Asheville

Federal authorities announced earlier this year they are investigating former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene.  No details, much less charges, have been released regarding the probe.  Greene retired after more than two decades on the job over the summer shortly before the investigation was confirmed.  It set off a chain reaction in county government.

Early voting gets underway Thursday in Asheville for the city's primary election, which will take place on October 10th.  Voters will pare down the number of candidates for city council from 12 to 6, and for mayor from 4 to 2.  Those who advance will face off in the general election on November 7th, when voters will choose a mayor and 3 city council seats.  The lone early voting site is at the Buncombe County Election Services building at 77 McDowell Avenue in Asheville.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is proud to announce the launch of “Going Deep: Sports in the 21st Century”, a podcast that looks at some of the most pressing issues in sports and society – such as race, gender, religion, and inequality.  The hosts are the husband and wife team of John Shoop and Dr.

Matt Bush BPR

Nearly all counties in Western Carolina are now home to self-serve kiosks where people can learn more about mental illness – and determine whether they might be suffering from one.  The kiosks are really just a computer screen, with no keyboard and a phone is attached to the screen.  With just a few touches on the screen, users can learn the symptoms of several common mental health conditions says Jessie Smathers of Vaya Health, which helped place the kiosks around the region.

UNC-Asheville

UNC-Asheville chancellor Dr. Mary Grant will be leaving the university at the end of the current semester according to a statement from the school's board of trustees.  Grant, who has held the position since August 2014, will become the president of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.  Grant was expected to share the news campus-wide later Wednesday.

Matt Bush BPR

Duke Energy reports around 8-thousand customers in Western North Carolina were without power at 10 Thursday morning after the remnants of Hurricane Irma passed through the region early Tuesday.  Most customers who do not have power may not get it restored until Friday evening.  A spokesperson for Duke says many of the remaining outages are spread out over a wide area and are very small, which is slowing the utility's progress.

NOAA

Hurricane Irma is tracking more to the west of Western North Carolina after making landfall in Florida this weekend.  But WNC will still see significant rainfall on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities are urging residents not to get complacent with the track of the storm.

Bookings through Airbnb skyrocketed in the past year in Buncombe County.  A study commissioned by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority showed demand for rentals through the site increased 105% in the past year.  Hotel room bookings grew only 3% during the same time.  The growth in Airbnb demand comes despite its murky legal status in Asheville.  Airbnb rentals are legal in "commercial" parts of the city, but illegal in "residential" parts.

Matt Bush BPR

Student resource officers at several Buncombe County middle and high schools will have overdose-reversal kits for the first time ever.  The kits contain Narcan, the brand name for a nasal spray administered to those who have overdosed on opioids.  The kits are being made available through collaboration between the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Vaya Health, and the Buncombe County Sheriff's office.  

Matt Bush BPR

September will be Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery month in North Carolina.  Governor Roy Cooper signed the proclamation designating alcohol and drug addiction recovery month at Vaya Health in Asheville.  The organization helps connect people with health insurance, including for addiction and recovery, something the governor says is crucial in a state where the opioid crisis is growing.

Different Strokes is an Asheville theater company with a mission to "change the world one play at a time." Still, Stephanie Hickling-Beckman, the founding director of Different Strokes, couldn't have known the company's production of "Best of Enemies" would come on the vapors of the racially charged events of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Corey Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

North Carolina is home to around 100 monuments to the Confederacy.  Governor Roy Cooper says all should come down in the wake of the death of a woman who was counter protesting a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia.  But a 2-year-old state law prohibits local governments from removing the monuments without state approval, keeping many of them in place for t

Lawmakers are returning to Raleigh this week to vote on new legislative district maps for next year's North Carolina General Assembly elections.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled current districts were illegally gerrymandered using race as the deciding factor in creating them.

Matt Bush BPR

Tens of thousands took in the solar eclipse in Western North Carolina.  In the path of totality to the west of Asheville, there was heavy cloud cover and even some rain.  Those who watched in the city however caught a break.

Dennis di Cicco / Sky & Telescope

Blue Ridge Public Radio is providing live video streams on total solar eclipse day from two locations within the path of totality.  The links are below!

From our tower on Wine Springs Bald near Franklin

From our tower on Rich Mountain near Brevard

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