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Group sues Asheville on breach of contract over monument razing
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 22:25

From Staff Reports

 

A lawsuit seeking to stop the demolition of the Vance Monument — widely considered the centerpiece of downtown Asheville — was filed on March 23 by the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops Inc.

The suit was filed on the same day in which Asheville City Council, voted 6-1 to remove the monument.

“The removal is part of a movement across the South to take down Confederate monuments critics say glorify white supremacy and racism,” the Asheville Citizen Times noted in its story breaking the news online on March 25. “The suit says Asheville is in breach of contract after a 2015 signed agreement between Asheville and the 26th N.C. to restore the monument for which the group raised $138,447.”

In his complaint, attorney H. Edward Phillips wrote:

“The 26th N.C. never intended that the money its organization raised, that its members donated out-of-pocket as individuals, and the countless man hours expended for the better part of three years, would be thrown asunder by elected officials representing the defendants in violation of intent of the donation agreement and likely in violation of state law.

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Vance Monument removal OK’d 6-1 by Asheville council
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 22:23

From Staff Reports 

Asheville City Countil voted 6-1on March 23 to approve its task force’s recommendation to remove the Vance Monument — the final step that will lead to the demolotion of a landmark located in Pack Square in the heart of downtown Asheville since it was erected in 1897.

The dissenting vote was cast by Sandra Kilgore, who has said in the past that she has favored repurposing the monument.

“The cost to remove the obelisk will be about $115,000,” Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported. “Another $25,000 will go to create a temporary site, which could feature landscaping and a flower bed installation.”

In addressing council, capital projects director Jade Dundas said that, pending council authorization, the monument removal and demolition, as well as temporary site restoration, is expected to take 45 days.

Following the monument removal, a temporary site restoration would occur including a $25,535 landscaping contract to MS Lean Landscaping, an Asheville African American-owned business.

Later, another $70,000 would be used for the “vision” portion of the project, under which “a team of planners and community organizers will work with the public to create a comprehensive community vision document for the site,” a city press release noted.

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Governor eases more COVID limits
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 22:19

N.C. metrics, vax rate improving; masks, social distancing still mandated

From Staff Reports 

RALEIGH — As North Carolina’s trends continue to show improvement and vaccine distribution increases with 31.7 percent of North Carolinians over 18 having received at least one dose of vaccine, Governor Roy Cooper announced March 23 that the state will continue to ease some COVID-19 restrictions.

To that end, the governor said Executive Order No. 204 will take effect at 5 p.m. March 26 and is set to expire at 5 p.m. April 30. The state’s general mask mandate remains in effect.

“Our fast and fair vaccine distribution and our sustained progress with the COVID-19 metrics tell us we can move forward with easing restrictions if we do it safely,” Cooper said during a March 23 press briefing.

Also speaking at the briefing was Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the NCDHHS, who asserted, “We are in a promising place. With North Carolina’s COVID-19 key metrics improving and vaccinations increasing, we can responsibly use our dimmer switch approach to easing restrictions guided by science and data.”

The new executive order “has three general categories of occupancy restrictions: up to 100 percent capacity, 75 percent capacity, and 50 percent capacity,” a press release from the governor’s office stated. “All businesses must continue to maintain the 6 feet of distance requirement between patrons and implement other safety protocols as they expand their capacity.

“Executive Order No. 204 will also increase mass gathering limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 25 to 50 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 50 to 100. This order also fully lifts the restriction on the late-night sale and service of alcoholic beverages on bars, restaurants and other establishments.”
 
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2nd Dem challenger aims to unseat Cawthorn
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 22:17

From Staff Reports 

Iraq War veteran Josh Remillard, who lives in Mills River, on March 12 was the second person to announce a challenge to unseat U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-Hendersonville.

Remillard “said he’s challenging Cawthorn because of controversies that have embroiled the freshman 11th District congressman, including his appearance at a Jan. 6 rally before the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported.

Remillard likely will be in a primary facing Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferarra, who announced her candidacy on March 3. (A story on Beach-Ferrara’s announcement appearing in the March 15-30 edition of the Daily Planet.). 

News 13 also quoted Remillard as saying, “This is just not the kind of representative that I respect in this district. He’s not serious, he’s not mature while he’s up there challenging people to arm-wrestling matches or saying ‘cry lib’ after the election. There are serious issues that are happening here that are not getting addressed.”

What’s more, News 13 noted, “Political experts said the odds a Democrat could win the Republican-heavy 11th District are small, even with the fact that the district includes the City of Asheville.”

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Conservative leader/pundit rips city on Vance Monument ‘agenda’
Wednesday, 31 March 2021 21:35
By JOHN NORTH
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A group trying to save the Vance Monument from demoliton by filing a lawsuit against the City of Asheville and petitioning the N.C. Historical Commission of a violation of a law prohibiting the tearing down of national monuments probably will be successful in its efforts, long-time Buncombe County conservative leader-pundit Chad Nesbitt told the Daily Planet in a telephone interview on the morning of March 25, just before presstime.

The nearly 125-year-old downtown Asheville landmark honors Zebulon B. Vance, a former Confederate governor who owned slaves.

“I can tell you the taking down of the Vance Monument is just the tip of the iceberg — this type of Democratic control.”

The planned demolition of “the Vance Monument is part of erasing American history,” Nesbitt added, noting that  it is listed as “a national monument and (therefore) it’s protected under (ex-president Donald) Trump’s executive order” that protected national monuments from being razed. “And (President Joe) Biden has not changed that order, as of yet.”

Specifically, Nesbitt asserted, “The Vance Monument is protected under that National Historic Registry — and every attorney I’ve spoken to said it cannot be removed.” He added that he had spoken with several attorney about the issue.

So he (attorney H. Edward Phillips) put a stop to them (the city) doing anything for now” on the Vance Monument.”

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