Asheville Climate Strike at Pack Square Park

In photos: Asheville Climate Strike turns out hundreds for Green New Deal

As world leaders met in Spain for a United Nations conference on climate change, Western North Carolina residents converged on Pack Square for their own environmental action on the morning of Dec. 6. Organized by Sunrise Movement Asheville in conjunction with six other area nonprofits, the Asheville Climate Strike for a Green New Deal called for government leaders “to take bold action and treat this like the climate emergency that it is.”

Student in Montreat College cybersecurity lab

Montreat expands cybersecur­ity plans despite Cooper funding veto

The North Carolina General Assembly voted to award Montreat College $20 million towards the establishment of an independent cybersecurity training center in October, but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the money. The private, Christian liberal arts college’s boosters, however, say they won’t be discouraged in filling what they see as an urgent need for ethically responsible cyber operatives.

Cherryfield Creek

Study explores economic impact of French Broad

Commissioned by the French Broad River Partnership with $56,000 in grant funding from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Ecology Wildlife Foundation and Duke Energy, the research effectively seeks to fill out the river’s books. A team led by economist Steve Ha of Western Carolina University will analyze the monetary value of a healthy river to its eight-county watershed.

Buncombe County seal

Commission­ers to name parks, greenways and recreation board on Dec. 3

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners must whittle down 25 applicants to fill nine available slots on the new advisory group. According to the resolution establishing the group, members must be selected evenly from each commission district and should represent the community’s gender, age and racial diversity; notably, all of the current applicants are white.

2007 Asheville magnolia protest

Symposium renews call for urban tree protection­s

Climate Change and Asheville’s Urban Forest, a symposium organized by Asheville GreenWorks for Thursday, Nov. 14, 5-7:30 p.m., brings together a broad coalition around the results of the city’s recently released canopy study. Urban forest advocates emphasize that trees are critical to help Asheville avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Western North Carolina forest overlook

Smallholde­r Access Program certifies WNC forests

Less than 0.1% of all small woodlands are currently certified as responsibly managed, despite making up over 75% of all privately owned Southeast forests. The SAP pilot, a collaboration of forest product companies, the Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance, is exploring how to bring those previously overlooked parcels into certified status.

Brian Haynes leading Extinction Rebellion WNC march

In photos: Extinction Rebellion WNC holds Nov. 5 March on City Hall

Roughly 75 people, including Asheville City Council member Brian Haynes and Council candidate Shane McCarthy, took part in demanding that local government take stronger action in response to climate change. Extinction Rebellion chose the date of the march to coincide with the time local elections would have been held before they were moved to 2020 through the passage of Senate Bill 813.

Students speaking for solar at the Buncombe County Commission

Solar plans win Buncombe commission approval

Many public commenters urged the commissioners to act even more decisively on transitioning away from fossil fuels in the context of climate change. Chloe Moore with the Sunrise Movement referenced a scientific paper, published earlier that day, in which over 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared a “climate emergency” and warned of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” if stronger measures were not taken.

Buncombe County seal

Public solar proposal up for Nov. 5 county vote

Buncombe County has identified over $2.9 million in solar energy projects that could be installed at government-owned facilities. The projects are estimated to generate more than $4.7 million in energy savings over their estimated 30-year operational lifespan and help the county reach its goal of powering all government operations with 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Andrew Murray

Miller, feds spar over ICE detainer compliance

“As law enforcement, our mission is to protect the public and to seek to provide justice to victims of crime. Sheriff Miller’s current policy serves neither [purpose],” said Andrew Murray, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, after Miller refused to honor an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request. “It also breeds mistrust among law enforcement agencies and puts in danger the very communities it purports to protect.”

Flat Rock Village Hall

Buncombe quiet, Henderson contested in 2019 elections

Xpress reached out to candidates across the two counties to understand their motivations for participating in the municipal elections. Many of the topics the hopeful elected officials raised — diversity, transportation planning and preservation of small-town character — may give WNC politicos a sneak peak at what will be important to area voters in 2020.