Holly Kays

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Early voting is underway for the June 3 Primary Election in Cherokee, which will determine the final slate of candidates progressing to the General Election Sept. 2. This year, all 12 Tribal Council seats are up for election, as well as School Board seats for Wolfetown, Big Cove and Birdtown.

Comment

In a pair of actions taken during Tribal Council on Thursday, May 6, Tribal Council voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and to stop testing Housing Improvement Program residents and applicants for the drug. 

Comment

Carmaleta Littlejohn Monteith has worn an impressive number of titles over the course of her life. 

Comment

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will pursue a new casino project in partnership with a publicly traded gaming company, following a vote during Tribal Council Thursday, May 6. 

Comment

For the fourth straight week, the rate of vaccinations has decreased in the four-county area, with just 0.5 percent of the four-county area’s population receiving a first dose between May 3 and May 10. 

Comment

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has lifted a recommendation against long-distance hikes on the A.T. for the first time since the pandemic struck last spring.

The update was issued in light of widespread availability of effective COVID-19 vaccines and a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement classifying outdoor activities like hiking as low-risk for spreading the virus. The recommendation comes as thousands of hikers have already started or registered to start a thru-hike this year.

The ATC will also restart its recognition program for hikers who have completed a full thru-hike of the trail. It had paused the program during the pandemic to avoid incentivizing multi-state travel, which includes stops for resupply in dozens of trailside communities. Miles hiked on the A.T. during this pause — between March 31, 2020, and May 11, 2021 — will not be counted toward 2,000-miler recognition by the ATC.

"The ATC acknowledges the past year has required significant sacrifices both within and outside the A.T. community of volunteers, supporters, and hikers," reads a statement from the ATC. "Many of us have lost friends and family. Some have delayed lifelong plans and aspirations — including postponing attempts to thru-hike the Trail — to better ensure they and those around them are at a lower risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. We thank everyone who has taken, and continues to take, extra steps to help combat this pandemic."

The ATC also announced reopening dates for two of its visitor centers. The ATC Headquarters and Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, will reopen with modified operations on May 27, 2021. The A.T. Visitor Center in Monson, Maine, located roughly 100 miles south of the Trail's northern terminus on Katahdin in Baxter State Park, will open on June 2, 2021.

The ATC will also resume the distribution of A.T. 2021 backpack hangtags at these locations, which are provided to thru-hikers and eligible section hikers who have registered their hikes with the ATC via www.atcamp.org and completed a brief training course in Leave No Trace backcountry principles.

While this updated guidance is yet another sign of improved COVID-19 conditions throughout the United States, the ATC notes that hikers should still take precautions and encourages them to carry a mask for use when social distancing is not possible; to pack a tent or other personal shelter system instead of using the often-crowded three-sided trail shelters; and to follow CDC recommendations for protecting yourself and others, including when to avoid travel.

For more information about the ATC's updated guidance, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/covid-19.

Comment

Austin San Souci was just 2 years old the first time he rode a bike. 

“He never had training wheels. He just took off,” said his father, Tyler San Souci. “We sort of supported that all along.”

Comment

While Sylva’s leaders have considered the idea of a town occupancy tax a couple times over the years, so far they’ve always walked away from the discussion deciding that it wouldn’t be the right move for the small town of 2,700.

Comment

Vaccinations continue to slow down in the four-county area and in the state as a whole, but case counts are dropping too, with the 981 new cases reported statewide May 4 — marking just the fourth time since October that figure has fallen below 1,000.

Comment

During an April 29 work session, four of Sylva’s five board members signaled their approval of a draft budget totaling $4.9 million, 18 percent more than the budget approved last June. It includes a tax rate increase of 1.5 cents per $100 of property value and $400,000 in America Rescue Plan funding. 

Comment

Despite their proximity to multiple slope failures on and around Allen Street in Sylva, two trouble spots that appeared in late 2020 are unrelated to the others, according to a recently released engineering report. 

Comment

On cold January days, Bob and Janaye Houghton prefer to eat outside. 

“If it’s 20 degrees in the sunshine, it’s Miami,” Bob said. 

Comment

For Lin Forney, the end of fourth grade was the end of an era. 

The year was 1963, and the world was changing. Nine years earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision struck down the “separate-but-equal” precedent that allowed racial segregation in schools, and the Civil Rights movement was spurring change — or at least talk of it — in communities across the South. Now, that change was coming home to Haywood County. The schools were desegregating. 

Comment

Jackson County leaders are considering adding a penny to the county’s tax rate to fund the Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department’s request for eight full-time employees.

Comment

Western Carolina University is gearing up for a traditional college experience this fall with plans to resume all typical academic, social and extracurricular activities. 

Comment

State of residence was the most visible dividing line in an April 14 hearing on the proposed terms for a renewed wastewater discharge permit at the Evergreen Packaging mill in Canton. 

Comment

In a 55-page opinion filed Friday, April 16, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Boasberg gave a green light in the Catawba Indian Nation’s quest to build a casino in Cleveland County and struck a heavy blow to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ years-long effort to keep the facility from existing. 

Comment

Tracy Swartout will take over as superintendent for the Blue Ridge Parkway on May 23 following the departure of former Superintendent J.D. Lee last summer. Alexa Viets, the Parkway’s chief of resource management and interpretation, has served as acting superintendent since then.

Comment

With less than two months to go before the Primary Election Thursday, June 4, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Board of Elections has released its list of candidates certified to run in the 2021 elections for Tribal Council and School Board.

Comment

Eight months after voting to revamp the pedestal of the county’s controversial Civil War monument, Jackson County commissioners got their first look at what the new version might look like. 

Comment

Sales tax receipts are booming in Sylva and a newly completed property revaluation will bump real estate values by about 14.5 percent this year — if tax rates stay the same, the town would expect to receive $345,000 more in the coming fiscal year than in the current year’s budget.

Comment

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout is in full swing, and while many people rushed to get their shot at the first opportunity, others say they still have questions and will wait for a vaccine — or won’t get one at all. 

Comment

After months of working breakneck speed to clear an ever-expanding backlog of people waiting to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, local health departments are reporting a marked slowdown in signups, even though only about 30 percent of the population has received at least one shot. 

Comment

Tribal Council voted unanimously April 1 to table an ordinance aiming to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. However, discussion preceding the vote indicates that some version of that ordinance will likely pass in the future. 

Comment

For every 116,732 people visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one experiences an emergency and calls the park’s Search and Rescue Team for help. As the park’s popularity increases, so does the urgency of figuring out how to weaken that ratio. 

Comment

The Jackson County Department of Public Health will pause its use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine following a recent joint statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The COVID-19 Vaccine Drive Thru Clinic scheduled on Thursday, April 15, is cancelled as a result.

Comment

Earl B. Hunter Jr. describes his younger self as a “Good Times kid,” growing up on free lunch and government assistance in Columbia, South Carolina. He wasn’t great at school — he didn’t even learn to read fluently until he was a teenager — but he had a quality about him. And he had a mentor. 

Comment

When the pandemic first hit, Waynesville resident Sammie Conner was so scared of contracting COVID-19 that she wouldn’t even go to the grocery store. As a 56-year-old woman with COPD, among other health issues, she knew she was a prime candidate for a poor outcome, so she sent her husband to do the shopping. 

Comment

Despite gusting winds and a temperature of 42 degrees at the time the three-hour meeting began — it was 37 degrees and felt like 30 by its 8 p.m. conclusion — more than 50 people bundled up to attend an outdoor hearing on the fate of two Sylva apartment projects Thursday, April 1. 

Comment

A federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to allow the South Carolina-based Catawba Indian Nation  to build a casino in Cleveland County is far from resolution, but the tribe is proceeding with plans to begin gaming on the site — though at a slower pace than originally intended. 

Comment

Sylva Police Chief Chris Hatton is urging local businesses to secure their buildings after multiple Dillsboro restaurants were broken into over the last two nights.
 
"We care about you, your organizations and your businesses and we don't want you to be a victim to thieves," Hatton said in an email to Sylva business owners. 
 
The suspects seem to be targeting cash, as they have gone after safes and cash registers, Hatton said. Nearby businesses are encouraged to ensure that their buildings are secure, with alarms and security camera systems activated.
Jackson County Emergency Communications Center, 828.586.1911

Comment

With the 2021 property revaluation now complete, Jackson County’s taxable value will rise nearly 20 percent over the value established during the last valuation in 2016 and 12.1 percent over the value for the current fiscal year, the last using 2016 valuations. 

Comment

Tribal Council voted 11-1 this month to allocate an additional $35 million toward a Kituwah LLC development project along Interstate 40 in Sevier County, Tennessee. 

Comment

By unanimous vote, Tribal Council approved an allocation plan for future revenues from the Southern Indiana Casino during its monthly meeting March 11. 

Comment

This spring, the eastern United States will play host to one of nature’s great marvels — periodical cicadas, mysterious insects that live underground either 13 or 17 years before emerging for a few short weeks of furious mating closely followed by mass death. 

Comment

As a respiratory therapist, Bruce Moyle is trained to deliver breathing therapies to people who struggle to draw oxygen. As a respiratory therapy instructor at Southwestern Community College, he’s trained to deliver the next generation of healthcare workers to a region that struggles to hire enough of them. 

Comment

Vaccination numbers have nearly doubled in the four-county area of Haywood, Jackson, Swain and Macon counties over past month and case numbers are way down, but with Easter weekend and spring break trips on the horizon, public health officials are urging the public to continue taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Comment

A pair of public hearings slated for April 1 will determine the fate of two proposed apartment developments in Sylva. 

Comment

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ new sports betting venue is now open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Thursday, March 18 — just in time for March Madness. 

Comment

National Park Service officials are seeking help from the public in identifying a suspect believed to be connected to a recent armed robbery on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Comment

Anyone 18 or older can now schedule a vaccine appointment with the Jackson County Department of Public Health, regardless of group. The clinic at Western Carolina University will open appointments to all groups starting Thursday, April 1. 

Comment

A Georgia resident suspected of supplying illegal drugs to the local community was arrested last week after a Sylva Police Department officer stopped his vehicle for traffic violations.

Comment

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ new sports betting venue is set to open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow at 10 a.m., just in time for March Madness.

Comment

When spring sprung in 2020, so did the Coronavirus Pandemic, forcing farmers to make life-altering decisions in the face of an unknown future. A recently published survey  of Southern Appalachian farmers shows that those decisions built a reality that was better than anticipated but still full of challenges. 

Comment

When life as we knew it slammed to a sudden stop in mid-March of 2020, the novel coronavirus from Wuhan hadn’t yet infected a single resident of Western North Carolina, but with the virus continually expanding its territory  since the United States’ first confirmed case on Jan. 21, 2020, it seemed only a matter of time. 

Comment

When meetings moved to Zoom and schools shut down last March, Zach Sorrells kept on reporting to work. As a maintenance worker with the Town of Sylva, he’s responsible for jobs that simply must get done, pandemic or no — like trash collection, for instance.

Comment

For Malcom Skinner, the pandemic was not a pause, but rather a call to action. 

“I’ve been trained up to this moment,” he said. 

Comment

In the pre-pandemic world, life was a constant swirl of activity for Lynn Jones and her husband. 

Comment

Katlin Roberts was making coronavirus contingency plans before most people in the United States had even really heard of COVID-19. By February, she’d grown concerned enough to walk into her principal’s office and ask what would happen if the disease spread to Cherokee. They’d take precautions, she was told, but certainly wouldn’t send students home. 

Comment

Invasive zebra mussels have been found in commercially available aquatic moss balls in North Carolina, and consumers who have purchased any such balls in the past month are urged to properly destroy them and clean their aquariums.

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.