Holly Kays

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Nobody who knew Terry Rogers was surprised by the sprinkling of jokes that pervaded his acceptance speech. 

One was a story about a friend who came upon a frog that promised a kiss would turn it into a beautiful princess — “At my age,” the friend purportedly said, “I’d rather have a talking frog than some beautiful princess” — and another recounted what happened when Roger asked his pastor to pray for his hearing. The pastor laid hands on him, prayed and asked how his hearing was now, to which Rogers replied that it wasn’t now — it was “next week down at the courthouse.”

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The third week of classes is now underway at Western Carolina University, and the Jackson County Department of Public Health has identified the first cluster on campus. 

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Pandemic-induced public health rules are severely impacting bottom lines for restaurants nationwide, but members of the Sylva Town Board hope that an effort to expand outdoor seating opportunities downtown will help ease the pain on Main Street. The town has passed two ordinance changes this summer to pave the way for increasing the outdoor table space available to downtown eateries. 

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Five Western Carolina University students are no longer enrolled at the school after appearing in a pair of videos that featured racial slurs and surfaced on social media the first weekend after classes began. The university community showed overwhelming support for the students’ departure from campus during a march held Wednesday, Aug. 26, drawing more than 800 people. 

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The Cherokee Tribal Council is likely to vote this week on proposed changes to several sections of the tribe’s election ordinance. 

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A COVID-19 cluster including 17 residents of Harrill Hall has been identified at Western Carolina University.

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For the ninth time in the last 10 years, Western Carolina University is starting the year with a record high enrollment — despite earlier concerns that the Coronavirus Pandemic could cause a decrease in enrollment.

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The second week of classes at Western Carolina University is now underway, and while the COVID-19 Pandemic means that it’s shaping up to be an unusual semester, many students seem to be happy with how the university is handling the situation. 

Despite multiple outstanding environmental violations, a new student housing complex located on Western Carolina University’s Millennial Campus off Killian Road welcomed its first group of tenants this month. 

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Now 75, Cashiers resident Ann Austin was just 3 years old when her grandmother died following a sudden cardiac episode. 

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A pair of videos that appeared on social media over the weekend elicited strong reaction from many in the Western Carolina University community who decried their contents as racist. 

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A new COVID-19 dashboard for Western Carolina University is now available online at www.wcu.edu/coronavirus/reporting.aspx.

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Jackson County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday, Aug. 18, to table a vote terminating its lease agreements with Allison Outdoor Advertising after the company’s president Claude Dicks implored the board to consider other options first.

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A collection of 47,000 plants and animals currently tucked away in various rooms of Western Carolina University’s Stillwell building will soon have a new home thanks to a $517,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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When the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, women throughout the nation began to vote for the first time. But for a long time, the rights granted in that amendment were realized mainly by white women. 

“Our ancestors, our forefathers, they were hurt because they had fought for suffrage too for the 19th Amendment, and it didn’t really do any good,” said Ellerna Forney, a Sylva native who is Black. “But they still kept fighting.”

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In 1930, a young man named Henry Owl traveled to the Ravensford election precinct in Swain County to register to vote. 

Owl was a U.S. Army Veteran, and a college graduate. He held a master’s degree, in fact, having finished the UNC Chapel Hill graduate program in history the previous year. At Lenoir College, where he began his undergraduate studies in 1925, he was elected “Most Popular Boy” and competed as a star athlete in football and baseball, earning posthumous induction to the Lenoir-Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. 

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After a July 23 Town of Sylva meeting was cut short following a barrage of racial slurs and other offensive disruptions from some attendees, the Sylva Police Department was quick to issue a press release stating that it was investigating the incident with the goal of identifying and charging the people responsible. 

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A pair of newly erected billboards along U.S. 441 in the Savannah area are calling attention to continued opposition to the Confederate soldier statue in Sylva.

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Western Carolina University will postpone all fall sports this year following an Aug. 13 decision from the Southern Conference Council of Presidents to cancel conference competitions due to COVID-19. 

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Angela Faye Martin’s husband Brent had already left the house to scout a future hike for the guide service they run together when she got a message from a friend. Helicopters were flying the Duke Energy transmission line that goes up the Cowee range, spraying herbicide along the corridor. The friend sent pictures. 

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With the 19th Amendment’s passage now 100 years in the rearview, most American women alive today have been eligible to vote since the age of 18, or 21 for those who came of age before 1971. Balsam resident Luisa Teran de McMahan, however, was 40 years old before she was allowed to cast an American ballot. 

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Seventeen employees at University of North Carolina System schools — including two from Western Carolina University — are suing the university system and Gov. Roy Cooper in a class-action lawsuit demanding a halt to plans to resume residential instruction until such instruction can take place safely. 

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In a nearly split vote held during a special-called meeting Aug. 10, the Western Carolina University Faculty Senate passed a resolution opposing a residential opening for fall 2020 and calling on the state to guarantee funding for the university system should future outbreaks force its institutions to return to online-only instruction. 

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A fifth COVID-19 death has been confirmed in Jackson County.

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Jackson County Commissioners voted 4-1 Aug. 4 to keep Sylva Sam in his place overlooking downtown Sylva, but according to opponents of the 105-year-old Confederate soldier statue, the fight is far from over. 

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The project may still be in its early stages, but plans are beginning to take shape for the 448-acre park that will soon occupy the Chestnut Mountain property just outside of Canton. 

“We’re looking forward to building an amazing place that really helps merge conservation and recreation and just something we can make for future generations,” said Assistant Town Manager Nick Scheuer during a public meeting on the project held July 29 via Zoom. “This is a big idea and a huge project and something that really has the potential to impact our region for not just our lifetime but for our kids and our grandkids.”

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Sylva is a town that’s run by women, both on the board of commissioners and among staff positions in town hall.

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While men hold the highest-paying and highest number of jobs in most Western North Carolina governments, Jackson County is a noticeable exception to that general rule. 

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In a resolution passed last month, Tribal Council decided that it will not hold budget hearings this year but will instead delay them until January 2021, after the first quarter of the new fiscal year has passed. The decision comes in response to decreased revenues and increased uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

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As states throughout the Southeast consider allowing or expanding commercial gaming in their jurisdictions, Tribal Council has voted to enter into a contract with investment bank Innovation Capital that will allow the company to serve as the tribe’s exclusive financial advisor as it seeks to diversify its holdings in the gaming industry. 

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A new COVID-19 death has been confirmed in Jackson County, bringing the county’s total death toll to four.

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An agenda for the Jackson County Commission meeting slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, shows that the board will discuss a resolution forwarded from the Town of Sylva asking them to remove the Confederate solider monument currently residing on the steps of the historic courthouse.

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Sylva Town Manager Paige Dowling is currently out on maternity leave, but Sylva will be in experienced hands until her return.

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In the midst of a summer characterized by coronavirus-related disruptions on top of the closing of the public comment phase for the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest’s much-awaited forest management plan, two new hires have taken the reins in key leadership positions overseeing management of these public lands. 

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In less than three weeks, classes will resume at Western North Carolina’s institutions of higher learning, and while instruction won’t rely entirely on digital learning as occurred this spring, the fall semester will be far from business as usual. 

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Despite the complexity of discussions surrounding reform and accountability in American law enforcement, it’s likely that many issues would disappear if it were possible to consistently follow two simple rules: Hire only good cops and fire all bad cops. 

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Since the Coronavirus Pandemic began, Zoom meetings have become a commonplace replacement for government meetings that would otherwise take place in person. 

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A COVID-19 cluster at Waynesville Pharmacy has been identified after five current or former employees there tested positive for the disease.

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A Haywood County deputy is recovering from surgery and a suspect is dead following an incident July 28 in which the suspect fired at officers responding to the call.

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A final decision is likely on the fate of the Confederate statue looking out over downtown Sylva after the town board voted 3-2 July 27 to approve a resolution officially asking Jackson County Commissioners to remove it from town limits. 

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The environmental community has been celebrating since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act July 22, sending the landmark legislation to the desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

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A Town of Sylva meeting in which commissioners intended to discuss a resolution regarding the Confederate monument ended abruptly this morning after multiple people invaded the Zoom call, making racist and sexual comments that forced the board to terminate the call and prompted an investigation from the State Bureau of Investigation. 

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After 20 years at the forefront of clean air efforts in Western North Carolina, The Canary Coalition is no more. 

“I’m not bitter about it at all,” said Avram Friedman, who founded the organization in 1999 and served as its executive director until retiring in December. “I’m grateful that they tried, but at this point The Canary Coalition has served its purpose. I think we’ve made an impact, and now it’s time for the younger generation to take hold.”

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In November, Jackson County voters will weigh in on a proposal to borrow $20 million for an indoor pool complex at the Cullowhee Recreation Center. 

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Five employees at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee have tested positive for COVID-19, and the investigation is ongoing, according to the Jackson County Department of Public Health.

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After a week of impassioned public discussion and protest over the fate of the Confederate solider standing on the courthouse steps in Sylva, Jackson County Commissioners discussed the issue during a regularly scheduled work session Tuesday, July 14.

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July 11 dawned hot and sunny over the 131-year-old town of Sylva, sweltering rays pouring heat in equal fashion over the 106-year-old Jackson County Historic Courthouse on the hill and 12-year-old Bridge Park down below. Also collecting heat was the 105-year-old statue of an unnamed Confederate solider, situated on a pedestal midway between the crest of the hill and the banks of Scotts Creek. 

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It was a long day, but July 11 was a success from the perspective of law enforcement, said Police Chief Chris Hatton. 

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Jackson County Commissioners saw a precursor to the intense public discussion ahead of them when 16 people gave public comment at their July 7 meeting to talk about the fate of the Confederate statue that stands on the historic courthouse steps. 

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Protests, rallies and marches have become commonplace in Western North Carolina over the past six weeks, but dueling demonstrations in Sylva last weekend featured for the very first time a totally new aspect — the presence of trained legal observers. 

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