When Ken Zulla hung up his IRS badge and retired to the well-groomed mountain hamlet of Lake Junaluska more than a decade ago, monthly sojourns to the local feed-and-seed store weren’t on the radar for his Golden Years.
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Waynesville residents will get their first chance to weigh in on the possibility of adding Lake Junaluska to the town limits with two public hearings this month.
Lake Junaluskans got their first glimpse this weekend at what it would take for the community to become its own town.
Incorporating as its own town comes with a host of regulatory, political and logistical hurdles. A task force studying the future course of Lake Junaluska residential neighborhoods heard a report on the ins-and-out of forming their own town at a public meeting Jan. 26.
Lake Junaluska and the town of Waynesville are pressing ahead with the possibility of a merger. The two entities have put the wheels in motion to introduce a special bill in the N.C. General Assembly in March that would bring Lake Junaluska into Waynesville’s town limits.
As Lake Junaluska residents chart a future course for their community, two options now remain on the table: become its own town or merge with the town of Waynesville.
For decades, Lake Junaluska has operated as a well-oiled homeowners association — with its own security force, trash pick-up, water and sewer service and other amenities normally only found in actual towns.
When Tom Sigmon tells people in Charlotte that he only lives there part-time, they often ask where he spends the rest of his year. Waynesville, he responds.
Haywood County commissioners sent a message to Raleigh lawmakers this week to abandon the notion of merging small community colleges.
The plan to merge some administrative functions at small community colleges was floated by some Republican lawmakers as a cost-cutting measure earlier this year, but has been met with stiff resistance across the state.
“It concerns me,” Commissioner Mark Swanger said. Haywood Community College could lose local control of its college, like which courses and degrees to offer.
“We need to keep local control,” Commissioner Kevin Ensley said. “We tailor-make our community colleges to the needs of our community.”
Ensley cited courses offered by HCC to prepare students for jobs in paper making technology and engineering at the paper mill in Canton. HCC also created a new degree in low-impact development to help answer the demand for more sensitive mountainside construction.
HCC’s ability to respond to needs in the community could be compromised under a merger plan, Swanger said.
The plan would merge administration of community colleges with less than 3,000 fulltime students. It would save relatively little — only $5 million, which amounts to less than half of 1 percent of the state’s community college budget — said Laura Leatherwood, vice president of student and workforce development at Haywood Community College.
Leatherwood brought the resolution to county commissioners this week.
“There’s a reason they call it a community college,” Swanger said.
Commissioner Bill Upton said he was concerned about jobs that could be lost if administration was consolidated with another community college.
Board members on the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and the Maggie Valley Area Visitors Bureau voted unanimously to pursue a merger last week, a monumental move given the historical tug-of-war between the two entities.