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2023 A Look Back: Hometown heroes award

2023 A Look Back: Hometown heroes award

When Pactiv Evergreen announced it would close its 115-year-old paper mill in Canton earlier this year, local leaders had to deal with a host of issues: the plight of the workers and their families, their health care coverage, declining school enrollment, pollution and the future of the site itself.


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Nick Scheuer. File photo

One issue, however, floated to the top of that pile — the future of the town’s wastewater treatment, which had been handled by the mill, for free, for generations. With the clock ticking, three local government administrators who don’t often make headlines jumped into action, searching for a solution. Canton Town Manager Nick Scheuer, Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead and Haywood County Community and Economic Development Director David Francis have worked (and are working) behind the scenes to solve this problem, which is crucial to the future of the town.

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Bryant Morehead. File photo

But Scheuer, Morehead and Francis aren’t the only local officials who stepped up once the closing was announced. Shelly White, president of Haywood Community College, marshalled her resources to lead the rapid response effort. Trevor Putnam, superintendent of Haywood County Schools, began assessing potential funding disruptions due to declining enrollment. Canton’s assistant town manager, Lisa Stinnett, and the town’s CFO, Natalie Walker, took the initiative on several projects, including an early job fair. Russ Harris, executive director of the Southwestern Commission, David Garrett, SWC’s workforce development director and Nathan Ramsey, of the Land of Sky Regional Council, did likewise.

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David Francis. File photo

While most people know the roles of Haywood County’s legislative delegation —Sen. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon), Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood) — in securing General Assembly funding for Canton’s future, we thought it appropriate to bestow the “hometown heroes” award to those others, working diligently with little recognition, on helping to keep milltown strong. 

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