NCDHHS reports state’s highest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases

Press release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the state’s highest one-day increase of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases to date with 2,684 new cases reported. The department is also reporting the second highest number of hospitalizations in the past 30 days, with […]

Buncombe County seal

Buncombe beats revenue projection­s during COVID-19

At about $32.47 million, actual sales taxes through the end of the 2020 fiscal year were still down 3.2% from the budgeted target of more than $33.53 million. But during an April 7 budget work session, Budget Director Jennifer Barnette had projected sales tax revenue at just $30 million due to the impacts of the coronavirus, a decrease of more than 8.9%.

Earl Hunter Jr. of Black Folks Camp Too

Green in brief: Black Folks Camp Too gains national partners, Hendersonv­ille kicks off bee mural project

Black Folks Camp Too founder Earl B. Hunter Jr. said new marketing collaborations would help him develop more interest in camping among the Black community. And later this month, Asheville-based artist Matthew Willey will begin work on a giant mural of honey bees at Hendersonville’s Hands On! Children’s Museum.

Hemlock Restoration Initiative staff and volunteers with treated hemlock

Hemlock Restoratio­n Initiative seeks long-term state support

A $300,000 recurring allocation for the HRI, a program of Asheville-based nonprofit WNC Communities, stalled in the N.C. General Assembly due to partisan gridlock over the state budget. A joint proclamation between the HRI and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services now aims to make the hemlock’s future more secure.

Enka High student on tractor

Enka barn raises questions about Buncombe special interest funding

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Oct. 6 to award $15,000 toward the construction of an agricultural education facility at Enka High School. But as Chair Brownie Newman noted, recommendations to support such projects are normally made by Buncombe’s School Capital Fund Commission or Board of Education and funded through the regular budget cycle.

Buncombe County seal

Buncombe proposes $815K for COVID-19 housing, utility assistance

Public comment on a grant application for federal coronavirus relief identified help with rent, mortgage and utility bills as the county’s greatest need. The Board of Commissioners is set to vote on a plan that would direct the aid, which will likely not be available until January, toward that purpose at its regular meeting of Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Cawthorn with veterans at Point Lookout Vineyard

COVID-19 campaignin­g divides local candidates along partisan lines

Many Republican candidates have continued to build voter support through traditional in-person campaign events such as rallies and fundraising concerts. In contrast, Democrats have largely relied on virtual efforts such as phone banking or Zoom calls, eschewing big events out of concern they might encourage spread of the coronavirus.

Friends of East Flat Rock poster

Green in brief: Henderson planning board votes against asphalt plant

Board member Rick Livingston, who made the motion to deny the recommendation, said the proposed SE Asphalt plant’s location in a “very residential area” off the Spartanburg Highway was incompatible with both the county’s comprehensive plan and East Flat Rock’s community plan.

Buncombe County seal

Buncombe receives $355K for elections during COVID-19

According to a staff report available before the meeting by Jennifer Barnette, Buncombe County’s budget director, the money comes from two federal programs funneled through the N.C. State Board of Elections. The federal coronavirus rescue package accounts for about $183,000 of the funding, while the Help America Vote Act provides the remaining $172,000.

Abigail Joyce samping water for PFAS

State researcher­s release first reports on PFAS in WNC water

None of the systems that serve the Xpress coverage area exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory limit for the so-called “forever chemicals.” Nor did any system have more than 10 ppt of any individual PFAS, the level at which the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has required Chemours Co. to provide water filtration.