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Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:27

Junior bids farewell to forest service

Harry “Junior” Ward, Jr. recently retired from the North Carolina Forest Service as the Haywood County Ranger. Ward was a success story who got his start in the Haywood Community College Forestry and Natural Resources program. His first job was…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:23

Homeschooled students on the rise

More parents in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties opted to teach their children at home this year, concurring with a recent statewide report that found a record high in the number of students being home schooled in North Carolina.…
By Michael Beadle There’s a view on the way up to Clingmans Dome, an overlook where a maze of finger-like ridges unfurl at your feet and spread across the landscape before tumbling into the Oconaluftee River Valley below. Surveying this…
Jackson County’s Economic Development Commission has again been thrust into turmoil, a near constant state of affairs for the entity in recent years. The county’s economic development director announced her resignation last week, and along with it, offered her views…
“I can see test scores going down and higher dropout rates in high school,” he said. “These kids are struggling. They’re really not at the age that they need to be left home alone.” — Steve Claxton, Swain County Community…
The Mountain High BBQ & Music Festival will be held at the Macon County fairgrounds Aug. 7-8. Gates open at noon on Friday. Barbecue cook teams from all over the United States will be cooking and competing to be crowned…
Trevor Dalton, Macon County’s first paid economic development coordinator, is back on his home turf. Dalton, 24, grew up in Macon County, and majored in business administration at Appalachian State. He worked in the Wilmington, N.C., area in the insurance…
Although I sometimes wish that the maps of my Jackson County had a more beguiling shape — perhaps a bear or a quarter moon — its outline is pretty prosaic (it seems to resemble a pork chop). But marvelous events…
Haywood County is being sued for $2 million by the contractor in charge of renovations to the newly restored historic courthouse. Haywood County commissioners fired the contractor 18 months into the job, citing serious delays and poor work. The construction…
By Andre A. Rodriguez • Special to the Smoky Mountain News A new travel study revealed potential visitors lack awareness about activities and attractions in Cherokee and the surrounding region, detering them from planning a visit. “People don’t have a…
Jackson County leaders are considering an economic development incentive that will provide property tax credits to Stonewall Packaging in exchange for a minimum $10 million investment in a new facility in Sylva and creation of at least 40 full-time jobs…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:14

Particular parables and perverse ponderings

Willful Creatures Stories by Aimee Bender. Doubleday & Company. 208 pages. Recently, Garrison Keilor mentioned a new writer, Aimee Bender on his daily post, “The Writer’s Almanac.” Garrison noted that Bender’s quirky and enigmatic books were causing quite a stir…
As if the death of hemlock trees across the Southern Appalachians wasn’t bad enough already, forest researchers believe the loss of hemlocks will alter the carbon cycle of forests. An exotic insect known as the hemlock wooly adelgid has a…
Despite public pressure from animal rights activists, including a visit from legendary game show host Bob Barker, Cherokee leaders do not plan to address the living conditions of captive bears at three small zoos in Cherokee. A campaign to shut…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:11

North Toe River freed of crumbling dam

A decrepit dam is being torn down along the North Toe River near Spruce Pine this week, clearing the way for a restoration of natural aquatic habitat. The dam demolition removes a barrier to river migration of aquatic species, obstructions…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:10

The pains of summer vacation

There, swirling miserably in the bottom of my morning coffee mug, are the dregs of summer. I had such plans just a few months ago. There would be a beach trip. Several rounds of golf. About two dozen novels that…
Western North Carolina has seen its share of Hollywood productions. But unlike many of the other movies filmed here, “Road to Nowhere” features a story that is actually set in the area. Very little had to be changed for the…
When Macon County economic development officials met last week and decided the aging workforce was among the county’s most pressing problems, that was news to our ears. An aging population — and workforce — presents many challenges, but we don’t…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:06

Qualla’s art goes worldwide

Known for its legendary craftsmanship, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. just launched its new website, www.quallaartsandcrafts.org. For the first time, art collectors from around the world can view online what is said to be the largest collection of Cherokee…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:04

Outfitters brace for early end to season

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Whitewater releases from the Nantahala Lake dam will be suspended in October, forcing rafting outfitters downstream in the Nantahala Gorge to miss out on critical fall tourist season. Rafting outfitters rely on a predictable…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:02

Letting nature point the way

Horace Kephart is best known for Our Southern Highlanders (first published in 1913, with an expanded edition in 1922) and his role in helping to found the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But he also published a book that is…
By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer The year was 1954. An up-and-coming singer named Elvis Presley was beginning his musical career. The inaugural edition of new magazine titled Sports Illustrated hit the newsstands. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 19:59

The Naturalist's Corner

You say to-mah-to, I say to-ma-to At least Avram and I are talking. Want to join us? If we could generate enough kilowhats, whys, hows and wherefores maybe we could get a “wind forum” section going in Smoky Mountain News.…
Proposed cuts to the state budget have threatened after school care for middle school students, with programs in Canton, Franklin, Bryson City and Sylva already shut down or in jeopardy of closing. As a result, middle school students who have…
Haywood County leaders held a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday on the steps of the newly renovated historic courthouse. The $8.2 million renovations to the 1932 courthouse have been a long time in the making. The project has been under discussion…
Macon County has hired a full-time economic development coordinator, finally joining the ranks of most counties who employ paid directors tasked with growing jobs and recruiting businesses. Trevor Dalton, 24, has no economic development experience or training — but the…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:25

Recipes, 7/29/09

Zach’s Barbecue Pork: Zach takes a Boston Butt pork shoulder — the cheaper cut of meat the better. He marinates the pork overnight in a salt water and molasses mix. The next morning he removes the pork from the marinate…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:24

Conversation – what conversation?

Regular readers of this column probably already know that I’ve run afoul of many regional environmental groups by questioning the environmental and ecological cost-benefits of placing industrial-scale wind farms on top of the mountain ridges across the Appalachians. In a…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:23

Cookouts, lightning bugs, and the relatives

By Karen Dill • Guest Writer July brings warm and often muggy weather to the usually cool mountain glens. It brings hot sultry afternoons with thunderstorms and the smell of snakes in the damp air. July brings the occasional mosquito…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:21

Barker visits WNC in campaign to help bears

Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians didn’t have to duke it out with other contestants or so much as wager a guess, but somehow, they got the price exactly right. On Tuesday, July 28, the tribe won a…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:20

Local authors proud of fishing trail map

Ask any fisherman what their favorite stretch of stream is and you may as well be asking for directions to the moon. They might tell you what stream they frequent, but as for an exact spot — well, that’s between…
By Andre A. Rodriguez • Special to the Smoky Mountain News It’s been at least a dozen years since Waynesville’s leaders began contemplating a public skate board park to provide a safe alternative to illegal skating on streets and parking…
The end of this year’s Folkmoot USA, some of the acquaintances I made during the festival, and my own ongoing interest in all things political has led me along one of those idealistic wanderings that I’ve often tried to swear…
Alex Bell can’t resist striking up a conversation with fellow fishermen he encounters on the Tuckasegee. But lately, he’s had a motive behind his friendly banter. As an author of the new WNC Fly Fishing Trail, Bell is eager to…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:17

Macon mulls workforce challenges

While it doesn’t seem like much of a news flash, it has emerged as one of the top concerns in Macon County economic development circles: the workforce is aging. “It actually is something to be concerned about. It is getting…
Will wind-generated power save the environment or sacrifice it? The answer depends on who you ask and it could have broad implications for the future of clean energy in North Carolina. In a debate raging in the General Assembly, Western…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:12

Tunnel greenhouses fend off winter’s grip

A workshop on how to build a simple greenhouse will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30, as part of the “Gardening in Cowee” series at the Rickman Store in Macon County. Vegetable growers can easily extend the gardening…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:11

Toole explores boxing from inside the ring

Pound for Pound by F.X. Toole. HarperCollins, 2007. 416 pages. Million Dollar Baby by F.X. Toole. Harper Perennial 2005. 256 pages. What makes a fighter? In his mid-forties, a time of life when the last thing most men look for…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:11

Thoroughly modern millipedes

By Jim Janke Every summer one or two people bring samples of ugly little insects into the plant clinic and ask how to get them out of their home. If the insects in the picture are also in your home,…
A Tennessee man claims he was defrauded of $328,000 by the players behind Cataloochee Wilderness Resorts, a planned mega development in Haywood County that is in the preliminary conceptual stages. Plans for Cataloochee Wilderness Resorts call for a 4,500-acre development…
When Art Pohl moved to Jackson County from Florida 10 years ago, he imagined a golden retirement filled with lazy days of playing golf. But after a few years of living the dream life, his wife wondered just how much…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:08

A fine flower to start with

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regard to learning wildflowers was to “concentrate on one family at a time.” The person advising me didn’t, of course, intend that I should devote my attention exclusively to…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:06

Graham proposes takeover of Swain land

Swain and Graham counties are at odds over who should provide rescue service to the isolated Deals Gap territory, a dispute that could lead to a redrawing of county lines. The Deal’s Gap area is a satellite territory of Swain…
As the inventory of every living species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park trudges into its tenth year, it turns out the biggest hunt so far isn’t for obscure slime molds or nocturnal flies — it’s for taxonomists to…
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 19:04

Wildflowers peaking right now

Interesting wildflowers appear throughout Western North Carolina from late February into early November. Most wildflower identification and observation takes place during the spring. All too often the subsequent seasons are ignored. The three peak periods are from late April into…
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 19:03

Region to get assisted living campus

A groundbreaking was held last Thursday (July 16) at the site of a new assisted living complex being built in Dillsboro. The event was more symbolic than most of its kind because some of the facility has already been erected;…
When Heinz Rollman left behind the unrest of Europe and struck out for America in 1939, the fate of his family was riding on his shoulders. The Nazi regime had seized a successful shoe factory from Rollman’s father in Germany…
Ghost Town in the Sky wants more time to prepare its bankruptcy reorganization plan and is seeking an extension. The Maggie Valley theme park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March in hopes of holding off bill collectors long enough…
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 19:00

Hard work takes place off Folkmoot stages

By Andre A. Rodriguez Each morning of the Folkmoot festival, the members of Shalom Israel Ashdod spend at least one hour getting warmed up for the day, working on staying in shape by doing ballet. Then the group — including…
When Swain County opened a new $10 million jail last fall with 109 beds — four times bigger than necessary for its own inmates — it was banking on housing federal prisoners and those from other counties to subsidize the…