Holly Kays

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Tribal Council unanimously approved a $3.4 million land purchase in the Painttown Community during its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 3. 

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The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is asking the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to give it a new agency superintendent following a unanimous vote from Tribal Council Sept. 3. 

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A recently released report from the National Recreation and Park Association shows that most U.S. adults — 82 percent of them — believe that parks and recreation are essential services. 

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Fairview resident Virginia Ward has received the 2019 Youth Award as part of the George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service, an annual recognition of volunteer excellence offered by the National Park Service. 

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When Karly Jones began the Appalachian Trail on Feb. 27, the weather was cold and the trail crowded. She quickly earned the trail name Jitter, short for jitterbug.

“I was constantly moving to try to stay warm, so I would hop from one foot to another and rub my hands together or jump around, or anything to keep warm,” she said. 

As February turned into March, Jones climbed Springer Mountain, traversed Neels Gap and then Dicks Creek Gap, summited Standing Indian Mountain and made her way through the challenging terrain of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That’s when she first heard about COVID-19, from a group of pre-med students who had just been notified that their classes would be canceled for the next two weeks. By the time she reached Hot Springs, the world had changed. 

“That was when a lot of people were making decisions and plans to go home,” she said. “I significantly noticed it.”

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Emergency responders have found the body of a 25-year-old man reported missing at 7:36 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, after falling into the water at Midnight Hole in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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Racially charged vandalism in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has prompted an investigation searching for those responsible. 

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Jackson County commissioners voted unanimously Sept. 15 to ask for the N.C. Association of County Commissioners’ support for state legislation to give counties more control over state and federal construction projects within their borders.

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At 5 p.m., the August sun is hot and high overhead as my husband and I walk through the hodgepodge of parked cars at The Ten Acre Garden. It’s more crowded than I expected, but then again, I didn’t really know what to expect — I’ve never been here before. 

By the end of the night, I’ll be wondering why it took me so long to arrive. 

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Emergency responders have found the body of a 25-year-old man reported missing at 7:36 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, after falling into the water at Midnight Hole in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Tax values for Jackson County properties are set to rise next year as the county enters the final stages of its process to revaluate property values last set in 2016. 

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A search is underway for a missing man in the Big Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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On the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 11, backpackers were hiking the Hazel Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when they found an unoccupied tent at Campsite 82 with a single sleeping bag inside. Across the creek, they discovered human remains and a scavenging bear. 

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With nearly six weeks now elapsed since Jackson County Commissioners voted to cover up the Confederate flag on the base of the controversial statue overlooking Sylva, town commissioners are asking the county to either make the fix quick or put a temporary covering over the image. 

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Danny Bernstein’s fascination with DuPont State Recreational Forest began soon after she moved to Asheville in 2001. 

“The first hike I took in DuPont Forest was to High Falls,” Bernstein wrote in her new book DuPont Forest: A History. “Like other visitors, I gawked and stared at the falls as I clicked one shot after another. It was a spectacular waterfall. Then I turned around and spotted a tall chimney on a hill. I walked up the wooden steps and saw that the chimney had a fireplace on two sides. A date had been engraved in the concrete. No other clue, no plaque, no sign — I was not in a museum. But I knew there was a story here beyond the waterfalls.”

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Congressional candidates Moe Davis and Madison Cawthorn clashed last week in a pair of debates spanning two days and three hours, covering everything from health care and economics to gun rights and race relations. 

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In a narrow vote Sept. 3, the Cherokee Tribal Council approved a Fiscal Year 2021 budget that reflects the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. 

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UPDATE Sept. 9: Lafon has been found safe and unharmed.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is requesting assistance locating missing teenager Aaliyah Lafon.

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Law enforcement is investigating an early morning shooting that occurred just before 3 a.m. this morning near milepost 364 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Jackson County Commissioners voted unanimously to offer County Manager Don Adams a four-year contract extension following a closed-session discussion on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

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The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has announced its intention to develop a 200-acre mixed-use development envisioned as an “experiential destination” on property it purchased last year along Interstate 40 in Sevier County, Tennessee.

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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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