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Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

A knack for helping others

With a long trail of accomplishments already behind him, Tony Giorgio is ready to work his magic on Western North Carolina. In the nearly three decades of work, Giorgio’s charity Compassion for Kids has raised $1.5 million for 2,000 seriously…
Avram Friedman is not your average North Carolina political candidate. Born in the Bronx, Friedman studied political science at Hunter College, and he’s been a grassroots activist since the late 1960s. After spending his life affecting change from outside the…
Last month, officials from the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority and the Town of Sylva clashed over who was responsible for fixing a clogged town sewer line. The issue has since been resolved, with TWASA’s board voting 4-1 to reimburse…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

The Naturalist's Corner

Spring’s a buzzin’ Mom was a little concerned the other day as she helped Izzy find a butterfly net to catch white-headed “bumblebees.” Izzy was back in a couple of minutes with a roaring buzz emanating from her closed, cupped…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Smoky Mountain Center privatizes services

Smoky Mountain Center, the mental health management entity for Western North Carolina, has finally gotten itself out of the game of providing services. The suite of programs known as Smoky Operated Services would be handed over to a partnership forged…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Jackson ridge law review off the table

The Jackson County planning board is no longer contemplating revisions to the county’s ban on ridge top construction. The ridge law posed logistical challenges for county staff tasked with enforcing the ordinance. But discussion over how to tweak the ridge…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Marking Easter with a community of three

When I was young, Easter was a circumscribed affair. We woke up, hunted for painted eggs in the backyard, ate lamb chops, and went across the street to St. David’s Episcopal Church, a quaint stone monument to polite Christianity in…
A handful of Haywood County residents are demanding a vote by the people before county leaders proceed with purchasing the abandoned Wal-Mart building. The request comes despite the county commissioners’ unanimous vote in January to buy the shopping center to…
New federal standards for ozone will be issued by year’s end, and the verdict will determine whether Western North Carolina is out of compliance with air quality. Western North Carolina likely can’t fix its air quality problem alone. Charlotte, Knoxville…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

GOP contenders

There are six Republicans vying for a shot to run against Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, this year. The six Republican candidates share similar platforms on all the salient talking points: they are against the health care bill that passed, they…
The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail has added a new stop on the map for anglers — the Raven Fork trophy water on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. The fly-fishing trail leads fishermen to 15 different fishing spots in Jackson…
A pair of endangered peregrine falcons has established a new nesting spot on Whiteside Mountain near Highlands, forcing a relocation of the climbing route on the face of the mountain. Whiteside Mountain has been home to a nesting pair of…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

GOP hopes voter anger will help beat Shuler

Republicans hope 2010 will be their year to reclaim the congressional seat representing Western North Carolina — a seat they had long held but was wrested away in 2006 by political newcomer and football star Heath Shuler. Whoever wins the…
By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist Plunging public support for Obamacare accelerates presidential efforts to convince the nation that great health care savings are in our future. However, common sense leads most citizens to conclude that giving services to more…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Malicious prosecution lawsuit dismissed

A malicious prosecution lawsuit by a woman accused of misappropriating flood relief donations was dismissed by a federal judge last week. Denise Mathis, former director of the Haywood County Council on Aging, claims she was wrongly accused of mismanaging the…
The deserted Wal-Mart near Clyde will be hardly recognizable once Haywood County is through with its makeover of the megastore. Sunlight will stream in through 30 skylights scattered across the low-slung ceiling of the former big-box store. A new metal…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Live dealer conversation stalled in courts

After years of a stalemate with the state over live dealers at Harrah’s Casino, the election of Gov. Beverly Perdue signaled new hope for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that an agreement finally could be reached. Perdue had signaled…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

The case for soccer

Soccer coach Nathan Trout recalled, with a tinge of jealousy, the four “unbelievable” sports parks in his Florida hometown, including six soccer fields. “It’s almost embarrassing for the community to not have nice facilities for their kids,” said Trout. “I’m…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

EPA ozone standards

Limit prior to 2008: .08 parts per million New limit set in 2008: .075 parts per million New limit pending in 2010: Between .06 and .07 parts per million How WNC stacks up Ozone levels have improved gradually in WNC…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Duke faces yet another hurdle on substation

A coalition of Cherokee and Swain County residents have stepped up the pressure on a proposed Duke Energy substation in the vicinity of the sacred Cherokee mothertown, Kituwah. Last week, a coalition of more than a dozen people filed a…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Quintessential quilts

In 1980, Gov. Jim Hunt signed a proclamation declaring Franklin as the “Quilting Capital of the World.” That tradition has been preserved and is being expanded in a major way. Maco Crafts — a nonprofit cooperative that operated from 1969…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Iconic drugstore to interesting bookstore

We’re been considering books and related matters like shelving, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and (last week’s topic) — “How do we go about discovering the next book we’re going to read?” This week we’re going to do something worthwhile…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Haire seeks re-election in N.C. 119 race

N.C. House District 119 represents Jackson, Swain and portions of Haywood and Macon counties. In the Democratic primary, incumbent Phil Haire faces challenger Avram Friedman. The winner will face Republican candidate Dodie Allen of Jackson County in the November election.…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

The case for ball and bat

Like many of the stakeholders in the argument, county commission chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick wishes the county could build enough fields for both sports. He played baseball in college, and his daughter is currently a soccer player. But if he has…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Obsessing over grammar

Twelve years ago, while teaching Latin at a local high school, I was discussing a point of grammar — I think it had to do with the dative case and indirect objects — when one of the brighter students in…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Life and death aboard a tin can

By Dr. Robert H. Spiro Jr. • Guest Columnist Friday, April 6, 1945, is a day emblazoned in my memory. Sixty-five years ago this week, off Okinawa in the East China Sea, a Japanese kamikaze plane crashed into the port…
Imagine buying an idyllic piece of land in the mountains only to learn you’ll be living under a giant, humming transmission line the size of a 12-story building. That’s what happened to Swain County residents Paul Wolf and Jennifer Simon.…
With the county budget on everyone’s mind, two Haywood commissioners received a vote of confidence on the job they’ve done despite a staggering recession. Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick and Commissioner Bill Upton both sailed through the Democratic primary with comfortable margins.…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Shelton beats Brown in Jackson primary

Incumbent William Shelton beat challenger James Bo Brown by almost a two-to-one margin to win the Democratic spot on the November ballot for the Whittier/Dillsboro district seat. The race was the only one of three county commissioners seats up for…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Crowded judge field narrowed

District Court judge candidates who made it past the primary hope the race will become more digestible to voters now that the field has been narrowed down. Three judge seats are up for election in what is considered a watershed…
A grassroots effort to halt a mine expansion in west Waynesville jumped its first hurdle last week. Citizens have convinced a state environmental agency that there’s enough community interest over the rock quarry expansion to hold a formal public hearing…
When I took my morning walk with our miniature dachshund to the mailbox to get the mail last Friday, I wasn’t really expecting much — a couple of bills, maybe a movie from Netflix, the usual mix of junk mail.…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Queen to face new challenger

After three straight match-ups with the same Republican challenger, Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, will face a new opponent on the Republican side of the ticket this year. Ralph Hise, the mayor of Spruce Pine, narrowly beat out two other…
Join children’s advocates from across the United States at the third annual Lake Junaluska Peace Conference September 18-21, 2010, as we seek to create “Peace for the World’s Children.” With keynote speakers and leaders such as Marian Wright Edelman and…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

In Next, life changes in a day

Next by James Hynes. Reagan Arthur Books, 2010. 320 pages. In The Lecturer’s Tale, previously reviewed in The Smoky Mountain News, James Hynes offered a withering satire of the academic world, in particular the Machiavellian machinations carried on in a…
Removing sediment from Lake Logan would not only benefit its owner, Evergreen Packaging, it could potentially save homes and businesses from flooding, according to a study that was recently completed by McGill Associates. “If we’re successful, we could lower the…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

No Wal-Mart for Cherokee

Wal-Mart will not build a new Supercenter in Cherokee. After months of speculation that the deal between the tribe and the mega-retailer had fallen through, a company spokesperson confirmed the news this week. “We decided not to move ahead with…
Steve Lloyd, executive director of Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville, has been honored with The Herman Middleton Distinguished Service Award, given by the North Carolina Theatre Conference for service to the state’s theatre community. Lloyd has worked as an…
The primary election is over now, but even before the vote tallies made winners and losers out of so many candidates, this election season seemed to be sweeping in a tide of activism in the mountains. The truth of this…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Ashe holds on in Democratic primary

Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe proved he could survive a tough race during the Democratic primary, defeating challenger Robin Gunnels by nearly 700 votes on the unofficial count. Ashe may have another tough race in November, but on Tuesday night…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

The Naturalist's Corner

Why we do it “You’re getting up when?” “You’re going out in this weather?” People who have a passion for the outdoors and revel in the beauty and the subtle and not-so-subtle intricacies of nature are accustomed to these questions…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Celebrating Kephart, and his teacup

This past weekend marked the second annual Horace Kephart celebration in Bryson City. There was a terrific presentation of newly surfaced George Masa photographs moderated by Masa biographer Bill Hart. Daniel Gore brought his band from Washington State to play…
For the past year or so, Sylva Mayor Maurice Moody has been focused on cleaning up his town. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and in the last year we’ve made significant progress,” Moody said. The city’s…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Cochran hammers Dover in sheriff race

Despite widespread criticism of the job he’s done, Swain Sheriff Curtis Cochran proved unstoppable in this year’s Republican primary. Cochran buried opponent Wayne Dover in a landslide with more than 77 percent of the vote. In November, Cochran will go…
Republicans faced a major decision in the primary election: who is the best man to go head to head with Congressman Heath Shuler come fall? The two front-runners going into election day came from opposite sides of the conservative spectrum:…
North Carolina’s farmland is rapidly disappearing. The state has lost more than a million acres of it since 2007, and only 17 percent of the land in cultivation in 1950 is still farmed. In the mountains, the pressure to develop…
Going into the primary elections in Macon County, every candidate stressed the need for a fiscally conservative mindset as the county continues to contend with declining revenues. With little to separate the candidates’ platforms, it seemed like a foregone conclusion…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Low voter turnout in primary elections

Mid-term election primaries are normally characterized by poor voter turnout, and that held true this year as only 14 percent of the state’s voters made it to the polls. In Western North Carolina, the percentages were higher than the state…
Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park in Maggie Valley will emerge from bankruptcy under a new corporate structure. One of the current owners has agreed to put up $7 million to buy the park. It’s not nearly enough to…
Ghost Town in the Sky failed to make timely payments on its liability insurance policy, and as a result it lapsed just days before a massive mudslide originating from the theme park wreaked havoc on the mountainside below. Now, property…