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.
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.
Asheville City Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting reparations for Asheville’s Black community at its July 14 meeting. Members also moved to table a $83,000 contract with risk-management firm Hillard Heintze to investigate Asheville Police Department’s response to recent protests after listening to community concerns.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on both routine kidney care and the number of transplants. At the same time, the estimated 37 million American adults with chronic kidney disease are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
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.
As “congregate living settings,” migrant farmworker camps have been listed as high-risk locations for virus transmission — not just by counties throughout Western North Carolina, but by state health officials and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“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.”
During a June 24 meeting, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board heard a presentation from marketing firm 360i about a new advertising campaign, scheduled to start in July, designed to attract a “responsible tourist audience” to the region. Ads will target visitors whose behaviors agree with “psychographic statements” about “willingness to conform.”
African Americans in Asheville are three times more likely than white people to be searched by police in traffic stops and are disproportionately charged with common crimes such as marijuana possession in disparities that experts in police bias called shocking, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police data found.
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.
Originally celebrated almost solely within the African American community, interest in the observance of the end of the institution of slavery in the United States is on the rise, with two events planned in Asheville for June 19.
A last-minute decision to temporarily stay all eviction proceedings grants a momentary reprieve for renters unsure where their next paycheck will come from. But tenants fear they may lose their housing when courts resume hearing eviction cases at the end of June.