IN THE BEGINNING: Reputed to be the third oldest river in the world, the French Broad has gone from a polluted industrial dumping ground to a key cog in Western North Carolina’s outdoor and tourism industries. This renaissance is a result of government, nonprofit, and individual efforts to improve water quality throughout the watershed. Photo by Mike Belleme; courtesy of Transylvania Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Development Authority

Communitie­s along Upper French Broad work to restore water quality

In this two-part series, Xpress invites you on a guided a trip down the river as we examine the work of various communities to write the next chapter in the French Broad’s history, beginning with Transylvania and Henderson counties.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL: Leicester Fire Department medical and fire service, protecting people in parts of three counties around the clock. Chief Chris Brown, in white, commands the growing department and works with a board of directors to manage the finances and policies that govern the part paid, part volunteer department. Photo by Cindy Kunst

How local fire department­s keep residents safe in changing times

As population grows in WNC’s once-rural areas, the model of volunteer-based fire and rescue services is giving way to bigger budgets, more training and significant numbers of paid staff. How are the departments keeping up with the changes, and should they be required to conform to the same requirements for transparency and public oversight as other organizations funded by property taxes?

LIKE A ROCK: Skyland Fire & Rescue was one of the first Buncombe County volunteer departments to hire firefighters and medical personnel, but they still are governed by the same rules as small volunteer departments. Photo by Able Allen

Chief Presley retires from Skyland FD amid controvers­y over families in fire service

Chief Dennis Presley will retire from the Skyland Fire and Rescue Department as of Aug. 20. His announcement came on Aug. 2, the morning after Weston Hall of Black Mountain spoke during the public comment period at the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting. Hall said that nepotism was creating a hostile work environment at nonprofit fire service departments. He pointed out that Presley’s wife, son, daughter and son-in-law all hold paid positions with the Skyland department.

BUILDING ON SOMETHING: Before a house can be raised or a unit can be repurposed, land use has to be sorted out. A group of affordable housing activists are in the driver’s seat to spend $1 million of Asheville’s general obligation bond money on a community land trust. The fledgling group will grow into a membership organization that will own pieces of land on behalf of the community, to be used to help address the city’s affordable housing problem. Photo courtesy of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity

Community land trust project has bumpy launch

If trust is a function of time, an innovative approach to affordable housing may already be in trouble. On July 13, about 30 community stakeholders gathered in an echoey auditorium at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center and took the first meandering steps toward establishing a community land trust. But the two-hour meeting produced […]

EMPOWERING EDUCATION: Corrie Price, a former teacher and the student empowerment director at i.b.mee, models and coaches teachers the art and science of resiliency and connection in the classroom so students are truly ready to learn, grow and contribute. Photo courtesy of i.b.mee

Conscious Party: Asheville Celebrates Teachers Extravagan­za

WHAT: A self-care celebration for Western North Carolina educators WHEN: Wednesday Aug. 2, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. WHERE: Asheville Music Hall WHY: With the start of the school year quickly approaching, the days before teachers are thrust back into a hectic classroom are limited — a problem that i.b.mee, a nonprofit focused on empowerment […]

BLURRING THE LINES: Mind reader and magician Zeke Powerz will use intuition, coincidence and precognition to read the minds of audience members at Vanishing Wheelchair's upcoming fundraiser. Photo courtesy of Vanishing Wheelchair

Conscious Party: Magic and Mind Reading

WHAT: “Magic and Mind Reading Mysteries” show to benefit Vanishing Wheelchair WHEN: Sunday, July 23, 3 p.m WHERE: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church WHY: Using intuition, clairvoyance and showmanship, esoteric magician Zeke Powerz has three goals for his upcoming benefit performance: to “raise money, raise some eyebrows and raise the dead.” As a professional magician, Powerz’s […]

ROCKING FOR A CAUSE: Lead performer Ryan Perry of the Ryan Perry Band performs “rock and roll with a country twang” during a past concert. The band will headline the Community Day event on July 15. Photo by Duncan Chaboudy

Conscious Party: Community Day

WHAT: A community celebration to raise funds for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation WHEN: Saturday, July 15, 2-6 p.m. WHERE: Clarion Inn at the Asheville Regional Airport WHY: For a day of free fun for a great cause, bring the family to the inaugural Community Day extravaganza, a fundraising benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. The afternoon event will feature over […]

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Brighter pastures in Leicester? Brother Wolf’s move triggers controvers­y

The president of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Denise Bitz, yesterday accused a former member of the nonprofit’s board and one-time foster parent of the year of fomenting “a local cesspool on a social media.”  The comment was one of many contentious exchanges taking place this week on Facebook following Brother Wolf’s announcement it will be closing […]