Cory Vaillancourt

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A stopgap measure that will partially fund expired federal grants for child care providers finally found Gov. Roy Cooper’s pen, but advocates maintain that it’s too little, too late — and just kicks the can down the road for another five months. 

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A visually stunning amalgamation of images — both historic and aspirational — now adorns Waynesville’s Pigeon Community Multicultural Development center, breathing new life into an old neighborhood and commemorating the important role of the structure in regional Black history. 

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The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority announced last week that it had awarded just over $250,000 in grants to 18 organizations for more than two dozen community projects all across the county. 

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For many, a Pride festival is a fairly straightforward event, a celebration of unity among people marginalized for who they are and who they love. But in a purer sense, Haywood County’s historic first Pride festival and a competing prayer meeting held the night before were both compelling exercises of constitutionally protected rights, suggesting maybe — just maybe — that Americans can, in fact, disagree without being disagreeable.

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The shuttered paper mill at the heart of Canton is still there — for now. One day it won’t be, but a forthcoming monument will ensure the generations of papermakers that made Canton great won’t ever be forgotten.

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Raymond Valentine has seen a lot of things in his long life, but after 80 years he doesn’t have to wait much longer to see a Pride festival in the rugged Appalachian county where he’s lived nearly his entire life. 

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Appraisers are still in the field putting the finishing touches on the upcoming countywide property reappraisal set to take effect Jan. 1, 2025, but Haywood County commissioners are already battling misinformation about why it’s happening and what effect it could have on next year’s property tax bills. 

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Most people don’t realize that some accidental opioid overdoses are reversible with the quick administration of an opioid antagonist called naloxone, commonly found as a nasal spray and sold under the brand name of Narcan. 

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In the second split budget vote in the last four years, Waynesville’s Town Council approved a property tax hike of 3.98 cents to address mounting capital needs and maintain competitive employee compensation packages meant to reduce costly turnover. 

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Without immediate action from the General Assembly, Pandemic-era federal grants to child care providers will run out on July 1 — plunging the state into a child care crisis that will hamper economic and workforce development, make child care more difficult to find and further burden North Carolina’s working parents already feeling the pinch from unaffordable housing and the relentless corporate greed that’s driving inflation. 

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Hoping to build on the momentum of a successful off-year election cycle, even amid violent threats, members of Western North Carolina’s LGBTQ+ community are wary of what might happen in the General Election and are calling for the codification of rights already enjoyed by other Americans. 

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Commissioners voted unanimously June 3 to accept Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead’s proposed annual budget which, in spite of inflation, forthcoming debt for a jail expansion and the loss of a major employer last year, contains no tax increase.

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A rare public impasse by Council Members over the Town of Waynesville’s proposed budget will leave things unsettled for the time being, foreshadowing prolonged negotiations over an all-but-certain tax increase. 

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Amid complaints from neighbors, the new owners of the Waynesville Inn and Golf Club once again saw their proposed 12-unit Longview development shot down after Town Council found it to be inconsistent with several aspects of the town’s land management plan. 

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June 1, 2024, was a historic day for a historic town, as members of Waynesville’s government and the Downtown Waynesville Association were present to unveil a new decorative arch over South Main Street, replacing one torn down more than 50 years ago. 

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For years, the old Francis Farm landfill was just that — a leaky, gassy problem that did little but sap resources from the county charged with maintaining it in perpetuity.

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A controversial email that led many to bring accusations of homophobia against two local business owners in Frog Level has been repudiated by the owners of one establishment and by workers at the other, but not by everyone who signed it.

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Administrators for the Town of Canton have presented a conservative fiscal year 2024-25 budget that seeks some sense of sustainability after last year’s closing of the Pactiv Evergreen paper mill, which created a substantial revenue deficit and has now forced the small town to plan for a huge new expense it’s never had to worry about before.

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Gloomy skies and pouring rain couldn’t stop a group of about 30 people from gathering at Garrett-Hillcrest Memorial Park on Russ Avenue in Waynesville on Saturday, May 25, to pay their respects to members of America’s armed forces who gave their lives in service of their country. 

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Several notable things happened during the Town of Canton’s regular board meeting on May 23, but the meeting was perhaps more notable for something that didn’t happen — a closed session. 

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Pactiv Evergreen’s shocking announcement that it would close its 115-year-old paper mill broke lots of hearts — and wallets — in Canton, but now, more than a year later, North Carolina’s Attorney General is looking for some payback over broken promises.

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The final two candidates for North Carolina’s Council of State have been chosen by voters after a May 14 runoff election that saw very light turnout — even by runoff standards. 

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On May 24, 2023, Canton Mayor Pro Tem Gail Mull sat on a bench in Sorrels Street Park, waiting to hear the shrill shriek of the steam whistle at Pactiv Evergreen’s century-old paper mill at the heart of town blow for the last time. 

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While there are still many uncertainties surrounding the ultimate fate of Pactiv Evergreen’s now-shuttered mill site in Canton, the situation has come somewhat into focus with confirmation from Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers that a management consulting firm has submitted a letter of intent to purchase the property.

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It’s been just over two years since a leaked draft opinion suggested the U.S. Supreme Court would vote to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, and it’s now been nearly two years since that actually happened.

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Festering frustration with nearly every aspect of Pactiv Evergreen’s actions taken in closing its Canton paper mill a year ago spilled over into a town meeting May 9, when board members took the opportunity to dump all over Pactiv for its latest putrid mess.

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Amid ongoing restructuring, Pactiv Evergreen presented its first quarter earnings report on May 2, missing earnings targets and revealing flagging revenue at least partially attributable to the closing of its Canton paper mill last year. 

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With jail expansion debt payments coming on the books and lingering questions about one of the county’s biggest taxpayers, Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead presented commissioners with a conservative budget that funds some critical needs, but not much else. 

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They couldn’t be more different. But it’s not about race, religion or party affiliation. 

Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, and Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, a Republican, present strikingly different views not only on their priorities if elected governor but also on the 30,000-foot view of what North Carolina is and will be. 

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Western North Carolina Congressman Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) has been unanimously sanctioned by the bipartisan House Communications Standards Commission for violating federal law and the rules of the House of Representatives, according to a press release issued today by the Henderson County Democratic Party — the group that filed the complaint on March 13.

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To hear local skateboarding impresario Jared Lee tell it, there wasn’t much to do in Haywood County for young skaters growing up during the sport’s early boom in the 1980s. 

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Waynesville’s town government has kept taxes as low as possible for as long as possible, but is quickly finding truth in the adage, “It’s easier to keep up than to catch up” — over the years, capital spending hasn’t kept up with the town’s needs, and now taxpayers may be looking at a costly game of catch-up. 

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While many real estate agents spent last Friday morning the usual way — listing homes for sellers, finding homes for buyers or taking classes to increase their knowledge of the industry — a group of nearly 30 Haywood County realtors took time out of their busy schedules to build community in the towns they call home. 

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Seeking to balance the economic benefits of short-term vacation rentals with the negative effects they have on housing affordability in a tourist-driven, service-based economy, Waynesville’s planning board has taken up deliberations on new regulations that could eventually be presented for consideration by Town Council. 

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The Town of Canton’s governing board will soon consider approval of a substantial residential project after the town’s planning board unanimously voted to accept staff recommendations in favor of the proposal on April 10.

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In recent years, more and more states have made the decision to legalize, regulate and tax recreational cannabis products — despite federal prohibition — but North Carolina isn’t one of them, and the General Assembly doesn’t appear to be favorably inclined to support such measures despite the filing of a House effort last year. 

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Ever since Pactiv Evergreen announced back on March 6, 2023, that it would shutter its paper mill in Canton, town officials have been bracing for the budgetary impact that the closure would cause.

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Stories abound in these here mountains, almost as countless as the towering trees that cloak those familiar slopes. But beneath the canopy, if you look close enough and listen hard, there’s a whole other crop of them that rarely see the light of day. 

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The Haywood County Farm Bureau’s legislative breakfast is an annual tradition where the usual topics of conversation include crop prices, ever-escalating expenses, fuel and fertilizer costs, migrant labor policies, subsidies and what is — and isn’t — in the federal government’s current or proposed Farm Bill.

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Raines Company can now move forward with plans to open up development for 13 custom-built single-family homes on 11 acres off Greenview Drive and adjacent to the rejuvenated Waynesville Golf Club and Inn after Waynesville Town Council concurred with a prior planning board recommendation. 

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Critically low housing inventory has been steadily rising across the region since last fall and average sales prices have slipped slightly in some counties, but an uptick in pending contracts — signaling strong buyer demand — means relief from the soaring housing costs in the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area still isn’t on the immediate horizon for buyers. 

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A recent multimillion-dollar court settlement involving realtor commissions has left many unanswered questions in the real estate industry, especially when it comes to who will benefit and who will be disadvantaged. Those answers will indeed come in time, but for now, at least one thing is clear — and those who say the settlement is key to ending the affordable housing crisis in the United States aren’t going to be happy.

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The Town of Canton, still beset with myriad issues related to both natural and human-caused disasters, took an unprecedented step by shuffling one administrator into a newly created position and promoting another — saving taxpayer money and making history at the same time.

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It’s been a little under a year since Corrina Ruffieux took over for longtime Haywood County Tourism Development Authority Executive Director Lynn Collins, but Ruffieux’s wasted little time bolstering the TDA’s destination marketing strategy with robust and insightful data meant to show the county’s relative strengths and weaknesses while also hedging against uncertainty with new initiatives designed to keep the money flowing into Western North Carolina’s tourism-based economy — especially in post-mill Canton. 

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Peter Conti seemed destined for a life of chronic pain. 

For nearly two years after a devastating motorcycle accident left him with a shattered pelvis and nerve damage in his leg, Conti battled depression and suicidal ideation while struggling to manage his debilitating, demoralizing condition with dangerously addictive opioids. 

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After deciding that the time is finally right, the owners of the Waynesville Inn and Golf Club are making good on a promise by asking the town for permission to develop 25 custom-built single-family homes on the outskirts of the revitalized course — continuing the rebirth of a storied local landmark — but Waynesville’s planning board has now put half the units in doubt. 

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After an extensive, yearslong process featuring dozens of public hearings, presentations and private meetings, Haywood County will finally get its badly-needed jail expansion, even though the final step was marred by threats and misinformation from a familiar face. 

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Although concerns about Canton’s post-mill wastewater treatment remain front and center, the town’s recovery from devastating flooding in 2021 continues to move forward with a project budget meant to shore up the town’s aging water infrastructure. 

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A longtime community advocate has made a substantial financial donation to the Town of Canton that will help speed the completion of its all-abilities playground at Recreation Park. 

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Waynesville’s North Main Street has been an important economic engine for the town and the county for decades, and the town’s municipal service district has played a significant role in that success.

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