Vance, Patton, Woodfin, Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders. They were also major slaveholders or slave traders and white supremacists.
“We’ve taken to the streets to tell you what we need,” said North Asheville resident Katie Hudson. “It smacks of irony and disrespect to come forward with a proposal that you’re going to listen to people when we are actively telling you what we want right now.”
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners remained divided along partisan lines. Chair Brownie Newman and his three Democratic colleagues voted for the removal of Confederate monuments at Pack Square Park and the county courthouse, as well as establishing a task force on the Vance Monument, while Republicans Joe Belcher, Anthony Penland and Robert Pressley voted against those moves.
Launched in mid-May, the program is a $50 million commitment to help local independent restaurants open and get back to work.
Over a dozen speakers ventured out on June 16 to share their thoughts during the COVID-19 era’s first county public hearing. The commissioners subsequently gave unanimous approval to a spending plan little modified from that recommended by County Manager Avril Pinder.
“It was the biggest hive I’ve ever seen,” says beekeeper Brandon Delcambre, about what he and his wife Kimberley uncovered in West Asheville during a hive relocation for their business, Couple of Bees. “I’m about 6’1”, and I was standing next to it — It had to be at least 7 feet tall. It’s been there for at least 10 years.”
Many of the commenters during Asheville City Council’s June 9 meeting called for the resignation of Asheville Police Chief David Zack and Mayor Esther Manheimer. Many more called for the immediate defunding of the APD. The comments came at the end of a five-hour meeting held virtually and fraught with technical difficulties.
Asheville Police Chief David Zack announced his plan to restructure the department during Council’s June 9 meeting. His proposal calls for the creation of a community engagement division and an independent investigation into APD’s handling of recent protests.
Instead of voting on Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell’s proposed budget on Tuesday, June 23, as originally planned, City Council will now consider an interim budget on that date. The move, coming after a wave of public comment to “defund the Asheville Police Department,” is meant to bridge the gap before a new budget can be reworked with additional community engagement.
Asheville City Council unanimously adopted a joint resolution with Buncombe County to remove two Confederate monuments at the Buncombe County Courthouse and in Pack Square Park. The resolution also convenes a task force to further explore the removal or repurposing of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville.
Mike Diethelm, president and founder of Asheville-based SolFarm Solar Co., says a $10 million construction bond requirement for would-be bidders on the solar projects “knocks out so many local medium and small solar businesses, which we have a lot of in this town, and only opens it up to the big guys.”
Police chief describes strike against medic station as preemptive because water bottles have been thrown on previous nights.
Tensions were high as downtown Asheville prepared for another night of anticipated protests, despite a new citywide curfew that will go into effect at 8 p.m.
After a peaceful demonstration of thousands in downtown Asheville turned violent around 10:30 p.m. on Monday evening, some attendees smashed windows and spray-painted graffiti on downtown buildings and the Vance Monument.
Asheville Police used tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators protested police brutality and racial injustice the evening of May 31.
Carolina Public Press and other news media organizations filed a lawsuit May 28 to obtain public records relating to state’s tracking and handling of COVID-19 crisis.
More than 100 protesters chanting “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter, they really, really matter” gathered in Pack Square Park and marched to the plaza outside the Buncombe County Courthouse on May 29.
Since March 16, local government boards and commissions meetings have been canceled, meaning citizens have largely been shut out of formal policy discussions as Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners manage the tandem economic and public health crises caused by the coronavirus.
“A lot of my work right now is in helping people organize themselves and understand how they might create collaborative means of accessing meat,” says author, butcher, chef and instructor Meredith Leigh.
The impacts of COVID-19 on demand, supply and distribution for local hunger relief organizations were immediate and profound, thrusting MANNA FoodBank and its smaller partner agencies into a triage response.
As Mission Health begins to reopen for elective surgeries and procedures put on hold during the first wave of the ongoing pandemic, the unresolved question that roiled the community just three months ago remains: Was HCA’s purchase of Mission Health healthy for Asheville?