Western North Carolina

An image of author Ron Rash
Ashley Jones / Clemson World

For 20 years, Ron Rash has been haunted by the murder of a young woman that took place near his home. Nobody was ever charged in the case. 

But over the years, Rash began to think about the two male college students who reportedly last saw her alive. This became the spark for his latest novel "The Risen" (Ecco/2016). The book tells the story of two brothers in Sylva, N.C. whose lives changed after they befriended a free-spirited young woman in the summer of 1969. 

In 1866, communities across western North Carolina were forced to pick up the pieces left by the Civil War. Residents had ties to the Confederacy and the Union. As a result, the region was scattered with divided homes and hostile relations.

Abandoned farmhouse western North Carolina
Julia Franks

Eight years ago, Julia Franks and her husband bought a farm in western North Carolina. At the time, the 1800s farmhouse on the land was still standing and when they walked in the doors, they were greeted by dozens of odd artifacts, including animal bones, locks of hair, insect hives, and even a jar with a fingernail in it. Franks is a high school literature teacher and lover of writing, so it was hard for her to not let her imagination run wild.

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

Two environmental groups could be on the hook for $10 million if they want to continue their battle against Duke Energy. Last week’s ruling by the state Utilities Commission against The Climate Times and North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN) used a state law provision that has never been used before. The money is slated to cover costs incurred by Duke Energy because of the delay caused by the appeals process.

Lloyd Arneach
Dawn Arneach

For Lloyd Arneach and Sheila Kay Adams, storytelling runs in the family.

Arneach was raised as a Cherokee on a Native American reservation in western North Carolina, absorbing stories at the dinner table from his two great-uncles. Adams was right up the road in Madison County, learning the ballads and stories from seven generations of Scots-Irish ancestors.

Main Building of the former Black Mountain College, on the grounds of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.
Howard Morland

In the 1940's and 1950's, several professors at Black Mountain College in Western North Carolina attracted the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigations for their progressive political beliefs.

  Increasing anti-communist paranoia fueled a federal investigation, along with suspicion about whether or not the school was inappropriately using funds from the G.I. Bill to pay for tuition.

Image of train running in western North Carolina. When the Western North Carolina Railroad Company expanded railroad access to western North Carolina, it allowed several industries to boom.
Gerald Ledford Collection

Railroads have always been important to the economic development of North Carolina, but for many years the western part of the state was left out of the equation. The intense, mountainous terrain deterred companies from developing in the area around Asheville.

But in 1877, the state-owned Western North Carolina Railroad Company, headed by Maj. James H. Wilson, began boring through the mountains west of Old Fort. And this started a new chapter in western North Carolina history. Industries like mining, timber and tourism all began to boom.

Profile photo of Mark Dreibelbis from the NCHSAA.
www.nchsaa.org/ / www.nchsaa.org/

For Mark Dreibelbis, not much is more exciting than the world of high school sports. From the fans to the rules, he loves every minute. As an associate commissioner with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Dreibelbis serves on national committees that have adopted a host of new rules in recent years aimed at keeping student athletes safe.

Stock photo of Steph Stewart and The Boyfriends in field.
Roxanne Turpen (c) 2014

Steph Stewart grew up in the foothills of western North Carolina surrounded by Appalachian folk music.

The sounds resonated with Stewart and she began creating porch folk music mixed with Americana.

Dr. Richard Bock, a vascular surgeon, listens on speaker phone to another surgeon who is asking for advice before starting bypass surgery.
William Woody / wwoody@citizen-times.com

Mission Health System dominates the healthcare field in Western North Carolina, owning or partnering with six hospitals and controlling more than 40 percent of hospital beds in Western North Carolina. The nonprofit company began its expansion in the 1990s. It absorbed small rural hospitals struggling to foot the bill for an aging, low-income and underinsured population in Western North Carolina. 

In addition to taking on education initiatives, PAGE encourages girls to produce photography and digital stories.
Madison County Photo Exhibition / carolinapage.org

Rural communities in western North Carolina are in the midst of an economic shift.

The rise and fall of the family farm means places like Madison County are looking for new ways to support themselves. The answer could be in the tech industry. But technology businesses rely on a steady stream of well-educated workers. 

A panel discussion tonight at Duke University, "Rethinking Appalachia," examines ways to develop a high-tech workforce in rural Appalachia.

During Sunshine Week the media celebrates open government and transparency in public records.
Holley St. Germain / Flickr Creative Commons

Media outlets mark Sunshine Week as a time to celebrate and promote open government laws and free access to public records.

David Holt and Rhiannon Giddens during the filming of "David Holt's State of Music."
davidholt.com

  

Grammy Award winning musician David Holt moved to western North Carolina to learn "mountain music" in the early 1970s.

A new movie set in Western North Carolina opens in select theaters this weekend. The World Made Straight is based on a novel by North Carolina native Ron Rash.  It follows a legacy of violence dating back to the Civil War. 

The main character, Travis Shelton, is seventeen when he discovers a grove of marijuana in the woods ... and then he steps into the jaws of a bear trap. Injured, he is discovered by the pot farmer who set the trap, Carlton Toomey.

Ron Rash's new book Something Rich and Strange is composed of 34 of his best short stories written over the past 20 years.
http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062349347/something-rich-and-strange

    

Many know North Carolina author Ron Rash for his novel Serena which was  turned into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

 Saint Paul, Minnesota police officers covered in riot gear march and line up during the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) at the Xcel Energy Center.
Tony Webster

Police departments across the state of North Carolina are arming themselves with the same weapons and gear as the U.S. military. 

Image of Pisgah National Forest
Flickr/Jeff Gun

    

The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests in western North Carolina play an integral role in the state’s environment and economy. 

North Carolina is home to many nationally regarded poets. In the mountains, the piedmont and on the coast, poetry has a presence. But, in large part that presence lives within the world of academia. In an attempt to spread the poetry bug, Carrboro Poet La
westendpoetsweekend.com

North Carolina is home to many nationally regarded poets. In the mountains, the Piedmont and on the coast, poetry has a presence. But, in large part that presence lives within the world of academia.

Just Economics is trying to get a living wage for working class in Western North Carolina.
http://justeconomicswnc.org/

  The Asheville nonprofit Just Economics has been pushing for local businesses to pay a living wage. 

Southern Appalachian Brook Trout
creative commons

State lawmakers in both chambers have approved a measure that would weaken environmental rules protecting rivers and streams in North Carolina.

Among other things, Senate Bill 883 would reduce the ratio of land that has to be mitigated when developers and others damage the banks of those waterways. That kind of damage is a major contributor to poor water quality.

    

The Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina are the center of a rich history of music and dance, from musicians like Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs, to traditions like ballad singing and square dancing. 

WCQS

North Carolina transplant Don Pedi grew up just outside of Boston across the Chelsea River from Logan Airport in the sixties.

Don’s journey to the Tar Heel state includes one life-changing night at a coffee house, a spontaneous cross-country tour and a passion for the dulcimer. 

Today, he is fixture in the traditional music scene in western North Carolina and the Appalachian Mountains. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Pedi about traditional mountain music and western North Carolina.

Worker oversees the process of mixing water with fracking fluids to be injected into the ground.
Joshua Doubek, via Wikipedia

 

  Experts have been looking at the piedmont and coastal plain as a potential fracking zone.