Holly Kays

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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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The Sylva Town Board approved a resolution tonight that creates a policy to prohibit the use of Confederate imagery on town vehicles and property purchased after July 10.

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These days, Brendon Voelker’s life revolves around running, but eight years ago the Texas native was still struggling to complete his first mile.   

He was overweight and out of shape back then, and while he could happily spend a day riding around on his road bike, running a mile was out of the question. But after a weight loss journey that left him 80 pounds lighter, Voelker made it a personal goal to get that first mile under his belt. By the end of 2013, he’d completed a nonstop 5K for the first time, and the distances ballooned from there. 

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Western Carolina University’s Board of Visitors no longer exists following the WCU Board of Trustees’ vote June 5 to repeal its charter.

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After two years in the position, Jackson County Public Schools Superintendent Kim Elliott will retire as head of the school system. 

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The public comment portion of tonight’s meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners drew 16 people who spoke for more than an hour about “Sylva Sam,” the Confederate solider statue who looks over downtown Sylva from the steps of the old Jackson County Courthouse.

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UPDATE: Searchers made contact with the hikers around noon Tuesday, July 7. They were able to walk out with search and rescue personnel. 

Search teams are looking for three hikers in the Black Balsam area of the Pisgah National Forest in Haywood County who have been missing since Monday.

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Back when the trip was a new idea, I don’t think either of us took it seriously. Three weeks on the road, at a time when most American cars were sitting idle in the driveway? Thousands of miles of driving through sand and snow, mountain and desert, far from home? Surely this was just a pie-in-the-sky dream borne from the hunger pangs of quarantine, nothing more. 

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Plans for a $14 million bridge project in Dillsboro have changed, with the project now expected to take nine months instead of three years and to cost $3 million less than originally proposed. 

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The 448-acre woodland property sitting right off U.S. 23/19 and Interstate 40 near Canton was almost a speedway. Then, it was almost an indoor ski resort. It was almost a lot of things over the years, but now it will be a public park and conservation area. 

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The U.S. Forest Service has signed the final decision notice for the Buck Project, which will encompass more than 32 square miles on the Nantahala National Forest’s Tusquitee Ranger District in eastern Clay County.

The project will use commercial timber sales toward the goal of providing young forest habitat and producing more oak and hickory trees over time. It will also use prescribed burning to promote the unique Serpentine Barrens and aim to improve water resource conditions through stream improvement projects. 

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Now 31, Steve Yocum was just 22 years old when he moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the mountains of Western North Carolina. 

He was tired of city life, of doing nothing but going to bars all weekend, every weekend. He wanted to get away, and when the company he’d been working for since high school gave him the chance to move south, he jumped on it. That leap led him to photography. 

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After a unanimous vote from the Jackson County Commissioners, an architecture contract with McMillan Pazden Smith Architecture for a planned Animal Rescue Center building in Dillsboro has been approved. 

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A proposal to include a referendum question on the November ballot asking voters to approve funding for an indoor pool in Jackson County will be the topic of a public hearing slated for 5:55 p.m. Tuesday, July 7, at the Jackson County Justice Center. 

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Some campgrounds, visitor centers and previously closed roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are reopening.

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Cades Cove Loop Road will now be vehicle-free on Wednesdays through Sept. 30 as part of a pilot study to improve visitor experience in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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The year that Joe Lee turned 21, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision turned 13, the Civil Rights Act turned 3 and last published edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book turned 1. 

It also happened to be the year that the U.S. Department of the Interior mandated that the national parks get on board with integration and begin hiring African-American rangers. Lee, a rising senior at Talladega College with a strong interest in biology and botany, applied for a naturalist position in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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When the Sylva town board met for its annual budget brainstorming session in January, members had no problem dreaming big about the upcoming fiscal year. A Main Street director, multi-use trails on the Blackrock Creek property, a public bathroom downtown and an all-terrain vehicle for police use all found their place on the wish list. 

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At $66.5 million, Jackson County’s proposed budget for 2020-21 includes a 1.34 percent decrease from the 2019-20 amended budget and a recommendation to re-evaluate various sections of the document come January. The tax rate, however, will remain level at 38 cents per $100 of property value. 

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For the first time since closing March 18, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos in Murphy and Cherokee are now open to the general public. 

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Southwestern Community College is now open to foot traffic, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The college will remain open as a virtual college from 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays.

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Two new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Jackson County residents today, upping the number to 33, with 1,319 tests completed to date.

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Jackson County saw a 14.8 percent increase in COVID-19 cases among county residents today, with the count rising from 27 to 31.

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Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will open to the public for the first time since March 18 at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 28.

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Visiting Clingmans Dome is like being in the clouds, Second Lady Karen Pence said when she visited the site Tuesday, May 19 — and she certainly wasn’t wrong. On a clear day, the views from the top of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s highest point extend for 100 miles, and while the aforementioned clouds and accompanying rain slashed that range by roughly 99 percent, Pence said that was more than enough to appreciate the place’s beauty. 

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The arrival of COVID-19 in the United States caused a storm of cancelations, closures, warnings and fears, but there’s one in particular that hit home for Smoky Mountain High School senior Ryan Holler. 

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As February melted into March, Raylen Bark was so busy she had little time to think about the fact that her senior year at Cherokee High School was coming to an end, and her long-anticipated freshman year at Dartmouth College drawing ever closer. 

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For years, Stephanie Morton had focused her daily energy on homeschooling her four kids, but as the children grew into teenagers and young adults, Morton started thinking about her own education. Two years ago, she enrolled in the nursing program at Southwestern Community College. 

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Locally Grown on the Green farmers market offers local produce 3 to 6 p.m. each Wednesday during the growing season at The Village Green Commons on Frank Allen Road next to the post office.

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Appalachian Trail trailheads and access points on U.S. Forest Service lands in the Southeast will reopen on Friday, May 22.

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