Buncombe County seal

Enka ‘bridge to nowhere’ connection on Feb. 18 commission agenda

Board members will consider spending an additional $650,000 to connect the bridge to existing roads at the board’s regular meeting in Room 326 at 200 College St. Buncombe officials previously allocated $3 million in taxpayer money for the structure, which was started over four years ago and has yet to carry traffic over Hominy Creek.

Weeping Planet Earth costume

Green in brief: Asheville declares climate emergency, Duke opens Arden gas plant

“The loss of life and damage caused by current global warming demonstrates that the Earth is already too hot for safety,” states the document approved by a 6-0 vote of Asheville City Council on Jan. 28. “Restoring a safe and stable climate requires an emergency climate mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”

Woman with purple pistol

Buncombe residents seek Second Amendment “sanctuary­”

Under language proposed by the N.C. Federation of Republican Men, Buncombe County would commit to using “all legal means necessary” to protect its citizens’ access to firearms. Additionally, county officials would agree to refrain from enforcing any “acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations that infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Thomas Wolfe Auditorium rock concert concept

City proposes $100M makeover for Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

“Other than a new roof, the exterior shell and a few walls here and there, we’re looking at a brand-new facility,” said Chris Corl, general manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Center — Asheville, as he displayed concepts for the auditorium developed by the Nashville-based Earl Swensson Associates. He described the plan as “not a renovation, but a transformation.”

Buncombe County seal

Woodfin greenway design seeks $958K in extra county funds

According to a staff report available before the Tuesday, Jan. 21, meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, design of the project’s Riverside Drive segment had initially been estimated at $660,000, with 80% of the cost to be covered by federal grants. That projection, however, covers just 40% of the now-finalized price for laying out the greenway.

Unaffiliated voters in WNC

Unaffiliat­ed candidates face challengin­g path to ballot

Although unaffiliated voters are the second most-populous political group in North Carolina, no members of the state’s Congressional delegation are unaffiliated, nor are any officeholders at the state level. According to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, just seven of 587 total county commission seats were won by independent or third-party candidates in 2018.

Volunteers at the St. Eugene garden

Lay leaders tie faith and environmen­tal action

For the first time, the Creation Care Alliance’s annual retreat, taking place at the Montreat Conference Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8, will include both clergy and lay leaders. While the first day remains focused on ordained ministers , its second day will offer “learning, grieving, inspiration and training” for all who connect their faith with creation care.

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.