SOCIALLY CONNECTED:
AARP volunteers host workshops throughout WNC such as this Twitter training. AARP and YMCA of WNC are hosting a three-month program called Disrupt Aging Community Health Challenge. Pictured are 
AARP volunteers, from left, Bob Tomasulo, Deborah Wagner and Judy Williams. Photo courtesy of AARP North Carolina Mountain Region

Challenge aims to improve fitness, combat social isolation in older adults

A “health-meets-social” approach to aging rolls out this month at the YMCA of Western North Carolina, in collaboration with AARP. The partnership has created a three-month program, dubbed Disrupt Aging Community Health Challenge, that combines a fitness challenge with social involvement for people 50 and older. The YMCA of WNC was one of 10 YMCAs across the country […]

WASTE WATCHERS: Largely unheralded, the Buncombe County Metropolitan Sewerage District ensures that the waste generated by its approximately 130,000 customers is properly treated and disposed of before it enters local waterways. The agency is currently in the midst of a $266 million capital improvement project that will upgrade its plant facilities for the future. Photo courtesy of MSD

MSD upgrades its infrastruc­ture with capital improvemen­t projects

To fulfill its critical mission and increase its capacity to deal with a growing service area and customer base, MSD is in the midst of a $266 million capital improvement project, which will help ensure that the community’s waste is properly handled and safely disposed of.

IN THE BEGINNING: Reputed to be the third oldest river in the world, the French Broad has gone from a polluted industrial dumping ground to a key cog in Western North Carolina’s outdoor and tourism industries. This renaissance is a result of government, nonprofit, and individual efforts to improve water quality throughout the watershed. Photo by Mike Belleme; courtesy of Transylvania Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Development Authority

Communitie­s along Upper French Broad work to restore water quality

In this two-part series, Xpress invites you on a guided a trip down the river as we examine the work of various communities to write the next chapter in the French Broad’s history, beginning with Transylvania and Henderson counties.

TIDAL WAVE: Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. With nearly half of local businesses owned by baby-boomers, economic analysts are working to draw attention to the impending mass retirements of these owners, while others advocate alternative succession plans, like employee cooperatives. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads.

Passing the torch: What happens when local business owners retire?

With 45 percent of business owners in Buncombe County alone facing retirement in the next decade, local groups and service providers are encouraging them to start planning for their company’s next chapter, while simultaneously devising ways to turn an impending crisis into an opportunity for employees to shoulder new responsibilities.

UNION DAYS: Approximately 90 workers and organizers of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Local Div. No. 128 pose for a picture in April 1913. Despite North Carolina’s status as one of the least unionized states in the country, current-day local union chapters such as ATU 128, have a long history of organizing and advocating for workers’ rights in the Southern Highlands. Photo via the Norh Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville North Carolina

Labor pains: WNC unions at a crossroads

In Western North Carolina and across the country, labor unions seem to be a dying breed these days, and many local residents don’t seem overly concerned about it. Yet WNC’s complex history of unionization stretches back to the late 19th century. From high-profile labor disputes and the emergence of “right to work” laws to the […]

BUILDING CULTURE: From the ancestors of the Ani Katuah to the first European settlers and later tobacco farmers, the evolution of human settlement and existence in the Southern Appalachians can be traced through the structure and buildings they erected to support their ways of life. The Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University documents the evolution of built structures in its latest exhibit, Shelter on the Mountain, on display through May 28. Photo of an open cathedral-like hayloft of the 1951 gambrel-roof barn built by Delbert and Charlie Shelton in the Shelton Laurel community. By Earthsong Photography/ Don McGowan

Rural Heritage Museum highlights history of WNC barns

From the Ani Katuah to white settlers and tobacco farmers, barns and buildings have played a central role in defining the culture of the Southern Appalachians. Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands traces the evolution of local building practices.

ROCK STARS: For 70 years, the Mineral Research Laboratory in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood has worked with mining companies around the world to come up with efficient ways to harvest and process minerals, as well as educate the public on North Carolina’s mineral resources. Utilizing its unique pilot plant (above), the lab has the capability to provide data on the cost and scale of operations for companies to use in commercial enterprises. Photo by Max Hunt

Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting-edge solutions

For 70 years, the Minerals Research Laboratory on Coxe Avenue has collaborated with mining companies and educational institutions to develop more efficient processes for extracting the state’s mineral resources as well as ways to reuse potentially harmful byproducts.

NEW PLANS, NEW CONCERNS: Members of the Swannanoa community met with Community Advisory Group members, federal and state environmental officials Thurday, Dec. 1 to discuss future plans for the Chemtronics Superfund site. Photo by Max Hunt

For the record: EPA reviews 2016 Record of Decision, presence of new contaminan­ts at Chemtronic­s site

Swannanoa residents met with members of the Community Advisory Group, federal and state environmental protection officials Thursday evening to review the 2016 Record of Decision for the Chemtronics Superfund site. The EPA also revealed the presence of a new contamination detection on the property.

OPEN FOR EXPLORATION: Staff and board members of the Asheville Museum of Science, TDA officials and residents gathered Friday morning for the soft opening of AMOS' new location in downtown Asheville. The museum was also presented with a $400,000 Tourism Product Development Fund grant. Photo by Max Hunt

Asheville Museum of Science celebrates new location with soft-opening reception

The Asheville Museum of Science held a soft opening from 10 a.m. until noon at its new location in the Wells Fargo building at 43 Patton Avenue. In addition to the opening reception, an official ceremony was held to celebrate a $400,000 grant awarded to the museum from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.

SERVING OUR SERVICEMEN & WOMEN: Photos taken while at ABCCM'a Veterans Restoration Quarters in Asheville NC, where they have a comprehensive restoration program that addressees the needs of homeless veterans.

Brothers in arms: Local nonprofits give back to WNC veterans

With Veterans Day fast approaching, the customary forms of American celebration will be prominently on display: parades through city streets, moments of silence briefly interrupting broadcast media, solemn ceremonies at landmarks across the country, special discounts at restaurants and shops. Beyond those symbolic gestures, however, stands a large and growing need to support the many […]

ALL TOGETHER NOW: Women business leaders, nonprofit organizers and members of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce gathered Thursday morning for the Chambr's inaugural WomanUP networking event and awards ceremony. Photo by Max Hunt

Local female business leaders honored at inaugural WomanUP networking event

The capacity crowd joined staff members of the CoC, event sponsors and colleagues to share breakfast and network with fellow women professionals from a diverse array of local industries. After the breakfast, an awards ceremony recognized three local female leaders in business, executive leadership and the nonprofit world.

GLIMPSE OF THE PAST: In anticipation of North Carolina’s centennial exhibit on the state’s involvement in World War I, which opens next April, the Department of Cultural and Natural Resource’s Western Office in Asheville is currently hosting an exhibit on WNC’s local heroes and experiences during the “Great War.” Photo by Max Hunt

In the trenches: Research explores WNC’s role in World War I

Though the battles were fought half a world away, WWI had a profound and lasting impact on Western North Carolina. As the state gears up for a big centennial retrospective on North Carolina’s involvement in the Great War, local researchers have worked to bring WNC residents’ stories and experiences to contemporary audiences.