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Armed with five-gallon buckets and a groundswell of energy, 14 teens from Balsam-based SOAR Camp descended on Eugene Christopher’s Waynesville farm this month with a simple task before them — feed the hungry of Haywood County by collecting as many potatoes as possible. 

Clouds hung low over the waning daylight Nov. 11, air slightly hazier than usual from the smoke of nearby wildfires. The leafless November scene could have been a bleak one but for the liveliness of the soundscape, which featured the back-and-forth banter of high school kids freed from the rules of volume control that govern a typical school day. The rumbling of Christopher’s tractor served as the background to their shouts as he traversed the rows, turning the soil for harvest.

During his tenure on the Haywood County Commission, retiring Chairman Mark Swanger has certainly shaped what the future of the county will look like for decades to come.

Mark Swanger tucked into his leather armchair beside a roaring gas fire, an expansive view of his Fines Creek family farm unfurling beyond the bay windows of his log home.

Calm, cool and collected as always, he was ready for another round of a marathon interview aimed at capturing the sweeping tenure of his 20-year political career in Haywood County.

Haywood County’s election results are finally complete.

After serving as an ad-hoc temporary animal shelter, the old Lea Industries building on Lea Plant Road in Hazelwood is once again empty and silent. 

Another layer of tint has been added to Haywood County’s changing political canvas.

Election Day results paint a picture of a red county growing redder. From Donald Trump to Brandon Rogers, Republicans were the big winners in Haywood County on Nov. 8, splashing broad strokes of red over what was once blue while also deepening rosy hues that have been so for decades.

For the first time since 1952, Haywood County voters were allowed to make a decision on whether or not to allow on- and/or off-premises sales of beer and wine. 

Chuck Francis will again return to chair a Haywood County School Board that has set high marks for achievement, climbing into the top 10 percent of all districts in the state.

It had been said about newcomer Brandon Rogers that if signs could vote, he would win. 

The Haywood County Public Library has roots dating back more than a hundred years, but today’s library has its sights set squarely on the next hundred. 

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