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Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:25

Digging out Lake Junaluska … again

In the ongoing battle to keep Lake Junaluska from filling with silt, the lake will once again be partially lowered this winter so accumulated sediment can be dug out. Scooping sediment out of the lake is a costly proposition. There…
The airwaves in Bryson City are active again now that WBHN is back up and running. The radio station, the only one that calls Swain County home, went off the air about a year ago because of financial problems. Two…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:23

Open House to be held on WCU campus Oct. 2

Prospective college students who want to learn the ins and outs of campus life will have an opportunity for a sneak peak as Western Carolina University holds Open House on Saturday, Oct. 2. Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions,…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:23

Rabies clinics planned around Haywood

Haywood County Animal Control, the Haywood County Health Department and veterinarians from the county’s six animal hospitals are collaborating on a series of rabies clinics the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 1. The clinics will be held from 5 to 6:30…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:22

Spruce sell will benefit Haywood schools

TCA Tree Farm in Ironduff is selling “dig your own” 4-foot Norway spruce trees Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 as a benefit for the Haywood County Schools Foundation. The trees are immune to the woolly adelgid that attacks hemlocks, and…
Two outreach sessions for members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to develop a 10-year “legacy plan” for tribal lands, environment and natural resources have been setup by the tribe’s Natural Resources Department. The sessions will be conducted on…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:21

Radical makeover

A major remodeling job to convert the abandoned Wal-Mart in Clyde to house the Haywood County Department of Social Services could get underway by November. This rendering by Asheville firm Padgett & Freeman Architects shows how the dreary big-box storefront…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:19

Maroon Devil Classic Golf Tournament

The Seventh Annual Maroon Devil Classic Golf Tournament to will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, at The Ridges Resort and Golf Club in Hayesville. The tournament will be a four-man captain’s choice format. Registration is $75…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:17

Seminar focuses on Internet “findability”

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority and Haywood Community Colleges’ Small Business Center will co-sponsor a seminar for small business owners titled “Findability on the Web: Tips and Tricks From The Pros” from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 28.…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:10

HCC offers new solar course series

Haywood Community College’s Division of Continuing Education will offer a new solar course series called Harnessing the Power of the Sun. The series will provide more than 20 hours of instruction including some hands-on lab activities. The cost of the…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:09

Haywood Chamber to host candidates

The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Meet and Greet the Candidates forum at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the Gateway Club. Cost to attend the breakfast is $10 for chamber members and $15 for…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:08

Jackson County candidate forum

The Jackson County Home Builders Association will hold a Jackson County Town Meeting Forum at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at the Cashiers Community Center. All candidates for county commissioner have confirmed they will attend, as well as both candidates…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:04

Needmore Road debate heats up

Dorothy and Steve Poole are among the few who live along a 3.3-mile stretch of Needmore Road the state Department of Transportation wants to widen and pave. “I agree with the people who want to keep it beautiful,” Dorothy Poole…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:02

A snake in the courthouse? Believe it

Deputy Gregory Wood was looking forward to a mundane Monday morning manning the metal detector at the Haywood County courthouse when a woman came in with some strange news: a snake had taken up residence in the elevator of the…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:58

Violations stack up against Cherokee bear zoo

Chief Saunooke Bear Park in Cherokee has been cited with federal violations for the treatment and condition of captive bears kept in pits for viewing by tourists. It marks the fourth federal inspection of the bear zoo in two years…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:57

Panel finally formed to pick Sylva’s top cop

One town commissioner, the town manager and two business owners will help pick Sylva’s next police chief. The panel, agreed on last week at a board meeting, replaces one originally conceived by Town Manager Adrienne Isenhower that sparked dissent among…
Richard Collings suffered a stroke the night he arrived in Western North Carolina to take over as president of Southwestern Community College. What followed, as Collings described it, was “kind of a weird interlude” into his new job. There had…
Two veteran officers, Sheriff Robert Holland and George Lynch, are vying to fill Macon County’s top law-enforcement post. The campaigns of both men have been remarkable. More for what isn’t happening rather than what has taken place. Both Holland, the…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:54

Jackson sheriffs race marked by acrimony

Mary Rock wants to become the first female sheriff in Jackson County, but gaining that title against two-term incumbent and Democrat Jimmy Ashe won’t be easy. Part of Rock’s tactic is that she is running unaffiliated rather than under the…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 18:53

Haywood sheriff challenger pledges modern approach

Voters will have a choice between a fresh or familiar face in this year’s Haywood County sheriff’s race. Democratic incumbent Bobby Suttles has worked law enforcement in Haywood for 35 years, including 18 years at the Haywood County Sheriff’s office.…
It’s nearing showtime for the most heated race in Swain County: the battle between Republican Sheriff Curtis Cochran and his challenger, Democrat John Ensley. Controversial issues were neither few nor far between during Cochran’s first term as sheriff: a suspected…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

House clears Shuler on ethics rap

After months of high-profile scrutiny, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, has been cleared in an ethics inquiry that examined whether the congressman used his influence to benefit one of his real estate deals in East Tennessee. While Shuler’s office maintains…
Waynesville’s two independent bookstores — Osondu Booksellers and Blue Ridge Books & Cafe — have merged. The economics of independent bookstores have made it nearly impossible for a town of Waynesville’s size to support two stores. Squeezed by the discount…
Western Carolina University professors who haven’t already done so are running out of time to take a mandatory 10-hour furlough by year’s end. Earlier this year, Gov. Bev Perdue issued an executive order calling on all state employees to take…
In July only two candidates signed up to get on the ballot for the five spots up for grabs in Webster’s town board election, posing a quandary for the tiny Jackson County town of just over 250 registered voters. When…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:05

WCU rides wave of new applicants

Over the past three years the applicant pool at Western Carolina University has nearly tripled. The increase in prospective students signals a success story in outreach and marketing, and it may also mark a transitional moment for the school. According…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Macon County asks for public input, take three

After two unsuccessful attempts at creating a comprehensive land-use plan, Macon County’s commissioners have directed staff to take another bite of the apple. As County Planner Derek Roland travels from community to community asking the public for input on what…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Shuler caught short of truth

While Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, was cleared two weeks ago by the House Ethics Committee of any wrongdoing related to a Tennessee real estate deal, controversy erupted again a week later when the Tennessee Valley Authority released a report that…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:35

At free clinics survival trumps politics

Dr. David Trigg, medical director at the Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, doesn’t know if he should do more or less to treat the uninsured. While he and the other volunteer doctors at free clinics are their patients’ only…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:45

Future of Jackson airport up in the air

The Jackson County airport has reached a crossroads. For years the little aviation field above the clouds has been a financial burden on the county. Now, with its governing body dwindling in number and its revenues lagging behind its operating…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:48

Suspects nabbed in Macon church break-in spree

A string of church break-ins that had captured widespread attention in Macon County came to an end last week when law enforcement arrested four teenage suspects in conjunction with the crimes. Between Oct. 5 and Nov. 8 no less than…
Macon County’s schools will get a long-awaited upgrade, but its taxpayers are going to have to pay extra for it. County commissioners voted last Tuesday to raise the property tax rate by one-and-a-half cents to build a $15 million elementary…
Macon County has joined a growing trend in deciding to postpone its property revaluation process for two years. The county was due for revaluation next year, but based on the testimony of its tax administrator, Richard Lightner, the board of…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 15:03

An unstable past

Located atop a nearly 3,000-foot mountain in Cullowhee, the Jackson County Airport was built to avoid the low-lying fog that often shrouds the Tuckasegee River Valley. Its unique location provides pilots with an alternative landing strip to lower lying airports…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Between language and culture

Native American languages are unique. They came into being and evolved without the influence of writing. For scholars like Heidi Altman, a professor of linguistic sociology, that makes them fascinating. “The thing I’m interested in is how people organize knowledge…
Outside the annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner in the isolated Snowbird community, a remote corner of Graham County where the Cherokee language has deep roots, the parking lot is jammed full. It’s a dark night. The children play tag and the…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Consensus unlikely in Sylva board appointment

The moment of truth arrives for Sylva’s new town board on the day it starts work. When board members convene this week, the first item on their agenda will be pivotal in defining the town’s ideological direction for the next…
Although Macon County passed its first subdivision ordinance more than a year ago, Commissioner Chairman Ronnie Beale wonders whether enough was done to protect developers with projects already underway. Developments that pre-dated the new rules may be hamstrung when attempting…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Defective slot machine zaps gambler

A slot machine at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino malfunctioned, delivering a shock that floored a gambler, according to a lawsuit brought by the victim. While the incident occurred over three years ago, Willie Jean Robinson is still waiting to hear whether…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

WCU trustees adopt tuition increase

Western Carolina University’s board of trustees voted to increase the school’s tuition by 6.5 percent next year. The vote to adopt a voluntary tuition hike will only take effect if the North Carolina General Assembly backs off on its proposed…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

New Sylva board member could help bridge rift

Sylva’s incoming Mayor Maurice Moody said he wanted to start his career with a consensus vote and that’s exactly what he did. In its first act, the newly seated Sylva town board unanimously voted to appoint Christine Matheson to the…
In 2005, two investment partners from Atlanta broke ground on a massive project on the slopes of Cowee Mountain in north Macon County with hopes of creating a new paradigm for mountainside development in Western North Carolina. However, four years…
Franklin’s leaders are trying to decide what to do about a valuable piece of property on the outskirts of downtown, and they’re hiring outside consultants to help them. The town purchased the Whitmire property in January 2005 for $1,585,373 with…
As the holiday shopping season nears its final frenzy, Sylva’s business community is stressing the importance of buying local. The Downtown Sylva Association has seized on a national campaign called the 3/50 Project to encourage local people to patronize their…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Outrage erupts over Sylva teen club

A little-known teen club shook the Town of Sylva out of a slumber last week and shone a bright light on the private lives of young adults. Concerned parents brought 500 signatures to a town board meeting demanding that it…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Jackson commissioners take over airport authority

Facing a moribund governing body and a facility once again in need of expensive repairs, the Jackson County board of commissioners did what it’s been unwilling to do in the past –– assume management of the airport. The commissioners totally…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

EDC audit out of reach due to spotty records

Jackson County commissioners closed the book on a painful chapter in the county’s history on Monday, announcing they would give up their quest for an audit of the economic development commission. The commissioners had hoped to present an audit of…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Sylva bypass makes the cut

Jackson County commissioners were split over whether to endorse the construction of a controversial new highway outside of Sylva when the issue came up for a vote at a county meeting Monday. The highway was included on a wishlist being…
In the space of five years Tuscola High School’s football program has produced two big-time college quarterback prospects. While Friday night lights are a huge draw in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the relatively small pool of athletes makes…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Locals do what it takes for fresh tracks

For seasoned Smoky Mountain outdoor enthusiasts, snow in the forecast means the chance to indulge suppressed fantasies. Whether its getting fresh tracks on some obscure slope they see on the road to work or heading up to the blocked-off Blue…
Faced with a collapsing tourism marketplace caused by a national recession and the pullout of its featured attraction — the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad –– Dillsboro’s voters elected a new leadership team to steer the town towards an uncertain future.…
Dueling solutions for relieving traffic on N.C. 107 in Sylva are poised to make the final cut in the long-awaited Jackson County Transportation Plan. Both a bypass around the commercial thoroughfare and redesign of the road itself could ultimately be…
Haywood Regional Medical Center and WestCare are in the final stages of forming a partnership, with plans to launch a new joint venture as early as January. The two entities will join forces under a new umbrella organization with a…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:37

Angel CEO says hospital investing in its future

When Tim Hubbs stepped down as the CEO of Drake Software, a Franklin firm that writes accounting software, he thought the frenzy of tax season was behind him and he would coast out his years with the hassle-free title of…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:38

Angel Medical continues to stand alone

While neighboring hospitals count down the days until an affiliation is finalized, Angel Medical Center in Franklin continues to stand alone during a time when independent hospitals are becoming increasingly rare. Angel Medical CEO Tim Hubbs said the small hospital…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:41

New plan aims to corral chaotic thoroughfare

A plan to redesign Russ Avenue would dramatically alter the appearance and traffic flow along the frenzied main commercial artery of Waynesville. The plan has several components, but chief among them is wiping out the middle turn lane. Instead a…
Balsam Mountain Preserve, a mega development on 4,400 acres in Jackson County, has defaulted on the terms of a $19.8 million loan, prompting a notice of foreclosure by nervous lenders last week. Owners of the development say they are hopeful…
An analysis of property values in Haywood County aims to reduce disparities between the value listed on the county’s tax rolls and the real-life value. The project will more precisely hone in on characteristics that affect home values, hopefully resulting…
Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:53

Most like plans for Russ Avenue makeover

A proposed redesign of Russ Avenue, the main commercial thoroughfare in Waynesville, received strong public support among those who attended a public workshop last week to learn more about the plan. “I think this has to be done,” said Lyle…
Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:59

BMP’s problems not apparent

At first glance, it is hard to see why Balsam Mountain Preserve has been unable to satisfy the lenders behind a $19.8 million loan dating to 2005. The exact amount of the payoff on the loan has not been revealed,…
When Haywood County commissioners convened this week to discuss the fate of the county’s erosion control program, they were met by a deep bench of prominent community members who turned out to show support for Marc Pruett. Pruett is the…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:31

Robust citizen input vexes public officials

Johnnie Cure said she never expected to become a local celebrity when she started speaking up during the public comment period of Haywood County commissioners meetings. Typically taking the county to task over what she perceives as excessive spending, Cure…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:38

Haywood says state shirking responsibility

Haywood County commissioner sent a strong message to Raleigh this week, chastising state government for not stepping in to help when the county got sued by a landowner when trying to enforce erosion control standards. The county spent $282,000 on…
Haywood County commissioners are once again considering the abandoned Wal-Mart shell for a new Department of Social Services building. The current DSS building is housed in a cramped and crumbling 80-year-old building that was once the county’s old hospital. Patching…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:48

Unfinished hotel mars Sylva landscape

The fate of an unfinished Clarion Inn in Sylva is up in the air after a bank foreclosed on the property earlier this month. The developer burned through a $5.1 million construction loan for the hotel but ran out of…
A drill simulating the collapse of a tunnel on Interstate 40 in Haywood County tested and prepared the full gamut of emergency workers during an exercise that spanned 30 hours and involved hundreds of rescue personnel from across the region.…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:01

Downtown platform

Several candidates have made downtown revitalization the central tenet of their campaign and consider it the one of the most important issues on the town’s agenda. They include Gene Monson, Carole Edwards, and Kenneth Holland. “When I was growing up,…
The election for Sylva town board next week will determine the philosophical direction for the town. The board has been marked by split votes over the past two years, stemming from deep-seated ideological differences. Two years ago, the majority on…
Affluent property owners in Balsam Mountain Preserve have raised commitments of $16.3 million in an effort to stave off foreclosure of the development by lenders. Balsam Mountain Preserve, a mega development on 4,400 acres in Jackson County, owes nearly $20…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:39

Canton’s future pivots on heated board race

When voters head to the polls in Canton next week, they will face a daunting and even unwieldy list to choose from: 10 candidates for four seats on the board. Town politics in Canton have been marked by division the…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Canton leaders to compare and contrast lists

As everyone else compiles wish lists for the holiday season, Canton’s four aldermen will put together a list of their own on behalf of the town. Soon after they were sworn into office last Tuesday (Nov. 24), Mayor Pat Smathers…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Cataloochee reaches out to women

Ski instructor Kathy New can truly empathize with the nervous beginners she teaches at the Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley each winter. More than 30 years ago, New took her first turns on the very same slopes as her…
While the addition of alcohol sales at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel will undoubtedly be lucrative for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, they won’t be alone in reaping a windfall. Harrah’s will order all its liquor from the ABC…
Small businesses struggling to pay bills after a rockslide shut down Interstate 40 now have the option of applying for federal low-interest loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering up to $2 million in assistance to each company that…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

The kindest army

Though the bell ringers have seen how hard the recession has hit the local community, they are surprised at the amount of giving they witness. “It always amazes me,” said Fred Galloway, a Waynesville bell ringer. “The harder the times…
Haywood County was more economically distressed this year, according to state rankings that essentially classify the counties from wealthiest to poorest. But Mark Clasby, executive director for the economic development commission, is far from disappointed about the news. “I’m very…
Around Thanksgiving, they begin showing up outside stores with a red kettle, a jingling bell and a smile. In many people’s eyes, Salvation Army bell ringers are as integral to the holiday season as Christmas trees, carols and Santa Claus.…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Tribal casino gets OK for gaming floor alcohol

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino may soon serve alcohol on the gaming floor, after receiving an unofficial go-ahead from a state attorney. The casino has already been offering customers beer, wine and mixed drinks at restaurants and lounges in its adjacent hotel.…
North Carolina’s community colleges may have flung open their doors to illegal immigrants once again, but only a handful of undocumented students are likely to trickle into area colleges next fall. Most undocumented students face a practical dead-end after graduating…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Rockslide cleanup could last through spring

The Interstate 40 rockslide cleanup could now take until May, according to Joel Setzer, head of the N.C. Department of Transportation for the region. At a Haywood County commissioners meeting on Monday, Setzer stated the cleanup could take between three…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

Jonathan Creek park moves closer to reality

Haywood County commissioners decided Monday to move forward with the design phase for a proposed public park and sports field in Jonathan Creek. The county’s Recreation and Parks Department is accepting conceptual proposals from local consultants until Dec. 30. Though…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Health care facilities to create new jobs

After successfully enlisting the help of local government, Haywood Regional Medical Center and Maggie Valley Health Investors are chasing state grants to fund two new medical facilities in Haywood County. Haywood County commissioners agreed to apply on HRMC’s behalf to…
Last week, Waynesville’s town board linked up with a growing grassroots movement that is calling for increased rail capacity. The town board unanimously passed a resolution to support a move to rail service in North Carolina. “To me, it’s just…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

State snuffs out smoking in bars and restaurants

Promptly after ringing in the new year, North Carolina will usher in a smoking ban in restaurant and bars on Jan. 2. While most restaurants are moseying on with the status quo for now, Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant in Waynesville is…
Local governments have begun the process of regulating cyber sweepstakes machines, which are multiplying rapidly across Western North Carolina. The responsibility for regulating cyber sweepstakes has largely been left in local governments’ hands until a consensus is reached at a…
When store owners pack up their holiday decorations next month, there’s one thing Karen Wilmot hopes they will leave up — a sign that reminds residents to shop local. As director of Swain County’s Chamber of Commerce, Wilmot handed out…
Swain County commissioners have settled a ten-month long lawsuit with Buckeye Construction for $30,000, far less than the $127,000 originally demanded. “I think the county came out a winner on this, even though it cost us,” said Commissioner Glenn Jones.…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Striking while the iron’s hot

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has found a silver lining in the Interstate 40 closure following a massive rockslide in late October near the Tennessee line. It is taking advantage of the months-long shut down by fast-tracking maintenance work…
State officials have not turned a blind eye to the economic pain caused by the rockslide in Western North Carolina, but Haywood Tourism Development Authority officials say their strategy is off the mark. First off, the state’s tourism division is…
Business owners in Western North Carolina are wrapping up an absurdly challenging year. On top of dealing with a lingering recession and a rockslide that has shut down a major section of Interstate 40 for months, they faced a major…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Tourism turnaround set back by rockslide

After a slight increase in overnight visitors this fall following a dismal summer, Haywood County tourism officials are dreading November reports.“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Lynn Collins, executive director of Haywood County Tourism Development Authority,…
The Town of Maggie Valley decided Monday to lay off its building inspector after already trimming 10 hours off his weekly schedule earlier this year. Town Manager Tim Barth said there was a strong economic case to discontinue the town’s…
It has been a difficult year for environmental nonprofits. State budget cuts have meant fewer grants and philanthropic endowments have suffered with the stock market. Meanwhile, the focus of giving has shifted towards social issues, like providing food, housing and…
The hunt for a festival director for Maggie Valley is officially over. Beating out 22 other applicants, Audrey Hager took over the position in mid-December. With Hager at the helm of the town’s struggling festival grounds, Maggie Valley is hoping…
Western North Carolina has so embraced mountain vernacular architecture that local planning boards across the area are prodding developers into adopting the style. While officials stop short of handing over a checklist to architects that includes stacked stone, steep pitched…
A bill is moving through Congress that could help boost the local economy and create jobs by drawing international tourists to Western North Carolina. The legislation would charge overseas visitors a $10 fee. The revenue would be used to market…
An overwhelming majority of citizens who showed up at a public hearing in Robbinsville spoke out against the Corridor K road project last Thursday (Oct. 29). The proposed four-lane highway would supplant the winding, two-lane roads that are currently the…
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 20:00

Franklin voters stick with familiar faces

Not one face is changing in Franklin’s local government despite close contests for mayor and aldermen. In a neck-and-neck race, Franklin Mayor Joe Collins beat out Alderman Bob Scott by only 14 votes to reclaim the office for another two…
After a feel-good race lacking much controversy, Maggie Valley voters have re-elected Saralyn Price to her second term on the town board, sending with her a fresh face, motel owner Scott Pauley. Both Price and Pauley ran on campaigns that…
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