Lilly Knoepp

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network.  She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science. 


Summer camps are a big part of the culture of Western North Carolina. There are over 70 camps of all types for kids of all ages at the western end of the state. Many are still deciding if they will close due to COVID-19. 

Cherokee Indian Hopsital Authority

As a sovereign nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has been able to respond to COVID-19 differently than its neighbors in Western North Carolina. BPR spoke with tribal members and officials about how they are handling the health crisis.



Some businesses in Georgia are now open after Gov. Brian Kemp gave an executive order. Blue Ridge Public Radio talks to a Cherokee County official what this means for Western North Carolina. 

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Resolutions calling for individual counties to become 2nd Amendment sanctuaries are sweeping the South due to gun control legislation moving through the Virginia legislature. In Macon County, one such resolution was discussed Tuesday night. 

Matt Bush / BPR

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is hoping to expand gaming operations outside North Carolina.

Members of Reconciling Ministries at the Western North Carolina Conference held a Pride March at Lake Junaluska in June.
Lilly Knoepp / BPR

Originally published on January 3, 2020 3:22 pm

The United Methodist Church has announced a proposal to split the church over LGBTQ issues. A committee of 16 announced the plan called the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation. The committe was made up of bishops and members of a range of international Methodist groups.

The United Methodist Church has announced a proposal to split the church over LGBTQ issues. 


Earlier this year, the three Cherokee tribes in the U.S., including the Eastern Band of Cherokee in western North Carolina, announced their language is in a state of emergency because of a shortage of fluent speakers. Efforts to reverse that have taken on many forms, such as at a summer camp in Graham County.

That’s where campers learned to sing this summer’s No. 1 song — in Cherokee.


Fall is not just a beautiful season in the mountains of western North Carolina. The foliage is also an economic driver for the region.

Beverly Collins is a biology professor at Western Carolina University. She predicted a bright and colorful leaf season, but the September weather might be changing that forecast.


The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited park in the country. But all those visitors are not seeing its full history according to the park service. 

North Carolina lawmakers could give the final okay to sports betting in the state as early as Monday.  A bill that would allow sports books and off-track horse betting at casinos on tribal lands cleared a key House committee Wednesday in Raleigh, and is on the agenda for a floor vote Monday evening.  The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operate the only two casinos in North Carolina.  The casinos are located in Cherokee and Murphy on the Qualla Boundary.