News briefs: VTC graduates 6th class; Bissette to speak on public higher education

Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court helps veterans of the armed forces pursue healing rather than jail time for offenses related to substance abuse or behavioral health issues. The court is about to graduate its sixth cohort of participants. A group of UNC Asheville political scientists leads efforts to analyze global human rights data.

Bear crossing road

Sightings of three-legged bears worry locals

Justin McVey, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s wildlife biologist for the region that includes Asheville, says the commission has not received an unusual number of reports of three-legged bears in recent days despite social media posts suggesting sightings of at least nine separate bears with missing or injured legs within a 25-mile radius of Asheville.

Bat with white-nose syndrome

News Briefs: Buncombe maintains state’s lowest unemployme­nt, bat fungus spotted in Madison County

Buncombe did see its unemployment tick up from the 2.8% April rate; the May rate was also higher than the 2.8% reported for the same month last year. However, the Department of Commerce noted that all of the state’s other metro areas also saw rate increases, and the Asheville metro area actually added about 1,900 nonfarm jobs in May.

Matt Hutchins at The Collider

Green in brief: Asheville releases guide to climate resilience­, RiverLink plans sale of French Broad land for restaurant

“Building a Climate-Resilient Asheville,” debuted during a June 19 meeting of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment at The Collider, focuses on practical steps individuals can take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme weather.

Hellbender on a rock

Endangered Species Act changes could hinder hellbender conservati­on

Conservationists have been attempting to list the species under the federal Endangered Species Act since 2010, but as Elise Bennett with the Center for Biological Diversity explains, regulatory changes to the act proposed by the administration of President Donald Trump could hamper the path to protection for hellbenders and other at-risk wildlife.