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Reparations approved for local blacks: Buncombe, Asheville each vote unanimously to OK $2M each (with future increases)
Sunday, 07 August 2022 23:17

From Staff Reports 

To cover the payment of reparations to local blacks for what was termed injustices from the past, the  Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on July 17 voted unanimously to approve $2 million in its fiscal 2023 budget — and to add $500,000 to future reparations budgets, with an annual increase of 2 percent.

The county reparations budget approval followed the City of Ashville’s commitment — also on a unanimous vote — to an initial  reparations investment of $2.1 million in its 2022 budget — and included an additional allocation of $500,000 for 2023.

“We are at the intersection of yesterday, today and tomorrow,” Commissioner Al Whitesides said, according to a county press release. “This is going to make our whole community stronger. This is something that will help us heal.”

Meanwhile, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) quoted Whitesides as saying the following at the meeting: “This is not to just help the African-American community. This is going to make our whole community stronger, because we all know one thing — a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

News 13 reported that “Whitesides motioned during his comments for the county to mirror the city’s efforts by having a line item for reparations.”

Whitesides also said, as News 13 noted, “When you look in business, education and look in every other field, we (blacks) have to fight for every inch of what we get,. Folks, I’m not talking about what I’ve heard or read. I’m taking about what I’ve gone through in my lifetime.”

Buncombe commissioners’ Chairman Brownie Newman added, “Our local governments had a direct role in creating a community we live in today. I’m hoping we can play a practical and productive role to help remedy some of the things we would all loved to have been able to do differently. But we can do differently today.”

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Saluda Grade rail trail plan unveiled: 31-mile project intended to add recreational opportunities, spur economic development; would extend from Inman to Zirconia (passing through Inman, Landrum, Tryon, Saluda)
Sunday, 07 August 2022 23:14

From Staff Reports

SALUDA — Plans for three nonprofits seeking to purchase the Saluda Grade railroad corridor for a conversion to a 31-mile rail trail were unveiled July 23 by the website upstateforever.org.

Saluda Grade Partners, a coalition of three nonprofits in North and South Carolina, plans to purchase the inactive Saluda Grade railroad corridor for a new 31-mile rail trail, the organization announced July 20.

Comprised of Conserving Carolina, PAL: Play, Advocate, Live Well and Upstate Forever, the coalition made an undisclosed offer to Norfolk Southern, which owns the rail corridor.

If the purchase goes through, the coalition plans to establish the Saluda Grade rail trail, which will cover around 16 miles in South Carolina and 15 miles in North Carolina. The route will:

• Begin in Inman, S.C.

• Run along the Blue Ridge Escarpment

• Pass through downtown Saluda (N.C.), Tryon (N.C.), Landrum (S.C.) and Inman

• End in Zirconia, N.C.

“As we’ve seen with the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville County, trails like this are transformational economic engines,” Upstate Forever Executive Director Andrea Cooper was quoted as saying in the website’s story.

“They bring money and jobs to the local economy, boost quality of life for residents, and offer a safe and accessible way to spend time outdoors. The Saluda Grade Rail Trail will yield a return far beyond any initial investment.”

Meanwhile, Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported on July 22 that “local outdoor outfitters hope the project can become a reality.”

For instance, “We would be super-stoked to see the rail trail to Saluda. Anything that increases outdoor rec is awesome,” Samantha Miller, with Green River Adventures, was quoted as saying by News 13.

The TV station’s story added, “Conserving Carolina and the other nonprofits are currently trying to raise money” to cover the costs — “if a deal can be struck with the railroad to purchase the line.”

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