(2.09.12) Shuler’s chief to run for 11th District nomination
WAYNESVILLE — Outgoing U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler’s chief of staff said Wednesday that he would run for the 11th District Democratic nomination — a move political observers say is a good bet in what’s shaping up to be a competitive race. An announcement had been expected for most of the week from Hayden Rogers, a Robbinsville native who was in business before going to work for Shuler six years ago.
(2.09.12) New Asheville police chief makes fiery exit
ASHEVILLE — In one of his last acts as Greenville police chief, Asheville’s new top cop sent a pointed email to that eastern city’s elected officials, saying they were doing too little to help police control downtown violence, including two shooting deaths in 2009 and a fight involving a gun last month.
(2.09.12) Law makes it tougher to get meth ingredient
ASHEVILLE — During the first boom of methamphetamine production within the state, McDowell County was the unofficial meth lab capital. From 2002-06, the county reported more clandestine meth labs than anywhere else in North Carolina, according to the State Bureau of Investigation. That reputation has changed, statistically, thanks to restrictive laws and the arrests and prosecution of local meth cooks.
(2.08.12) January a good month for Asheville-area home sales
ASHEVILLE — Warm weather and a warming economy boosted sales of existing homes in Buncombe County last month 44.4 percent over January 2011. Other area counties also saw substantial increases, according to N.C. Mountains Multiple Listing Service. January sales were up 17.2 percent in Haywood County, 35.3 percent in Henderson County and 53.3 percent in Transylvania County.
(2.08.12) Mission Hospital to pay $1.5M to settle fraud allegations
ASHEVILLE — Mission Hospital will pay the federal government $1.5 million to settle Medicare fraud allegations that it performed certain medical procedures on an inpatient basis when they could have been done as less costly outpatient procedures. Mission President and CEO Ronald A. Paulus said Tuesday that physicians, not the hospital, determined that patients needed the procedures done on an inpatient basis.
(2.07.12) Buncombe considering pushing more affordable housing
ASHEVILLE — Buncombe County government staffers will look further into requiring developers who build more than a certain number of homes to also construct affordable housing. But the idea, which surfaced at the Board of Commissioners’ annual retreat Tuesday, is far from being close to adoption.
(2.07.12) Shuler’s retirement is bad news for Blue Dogs
WASHINGTON — For conservative Democrats, Rep. Heath Shuler’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election this year can only mean bad news. Shuler is the seventh member of the Blue Dog Coalition — a group of fiscally conservative House Democrats — to step down or announce retirement since the 2010 elections.
(2.07.12) Tree-cutting bill stirs controversy in Asheville
ASHEVILLE — Beautification and environmental groups in Western North Carolina are anxiously watching a Georgia court case that recently halted billboard owners’ ability to clear-cut trees blocking their signs. Local groups are considering similar legal action against a new North Carolina law. “The Garden Club of Georgia has been successful in getting a similar law deemed unconstitutional,” said Ryke Longest, director of the Environmental Law & Policy Clinic at Duke University School of law.
(2.07.12) Davis' medical retirement Okayed
HENDERSONVILLE — Embattled Henderson County Sheriff Rick Davis has received a medical retirement that will go into effect March 1, Board of Commissioners Chairman Tommy Thompson announced Monday. After Thompson made the announcement, commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to the county’s Republican Party asking for a recommendation on a replacement by the commissioners’ March 5 meeting.
(2.07.12) Money was not king in Asheville elections
ASHEVILLE — While national political campaigns have become battlegrounds for record spending, city elections saw far less influence from money. In last year’s City Council race, how much was spent didn’t necessarily correlate to a winning campaign, according to recently released campaign finance reports.
(2.06.12) Buncombe board could vote on religion policy next month
ASHEVILLE — Students would face no restrictions on morning prayers around the flag pole, post-game prayers at midcourt, or other similar religious activities they initiate under a policy getting consideration by the Buncombe County school board, the board’s attorney said. Board members could take up the proposal on handling religion in county schools next month, though at least one board member suggested it might need more work.
(2.06.12) Most WNC counties use fee to fund trash systems
ASHEVILLE — The environmental group Asheville GreenWorks tried an experiment with UNC Asheville students several years ago. Dumpsters with trash collected from spots around campus were hauled to the quad so students could pick through the waste as a way to demonstrate how much recyclable material was headed for the landfill. Their surprising discovery illustrates the heart of the issue facing the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners as it considers a new fee for waste disposal.
(2.06.12) High school dropout rates fall in Asheville, Buncombe schools
ASHEVILLE — The number of high school students dropping out of Buncombe County and Asheville City schools decreased by more than a third over the past five years, according to new numbers released by the state. The number of county high school students dropping out fell from 448 students in the 2006-07 school year to 292 last year — a decrease of nearly 35 percent, according to numbers from the state Department of Public Instruction.
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