We got to the stop sign at the bottom of our mountain in our fully loaded truck — bikes, camping gear, clothes, food, coolers, books, magazines — and we had to make a decision: left or right. On the fly, we chose left.

Left meant Interstate 40 and the route up through Knoxville, Lexington, Cincy, Toledo and eventually to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Right would have taken us up I-26 and eventually through Columbus, Ohio, before turning west and then north to make our destination. GPS programs touted the I-40 route as shorter, but travelers we had talked to said the other way was often faster because you avoided so many large cities.

I’ve known Ted Carr many years, and he is not a liar.

That charge has been leveled against him by at least one supporter of the five members of the Haywood Republican Alliance whose loyalty to the party has been called into question.

Since my mom’s passing almost a year ago, my dad and I have become very close. Without her here as our anchor, we’ve relied on one another. I now talk to him about things once reserved for my mom or sister.

The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus says there could be a government shutdown if money isn’t included in a spending bill for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the caucus chairman, said Monday that conservatives will block any spending bill that doesn’t include the funding.

Half a year into his presidency, it seems pretty clear that Donald Trump would rather continue campaigning — or golfing, or both — than actually governing the country. Who can blame him? It is so much easier and more gratifying to stir up the troops with snide remarks about Hillary Clinton or the free press and to make exciting promises about reforming health care and lowering taxes than it is to confront a fundamental truth: the Republican party has had years to consider, craft, and deliver a health care plan that would supplant the much maligned Affordable Care Act, and the best they could do was offer a plan that guts Medicaid to the tune of $830 billion to fund a huge tax cut for the wealthy, while leaving millions Americans without any health care at all. Brilliant.

I call myself an adventurer.

While I do love to travel, adventuring isn’t just about experiencing new places and seeing new things. In my mind, a true adventurer works to find novelty and excitement in the seemingly mundane, in her everyday surroundings.

As I sit to write a day before Independence Day, it seems I keep hearing voices questioning whether the shared American identity that has driven this country through so many travails will survive what the modern world is throwing at us.

It’s hard to define just what that shared identity is. Is it our very basic belief in freedom and the will to protect it at all costs? Is it that every person should have the opportunity to rise to the level of his or her ability? Or the belief that honor, justice and morality as enshrined by the founders set us apart from other nations? Corny as it sounds, those statements ring true for me.

It’s a Saturday night in Sparta, and the three sisters — all of them widows — are heading off to church in Cherry Lane for a singing. The kids and I just rolled into town for a family reunion on my mother’s side, but that’s not until Sunday afternoon, which gives us the evening and Sunday morning to visit with Janie and Louise and Lillie, all three of them sisters of my late father. But first, they’re going to Cherry Lane to sing hymns.

When we get to Janie’s house, she has a huge spread already laid out on the kitchen counter: half a dozen or so barbecued chicken halves wrapped in tin foil from the VFW, a platter of deviled eggs, some cut-up cucumbers, a bowl of pork and beans, a plate of sliced tomatoes, a big bowl of slaw, and a chocolate pound cake.

By Rod Harkelroad and Maurice Phillips

Our country’s healthcare system is in the midst of a massive upheaval. Never before have we witnessed such challenges that will impact both the type of care our community receives and the ability of our local hospital to continue providing the high-quality care that we know each of you have come to expect from our physicians, nurses and staff. 

The opening of the new BearWaters Brewing in Canton is a great shot in the arm for one of most unique towns in this region. But there’s more than just a brewery happening in Canton, and we hope the recent successes continue to create momentum.

Canton is a mill town. The paper mill that dominates its landscape opened in 1909 as Champion Paper and continues churning out items like Starbucks coffee cups and cardboard for juice and milk containers today under the umbrella of Evergreen Packaging. It and its sister plant in Waynesville still employ more than 1,000 workers, a rarity for a Western North Carolina manufacturer these days.

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