Karen Williams only had a handful of students in her beginner class when she first took the band director position for Swain County Schools 14 years ago, but today she has an average of 50 beginner students a year and the program continues to grow.
While many local school districts are struggling to make ends meet these days, Swain County Schools is facing a much steeper battle to qualify for state and federal funds the district feels its students deserve.
“We’re struggling as most boards are trying to look at our financial situation and fund things we crucially need,” said Superintendent Sam Pattillo.
Bryson City aldermen are quite aware of the rift created in the community over the Fry Street closure issue, but say they welcome residents and businesses alike to participate in the local government process.
A large-scale rescue effort involving multiple animal welfare agencies resulted in the removal of more than 400 animals from a puppy mill in Clarkesville, Georgia, last week.
A fleet of new mountain bikes has come home to roost at Swain County High School, thanks to a donation from Bryson City Bicycles.
In December 2016, the bike shop landed an award from Synchrony Financial that granted it $10,000 to grow the business and another $10,000 earmarked for a community project of its choosing. Bryson City Bicycles was one of only five small businesses nationwide to land one of the Working Forward Small Business Awards, and co-owner Diane Cutler had no doubts about where in the community she wanted to invest that $10,000.
The Swain County Board of Commissioners now has a vacancy after the sudden and saddening loss of longtime Commissioner David Monteith.
Smaller cities and counties with smaller tax bases can’t always afford the capital expenses of their wealthier neighbors — it’s a simple fact of life for rural Appalachian governments that often have to do without the luxuries afforded to the better-off.
When speaking to the many people in Swain County and beyond who knew David Monteith either personally or professionally, they all used the same word to describe him — integrity.
Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, has introduced House Bill 260 in an effort to help Swain County recoup millions of dollars the federal government owes to the county for never rebuilding North Shore Road from Bryson City to Tennessee.
It was July or August of 1999, best I remember, and the Swain County Commissioners at that time were meeting in a cramped boardroom in the Administration Building. I’m not sure if anyone from a newspaper other than The Smoky Mountain Times covered these meetings, but we had published the first issue of our upstart newspaper in June of that year. As its only reporter at that time, I was finally getting around to one of Swain’s meetings.
I was a little out of sorts as I wandered in unannounced. I found an empty chair against the wall that was so close you could have touched the commissioners. They all greeted me as I told them who I was and what I was there for.