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Hiking is one of the best ways to get out and commune with nature. With a quiet step you stand a great chance of seeing some of the multitude of wildlife Western North Carolina has to offer.

Members of several progressive groups concerned over the moral and monetary implications of Affordable Care Act repeal in rural Western North Carolina say that although their congressman isn’t listening to them now, maybe he’ll hear them in 2018.

The last known footprint of the slant-eyed giant Judaculla is not easy to get to.

First, there’s the drive to Wolf Laurel Trailhead, which takes about an hour to reach from Robbinsville up a steep and rutted U.S. Forest Service road that winds past tumbling waterfalls and an intersection with the Appalachian Trail before reaching the parking lot. Then there’s the hike — 3.5 miles of steep uphills offset by rocky downhills pieced together with the occasional stretch of level ground, often while traversing a narrow ridgeline with slopes falling steeply to either side.

Just after I bought The Weight of the World, I ran into an old friend of mine who is extremely well-read, and since I knew that he had already read the book and since I value his opinion, I asked, “So, what did you think?”

The tools of truth

As the digital revolution proceeds unabated and technology exponentially shrinks in size and cost, law enforcement agencies have more tools in and on their trunks than ever before. 

The increasing use of body-worn and dash-mounted police cameras in Western North Carolina has sparked privacy concerns from citizens and cost concerns from local governments struggling to equip officers with the devices.

• The tools of truth
• Jackson law enforcement navigates new age of police video
• Haywood cop cam use low, may grow
• Out of sight: Macon, Swain departments largely off-cam

School systems in Western North Carolina were hoping a proposed piece of legislation regarding class size requirements would make it through the General Assembly this session to take some pressure off their 2017-18 budgets, but now it seems unlikely the bill will pass. 

Many rural Americans who voted for Donald Trump last November did so based on his promise to cut the federal deficit and rein in spending. When he announced his preliminary budget proposal March 16, however, Democrats and Republicans alike were shocked at the extent of proposed cuts to programs that serve some of the nation’s poorest rural communities.

Women have a lot of internal dialogue when considering a run for public office — I don’t have time. I have a full-time job and a family to take care of at home. I don’t know enough about the issues. I don’t have the name recognition. I don’t have a college degree. Who would vote for me? I’m a woman.

By all accounts, the craft beer business continues to boom in Western North Carolina.

And that’s not just in Asheville with its dozens of breweries and brewpubs. Head west on Interstate 40 and merge onto the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. You’ll soon come across numerous breweries from Canton to Bryson City, Highlands to Murphy, and seemingly everywhere in between.

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