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By Michael Beadle Terry Painter and his wife Anita love collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree each year, but they found that fewer and fewer ornaments bore any connection to the actual holiday.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

The way of the sword

The 47th Samurai by Stephen Hunter. Simon & Schuster, 2007. 384 pages. Eight seconds. Eight seconds, according to Stephen Hunter in his latest novel The 47th Samurai (13:978-0-7432-3809-0, $26), is the amount of time it takes a human being to…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

Preserving the giant’s rock

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Up in the mountains along Caney Fork Road in Jackson County lies an important prehistoric artifact to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Judaculla Rock, a large soapstone boulder located approximately three miles off…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

Rocking out

Here in the southern mountains there are magical habitats to be explored in every direction and at every elevation. Periglacial boulderfields are among the most unique of these. I learned about them some years ago when I happened upon this…
Duke Energy has received clearance from the state to tear down the Dillsboro dam but will be forced to dredge a backlog of sediment from behind the dam first.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

A year from the Naturalist’s Corner

“ATBI identifies 5,000-plus species — 1/10/07 I have written several columns regarding this ambitious program to document all species within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which began on Earth Day in 1998. By January 2007 over 5,000 species new…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Developers in Swain County eyeing a quick, easy connection to Bryson City’s sewer system for their newly built properties are out of luck — at least for now. Bryson’s town board is currently denying…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

The maples face an emotional buzz saw

By David Curtis Trees are making the news again in Haywood County as two commissioners are debating the sugar maples in front of the historical courthouse. To cut or not to cut is the question, but, as usual, the answer…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

The new year begins

I know, I know, it’s not Jan. 1 yet. But that’s just a date on a calendar. This year, Dec. 23 is the beginning of the new year. Dec. 22 is the winter solstice — the longest night of the…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Macon seeks solution to animal woes

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Dealing with stray dogs and cats has been a problem for Macon County officials for some time now, Sheriff Robbie Holland said.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

You cats dressed in blue, this is for you

(Editor’s note: Smoky Mountain News columnist Chris Cox delivered this address to the graduating class at Southwestern Community College this past weekend.) A couple of days after I was asked to deliver this address, I asked my creative writing students…
An ornately decorated tree in the foyer of the Women’s Care Center at Haywood Regional Medical Center will help families who have lost children at, or shortly after, birth because of birth defects.
By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Tommy Calhoun of Whittier stares at a web page on his white Mac notebook’s screen. He is checking his email at Bubacz’s Underground, a coffee shop in downtown Sylva. Connecting to the Underground’s wireless…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Christmas traditions from the Moravians

Moravian Christmas in the South by Nancy Smith Thomas. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007. 184 pages Easter is the religious holiday that most North Carolinians would associate with the Moravian Church. In Winston-Salem, brass bands travel about the…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Recommended diversions

Flight Of The Conchords on DVD Two discs of complete silliness from Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, New Zealand’s “not quite best but pretty good” digi-folk satire band, Flight Of The Conchords. It’s an oddball blend of sitcom and musical…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Nearly 200 people packed a Swain County public hearing on Dec. 10 to voice their opposition to the county’s first-ever development regulations — a subdivision ordinance dictating road widths and grades.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Foy’s influence will endure

The praise for outgoing Waynesville Mayor Henry Foy has been plentiful. Both of the other newspapers in Haywood County have beat me to the punch, publishing glowing articles and laudatory editorials. But I’ll still add my voice to the chorus.…
Jackson County commissioners are weighing whether to continue a four-year fight against Duke Energy or cut their losses and bow out.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino quietly marked its 10th anniversary in November, but it’s impossible to ignore exactly what it has meant to the Eastern Band of Cherokee and its members. It has been the catalyst for a proud people to turn…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

A honey of a locust

Every few years, there will be a bumper crop of long flat strap-shaped honey locust pods, many up to two inches wide and a foot or more in length. Hanging in abundance along roadsides, they always bring back childhood memories.
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer This Christmas season, Laura Ammons has scoured for presents for her loved ones, checking off her list as she scoops up the perfect item. Rather than encountering a mad frenzy of crowds, however, Ammons…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Disappearing fringes threaten national forests

By Brent Martin We see it everywhere we look in Western North Carolina — land advertised and marketed for its proximity to the national forests. One advertisement that I saw recently for such land perhaps said it best: going, going,…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer As mayor of Canton, Pat Smathers has overcome his fair share of obstacles — most notably the floods that devastated this Haywood County community in 2004. Now, Smathers is gearing up to face perhaps…
By Chris Cooper Before getting started, let me say that I completely missed Grace Potter’s performance at the Christmas Jam. Heard she was fantastic. Didn’t see Jackson Browne either — heard he was a little depressing. In fact, once I…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer As captain of the Maggie Valley police department, Jason Moody normally keeps his emotions in check. Today, though, as he leads a tour around the police department’s new building, he’s beaming.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

Gifts that keep giving

Looking for a Christmas present? Western North Carolina is home to many outdoors organizations, conservation groups, outing clubs, nature societies and environmental non-profits in need of charitable contributions.
After a successful five-month run at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the “Emissaries of Peace: The 1762 Cherokee and British Delegations,” will return to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and reopen on Jan. 3.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

TWASA waits for capacity expansion go-ahead

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Officials at Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority are waiting for the go-ahead from the state to increase sewer treatment plant capacity, which could end the current moratorium on sewer hook-ups.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

2007

It marked the end of an era for North Shore Road supporters and Blue Ridge Paper Products, and ushered a new wave of progressives into office. Counties tackled tough development questions, voters said no to taxes that would have funded…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Mountain protections gained wide support in 2007

For those of us who have been beating the drum about the need for mountain communities to get serious about land-use planning, it’s been an eventful year. Not only was a lot of real progress made in 2007, but signs…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A Christmas Day playlist

By Chris Cooper Years ago I read an article in one of the many music and entertainment publications out there in which Elvis Costello laid out his ideal playlist for a 12-hour day. It was enlightening; reading the list of…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Pinnacle Park's future

By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer Sylva Town Board members are brainstorming for ways to manage Pinnacle Park, 1,100 acres of land located at the northern part of town that is widely used by locals for hiking and camping.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

2007: A year for development news

This year marked a turning point across Western North Carolina when it comes to political will and the development industry.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Blessed be the tin-eared hymn singer

By David Curtis “Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the new born King.”
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Fed OKs $6 million for North Shore Road payment

By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer After 64 years, it looks like the battle over the North Shore Road in Swain County may have finally reached a resolution.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Hike to Pinnacle Peak

There are two ways to hike to Pinnacle Peak, which is renowned for its 360-degree views from the Plott Balsams.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

The honesty of a cat’s purr opens my eyes

By John Armour We have two cats: Weasel, a grey female calico, and Orion, a male orange and white tabby. Orion is a big, lump of a cat, twenty pounds if he’s an ounce. He’s taught me a lesson for…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A Christmas gift

Citizens of Washington County, hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and Navy pilots who would have been put in harm’s way received a Congressional Christmas gift when the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill de-authorized construction of an Outlying…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

WCU trustees OK fee increases

Western Carolina University’s board of trustees unanimously approved proposed tuition and fees for the 2008-09 academic year, including increases to support operational costs for a new indoor recreation center currently under construction and to begin meeting student requests for enhanced…
A Franklin-based mining company has filed an appeal against the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources decision denying a permit to operate a rock quarry in the Tuckasegee community in Jackson County.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A plant’s purpose

There are more than 300,000 plant species in the world. Some are edible, some can be used for their medicinal properties, and many are poisonous. The latter category is defined by Nancy J. Turner and Adam F. Szczawinski in Common…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Recommended diversions

Christmas Eve dinner Not the particular food, per se, but the tradition. In our home it’s Lori’s homemade lasagna, and one pan probably weighs 10 pounds because it has so much cheese, meat and pasta. My pasta-loving children get all…
By Tom Jensen • Guest Columnist John Edwards and Mike Huckabee are the most popular Presidential candidates in their own parties in Western North Carolina, according to recent surveys conducted by Raleigh’s Public Policy Polling. But Rudy Giuliani is the…
By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer On June 1, 2007, A.J. Rowell left Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and began pedaling a bicycle across North America. Just before 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 19), the Jackson County native pulled into Sylva, seven…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

Parkway views from Waynesville overlook protected

A ridgeline tract adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooking Waynesville has been saved from development, thanks to the acquisition of the property by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

When Florida was wild

Crackers in the Glade: Life and Times in the Old Everglades edited Betty Savidge Briggs. University of Georgia Press, 2007. 127 pages. Crackers in the Glade: Life and Times in the Old Everglades (University of Georgia Press, ISBN 13-978-0-8203-3043-3) tells…
By Julia Merchant • Staff Writer Frank Singleton, the spokesman for the 4,500-acre proposed Cataloochee Wilderness Resort in Haywood County, stopped by The Smoky Mountain News office to answer some questions about the planned development. Singleton said the ball is…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A little moss, hopefully, is forever

By Stephanie Wampler A thick, green sheet of moss is growing across my roof. When I first noticed it the other day, driving home, I grimaced. I thought, “Somebody’s going to have to get up there and spray it off.…
When back-to-back tropical storms hit the mountains with heavy rains in 2004, the saturated soils triggered more than 140 landslides. Some were small, others big, but all pointed to how vulnerable some mountain slopes are to the forces of nature…
By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer For more than 60 years, students have been learning at Cowee Elementary School. But with the rise in Macon County’s student population, county leaders are looking to build a new school to accommodate the…