Fri07182014

     Subscribe  |  Contact  |  Advertise  |  RSS Feed Other Publications

The Town of Canton has begun clamping down on video sweepstakes machines with a new ordinance last week, but some business owners seemed more relieved than disappointed. That’s because the ordinance ends the 90-day moratorium passed in November and clears…
Canton aldermen are embarking on an ambitious quest to identify long-term goals and strategies that will shape the town in years to come. “You’ve got to have a plan, and this is the plan for the future of Canton,” said…
The state agency in charge of implementing new mental health rules this year says those changes will save money and improve quality, but some providers see it as a knee-jerk reaction that will limit access to services and put people…
A 31-year-old attorney in Jackson County pleaded guilty this week to forging judges’ signatures and creating phony court documents. John Lewis faked the signatures on limited privilege driver’s licenses for at least three clients in Swain County who had their…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Canton Mill pursues new pollution permit

Evergreen Packaging, a large paper mill in Canton, is seeking a new water pollution permit for the Pigeon River. The paper mill sucks roughly 29 million gallons a day out of the river and uses it in myriad aspects of…
It may be illegal to throw away plastic bottles in North Carolina these days, but don’t expect a landfill patrol to start picking through your trash any time soon. The state is still trying to divine how exactly to enforce…
Haywood Regional Medical Center was in better financial shape than expected as it embarked on an affiliation with neighboring hospitals under WestCare and entered a management contract with Carolinas Healthcare System this month. The latest financial report for Haywood Regional…
Elder abuse takes many forms and, thanks to a national grant program, law enforcement officers in Western North Carolina now know what to look for. In 2007, the Department of Justice awarded the 30th Judicial District Sexual Assault Alliance a…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Golf club to restore Upper Cullasaja

The Upper Cullasaja Watershed Association and the Cullasaja Club are pursuing state funding to restore the headwaters of the Cullasaja River. The partners have applied to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund for money that would allow them…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Congregation backs leaders’ stand on prayer

Responding to a Smoky Mountain News article covering the debate over prayer at public meetings, a group of Macon County residents attended the county’s first board meeting of the New Year to urge the commissioners to hold their ground on…
Duke Energy could start tearing down the Dillsboro Dam any day after Jackson County lost a final and critical legal battle this week. Judge Zoro Guice denied a move by the county to temporarily halt demolition on the Dillsboro Dam.…
A year ago, state officials promised a group of Macon County residents that they would get a cost estimate for what it would take to rehabilitate the McCoy Bridge, a single lane truss bridge that dates from the 1930s. That…
Foreclosure against Balsam Mountain Preserve could happen by month’s end barring a last-ditch financing deal by developers in the next couple of weeks. A court order gave lenders the go-ahead to move forward with foreclosure at a hearing last week.…
The Jackson County commissioners have breathed new life into the county’s airport authority by taking it over. After appointing themselves to five of the six seats on the airport board last month, the commissioners met in their new capacity for…
In August a computer hacker broke into a North Carolina Community College System server and potentially gained access to the personal information of 51,000 library users across the state. The cyber break-in was deemed harmless by investigators in the wake…
Threat of a federal lawsuit won’t be enough to stop some county commissioners in Western North Carolina from praying in the name of Jesus Christ before their meetings. “I wouldn’t go out and deliberately break a law, but if there…
The census has been part of government since Roman times and it has the baggage to prove it. As the U.S. Census Bureau kicks off its 2010 effort, the federal agency is enlisting the help of local organizations to help…
They haven’t gone quietly, and they haven’t gone quickly, but Christians are losing the battle over prayer in public life. Courts have banned public displays of the Ten Commandments in a religious context. School prayer has been demoted to a…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Latest prayer case rekindles controversy

A federal magistrate’s recommendation that limits prayer before government meetings in Forsyth County has touched off a fiery debate across the state over the long-entrenched practice. In early November, Magistrate Judge Trevor Sharp determined that Forsyth County commissioners failed to…
There’s free wireless up for grabs to anyone ambling down Main Street in Waynesville, but it’s so obscure that even those who work downtown are oblivious to its existence. When tourists file into stores and restaurants asking where they can…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

Bench holds tradition of balanced temperament

Steve Bryant was fresh out of law school and just learning his way around the courtroom when the judge hearing his case one day threatened to throw him in jail. The judge had announced a recess, and Bryant seized the…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

Swain starts to budge on Deal’s Gap debate

Despite Graham County pledging to end all emergency services to Deal’s Gap starting Jan. 1, its EMS director has already sent rescue squads to respond to tractor trailer wrecks in the Swain territory since the year began. Graham’s emergency services…
After months of hard work, Macon County’s steep slope committee shared its recommendations with the county’s planning board last week.Now the question is whether the committee’s work will survive with its core principles intact if or when it is adopted…
A landslide at the Waterdance development in the Tuckasegee area of Jackson County washed out a road and dumped a significant amount of mud and concrete into the Tuckasegee River in early February. Robbie Shelton, erosion control officer for Jackson…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

Report shows Duke considered impact on Kituwah

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the company’s proposed substation, Duke Energy representatives claimed they were unaware of the project’s potential impact on the Cherokee’s most valued site. But Russ Townsend, historic preservation officer for the Eastern Band of…
After a day of discussions between the leadership of Duke Energy and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the dispute over the construction of a proposed power substation near the tribe’s most sacred site remains unresolved. Last Wednesday (Feb. 17)…
When it comes to landfills, rain isn’t just inconvenient — it’s dangerous. In 2009, the White Oak landfill in Haywood County had to contend with more than 35 million gallons of rainwater seeping into disposed waste. While 80 percent of…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

County and architect cross wires on library fee

Last week a confused set of Jackson County commissioners learned their new library may cost more money than they thought, but County Manager Ken Westmoreland said the administrative mix-up won’t result in a higher price tag than the one originally…
It’s a watershed year for the legal community in Western North Carolina as attorneys gear up for a hotly contested election for three open judge seats. There’s at least nine and possibly 10 candidates running for the three seats. Two…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

Sylva market changes local foodscape

Armed with an e-newsletter and an indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit, Eric Hendrix is determined to bring the fruits of the ocean to the mountains of Western North Carolina. “The goal is to consistently provide fresh fish in the mountains, because you…
Business owners with cyber sweepstakes machines in Maggie Valley received both good and bad news last week. Luckily for them, the town board passed a much lower business license fee than originally proposed and delayed the pay-up date till July,…
The threat of another landslide isn’t stopping volunteers from facing the mudslide head-on and helping wherever they can. Local volunteers are working in the absence of state and federal aid for residents who find themselves banished from their homes indefinitely.…
In rare good news for Swain County’s jail, a new agreement will soon usher federal prisoners into the often half-empty facility. Sheriff Curtis Cochran has worked for months to secure an official deal with the U.S. Marshals Service, which will…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Macon fly-over shows what’s at stake

There’s no way to prevent landslides in the mountains, but there is a way to make their impact on humans more predictable. That’s the message that N.C. Geologist Rick Wooten and the staff of the North Carolina Geological Survey have…
Dozens of local businesses owed money by Ghost Town are mulling over ballots this week that will ultimately decide the amusement park’s fate. Ghost Town, which landed in bankruptcy a year ago, owes a total of $13.5 million. It hopes…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Geologists: Maggie landslide still unstable

While residents wait for answers and 16,000 tons of debris hangs precariously over the Rich Cove community, an army of people are assessing the aftermath of the latest landslide in Maggie Valley. Representatives from the North Carolina Geological Survey, the…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Nuts and bolts of landslide mapping

Macon County was the first to be targeted under a statewide initiative launched in 2006 to map areas prone to landslide in the mountains. Over a one-and-a-half-year period, a team of state geologists led by geologist Rick Wooten surveyed 770…
Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe may not have done anything illegal, but he’s stepped into the middle of a controversy in the run-up to his re-election campaign. Ashe used state and federal money from narcotics seizures to operate an informal…
Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park was behind on its general liability insurance payments in the months leading up to a massive landslide that originated from its property. Ghost Town has been struggling with bankruptcy for the past year.…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Haywood acquires fiberoptic line

Haywood County recently dropped a lawsuit against Wynncom, after the telecommunications company agreed to hand over its fiberoptic network to the county for $6,500. Wynncom, based in Lexington, N.C., was hired to build a fiberoptic line for Haywood and be…
A disagreement over Duke Energy’s placement of a power substation near Cherokee’s most significant cultural site has instigated a meeting between the top leaders of the tribe and the company. Principal Chief Michell Hicks, the tribal council, and the attorney…
Ed Williams is an expert when it comes to spotting the telltale signs of sewage seeping into creeks. “You get an eye and a nose for it,” Williams said. “You put the boots on and get in. You just start…
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 17:37

Not for the faint of heart

The highly technical and extremely dangerous work to stabilize the rockslide is being carried out by Janod, a Canadian company. A leading expert in rock stabilization, they get called in by mines, quarries, railroads and highway departments to shore up…
Haywood County is headed to arbitration in a lawsuit over the $8.2 million renovation to the historic courthouse. The contractor sued the county for $2 million after being fired from the job in May 2008. The county claimed the contractor…
Will wind-generated power save the environment or sacrifice it? The answer depends on who you ask and it could have broad implications for the future of clean energy in North Carolina. In a debate raging in the General Assembly, Western…
After months of debate, Haywood Community College leaders emerged victorious this week in their quest to build a $10.3 million building where craft industries will be taught. From weaving to pottery to woodworking, the new building will be a showcase…
After six felons in North Carolina ran for sheriff during the May primaries, legislators decided it was time to close that particular legal loophole. This November, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would put a stop to convicted…
Sylva Commissioner Christina Matheson surfaced as peacemaker last week for a town board that, among other matters, has shown signs of fracturing over the best method of hiring a new police chief. Commissioner Harold Hensley bucked up at a meeting…
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 12:37

Sylva pedestrian plan to come one step at a time

Getting around on your own two feet in Sylva would be safer and easier if an ambitious, $4.5-million pedestrian plan becomes reality. The plan — really, a wish list that would help keep the town moving now and in the…
Waynesville is attempting to preserve the neighborhood bounded by Walnut and North Main streets by seeking official recognition from the National Register of Historic Places. The town recently received a grant through the Certified Local Government Program to prepare a…
Haywood County officials foresee the historic hospital in Waynesville one day being transformed into affordable or senior housing. “That would be my vision,” said Commissioner Bill Upton. “Something might show up that we haven’t thought of, but affordable housing is…
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 12:31

Supporters hoping to keep WBHN on the air

When Swain County faced an onslaught of snow and ice last winter, local radio station WBHN wasn’t broadcasting road information or school closings. Die-hard fans of Swain County High’s sports teams haven’t been able to tune into any of the…
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 12:28

How would being a town help Cullowhee?

In hopes of transforming Cullowhee into a more vibrant college community, a group dedicated to reinventing the lackluster area around campus wants the Village of Forest Hills to expand its town limits and annex a portion of the university and…
Being the top leader of the Village of Forest Hills isn’t as serene as it once was. Admittedly, Irene Hooper, the first mayor of this subdivision-turned-town, dealt with some thorny issues after the residential area near Western Carolina University voted…
Chris Carver found himself in the unusual position of being both rescuer and evacuee when a massive mudslide struck Rich Cove Road in Maggie Valley on Friday night. “I live there, right where it stopped,” said Carver, assistant chief of…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Sylva teen club closes quietly

A Sylva teen club that sparked controversy two months ago by disseminating a flyer inviting high school students to “come as wasted as you want” has closed its doors. In December, concerned parents brought 500 signatures to a town board…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Cash settlement here at last

Swain County officially signed a cash settlement with the federal government in a moving and historic ceremony Saturday, ending a bitter decades-long dispute over the North Shore Road. Swain will received $52 million from the government, and in exchange will…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Messy lawsuits likely left in landslide’s wake

It could take months or even years for lawsuits over a massive landslide in Maggie Valley to be resolved, leaving affected property owners in limbo over who is financially responsible for the damage to their homes. The landslide originated from…
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 12:46

Building Better Balance

Dr. Kate Queen will address “Building Better Balance” during a lunch and learn session from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27, at on the second floor of Haywood Regional Health & Fitness Center. She will be joined by a…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Corridor K sent back to drawing board

A proposed four-lane highway through a mountainous region of Graham County has suffered a setback. The N.C. Department of Transportation was nearing the final planning stages and hoped to start construction in a few years on what is commonly known…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Going, going, gone

When Duke first broached the idea of tearing down the Dillsboro dam eight years ago, Mark Singleton thought he would see this day come much sooner than it did. A champion of dam removal both for the ecological and recreation…
Betty Miner was standing in her kitchen getting ready to fix supper last Friday when the pictures on her walls fell to the ground. “I heard a sound and ran to where I heard it and that’s when the mud…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians may pursue legal action against Duke Energy after learning about the utility company’s plans to put an electric substation near Kituwah mound, the tribe’s most sacred site. On Friday the EBCI’s tribal council passed…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Waynesville moves on skate park

Skateboard enthusiasts in Waynesville will be happy to hear the town has been busily preparing for a long-awaited skate park on Vance Street near the recreation center. The town board recently dropped $28,500 on a California firm called Spohn Ranch…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

What is Kituwah?

Kituwah is a concept much larger than the mound site proper, which is recorded with the state register of historic places. The name signifies the mothertown of the Cherokee, a kind of original community with which all Cherokees identify. “The…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Safeguards in place, but cracks remain

While buckling and cracks were readily visible in old retaining walls built out of railroad ties at Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park owners failed to officially notify anyone with Haywood County of the town of Maggie Valley. Mountainside…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

A time for healing

The signing of a cash settlement deal for Swain County last week was a heartbreaking end to a lifelong struggle for many. For decades, road supporters held on to hope — hope that the government would honor the promise it…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

Local fishermen sad to see the dam go

The first day of demolition on the Dillsboro Dam attracted hundreds of spectators last Wednesday. A roadside pull-off overlooking the Tuckasegee afforded a bird’s eye view of the machinery chipping away at the dam below. Some vying for a spot…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

All three incumbents to run again in Macon

Macon The Macon County board has four commissioners and one chairman. This year, the seats of two commissioners and the chairman are up for re-election. A party primary in May will narrow the field to one Democrat and one Republican…
County commissioners in Western North Carolina face a fork in the road after a federal judge in Forsyth County made it clear last week that prayers mentioning “Jesus” at county meetings are unconstitutional. They can submit to the law, or…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Two wide-open seats will define Swain race

Swain The Swain County board has four commissioner seats and one chairman. All five seats are up for election every four years. A party primary in May will narrow down the field of candidates on the ticket to four Democrats…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Road to Nowhere crusade over at last

A defining moment in the decades-long debate over the North Shore Road will play out in Swain County this week. Commissioners are slated to vote in favor of a cash settlement from the federal government in lieu of building the…
Two contrasting images of the Pigeon River emerged at a public hearing on a controversial new water pollution permit for Evergreen Packaging, a paper mill in Canton. The mill needs to renew its state permit to continue drawing roughly 29…
Leaders of the town of Dillsboro and members of Western Carolina University’s faculty unveiled the framework for an ongoing partnership that will help Dillsboro build a business identity. Discussions between former mayor Jean Hartbarger and WCU Chancellor John Bardo last…
Haywood The Haywood County board has five commissioner seats. Three seats are up for election this year. A party primary in May will narrow down the field to three Democrats and three Republicans for the three vacant seats. Haywood Commissioner…
Jackson The Jackson County board consists of four commissioners and one chairman. This year, the two commissioner seats and chairman are up for election. Commissioners must live within their voting district to seek election, but the county chairman is elected…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

SCC’s Cecil Groves to retire at end of year

Cecil Groves, president of Southwestern Community College since 1997, informed the board of trustees and college faculty and staff that he will retire at the end of this academic year. “As for everything and everyone, there is a season. My…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Back to the old homestead

Sometimes you have to go away to come home again. Way up Coweeta Gap in south Macon County is a place at the end of Shope Road called Sanders Knob. Paul and Lara Chew live there in a cabin that…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Quick facts

• The mill is operating within state pollution limits on most counts. The current permit allows a variance in two areas: temperature and water color. In the new permit, the mill is again seeking a variance for temperature, but not…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Sun power supplies a path to simplicity

Lydia Aydlett first moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina during the height of the back-to-the-land movement, and it’s taken her all the time since to understand why living a sustainable life is so important to her. Aydlett grew…
Macon County Chairman Ronnie Beale knew the county had a problem when two young working mothers contacted him directly following the closure of a daycare and unable to find openings elsewhere. “They were saying ‘We don’t have anywhere to send…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Haywood Waterways applauds water guardians

Haywood Waterways Association recently gave out 2009 stewardship awards to several people and organizations that have worked to protect and improve the waterways of Haywood County. n Volunteer Organization of the Year went to Mike Gillespie and the Richland Creek…
“Barbecue is all about slow and low,” said Blackrock BBQ owner and pit master James Aust. “The secret’s in the rub, and I can’t share that.” Barbecue, as a food, lends itself to mysterious discourse, in part, because it’s so…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

Auto dealer reinvents to stay alive

When Daniel Allison III learned last May that General Motors wouldn’t renew his franchise agreement, he couldn’t believe it. “Shock,” Allison said. “I think you go through being angry and then, once I got through all my feelings, I worried…
There is, perhaps, no sheriff’s race as hotly contested as the one currently taking place in Swain County. Sheriff Curtis Cochran’s volatile first term as sheriff has brought no shortage of issues — or candidates — to the Swain sheriff’s…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

Arson case thickens plot in sheriff’s race

A fire at the business of a Jackson County sheriff candidate last week has cast a shadow over the race. Robin Gunnels, owner of Custom Truck Covers in Sylva and a Democratic candidate for sheriff, believes the attack on his…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

Landslide count keeps climbing

In a record year for landslides, yet another one struck this week, this time along U.S. 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The slide occurred Monday near Newfound Gap, about a mile from the Tennessee state line. One lane…
“It’s the oldest constitutional office in the state,” said Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. “We had sheriffs in North Carolina before we had counties.” Just because something is old, doesn’t mean it’s good. Increasingly,…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

Candidate profiles

Democrat candidates Steve Buchanan, 50, Bryson City resident, owner of a construction company “Most of the thefts relate back to drug use, people stealing to pay for their drug habit, and I feel that it’s at a point now where…
A group of activists arrested for civil disobedience during protests of Duke Energy’s new coal plant last year have been let off the hook for a second time. Activists were arrested for trespassing in two separate demonstrations last year, one…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

Ashe squares off against three opponents

Voters in the Democratic Primary in Jackson County must choose which of the four candidates profiled below should advance to the November election. Two other candidates, Mary Rock and Tim O’Brien, plan to run in November as unaffiliated candidates, but…
Voters in the Democratic Primary in Haywood County must choose which of the two candidates profiled here will advance to the November election. Republican candidate Bill Wilke is running unopposed in the primary and will automatically advance. Bobby Suttles, 65,…
The Jackson County Courthouse, Sylva’s most distinctive building, was built in a rush. C.J. Harris, a prominent industrialist and wealthy Sylva businessman, bankrolled the $50,000 project in 1914 in return for the county seat being moved from Webster to Sylva.…
Tony Elders didn’t realize quite how much on-the-job exercise he was in for when he was hired to oversee Jackson County’s new development regulations three years ago. He often must lace up his boots and take off cross-country, GPS unit…
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 19:03

HCC not taking no as an answer

Haywood Community College remains hopeful that the county will increase funding to the college, despite reluctance by the county commissioners to provide what they see as special treatment to HCC amidst across the board budget cuts. “I view it as…
Everything has fallen into place for a government-sponsored cleanup of the Rich Cove mudslide in Maggie Valley, an undertaking pegged at roughly $1.47 million. The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed last week to foot 75 percent of the bill…
For many low-income women, pregnancy can lead to more stress than excitement. Most of the expecting mothers who visit local health departments are facing unplanned pregnancies. Maternal care coordinators across the state have experienced firsthand all possible emotions along with…
Haywood Community College leaders say county commissioners are unfairly accusing them of overspending on a new $10.2 million complex where arts and crafts will be taught. Last week, Commissioner Kevin Ensley called it the most expensive building per square foot…
The Macon County Planning Board voted unanimously March 18 to forward the recommendations of its steep slope committee to the county commissioners. “What I would like to ask is that the planning board take this document before the commissioners and…