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.

Hallway bingo at Aston Park Health Care Center

Buncombe reports COVID-19 outbreaks in two long-term care facilities

County officials said Aston Park Health Care Center and Deerfield Retirement Episcopal Skilled Nursing Home both had active outbreaks of the disease, defined by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as two or more lab-confirmed cases in staff or residents. They did not share the specific number of cases reported for each outbreak.

Weaverville downtown

News roundup: $5M in tourism relief passes GA, Pack Library launches senior outreach

The legislative change allows the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to use $5 million from its Tourism Product Development Fund — which previously had to be allocated to nonprofit entities or local government and spent on capital projects — for grants of up to $50,000 in support of tourism businesses other than lodging.

Biz in brief: Buncombe TDA grants, Salute to Small Business Week

Local businesses are bringing creativity to bear on pandemic-related closures and plans for business revitalization following the end of restrictions. They could get some help: Sen. Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville announced he will introduce legislation to the N.C. General Assembly to allow the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to make grants to tourism businesses to support their reopening.

Robert Pressley at April 16 Board of Commissioners meeting

Buncombe board split on direction for next phase of COVID-19 response

The commission’s Democratic members passed direction for expanded community testing and contact tracing over the objections of its Republican contingent. Joe Belcher, Anthony Penland and Robert Pressley stressed their commitment to ensuring the county’s safety but expressed concern over the process by which the resolution was introduced and some of its terms.

Mountain Xpress voter guide primary banner

2020 Primary Voter Guide: Q&A with candidates for local, national offices

In preparation for the March primary, Xpress sent questions to all candidates in contested races for their party’s nomination to various local and national offices. Responses from candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, N.C. General Assembly, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and Asheville City Council are all collected here.

Paul Ridgeway, Alma Hinton and Joseph Crosswhite

From CPP: Judges block NC congressio­nal elections with current maps

A three-judge panel issued an injunction late Monday blocking use of the current North Carolina congressional district map in the 2020 election. Although not yet compelling the “coequal branch of government” to draw new maps, judges noted that legislators could proceed to do that on their own and thus avoid any disruption to the election schedule.

Proposed Buncombe County N.C. House district map

News Briefs: New N.C. House maps for Buncombe, Eastern Band re-elects Sneed

As currently drawn, the proposed districts would shift representation for large areas of Buncombe County. A 2011 state law also required that districts for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners match those of the county’s House representatives. As currently drawn, the maps would move Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara from District 1 to District 2, shift Al Whitesides from District 1 to District 3 and reassign Amanda Edwards from District 2 to District 1.