Lilly Knoepp

A line of people wearing face masks stands on a wide concrete sidewalk. The line stretches from the left corner of the frame all the way back and around to the right corner.
Eden, Janine and Jim//Flickr//CC

Tensions between parties are high as Election Day approaches. President Donald Trump has wavered on his commitment to a peaceful transition, leaving some to wonder: is election-related violence a threat this year?

Two white men, Rep. Joe Sam Queen on the left and Mike Calmpitt on the right. Clampitt has grey hair with grey facial hair and Queen has light grey hair. Both men are smiling  and wearing a suit and tie.
Blue Ridge Public Radio

One of the most competitive local races in the state is in District 119, which includes Jackson, Swain and Haywood Counties. Democratic Rep. Joe Sam Queen and his Republican challenger Mike Clampitt have vied for the same seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives since 2012. This is their fifth race against one another and its outcome will take Western North Carolina’s political temperature this election season. 

A photo of a tunnel at the Coker Arboretum in Chapel Hill.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons

A week after students returned for a combination of in-person and online classes, leadership at UNC-Chapel Hill moved to fully online learning in response to a surge of COVID-19 on campus. The positive testing rate among students rose from 2.8% in the week of Aug. 3 to Aug. 9 to 13.6% in the week of Aug. 10 to Aug. 16. 130 positive cases were reported during that period.

Courtesy of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

The Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority has been mass testing asymptomatic residents and visitors to territories held by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In restricting EBCI borders and closing businesses, Principal Chief Richard Sneed preempted most counties and Gov. Roy Cooper.

George Ruiz

Childbearing in the United States is more deadly than in any other developed nation. Despite medical advances over the last few decades, the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. continues to steadily increase.

A yellow flag with red and blue circle around a gold star.
Wikimedia

Voters will cast their ballots this week in elections for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal government.

A young woman stands in front of a lake holding two small rainbow pride flags.
Lilly Knoepp

Every year, members of the United Methodist Church gather for their annual Western North Carolina conference at Lake Junaluska in Haywood County. Top of mind at this year’s meeting was the Traditional Plan, a ruling enacted at the general conference in late February that enshrines punitive measures to reinforce the church’s ban on gay clergy and prohibition against gay weddings. The Traditional Plan has emphasized a growing divide between conservative and progressive camps within the United Methodist Church.

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Nikwasi Mound in downtown Franklin, North Carolina looks like a small, grass-covered hill, but for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the site holds great importance.
 

The future make up of the Dogwood Health Trust Board
Courtesy of Matt Bush at Blue Ridge Public Radio

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein gave the green light for a major healthcare sale in western North Carolina. He approved the sales contract of nonprofit Mission Health to for-profit company HCA Healthcare — with some changes. One of those changes will require HCA to keep operating its rural hospitals for 10 years. 

Photo of women's history trail in Western NC, cutting through red tape and blazing new trails.
Courtesy of Karen Lawrence

A new women’s history trail in Franklin, North Carolina highlights the overlooked stories of entrepreneurial women in the western part of the state. The trail celebrates both individual women and women’s organizations, like the Main Street Milliners: a group of hat-makers and business owners who worked in Franklin in the 19th and early 20th centuries — a time when women rarely owned businesses. 

www.ncleg.net / NC General Assembly

The countdown to the 2018 midterms is on, and all seats in the North Carolina General Assembly are up for election. Democrats are hoping to secure wins in both the House and Senate to break the Republican supermajority. Two competitive House seats in Haywood County may be crucial grabs for the Democrats, while two Democratically-held seats in Buncombe County are also competitive races.