Just shy of a decade after county offices moved into a brand-spankin’ new Haywood County Justice Center, Jackson County is considering its own courthouse overhaul — and it’s using the Haywood project as a model. Jackson pulled in Heery International, the same company that designed and built the Haywood courthouse, to do a preliminary needs assessment, and now commissioners are waiting on the results to come back before planning the next step.
Political backlash against the new conservative policies of state lawmakers has given rise to two local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Haywood and Jackson counties — the first such affiliates to be formed in the rural, predominantly white mountain counties since the NAACP’s creation about a century ago.
With campaign season barely off the ground, the Jackson County sheriff’s race has already drawn a hefty list of candidates — and of issues.
When Becky Olson first began making house calls, she was barely old enough to walk. She spent her childhood following behind her physician father’s coattails when he made house calls and shadowing her mother, a nurse, through various clinics and classrooms. She saw, too, the bounty that poured into their home from patients who just couldn’t pay her father for his services — at least in monetary terms.
Summer McMahan remembers the exact moment her life changed.
“Mountain Heritage Day [at Western Carolina University], 14 years ago,” she said. “I watched the Fiddlin’ Dill Sisters and decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
When inflated real estate values in the second-home market came back down to earth, the touchdown wasn’t gentle.
It was more of a crash-landing, and five years later two mountains counties are still sifting through the wreckage.
Jackson County commissioners have nixed the idea of making volunteer fire departments financially autonomous.
Limits on mountainside development and standards for steep slope building are once again in the spotlight in Jackson County.
The Jackson County planning board has spent the past 14 months rewriting steep slopes regulations first put in place seven years ago.
They were more restrictive than anywhere else in the mountains at the time. The watered-down version that has emerged from the rewrite is still far more protective than most mountain counties.
The steep slope hearing scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13 has been moved to Thursday, Feb. 20.
Who shows up and speaks out at a steep slope public hearing in Jackson County next week could alter what mountainside development looks like for decades to come.
David Brooks grew up dirt poor. His dad farmed corn, apples and tobacco, always with a plow and mule, never with a tractor. Brooks’ mom and five siblings were often left to tend to the 100-acre hillside farm in Jackson County when his dad journeyed in search of cash-paying jobs — taking him as far as Washington state during summers to work as a logger.
“I guess it was poverty, but we didn’t know it at the time,” Brooks said.