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Asheville makes NPR’s ‘worst place to live’ list: ‘The Paris of the South’ lands on ‘lowest standard of living’ lists for 3 groupings of workers
Saturday, 01 January 2022 15:59

From Staff Reports

Asheville, which in recent years has become a regular atop — or near the top — of “best of” lists for livability and the area’s scenic beauty among cities across the nation and basking in being fondly called 

“the Paris of the South,” recently sustained a zinger to its reputation with its inclusion in three categories on a “Worst Place to Live” list by National Public Radio’s Planet Money.

The Dec. 14 article — headlined, “The best and worst places to live if you only care about money” — cited a recent Stanford University study about livability and income in its findings.

To that end, Asheville landed on three highly unfavorable lists, including the following:

• Asheville was ranked fifth among the five places with the lowest standard of living for college graduates. Just ahead of Asheville on this “worst” list were Medford, Oregon.; Provo, Utah; Salem, Oregon; and Olympia, Washington.

• Asheville led the list for the five places with the lowest standard of living for those with only a high school diploma. Just behind Asheville on this “worst” list were San Diego, California; Manhattan, Kansas; Medford, Oregon; and Jacksonville, N.C.

• Asheville was ranked fifth among the places with the lowest standard of living for those who did not finish high school. Even worse than Asheville on this “worst” list were San Diego; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Los Angeles; and Miami.

In stark contrast, Natchez, Mississippi, emerged as a Southern alternative to Asheville in the study, in terms of standard of living.

“A fascinating new study by Stanford University economist Rebecca Diamond and University of California, Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti finds that Natchez and its surrounding area offer one of the highest standards of living in the U.S. for workers without college degrees,” the Planet Money story noted.

‘Rogue DA’ needs to be removed for dismissal of so many cases, FOP leader says x
Saturday, 01 January 2022 15:56
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Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams’ proclivity to dismiss as many as all — to nearly all — court cases in some crime categories (at times) is an indicator he is acting on his own and not following the rule of law, qualifying him to be termed a “rogue DA” who needs to be removed, according to Rondell Lance, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge.

“I’ve heard the Buncombe DA’s office described as a ‘rogue DA’s office,’ with Todd Williams as a ‘rogue DA’ — and I could agree with that statement,” Lance told the Daily Planet in a brief interview Dec. 27.

Meanwhile, in an extensive telephone interview with the newspaper on Dec. 24, Lance, who represents around 250 local law enforcement members, said DA’s dismissal of so many cases sends a message to local lawbreakers that there are no consequences for their actions and thereby results in more crime, discourages police officers from making arrests and endangers the general public. 

Asheville Police Department to spend $225K on recruitment firm to help fill its 60 vacancies
Saturday, 01 January 2022 15:55

From Staff Reports 

Asheville City Council on Dec. 14 approved a plan for the Asheville Police Department to enter into a $225,000 contract with a national recruiting firm to help boost APD staffing.

“‘Asheville Police Department is excited for the opportunity to partner with EPIC Recruiting in order to recruit outstanding candidates who want to join the APD team and serve the City of Asheville,’ said Chief Zack,” according to a City of Asheville press release dated Dec. 17. “‘We have some outstanding officers already serving at APD, but we certainly need more to help fill the ranks so that we can adequately serve the City of Asheville.’”

Specifically, council voted to allow the APD “to enter into a contract with EPIC Recruiting to create recruiting media, create a recruitment website, and strategize and market the City of Asheville and the department to recruit exceptional police applicants,” the release noted.

“ADP submitted a request for proposals about a month ago, and EPIC Recruiting was recently selected as the recruiting firm by the search committee; Council then needed to approve the plan moving forward.

“The police department currently has 60 vacancies of the authorized 238 sworn officer positions.”

Daily Planet to publish more often as it goes biweekly with next edition
Saturday, 01 January 2022 15:52

From Staff Reports

Based on burgeoning reader and advertiser demand, the Asheville Daily Planet will convert to a biweekly print schedule, meaning it will be published every other Wednesday, beginning with the next edition on Jan. 19, resulting in 26 editions per year.

The newspaper now publishes twice-monthly — on the 1st and 15th — for 24 editions per year. 

Subscription prices will remain the same.

Buncombe COVID rates jump by almost 50%: Hospitalizations also continue to rise, county public health chief warns
Saturday, 01 January 2022 14:08

From Staff Reports


After a short period of leveling, cases are on the rise again in Buncombe County, according to Stacie Saunders, the county’s public health director.

“The local case rate grew to 232 new cases per 100,000 per week from 155 only a week prior,” Saunders said during her increasingly regular COVID-19 briefing to the Buncombe Board of Commissioners on Dec. 21.

“This indicates an almost 50 percent increase in cases in one week. The percent positivity is currently 5.6 percent and has remained fairly stable for over a week,” she said.

“New cases are quickly increasing for our community. This is a time when many are taking part in holiday events and parties and each one of those events increases the chances of being exposed to the virus

“This increased holiday activity coupled with a new more contagious variant means we will likely see many more people infected before and after the holiday.”

What’s more, Saunders asserted, “hospitalizations are continuing to increase with over 6 percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19, up from 4.7 percent last week. Intensive care unit utilization also increased in the last week.”

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