Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. Photo by Max Cooper

Mayor Manheimer, Asheville citizens call for fair redistrict­ing

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer held a press conference Thursday, May 11, to highlight House Bill 200, which seeks to end gerrymandering on a statewide level. Asheville residents affiliated with Common Cause NC, a nonprofit organization based out of Raleigh, also spoke against gerrymandering within congressional districts and the need to support the proposed legislation.

BEST AND BRIGHTEST: Participants in the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy were recognized at the May 9 meeting of City Council. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Asheville Council closes in on city budget

At its May 9 meeting, Asheville City Council grappled with the challenge of creating a city budget in a time of plenty. “Oddly,” said Mayor Esther Manheimer, this year’s budgeting process has been more difficult than during the recession. Council asked City Manager Gary Jackson to tweak his proposal to achieve a property tax rate that reflects a revenue-neutral rate plus 3.5 cents to pay for interest on the city’s $74 million bond program.

"This was a personal satisfaction to know that you were the owner of your things," Guerra, a member of the Emma community said. Photo by Kari Barrows

Housing co-ops a potential affordable housing solution

The second in a three-part series on innovative models for promoting affordable homeownership sponsored by the city of Asheville focused on housing cooperatives. The May 4 education and information event provided perspectives from national experts as well as representatives of the Dulce Lomita Mobile Home Cooperative in Asheville.

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City budget and policing on tap for May 9 session of Asheville Council

If you want to attend Asheville City Council’s May 9 meeting, arrive early. Between a response from the Police Department to a recent report on racial disparities in policing to the first presentation of the city manager’s proposed budget for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, there’s a lot on the agenda that could be of interest to a variety of city residents and advocates.

SCHOOL DAZE: Shown here in a 2008 photo, Eben Heasley is a long-time educator at Evergreen Community Charter School. Though he says he loves the teaching profession, Heasley says he's planning to leave it for a second career that offers a better balance of schedule, stress and compensation. Photo courtesy of Evergreen Community Charter School

Burned out: Preserving Asheville’­s teacher corps

When seasoned teachers leave the classroom, everybody suffers. Students lose out on the benefits of the educators’ experience, school systems struggle to find and train replacements and the larger community often mourns the departure of a valued contributor with established relationships. While Asheville and Buncombe County public schools have lower teacher turnover than in other parts of the state, retaining and attracting the best teachers is increasingly challenging.

The site of a 112-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Meadow Road. The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved the hotel application. Graphic courtesy of the city of Asheville

P&Z approves its final big hotel

Asheville’s Planning & Zoning Commission heard the last hotel zoning application submitted under the city’s previous zoning rules, which changed on Feb. 14. The commission approved a 112-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel planned for 26 Meadow Road. Moving forward, any hotel project with more than 20 rooms will have to make its case to City Council as a conditional zoning application. The conditional zoning process gives the elected officials more discretion than P&Z’s guidelines allow.

Chuck Edwards, Republican, NC Senate District 48. Photo courtesy of Edwards

Lines in the sand: Fight brews over Asheville districts

Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville explains some of the considerations that led him to introduce a bill that would compel Asheville to institute district elections for seats on its City Council. And Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer lays out the reasons the city plans to follow a “parallel process” that may include a referendum on the issue, despite Raleigh’s insistence that the city knuckle under by Nov. 1.

POWER OF THE EARTH: Asheville-based nonprofit The Woven Eath Foundation is helping disaster-ravaged Nepal rebuild after a devastating earthquake two years ago with earth-bag construction, above.

Local home, global reach: Asheville nonprofits export goodwill

By Bob Kalk Buncombe County is home to numerous nonprofits with a focus on international or foreign affairs, perhaps reflecting Ashevilleans’ willingness to look beyond their doorstep toward the broader world. But while some of these groups attract considerable attention, others tend to fly under the radar. Here’s a look at three small, Asheville-based service […]

MAKING THE GRADE: Kathryn Medford, left, works with Tristan Cox at a recent Homework Diner at Enka Middle School. Tristan began attending the weekly dinners with his grandmother, Portia Simpson, in order to improve his grades.

Feed your brain: Homework Diner program offers families dinner, academic support

Homework isn’t something students or their parents necessarily look forward to tackling in those precious after-school hours of freedom — especially when there’s also dinner to worry about. But the new Homework Diner initiative spearheaded by the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County offers help with schoolwork while feeding families and the community in […]