Jessi Stone

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Many Bryson City business owners were caught off guard last week when they noticed massive holes all along Everett Street where large shade trees used to be planted. 

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Barbara Robinson can find artistic inspiration wherever she may be. 

Sometimes it’s looking out over Frye Mountain from her art studio window at home, while at other times perhaps a particular barn she spots while driving through Swain County will pique her interest. Other times it’s a vision in her head that works its way out over time.

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Swain County recently spent more than $350,000 in order to better secure its trash site and cut down on sanitation department costs, but recent illegal dumping continues to be a costly and time-consuming problem.

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The planned repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act doesn’t seem to be impacting the numbers of people in Western North Carolina signing up for coverage.

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With the last Macon County Airport runway extension project barely in the rearview, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has approved another $4.5 million airport project to make the runway even longer. 

The last expansion project in 2011 extended the runway from 4,400 feet to 5,000 feet for safety reasons — the same reason why local officials say the runway now needs to be expanded to 6,000 feet. 

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Overgrown brush, rotting floors, collapsing roofs, vermin and asbestos.

Dealing with deteriorating structures isn’t a new issue for the town of Franklin, but the slow legal process has the town board wondering if there is a more efficient way to handle the growing problem.

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Bryson City Bicycles will use a $20,000 grant to expand its online presence and to provide a fleet of bicycles for Swain County High School.

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 – Margaret Mead 

It’s my favorite quote. I remind myself of it every time I’m feeling helpless or hopeless about the state of the world in which we live.

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The local dive bar in a small town usually gets a bad rap, but Mickey’s Pub in Bryson City tries to redeem itself every Christmas by giving back to the community.

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Crabtree General Store & Coffee Vault in Franklin has recently transformed into a Christmas headquarters.

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More than 350 families received an early Christmas present last week when President Obama signed a bill into law that will allow them to keep their floating homes on Fontana Lake.

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Waynesville Police Department’s Special Response Team recently returned home from the SWAT Round-Up International competition in Orlando with multiple awards.

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Franklin Chamber of Commerce staff and members are excited about taking a vacant building and turning it into their new home. 

Currently cramped in the same 2,400-square-foot building on Palmer Street the chamber has occupied since 1969, the staff is now envisioning what it will do with the 8,000 square feet of space at the new location at 98 Hyatt Road.

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Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale was pouring concrete on a job site when he was contacted about this story.

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“You know, I really can’t tell you what we get paid,” Swain County Commissioner David Monteith said when asked about his commissioner salary. “I’ve never done it for that purpose. To me, serving the people in the community is the main benefit of being commissioner.”

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When the wildfires were threatening structures in Swain County a couple of weeks ago, first responders had to knock on more than 200 doors to alert residents that they needed to evacuate. 

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Last September, the town of Bryson City hired Highlands’ town planner Josh Ward to serve as it’s new town manager, but as of Jan. 3, Ward is returning to Highlands to replace retiring Town Manager Bob Frye.

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Several Haywood County landlords are questioning the legality of a new policy adopted by the Junaluska Sanitary District that will require them to co-sign on their tenants’ water service agreement.

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The Swain County High School marching band was noticeably absent from the annual Bryson City Christmas Parade last weekend, but they had a good reason.

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Maggie Valley Area Chamber of Commerce is responding to criticism in the community by restructuring its membership options for businesses.

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A Franklin man is facing federal arson charges after admitting to setting fire to two separate areas in Macon County about a month ago.

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With an unexpected increase in sales tax revenue, Macon County commissioners voted in favor of paying off a $5 million loan early for the Parker Meadows Sports Complex project.

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Southwestern Community College is asking Macon County commissioners to pitch in 40 percent of the cost to construct a new training facility for first responders — much more than the 25 percent match the county was anticipating.

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The Franklin Chamber of Commerce is looking for financial support from the community to purchase new office space.

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Swain Community Hospital has announced plans to change how it operates its Emergency Department, but administrators say the hospital will continue to provide the same level of 24-hour emergency care to patients.

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Even though both parties appeared confident about their candidates moving into Election Day, there were a lot of white knuckles and nail biting as results started to pour in across North Carolina last Tuesday night.

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The severe drought plaguing Western North Carolina has taken its toll on the local water supply, and residents are being asked to conserve what they can. 

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Fontana Lake looks more like a narrow river running through a canyon right now as drought conditions persist across the region.

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About 58 percent of voters in Swain County voted against increasing the sales tax from 6.75 percent to 7 percent.

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Republican incumbent Paul Higdon will keep his District 3 seat on the Macon County Commission while Republican Karl Gillespie claimed the District 2 seat. 

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Republican challenger Kenneth Parton was the top vote-getter in the Swain County Commissioners’ race and was able to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Steve Moon. 

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Incumbent Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers, will continue to represent the 11th District of North Carolina after defeating Democratic challenger Rick Bryson. 

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Houseboat owners on Fontana Lake may get to keep their floating homes after all if legislation passes to exempt Fontana from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s decision to remove 1,800 structures from its lakes. 

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Several Swain County administrative offices could be relocating to the federal building in downtown Bryson City if the county is approved for a historic monument designation through the National Park Service.

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In the last five years Macon County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 627 calls where guns were involved, and 137 of those have occurred in just the last 10 months.

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Some of Western North Carolina’s greatest historical assets are in cemeteries. 

They serve as the final resting place to founding families, Civil War soldiers, decorated military officers, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other historic figures that helped shape this region over two centuries. Maintaining these cemeteries — some of which date back to the early 1800s — is becoming a bigger burden for the few who still see the value in preserving a part of the past.

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Robert Edward Branning of Canton — the escaped inmate who was shot on Main Street in downtown Waynesville two weeks ago — has now been charged with multiple felonies.

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Haywood County Tax Collector Mike Matthews, 36, was arrested Wednesday night after failing to appear in court Oct. 20 to face charges for driving without a license and insurance.

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Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows and his challenger Rick Bryson have opposing views on the success of Meadows’ two terms in office and how North Carolina’s 11th District is being represented.

In this year’s commissioner election, Swain County residents will have to decide whether they are happy with the work done by the two incumbents running for re-election or if they want to give two newcomers a chance to make a change.

Macon County residents will more than likely recognize the names of the four commissioner candidates who will appear on their Nov. 8 ballots.

Sarah Miller has a glowing personality and limitless energy when it comes to pursuing her passion.

Amanda James Shaw never expected she’d be back in her hometown of Franklin running the family business, especially a power tool business.

It may be mostly men tending to the crops these days at Darnell Farms, but it’s Afton Roberts who has turned the farm into a thriving agri-tourism business in Swain County. 

Two small animal shelters in Western North Carolina have made national news this week as they’ve opened up their facilities to 11 dogs rescued from an illegal backyard dog meat farm in South Korea.

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The Tennessee Valley Authority leadership fielded some tough questions from members of Congress last week in Washington, D.C., during a Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing. 

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Last month Macon County commissioners said they wanted a second opinion on the remaining lifespan of the first responder training center at its Southwestern Community College campus.

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Every election cycle, the Macon County League of Women Voters aims to educate its community about local and state candidates and the issues impacting the region by hosting political forums.

Fourteen Macon County charities are vying for a piece of Franklin’s $40,000 nonprofit funding pool, but not all organizations will walk away with their full request. 

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U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Cashiers, introduced a bill last week to halt the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to ban floating homes on all of its 49 lakes.

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