- As part of companywide dismissals that affected journalists at newspapers across the country, Gannett Co. laid off five local journalists last week. They included Asheville’s Citizen Times reporter and planning editor Bruce Steele, business and state government reporter Mark Barrett, writing coach Brian Ponder and photojournalist Matt Burkhartt. The company also laid off a reporter/editorial assistant at the News Record & Sentinel, a weekly paper covering Madison County. On Twitter, several North Carolina politicians, including Rep. Patrick McHenry and Sen. Thom Tillis, expressed dismay at Barrett’s departure from the paper. “Few know WNC politics better than Mark Barrett,” McHenry wrote, “and his knowledge and insights will be missed.”
- Local NPR affiliate Blue Ridge Public Radio named Ashleigh Kenny to serve as its development director. Kenny previously led fundraising at YR Media, an independent media organization in Oakland, Calif., for six years. She will join BPR staff on Monday, Feb. 25.
- Mountain Xpress added Deborah Robertson as Community Calendar editor and Brooke Randle as staff reporter.
The city of Asheville will deploy five zero-emission electric buses this spring, a change the city says will result in a 270-ton reduction in emissions per year.
The public is invited to join officials for a preview of the new ART buses at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at the ART Station, 49 Coxe Ave. Attendees will hear a presentation and then take a short bus ride around downtown.
Black History Month talks
Asheville activist, poet and chaplain Robert “Zack” Zachary will deliver a talk titled “The Proper and More Effectual Method on the Teachings of Afro-American History” 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, and Thursday, Feb. 21, at The BLOCK off Biltmore. He will give the same presentation 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Firestorm Books and Cafe on Saturday, Feb. 9.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, and Sunday, Feb. 24, 1-2 p.m., Zachary will host a “dialogue forum” on Asheville FM to explore the hidden achievements and contributions made by African-Americans throughout history.
- The A-B Tech Board of Trustees Executive Committee met on Monday, Jan. 28, to discuss Article 46 sales tax expenditures and an offer for the college’s Enka property. The college’s full board of trustees meets Thursday, Feb. 7.
- The next regular meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will occur at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the third-floor conference room at 200 College St. in downtown Asheville. A full agenda for the meeting will be posted on the Buncombe County website.
- Asheville City Council will hold a formal meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12. Before the meeting, Council will hold a budget briefing at 3 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of City Hall. During the meeting, Council members will hear budget policy direction on the city’s capital improvement program.