Bearwallow Mountain view

Green in brief: WNC shows air quality improvemen­t, AG Stein awards $340K to area environmen­tal work

According to a new study by Filterbuy, an air filter industry website, the median air quality index in the Asheville metropolitan area was 15.3% better over the period from 2015-2019 compared with the period from 2005-2009. The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton and Greenville, S.C., metros also showed big improvements.

Hickory Nut Gap turkeys

WNC’s independen­t poultry farmers persevere through processing challenges

Three years out from the closure of the state’s only USDA-inspected plant for independent farmers, more than 200 North Carolina farms are processing their own poultry. But due to the extra labor and time requirements, many producers statewide are still putting less pastured poultry on the market now than they were in 2017.

Mission Health cancer center exterior

From AVL Watchdog: Mission sale: Good for WNC, or just HCA?

Years from now, the decision in 2018 by the directors of Mission Health to sell to HCA Healthcare might be seen as a brilliant strategic maneuver, one that guaranteed affordable, high-quality healthcare for future generations of western North Carolinians. This was, and still is, the position of the directors and executives who pushed the deal.

Philip D. Green

From AVL Watchdog: A done deal: How Mission Health wooed HCA

The news stunned Asheville and Western North Carolina, where Mission Health System Inc. was the area’s largest employer, its main healthcare provider, and a long-time source of civic pride. Seemingly out of the blue, Mission’s directors publicly announced on March 21, 2018, that they had voted to sell the 133-year-old nonprofit to HCA Healthcare.

Buncombe County seal

Buncombe beats revenue projection­s during COVID-19

At about $32.47 million, actual sales taxes through the end of the 2020 fiscal year were still down 3.2% from the budgeted target of more than $33.53 million. But during an April 7 budget work session, Budget Director Jennifer Barnette had projected sales tax revenue at just $30 million due to the impacts of the coronavirus, a decrease of more than 8.9%.

Earl Hunter Jr. of Black Folks Camp Too

Green in brief: Black Folks Camp Too gains national partners, Hendersonv­ille kicks off bee mural project

Black Folks Camp Too founder Earl B. Hunter Jr. said new marketing collaborations would help him develop more interest in camping among the Black community. And later this month, Asheville-based artist Matthew Willey will begin work on a giant mural of honey bees at Hendersonville’s Hands On! Children’s Museum.

Hemlock Restoration Initiative staff and volunteers with treated hemlock

Hemlock Restoratio­n Initiative seeks long-term state support

A $300,000 recurring allocation for the HRI, a program of Asheville-based nonprofit WNC Communities, stalled in the N.C. General Assembly due to partisan gridlock over the state budget. A joint proclamation between the HRI and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services now aims to make the hemlock’s future more secure.

Human traffickin­g exploits vulnerable population­s

Human trafficking takes many forms. According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fact sheet, it can include not only sex for money involving coercion or fraud but also any kind of involuntary servitude. And while most folks associate trafficking with children, two-thirds of the more than 200 North Carolina cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline last year were adults. The Second Annual Anti-Trafficking Summit, slated for Sept. 15-19, is co-sponsored by Mars Hill University and Life 107 Ministries. This year’s summit will be online-only due to COVID-19.