Swain County’s oversized jail will lose about one-third of its current inmate population and a sizeable revenue stream when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opens a new justice center, complete with its own jail.

A riverside park in Swain County was plastered with graffiti two weeks ago, with several cans of spray paint unleashed on the public outdoor recreation area.

Nothing went un-tagged, even the trees were spray-painted at the Old N.C. 288 park, where picnic tables, a shelter, boat launch and fishing docks overlook the Tuckasegee River as it flows into Lake Fontana.

fr footballAs the Swain County high school football team marches towards another state championship, amid the fanatic cheers of the hometown fans who live to see the hard-hitting Maroon Devil boys take the field, there is another story unfolding.

Bryson City town leaders have given a verbal OK to the idea of building a new library — but the when, where and how are all still unknown.

“The library is an essential service for the community,” said Chester Bartlett, chairman of Marianna Black Library’s Board of Trustees and leader of a committee charged with taking the lead on the new library. “We feel there is a huge need for this.”

fr metaldetectorSwain County may heighten security measures at the courthouse and administration building to stop guns and weapons from being carried into the lobby.

When Kevin Seagel slipped into Swain County’s courthouse during a mock exercise brandishing a pretend weapon, it only took emergency responders one minute to find him, but by then, he had already killed several people.

Swain County voters are being asked this election whether they want a quarter-cent sales tax increase to help pay for school construction.

The quarter-cent sales tax would bring in roughly $250,000 a year and would pay for a $2 million expansion of East Elementary. The additional classrooms would let the school do away with “dilapidated” modular units that currently serve as classrooms to handle overcrowding, said County Manager Kevin King.

After about 18 months of construction, the $1.5 million Swain County Regional Business Education and Training Center is officially open for business, or education, or training for that matter.

“This facility will wear many hats,” said Swain County Commissioner Donnie Dixon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held last week. “It will be a meeting place. It will be things we probably haven’t even thought of yet.”

Swain County might have to raise taxes or make budget cuts to keep its cash reserves from falling into unhealthy territory.

Swain County’s cash reserves are hovering around $1.6 million, barely above the state-recommended minimum. Independent auditor Eric Bowman recently warned the county that one capital project or one hiccup could quickly drop Swain County’s fund balance too low.

Just after the New Year, property owners in Swain County will find out just how well — or how poorly — their property weathered the real estate downturn.

Swain County is wrapping up a countywide property revaluation, where every home, lot, business and tract of land is appraised with an up-to-date real estate value. Property values in turn dictate how much someone pays in property taxes.

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