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It is a day Lawrence Hyatt looks forward to all year — venturing into the Smokies backcountry to pay homage at the graves of early settlers who lived there.
Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has unveiled a $40 million, 10-year campus master plan in hopes of bolstering convention business and attracting a new breed of resort tourist.
Ask vacationers why they pick Jackson County, and you might heard words like “escape,” “relief” and “tradition.” 
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:23

Lots of winners in festival grants

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority will hand out a bevy of grants for festivals and niche tourism projects throughout the county this year — most of them old standards but a few new events.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:21

Folkmoot back in the tourism grant fold

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority will restore annual grant funding for Folkmoot USA, reversing a move last year to cut off the highly popular international folk dance festival. 
The Maggie Valley town board will soon divest itself from the role of both judge and jury for new businesses moving into the town’s commercial district.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:17

Flourishing in a fading art form

It’s Monday morning, and Mary Lou Rinehart is taking a moment to relax. Owner of Clyde Ray’s Flower Shop in Waynesville, Rinehart spent most of the weekend putting the final touches on innumerable corsages and arrangements for the two high…
Jackson County Schools brokered a sweet deal with county commissioners last year, or so it seemed at the time. School leaders wanted to build a new gym and auditorium at Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva, but the $11.4 million…
A 16-year-old Tuscola High School student was arrested by Haywood County Sheriff’s Office deputies Thursday afternoon, April 18, and charged with a felony after telling fellow students he planned to commit mass acts of violence at the school the following…
If a student at Central Elementary has a particularly tough weekend at home, school counselor Leslie Smith won’t get to hear about it until four days later.
As Lieutenant James Rossi took the stage in his fatigues, a toddler’s voice cut across the auditorium, breaking the otherwise formal and borderline somber ceremony marking the imminent deployment of local National Guard troops to Afghanistan.
The domestic violence nonprofit REACH of Macon County is facing a more than $80,000 shortfall next year due partly to state budget cuts and partly to repercussions of stepping up to the plate when assault victims in neighboring Jackson County…
Nearly a year has passed since a domestic violence support agency in Jackson County abruptly shut down under financial duress, and so far there’s no sign on the horizon of a new nonprofit to fill the void. In the meantime,…
For years, state funding for libraries has been on the decline. But librarians in Western North Carolina are not taking this next round lying down. In response to a recommendation by Gov. Pat McCroy to cut the state library budget…
The construction of a bridge and entrance road to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ second casino in Murphy has jumped from not even on the radar to the front of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s list of top road-building…
As the manhunt ends, the nation begins to cope and the primary suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing either lay dead or in custody, Dr. Allan Panter, a Sylva emergency room doctor who visited Boston for the race, is still…
Mail carriers in Haywood County will collected non-perishable food items for the National Letter Carriers’ “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive on Saturday, May 11. Place canned goods or other non-perishable items in your mailbox before the mail carrier stops by…
When Sydney Bridges sets out to do something, she doesn’t give up. A 10th grader at Tuscola High School in Haywood County, Bridges is currently spearheading a fund-raising campaign to build a clear water well in Kampala, Uganda.
The state fund that helped conserve miles of riverfront, protect thousands of acres of undeveloped mountainsides and build countless sewer and water projects in Western North Carolina is hanging on by a thread.
The Jackson County Planning Board debated where to draw the line between safety and individual rights last month in its ongoing rewrite of steep slope rules. Specifically, should driveways to homes on steep slopes have to meet safety standards?
In several counties in Western North Carolina, a showdown between the printed word and the digital age could soon take place. A bill has passed the N.C. Senate that allows some town and county governments in the region to opt…
Haywood County commissioners may soon revisit the unsettled issue of whether Confederate Flags can be flown on the lawn of the historic Waynesville courthouse. County commissioners were caught in a maelstrom last year when a philosophical debate broke out between…
The Haywood Community College Board of Trustees has given preliminary approval for the construction of a training facility for law enforcement and emergency service workers.
If the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority is footing the bill for a magazine ad, brochure, sign — you name it — the tourism agency deserves recognition, tourism board members reaffirmed last week.
A state bill that would raise Haywood County’s lodging tax is still sitting idly in committee in Raleigh with no signs of going up for a vote soon in the General Assembly.
A convenience store owner in Macon County was let off the hook by a judge for four misdemeanor charges of operating illegal sweepstakes machines — but it will have little or no bearing on the state’s ban on the machines.
Shortly after takeoff, the Smoky Mountain Flying Club is having to re-route its course.  The flying club nearly lost an $11,000 non-refundable down payment on an airplane after a deal with investors went bad.
After months of debate and protest, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Tribal Council voted to let the bear zoos on the Qualla Boundary remain open, although it was not unanimous.
The town of Waynesville has a large checklist to tackle in the coming months before Lake Junaluska is officially added to the town limits.
Wednesday, 01 May 2013 01:10

Sylva Walmart sign decision pending

Sylva town leaders once again have a public hearing on the docket to decide the fate of oversized Walmart signs, but are once again wondering whether representatives of Walmart will stand them up.
Dr. Janine Keever still remembers that do-or-die moment in her undergrad chemistry class like it was yesterday. The grades just came back on her first exam of the year, and it wasn’t pretty. Her dream of medical school seemed to…
As long as Realtor Sammie Powell leans back in his chair in his home office, he can talk on his cell phone all day long. But as soon as he stands up to reach for something across his desk, his…
The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin is hosting a one-day leadership event from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 10 for those who want to move forward as a leader. The simulcast event will be broadcast…
A state-of-the-art training facility built by Drake Software is the latest addition to Macon County’s economic landscape.
A bill that recently passed the state Senate would take social assistance away from anyone using drugs by requiring state aid recipients to take a mandatory drug test.
Two tight-pocketed Macon County commissioners, who have voted consistently against all sorts of new government spending, have decided to go on the offensive and push for a tax decrease.
Sewage and what to do with it has posed a complicated set of problems for the community of Cashiers — problems that could put in peril the area’s economic development as much as the public’s health.
Jackson County leaders are moving ahead with plans to open a liquor store in Cashiers, despite up to $200,000 in start-up costs that could take more than five years to recoup before seeing a profit.
Macon County Schools are facing a $2 million budget shortfall and are hoping the county will come to the rescue. That leaves county commissioners with a difficult decision: inject substantial amounts of money into the school system or force the…
Walmart in Sylva was asking for the town board to grant them an exemption for a larger storefront sign. But instead of getting a pass on the existing ordinance, the town board decided to change the sign law as it…
Haywood Community College has asked for more than $1.4 million from the county for building and renovations projects on campus in the coming fiscal year.
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 01:41

News notes from Cherokee

State of housing in Cherokee to be surveyed A federal study researching housing conditions on Indian reservations across the U.S. will include the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In 2009, Congress mandated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development…
Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Tribal Council took issue with a construction budget increase for the tribe’s justice center and jail during their meeting last week, a sign of overall displeasure with past and current projects demanding…
Standing next to Louis “Louie” Bing, you’d never know he was homeless. While waiting for a cup of coffee at City Bakery in Waynesville, the 65-year-old stands patiently alongside tourists, retirees and locals. His clothes, shoes and beard are well kempt.
At first blush, Officer Nan Tritt looks like any other cop. She wears a badge and a gun, and the heft of a bulletproof vest shows under her uniform.
The Haywood County Board of Commissioners have made it clear that without a property tax increase, funding is unlikely for additional school resource officers and guidance counselors.
The 10-person Haywood Regional Medical Center board will now include an 11th member. The Haywood Board of Commissioners Monday approved a change to the hospital board’s bylaws to up the number of members and appointed Neil Budde to the 11th…
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 01:25

Bring on the tourists

This week is Travel and Tourism Week in Haywood County. The Haywood County Board of Commissioners Monday officially dubbed May 4-12 Travel and Tourism Week to recognize the importance of the industry in the county and its positive impact on…
Haywood County commissioners weighed the merits of saving money versus government transparency this week. State law requires counties and towns to publish notices of meetings, public hearings and contracts going out to bid in the local newspaper of record. Newspapers…
A new landscape plan for the Haywood County historic courthouse is mostly devoid of large shade trees, in stark contrast to the many stately sugar maples that graced the lawn until recently. Instead, it opts for just a handful of…
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 01:17

Landslide kills railroad worker

A Waynesville man who works for Norfolk Southern Railway was buried and killed by a landslide in the middle of the night Sunday while surveying tracks for storm damage following a weekend of unrelenting rains throughout the region.
A landslide east of Canton took out a dirt road early Monday morning following two solid days of unceasing rains, blocking about 40 people in their homes who had no other way to get out of their neighborhood.
Out of all the problems each county faces, how do you one narrow them down to focus on just three?
The Haywood County Board of Education has concluded that the cost of putting officers in elementary schools is not worth raising property taxes.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 13:28

Remembering Fontana’s sacrifice

The Proctor Revival Organization is hosting its third annual month long remembrance and celebration of the Proctor, Judson, Bushnell and Japan communities, which were flooded during the creation of Fontana Dam during World War II. The power generated at Fontana…
Franklin Town Board members have decided to put off action on whether to allow an indoor shooting range in town limits. The request came in April from gun dealer and former Macon County commissioner Bob Simpson. The town board was…
A Sylva gun storeowner was given special permission to fire weapons in the town limits by town leaders this month.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 13:25

Tuscola dominates WNC welding competition

Tuscola High School students placed first and second in the Western High School Welding Competition May 11 at Tuscola. Keith Wyatt placed first, earning himself a full tuition scholarship to Tulsa Welding School, which has campuses in Florida and Oklahoma.…
Who has the lowest tax rate in the state — Macon County or Jackson County? The answer is both, it just depends on who you ask.
Jackson County commissioners may be looking to change how fire departments are funded.
A group of folks allegedly raising funds on behalf of an out-of-state church have sparked complaints and questions from Franklin residents puzzled, and sometimes troubled, by the troupe’s origin and tactics.
Well raise my electric bill … again. Duke Energy is looking to hike its rates by nearly 10 percent.
Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park is scheduled to kick off its 2013 season Memorial Day weekend, thanks to the grit, passionate and determination of its new owner and longtime champion Alaska Pressley, who has slogged ahead with her…
Twice in one week, the mountainside along Holder Branch Road in Canton slid away — and that was twice too many for 34-year-old mother of three Dara Parker.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 13:11

Landslide protocol: a muddied affair

The tragic death of a railroad worker investigating a fresh landslide along a rail line last week highlighted the hidden, yet inherent, risks for workers who are first on the scene in the aftermath of a slide.  Joseph Drewnoski, 33,…
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 13:09

Cherokee casino hits earning milestone

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort’s bottom line is improving steadily each year as the nation continues to recover from the recession and as the casino expands its offerings.
About 30 cosmetology students stand at their individual workstations cutting, coloring and chatting; they are elbow-to-elbow and back-to-back, cramped as they cater to paying clients in the small salon room at Haywood Community College.
A 100-page business plan created by Western Carolina University seniors are helping guide development of a self-sustaining primary care health clinic in the university’s Health and Human Sciences Building. The team explored the needs of the WCU School of Nursing,…
The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen have been mired in gridlock for nearly nine months. With only four town board members at the moment — instead of the typical five — stalemates have ruled the day. From major issues to…
Macon County is weighing whether to relax its existing rules that ban fill dirt in the flood plain. The county’s planning board is split on the issue and struggling to find mutual ground to stand on.
Jackson County wants to bring high-speed Internet service to a greater number of residents, but doing so means convincing an Internet service provider there’s enough potential customers to make it worth their while.
Signs are businesses’ equivalent to nuclear weapons. “Everybody wants them, but you have to agree to live with them,” said Waynesville Town Planner Paul Benson. “I think what we need is a consensus on what is a reasonable approach.”
From the outside, Sandy Cloer’s office doesn’t look like much — not even a real office, in fact.  The three double-wide trailers strung end-to-end and plopped at the back of a barren parking lot hardly seem cut from the same…
The number of homeless school children in Haywood County has risen by nearly 20 percent this year compared to last. The county uses the definition of homelessness contained in the McKinney-Vento Act — any individual who lacks a fixed, regular and…
What’s it going to be for Jackson County — Just Do It; Got Milk?; A Little Dab’ll Do Ya?  That is the $50,000 question as tourism leaders edge closer to an official marketing message and tourism brand used to lure…
Canton leaders are already asking how they can do better making Camp Hope available to the public after a lawsuit threatened to seize the 100-acre forested tract and rustic camp quarters away from the town.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00

WNC duo star on reality TV show

Lights, camera … Haywood County?  During the past two years, a local reality show has become a phenomenon that’s being broadcast into homes across the country and beyond. The program is “Hillbilly Blood: A Hardscrabble Life,” and it features Western North…
Financial challenges faced by rural hospitals show no sign of a turnaround, prompting MedWest hospital leaders to consider what was once a last resort. MedWest hospitals are entertaining the idea of selling or merging with a larger hospital system that…
The Haywood County historic courthouse in Waynesville will be completely re-landscaped by the end of this week, just in time for the official launch of the summer tourist season marked by Memorial Day weekend. The county cut down all the…
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00

Haywood room tax hike deep-sixed

Even though an “overwhelming majority” of community leaders in Haywood County support a lodging tax increase, a state bill that would have done just that died in the state legislature last week.
Members of the nationally acclaimed bluegrass band Balsam Range are now the bona fide ambassadors of Haywood County.
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:16

Gettin’ together and feelin’ alright

This summer, there will be a new scent wafting through Lake Junaluska.
Renowned metal sculptor Grace Cathey has been selected to create an art piece by the Waynesville Public Art Commission. Entitled “Wild Flowers of the Smokies,” the three metal panels (six feet high by four feet wide) will each represent a…
Macon County Schools may be in store for some noticeable changes come the start of school this fall.
Ghost Town in the Sky did not open to much fanfare last weekend because, simply put, it didn’t open.
Maggie Valley’s slow and steady decline as a tourist destination comes down to aesthetics, a consultant hired to assess Maggie Valley’s economic challenges told town leaders last week.   Maggie Valley’s appearance has declined and not kept up with the…
Most who spoke during a public hearing at the Macon County Courthouse on Duke Energy’s proposed rate increases were not pleased with the prospect of another uptick on their electric bills and lambasted Duke Energy representatives for wanting to use…
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:09

Play On, Jackson County

After weeks of back-and-forth debate, deliberation and nail-biting, members of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority have zeroed in on a slogan to help sell the area to potential visitors.
Despite cutting more than $50,000 from the town’s budget, Bryson City’s leaders plan to raise property taxes and town fees in the coming fiscal year.
Swain County may soon seal a deal with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to pay for the restoration of a steam engine in hopes it would bring more tourists to town to ride the scenic train.
Since the advent of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, tourists flocking to Bryson City and Dillsboro to ride the scenic passenger train have been the envy of neighboring communities.
A group of Jackson County residents have been making the rounds in recent weeks asking decision makers to think twice before forking over $750,000 to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in hopes of increasing tourism.
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:01

Been there, done that

Haywood leaders are no strangers to overhauling their economic development strategy and structure. A major transformation played out just 10 years ago. When the dust settled on the politically charged process, the economic development director resigned.
An exploratory committee of Haywood County business leaders will examine in the coming months whether to reshuffle the county’s economic development arm for the second time in a decade.
When a rockslide shut down Interstate 40 through the Pigeon River Gorge in Haywood County three years ago, the N.C. Department of Transportation scrambled to clean up the massive slab that sheered off the mountain and then shore up the…
Enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will head to the polls Tuesday, June 6, to vote in the primary election for Tribal Council.
A state bill mandating that voters show identification to cast a ballot has split opinions down the middle, with Republicans on one side and Democrats on the other.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007 00:00

Haywood TDA helps Parkway views

Drivers on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be able to catch a few more views from overlooks through the Haywood County stretch of the popular scenic drive.
Wednesday, 16 May 2007 00:00

State, local well regulators on the way

No one knows how many wells are planted in the mountainsides of Western North Carolina.