As coordinator of Bountiful Cities’ Asheville Buncombe Community Garden Network, Whitaker manages communication, educational programming and resources such as free seed and tool libraries for more than two dozen local gardening efforts. And after COVID-19 began impacting life in Western North Carolina, he’s seen an increase in the number of local residents interested in starting new community gardens.
On March 17, the county announced that it would combine its Soil and Water Conservation District with N.C. Cooperative Extension to form the Agriculture and Land Resources Department. Meanwhile, the managers of numerous area parks and trails have opted to restrict access in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Myriad nonprofit and community groups are springing into action to help locals persevere through the crisis. As existing organizations adjust their work to focus on COVID-19 needs and new efforts begin to knit neighbors together, community resilience is blooming throughout WNC.
All meetings on the U.S. Forest Service schedule of open house sessions planned for March across Western North Carolina have been cancelled, with the 90-day comment period underway.
Ivory Road Café and Kitchen offers a themed, multicoursed Family Meal event every Wednesday. Also, in local food news: a fermenting workshop at Hickory Nut Gap Farm and food-security initiatives and ways to support WNC’s service industry in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three draft design concepts for the city-owned Haywood-Page properties were presented during a public work session on the issue Feb. 17, and residents can comment on those designs via online survey through Sunday, March 14.
On Feb. 14, the U.S. Forest Service kicked off a 90-day comment period on the long-awaited draft of a new plan for the forests, set to take effect in 2021 and guide the service’s management approach over the next 10-15 years. Comment online, by mail and at public meetings throughout WNC ends on Thursday, May 14.
Fall Line Development wants to build 585 apartments or condominiums, 80 townhomes and 32 single-family homes on Pond Road, not quite half a mile north of the road’s intersection with Sardis Road in Enka. Neighbors have raised concerns about the development’s potential impact on traffic and the character of the area.
Now in its 27th year, the Organic Growers School Spring Conference welcomes growers and sustainability-minded folks of all types for a weekend of region-specific educational offerings, a trade show, seed exchange, guest speakers and opportunities for socializing and networking. This year’s conference takes place Friday-Sunday, March 6-8, at Mars Hill University.
More Buncombe County voters — 81,887, or 41.79% of all eligible residents — took part in the primary elections that wrapped up March 3 than in any previous primary in the county’s history. Xpress outlines the winners and losers for levels of elected office from president to Asheville City Council.
Watch this space for the latest 2020 primary election results for Western North Carolina and commentary from the Mountain Xpress news team. The post will be updated regularly throughout the evening.
“The good news — if you’re someone who wants to see the hotel tax law changed — is that all parties seem to be in agreement,” Newman told Xpress. “They want to see the law changed, but at this point, we’re not on the same page about how to change it.”
The weekend-long gathering focuses on seven films’ potential for social change.
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.
In preparation for the March primary, Xpress sent questions to all candidates in contested races for their party’s nomination to various local and national offices. Responses from candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, N.C. General Assembly, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and Asheville City Council are all collected here.
“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.”
Candidates in the Republican primary for the N.C. House of Representatives District 117 seat give their answers for the Mountain Xpress voter guide.
Candidates in the Democratic primary for the N.C. Senate District 49 seat give their answers for the Mountain Xpress voter guide.
Candidates in the Democratic primary for the N.C. Senate District 48 seat give their answers for the Mountain Xpress voter guide.