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Wednesday, 25 March 2009 20:29

Macon eyes steep slope ordinance

The Macon County Planning Board is in the beginning stages of developing an ordinance that would regulate development on steep slopes. Haywood and Jackson counties shared presentations on their steep slope ordinances with the Macon planning board last week. Marc…
Criminal Justice in America by Marshall Frank. AuthorHouse, 2008. 276 pages. In Criminal Injustice in America: Essays by a Career Cop (AuthorHouse, ISBN 978-1-43892062-7), former policeman Marshall Frank gives us his take on the criminal justice system through a series…
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 20:29

Around here, March madness is a religion

March Madness is upon us, and if you or anyone in your house has ever played basketball or perhaps even seen a basketball, chances are that you spent a long weekend feasting on the first two rounds of the NCAA…
By Linda McFarland • Guest Columnist Imagine you are an eighth-grade student intent on learning all you can about social justice issues, and you have the opportunity to meet and study with a Nobel Peace Laureate. This dream came true…
It appears an $853,000 shortfall facing the Macon County airport runway extension may be covered with additional state and federal funds. The shortfall arose in part after a $550,000 federal grant previously earmarked for the project was pulled after the…
Another landslide occurred a little over a week ago, this one leaving a home teetering on the edge of a precipice and in a position to potentially slide down the mountain when more rains come. And once again homeowners and…
By Christi Marsico • Staff Writer Dressed in flip flops and shorts with an aroma of teen spirit in the air, students acting in the upcoming production of Swain County High School’s “Beauty and the Beast” are eager to recapture…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:23

A complex legacy

William Dudley Pelley by Scott Beckman. Syracuse University Press. 269 pages. The first time I heard the name William Dudley Pelley, a friend of mine was telling me about an Asheville-based oral history project that he had launched. He said…
By Danny Bernstein For the past year, I’ve kept a trail map of the Smokies and the trusted manual Hiking Trails of the Smokies, known affectionately as the brown book, stashed in the seat pocket of my car. The telephone…
Local, state and federal officials involved in the controversial Macon County Airport runway extension held a private meeting last week. The Smoky Mountain News showed up at the meeting at the airport after being tipped off by an anonymous source.…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:19

Basil: king of herbs

By Jim Janke Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an incredible herb. Essential for tomato sauces, basil has plenty of other uses. You’ve not lived unless you’ve experienced chopped basil over fresh tomato slices in summer; bruschetta with tomatoes and basil;…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:18

Duke Energy, Jackson argue cases in court

Duke Energy and Jackson County appeared in court Monday (March 16) to argue over permits related to the removal of the Dillsboro dam. An attorney for Duke Energy said the court should order the county to issue the permits to…
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a citizen-science venture conducted under the auspices of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon. It is conducted each February. It began as a kind of “feeder watch” or backyard project with volunteers counting…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:16

WCU announces faculty layoffs

Under a budget cut scenario announced last Friday (March 13), 31.75 employees will be laid off from Western Carolina University due to state budget cuts. WCU is anticipating the state cutting the university’s appropriation by $7.64 million, or 8 percent,…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:15

Uplifted by the flight of birds

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about birds. I guess I have them on my mind, in part, because the spring migration season is underway. I heard my first Louisiana waterthrush (a warbler) of the year this past Sunday morning.…
Non-profit agencies and county departments in Haywood County are still reeling from massive budget cuts announced by commissioners last week. The county commissioners cut funding to all non-profits for the rest of the fiscal year, and called for county departments…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:12

Troubled park hopes to get back on feet

The dire state of finances at Maggie Valley Ghost Town in the Sky led the amusement park to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy March 10. The filing will allow the partners of Ghost Town LLC to structure a plan to…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:11

Jackson ponders solutions to dry wells

A Jackson County task force appointed last fall to develop solutions to water shortages caused by the drought presented its recommendations last week. The Water Study Task Force came about after several Jackson County residents reported that their wells and…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:09

Runway extension faces funding shortfall

The Macon County Airport Authority is short about $853,000 of what it needs to pay for a controversial runway extension, according to airport officials. The total runway project, including archaeology and engineering, is expected to cost $3.5 million, according to…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:07

Moonshiner dead in apparent suicide

Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, 62, was found dead of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in a car near his Parrotsville, Tenn., residence, days before he was to begin serving an 18-month prison sentence for large-scale moonshine operation. An incident report filed by…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 20:02

A tax break for one business is not a plan

Before Haywood County commissioners approve a request to cut property taxes on a business that plans to build an $8 million solar farm near Canton, they need to get serious about developing a long-term green collar industry incentive package. One…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 20:01

Digging up John Williams

Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams. New York Review of Books, 1960 reissued 2007. 274 pages. For those of us who truly love books, our greatest pleasures are often derived from discovering the “neglected classics” — remarkable books that somehow manage…
Following a prolonged debate, the national forest service wants to close a system of four-wheel drive trails in the Tellico Off-Road Vehicle area outside Andrews. The playground is famous among four-wheel drive enthusiasts, but rutting of the trails by tires…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:58

Balsam Range’s mountain mantra

By Christi Marsico • Staff Writer Little girls clacked their clogging shoes while families ate hushpuppies and barbecue in anticipation for the band, Balsam Range, to play at the Fiddlin’ Pig in Asheville last Friday night. Teens in camouflage hats…
A Maggie Valley man alerted Haywood County officials this week of a landslide posing a risk to his home in Smoky Mountain Estates in Maggie Valley. Marc Pruett, soil and erosion control director for Haywood County, visited the site of…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:56

What is the Evergreen Foundation?

The Evergreen Foundation was formed by the Smoky Mountain Center for Mental Health in 1977. At that time, state mental health agencies could not own property, so non-profit property holding arms were created. The first tract of land the Foundation…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:54

Task force aims to fix future traffic snarls

A Jackson County task force has entered the nitty-gritty stage in its quest to fix traffic congestion on N.C. 107 in Sylva. The group has begun compiling a long list of possible solutions to the congestion. Once complete, it will…
A mysterious malady is decimating bat populations across the Northeast and spreading south. The malady, called white-nose syndrome (WNS) because of a white fungus that appears around the muzzle of infected animals, was first documented from Schoharie Cavern, near Albany,…
By Marsha Crites • Guest Columnist It occurred to me as I was hiking up my mountain today that one of the reasons Obama’s “Yes, We Can” slogan may have resonated with so many is that it sounds a bit…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:51

Missed deadline costs HRMC potential revenue

Haywood Regional Medical Center could miss out on as much as $750,000 in revenue over the course of a year after missing a federal billing deadline for its new mental health wing. The missed deadline, which occurred last fall, was…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:50

First things first: How many cars too many?

The Jackson County transportation task force has spent the past several months signing off on a projected traffic count for the future, namely the year 2035. Until road planners had a projection in front of them, they didn’t know what…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:47

Artifacts endangered by airport project

When Neal Hoppe dies he wants his body cremated and his ashes spread over the Macon County Airport. “When I die, my soul will depart my body,” said Hoppe, who manages the airport’s terminal. “I don’t want a hole dug…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:46

Mr. February, me and my wife make happy

I love dogs. Except during that period in my life when I lived in a seemingly endless series of shoebox apartments that did not allow pets larger or furrier than goldfish, I have always had at least one dog, and…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:45

The curious habits of birds

The curious lifestyles and distinctive habits one can observe in the bird world are continually fascinating. Some things you can count on to occur with regularity. Each year, in late spring or early summer, blue jays will gather into communal…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Two Swain County commissioners are having second thoughts about a move to end contracted fire service with the town of Bryson City after listening to the impassioned pleas of volunteer firefighters who shared their…
Questions continue to follow former Smoky Mountain Center for Mental Health director Tom McDevitt — who resigned amid scrutiny last year — in his role as director of the agency’s multi-million dollar nonprofit arm. McDevitt apparently stepped up as the…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:41

Dillsboro ups the ante as a green town

Two electric vehicles will soon be tooling around the town of Dillsboro thanks to a state grant aimed at reducing air pollution from vehicles. Dillsboro hopes the move will raise its profile as a “green” town. The vehicles will be…
By Christi Marsico • Staff Writer Spotlighting filmmakers from Georgia, Louisiana and Florida, Haywood County Arts Council presents the 2nd annual Short Circuit Traveling Film Festival on March 14 at Haywood Community College. Short Circuit is the only festival of…
The $400,000 that Duke Energy was expecting to get from the state to help tear down the Dillsboro dam may no longer be available. The N.C. General Assembly appropriated the $400,000 in 2008, but the money was never certified by…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:49

Give your vegetable garden a head start

By Jim Janke The last frost date is many weeks away, but everyone is anxious to get vegetable seeds and plants in the ground. Here are a couple of ideas to get a head start on the growing season. Black…
Wildlife biologists are asking rock climbers to avoid known nesting habitats of the peregrine falcon as breeding and nesting season approaches. The peregrine falcon nests atop the high, broad cliffs often used by rock climbers. Once endangered, it was taken…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:47

Conservatism with a small “c”

Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Ant-Imperialism by Bill Kauffman. Metropolitan Books, 2008. 304 pages. Try to imagine a book enthusiastically reviewed by George McGovern (former Democratic presidential candidate), Ron Paul (former Republican presidential…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:46

Popeyed pleasures

Many people who spend some time walking the woodland stream banks and other wet areas here in the Smokies region have had the memorable experience of flushing a woodcock — that secretive, rotund, popeyed, little bird with an exceedingly long…
Prominently displayed in the window of the Bryson City Fire Department last week were several signs with the same defiant words: “We serve people, not politics.” The message was a direct reference to a controversy heating up between the town’s…
The prospect of an outpatient surgery center in Haywood County has drawn support from 14 doctors willing to pitch in on a feasibility study to get the ball rolling. Haywood Regional Medical Center will split the cost of a $40,000…
The Smoky Mountain News won four awards for its news coverage in the recent North Carolina Press Association News and Editorial Awards contest, including first place in the Community Service category for the staff’s comprehensive coverage of Haywood Regional Medical…
A homeless shelter has opened in Sylva to provide an escape from the frigid nights. The shelter, located at Lifeway Church in Sylva, is the only homeless shelter in Jackson County. It will remain open through March. About a month…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:24

Flood Relief Funds: What really happened

By Denise A. Mathis • Guest Column One of the most publicized criminal cases in Haywood County history centered around me, Denise Mathis, and the whereabouts of flood relief funds. I will never forget that day in August, 2006, when…
Waynesville Alderman Kenneth Moore passed away Monday (March 2) after a heart attack. He was 74. Moore was the former police chief of the town of Hazelwood, and had been an alderman since 1995. He was serving his fourth term.…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:22

The Naturalist's Corner

Peregrine pads protected Rock climbing trails across the Carolina mountains near known peregrine falcon nest sites have once again been closed to climbers. The closures run from Jan. 15 to Aug. 15. While the peregrine falcon was removed from the…