Asheville

photo of tammy hooper in the blue ridge public radio station
Amanda Magnus

In late February, leaked bodycam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black pedestrian went viral, and the city is still reeling. The footage captured an incident that took place Aug. 24, 2017 when former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman confronted city resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush over alleged jaywalking and trespassing. Footage shows Hickman beat, choked, punched and stunned Rush.

photo of leeda 'lyric' jones playing guitar onstage
Courtesy of Leeda 'Lyric' Jones

Leeda “Lyric” Jones honed her skills as a writer, singer and performer busking on the streets of downtown Asheville. At first hesitant to play for strangers, she quickly realized her original lyrics and soulful style helped her forge connections with those who needed it the most.

photo of asheville and the surrounding mountains at dusk
Michael Tracey/Public Domain

Asheville city police face potential budget cuts a month after body camera footage of an officer beating a black pedestrian was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The beating prompted outrage and led to the arrest of the former officer who beat the pedestrian and the firing of City Manager Gary Jackson. Blue Ridge Public Radio News Director Matt Bush speaks with host Frank Stasio about the latest updates from the story.

photo of the airbnb website, with pictures of rooms for rent
www.airbnb.com/a/Asheville

The Asheville City Council voted to severely restrict tourist rentals in Asheville earlier this year. The new rules state that rentals that had city permits before the vote can stay in business.

photo of Jennifer Pharr Davis on a big rock with a plaque
Maureen Robinson

Hiking through fields and forests has been life changing for Jennifer Pharr Davis. She is a professional hiker and adventurer. At just 21 years old, she set off on a solo hike across the entire Appalachian Trail, a path that covers 14 states and more than 2,000 miles.

a vacation rental
Sara Hopkins / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/anPreC

A western North Carolina city has voted to restrict tourist rentals downtown.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the city council voted 6-1 Tuesday to restrict short-term vacation rentals. Supporters say the restriction will help prevent too many homes from being converted to short-term rentals such as those make popular by Airbnb and others.

people marching with confederate flags in Washington, D.C.
Elvert Barnes / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/ye6c21

Alderman Ralph Hamlett wants symbols of hate and racism to be banned from parades in his town of Canton, North Carolina.

Women walking down a street.
Isaiah Rice

Isaiah Rice spent decades working as a beverage delivery man in his native city of Asheville, but around town he often went by another name: the picture man.

Courtesy of Alan Gratz

Tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes each day due to conflict and persecution, according to the UN Refugee Agency. More people around the world are displaced now than ever before. 

A stone obelisk honoring  Zebulon Vance
Travis / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/dsjqqa

 In the heart of downtown Asheville sits Pack Square, a bustling center lined by popular restaurants and ongoing construction projects. A stone obelisk stretches skyward from the center of the square honoring Zebulon Vance, North Carolina’s governor during the Civil War. 

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
Greg Duckworth II / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/528zQV

Hikers trekking deep in the Pisgah National Forest are usually on the lookout for copperheads and black bears. But sometimes they are startled by a Big Bang of sorts, stumbling out of the woods and into a science fiction-like world of giant telescopes. But it's no illusion.

An image of UNCA professors and co-hosts Marcus Harvey and Darin Waters
David Allen / UNC-Asheville

Asheville has been home to an African-American community for centuries. However, African-American residents in Asheville and western North Carolina have historically suffered from systemic inequality and racial disparities.

In the new radio program and podcast “The Waters and Harvey Show,” co-hosts Darin Waters and Marcus Harvey examine western North Carolina’s cultural history and the narratives of marginalized communities.
 

An image of peace activists Ali Abu Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger
Courtesy of Hanan Schlesinger

Even though Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger has lived in the West Bank for 33 years, he had never spent much time with a Palestinian. That was before he met Ali Abu Awwad. Schlesinger lived in the area with for decades seeing Palestinians as an invisible "other." 

Image of Michelle Moog-Koussa with the minimoog.
Courtesy of Michelle Moog-Koussa

More than 50 years ago, Robert Moog revolutionized electronic music with the invention of the Moog synthesizer. It was one of the first widely-used electronic instruments and has been featured in music by artists ranging from The Beatles to jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. But despite his immense career success, Moog kept his professional and personal lives separate. In fact, it was not until his death that his daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, began to learn about his professional influence.

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.

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