Mission Health CEO Dr. Ron Paulus shares his rationale behind the health system's intended sale to Hospital Corporation of America.

Mission Health sale could create massive community nonprofit

HCA’s purchase price for the system, plus Mission’s remaining net cash and investments, would fund a nonprofit foundation specifically devoted to boosting public health in the region. At a meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners, President and CEO Ron Paulus claimed that the new organization’s assets, which could range from $1 billion to $2 billion depending on the final sale price, would make it one of the three largest foundations in North Carolina and the richest foundation per capita anywhere on the planet.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: YWCA Chief Program Officer Sala Menaya-Merrit speaks during the Board of Commissioners meeting on June 5. Commissioners announced two new early childhood education initiatives during the meeting. Photo by David Floyd

County approves GE incentives­, launches new early childhood ed initiative­s

Though breaking news about new Wanda Greene indictments made it hard for elected officials and members of the public to focus on anything else, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved $685,000 in incentives for a planned local investment by GE Aviation and announced two new early childhood education initiatives during its meeting on June 5.

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene and her son Michael Greene are facing federal charges related to the misuse of public funds.

Feds file new fraud and money laundering charges against Wanda Greene

New fraud charges — in addition to previous charges related to improper use of county credit cards — have been filed against former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene. In an indictment, federal officials allege that Greene “defrauded Buncombe County by misappropriating approximately $2.3 million of Buncombe County funds to purchase whole life insurance policies for herself, her son Michael Greene, and eight other County employees, and to purchase an annuity for another county employee who did not qualify for a whole life insurance policy.”

PRICELESS PROPERTY: DuPont State Recreational Forest encompasses waterfalls, trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, and open space for public enjoyment. The forest has received funding through the state's Natural Heritage, Parks and Recreation and Clean Water Management trust funds. N.C. legislators are considering allotments to those funds as well as other spending related to the environment as they meet in Raleigh to finalize the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Photo by Rob Travis courtesy of the Friends of DuPont Forest

WNC environmen­tal programs and agencies could see more cuts in new state budget

Local legislators and environmental advocates share their thoughts on which state budgetary and policy decisions could have a big impact on WNC’s environment in the coming fiscal year and beyond. They cited issues including the state’s response to novel contaminants like GenX chemicals, the budget for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and funding for the Clean Water Management, Parks and Recreation and Farmland Preservation trust funds.

SMALL YET MIGHTY: The power line serving an emergency radio tower atop Mount Sterling near Cataloochee experienced frequent outages related to bad weather and downed trees, so Duke Energy decided last year to replace it with a self-contained microgrid consisting of a solar array and battery system. Photo courtesy of Duke Energy

Storing power key to expanding use of renewable energy

The success of the county’s and city’s goals to increase their use of renewable energy, say local experts, hinges on the availability of battery storage — and lots of it. With one very small local battery installation under its utility belt, Duke Energy Progress is developing two storage projects in Western North Carolina — but will those and future projects be large enough to make a meaningful difference?