(Little Things Blog) Have you ever been walking through the woods and noticed an oddly shaped tree? If you’re like me, chances are you probably didn’t give it any thought and simply continued on your way.
But once you learn about about Dennis Downes, I guarantee you’ll never look at trees the same way again!
For nearly 30 years, Dennis has been touring America’s countryside, searching for and documenting unique trees. He’s even built a special society around them!
But these trees, totally inconspicuous save for their strange shapes, have a very special place in America’s history — and serve a fascinating purpose! Over 100 years ago, these trees were purposefully bent, and their odd shapes communicate very important messages.
(Asheville Citizen-Times) A deal passed in a split vote Tuesday night doesn’t seek to recover funding spent on what Chairman Brownie Newman called “frankly, poor decisions,” but it could move officials past a longstanding dispute over how to use money that was promised to fund new construction at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and nothing more.
That’s despite the fact that Buncombe County transferred more than $15 million of the revenue to its own coffers and later used the money to pay employees, including corrupt administrators Greene and Jon Creighton, and to fund operational needs long before commissioners voted to expand the use of the tax.
Newman and commissioners Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Amanda Edwards voted against the proposal Tuesday night. Dissenting commissioners said the county should take more time to deliberate an official vote on the deal, which falls short of a $130 million plan for new construction that was pitched to voters during the 2011 referendum. They also acknowledged the handling of the tax has damaged relations between the county and A-B Tech — and the public.
(Carolina Journal) Enrollment at Western Carolina University is at a record high now that a low-tuition plan for select University of North Carolina schools is in effect.
WCU’s enrollment has spiked to 11,028. That’s almost 800 students more than were enrolled this time last year. Republican lawmakers link the growth to N.C. Promise, a $500 per semester tuition plan for in-state students. The plan also dropped out-of-state tuition to $2,500 a semester.
N.C. Promise became law in 2016. The cut-rate tuition applies to Elizabeth City State University and UNC Pembroke, in addition to WCU. State legislators invested $51 million in the program. Their main goal was to improve enrollment at some of North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, although only ECSU chose to participate in NC Promise.