Q&A with Liz Harper, city of Asheville public records officer

Asheville city government’s decision-making should happen in the sunlight. At least, that’s the principle Liz Harper brings to her work as the city’s public records officer. Anyone who has asked for public information about permit violations, purchase orders or police reports since October 2020 has been assisted by Harper. Until recently, Harper kept track of […]

Wellness in brief: Lawsuit alleges Mission Health monopoly

Lawsuit alleges Mission Health monopoly Six residents of Western North Carolina filed a class-action lawsuit against HCA Healthcare and Mission Health System on Aug. 10, alleging restraint of trade and unlawful monopolization. The plaintiffs say they have paid higher health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles than have residents of surrounding areas due to Mission’s ability […]

How the polyamorou­s live in Asheville

Western North Carolina prides itself on its “live and let live” ethos. From the moonshiners of yore to back-to-the-land homesteaders to the sprawling artistic community, many  people feel they can make their living differently here. That independent streak often runs through people’s personal lives, too. For that reason, some consider Asheville to be an accepting […]

Blue Cross NC expands transgende­r health care coverage

Facial feminization surgery and voice lessons for transgender people are now covered by the largest health insurance provider in the state. On July 1, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina updated its policy to recognize these gender-affirming health care procedures as medically necessary. The national nonprofit Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund led […]

News in brief: Buncombe Homeowner Grant Program accepting applicatio­ns

Buncombe County Homeowner Grant Program accepting applications Eligible homeowners in Buncombe County can now apply for the Buncombe County Homeowner Grant Program. The new initiative, funded by the county, city of Asheville and town of Woodfin, offers up to $500 in relief tied to the increase on a homeowner’s property tax bill. Grants are available […]

Q&A with Demp Bradford, president of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission

Certain activities are closely associated with Asheville: sampling local craft brews, tubing down the French Broad River, eating one’s own weight in barbecue. If Demp Bradford, president of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, has his way, professional sports will become quintessentially Asheville, too. Bradford, a native of the North Carolina Piedmont, became interested in […]

Wellness in brief: COVID-19 updates for WNC

MAHEC sees uptick in antibody infusion treatments The Asheville-based Mountain Area Health Education Center has experienced an increase in patients receiving antibody infusion treatments — the antibody cocktail called REGEN-COV — in recent weeks. During the week of July 19, the center’s infusion team served 21 people, says Keelan Dorn, a family medicine nurse practitioner […]

Where credit is due

Western North Carolina residents who want to change the health insurance they receive through the Affordable Care Act, or who want to sign up for a plan through the health insurance marketplace, can do so during a special enrollment period ending Sunday, Aug. 15. And local nonprofits urge people to explore their options for potentially […]

The work goes on

The murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, spurred nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. In Asheville, Floyd’s murder had the immediate effect of religious institutions looking inward and engaging with their congregations around racial justice. More than a year on from those events, many […]

Shop local-ish

It’s impossible to walk in downtown Asheville without receiving the message loud and clear: This city supports its local businesses. Locally based brands like Spicewalla, Roots Hummus and Buchi Kombucha appear regularly on store shelves. Stickers promoting Go Local Asheville (formerly the Asheville Grown Business Alliance), a locally focused economic alliance, adorn window fronts. A […]

Biz Briefs: Blue Ridge Pride debuts LGBTQ+ business alliance

Blue Ridge Pride, a nonprofit supporting the LGBTQ community in Western North Carolina, launched an online business directory for LGBTQ-owned and inclusive businesses called the Blue Ridge Pride Business Alliance on June 25. The directory, available at BlueRidgePride.org/Business, includes retail, food and drink, leisure and services and other categories. Businesses listed in the BRPBA directory […]

Q&A with Kareen Boncales, director of entreprene­urship at Mountain BizWorks

Many people who volunteer with the Peace Corps consider it a life-defining experience. Kareen Boncales is one of them. She served in Cameroon from 2009-11 in small enterprise development, teaching basic business skills to everyone from farmers to boutique owners. “I really admired that entrepreneurial spirit of turning challenges into opportunities,” she recalls. “I knew […]

Birthing pains

A recent Tuesday afternoon at the Western North Carolina Birth Center was unusually quiet. The birthing rooms were empty. No laboring mothers paced the halls; no infants wailed. The staff arrived for work, but the mood was forlorn. July 20 marked the close of the WNC Birth Center, the only 24/7 midwifery option in Asheville. […]

Lauren Pierce Flickinger

Wellness roundup: Local domestic, sexual violence nonprofits lose funding; Dogwood invests $25M into Pisgah Fund

State funding for local domestic, sexual violence nonprofits to end Sept. 30 The N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission informed four WNC nonprofits on June 16 of the discontinuance of nearly $2.3 million in grant funding previously available through the Victims of Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act. Existing VOCA and VAWA grants are scheduled […]

Healthy pride

Western North Carolina is a health-conscious place, but one that hasn’t always been welcoming for the LGBTQ community. And without health and wellness opportunities that provide care, while also affirming sexuality and gender identity, some LGBTQ folks may not share essential information with their providers or avoid health care settings entirely. Numerous local organizations and […]