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?

INVESTMENT IN THE RIVERBANK: Woodfin Riverside Park is an existing part of what may someday be a sizable greenway connecting a system of parks and other green spaces along a transportation vein throughout the county.

Big project, big debt: Woodfin voters to decide future of greenway project with higher taxes in the balance

The question that may surprise and even confuse some Woodfin residents as they dutifully mark their ballots is: Should the 6,300 residents of the town of Woodfin take on an additional $4.5 million in debt to pay for a greenway, parks and other public works projects along the stretch of the French Broad that flows through […]

Small-scale democracy: Small town elections offer intriguing possibilit­ies, but few options

“The best cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.” — Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness The affluent little town of Chevy Chase, Maryland, population 2,918, was rocked earlier this year when a surprise write-in candidate garnered 168 votes to displace an unopposed incumbent. The town attorney and Ethics Commission were […]

Tomorrow never knows: WNC disasters past, present and future

Even as the holidays come barreling toward us, some folks around the globe fear the mythical planet Nibiru may be doing the same and will trigger some unspecified cataclysm on Dec. 21. Notwithstanding the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, however, local agencies seem focused on preparing for more realistic potential threats. Although it may not be the end of the world, Western North Carolina does remain vulnerable to a wide range of natural and human-made catastrophes, including floods, blizzards, fires and even nuclear accidents.


Black Mountain resident Harry Hamil was alarmed. According to new flood maps released by the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety in October, a 100-year flood would place much of his property at 151 Ridgeway Ave. underwater. River rising: New flood maps suggest that Ingles’ Swannanoa distribution center is at greater risk of […]

Sleeping giant

Jim Augins was thinking about his yarn. In the first week of September 2004, when The Weather Channel and local newscasts were making dire predictions about the possibility that Hurricane Frances might ride the spine of the Blue Ridge north, Augins took heed.

The incredible expanding town

The town of Woodfin has been perched on Asheville’s northern border since 1971, when it incorporated to avoid annexation by the city. High on the mountaintop: Reynolds Mountain, which has raised the ire of some activists, as seen from Woodfin. The developer will own and fund much of Woodfin’s new downtown. photos by Jonathan Welch […]

Buncombe’s plan for the worst

“Mass casualty event.” “Decontamination action guidelines.” “Emergency mortuary plan.” Not exactly light lunchtime topics. But such sobering terminology is common at Buncombe County’s Department of Emergency Services, which is charged with coordinating the county’s response to disasters both natural and human-made. Among the department’s duties is compiling a comprehensive emergency-operations plan—a hefty document containing a […]