Family cat returns months after house fire

What could make living through a house fire worse? How about lost pets, a struggling business and a pandemic that canceled a family member’s high school graduation ceremony? Melissa Meyer faced all these and more, but there’s a bright spot: After nearly four months’ absence, Oliver the cat was found. The Black Mountain community pulled together to support his recovery, and now the beloved feline is back home and on the road to health.

Controvers­ial plea deal for former APD officer extended 

Christopher Hickman’s period of supervised probation for the 2017 assault of Johnnie Rush might have ended this month if not for delays in the community engagement portion of his restorative justice plea deal. COVID-19, as well as other obligations for the Raleigh-based program director, disrupted the yearlong schedule and will lead to an extension of Hickman’s probation.

Solar panels on parking garage

Green in brief: Local government­s fund community solar, Asheville School conducts first in-city deer hunt

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.

What does the future hold for the TDA?

With the area’s formerly booming tourism industry mostly on hold as COVID-19 infection rates in nearby markets remain high, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority faces an uncertain future. Add in a leadership transition, potential changes to the legislation that controls the distribution of local occupancy tax revenues and public hostility to the industry, and more questions than answers emerge.

Racial justice protests in Pack Square Park

Asheville protesters­, medics share their stories

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.

WNC colleges and universiti­es return to in-person classes

While Asheville and Buncombe County K-12 schools are planning to start the academic year with heavy reliance on remote learning due to COVID-19, the area’s colleges and universities are taking a more aggressive approach in returning to campus. Western North Carolina’s higher learning institutions are bringing back students from across the state and around the country.