Holly Kays

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During Tribal Council Thursday, June 1, the body will consider resolutions seeking to legalize cannabis use for adults 21 and older and to allow mixed drinks to be served at “qualified establishments” on tribal land.

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The General Assembly declared 2023 the “Year of The Trail,” in hopes of getting more people to appreciate the state’s outdoor gems. But will it get beyond a marketing effort to a real investment in building and maintaining routes?

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As it prepares for permanent closure this spring, the Pactiv Evergreen paper mill in Canton has received two new notices of violation from the N.C. Division of Air Quality, bringing its total violations  since May 2021 to 13.

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A criminal case  in the Cherokee Tribal Court involving former Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe appears to be headed for trial.

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Mill closure looms large in discussion of challenges facing WNC forests 

The familiar challenges of climate change, invasive pests and development pressure peppered the conversation during a May 18 panel discussion on the issues facing forests in Western North Carolina — but the impending closure of Canton’s century-old paper mill dominated it. The closure is likely to have an earthshaking impact not just on the region’s economy, but also on the health of its forests. 

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FF Five candidates are running to earn a seat representing Yellowhill on Tribal Council 2023-2025, and the Primary Election Thursday, June 1, will send four of them on to compete in the Sept. 7 General Election. The two highest vote-getters there will win a two-year term on the tribe’s legislative body.

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II In the most heavily contested race on the ballot in this year’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians election, six people are seeking a four-year term as the tribe’s top executive. The diverse field in the race for principal chief includes experienced politicians, political newcomers and a range in between. During the Primary Election Thursday, June 1, voters will whittle the field down to two, with the highest vote-getters facing off in the General Election Thursday, Sept. 7.

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When A.L. Freedlander issued the 1966 fundraising challenge that birthed the Haywood Community College campus in Clyde, he envisioned a space dedicated not only to learning, but also to natural beauty. Freedlander gave $250,000 in seed money to the project, but with conditions attached: that the campus become “the most beautifully landscaped area in Haywood County” and that its grounds should contain “a good collection of dahlias,” Freedlander’s favorite flower. 

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UU Upholding a veto from Principal Chief Richard Sneed, on May 4 the Cherokee Tribal Council reversed an April decision  that allocated $64 million to the tribe’s medical cannabis business. In his veto letter, Sneed expressed concern  that the funding decision could jeopardize the tribe’s casino business and called for a “full accounting” of the $31 million already provided before giving the enterprise more money.

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M M  at his motel in Cherokee, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch has announced that the South Carolina resident who pulled the trigger will not face criminal charges. The man fired in self-defense after Wilson brandished a handgun, the investigation found.

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The fourth annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relative Walk and Vigil held in Cherokee Friday, May 5, aimed to do more than raise awareness for the ongoing epidemic of violence against indigenous people , especially women and girls — it was a call to action. 

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Each May, Crabtree couple invites the public to drink in field of blooms 

Ricardo Fernandez Battini and his wife Suzanne Fernandez spent a stormy night in September 2004 holed up in their home along the Pigeon River in Crabtree, listening. Hurricane Ivan was dumping buckets on soil already saturated from Hurricane Frances’ arrival the week before, and the river was angry. 

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Following a veto from Principal Chief Richard Sneed, the Cherokee Tribal Council today reversed an April decision that allocated $64 million to the tribe’s medical cannabis business. In his veto letter, Sneed expressed concern that the funding decision could jeopardize the tribe’s casino business and called for a “full accounting” of the $31 million already provided before giving the enterprise more money.

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AA proposed constitution for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is facing opposition from the EBCI Attorney General’s Office following Tribal Council’s unanimous vote April 6 to place it on the ballot for referendum this September.

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Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust welcomes new director

 For the first time in its 114-year history, the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust is saying goodbye to a full-time executive director and welcoming a new one. Gary Wein, who was hired as HCLT’s first full-time employee in 2006, is retiring after nearly 17 years of service. Lance Hardin, who previously served as the organization’s finance and development associate, took over Wein’s old job May 1. 

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Update: 4:47 p.m. Wednesday, May 3

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has reduced the scale of the search for Tampa resident Gordon Kaye, who was reported missing April 26 and last seen April 23 near a backcountry campsite in the Deep Creek area of the park near Bryson City.

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II I don’t own a bathroom scale, which means I had no way of measuring the exact weight of the rust-colored pack I strapped on my back before climbing from the base of Max Patch April 13. And that was fine, because I was just there for a quick overnight — 2.5 miles in to the Roaring Fork Shelter on the Appalachian Trail that afternoon, then 2.5 miles out the next morning.

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Six candidates are hoping to earn one of two seats up for election in this year’s race for Painttown Tribal Council, offering voters a diverse set of education, experience and policy priorities.  

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F Following more than an hour of discussion capping off months of debate, the Cherokee Tribal Council voted April 6 to fully fund its cannabis enterprise’s eight-figure startup funding request.

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More than $1 million in purses was awarded and thousands of fans attended the first races resulting from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ quarterhorse racing venture in Kentucky.

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Mainspring Conservation Trust will celebrate Arbor Day weekend with a slate of events ranging from a foraging walk to a greenway workday.

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Discover Life in America, a nonprofit dedicated to learning as much as possible about the diverse species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, turns 25 on April 22 — which, fittingly, is also Earth Day.

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The Blue Ridge Parkway has received the 2023 Byway Organization Award for Viewshed Improvement from the National Scenic Byway Foundation in recognition of the massive conservation project at Waterrock Knob that will transfer more than 5,200 acres into National Park Service ownership.

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New detections of Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal ailment affecting cervids like deer and elk, have been reported in Cumberland and Wilkes counties, spurring N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Cameron Ingram to invoke emergency powers.

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A grand opening celebration for the Barbara McRae Cherokee Heritage Apple Orchard will be held 4-6 p.m. Friday, April 28, in Franklin.

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KK Kituwah LLC broke ground Tuesday, April 11, on a new entertainment district within its 200-acre property off Interstate 40 in Sevier County.

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Tears, hugs and applause exploded through the Tribal Council chambers April 6 when the body unanimously passed a resolution placing a tribal constitution on the ballot for the Sept. 7 General Election.

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I In response to a new requirement from the UNC Board of Governors, Western Carolina University has adopted its first-ever All Funds Budget Forecast — a document that, despite the name, is not a budget, said Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Mike Byers.

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A An autopsy report released by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the death of beloved Swain County educator Lambert Wilson  a homicide caused by gunshot wounds to the neck, arms, chest and abdomen. It also reports a significant concentration of alcohol in his aortic blood.

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The U.S. Forest Service will invest nearly $1.4 million in wildfire protection projects across the state as part of the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program.

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Run the first ever Farm Fresh 5K at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 29, in Waynesville, supporting Haywood Christian Ministry.

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Some areas of the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are now open for the first time since February.

Greenbrier Road opened as far as the ranger station April 7, allowing access to Old Settlers Trail and Grapeyard Ridge Trail with some roadwalking to the trailheads.

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The N.C. Science Trail, a year-round digital guidebook to North Carolina’s science adventures, launched this month.

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Spots are still available in the fifth annual Fire Mountain Inferno mountain biking event in Cherokee on April 22-23.

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Nantahala Outdoor Center will kick off its 2023 season with the annual Spring Fling Celebration Saturday, April 22, at the NOC property in Swain County.

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Celebrate Earth Day noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Highlands Nature Center in Highlands.

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D During its April 6 meeting, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council unanimously approved an ordinance change  exempting police car and body cam videos from the tribe’s public records law. The vote comes on the heels of a Dec. 13, 2022, Cherokee Indian Police Department SWAT response  in which officers fired at Murphy resident Jason Harley Kloepfer after he opened the door to his home with his hands held above his head, according to a home security video Kloepfer posted Jan. 18.

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OO Over the next two years, Haywood Waterways Association will implement a $2 million grant aimed at protecting Canton, Clyde and Cruso when the next flood comes. The grant is by far the largest in Haywood Waterways’ 25-year history.

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Go birding

Join birding expert Howard Browers at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, April 6, on the Waynesville Greenway to look for returning songbirds. Loaner binoculars are available. Sign up at haywoodcountync.gov/recreation .

Spur Tunnel reopens for Easter week

The Spur Tunnel in Sevier County, Tennessee, will be open to two lanes April 7-16 in anticipation of high demand the week of Easter. It will return to one lane April 7 through the end of the month as contractors finish installing new lights and pavement striping. The tunnel is expected to fully reopen by the end of April.

Waynesville playground closed for repairs

The all-abilities playground in the Waynesville Recreation Park will be closed for about three weeks for drainage repairs. The playground will reopen to the public as soon as repairs are finished. For more information contact 828.456.2030 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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A new book by Jim Costa, executive director of Western Carolina University’s Highlands Biological Station, showcases the life of a Victorian-era scientist who was arguably just as important as Charles Darwin.

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A lecture series focusing on foraging will extend through May at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee.

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Due to increased demand leading to frequent busy signals and long hold times, overnight permits for the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area will now be available online rather than through the Grandfather Ranger District Office.

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Friends of Panthertown is hosting a series of trail work days and guided hikes this month.

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The annual Tuck River Cleanup will commence on Saturday, April 15, inviting hundreds of volunteers to raft or walk 20 miles of the Tuckasegee River between Cullowhee and Whittier in search of litter.

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