If all goes according to plan, by this time next year Jackson County will have been declared the trout capital of North Carolina, and county commissioners are already starting to talk about how to plan for the resulting increase they anticipate in angling tourism. 

For the past decade, Sylva’s Pinnacle Park has had Sae Smyrl envisioning a lofty future for the hiking area. A mountain biker for the past 40 years, Smyrl would walk the trail and think how great it would be to ride his bike through the 1,100-acre forest. Bikes are allowed on the existing trail, but it’s way too steep for the sport to be fun. 

A plan is now afoot to make Smyrl’s dream a reality, with the Nantahala Area Southern Off Road Bicycling Association pursuing a goal to bring some 30 miles of biking trail, featuring loops of various difficulty levels, to the Fisher Creek watershed. 

The greenway in Jackson County has now been fully open for a month, and use is skyrocketing on the one-mile path along the Tuckasegee River in Cullowhee. From May to July, monthly use more than doubled to 5,485 visitors — that figure is more than five times the 1,034 people who used the greenway in November 2015, the first month data was taken.

Jackson County’s new county manager is now on the job, and commissioners are looking forward to start working with him on goals and tasks for the years ahead.

A newly purchased cargo van has animal advocates in Jackson County applauding — and rolling up their sleeves to load dogs and cats for travel toward pastures green with adoptive families and no-kill shelters.

After sixteen months of meetings, a change of planning director and a nearly complete turnover of membership on the Jackson County Planning Board, an updated industrial development ordinance is now in place for the county.

bookWhen Leo Cowan, Jackson County’s noted historian and author, died last February just after his second book was published, I found myself reluctant to write a review of Leo’s last book in conjunction with his obituary. I am an admirer of Leo’s writing and have always felt that his “authorial voice” put him in a special category. Jackson County has a large number of writers who either write about the past and/or record their personal history through storytelling or autobiography (I guess I qualify as part of of that flock!). However, Leo Cowan is head and shoulders above all of us.

fr healthdirectorJackson County’s health department is gearing up to start millions of dollars of construction for its animal shelter and health buildings, but before those projects get off the ground leadership will change with the coming of a new health director. 

fr dssdirectorAfter 20 years with the department, Jackson County’s director of social services will be retiring from county employment at the end of the month, but the department won’t want for experienced leadership going forward.

fr goodsamaritanA partnership that could quadruple patient volume and expand medical staffing for the uninsured of Jackson County has been the subject of a flurry of meetings and conversations since The Good Samaritan Clinic of Jackson County announced last week that it’s moving toward a partnership with Hendersonville-based Blue Ridge Health Center.

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