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Nearly a century old, the aging Cullowhee Dam is at a crossroads — with risk of failure increasing, Western Carolina University must decide whether to renovate the existing structure or remove it completely.

The dam hasn’t been used for power generation since the 1960s, but it creates a reservoir of still water that supplies WCU and the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority. However, some would like to see the dam disappear, offering increased opportunity for paddlers and allowing fish and other aquatic life to travel freely through a more natural, higher-quality river.

The snip of a ribbon declared the destination that mountain bikers are hailing as “amazing” and “world-class” to be open for business last week, when Cherokee officially opened its new 10.5-mile Fire Mountain Trail System. 

“There’s been a lot of hard work and dedication to make this a reality, to make this trail system a reality — and the reality we’ve created is a premier trail system for the region,” said Jeremy Hyatt, secretary of administration for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. 

If all goes according to plan, within the week folks in Jackson County will have their choice of pools to soak in the summer as renovations finish up at the Sylva and Cashiers pools. 

Ching Fu and Jerud Crandall had professional careers and a comfortable home when they left it all behind in 2015, trading their stable lives in Asheville to roam the continent in an RV. Now they’ve been on the road for more than two years, adventuring through Canada, Oregon, Utah and everywhere in between. 

“Our priorities were being outdoors and doing the outdoor activities we wanted to do and exploring outdoors, and it was a much lower priority for us to have a nice house and a nice car and eat at fancy restaurants and be physically luxurious/comfortable,” Crandall explained. “But the way we were living (in Asheville) we were physically very comfortable, and we carved out time to do the outdoor activities.”

As summer approaches, Waynesville’s green spaces are getting greener, but they’re also getting greater — in size. 

On the chilly, windy afternoon of April 7, a crew of seven people gathered to install a passel of hefty red maple and river birch saplings into their new home, River’s Edge Park in Clyde. With the help of shovels and a mini-dozer it took just 2 hours to plant the 13 trees, but the work is far from over. Using mostly grant funds and volunteer labor, the town of Clyde intends to eventually plant the riverside park with thousands of trees and shrubs.

A new river park in Dillsboro is no longer just a proposal after the Jackson County Commissioners voted unanimously April 3 to approve an economic development deal between the county and Western North Carolina Outdoor Development, a company owned by Jackson County businessman Kelly Custer.

With an April 3 vote on a proposed river park in Dillsboro just days away, all five members of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners are leaning toward approving the project after listening to an hour of public comment March 20.

The Town of Waynesville will soon build a very special playground, thanks to a successful Connect N.C. bond application made last fall.

A proposed river park development in Dillsboro drew a crowd of roughly 75 people to a public hearing March 20, with 20 people delivering comment on the issue and prompting the Jackson County Commissioners to postpone a final decision until they could fully research all the questions that were asked.

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