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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

Learning to play the Angel’s Game

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Doubleday, 2009. 470 pages.A few days after completing The Shadow of the Wind, I discovered a copy of Carlos Zafon’s new novel, The Angel’s Game. When I sampled a few pages to see…
As Al Harper watched the national recession undermine ticket sales at Ghost Town amusement park over the past two years, he faced a tough choice: pump more money into the faltering theme park or throw in the towel? Walking away…
More than three months have come and gone since a major mudslide crashed through Maggie Valley’s Rich Cove community, and slide victims are still wondering when a cleanup will finally begin. Their properties are not much better off since the…
Enjoy plow demonstrations, food tasting, sack races, live music and more at the 10th Annual Strawberry Jam starting 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15, at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. The event is hosted by The Swain County High School Future…
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

The cuckoo, both elusive and beautiful

This past weekend marked the 26th annual Great Smokies Birding Expedition, a gathering of onrnithologically-inclined friends. On Saturdays, to get things started, we always walk around Bryson City, tallying the common species that prefer a semi-urban setting. The highlight of…
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

Tribe plans to expand gambling reach

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians plans to build a Class II gaming facility in Cherokee County, but the project will not move forward without a fight. Earlier this year, the Tribal Council approved the concept of a satellite gaming…
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

HCC building feud persists unresolved

Haywood Community College leaders have chipped away more than $430,000 worth of features from its proposed creative arts building, but the project’s $10.3 million price tag continues to leave county commissioners cringing. The Haywood County commissioners gave the college the…
Counties usually have no choice but to accept unfunded mandates from the state, but this time, Haywood County commissioners are pushing back. For the second time in recent years, legislation has been introduced in the state that would pass on…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Using music to write history

Bluegrass recording artist Buddy Melton feels like he owes Jackson County. He had never played an instrument until he started fiddling in his college dorm room in Cullowhee. He had never experienced the roots of mountain music until he found…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Tough times lead to tough choices

For its entire existence, this country’s leaders have wrestled with the slippery issue of power and how much is too much for government at all levels. In times like these, as tax revenues disappear while the free market struggles, the…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Self-help without the sugar

Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness by William Spiegelman. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009. In Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, ISBN 978-0-374-23930-5, $23), William Spiegelman, an English professor at Southern Methodist University and editor of…
An election night glitch in McDowell County led to some votes being counted two or even three times instead of just once, skewing the results in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat spanning six mountain counties, including Haywood.…
While the summer bounty of tomatoes, corn and green beans are still a couple of months away, there is still plenty of local grown food items to be found as local farmers markets gear up for the season. Markets are…
Candidate Mitchell Jenkins decided last week to revive arguably the most heated race in Swain County for one more round. After coming in second in the Democratic primary for sheriff, Jenkins has called for a runoff against top vote-getter John…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

The Naturalist's Corner

Perks of Adult ADD The other morning I was in the wilds of the Cheoah Ranger District below the Cherohala Skyway sawing and dragging trees out of Forest Service roads so I could get to my bird points for this…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Sylva cardboard box venture collapses

Stonewall Packaging, a cardboard plant in Sylva, laid off 43 workers last week and shut down operations after coming on line just a few months earlier. Stonewall Packaging was a venture of Jackson Paper, also a cardboard plant in Sylva,…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Do you know where you live?

One of the handouts I use during natural history workshops is headed “Southern Blue Ridge Province: Geographic Location and Influences.” It is the best “concise” approximation of the situation that I have been able to devise, as yet. I revise…
A visitor in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park got nipped on the foot by a bear after getting too close last week. The visitor was on a high-traffic foot path at the entrance to the park right outside Gatlinburg,…
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is talking about moving to DNA testing as a way of verifying the blood requirement to be enrolled as a tribal member. The tribe’s latest quandaries over its enrollment audit have led Principal Chief…
Haywood County commissioners are fighting opposition on all fronts after a county task force recently recommended major changes to trash and recycling operations. The central debate is revolving around a proposal that would privatize a portion of the county’s trash…
A new road that would traverse the campus of Southwestern Community College and provide a new link between two of Jackson County’s major roads is in the final planning stages. The proposed two-lane road is designed to alleviate congestion and…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

The EBCI enrollment audit at a glance

What is the enrollment audit? A review of the nearly 14,000 people on the tribe’s roll to determine whether they qualify as being Cherokee. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires members to be one-quarter Cherokee by blood and to…
As one development after another began to bite the dust two years ago, lenders who had bankrolled the mountain building spree in its heyday fretted nervously. The demand for high-priced lots had evaporated into thin air. Banks reluctantly foreclosed, resigned…
A collaborative effort between The American Chestnut Foundation and the Coker family has put Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley on the frontlines of the effort to reintroduce a tree that was integral to life of early settlers in Western North…
Ten-year-old Waynesville resident Zeb Powell has exclusive, 24-7 access to a skate park in town — it’s in his driveway. Powell got hold of a half-pipe, rails and multiple ramps when the indoor BP Skate Park closed down last fall.…
Jackson County Manager Ken Westmoreland said he would deliver a balanced budget with no cuts to services or staff and that is exactly what he did on Monday night. While neighboring counties are taking drastic measures to offset budget shortfalls…
$6,342,044. That’s approximately how much money needs to be raised before Haywood County residents can expect to see a recreation park built in Jonathan Creek. With the recession retaining its stranglehold on the nation, county commissioners aren’t contributing a single…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

America’s Favorite Journey

The Blue Ridge Parkway unravels gracefully across the landscape, at times suspended from high cliffs and etched into rocky crags, then deftly shifting gears to skim over hayfields and past log cabins bound by split-rail fences. The road seems unfazed…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

The tannery and the Green Fly

During my first year at Western Carolina Teachers College (now Western Carolina University) in 1953, I managed to offend my grandfather so severely that he banished me. “Out of my sight!” he said, and sent me to Brevard to spend…
Sylva Commissioner Sarah Graham will step down from the town board at the end of June because her family has decided to move outside town limits. Graham said she and husband, Bill, had been looking at homes that offered more…
The Friends of the Jackson County Main Library have completed their remarkable effort to raise $1.6 million to outfit the interior of the new library under construction on courthouse hill in Sylva. The Friends announced this week that a $200,000…
A downtown Waynesville project that would put a live entertainment venue, a microbrewery and a pizza restaurant together in the old Strand Theater on Main Street has been awarded a $300,000 grant. Gov. Beverly Perdue will visit Waynesville this Friday…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

Stand up paddling takes off

Okay, so we didn’t cross the Kauai Channel, but last Friday Mark Singleton, executive director of Sylva-based American Whitewater, took me stand-up paddling for the first time. The sport –– which is basically standing up on a surfboard with a…
Steve Lampl paints with acrylics and loves to golf. But last year when he had shoulder surgery, he had to put golfing on hold. That’s when he decided to organize The Mainstreet Artists Co-op Gallery. A year later, the co-op…
The traditions of spinning, weaving, quilting, caning, blacksmithing, sewing, hand stitchery, and other folk arts have survived in the Appalachian culture through the generations. At the Patchwork Folk and Fabric Festival, these skills will be showcased and honored, demonstrated and…
How do you kick out a member of a Native American tribe? The Eastern Band of Cherokee is about to find out, and there’s no way it’s going down without some bitterness and fighting. The EBCI is almost finished with…
Once repair work is complete, a precarious Maggie Valley mountainside destabilized by a major mudslide will be returned to its natural state. The hard part will be getting to that point. Last Wednesday, anxious residents downslope of the slide along…
Angel Medical Center in Franklin may soon come under the wing of Mission Hospital in Asheville. Smaller, rural hospitals are increasingly forging partnerships with larger hospitals as it becomes tougher financially to go it alone. Angel’s 15-member hospital board unanimously…
The cause of a fish kill on an isolated stretch of Jonathan Creek in Maggie Valley last Saturday is eluding environmental agencies and will likely remain a mystery. A number of trout, from fingerlings to foot-long fish, turned up dead…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

The Naturalist's Corner

Bird Lag Last weekend (5/21-5/23) was a blur of birds, bears and blooms — a combination of work, friends, fellowship and family that left me beat and begging for more. I started out in the thick damp predawn hours Friday…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

Reading Nina Simone’s tragic life

Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone, by Nadine Cohodas. Pantheon Books, 2010. 449 pages. The first time I ever heard Nina Simone sing, I was in one of those pretentious “high fi” stores in Atlanta back in the…
A parking study of downtown Sylva conducted by a Western Carolina University graduate student has gotten local merchants talking and left the town board facing a puzzle. For years downtown merchants have complained that the lack of available parking for…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

A place called home

One doesn’t tire of certain places. Even though they inevitably change through the years, they become more than friends. The cove we live in has become that sort of place even though, in most ways, it’s just another mountain cove.…
In the eyes of Canton’s town leaders, the status quo in recreation funding just isn’t cutting it. For years, the town of Canton has had to maintain an aging public pool and has struggled to obtain stadium lighting to allow…
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 20:31

A coyote in the yard

Monday morning … 9:15 or so … suddenly the coyote was there … as if from out of nowhere … a shadow moving in the pasture across the creek.   I had glanced out of my workroom window moments before…
Catch the steepest and deepest in high-adrenaline outdoor sport films when Radical Reels Tour comes to Asheville on Monday, Sept. 13. Hurtle down steep untouched powder, feel the cold spray of stomach-dropping kayak first descents, fly high with the world’s…
Landscape design, botany, horticulture and gardening will be the highlight of “Landscaping and Gardening With Native Plants” conference held in Highlands on Sept. 10 and 11. Hundreds attend the annual conference featuring two days of fieldtrips, workshops and speakers. Get…
A 5K race will traverse the front nine holes of the Old Edwards Club in Highlands on Saturday, Sept. 11, serving up a tranquil setting and a twist on the typical 5K route through town streets. “Doing the PAR 5K…
With guns now allowed in national parks, red tape faced by hunters crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway en route to a hunting spot has been lifted. Hunting is still illegal in national parks, but this year it became legal to…
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 20:24

HCC Low-Impact Development fast track

A Low Impact Development FastTrack Certification will be held at Haywood Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 15 through Friday, Sept. 17. The course will give an overview of low-impact development from a holistic perspective and covers design, planning, implementation and…