coverFire, smoke, and efforts to make more of both fill the event pavilion at Haywood County Fair Grounds on a chilly May morning that feels more like early March. The Dutch oven class gathers around a fire in the right corner of the open-walled building, the blacksmiths get ready for their afternoon class in the far end and a cotton ball flames placidly atop the green metal case that Doug Knight is using to hold flint rocks for his fire-starting class. Class is in full swing, but nobody is paying the burning cotton any mind. They’re all too busy trying to ignite nests of frayed rope and char cloth with hard-won sparks from flint and steel.

It’s harder than it looks. 

It was a pretty normal Wednesday morning was for most students at Tuscola High School last week, but as the school day went on word leaked out that one second-period biology class had involved threats, a call to the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office and the arrest of 16-year-old sophomore Joseph “Joey” Jacobs. 

A telecommunications outage hit the Waynesville area last Thursday evening, knocking out cell phones, TV, Internet and even landlines for thousands of residents.

“One by one, across the county people are realizing on their own that they have no cellular services or voice or data communication tool,” said Greg Shuping, the Haywood County Emergency Services Director.

fr doveIf there’s a word that precedes Ira Dove, it’s smart — really smart, very smart, even super smart.

“He’s always the smartest person in the room,” said Haywood County Commissioner Mark Swanger. “He is intelligent, he is very organized, he is an excellent communicator, he is a good listener, he is a good leader and has good common sense.”

fr grassHaywood County commissioners decided this week to install an irrigation system for the lawn of the historic courthouse to ensure the downtown Waynesville icon lives up to its landmark status.

fr publicartA life-sized bronze sculpture of three children catching tadpoles will soon have a new pad in the Frog Level district of downtown Waynesville.

It’s an unenviable task, but one Haywood County tourism leaders face every year: weighing dozens of festivals and niche marketing campaigns vying for a share of tourism promotion dollars.

Deciding which festivals hold the most promise for luring coveted tourists is a balancing act, and one that’s sure to produce its share of winners and losers.

Folkmoot USA International Dance Festival once again saw its grant funding cut by the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

The  event that brings in international folk dance and music troupes from eight to 10 countries for a 10-day extravaganza has been a signature festival in Haywood County for 30 years. But some on the county tourism authority have grown weary of continued financial support for Folkmoot year after year.

A leadership upheaval within the Haywood County GOP is far from settled, but some members are calling for a reconciliation of opposing camps within the party.

The internal power struggle in the local party should take a backseat to the more important task at hand: campaigning for Republican candidates who will be on the ballot this fall. At least that’s the appeal that Lisa Womack made to members of the executive committee at a party meeting earlier this month in Waynesville.

op frBy Mark Swanger • Guest Columnist

Regardless of their magnitude, all disasters — natural or man-made — are local events and require an immediate, coordinated response from local government to protect public health, safety and welfare.

This function is called Emergency Management, and, in the aftermath of national tragedies such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, not to mention incidents like our own two 500-year floods in September 2004, many local governments have adopted ordinances to allow for a better, quicker response to disasters. These Emergency Management ordinances, which are heavily regulated through state and federal laws, give local governments the authority to quickly mobilize the resources needed to protect our citizens when the unexpected occurs.

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