Raytheon protest on Pack Square

Controvers­ial choices: Debating the Pratt & Whitney project

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and other supporters say jobs at the aerospace manufacturing plant will provide opportunities for workers to improve their standards of living. Critics say those wages are not worth the moral cost: Bolstering a military-industrial complex that causes deaths half a world away and eats up government funds better spent on other needs.

Danielle Keeter, co-owner of Mighty Gnome Market Garden

SNAP incentives boost market sales for local farmers

Market managers and vendors at the markets participating in the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Double SNAP initiative, which matches Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits dollar-for-dollar on edible items, saw SNAP transactions nearly triple from 2019 to 2020, and 80% of responding vendors said they’d experienced sales growth due to the program.

Richard Houck, Fred Jones and José McLoughlin

Wellness in brief: Dogwood Health Trust shifts board makeup

Retired Rear Adm. Richard Houck of Transylvania County, attorney Fred Jones of Macon County and Bishop José McLoughlin of Henderson County will join the board of Western North Carolina’s largest nonprofit as Buncombe County’s Dr. John Ball departs. The change fulfills requirements stipulated in N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s approval of Mission Health’s sale to HCA Healthcare.

With interest in birth centers soaring, local facility struggles to cover costs

When Emma Strickland learned she was pregnant with her second child, she started looking for an alternative to a hospital birth. She found it at the WNC Birth Center. The center is open during the COVID pandemic but has had to scale back on some of its related services. Ironically, that’s led to a shortage of income at a time when women like Strickland find themselves increasingly drawn to a birth center.

Tiger Creek hiker

Green in brief: SAHC conserves nearly 3,000 acres; OGS gets social

The Asheville-based nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s work included both valuable wildlife habitats, such as the Wiles Creek and Little Rock Creek preserves, and prime farmland at risk of development. Sandy Hollar Farms in Buncombe County and Bowditch Bottoms in Yancey County were among the agricultural projects completed in 2020.

Employee at COVID-19 vaccination site

Buncombe health staff address commission­ers’ COVID-19 concerns

“We recognize that it’s not a perfect system and the demand is quite high,” said Stacie Saunders, Buncombe County’s public health director, at a Jan. 12 special meeting called to address local vaccination efforts. “We just want to reiterate that we will not have sufficient supply of vaccine for a very long time, so it is likely that we will still hear frustration and concerns about being able to get an appointment.”