how an understanding of story can lead to better outcomes for patients and practitioners alike.
Antony Chiang, the new leader of the $1.5 billion foundation resulting from the sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare, shared details on the nonprofit’s plans to support partner organizations with grant writing and engaged an audience of roughly 290 people at the Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center around its strategic priorities.
County planning staff members say special and family subdivisions have been abused by developers to skirt regulations on infrastructure and hillside protection. The Board of Commissioners will consider whether to approve new rules to fix those issues during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, in room 326 at 200 College St.
Using the slogan “When in doubt, throw it out,” the statewide Recycle Right NC initiative aims to reduce contamination and improve the economic value of recyclables. Additionally, according to the National Weather Service’s Greenville-Spartanburg office, Western North Carolina is likely in for warmer-than-usual conditions over the foreseeable future.
Sen. Chuck Edwards, who represents Henderson, Transylvania and eastern Buncombe counties in N.C. Senate District 48, said he remained firm in his desire to see the city of Asheville take a different approach to electing its council members. “I get constant feedback from constituents in Asheville that they can’t get City Council folks to pick up the phone, let alone to listen to a specific concern that they might have in their neighborhood,” he said.
Thanks to new grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, says BRNHA Executive Director Angie Chandler, counties in WNC’s High Country are next on the list for craft tourism development and its projected economic benefits.
Nine residents spoke at the Oct. 1 meeting of the Board of Commissioners about the county’s new agreement with residential waste collection contractor Waste Pro, the second consecutive meeting at which the issue was on the agenda. All of the commenters were critical of the contract, which requires customers to use Waste Pro-provided carts for their trash and recycling.
Beginning next week, contractors will begin installing roadside signs and safety barriers on an approximately 18-mile stretch of Interstate 26, the first step in a $534 million project that will add multiple lanes to the heavily trafficked road. The N.C. Department of Transportation anticipates that construction will wrap up by the summer of 2024.
The report notes that the county approved nearly $19.57 million in capital spending for the last fiscal year, including more than $7.95 million for Buncombe County Public Schools. However, less than $1.12 million has been spent to date on those school needs, with just over $1.87 million spent on other county projects.
Last year, AVL hosted over 1.13 million passengers, an 18.6% jump from 2017’s total and over 67% more travelers than used the airport five years prior. Tina Kinsey, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority’s director of marketing, public relations and air service development, says the airport is now striving to manage its expansion and ensure its long-term path maintains a steady cruising altitude.
Taking place at the Vance Monument from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, the rally brings together 15 area organizations in a call for change. The speaker lineup includes Anita Simha with the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign, Lucia Ibarra of Dogwood Alliance, the Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri from the Creation Care Alliance, UNC Asheville Assistant Professor Evan Couzo and Sunrise Movement member Shane McCarthy.
Dane Pedersen, Buncombe County’s solid waste director, said many residents were confused over what would be included in the $19.21 monthly service fee. He explained that the cost covers the required rental of two containers from Waste Pro, one for trash and one for recycling, as well as weekly trash pickup and recycling collection every two weeks.
Building permits and inspections, birth control through county Health and Human Services and disposal of solid waste are all slated to become more expensive in Buncombe County’s newly proposed fee schedule. The Board of Commissioners will vote on the new fees during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in room 326 at 200 College St.
The target audience for a new $11.5 million marketing campaign developed by Atlanta-based ad agency 360i includes 20 million more people than were reached by last year’s advertising for Asheville. New cities where ads will be shown include New York, Chicago, Birmingham and Columbus, Ohio.
Potentially without review by other county staff members or commissioners, former County Manager Wanda Greene cut Stacey Woody’s pay by nearly $16,000 after Woody questioned an allegedly illegal $125,000 invoice for sponsorship of the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The relevant section of Buncombe’s personnel ordinance still stands, giving the same power to current County Manager Avril Pinder.
“We recognize that the impacts of tourism are creating some experiences in our community that residents don’t like, and there are feelings that we’re being overwhelmed by tourism,” said Stephanie Brown, president and CEO of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, in a Sept. 3 presentation to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
Under the new rules, proposed by Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman, members of the public would no longer be permitted to comment on each of the board’s motions individually. Instead, all public input would be lumped into a single general comment period, moved to the start of the meeting from its current position at the end.
Calling former County Manager Wanda Greene’s activities a “tragic waste on a personal level” with “horrific consequences for the county of Buncombe,” U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad sentenced her to 7 years in federal prison and ordered her to pay a $100,000 fine. Co-conspirators Michael Greene, Mandy Stone, Jon Creighton and Joseph Wiseman, Jr., all received active prison time, a year of supervised release and a financial penalty.
Beyond recruiting new companies such as Haakon Industries and Fox Factory, the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition supported workforce development and local startups during fiscal year 2018-19. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners learned about the return on its $350,000 EDC investment at an Aug. 20 meeting.