Blue Ridge Heritage signage to make its debut

Ten years after the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area won federal designation, themed signs tying together 65 attractions throughout the mountains will finally be installed this year.

Smokies landslide could deal crushing blow to tourism if road repairs drag on

fr landslideA rain-induced landslide in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park left a gaping hole in U.S. 441, but its impact could leave a lot bigger hole in the local economy if park officials are not able to fix the road in time to save at least part of the tourist season.

Muddy waters: WNC feels the blues following unrelenting rainstorms

cover1A four-day stretch of heavy rains fell on Western North Carolina, leaving residents wondering if it would ever end. Some areas witnessed up to 10 inches.

The following collection of stories and interviews captures the drama and tension of the unrelenting rains as they wreaked havoc across the mountains.

Economic indicators show WNC’s pump is primed but still waiting to flow

coverMore doom and gloom or a light at the end of the tunnel?

For five years, the nation has waited eagerly for economic forecasters to tell us what we want to hear — that home sales are rebounding, wages are finally rising, and job growth at long last is outpacing layoffs. Will 2013 bring those things at last?

RELATED:
Haywood County economy outpaces its peers
College kids gum up Jackson County’s economic stats

Taking advantage of our unique attributes

op frThe recently announced plans for a Blueways Trail focusing on the recreational uses of Western North Carolina’s waterways is one of the better recent ideas for promoting our region. Its focus on the unique natural wonders of our mountains will make for a broad appeal that will speak directly to those who love the outdoors.

Officially dubbed the N.C. Smokies Blueways Trail, the concept is to develop tools that will help locals and tourists make better use of our rivers, creeks and lakes. That includes just getting to waterways to picnic or swim, improved access for canoeing and kayaking, and more information on fishing.

New dental clinic should bring a smile to WNC

fr dentalCiting a statewide shortage of dentists, East Carolina University is opening 10 clinics across North Carolina with the mission of training upper-class dental students as well as providing services to the underserved public.

Cherokee banks brace for rush when casino checks go out

Twice a year, Dorothy Posey arrives for her job at Mountain Credit Union in Cherokee knowing one thing: the lines will be long.

Not the sort of long by normal bank standards, like the 10-person-deep line that might form during the peak of Friday afternoon payday traffic. But so long that the line from the teller’s counter will snake out the credit union’s front door and continue to pile up outside.

Struggle to afford heating costs hits new ­high

coverIt looked like any wood yard, piles of tree trunks in various stages of processing: long logs still bearing their bark, shorter stacks cut into rounds and neatly split triangles of firewood ready to be shoveled into a piping stove.

But to Richard Reeves, the woodlot at an abandoned factory site in Waynesville, is ground zero in the battle to fight winter’s impending cold.

Quality over quantity in Appalachia

art frDowntown Franklin is all sunshine, but it’s the calm before the storm.

Drifting through an array of stores and restaurants lining Main Street, the scene is quiet, but soon, with Thanksgiving falling into the rearview mirror, shoppers determined and curious will overtake the small town, in search of handmade items from regional artists. Strolling the sidewalk, one soon comes upon North Carolina Mountain Made.

Christmas parades roll into WNC

art frSnowflakes sprinkle the high peaks, while a stiff breeze cascades into the valleys. Elaborate decorations are being put up in downtowns across Western North Carolina. It’s that time of the year — Christmas is around the corner and the region is gearing up for their annual parades.

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