Bill and Linda Kelder

What happens to short-term rentals in the long-term?

The amount of money brought in by these short-term rentals in Buncombe County during the first half of this year was up 131% compared with STR revenue for January through June 2019. Consumer preferences — and choices to be made by government officials locally and in Raleigh — will affect the size of that gravy train and who will benefit from it in the years to come.

Raytheon protest on Pack Square

Controvers­ial choices: Debating the Pratt & Whitney project

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and other supporters say jobs at the aerospace manufacturing plant will provide opportunities for workers to improve their standards of living. Critics say those wages are not worth the moral cost: Bolstering a military-industrial complex that causes deaths half a world away and eats up government funds better spent on other needs.

Specialty retailers hope fall turnaround continues for holidays

With COVID cases rising, Black Mountain retailers worry that the modest rebound they’ve seen this fall might fade away before the holiday shopping season can give their balance sheets a much-needed yearend boost. But several factors could work in their favor: a strong commitment from residents to support their local stores, a sense that smaller shopping districts pose less risk than crowded city centers and widespread compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines.

WNC’s congressio­nal seat may truly be in play this year

The contest to represent Western North Carolina in the U.S. House features candidates from different generations with different backgrounds and very different ideas about what needs to happen next in Washington. The main thing Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Morris “Moe” Davis might have in common is they have spent time in the national spotlight, albeit for very different reasons.

I-26 Connector moving ahead, but money issues loom

While local and state officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation say the nearly-$1 billion I-26 Connector project remains on schedule, recent financial woes at the agency have delayed some projects in the region. And those in the know say it’s too soon to say whether the domino effects from those delays may push off the start of construction for the connector project or affect later project stages.

White Duck Taco Shop

From AVL Watchdog: $5M TDA relief bill for small businesses helps hotels too

Coronavirus relief is just the latest topic in an ongoing debate over whether the Tourism Development Authority, with its mission to bring ever more overnight guests to Buncombe County, is good for county residents — or just good for the hotel industry that has controlled it since its inception nearly four decades ago.

Lenny Pettinelli

Getting unemployme­nt benefits another challenge for gig economy workers

Like most states, North Carolina was unprepared when unemployment claims skyrocketed as COVID-19 cases shut down large swaths of the state’s economy. When the crisis began, no benefits were available to those who didn’t previously work in a traditional job. That changed recently, so Xpress talked with locals who make their living in the gig economy about the experience of seeking newly available funds through the state Division of Employment Security. Spoiler alert: It hasn’t always gone smoothly.

COVID-19 fears separate nursing home residents from families

The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped visits and other contacts between families and thousands of seniors who live in nursing homes, retirement communities, rest homes and other group facilities in Buncombe and nearby counties. The well-being of those seniors is a major worry for both families and public health officials. The odds of a senior citizen dying if he or she contracts the virus are higher than for the general population, and residents typically live close to one another, meaning an infection could spread rapidly if it breaches the walls of a facility.

Health care workers wearing masks

Hospitals brace for COVID-19 cases, clamp down on visitors

Area hospitals have taken somewhat differing approaches to the question of whether to stop performing elective surgeries and other medical procedures. There are worries nationally about whether there will be enough personal protective gear like masks and gloves for health care workers, but hospitals in the Asheville area say they have good supplies for now.