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.

GLIMPSE OF THE PAST: The WNC Military History Museum will open its "Operation Armed Forces" exhibit honoring veterans from World War I to the present day at the Aethelwold Hotel in Brevard on Saturday, Oct. 22. The exhibit will run through Nov. 11. Photo courtesy of WNC Military History Museum

WNC Military History Museum opens “Operation Armed Forces” exhibit in Brevard Oct. 22

Using a vast array of artifacts, period newspapers and personal items from the time, combined with a series of lectures by military veterans and authorities, The WNC Military History Museum in Brevard hopes to educate a new generation on veterans’ contributions in an upcoming exhibit, “Operation Armed Forces,” which will open Saturday, Oct. 22, and run through Friday, Nov. 11, at the historic Aethelwold Hotel in downtown Brevard.

THE FACES OF LEADERSHIP: In an effort to provide examples of women in leadership roles, local events like Dixon Hughes Goodman’s Oct. 6 Women Forward forum are bringing local female leaders to the forefront to share their experiences and encourage young women to follow their paths. The forum featured, from left, DHG’s Tricia Wilson, Mission Health’s Taylor Foss, the National Centers for Environmental Information’s Margarita Gregg with event moderator Kendra Ferguson. Photo by Emma Grace Moon

She’s the boss: Female business leaders provide examples for the future

As more women work toward leadership roles in the local workforce, female business leaders and local organizations are working to provide the encouragement and resources necessary to help them attain equity and advancement in the workplace. Sharing their wealth of experiences, these community leaders are hoping they can lay the groundwork for the next generation of successful women professionals.

FLEA FOR ALL: Flea markets across Western North Carolina draw tens of thousands of residents each weekend in search of bargains, rare finds and a good time, creating micro economies and a strong sense of community among buyers and sellers. Photo by Cindy Kunst.

The people’s market: WNC flea markets offer culture, community and commoditie­s

Whether you’re hunting for a bargain or looking to make some extra cash, gathering with neighbors at a local flea market could be just the ticket. Flea market regulars say the connections that form between buyers and sellers are a unique aspect of the experience, and their value can equal or exceed the monetary rewards.

DOWN ON MAIN STREET: With housing options limited within Asheville city limits, current residents and newcomers to the mountains are increasingly looking towards the surrounding small towns and communities as a place to settle down or launch a new business. In response, towns across WNC are managing the opportunities, and challenges, that come with growth. Photo by Max Hunt

Main Street renaissanc­e: WNC’s small towns confront growth, change

Asheville may be a top dream destination for many folks, but for an increasing number of newcomers and old-timers alike, the No. 1 dream destination may be just down the road a ways. With the challenges of urbanization besetting Asheville, newcomers and locals alike are turning to surrounding towns and communities in search of cheaper […]

KNOWING THE RISK: Scam artists are constantly finding new, ingenious ways to exploit security loopholes and gain access to consumers’ personal information, from installing “skimmers” (pictured above) on unmanned points of transaction to hacking into financial databases. In turn, law enforcement and cyber security experts encourage consumers to protect themselves by being vigilant in knowing how and where scammers strike. Photo courtesy of the Asheville Police Department

Scamming, skimming and financial fraud in WNC

Today’s savvy scammers have a whole host of increasingly sophisticated techniques to quickly steal information and drain bank accounts. To combat these crimes, IT professionals, law enforcement personnel and government officials are encouraging consumers and businesses to remain vigilant at transaction points and take other steps to safeguard themselves from the threat of online hackers.

RIDING THE RAILS: A Frieght rider waves from the front of a passing car just north of Marshall, North Carolina. He is one of an untold number of men and women traversing the country in the shadows of rail cars — despite substantial  legal and personal risks — in search of adventure, work or a new horizon. Photo by Max Hunt

Off the beaten track: Freight trains, freedom and the traveling culture

Americans love to celebrate the iconic “hobo” lifestyle, yet we’re often quick to stereotype or judge the modern-day iteration of the traveler. Despite the risk of legal repercussions and personal injury, contemporary traveling culture continues to attract people from all walks of life to the rails and the road in search of the next horizon.