News in brief: NCSSM raises funds for western campus, controlled burning in area

BARN RAISING: An artist's rendering shows the planned revitalization of a historic barn in Morganton on the western campus of the N.C. School of Science and Math. Image courtesy of NCSSM

Fundraising begins for NCSSM western campus

The N.C. School of Science and Mathematics kicked off fundraising for its Morganton campus. The institution aims to raise $3 million from private donors to support the construction of a new campus, including the renovation of a historic cattle barn on the site. The new campus is slated to open in 2021.

Built on a ridgeline in Morganton near Interstate 40, the school’s second campus will feature adaptive renovations of four buildings, including the cattle barn, a regional icon. Built in 1940, it will serve as a multipurpose space to host large school events as well as activities for the local community.

NCSSM-Morganton has realized $73 million in construction funding from the state and seeks additional investment from companies, foundations and individuals to complete the campus master plan. According to a press release, “These critical gifts will empower NCSSM to deliver on the vision of providing facilities comparable to the Durham campus while strengthening the school’s connection to the communities of western North Carolina.”

Montreat College to offer loan repayment for incoming students

To reduce the financial risk of taking on college student loans, Montreat College announced it will roll out a loan repayment program for incoming freshmen and qualifying transfer students beginning in fall 2019.

Those students who graduate with four-year degrees, are employed after graduation and earn less than $43,000 per year will be eligible for loan repayment assistance until their annual income reaches $43,000 or the loans are paid off.

“We are excited to be the only college in North Carolina offering this free safety net to our incoming students,” says Kristin Janes, Montreat College vice president for enrollment management. “We know that many college students and parents are concerned about student debt, and the Montreat College Commitment was created to help address those concerns.”

According to a press release, the new program is part of a larger college strategy for limiting the student loan debt of its graduates, including lower-than-average tuition compared to other private colleges and generous institutional aid. More information is available at

Elected leaders take stand on amendments

Local elected officials representing the city of Asheville, Buncombe County and the town of Weaverville released a letter on Oct. 25 opposing all six amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that appear on ballots for the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election.

“I urge voters to vote against all six proposed constitutional amendments. These constitutional amendments represent nothing but political manipulation at its finest. I know the voters of North Carolina are smarter than to fall for this trickery. Vote no on all six,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer at a press conference on Oct. 25.

Along with other local leaders in the state, the 13 local officials directed particular attention toward an amendment that would lower the state’s maximum income tax rate from 10 to 7 percent. The officials say that change could require local governments to find alternate sources of revenue to meet local needs.

Officials attending the press conference included Manheimer, Asheville City Council members Gwen Wisler and Bryan Haynes, County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, and Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger.

Fire in the mountains

Where there’s smoke through Friday, Nov. 9, there’s (controlled) fire. A two-week Prescribed Fire Training Exchange, or TREX, will draw fire professionals from around the country to train in performing prescribed burns, which can lessen the negative impacts of future wildfires while also enhancing wildlife habitat.

TREX will be based at Table Rock Wesleyan Camp and Retreat Center in Pickens, S.C. Controlled burns will take place on conservation lands within a 1.5-hour driving radius of the base camp. According to a press release from nonprofit Conserving Carolina, depending on weather conditions, the event will conduct controlled burns at up to 40 sites in Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties in North Carolina and Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties in South Carolina. “Burns may take place at DuPont State Forest, the Green River Game Lands, Table Rock State Park and other public and private lands,” the press release advises.

For more information, see




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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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