Together, the city of Asheville and Buncombe County approved over $11 million in funding to install roughly 7 megawatts of solar power at public facilities and area schools. The projects are anticipated to save the governments and local schools roughly $650,000 in electricity costs in the first year and more than $27 million over the installations’ 30-year operational life.
The pandemic has isolated rural residents with mental health needs. But these North Carolina providers are finding creative ways to connect.
Asheville made national headlines the night of June 2, when Asheville Police Department officers destroyed medical supplies and forcibly handled volunteer medics during international protests for racial justice. Xpress spoke with several people present at the medic station; they say the reasons for their outrage go far beyond the damage to supplies.
Al Whitesides, the sole Black member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, and his three Democratic colleagues approved the resolution over the opposition of the board’s three Republicans. The county government is now aligned with Asheville City Council, which unanimously passed a similar measure on July 14.
After the city of Asheville enjoyed widespread national and international press for adopting a resolution in support of reparations for the Black community on July 14, Buncombe County may be next in line.
Tiffany Iheanacho has big plans. As Buncombe County’s first justice services director, she intends to turn innovative ideas into action aimed at eliminating barriers within both the local criminal justice system and the broader community.
“We are especially looking to help fund microbusinesses with sole proprietors who have really fallen through gaps in other funding,” says fund co-founder Catherine Campbell.
After a contentious public hearing earlier in the week, Asheville City Council voted 5-2 to pass a 2020-21 fiscal year budget with three months of funding allocated for essential department spending at its July 30 meeting.
In a July 27 email, Asheville City Attorney Brad Branham said that the city’s charter, which directs all Council vacancies to be filled by appointment, took precedence over a state law that called for an election under certain circumstances.
NC schools struggle with options, as teachers oppose in-person learning. Some districts embrace virtual instruction contracts with for-profit company.
A statewide mandate has prompted COVID-19 testing for all incarcerated individuals in state prisons, but local jails — Buncombe’s included — aren’t obligated to test everyone in custody. Instead, facilities have been directed to mitigate spread of the coronavirus through screening, isolation and social distancing.
Instead of bringing students back to the classroom under the Plan B model outlined by Gov. Roy Cooper, as had been announced on July 14, the Asheville City Board of Education voted unanimously to follow the remote-only Plan C for at least nine weeks at a July 23 special called meeting.
Democrats Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides joined the board’s three Republicans in a 5-2 vote approving a proposal to hire three new detectives, which would match a $375,000 federal grant with $734,000 in county funds through fiscal year 2025.
Although The Block is closed for business, owner Cam MacQueen intends to keep the CommUNITY Meals initiative going.
Of 911 calls and requests for assistance to the Asheville Police Department, less than 1% involve a violent crime, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police dispatch data shows. Much of the time, police are summoned to routine calls such as traffic accidents, domestic disputes and loud parties or non-violent crimes like shoplifting, trespassing and prostitution.
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.
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.