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Despite their conceptual support for a greenway along the Tuckasegee River, Jackson County commissioners expressed hesitation about purchasing land to establish it. At a meeting Monday, the commissioners unanimously approved spending about $39,580 on a 1.4-acre plot but also unanimously…
Haywood Regional Medical Center and WestCare are in the final stages of forming a partnership, with plans to launch a new joint venture as early as January. The two entities will join forces under a new umbrella organization with a…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:33

The Naturalist's Corner

Just leisure time in good company So much of our time in this soured economy is spent paying homage to the almighty dollar that leisure time – real leisure time, not ferrying the kids to soccer or mowing the yard…
The state should turn down Duke Energy’s request for a nearly 13 percent hike in utility rates and instead encourage the giant utility to do a better job with the revenues and power-creation capacity it already owns. There are several…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:31

A little hometown appreciation

Country music recording artist Matt Stillwell will return to his roots Thursday, Oct. 15, for a hometown Homecoming week concert at Western Carolina University to help his alma mater celebrate a major milestone. Stillwell, a Sylva native who played baseball…
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most studied national parks in the country. It consistently ranks in the top three for the number of research permits issued every year — a whopping 184 in 2008. The…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:28

Costa’s eye for unique insect details

Western Carolina University biologist Jim Costa traces his interest in insect societies to studies of social interactions of caterpillars made while an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Cortland, an interest that deepened as he worked on…
Among the varied “revelations” brought to light during the celebrations attending the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year was the verification of the existence of an unpublished novel by Hoarace Kephart. Until this discovery, Kephart’s…
Dueling solutions for relieving traffic on N.C. 107 in Sylva are poised to make the final cut in the long-awaited Jackson County Transportation Plan. Both a bypass around the commercial thoroughfare and redesign of the road itself could ultimately be…
Local singer-songwriter Lorraine Conard celebrates the release of her new CD, “Riding on Your Wings,” with a release party to be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Colonial Theater in Canton. Influenced by a vast and varied mix…
Home to 3,000 motel rooms yet only 1,610 year-round residents, Maggie Valley can’t exactly escape the term “tourist town.” Anyone driving through the main drag passing a long line of lodging options would know. But perhaps less evident to visitors…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:11

Maggie chases festivals as ticket to tourism

When the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen purchased land for a town festival ground in 2002, it had high hopes for success. Events held there would reel in visitors to stay at local motels, eat at local restaurants, and shop…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:10

Storytelling traditions live on

Naturalist, herbalist, lecturer, writer, adventure trip leader, folklorist and prize-winning harmonica player Doug Elliott has a new book. Titled Swarm Tree: Of Honeybees, Honeymoons, and the Tree of Life (Charleston, SC: The History Press; soft cover; 160 pages; illustrated by…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:09

Rebellion reigns in historical novel

Devil’s Brood: The Last Days of the Tempestuous Marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine by Sharon Kay Penman. G.P Putnam’s Sons, 2008. Politics is not a game for sissies. It is not even necessarily a game for the…
Graham County delivered yet another jolt to the three-month debate over who should provide emergency services to Deal’s Gap, a motorcycle mecca in a satellite portion of Swain County that sees serious wrecks each year. Graham commissioners voted 3-2 at…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:06

Cat lovers quietly care for wild colonies

Move over rabbits, it’s cats that multiply like crazy in Haywood County. According to the Haywood Animal Welfare Association, there are about 12,000 lost or stray cats in the county, nearly a fifth of the Haywood’s total human population. To…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:04

Swain at last makes foray into animal control

Swain County Manager Kevin King has an ambitious idea for finally addressing the years-old issue of animal control, or lack thereof, in the county. King would like to set aside some money to hire an animal control officer to handle…
By Brent Martin • Guest Columnist With the long August recess now behind them, Senators have returned to Washington, D.C., with a heavy workload. In addition to the momentous responsibility they have to pass legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions,…
The Haywood Tourism Development Authority announced some good news last week for all those miffed by the incorrect spelling of “Smoky” on its official Web site’s address. The TDA has put up $14 to buy a new URL, www.visitncsmokies.com, to…
Western North Carolina has steadily lost out on tens of millions in federal highway dollars over the past decade, despite the money being specifically earmarked for the region. Mountain leaders sent a message to both Raleigh and Washington this week…
Some members of the Jackson County Transportation Task Force feel like the list of road projects bearing their name has not properly been vetted, despite the work of the task force being declared finished. “I think the task force has…
September in the mountains is an emotionally poignant time as it signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall in a dramatic show of color against a sky of brilliant blue. It carries an air of bittersweet longing…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:53

Working to bring back the American chestnut

By Julie Ball • Correspondent As a boy, Gene Gibson remembers his parents heading to some of Western North Carolina’s high mountain ridges in search of chestnuts. By that time — the early 1930s — most of the trees at…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:51

Duke faces stiff opposition to proposed rate hike

Duke Energy’s rate hike request met strong opposition at a public hearing before members of the N.C. Utilities Commission in Franklin last week. Duke claims the 12.6 percent hike is needed to pay for upgrades to power plants and infrastructure…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:50

The Naturalist's Corner

Dancin' on the dunes “Look at the butterflies!” I said. “I know, I’ve been counting them – 27, 28, 29, 30, 32,” said my wife Denise. “They’re still coming, “ I said. “41, 43, 44,” she said. I could see…
I have lived in a lot of places in my life — countless apartments, dorm rooms, and houses, some of them I can barely remember — but in nearly 48 years, I have only had two homes. I left one…
Developers looking for shortcuts around erosion laws won’t find amnesty in a recent court case between a landowner and Haywood County erosion officials, according to the state authority on erosion enforcement. The landowner, Ron Cameron, won a lawsuit claiming he…
James Lyle is an internationally renowned illustrator and artist whose work appears in comic books, in campaigns for major corporations, in video games and in the Weekly Reader read by thousands of students each week. He lives in Haywood County…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:43

Corridor K inches forward

A road project known as Corridor K will boast the longest tunnel in the state of North Carolina if built as planned: a 2,807-foot passage through the side of a mountain in the Stecoah area of Graham County. Construction on…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 18:41

Recipes, 9/30/10

Watergate Salad • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice • 1 cup miniature marshmallows • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts • 1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping,…
When voters head to the polls to elect town leaders in Webster this fall, the choices will be slim. Mighty slim. Only two candidates are running for five openings on the board — leaving three seats unclaimed. The tiny Jackson…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:40

Local restaurants support Haywood County farmers

Local chefs are proving to be some of the best supporters of Haywood County farmers. “The Buy Haywood project is having a great year, from new produce sales at Ingles grocery stores to a new map and brochure to encourage…
Small business expert Tom Shay told local store owners in Franklin, Sylva and Waynesville that recessions are good for one thing: weeding out the weak. “A recession is a wonderful thing,” said Shay. “It clears the landscape.” At the same…
When America tunes in to Ken Burns’ long-awaited documentary on the national parks next week, the hard-fought battle to save the Great Smoky Mountains from unrelenting timber barrons will play a major role in the epic series. The story of…
After years of fruitlessly demanding fire protection from a local volunteer fire department, homeowners on Buck Knob Island in the middle of Lake Glenville are finally inching toward their goal. So far, the state fire marshal’s office has assessed the…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:34

WCU announces 2009-10 theater season

The department of stage and screen is kicking off Western Carolina University’s 2009-10 “Mainstage” theater season with the hip, dark comedy “Manuscript.” This season also will feature productions of Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Chorus…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:33

After delay, schools getting lottery dollars

By Julie Ball • Correspondent Some lottery money used to pay the debt on local school projects is coming to Western North Carolina months after the payments were frozen amid the state budget crunch. The money, which was withheld by…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:31

‘John Muir’ makes a return visit to WNC

By Thomas Crowe “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful, not only as fountains of…
The Macon County committee charged with proposing regulations for building on steep slopes is still swimming in a sea of ideas but has agreed on one point. It will incorporate landslide hazard maps into a proposed ordinance, though the maps…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:26

County settles Cameron lawsuit for $75,000

Haywood County is shelling out $75,000 for an out-of-court settlement that resolves an ongoing lawsuit by a landowner over the county’s erosion control laws. The county’s liability insurance pool will cover the remaining $105,000 of the $180,000 settlement. “It was…
By Julia Merchant • Contributing Writer A year and a half ago, Fatie Atkinson spent most of his time in an office designing custom furniture and tossing around ideas with other creative professionals. Today, instead of the chatter of a…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:17

Film highlights Asheville’s many offerings

“The Spirit of Asheville” (video) by Arthur Hancock and Katie Brugger. Time Capsule Video: Highlands. Running Time: 73 minutes. The Spirit of Asheville” is an unabashed siren call to the rest of the world: “Come to Asheville! This is the…
Bob Buckner, director of Western Carolina University’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, is one of the first two recipients of the Award for Excellence in Marching Music Education presented by MENC: The National Association for Music Education and Drum…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:15

Revealing a love for the Smokies

Angler and writer Harry Middleton (1949-1993) is an elusive figure. Except for what he chose to reveal in his books — which are part memoir and part novel — little is known, outside of family and friends, about his too…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:13

Fly-fishing tournament offers hefty prize

A $10,000 cash prize is at stake for the second annual Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Masters Tournament on Sept. 26-27 in Cherokee. Sponsored by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Fisheries and Wildlife Management in partnership with the North…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:12

The Naturalist's Corner

Act swiftly No, I don’t mean fly around in a circle above a chimney or smokestack before disappearing into it. I mean clear your calendar and grab the kids and head to Asheville’s Grove Arcade this Friday (Sept. 25 from…
With much controversy circling around how to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a conference at Lake Junaluska this weekend will instead focus on how to bring about lasting peace. The second annual Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, scheduled for…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:05

Hard drive connects, but some data is lost

By Jon Beckman • Guest ColumnistThe human brain must have been the first computer, capable of capturing and storing data for future reference, helping us learn to get out of the rain and not to put our hands in the…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:03

Swain makes cuts to plug million dollar shortfall

The recession has finally caught up with Swain County. While other counties began bracing for declining revenues in late 2008, Swain County has only just begun to tackle a $1 million shortfall eating its way through the county budget. Swain…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:02

Rooting out landslide prone slopes

As much as mountain dwellers take pride in the gnarled and weathered Rhododendron thickets that characterize Appalachian mountainsides, the signature bush could have a nasty side-effect. The same uncanny knack of the twisted roots to cling to steep, rocky terrain…