News

Warren Wilson College

Warren Wilson College has named its new president, and for the first time in the school's 123-year history, it will be lead by a woman.  Dr. Lynn Morton will take over as president on July 1st.  She comes from Queens University in Charlotte, where she has spent the last 26 years.  She's currently the school's provost and vice president for academic affairs.  She takes over at Warren Wilson from Steven Solnick, who is leaving Western North Carolina to become the head of the Calhoun School in New York City.  Dr.

Mission Health’s explanation of why it’s ending deliveries at Angel Medical Center – because it loses more than $1-million a year doing so – isn’t sitting well with Macon County residents. Local leadership, including Franklin Mayor Bob Scott and County Commissioner Gary Shields, both pledged their support to locals in protest of Mission Health, and encouraged them to reach out to local government for help.  

Matt Bush BPR

Congressional mid-term elections are 18 months away, but one challenger is getting into the race for Western North Carolina’s seat in the House of Representatives very early.  Democrat Matt Coffay announced he will seek his party’s nomination for the 11th district seat at a rally in Waynesville last month.  Should Coffay win the nomination, he’d face three-term incumbent Republican Mark Meadows in the general election.  BPR’s Matt Bush spoke with Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt about the Democratic challenger.

Matt Bush BPR

Mission Health says its decision to stop delivering babies at Angel Medical Center in Macon County was made to keep the hospital open.  Mission estimates around 400 children a year are currently born at the Franklin facility, roughly one per day.  CEO Dr. Ronald Paulus says labor and delivery care at Angel Medical loses the hospital between $1 and $2-million per year, which he says puts all the other healthcare done at the facility in jeopardy. “We can’t let one program, even important, put all of the care at risk for a rural community.  We just can’t do it.”

WCQS

It's a bittersweet day here at Blue Ridge Public Radio.  Thirty one years ago this month, music director Dick Kowal hit the airwaves.   Today, he hosted his last show.   While it's  impossible to capture all of the amazing accomplishments of his talented career, we do have some highlights, and a few good stories.  BPR's Helen Chickering reports.

(Dick Kowal on the air)

“It’s about 6 minutes after 9, good morning.”

If you live in Western North Carolina, chances are, you know this voice.

(Dick Kowal on the air)

Wikimedia Commons

This was "crossover week" at the North Carolina legislature, a busy time for lawmakers (and journalists).  It's a self-imposed deadline, when a majority of the bills put forth by lawmakers must pass at least one chamber or be considered dead for the remainder of the session.  BPR's Jeremy Loeb spoke with WUNC capitol reporter Jeff Tiberii, who's been putting in the long hours in Raleigh.    They spoke on Friday, the day after crossover deadline.  

Angel Medical Center, Mapio.net

The decision to stop delivering babies at a Macon County hospital is proving to be an unpopular one in the mountains.  

Angel Medical Center in Franklin has been in the business of delivering babies for more than sixty years, but all of that is about to change come mid-summer.  Mission Health, which runs the small community hospital, announced it will be discontinuing child labor and delivery services at the facility in July.  The decision is unpopular with young people in Macon County.

Soggy6/Flickr

The North Carolina Senate passed a controversial bill Wednesday night that splits Asheville into six districts for the purpose of electing city council members.   Senate Bill 285 is similar to one put forward by Hendersonville Republican Senator Tom Apodaca.  It would change the way voters choose city council members by creating six districts with voters allowed to choose only in their districts.  The mayor would still be elected at-large.  Apodaca’s bill died when a number of Republicans joined Democrats in voting no.  Now Apodaca’s successor, Republican Chuck Edwards, is trying again.

When you think of tourist attractions here in Western North Carolina, places like the Biltmore House, the Blue Ridge Parkway come to mind.   But if you hang around here long enough, you eventually learn about the lesser known spots, including one hidden in the halls of a Community College.

Tucked away in a quiet hall on the AB Tech College Campus is a small museum full of history – for the ear.  There is vintage music.

And historical moments – like this live account of the Hindenburg disaster.

“It burst into flames, it’s crashing, oh my get out of the way.”

ncleg.net

A bill that would carve Asheville into districts for the purpose of electing city council members passed its first committee Tuesday night.  The controversial measure is opposed by most Asheville-area lawmakers, as well as city council members and the mayor.  Its sponsor is Republican Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville, who represents a small part of south Asheville.  The bill mandates the city draw up 6 districts for electing council members.  Voters in those districts could vote for only those running in their district.  The mayor would still be elected at-large.

Matt Bush BPR

The first Democrat has jumped into the race to seek the party’s nomination to take on Republican Congressman Mark Meadows next year.  While Democrats see enthusiasm growing thanks to strong election showings in Kansas and Georgia, they didn’t win either Congressional  race.  And winning Western North Carolina’s 11th district seat will be an extremely difficult task.

Before his election, back in October, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out a 100 Day Action Plan. He called it his Contract With The American Voter. Among other things, it called for the full repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, suspension of immigration from certain "terror-prone regions," and the lifting of "roadblocks" to let "infrastructure projects like the Keystone Pipeline move forward."

franklinnc.org

So, what’s in a name? A lot, if you ask Franklin mayor Bob Scott, who recently began efforts to transition the municipal government’s identity from a Town Board of Aldermen to a Town Council. 

The Town of Franklin’s elected officials have donned the title of ‘aldermen’ for decades, but soon that may all change, if Mayor Bob Scott gets his way.

“’Aldermen’ is a pretty old, archaic term. When you talk about an ‘alderman’, and then you try to talk about an ‘alderwoman’, it gets pretty awkward.”

WUNC

Dozens of bills clear House or Senate as deadline nears

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly acted on scores of bills this week while heading toward a self-imposed deadline designed to weed out policy legislation that has little support.

The House approved nearly 50 bills during a two-day work week ending Thursday. The Senate approved several more. Committees from both chambers also met frequently, as ideas unrelated to taxes and spending that don't pass at least one chamber by April 27 are essentially dead until 2019.

Luke Shealy

Thousands of scientists and science supporters are expected to gather in Washington, and across the country – including Asheville for the March for Science.  The event has raised questions about whether scientists can and should advocate for public policy.   And as BPR’s Helen Chickering found out, there are some strong opinions here in Western North Carolina.

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