Unlike other local instances of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, explained Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, county health workers had been unable to trace at least two cases to a specific source — suggesting that the infection is spreading within the county at large.
Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, the county’s interim health director, said during a March 20 press conference that the decision was made primarily to conserve resources for “the long haul” in Buncombe’s management of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Buncombe County has opened two drive-through testing sites, which will be open Wednesday, March 18, from 2-6 p.m. The first site is Biltmore Church at 35 Clayton Road in Arden, and the second is UNC Asheville at One University Heights.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman declared a local state of emergency due to the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. The move followed a statewide emergency declaration from Gov. Roy Cooper just two days earlier. Mayor Esther Manheimer subsequently declared a state of emergency for the city of Asheville.
The North Carolina General Assembly voted to award Montreat College $20 million towards the establishment of an independent cybersecurity training center in October, but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the money. The private, Christian liberal arts college’s boosters, however, say they won’t be discouraged in filling what they see as an urgent need for ethically responsible cyber operatives.
The money contained in a stalled budget bill that passed the General Assembly would go to Montreat College, a school in eastern Buncombe County with an enrollment of fewer than 1,000 students. $20 million would be used to establish a center to train people to protect digital information and systems.
Republican members of the board argued that their Democratic colleagues were out of place in issuing official letters against pending state HB 370, which would require Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller and other sheriffs throughout North Carolina to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests on penalty of removal from office.
The four Democratic board members — Chair Brownie Newman, Vice Chair Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Commissioners Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides — have all signed letters asking state officials to withhold their support from the proposal. In February, Democratic Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller announced that his office would no longer honor ICE detainers.
During a March 14 listening session at The Collider in downtown Asheville about the DEQ’s Clean Energy Plan, a key provision of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 on clean energy and climate change, many of the roughly 70 Western North Carolina residents in attendance expressed frustration that the state wasn’t doing enough.
After Democrats broke the Republican supermajority in the N.C. House of Representatives and Senate in the 2018 election, State Sen. Terry Van Duyn believes her party colleagues in the General Assembly will have more political clout during the upcoming session.
Carl Mumpower, chair of the Buncombe County Republican Party, encourages voters to support the six amendments. In contrast, both Democratic and Green party leaders aim to “nix all six,” while the Libertarians support only a lower constitutional cap on state income taxes.
The Asheville forum kicks off the IEI’s broader ReCONNECT NC initiative. Over the next three years, a series of six forums in four different cities will focus on the overarching theme of reconnection. Maggie Woods, policy and program manager at IEI, says people across the state are feeling out-of-touch and that this sense of detachment needs to be addressed at length.
Meadows noted that Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long’s letter on Aug. 20 denying Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a federal disaster declaration was likely the final word on the matter. “I think that decision has been made,” he said. “Obviously, that’s a decision that they didn’t feel met the threshold [for supplemental federal assistance].”
While the flood’s immediate aftermath may negatively impact water quality and populations of aquatic life, research suggests that WNC’s watersheds readily recover from similar events over the long term. But area experts emphasize that humans do play a role in maintaining the resilience of the region’s streams, rivers and lakes as development continues along their banks.
A federal judge last week heard a challenge to Department of Energy plans to transport liquid radioactive waste from Canada to the Savannah River Site disposal facility near Aiken, S.C. If the plans move forward, waste could move through Western North Carolina, activists say, and shipments could begin as soon as February.
In addition to performances by The Moon and You and Rob Nance and the Lost Souls, an upcoming benefit for the ACLU will include three literary readings by A.C. Reynolds High School students. The Mothlight hosts the event on Friday, Jan. 13.
Today Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger became the first in the South to accept same-sex marriage licenses, as 10 couples requested them as part of an effort organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality. However, Reisinger stopped short of issuing the documents, saying that while he believes the state ban on same-sex marriage is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, he will first formally request that North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper allow the marriages to proceed.