News Flash - Summer 2023

News Flash - Summer 2023: The latest from throughout Western North Carolina
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Tribe OK’s $64M targeting cannabis endeavor
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has discussed legalizing cannabis use since 2015. In 2021, the Tribal Council legalized medical marijuana while also decriminalizing possession of small amounts of it. The Tribe also formed an LLC, Qualla Enterprise, receiving $31 million from Council toward the business while asserting a need for $64 million more to get the medical marijuana company up and running. If all goes to plan, the enterprise will employ hundreds, raise large amounts of capital, and stand out in the state of North Carolina as the sole provider and seller of the drug.

New Blue Ridge Snorkel Trail opens
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission is launching ten pilot sites spanning across western North Carolina that connect people to the amazing underwater world through a series of publicly accessible river snorkel sites. “River snorkelers will get to experience our rivers through the fishes’ eyes and explore all of the unique and beautiful species that are hidden just under the surface,” says Western Region Aquatic Wildlife Diversity Coordinator Luke Etchison, Ph.D. of the Wildlife Commission’s Inland Fisheries Division. “You’ll get the chance to see crayfishes, mussels, aquatic snails, salamanders, aquatic insects, and fishes you don’t normally see, even if you fish.”

Haywood Waterways Association aims to mitigate future flooding 
The nonprofit, established in 1998, secured a highly competitive grant in hopes of buttressing the towns of Canton, Clyde and Cruso from the wrath of future hurricanes. The NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund received requests worth $67 million, with only $15 million worth of funding from its Flood Risk Reduction Grant available. The Haywood Association received $2M of its $2.3M ask, tying with the City of Kinston in Lenoir County for the largest award received.

Historic Old Rock School in Valdese celebrates 100th birthday
The town’s first significant educational building came about as a result of the Waldenses’ strong commitment to learning. Leaving their ancestral land in northern Italy and settling in Burke County around 1893, the newcomers made do with one-room schools until becoming more established in their newly-adopted region of WNC. After serving the community until the 1970s, the Old Rock School was closed. The elegant old building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Valdese purchased the school for $1 and began renovations on the building to be used as a multi-purpose facility in 1986. Now, the Old Rock School is home to nine various organizations, businesses, and nonprofits. 

Mansion in Asheville area sells for record $9.6M
The English Tudor-style home in Buncombe County is situated on 1.5 acres of land near Biltmore Estates, and is the priciest abode yet to sell near Asheville, according to MLS listings. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty initially listed the home for $9.75 million in summer 2020 before it was reported as sold on March 6, according to a company news release announcing the sale. Tom and Marcia Nash were the sellers, while Brent Redstone of Colorado, son of the late media mogul billionaire Sumner Redstone, purchased the property.