As part of a Feb. 14 “Valentine for the Earth” action organized by Extinction Rebellion WNC, the local chapter of the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, the Asheville Police Department arrested 16 protesters for obstructing traffic in front of the Veach-Baley Federal Complex on Patton Avenue.
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.
“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.”
Most of those who spoke were in support of declaring Buncombe a “Second Amendment sanctuary” where officials would pledge not to enact or enforce laws that threaten the right to bear arms. The commissioners did not weigh in on the discussion following public comment.
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.”
Civil engineer Mike Anderson compared the plans for the Freedom in Christ property in Candler to those of other Christian facilities in rural Buncombe, including the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Ridgecrest Conference Center and the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.
“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.”
New rules proposed by high-level county staff, which some employees argue have not been appropriately reviewed by the Board of Commissioners, will require all workers and their spouses to submit to intravenous blood draws and other medical testing or pay double their current premiums.
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.
Jessica Morriss, Asheville’s assistant director of transportation, explained that the higher costs were primarily driven by federally mandated door-to-door paratransit service for residents with disabilities. The remaining transit budget gap, she said, was due to higher-than-expected prices for fuel and electricity to power city buses.
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.
The county planning department supports changing the roughly 6.4-acre property from its current residential zoning to commercial service. The Buncombe County Planning Board, however, recommended denial of the rezoning in a 6-1 decision on Oct. 21, citing concerns over resident displacement and steep slopes.
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.
Speaking at a Dec. 17 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, attorney Ron Payne said that Stanley had been accused in a sworn deposition by former Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton of improperly accepting unspecified “things of value” from former county contractor Joseph Wiseman Jr.
The final cost for the library now comes in at roughly $6.98 million, which includes previously unaccounted-for expenses to provide fixtures, furniture and equipment for the building. The project had initially been estimated at $4.5 million, and commissioners approved a $1.3 million budget increase last year.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, a public hearing will take place in Room B of the Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center at 340 Victoria Road in Asheville regarding Duke Energy’s plans to build a 12.5-acre landfill on its property beside Lake Julian.
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.”
After months of haranguing City Council over the wording of a climate emergency resolution, over 40 protesters with Sunrise Movement Asheville occupied the government building on Dec. 6 to demand that Mayor Esther Manheimer and her colleagues pass the document as written by the climate justice group.
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.
While 12.7 African American babies die during the first year of life per 1,000 live births on average in North Carolina, that number is 19.6 per 1,000 in Buncombe County. Moreover, the county’s rate has doubled since 2012, when it was 9.8 per 1,000.
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.