A SORE SUBJECT: For more than three decades, the CTS of Asheville Superfund site on Mills Gap Road has been a source of physical and social toxicity for the surrounding community. Photo courtesy of Katie Damien

CTS contaminat­ion has poisoned more than drinking water

For nearly 30 years, the CTS of Asheville Superfund site has been a source of physical and social toxicity for the surrounding community. With remedial efforts to address the source of contamination finally underway, residents, activists and others reflect on the triumphs and tribulations of the decades-long battle for a clean-up and accountability.

EBB AND FLOW: One of many interactive science activities that will be featured at the inaugural Asheville Arts and Science Festival, the enviroscape table shows how water flows through a watershed. Event exhibitor Mariah Hughes explains, “Ivy River Partners facilitates partnerships to get solutions on the ground that reduce pollutants from runoff. The watershed model can be used to demonstrate how those solutions work.” Photo courtesy of Ivy River Partners

Asheville Arts and Science Festival combines two discipline­s at Salvage Station

A new local festival will come to Salvage Station on Saturday, March 31. Organizers of the Asheville Arts and Science Festival hope to raise awareness about what science looks like in the real world. And by incorporating a healthy dose of art, the family-friendly event also aims to hook visitors with the beauty that science can inspire.

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Power to the people: Best of WNC 2018 voting begins

With a far out feeling, voting has begun for the beloved annual Best of WNC awards. Only you can decide who’ll be feelin’ it in the new summer of love, when winners are announced this August. You have until 11:59 p.m. on the night of Saturday, April 28 to complete your ballot and make sure your voice is heard. […]

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK: Delays introduced by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration meant growers had to scramble to get last year's industrial hemp crop in the ground in time. This year, local farmers say they're looking forward to planting on a more optimal schedule, which may improve yields. Photo courtesy of Frances Tacy

WNC’s industrial hemp growers reflect on experiment­al first season

Last year, a handful of area farmers planted the first hemp crops to be grown legally in Western North Carolina in over 70 years. That first crop was plagued by delays introduced by regulators at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who held up shipments of seeds and seedlings, leading to a late start. Growers expect a smoother process for the 2018 growing season.

THE WOODS ARE LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP: Landscape architect Sieglinde Anderson has created an extensive woodland garden at her Fairview property. She and photographer Ruthie Rosauer will invite attendees at a March 20 talk in Hendersonville to consider the possibilities and beauty of trees and the shaded areas they create. Photo courtesy of Sieglinde Anderson

Talk to celebrate options for gardening beneath the tree canopy

On March 20, landscape architect Sieglinde Anderson and photographer Ruthie Rosauer will share advice for gardening beneath and appreciating this region’s diverse and abundant tree canopy. Sponsored by the Hendersonville Tree Board, the talk will take place at 6 p.m. at the Henderson County Library Auditorium in downtown Hendersonville.

BIG EXPENSES: Duke is building two natural gas-fueled electric generating units at Lake Julian south of Asheville to replace its existing coal plant. Duke estimates that project will have an $890 million price tag and the cost to close coal ash basins there will be about $422 million. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Regulators approve lower-than-requested Duke Energy rate increase, impose coal ash penalty

The N.C. Utilities Commission today approved a rate increase requested by Duke Energy Progress. As approved, Duke may charge an average increase of 7.09 percent. The electricity provider also received permission to increase the basic monthly customer charge for residential customers from $11.13 to $14.

PARKWAY PRESERVATION: A total of 5,329 acres in the area of Waterrock Knob will be conserved, the largest addition to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 60 years.  Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Parkway/National Park Service

Waterrock Knob expansion brings together stakeholde­rs, public

The highest peak in the Plott Balsam Mountains, Waterrock Knob encompasses a unique ecosystem. The Blue Ridge Parkway will now conserve 5,329 acres of this irreplaceable landscape thanks to recent land and financial gifts by a network of conservation groups and private donors. The public is invited to weigh in on plans for the area through Feb. 25.

NICE AND SALTY: When snow and ice make the going treacherous on local roads, the city of Asheville deploys public works crews around the clock to spread sand and salt as well as to plow snow. Photo courtesy of the city of Asheville

Despite environmen­tal concerns, salt still most effective de-icer

To keep cars from slipping and sliding — and crashing and smashing — when weather conditions turn roads icy, the city of Asheville and the N.C. Department of Transportation treat local motorways with salt. While the substance can impact water quality and the health of wildlife, officials say they mostly succeed in balancing environmental and traffic safety concerns.