State budget funds all WCU requests

Western Carolina University leaders are celebrating passage of a state budget bill that funds every item on the university’s legislative agenda, including raises for faculty and staff and $35.5 million to renovate Moore Building, the oldest building on WCU’s campus. 

State budget funds might cover Allen Street repairs

More than $3 million in the recently enacted state budget will help Sylva reopen Bryson Park, install long-discussed public bathrooms downtown and possibly assist with the expensive repairs the town faces on Allen Street. 

‘Something’s got to give’: Sylva police chief argues for more officers

Every year, Sylva’s department heads have a chance to tell town commissioners what they need — and what they want — in the next year’s budget. During a Jan. 28 work session, Police Chief Chris Hatton kept his list short and to the point. 

Federal money coming to WNC public lands

Public lands in Western North Carolina are set to get a chunk of the $950 billion approved for deferred maintenance projects with the Aug. 4 ratification of the Great American Outdoors Act. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service both released project lists last week. 

Swain approves funding for reading specialists

Swain County commissioners recently approved about $200,000 in funding for the school system in an effort to improve student reading levels. 

Haywood groups create loan fund

More help is on the way for small business owners now that several nonprofits have teamed up with Haywood County government to create a fund that will soon begin issuing loans to companies affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

Community steps up to care for parks during shutdown

The National Park Service is closed. 

Sort of. 

When the clock struck midnight on Dec. 22, 2018, the latest continuing budget resolution expired and the federal government’s failure to agree on a spending bill resulted in the suspension of all “non-essential” government services — including most services associated with operating the national parks. Of 24,681 National Park Service employees nationwide, only 3,298 are working during the shutdown, with just 326 for the entire Southeast region. 

Snapshots of WNC jails: Not all jails are created equal

In a criminal justice system that is often operated under rigid regulations and protocols, people may be surprised to find the disparities within the walls of local jails. 

All the jails have the same basics — sally port, booking area, magistrate office, holding cells, inmate pods and control rooms with security cameras — but each facility is set up a little differently. 

County lukewarm on IP complex takeover

A quick discussion by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners on July 16 about the possibility of taking responsibility for the International Paper Sports Complex in Canton left commissioners with more questions than answers. 

Something is wrong with this picture

I’ve been covering local governments in North Carolina for 30 years, and a small item in Macon County’s budget for 2018-2019 caught my attention like a flash of lightning: the public education budget is $8.5 million, or 18 percent of the total budget; the public safety budget (law enforcement and jails) is $13.9 million, or 28 percent of the county’s budget.

For decades, education and human services (DSS and health departments) have traditionally been the most expensive items for county commissioners. Now we’ve reached a point where it seems law enforcement and jails will take an equal amount or more of our local tax dollars, which inevitably means local schools will be squeezed even tighter.

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