Asheville

State Senator Tom Apodaca
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The General Assembly adjourned late Friday and lawmakers headed home.

They passed a $22.3 billion budget before they left, giving state employees a small raise and setting aside more money for the rainy day fund. They also made a small tweak to House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill.

photo of Kathy Mattea
Arlin Geyer/Warren Wilson College

For the last 25 years, the Swannanoa Gathering has brought thousands of people from across the world to experience the old-time musical traditions of Appalachia.

The five-week program features workshops in traditional folk, guitar composition and Celtic music and includes instruction from Grammy award-winning musicians like Janis Ian and Tom Paxton.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

Republican leaders at the General Assembly are working to wrap up the short session.

Today the Senate is considering a flurry of bills, including some of the most controversial legi slation of the session. One proposal could change the way police officers do their work and another could reorganize the Asheville City Council.

Photo of Sick of Stupid
Sick of Stupid

Comedians Cliff Cash, Tom Simmons and Stewart Huff are tired of seeing ​negative stereotypes plague their Southern identity. The trio of comedians use stand-up to push against these stereotypes and offer different perspectives outside what is seen on shows like "Duck Dynasty." They tackle topics like gay rights, religion and gun control.

Still From documentary
Erin Derham

Julian Price was born into money but spent most of his life giving it away.

A new documentary looks closely at how his social and entrepreneurial vision shaped downtown Asheville.

The Knights is a NYC-based orchestral collective that's flexible in size and repertory. Their concert opens the inaugural season of new Asheville-based arts organization Free Range Asheville.
Sarah Small

Asheville is quickly becoming a go-to national destination for music, art and culture.

And the new organization “Free Range Asheville” is aiming to make the city’s cross-disciplinary art scene accessible to people of all ages and economic backgrounds.

They open their inaugural season with a performance by “The Knights,” an orchestral collective that is adapting classical music for a modern audience.

Image of Youth improv team 'Get The Hook'
Courtesy of the artist

When the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival began 16 years ago, it was a small gathering of three college improv groups and two local teachers. Today the festival spans two weeks, features acts from around the country, and is considered by many in the comedy world to be one of the premiere festivals in the nation.

Asheville 'Bans The Box'

Feb 3, 2016
Asheville is removing questions from city job applications that ask about criminal convictions. The city hopes to remove this hindrance for job seekers who have a criminal history.
Kathryn Decker / Flickr Creative Commons

Asheville passed a policy last week that will remove any question about criminal convictions from city job applications.

Proponents want to “ban the box” that job seekers check for convictions because they claim it puts previous criminals at a disadvantage. Though this doesn’t preclude private companies from including questions about criminal histories, the city hopes to lead by example.

Forest History Society

The demand for wood at the end of the 19th century decimated America's forests in the North and Midwest with unsustainable logging practices. However, innovative techniques started to bloom as German forester Carl Schenck began to manage the thousands of acres of woodlands around the recently-built Biltmore Estate near Asheville.

Schenck's strategies for foresting and his creation of the first forestry school helped Pisgah National Forest become the first national forest established from private land.

Blue Ridge Mountains
Christopher Sessums / Flickr Creative Commons

Duke Energy has scrapped a proposal to build new transmission lines in western North Carolina.

The decision comes after environmental groups raised concerns about the plans for 45 miles worth of towers from Asheville to South Carolina. The controversy attracted more than 9,000 public comments online.

Oscar Wong started Highland Brewing Company in Asheville in 1994 and passed along the business to his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn.
Carrie Turner / Carrie Turner Photography

Leah Wong Ashburn has been around beer all her life.

Her father Oscar Wong is considered the "godfather" of craft beer culture in western North Carolina. In 1994, he founded Highland Brewing Company, the first legal brewer in Asheville since Prohibition. Today, Highland is the largest homegrown craft brewery in North Carolina.

A picture of autumn trees along a roadway.
Jared Kay / exploreasheville.com

The fall foliage season begins later this month in the western part of the state.  Officials say it can run from late September until late October or early November depending on weather. 

Cat Kessler works for the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She says biologists and other experts are calling for especially vibrant colors this year.   

An image of an event from Working American in Greensboro
Carolyn Smith / Working America

Labor Day was established as a national holiday in 1894 to celebrate the achievements of American workers. What does labor in the state and nation look like today?   In 2013, North Carolina had 130,000 workers earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 or less, comprising 5.8 percent of all hourly-paid workers.

Image of Asheville police cra
Osajus / Flickr Creative Commons

Thousands of untested rape kits are sitting in police storage throughout the country according to a new investigation by USA Today.

The kits include evidence that could be matched to attackers but some law enforcement agencies say the cost is prohibitive. Here in North Carolina, hundreds of rape kits remain untested. 

Image of Phil Jamison leading a flatfooting workshop in Virginia in 2010.
Phil Jamison

Professor, musician and flatfoot dancer Phil Jamison has journeyed into the past to tell the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia.

The Three Davids: Holt, LaMotte and Wilcox

Jul 10, 2015
Image of the Three Davids sitting together. The Three Davids are a new musical collaboration between Asheville musicians David Holt, David LaMotte and David Wilcox.
Lynne Harty

David Holt, David LaMotte and David Wilcox all knew each other as members of the Asheville music scene, but they'd never played together.

Holt and LaMotte ended up at the same airport in the summer of 2014, and some small talk led to the idea of the three of them linking up as one musical collaboration. Soon enough, The Three Davids was born.

NEW/NOW/NEXT

Jul 7, 2015
Image of MOTION dancer Jordan Moser
Parker J. Pfister

Asheville is the largest city in western North Carolina.  It is known for its scenic views, artsy culture and terrific music scene.  But one native, along with several of his friends, is hoping to also make Asheville a home for dance. Nick Kepley is an acclaimed dancer who founded MOTION Dance Theatre to bring the skills and values he learned performing around the nation home to Asheville.  This summer the theatre is hosting a three-week creative laboratory where visiting dancers and choreographers are given the time and space to create without boundaries.  

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland

Duke Energy Progress says it will convert another power plant from coal to natural gas.

Duke Energy's plans for the facility at Lake Julian in Asheville are another indication that the energy giant is increasingly relying on natural gas, in part because of its falling price. 

The utility calls the transition for Asheville a "win-win:" cleaner energy and more jobs. Environmentalists say natural gas has its own negative consequences.

Photo: A graffiti painting at an intersection in Asheville
It's Tea / Flickr

State lawmakers are expected to send Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday a bill that would make graffiti vandalism a felony if performed by repeat offenders.

Under House Bill 552, which was approved unanimously by the House and is expected to get final approval from the Senate, anyone who has two or more prior convictions for graffiti vandalism or violates the law against it at least five times within two months could be charged with a felony. The offender could face up to 39 months in jail.

Book cover to Ronald Manheimer new book 'Mirrors of the Mind.'
Jorvik Press/2015

Many think of philosophers like Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Augustine as confined to dusty old anthologies and philosophy survey courses.

But retired philosophy professor Ronald Manheimer wanted to change that perspective and take readers out of philosophers' heads and into their lives. His new book, "Mirrors of the Mind: Reflecting on Philosophers' Autobiographies" (Jorvik Press/2015) delves into the lives of some of the most well-known philosophers.

    

Host Frank Stasio talks with Manheimer about how these great thinkers' lives informed their theories.

The Biltmore Company

Biltmore House is bringing Downton Abbey to Asheville with a new exhibit featuring more than 40 original costumes from the show.“Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times” traces the evolution of fashion and social norms during the early 20th century and draws a number of parallels between

James Beard Award is similar to the Academy Awards, but for the best chefs and bakers in America.
jamesbeard.org

  From bakeries and dives to fine dining and drive-ins, North Carolina restaurants consistently top foodies' "best-of" lists.  So it was no surprise to many in the Tar Heel culinary scene when the state's chefs and bakers were on the James Beard Foundation's semifinalist list. 

The Foundation announced the the semifinalists Wednesday at a news conference in Chicago. Nine North Carolinians made the list in two categories - Best Chef: Southeast and Outstanding Baker.

The case of Terry Cawthorn and Mission Hospital, in Asheville, N.C., gives a glimpse of how some hospital officials around the country have shrugged off an epidemic.

Cawthorn was a nurse at Mission for more than 20 years. Her supervisor testified under oath that she was "one of my most reliable employees."

The X-ray of nurse Tove Schuster's spine shows the metal cage and four screws her surgeon used to repair a damaged disk in her back. Terry Cawthorn underwent a similar procedure.
Daniel Zwerdling / NPR

A little-known epidemic has swept through hospitals across the country: thousands of nursing staff suffer debilitating back and arm injuries every year. 

An NPR investigation into the injuries shows most happen as a result of on-the-job incidents. Hospitals can reduce the rate of injury if administrators invest time and money into prevention and training mechanisms. 

The North Carolina School for Science and Math was a finalist for Spaces for Innovation Challenge at the Emerging Issues Forum.
Ildar Sagdejev

Innovation is thriving across the state of North Carolina and communities are becoming more intentional about providing spaces that nurture creative thinking.

Pages