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New sheriff jousts with CIBO critics on ICE issue
Monday, 02 September 2019 17:47
By JOHN NORTH
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Recently elected Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller fielded intense questions from some local business leaders on his decision for his office not to hold detainees — suspected of being illegal immigrants — upon request from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (aka “ICE) during the Aug. 2 meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center. 

Miller told the CIBO audience that he will hold detainees in cases where ICE provides a warrant, but, otherwise, the sheriff said he felt it is a violant of the 4rh Amendment to hold a suspect without a warrant.

About 60 people attended the meeting that was opened by CIBO President Buzzy Cannady III, who serves as emcee. He began the session by recognizing elected officials in attendance, including Miller, Asheville City Councilman V.J. Kapoor, Asheville Housing Authority Executive Director David Nash, Buncombe Commissioner Amanda Edwards, Buncombe District AttorneyTodd Williams and Black Mountain Town Alderman Larry Anderson.

Cannady then said Miller would be giving “a progress report on the Sheriff’s Department....”

Miller triggered some chuckles — and a smile from CIBO’s emcee —  when he began his presentation by pointedly correcting Cannady’s introduction of his unit, noting evenly, “I’m going to begin by saying that, instead of ‘Sheriff’s Department,’ it’s ‘Sheriff’s Office.’”

He then told of the Sheriff’s Office’s “efforts to lower the numbers of people who are incacerated” and that it has “added more detention officers and officers on patrol.”

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Step outside comfort zone to widen connections, UNCA chancellor urges
Monday, 02 September 2019 17:44
By JOHN NORTH
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The finale of Leadership Asheville’s Summer Buzz Breakfast series featured four guests addressing the issue of “What is our vision for a connected community?” on Aug. 14 at West Asheville’s Crowne Plaza Expo Center.

The theme of the three-month series was “How do we build a connected community?” The Aug. 14 session drew 265 people.

Opening the 75-minute session was Ed Manning, executive director of UNC Asheville’s Leadership Asheville, which bills itself as “Western North Carolina’s foremost community development organization since 1982.”

Manning noted that UNCA Chancellor Nancy J. Cable would be acting as moderator of the program.

The four participants, each of which Cable interviewed one-on-one, were Stephanie Brown, president and chief exeuctive officer of Explore Asheville; Debra Campbell, Asheville city manager; Lakesha McDay, head of community engagement and relations for Dogwood Health Trust; and Avril Pinder, Buncombe County manager.

First, though, Manning asked the attendees to use their cellphones to tell how many Buzz Breakfasts they had attended this summer.

In response, 45 percent of the attendees said they had attended one session, 33 percent had attended two and 22 percent had attended all three. (One hundred fifty-nine of the 265 attendees responded to the phone poll.)

Next, Manning said,”Today, we will be addressing what we might think possible in building a connected community... As I said before, I think Asheville and this community could be an example to the state and nation.

Prior to interviewing each of the program’s guests, Cable said, “Well, when I was first approached about serving as your host this morning, I was told they wanted a sort of ‘Johnny Carson thing.’” She then prompted laughter from the attendees when she questioned how far she could go with her “Carnac” impersonation, referring to Carson’s humorous skits as Carnac the Magnificent.

More seriously, the chancellor asserted, “Leadership means connections, noting that there is a tendency to “connect with those similar to us. But the truth is, that kind of leadership, while important, is” going out of style. “Today, we’re going to emphasize the real work of leadership…. with people who have patently different opinions than we hold.”

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Wanda Greene given 7-year prison sentence, $100K fine; ‘horrific abuse of office,’ judge asserts
Monday, 02 September 2019 17:34

4 others also sentenced in corruption case


From Staff Reports

Wanda Greene was the “architect of a culture of corruption” whose actions constitute “a horrific abuse of office,” Judge Robert Conrad  said as he sentenced her Aug. 28 in Asheville to 84 months — or 7 years — in prison, and fined her $100,000 for her plea to four federal charges in multiple corruption schemes.

Wanda Greene’s sentence was one of a number of sentences of former Buncombe County officials and a former contractor that were handed out during the day. The five people previously had pleaded guilty in a Buncombe corruption case .

Meanwhile, outside of the Federal Courthouse some angry taxpayers vented their anger to reporters in regard to the five people involved in the country kickback sceme.

Besides Wanda Greene, the others sentenced included:

• Michael Greene: Wanda Greene’s son, a former Buncombe County business intelligence manager, was sentenced to six months and a $5,000 fine.

“Michael Greene indicated he’ll plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States,” Asheville television station WLOS News 13 reported later on Aug. 28. “The maximum penalty is five years in prison and fines totaling $250,000 or both,” 

WLOS added, “As a condition of the plea, Michael Greene wouldn’t have been required to testify against his mother.”

• Jon Creighton: Former Assistant Buncombe County Manager Jon Creighton was sentenced to 18 months in prison, a one-year supervised release, and a $25,000 fine.

“Creighton’s time was significantly less because of the cooperation he provided the US Attorneys Office. He stood up in court, addressing the judge, expressing his remorse for the crime, and apologizing to county employees he said he let down,” WLOS reported.

• Mandy Stone: Former Assistant Buncombe County Manager Mandy Stone, who later served relatively briefly as county manager after Wanda Greene’s retirement, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, a one-year supervised release and a $15,000 fine.

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5-yr. I-26 widening in Buncombe, Henderson to start in late September
Monday, 02 September 2019 17:32

From Staff Reports

Construction will commence by the end of September on a major Interstate 26 project to reduce traffic congestion and improve travel in Buncombe and Henderson counties, according to the state Department of Transportion.

The N.C. Department of Transportation recently awarded a contract to widen Interstate 26 from Brevard Road to the Henderson County line near Airport Road. Bids for a companion project to widen I-26 from the county line to Four Seasons Boulevard in Henderson County will be received this fall.

Fluor-United Joint Venture of Greenville, S.C., earned the contract with a bid of $263 million. Officials with Fluor-United said July 30 they expect to begin construction by the end of September.

“After many years of waiting, we are excited to see this project moving forward,” Division 13 Engineer Mark Gibbs said. “While it will take some time to complete the project, ultimately it will greatly improve the travel time of those who utilize this segment of I-26.”

This portion of the I-26 widening project will expand the interstate from four lanes to eight lanes — four in each direction — from Brevard Road to the Henderson County line doubling the capacity of the interstate.

It includes replacing bridges over the French Broad River, the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge over I-26, and two other bridges. Other project highlights include multiple retaining walls, upgrading all drainage systems, new concrete pavement and additional safety improvements to this corridor. 

“Fluor and United are thrilled to be able to build a project that will improve the daily lives of so many citizens in Asheville,” said Zack Hensley, project manager for Fluor. “This is a landmark project for NCDOT in the Asheville area, and we are committed to making this project successful.” 

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