News briefs: UNCA renames buildings after notable NC women

HISTORY LESSON: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed says it's good any time there is an acknowledgment of the history of Cherokee land. Photo courtesy of EBCI

UNC Asheville renamed four buildings on campus to honor notable women of North Carolina. The UNCA Building Renaming Task Force was charged with making recommendations for the individuals to be honored during the 2020-21 school year, which were presented to the college’s board of trustees and dedicated at a Nov. 3 ceremony.

The former Vance Hall was renamed Dykeman Hall, honoring the late conservationist and The French Broad author Wilma Dykeman. The former Ashe Hall was renamed Bird Hall to recognize Ella Bird, an elder in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who also holds the tribal honor of Beloved Woman.

Hoey Hall was renamed Ray Hall for Julia Ray, the first Black member of Mission Hospital’s Board of Trustees. And lastly, Carmichael Hall was renamed Delany Hall in honor of the late Francine Delany, an Asheville educator and the first African American graduate of Asheville-Biltmore College, the school which eventually became UNCA.

The 107-year-old Ray, her family, Dykeman’s family, faculty and students all attended the campus celebration of the renaming.

Buncombe County launches Cherokee land acknowledgment site 

The Buncombe County Register of Deeds launched a website about land cessions from the Cherokee, the original inhabitants of the area, in September.

The project, called As Long as the Grass Shall Grow (avl.mx/asr), uses interactive maps, accompanied by historical background on various land treaties, to visualize how the 100,000 square miles originally owned by the Cherokee were taken over time. The final map shows the two locations where Cherokees own land today: the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and the Qualla Boundary, home of the EBCI.

“It’s good any time anybody acknowledges the history of the land, but more importantly, the people who were on the land first,” Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the EBCI told Xpress. “In the day and age we live … it’s refreshing somebody is saying, ‘Here’s history.’ History is complicated. It really is.”

The website states on its main page: “Buncombe County Register of Deeds humbly acknowledges that the land we are on is the ancestral land of the Anigiduwagi, more commonly known as the Cherokee. This land was acquired through violence, oppression, coercion and broken treaties.”

Sneed told Xpress he particularly appreciates the acknowledgment of broken treaties. According to the website, the phrase “as long as the grass shall grow” was used in treaties between Native Americans and Europeans to reference everlasting agreements.

“To see how the land was lost is devastating,” wrote Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger in a press release announcing the project. “To see North Carolina’s aggressive and illegal encroachment on native land while forcing treaties … a lot of that land was taken violently under guise of the American Revolution.”

Schools to host Saturday COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Buncombe County Schools, Buncombe County Health and Human Services and Asheville City Schools are hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Saturdays in November and December for anyone ages 5 and older.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5-11 Oct. 29.

On Nov. 20, a clinic will take place at North Buncombe High School, 890 Clarks Chapel Road, Weaverville. On Dec. 4, clinics will be held at Clyde A. Erwin High School, 60 Lees Creek Road, and at T.C. Roberson High School, 250 Overlook Road. And on Dec. 11, clinics will occur at Charles D. Owen High School, 99 Lake Eden Road, Black Mountain, and A.C. Reynolds High School, 1 Rocket Drive.

All of the Saturday clinics run 9 a.m.-4 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The clinics will also provide booster shots for eligible people who have already received full COVID-19 vaccinations (more details available at avl.mx/at7); those receiving a booster shot should bring their vaccination card for documentation.

Buncombe Tax Department warns of debt scam

An ongoing scam attempting to make individuals pay a nonexistent tax debt has prompted the Buncombe County Tax Department to issue a warning to residents.

Recipients of the scam have gotten letters claiming to be a “Distraint Warrant” from the “Tax Processing Unit of Buncombe County Public Judgement Records,” which does not exist. The letters warn, “Your debt must be resolved in full to remove the lien. To avoid enforcement, CALL 1(800)XXX-XXXX within fifteen (15) days of receiving this notice. Failure to respond in time will cause an additional penalty to accumulate and lead to default judgment.”

The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the scam and asks the public to call 828-250-4436 with any information. Victims of this scam should report it to the N.C. Department of Justice at 877-5-NO-SCAM (877-566-7226) or NCDOJ.gov/Complaint.

Save the date

  • Dogwood Health Trust is holding a webinar Friday, Dec. 3, at noon to discuss the findings in its new report, “Housing Needs Assessment of Western North Carolina.” The report, released Nov. 10, evaluates the housing supply of 18 WNC counties and the Qualla Boundary, the area served by the trust, through 2025. Patrick Bowen, president of Bowen National Research, the real estate market analysis firm that conducted the study, will present the findings. The report is available online at avl.mx/asz; registration for the webinar is as avl.mx/asy.
  • Santa Claus will take a quick trip down from the North Pole to join children ages 2-9 and their parents for a “Breakfast With Santa” Saturday, Dec. 11, at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, 30 George Washington Carver Ave. Tickets are $8 per person and are available at avl.mx/at0.

Movers and shakers 

  • Asheville City Schools Superintendent Gene Freeman was appointed to the board of the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville earlier this month.
  • Natalie Ivey became the manager of Buncombe County Justice Services’ Pretrial Services team Nov. 8. Ivey comes to the county from the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking in East Tennessee.
  • Hendersonville High school resource officer Joreeca Dinnall received a 2021 Axon RISE Officer Award, a national award for police officers committing everyday acts of heroism. The Hendersonville Police Department nominated Dinnall for assisting a young person through a mental health crisis in 2020.
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