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Macon County’s schools will get a long-awaited upgrade, but its taxpayers are going to have to pay extra for it. County commissioners voted last Tuesday to raise the property tax rate by one-and-a-half cents to build a $15 million elementary…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:48

Suspects nabbed in Macon church break-in spree

A string of church break-ins that had captured widespread attention in Macon County came to an end last week when law enforcement arrested four teenage suspects in conjunction with the crimes. Between Oct. 5 and Nov. 8 no less than…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:47

Franklin students’ hard work helps greenway

Franklin High students became active volunteers in a service-learning program this fall to improve the ecosystem along the Franklin Greenway. More than 40 students, along with local community members, conducted a three-day site inventory and extraction of exotic invasive plants…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:45

Future of Jackson airport up in the air

The Jackson County airport has reached a crossroads. For years the little aviation field above the clouds has been a financial burden on the county. Now, with its governing body dwindling in number and its revenues lagging behind its operating…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:44

The life and times of Cataloochee Ranch

Tom Alexander, a famed mountain man, forester and founder of Cataloochee Ranch, chronicled his adventures over the course of his lifetime. An edited collection of his writings were compiled into a book called Mountain Fever by Alexander’s son in 1995,…
The cost of repairing Interstate 40 after a massive rockslide in late October will now be borne by the federal government instead of the state. Last week, the Federal Highway Administration agreed to use emergency relief funds to fully reimburse…
Now that it’s clear that Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, did indeed mislead everyone about his involvement in a land deal that one of his companies negotiated with the Tennessee Valley Authority, constituents will be forced to make a character judgment…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:40

Legacy of a mountain family

For 75 years, Cataloochee Ranch has been serving up a taste of the Wild West in the Smokies. From its mile-high perch on Fie Top Mountain, the ranch offers respite and solitude, fishing and horseback riding, expansive rolling meadows and…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:36

Rutabagas and history of Hemphill Bald

Let us consider the relationship between grassy balds, Tom Alexander and the self-proclaimed “Potato and Rutabaga King of Haywood County.” Highland sites at about 5,000 feet of elevation in the Smokies region were often given over to potato farming —…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:35

At free clinics survival trumps politics

Dr. David Trigg, medical director at the Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County, doesn’t know if he should do more or less to treat the uninsured. While he and the other volunteer doctors at free clinics are their patients’ only…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians played an integral role in the creation of the Parkway. The Parkway was envisioned as a scenic motorway connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. To reach the…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Flirting with my own mortality

I felt something clutch, almost seize up, and then a shooting pain in my chest, and my first thought was, oh no, God, please, not this, not now, not yet. I was standing over a frying pan, just browning some…
Haywood County library is experimenting with novel methods for wiping out some of the $250,000 in late fees it is currently owed. For the month of December, the library plans to accept canned food in lieu of library late fees…
It was late September, and Travis George, a 27-year-old Waynesville resident, was almost done mowing his grandmother’s yard. With just five minutes left, his foot accidentally slipped right under the mower, chopping off three of his toes and part of…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Past illness leaves woman ‘uninsurable’

Though Sylva resident Marsha Crites had no risk factors, she suffered a major cerebellum stroke at the age of 49. “Not only could I not walk, I couldn’t sit,” said Crites. “I would even fall out of bed for a…
Tickets go on sale Monday, Nov. 30, for an appearance at Western Carolina University by Garrison Keillor, host of the popular public radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” An acclaimed author, storyteller, humorist and musician, Keillor will take center stage…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

The Naturalist's Corner

I wanna go home with the armadillo When you’re stuck in one place for 12 hours at a time, a lot of weird stuff goes through your head. The other night at work, the refrain, “I wanna go home with…
By Karen Dill • Special to the Smoky Mountain News My memories of Thanksgiving in the mountains are of simple seasonal foods spread on a rough plank table in my mother’s old home place in Madison County. My mother’s people,…
The Little Tennessee Watershed Association has received a $75,000 grant to help restore migration for aquatic species. Two years ago, a study of creeks feeding the Little Tennessee River found several places where road crossings inhibited up and downstream movement…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Shooting bear on Parkway nets prison time

Two Jackson County men were sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for shooting a bear on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where hunting is banned by the National Park Service. Steven Louis Broom, 31, of Cullowhee, and Bobby Allen Gibson,…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Eli Book takes us back to a nostalgic time

Eli the Good by Silas House. Candlewick Press, 2009. 295 pages Eli Book, the 10-year-old narrator/protagonist of Silas House’s new novel, Eli the Good, dreams of being a writer. As he secretly records the pains and joys of living in…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Recipes

Turkey Rubs Before cooking the big bird, I like to use a poultry rub. I have two recipes: one that is sweet and the other one is rather spicy. Spicy rub: • 3/4 cup paprika (Hungarian is best if you…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Developers have plans for sites near Wal-Mart

A local developer has purchased a key parcel alongside Super Wal-Mart in Waynesville, potentially kick-starting long-awaited commercial redevelopment along the South Main Street corridor. The coming of Super Wal-Mart was heralded as an instant recipe for growth around it. But…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Smokies elk shot down in Cataloochee Valley

A man has been arrested for shooting an elk in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last Friday. The elk was shot around 10:30 a.m. in Cataloochee Valley. Another park visitor who happened to be in the area got a…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Macon County asks for public input, take three

After two unsuccessful attempts at creating a comprehensive land-use plan, Macon County’s commissioners have directed staff to take another bite of the apple. As County Planner Derek Roland travels from community to community asking the public for input on what…
Nothing could have prepared Franklin sisters Suzanne Thomas and Karen Rice for the total financial ruin that followed their injuries. Thomas, 63, and Rice, 70, are still coping with the impact of astronomical medical costs from nearly a decade ago,…
As if dealing with the trauma of breast cancer wasn’t enough, Martha Yonce, 62, was also hit with a devastating $80,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for her surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Yonce, a Franklin resident, thought she had her bases covered…
Four of the nine members on the Jackson County Economic Development Commission have resigned in the past month, signaling growing frustration among a board that lacks clear direction from the county commissioners. The director of the EDC had already resigned…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Commissioners perplexed by white paint samples

Jackson County Commissioners pondered paint samples at their meeting this week in an attempt to pick an exterior color for the new library beside the historic courthouse. “I like white,” said Chairman Brian McMahan. “It’s historically been known as a…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:11

Swain braces for loss of jail revenue

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians recently got a big push forward in building its own jail after receiving an $18 million grant from the Department of Justice. The grant may be excellent news for the tribe, but for Swain…
A Cherokee elder presided over a ceremonial torch passing from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Blue Ridge Parkway last week. Standing at an overlook along the Parkway outside Cherokee, Elder Jerry Wolfe performed a “smudging” to open…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:05

Hope of paper mill job attracts hundreds to ESC

More than 300 people waited in line at the N.C. Employment Security Commission in Waynesville on Monday to submit job applications with Evergreen Packaging, the paper mill in Canton. Evergreen employs 1,200 workers in Haywood County. The company is not…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:10

Shuler caught short of truth

While Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, was cleared two weeks ago by the House Ethics Committee of any wrongdoing related to a Tennessee real estate deal, controversy erupted again a week later when the Tennessee Valley Authority released a report that…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:05

Creeks form character across WNC

Flowing water is as central to life here in Western North Carolina as the mountains themselves. You can’t have ancient mountains like these without the seeps, springs, branches, creeks and rivers that sculpted them. The word “creek” — a shallow…
A surge in students applying to Western Carolina University has allowed the college to be more selective. Despite a rise in applications –– tripling over three years –– enrollment at WCU has not risen significantly. The bigger pool has allowed…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:05

WCU rides wave of new applicants

Over the past three years the applicant pool at Western Carolina University has nearly tripled. The increase in prospective students signals a success story in outreach and marketing, and it may also mark a transitional moment for the school. According…
As Ghost Town heads toward its first big showdown in bankruptcy court next week, objections from those owed money are beginning to pile up. Ghost Town, an Old West amusement park in Maggie Valley, recently filed a disclosure statement and…
In an effort to boost recruitment of doctors to the region, hospitals across Western North Carolina are following in the footsteps of a national trend to employ physicians in-house. Historically, doctors set up independent, private practices. But doctors are increasingly…
In July only two candidates signed up to get on the ballot for the five spots up for grabs in Webster’s town board election, posing a quandary for the tiny Jackson County town of just over 250 registered voters. When…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

A gift from the grave on Veteran’s Day

By Karen Dill • Guest Columnist “Mom,” my daughter Anna began on her phone call from Washington, D.C., “wasn’t Grandpa a World War II veteran?” It seems there are scholarship monies for medical students who are direct descendants of veterans…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

The allegations

The House of Representatives Committee on Standards and Official Conduct –– commonly known as the House Ethics Committee –– recently conducted an inquiry into whether or not Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, used his influence to benefit one of his own…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

The beetles' fall tour

No, not the Fab Four — more like the Fab Gazillion. Swarms of thousands to perhaps hundreds of thousands of Asian lady beetles, Harmonia axyridis, (those cute little ladybugs) are coming, not to a location near you, but to your…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

You may hear a Blue Dog howl

By Kirkwood Callahan • Guest Columnist Conservative victories and liberal angst – often repressed — characterized last week’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey. But what lies ahead as the nation’s politicians wrestle with the contentious issues of the economy,…
Western Carolina University professors who haven’t already done so are running out of time to take a mandatory 10-hour furlough by year’s end. Earlier this year, Gov. Bev Perdue issued an executive order calling on all state employees to take…
Waynesville’s two independent bookstores — Osondu Booksellers and Blue Ridge Books & Cafe — have merged. The economics of independent bookstores have made it nearly impossible for a town of Waynesville’s size to support two stores. Squeezed by the discount…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

House clears Shuler on ethics rap

After months of high-profile scrutiny, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, has been cleared in an ethics inquiry that examined whether the congressman used his influence to benefit one of his real estate deals in East Tennessee. While Shuler’s office maintains…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

Typical Zombie fare

If you are a fan of the apocalypse movies that are currently common fare in American theaters, you will immediately recognize the landscape of Season of Rot. From Cormac McCarthy’s classic, The Road to the endless clones of the “Mad…
Misuse of county credit cards by a Swain jailer has prompted tighter controls on charge card use across all departments. Earlier this year, a jailer purchased a $500 or $600 big-screen TV with the county’s credit card at Sam’s Club,…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

Back to nature

Burt Kornegay is a one-match man. As the owner of Slickrock Expeditions and the longest running independent outdoor guide in the state, he’s started hundreds of campfires in some of the most remote wilderness settings in the country, never using…
Several western counties have been scrambling to create an in-house child support enforcement program after the state announced it would no longer handle the job of tracking down delinquent parents. Swain, Macon, Cherokee and Graham counties, along with the Eastern…