Foxfire and BPR team up for COVID-19 oral history project

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Foxfire has been collecting stories, memories, photographs and artifacts related to the experiences of people in Appalachia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Blue Ridge Public Radio is partnering with the project to help expand its reach and focus on collecting stories from Western North Carolina.

Winter storms slow down vaccine progress

Widespread winter storms last week drastically slowed down vaccination efforts in Jackson County, which still has the lowest percentage of its population vaccinated of the four counties in The Smoky Mountain News’ coverage area. 

Gladys Knight, William McDowell vaccinated in Haywood

Gladys Knight, “Empress of Soul,” and her husband William McDowell recently received their COVID-19 vaccinations in Haywood County. The couple, who reside in North Carolina and created a community center and nonprofit RHS Community Foundation in Canton, wish to set an example for others and dispel vaccination fears within the community. 

Vaccination coverage improves in WNC

Vaccination coverage is picking up in Western North Carolina, with the percentage of the population receiving at least one dose now in the double digits for every far western county. 

Hottest ticket in town: Capacity limits for rivalry game ‘make no sense’

It’s a rivalry that runs as deep as the waters of Lake Logan and as wide as the Pigeon River that snakes its way through this county of 60,000, but this year the annual Pisgah-Tuscola football game has already taken on a significance that extends far beyond the borders of Haywood County. 

Macon budget remains agile through pandemic

Despite dire predictions of how local governments would be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Macon County has fared well so far. Still, County Manager Derek Roland recently ensured commissioners that he’d continue to manage the budget conservatively moving into the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

Masking rules take effect on public lands

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring coronavirus prevention protocols — including mask-wearing — on all federal lands and buildings. Now, management teams at National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service lands are deciding how to implement the new requirement locally. 

Macon steps up COVID response

When Macon County Commissioners met on Jan. 12, health department staff was having a difficult time meeting the demands of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but the county departments have since come together in a joint effort to streamline their processes for vaccinations and testing. 

Jackson gets influx of vaccine doses

Jackson County is still lagging behind surrounding counties when it comes to the percentage of its population that’s received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but it will have the chance to catch up after the health department received an allotment of 1,200 first doses this week — quadruple the number provided last week. 

WNC schools already adhering to state recommendation

Last week, North Carolina officials recommended that all schools return to in-person learning as soon as possible. 

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