A wall calendar edged with hot-pink swirls seems out of place in the Junaluska Sanitary District, where the back door of the office opens onto a double-bay equipment garage and work boots leave muddy tracks across the concrete floor.
“It’s the cheapest calendar I could find at Staples,” offered Jim Francis, an elected board member for the sanitary district. Saving money, after all, is a point of pride for the scrappy water and sewer system, and it goes hand in hand with keeping rates as low as possible for the 1,850 customers along its lines.
The four-legged officers of Haywood County are now bulletproof, thanks to a donation from the Western North Carolina Dog Fanciers Association. Of the seven K9s in the county, two had been missing the Kevlar protection they’d need to stay safe in case of a skirmish involving guns or knives. Now, their handlers can rest easier knowing that their furry partners share the same protection that they have.
“The main thing is just having the ability to provide as much protection and security to a working officer — ‘cause that’s what he is — as I have myself,” said Waynesville Officer Zachary Faulkenberry of his K9, Valor. “He’s a sworn officer just like I am, so he should have as much protection as any other officer.”
Three weeks after a fire in the power room knocked out electricity at Haywood Regional Medical Center, the hospital is fully open and accepting patients. The hospital had already opened its emergency department and business offices back up on June 30 after getting a double generator backup system in place but had to hold off accepting inpatients until getting back on Duke Energy power.
“We are incredibly pleased with the pace of this process,” said Janie Sinacore-Jaberg, the hospital’s president and CEO. “I said all along that we weren’t going to rush it, and we didn’t. We did everything correctly, methodically and in a very organized way.”
The hospital accepted its first inpatients following the fire on July 10. Because the length of stay for most inpatients is on the short side, patients who were transferred to neighboring hospitals during the closure are not being transferred back, said Christina Deidesheimer, director of strategy and marketing.
“I don’t believe that we transferred back any patients from other facilities,” she said. “The length of stay for most patients is pretty short, so most likely most of these patients that we have [moved] have been discharged.”
The hospital has not yet finished negotiations with the insurance company, so there’s no word yet on how much of the lost profit from the closure a claim might recoup. There’s also no verdict yet on what caused the fire in the first place.
“That investigation’s still ongoing,” Deidesheimer said. “We wish these things would happen within a couple weeks, but unfortunately they take quite a long time.”
The sale of the MedWest hospital trio in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties will be finalized by the end of July.
Duke LifePoint HealthCare, a national for-profit hospital network, will take over Aug. 1, ending a long legacy of local, independent ownership of the community hospitals.
In two separate incidents, graders in Haywood County bulldozed over wetlands, violating state and federal regulations that protect the environmentally-sensitive areas.
Marc Pruett has won a Grammy and played the Grand Ole Opry stage, but his biggest concern on this day is sinkholes.
“Where is it? Canton?,” he asked a coworker.
Director of erosion control for Haywood County, Pruett sits at his desk, which is covered in paper, maps and books. After a heavy midday rain, two sinkholes have emerged in downtown Canton. Pruett puts a plan into motion, workers head for the door.
The Pigeon Community Center in Waynesville has once again been rescued from the brink.
Haywood County has pledged $47,000 to fix a severely leaky roof and structural problems with the building, in effect saving a suite of programs offered through the community center for minorities and low-income populations.
The campus of Haywood Regional Medical Center is full of cars coming and going, staff walking toward or returning from shifts and people in workout gear heading toward the Fitness Center. Staff members help an elderly woman in a wheelchair get in her vehicle after discharging her from care, and staff working with those still admitted move between stations.
Haywood County’s fledging chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is getting a little help this summer.
“I see myself as a booster pack,” said Sam Tyson. “A little summer energy.”
Sitting in the judge’s seat, Jackson County Commissioners Chairman Jack Debnam took a look around. He absorbed the courtroom, glanced down at Commissioner Doug Cody on the witness stand and County Manager Chuck Wooten in the jury box.