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In Case You Missed It: News of Interest from Around North Carolina (Week of March 17, 2017)

How interstate highways changed the face of WNC – Mountain Xpress

“Whether you’re cruising the scenic stretch of Interstate 26 in Madison County, cresting the Swannanoa Gap on Interstate 40 or sitting in traffic on the Bowen Bridge, it’s hard to live in Western North Carolina without feeling the impact of interstate highways.  Ever since the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways was launched in 1956, those roads have drastically changed the communities they pass through — or don’t. For some, the “coming of the road” has brought greater economic opportunities and access to the wider world; for others, it’s meant losing their homes and indelibly changing their environment and way of life.  And as the state Department of Transportation moves forward with plans for the long-awaited, much-debated I-26 Connector in West Asheville, a look at past interstate projects — and the changes they wrought — may offer insight into the issues now in play.”

Economic diversification continues in Canton – Smokey Mountain News

“Canton is the archetype of a small southern mill village: the river running through it helps churn the gears of industry while shaded streets host quaint homes where generations of Cantonians have embraced the red, white and blue-collar culture typical of many Western North Carolina towns.  The heart of that blue-collar culture comes from Evergreen Packaging, the 108-year-old paper mill situated on the banks of the Pigeon River.   The mill’s passed through ownership changes over the years, but the town of Canton has still fared far better than most other mill towns...  Canton’s major industry hasn’t yet fallen prey to globalization or rising healthcare costs and somehow survived the Great Recession, but town officials have still been relentless in their efforts to lure new businesses to town in an attempt to diversify their economy and put a few eggs in different baskets.”

Trump’s cuts to EPA and NIH budgets would put a dent in the Triangle economy—News and Observer

“President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget includes cuts to two federal agencies that could make a noticeable dent in the Triangle economy if it wins congressional approval. Trump wants to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent and the National Institutes of Health by nearly $6 billion, or 19 percent. Both are major Triangle employers. N.C. State University economist Michael Walden said those cuts wouldn’t derail the Triangle economy, but they “definitely would be noticeable.” But he also noted that the president’s proposal is, in effect, just a first draft that has to go through Congress and is “definitely not necessarily the final result.” A spokesman for Sen. Thom Tillis said that the Republican senator “has concerns” with the White House’s budget, but didn’t offer any specifics. “At the end of the day, it is a blueprint, a starting point in the budget process,” spokesman Daniel Keylin wrote in an e-mail. “Congress ultimately appropriates funds, and (the) final result is very likely to look different.” The magnitude of reductions contemplated in the president’s budget can’t be accomplished without job cuts. Indeed, the budget proposal calls for eliminating 19 percent of EPA’s work force, or 3,200 employees, according to Reuters. NIH has about 1,000 workers locally with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the 27 institutes and centers within NIH. EPA has significantly more than that at its RTP facility.”

  • 20 March 2017
  • Author: Brett Dyson
  • Number of views: 839
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