Newsflash - June/July 2024

Newsflash - June/July 2024: The latest from throughout Western North Carolina
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- First marijuana dispensary opens on Cherokee land 
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians launched North Carolina’s first marijuana dispensary on April 20, a date unofficially recognized by fans of the potent plant as the national cannabis holiday. The Great Smoky Cannabis Co., managed by Qualla Enterprises LLC, a subsidiary of the tribe, has approval for the sale of medical marijuana. The EBCI voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2021 and decriminalize possession of small amounts of it, but encountered some opposition, largely from lawmakers. The dispensary is located at 91 Bingo Loop Road in Cherokee, and boasts 10,000 square feet of retail space, along with drive-thru windows, and a glass shop.

- Historic landmark converted into high-end hotel 
Nearly a century old, the Flat Iron Building in downtown Asheville has been lavishly renovated, (though the building’s Art Deco-era aesthetics have been preserved) and now houses a boutique hotel. The Flat Iron Hotel offers 71 rooms and 6 suites, and opened for overnight stays this past spring. Other amenities include upscale Italian eatery and rooftop bar Luminosa, The Red Ribbon Society, a basement-situated saloon, event spaces, a café, and even an area with podcast recording capabilities. 

- Conservation nonprofit’s grant supports multi-state water trail 
New River Conservancy received a $50,000 One Foundation grant to support research, development, and planning towards a comprehensive, Three-State Water Trail for the New River, according to Lisa Stansell Galitz, communications and marketing director for the NRC.  Beginning in Blowing Rock, NC, incorporating the existing Giles County, VA water trail, and continuing to Gauley Bridge, WV, the project will be a tool for economic development, creating new and expanding existing ecotourism and partnerships throughout the watershed. Additionally, signage will be created, providing safety measures and educational opportunities.

- Hickory officials OK new art walk greenway trail
A $23 million art walk construction project in Hickory that recently broke ground will extend the current multi-use walkway on Old Lenoir road by nearly 2.5 miles. The OLLE Art Walk gets its clever moniker from the first two letters of “Old” and “Lenoir” and is expected to take two years to complete. OLLE establishes a link between the City Walk, Riverwalk, and Aviation Walk. 

- Chattooga River celebrates 50-year designation by Congress
In May, the Chattooga Conservancy and the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) celebrated a monumental occasion: the Chattooga River’s 50th anniversary as a Wild & Scenic River. Flowing through the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Chattooga River offers a wilderness escape like no other. Its Wild & Scenic status, granted in 1974, has been pivotal in preserving its ecosystems and solidifying its draw for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.