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How can passenger rail service be extended to Asheville? ‘Grassroots support’ termed ‘critical’
Wednesday, 27 September 2023 23:00

If approved, Amtrak estimates earliest startup date for Asheville would be 2035

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A return of passenger rail service to Asheville “is not just a distant dream anymore,” Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer told those attending a Sept 20 meeting of the Rail Response Workgroup at downtown Asheville’s Double Tree Hotel.

“The federal government has set aside $44 billion for ‘discretionary’ grants — and the state is looking at how to spend that. It is crucial that we look at how we can best” have a large portion of that money earmarked for expanding the state’s passenger rail system, she said.
“For me, the game-changer (in the effort to bring back passenger rail service to Asheville” is the $44 billion….

“More and more people are taking advantage of passenger rail... This (return of passenger rail to Asheville) would provide more transportation options for our residents, as well as enhance tourism and our business community — and improve our overall quality of life,” Manheimer said.

(Amtrak, which provides passenger rail service in the United States, has said the restoration of passenger rail service to Asheville would occur — at the earliest — in 2035. The U.S. Department of Transporation’s Federal Railroad Administration, will decide by this November which rail lines to fund.) 

A turnout estimated at more than 70 people attended the 75-minute session that was part of the RRW’s Asheville site visit. The RRW is a project of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition — supported by the N.C. League of Municipalities — and was created to inform and educate N.C. mayors’ “understanding of the unique opportunities (regarding) intercity Passenger Rail.”

Manhheimer, who chaired the meeting and issued a welcome to all who were in attendance, opened the session by noting that “regularly scheduled (passenger rail) service to Asheville ended in 1975...

“Since at least 1995, (passenger rail) advocates have been pushing to bring back the trains” to Asheville, she said. 
(Asheville is the largest city in Western North Carolina and the 11th-largest city in the state.  The city’s population is estimated at 94,589 persons (2020 U.S. Census), with the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area totaling 469,015 persons, encompassing Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.)

Conservative comeback plan unveiled for Asheville, Buncombe by BCGOP chief
Wednesday, 27 September 2023 22:56
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The only reason he was elected to lead the party— in an 80-50 landslide victory last April — was to “get conservative Republicans elected in Asheville and Buncombe County,” Doug Brown, the new chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party, said during a party luncheon Sept. 19 at Brazilia Steakhouse in downtown Asheville.

About 50 people — mainly local business-owners — attended the luncheon to hear Brown’s plan for a conservative comeback in Asheville and Buncombe. 

Introducing Brown was Bob Ray, an Asheville native and third-generation businessman and, as he noted, “until a few years ago, an active Democrat.

“Some of us were in the Jaycees years ago — and we were taught to speak extemporaneously....As a conservative and Republican, we are facing a true juggernaut with the Democrats. With Doug Brown, who is dynamic and energetic, he provides a new paradigm that is strategic, tactical and clever.

“We want the people we’re able to win with — to place on state and local committees. We need your help to seek people for candidates’ positions. We are looking for people with a strong background in public service. 

“We know, as Republicans, we’ve been painted as ‘racists’ by various media outlets. We need to change that to where we are considered ‘the party of the reasonable.’”

In concluding, Ray said, “Play time is, indeed, over. It’s time for the adults to come back into the room. Help us make it so.”

Brown began his address by noting, “This urgency is giving us an opportunity to go forward. We feel like we have until 2026 to move the football forward. I want you to know what I am. We are going to do things strategically, tactically and cleverly.

“The stakes are too big right now for us to sit back and see how things work out.

“In front of you, on your table, we have the BCGOP’s core values and purpose  — which is pretty much our ‘North Star,’” Brown said. “We need to repaint our party as one rooted in common sense and native values, but our mission is those hills we have to get over ... It’s not going to be easy....”

‘Invitation’ for Lt. Gov. Robinson to address Henderson commissioners triggers slam by local progressives
Wednesday, 27 September 2023 22:53

But Robinson wasn’t ‘invited’ —  he asked to speak, board chair responds

From Staff Reports

HENDERSONVILLE —  North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson praised the state’s $3 billion budget surplus during his appearance — billed as a “recognition” — at the Henderson County Board of Commissioners’ meeting here on Aug. 7. 

What’s more, Robinson, who is widely considered the frontrunner to be the GOP’s nominee in the upcoming gubernatorial race, said the budget surplus offers a chance to stimulate jobs and development.

He also expressed “mixed feelings” about the Ecusta Trail; called Attorney General Josh Stein (the frontrunner for the Democrats for the gubernatorial race) “too far left,” politically; and stressed his belief that most North Carolinians agree much more than they disagree on key political issues.

Meanwhile, three speakers during the meeting’s brief public comment segment panned the board’s “recognition” of Robinson, questioning the commissioners’ decision to invite him, saying his “cancerous, hate-filled resumé” is unworthy of the honor, the Hendersonville Lightning reported on Aug 16.

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