Cory Vaillancourt

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With several critical deadlines approaching and the cost of construction only going up, Haywood County commissioners spent more than two hours on Feb. 26 meeting with administrators, architects, builders and sheriff’s office personnel — going over every detail of the long-suffering jail expansion project, its growing price tag and its ultimate future. 

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A complaint filed by the chair of the Henderson County Democratic Party alleges Western North Carolina Congressman Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) violated United States Code and U.S. House of Representatives rules by mailing “hyper-partisan” fliers, thus abusing his congressional franking privilege. 

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Waynesville is revving up its eco-efforts with a freshly minted advisory board paving the way for a long-term plan to create an even cleaner environment that will continue to draw tourists — and put some green back into locals’ pockets, too. 

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Calling the last decade “a period of intensive and dynamic change” for Haywood County, strategic planning consultants in conjunction with county economic development administrators will produce a late spring report for commissioners identifying local priorities, challenges and concerns augmented by the closure of the Pactiv Evergreen paper mill in Canton last year. 

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After a quiet couple of years through the uncertainty of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Haywood Advancement Foundation is pursuing closer economic development coordination with Haywood County government at a time when the county needs capable strategic partners more than it has in the past two decades. 

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A relatively straightforward request to subdivide a single lot and build an affordably priced long-term rental duplex on it was withdrawn by the applicants after opposition from a lone member of Waynesville’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. 

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Architects selected by Canton’s governing board to plan renovations on a pair of buildings purchased to replace those damaged in deadly 2021 flooding presented recommendations and cost estimates to officials last week — a major milestone that keeps the town moving on the road to recovery with an eye on the future. 

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North Carolina’s Primary Election season is underway, and nearly five dozen candidates have filed to run for statewide offices from governor on down through the council of state.

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The Downtown Waynesville Commission has had two years to get on its feet since its predecessor organization imploded.

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Haywood County commissioners took another step toward their multi-million dollar jail expansion last week, and although much has changed since a report issued more than three years ago recommended the project, much has not. 

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An annual waters summit hosted by a pair of North Carolina congressmen brought together local, state and federal administrators, experts and elected officials who spent a lot of time looking back at the sad recent legacy of flood control, mitigation and recovery efforts in the state — hampered by funding anxiety, ensnarled in bureaucracy, stressed by the impact of growing populations on aging infrastructure and impeded by way too many government agencies on way too many levels that are all somehow siloed yet still tangled up like fallen trees in a raging river. 

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The Town of Canton has taken a major step toward long-term flood recovery with an economic development project at a downtown parcel that could soon serve as the capstone to a broader resiliency effort all along the Park Street corridor. 

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Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, a Haywood County native who shot to stardom after his hair-raising performance as a villain in the 1972 Burt Reynolds film Deliverance, was killed in a traffic accident in Haywood County yesterday afternoon.

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A recent update to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule directs nearly all of the nation’s water systems to conduct an inventory of service lines by October, checking for the presence of lead pipes due to their well-established health risks. 

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A Republican congressional primary debate hosted by the Clay County Republican Party on Jan. 13 revealed clear differences between the two candidates, incumbent Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) and Hayesville businessman Christian Reagan, despite mostly avoiding major hot-button issues and topics important in rural Western North Carolina. 

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Waynesville has amended its comprehensive plan and rezoned a portion of a parcel on the east side of Russ Avenue, opening up the possibility for more commercial development north of the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway on what remains a relatively rural, low-density gateway into the town’s main commercial district south of the expressway. 

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For some time now, Waynesville’s East Street has been a bit of a goldilocks problem for the town — too fast, too slow or just right?

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Neglected or abused children who become involved with the state’s courts or social services agencies often find themselves with nowhere to turn — or worse, torn between two parents.

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The effects of reduced federal funding on nonprofits that assist survivors of domestic violence continue to reverberate across the region, with another one of the state’s largest such organizations now sounding the alarm. 

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The Town of Canton has been through some difficult budget discussions in the past, but this year’s effort, the first to reckon with the full impact of Pactiv Evergreen’s exit from the community after more than a century, looks to be the most trying. 

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Haywood County’s Finance Department has a long history of stellar performance, but a national award for excellence in financial reporting bestowed on the department late last year calls into further question claims of fiscal irregularities allegedly made by a Haywood County commissioner and one of his closest allies. 

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As North Carolina prepares for federal, state and local elections in 2024, emerging trends in partisan registration that began in late 2017 have proven persistent, with likely electoral consequences for both major parties. 

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It’s no secret that North Carolina is growing, but as its population grows, the composition of its electorate is changing as well.

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Two congressmen, both hoping to become North Carolina’s next attorney general, with be faced with a host of official duties if elected. Paramount among them — at least for many Haywood County residents — is holding Pactiv Evergreen accountable for issues related to the closing of the company’s paper mill in Canton. 

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Welcome to the eighth installment of The Smoky Mountain News’ annual Fake News Freakout. I feel like I say this every year, and I do, but this satirical feature was initially conceived as a one-off back in 2016, when it seemed the whole world had gone mad with literal fake news. 

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Almost exactly a year after a hiker vanished in the backcountry of British Columbia the night before a trip home to Haywood County for Christmas, her remains have been located. 

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The holidays are often viewed as an opportunity for families to gather together and share seasonal cheer, but when there’s domestic discord, many seek help from nonprofit legal or social service organizations.

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North Carolina’s candidate filing period for the 2024 General Election ends at noon , Friday, Dec. 15, and if the previous two weeks are any indication, there won’t likely be a lot of contested races in Western North Carolina. 

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North Carolina’s candidate filing period for the 2024 General Election began on Monday, Dec. 4, with candidates slowly making their way to area boards of elections to secure ballot spots in federal, state and local contests. 

As of noon on Dec. 5, first-term Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) had filed for reelection. Edwards has had Primary opposition since April, in the form of Hayesville Republican Christian Reagan. A Buncombe County legislator, Democrat Caleb Rudow, announced his intent to run last week, but hasn’t yet filed.

Incumbent District 43 judges Justin Greene (D-Swain) and Kaleb Wingate (R-Haywood) have filed to retain their seats. Virginia Hornsby (R-Macon) has also filed. Four bench seats are up for grabs.

Sen. Kevin Corbin (R-Macon) and Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) both filed for their seats, as have Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood) and Rep. Mike Clampitt (R-Swain). Rep. Karl Gillespie (R-Macon) couldn’t be reached for comment.

The only candidates to file for the two available seats on the Haywood County Board of Commissioners are incumbent Republicans — Chair Kevin Ensley and Vice Chair Brandon Rogers. Both filed shortly after the filing period opened.

Another pair of Republicans, Jenny Lynn Hooper and Michael Jennings, have filed for the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Jennings is competing for the seat of Democrat Mark Jones, while Hooper will face Republican Tom Stribling in the Primary. 

Clint Irons, a Republican, and Wes Jamison, an independent, have both filed for seats on the Jackson County Board of Education in District 3.

In Macon County, Republican Barry Breeden filed for the County Commission District 3 seat currently held by fellow Republican Paul Higdon.

Swain County Republican Eric Watson has filed for a seat on the Swain County Commission.

Candidate filing continues through noon on Dec. 15. The 2024 Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, March 5. The deadline to register to vote in the 2024 Primary Election is Friday, Feb. 9.

For more information, visit ncsbe.gov.

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The 2024 election season isn’t quite yet officially underway, but one Democrat isn’t waiting for Dec. 4 to get into the race for Western North Carolina’s congressional seat currently held by Hendersonville Republican Chuck Edwards. 

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National, state and local offices will be on the ballot across North Carolina for a high-stakes 2024 election, and it all begins next week, as candidates will begin submitting paperwork to launch their campaigns.

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More than two years after flooding along the Pigeon River and its tributaries killed half a dozen people and destroyed businesses, cars and homes from its headwaters near the Blue Ridge Parkway on down through the towns of Canton and Clyde, contractors are set to begin some of the most intensive debris removal operations in Haywood County since the floods of 2004. 

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It’s novel, it’s trendy and it’s a great way to become fabulously wealthy — or lose everything you have — but the nuisances associated with the production of cryptocurrency are prompting local governments to regulate them before it’s too late. 

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It’s been just under a year since Bill Wilke became Haywood County’s sheriff, after longtime popular incumbent, Greg Christopher, decided to call it a career.

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New town leadership is looking forward to getting things moving again in the tiny Graham County municipality of Lake Santeetlah, after a pair of incumbents and a pair of former Town Council members won resounding victories repudiating actions taken by the town’s elected leaders over the past two years. 

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Tuesday, Nov. 7 was an important night for out LGBTQ+ candidates across the country, the state and Haywood County, with more running — and winning — than in any previous odd-year election in U.S. history. 

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There’s no use crying over spilt milk, but a shocking report suggests that Pactiv Evergreen failed in its analysis of market demand for the paperboard produced in its Canton mill, contributing to a nationwide shortage of milk cartons in schools and leading some to believe the company needn’t have halted operations in Canton earlier this year, throwing hundreds out of work. 

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They ran a noisy campaign, filled with distortions, misinformation and outright fabrication, but in the end, that’s all it was — noise. 

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Fears that North Carolina’s new voter ID implementation would disenfranchise legitimate voters have proven unfounded — at least in Haywood County, where municipal election turnout was stronger than usual. 

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While there are still plenty of unknowns regarding Canton’s new waste water treatment plant, including where it will go and when groundbreaking will take place, a project budget ordinance passed by the town’s governing board on Nov. 9 eliminates one of them — how the massive appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly will be spent. 

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The Town of Canton’s governing board has been through a lot in the last four years — with the 2021 flood and the 2023 closure of the town’s largest employer — but they must be doing a good job managing the chaos, as voters decided overwhelmingly to return Mayor Pro Temp Gail Mull and Alderman Ralph Hamlett for another term. 

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More than two years after deadly flooding killed six people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to public and private property from Bethel to Cruso to Canton to Clyde, Haywood County will purchase an early warning siren system to keep residents better informed for when — not if — it happens again. 

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A Western Carolina University professor has been awarded one of the most respected fellowships in the world, which she hopes will not only shed some light on pertinent trends in media — both in the Balkans and in the United States — but also help to inspire her journalism students in the same ways she was, years ago. 

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Incumbent Alderman Dann Jesse will return to the Town of Clyde Board of Aldermen, along with a new face, Amy Russell.

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They ran a noisy campaign, filled with distortions, misinformation and outright fabrication, but in the end, that’s all it was — noise.

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The Town of Canton’s governing board has been through a lot in the last four years — with the 2021 flood and the 2023 closure of the town’s largest employer — but they must be doing a good job managing the chaos, as voters decided overwhelmingly to return Mayor Pro Temp Gail Mull and Alderman Ralph Hamlett for another term.

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Despite largely refusing to show up for forums or interviews, a slate of far-right candidates has tried multiple times to spread misinformation in the lead-up to Waynesville’s November election — both on the internet and in printed campaign materials — but their most recent attempt to do so, concerning waste water treatment plant funding, doesn’t appear to hold water either. 

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With early voting underway and municipal election races heating up, a supporter of the far-right nativist faction running for various Town of Waynesville offices has been handing out campaign literature at Waynesville’s downtown post office, in apparent violation of federal law.

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Despite all the important elections taking place in Western North Carolina this fall, there’s probably no other town with more on the line than Canton. 

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For nearly two decades, a unique nonprofit with roots in Western North Carolina has helped to recognize veterans for their wartime service.

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