ON THE HOT SEAT: Asheville City Schools Superintendent Denise Patterson has come under fire for what some parents say is inadequate communication with students' families in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14. Patterson has released a series of videos on the subject of school safety. Image from YouTube

Parents criticize Asheville City Schools response to Parkland tragedy

Parents of students in Asheville City Schools pushed back against what they saw as a tepid response from district leaders after the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., saying local administrators were slow to acknowledge families’ fears and provide concrete information. At a March 6 parent forum, some additional details about the district’s safety planning were made available.

EBB AND FLOW: One of many interactive science activities that will be featured at the inaugural Asheville Arts and Science Festival, the enviroscape table shows how water flows through a watershed. Event exhibitor Mariah Hughes explains, “Ivy River Partners facilitates partnerships to get solutions on the ground that reduce pollutants from runoff. The watershed model can be used to demonstrate how those solutions work.” Photo courtesy of Ivy River Partners

Asheville Arts and Science Festival combines two discipline­s at Salvage Station

A new local festival will come to Salvage Station on Saturday, March 31. Organizers of the Asheville Arts and Science Festival hope to raise awareness about what science looks like in the real world. And by incorporating a healthy dose of art, the family-friendly event also aims to hook visitors with the beauty that science can inspire.

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK: Delays introduced by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration meant growers had to scramble to get last year's industrial hemp crop in the ground in time. This year, local farmers say they're looking forward to planting on a more optimal schedule, which may improve yields. Photo courtesy of Frances Tacy

WNC’s industrial hemp growers reflect on experiment­al first season

Last year, a handful of area farmers planted the first hemp crops to be grown legally in Western North Carolina in over 70 years. That first crop was plagued by delays introduced by regulators at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who held up shipments of seeds and seedlings, leading to a late start. Growers expect a smoother process for the 2018 growing season.

PARKWAY PRESERVATION: A total of 5,329 acres in the area of Waterrock Knob will be conserved, the largest addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 60 years.  Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Parkway/National Park Service

Waterrock Knob expansion brings together stakeholde­rs, public

The highest peak in the Plott Balsam Mountains, Waterrock Knob encompasses a unique ecosystem. The Blue Ridge Parkway will now conserve 5,329 acres of this irreplaceable landscape thanks to recent land and financial gifts by a network of conservation groups and private donors. The public is invited to weigh in on plans for the area through Feb. 25.

MUDDY WATER: An official meets with a hog farmer to review his animal waste management system. Photo courtesy of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Local agencies wrestle with livestock impacts on water quality

Advocates for clean water in North Carolina often focus on the eastern part of the state, which hosts one of the world’s highest concentration of hogs. But French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson emphasizes that Western North Carolina and its smaller farms are not immune from the water quality issues related to animal agriculture.

NOT POCKET CHANGE: Real estate agents and architects are increasingly integrating an awareness of the effects of climate change on the local real estate market into their practices. These professionals can be crucial sources of information for clients considering major investments in real estate. Photo by Thinkstock

Local real estate agents, architects build awareness of climate change implicatio­ns

Area Realtors and architects are paying close attention to the effects of climate change on the built environment — and gaining new skills to help clients consider climate-related issues as they make real estate decisions. The Asheville chapter of the American Institute of Architects is hosting a conference, titled “Where Building Science Meets Climate Science,” at The Collider on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 2-3.