Western North Carolina

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 nurse holds up a sign saying "Safe Staffing Saves Lives"
Angela Wilhelm/Citizen Times

Around 1,800 healthcare workers at Mission Hospitals are now represented by National Nurses United. In a press release, NNU called the election “the largest hospital union victory in the South since 1975.” Seventy percent of the ballots cast were in favor of union representation at two Asheville-based health facilities owned by HCA Healthcare. 

A photo split between a torso-up shot of candidate Madison Cawthorn and candidate Moe Davis, both holding microphones
Cory Vaillancourt

Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis are in a close race for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District seat, which represents most of western North Carolina. The two faced off in a two-day forum this weekend addressing issues ranging from police reform to the numerous unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. 

The cover of 'F*ckface' featuring a frog on a blue background with the title in bright red writing.
Henry Holt & Co

Forest fires, a rotting bear carcass, polluted water and industrial farming are both the settings and the main characters in "F*ckface: And Other Stories" (Henry Holt & Co/2020). Leah Hampton’s new collection is a kaleidoscope picture of the many ways land is expressed through human stories.

Madison Cawthorn's overwhelming win Tuesday in the runoff election for the Republican looks like an upset, as the 24-year-old finished second to Lynda Bennett in the March 3rd primary.  His win Tuesday by a 2-to-1 margin wasn't as unexpected as it looks, though the vote totals were.

Madison Cawthorn for Congress

A 24-year-old political newcomer handily defeated a candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump in yesterday’s Republican runoff election in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. 

Voters in western North Carolina are choosing the Republican nominee for a congressional seat held by Mark Meadows, before he became President Donald Trump's chief of staff.

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.

Illustration of a downtown street.
Courtesy of UNC Libraries

He personally put up the barricades to keep visitors out in order to protect his mountain hometown from the coronavirus. But James Reid remembers when the problem was folks no longer stopping through Andrews. 

Pixabay

Confirmed COVID-19 cases are concentrated in North Carolina’s urban centers up to now, but more rural areas are also feeling the economic and social ripples of the coronavirus pandemic. In North Carolina’s poorest county, the threat of economic recession looms greater than the disease itself. 

Courtesy of Ronnie Pepper

Ronnie Pepper loves to hear stories as much as he loves to tell them. He grew up in the small Appalachian town of Hendersonville during the era of the civil rights movement in a house with no plumbing and only four rooms.

Rihanna fled the threat of violence in El Salvador in 2014.
Michal Huniewicz / Creative Commons

President Donald Trump’s administration has made several significant shifts in the country’s immigration policies, including a travel ban on those from several Muslim-majority countries; reducing the number of refugees admitted to the country; and enforcing policies that make it harder for individuals to seek asylum in the United States. A case in western North Carolina highlights the impact of the changes for asylum-seekers.

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.
 

a photo of Smiley's Farmer's Market empty.
Cass Herrington

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested more than 200 people around North Carolina in early February. And according to new reporting, this action had a noticeable impact on local commerce in western North Carolina. 

Creative Commons / pxphere

This winter, waves of journalists across the country lost their jobs as major media organizations made significant cut backs. Among them, media giant Gannett cut an estimated 400 people, and The McClatchy Company offered voluntary buyouts to about 450 people. The mass layoffs follow years of staff cuts at newspapers and media outlets across the country. 

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. 

Stock image of banjo
Creative Commons / https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1098772

The public face of Bluegrass in North Carolina has long been male and white, but the genre is now undergoing a transformation. The star-power of Rhiannon Giddens has drawn new attention to the music and the history behind it.  And legacy organizations like the International Bluegrass Music Awards have started to pay more attention to women’s contributions.

In One Wartime Moment, A Family Is Forever Changed

Oct 19, 2018
Courtesy of Abigail DeWitt

In occupied France, one sister travels to Paris to audition for a spot at a conservatory, while two others stay behind at the family home in Normandy. The D-Day invasion that leaves one of them dead and the others traumatized in their various ways shapes the entire family for multiple generations and across two continents. 

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.

Matt Bush / BPR

The number of visitors at Dupont State Forest more than doubled this decade.  It’s just one of the many outdoor destinations that has helped form Asheville and Western North Carolina’s national profile.  Something else is now getting national attention – the region’s industry that builds the products those outdoor visitors use.

A map of the U.S. from Jacqui Castle's new novel, 'The Seclusion.'
Jacqui Castle / Inkshares

What if the United States built walls along its borders with Mexico and Canada? That is the premise of a new, young adult dystopian novel that imagines what an isolationist United States would look like in the year 2090. 

Angel Medical Center
Courtesy of Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The sale of not-for-profit community hospital system Mission Health to a national health care titan is underway in Western North Carolina.

Courtesy of David Joy / Putnam

  

Who are you willing to die for? That question is at the center of a new Appalachian noir novel set in western North Carolina, where author David Joy has lived his entire life.

Partial solar eclipse
T. Ruen / NASA Goddard via Twitter

Small towns in western North Carolina are preparing for an influx of thousands of tourists for next week's eclipse. 

Communities like Franklin, Sylva and Cashiers could get a record number of visitors when the eclipse happens next Monday.  Highlands, N.C. mayor Patrick Taylor's town is in the path of the total eclipse. He said authorities are expecting nearby Highway 441 to be jammed all day.

Flickr Creative Commons

Mission Health, a hospital system in Western North Carolina, announced this week that it would close its maternity ward at Angel Hospital in Franklin, North Carolina. The hospital serves a mostly low-income, rural population. Mission Health said it cut the hospital’s labor and delivery services to remain solvent in the face of low reimbursement rates.

Image of folklorist Joseph Hall
Courtesy of Ted Olson, ETSU

More than 4,000 people surrendered their homes and land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park covers more than 500,000 acres and straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

David Simchock

Balsam Range's new album, "Mountain Voodoo," has taken the band to the top of the bluegrass charts with its mix of bluegrass, gospel, and honky-tonk.

Band members Buddy Melton, Tim Surrett, Darren Nicholson, Caleb Smith, and Marc Pruett chat with Frank Stasio about hosting "A Bluegrass Kinda Christmas," and Raleigh's evolution as a haven for bluegrass musicians of all stripes.

A heavy air tanker drops fire retardant over the Boteler Fire in western North Carolina
Courtesy of North Carolina Forest Service

The state Department of Environmental Quality has again issued warnings of dangerous air quality in western North Carolina as a result of more than a dozen wildfires in the region. Four counties in the west were under a "code purple" air quality alert on Tuesday, the highest warning the state can give.

Ryan Lubbers / North Carolina Forest Service

More than 5,000 firefighters have been dispatched to battle wildfires in the Southeast, including more than a dozen blazes burning in western North Carolina.  

A view of the Blue Ridge Parkway on October 11, 2016 north of Devil's Couthouse in western North Carolina.
Jennifer Mesk / http://humansofasheville.net

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau paints a complex picture of the changing demographics in western North Carolina. Carolina Public Press managing editor Frank Taylor sifted through the data to find trends in poverty, education, and employment, as well as to undercover political implications of the area's demographic makeup.

Pages