Nestled deep in the mountains between Sylva and Cashiers, the scenic U.S. Forest Service Balsam Lodge is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a makeover. Throughout the summer and fall, portions of the lodge were restored by student carpentry and facilities maintenance crews from the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, a job training center for at-risk teens located in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
When Mike Clampitt was making get out the vote calls during his campaign for Swain County commissioner last fall, he noticed an interesting pattern on the voter registration lists.
Three weeks after federal officials rolled into town and abruptly shut down the Oconaluftee Jobs Corps Center in Swain County, the reasons for the closure are still being debated.
Sinquarious Graham, a 16-year-old Job Corps student from Alabama, was pulling on his coat to go to breakfast at 6:30 a.m. last Thursday when his roommate came in and told him class was canceled, he could go back to bed.
The federal government has long been aware of run down buildings at the Oconaluftee Job Corps Center but failed to provide the center with funds to fix the problems, according to multiple reports, inspections and annual assessments conducted by the government.
Local leaders and employees of the Oconaluftee Job Corp Center are questioning the motives behind a sudden shutdown of the site by the federal government last week.