Cory Vaillancourt

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A tax bill sponsored by two western Republicans that’s currently making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly has the potential to bring even more room occupancy tax money to the town of Maggie Valley, but as other municipalities across the county and the region consider asking for potential inclusion in the bill, there’s concern over implementation and administration. 

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Although the recommended budget won’t be presented for another two weeks, Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead took the opportunity on May 3 to present commissioners with a picture of what it might look like — on the heels of a historic revaluation that saw property values increase by nearly 20 percent countywide.

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Despite more than three decades of service to Waynesville’s downtown municipal service district, the organization charged with managing it now finds itself in the fight of its political life. 

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North Carolina’s population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse every day, but according to a report issued by Gov. Roy Cooper’s DRIVE Task Force, its educators don’t nearly reflect that diversity. 

The DRIVE report , which stands for “Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education,” was issued this past Jan. 1 after Cooper called for a task force  that was eventually convened in May 2020. 

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An iconic Waynesville landmark sold for nearly $9 million last week, but the new owner’s plans to renovate the 165-acre property, the 111-room hotel and the 27-hole golf course will also become one of the area’s most significant economic development investments — more than $25 million — once it’s completed.

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In preparing for Haywood Community College’s first post-pandemic budget, President Dr. Shelley White presented a stable operating budget but asked for substantial capital spending in line with the school’s growth.

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The Town of Canton’s property tax rate hasn’t changed in almost two decades. This year, it looks to be headed down, but residents will still see slightly higher bills as a result of a countywide property revaluation that’s on average 24 percent higher.

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A House bill proposed by Western North Carolina reps. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, and Mark Pless, R-Haywood, includes significant changes to a judicial district that is larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

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People have been making moonshine almost since the day water started running downhill, and it seems like people have been talking about enigmatic Appalachian moonshiner Popcorn Sutton for just as long. But now, for the very first time, a full-length biography attempts to explore the conflicted life and legacy of Appalachia’s most (in)famous moonshiner. 

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Complaints from Town of Waynesville power customers about higher-than-expected electric bills prompted town officials to look into the matter, which they now say is the result of a confluence of several factors — a rate increase not being one of them. 

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It’s been almost five years since the Downtown Waynesville Association landed a multi-year contract to manage the town’s municipal service district, but with the expiration of that contract imminent, an April 27 public hearing will gather input from residents on whether the group has met expectations or if another organization should be given the chance.

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Things are going so well at two of Haywood County’s best-known industrial employers that they’re both hiring and expanding, making them eligible for the county’s economic development incentive plan. 

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When Republican Sen. Kevin Corbin, R-Franklin, announced  during a March 25 listening session at Southwestern Community College that he intended to file a bill addressing the health care coverage gap, he also said he hadn’t quite formulated the particulars of it because he wanted to introduce something that would pass the Republican-controlled legislature. 

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As North Carolina Republicans seek to maintain dominance across the state and in the 11th Congressional District, they’ll do so under new leadership after electing Hendersonville Republican Michele Woodhouse as their new district chair on April 10. 

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There’s been lots of speculation since very early in Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s tenure in Congress that he’d face a Republican challenger in the Primary Election, but now it appears there’s at least one person who’s willing to do it – Asheville Republican Wendy Nevarez.

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Effective immediately Canton Town Manager Jason Burrell has been suspended indefinitely without pay pending further board action, Mayor Zeb Smathers told a meeting of town employees earlier this afternoon while accompanied by Mayor Pro Temp Gail Mull.

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More than 80 percent of Smoky Mountain News readers have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and less than 10 percent say they’ll refuse altogether, according to the results of an unscientific survey conducted by SMN from March 24 through March 31 of this year. 

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The last time Americans lived through a global pandemic, the field of employment law wasn’t nearly as developed as it is today. That’s led to an overwhelming number of unanswered questions surrounding the rights and obligations of both employers and employees when considering the massive COVID-19 vaccination effort currently underway. 

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A potentially dangerous situation at the Evergreen Packaging paper mill in Canton earlier today is under control.

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Emergency services workers from several jurisdictions were responding this morning to reports of a fire at Evergreen Packaging’s Canton papermill.

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With the support of a bi-partisan panel including commissioners from Macon and Graham counties as well as the head of the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority, Sen. Kevin Corbin, R-Franklin, announced he’d soon file a bill intended to close the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina. 

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Filed in the General Assembly on March 15, House Bill 280  contains only 112 words, but if it gains legislative approval its impact in Western North Carolina would be huge. 

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Western North Carolina Republicans have introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would result in substantial changes to the room occupancy tax in Haywood County and the creation of a new tax for Bryson City. 

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For the very first time, the North Carolina General Assembly will consider giving the public meaningful access to personnel records that have long been hidden. 

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In another encouraging sign of progress, ownership of the land upon which Maggie Valley’s Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park sits has been transferred to developers, clearing the way for work to begin on the complex, multi-faceted redevelopment project.

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It’s been an open secret for a while now, but two-term incumbent Democratic Sheriff of Haywood County Greg Christopher made it official last weekend — he’s not running for a third term.

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The Town of Waynesville’s chances at being awarded a $500,000 grant for greenway infrastructure could drastically improve — with your help. 

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As coronavirus case counts continue to decline and vaccination totals continue to rise, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a new executive order further loosening restrictions on gatherings. 

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It’s been an open secret for a while now, but two-term Democratic Sheriff of Haywood County Greg Christopher made it official earlier today – he’s not running for a third term.

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Think back to 2019. Back when things were normal. Back when masks were only for Halloween, or for bank robbers. Back when social distancing was mostly for people who’d recently eaten ramps. Back when the biggest story in Western North Carolina was about a congressman who decided not to seek re-election. 

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After the results of a Town of Waynesville Planning Board meeting on March 16, Haywood County will now move into an exciting new chapter in the story of attracting affordable housing developments for its residents.

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A pair of gun control bills passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week and are now heading for the Senate. Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn kept a campaign promise to vote against such proposals, delivering a fiery speech on the House floor telling Democrats that “here in real America, when we say, ‘come and take it,’” referring to a popular Second Amendment rallying cry, “we damn well mean it.” 

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While most Americans are looking forward to receiving the $1,400 payments included in President Joe Biden’s $1.88 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) passed by Congress on March 6, counties and towns across the country are also eagerly awaiting a stimulus package of their own.

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Army veteran and 2020 state House candidate Josh Remillard, of Mills River, has officially entered the race for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.

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Founded in the 1950s, Camp Henry’s history is rooted in the logging operations that once dominated the area. Indeed, the Haywood County camp’s mile-long lake was created when the site of a former logging camp was dammed up, but now the 300-acre property on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest is looking to build upon last year’s successes just as the nation starts to take its first tentative steps past the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

As the town of Waynesville digs into the budget process for the 2021-22 fiscal year, aldermen are again considering ways to improve the transparency and efficiency of government, spruce up the cash-cow downtown district and augment public safety — all without handing residents a tax increase. 

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Waynesville Alderman Jon Feichter says that he’s proud of the concrete steps previous town boards took to address the affordable housing crisis, but if the presentation he made during a March 4 budget retreat had any impact, the town will soon embrace a less passive approach to one of the region’s most troublesome issues. 

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Some people will say a gay woman who’s a Christian minister just can’t get elected in the South.

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As if last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) wasn’t controversial enough — the stage resembled a rune with Nazi connotations, and organizers rolled out a golden idol of former President Donald Trump — now a number of Republican House members are being criticized for using the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic as an excuse to vote by proxy against the latest COVID relief bill. 

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Despite calls to do so, a nonprofit health care foundation charged with managing more than $13 million of Haywood County taxpayer money in support of public health initiatives has declined to hold a removal vote regarding one trustee’s public anti-mask, anti-vaccine advocacy. 

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Although the results of Haywood County’s comprehensive revaluation process haven’t yet been mailed out, county administrators and elected officials want property owners to prepare for what’s coming in terms of potential changes to their property’s value. 

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Attendees of this year’s Hillbilly Winter Jam kicked off the annual fest with a special treat — a private visit to a cherished remnant of Maggie Valley culture. 

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There is perhaps no parcel of land in Haywood County that generates as much interest as the one that’s home to long-shuttered mountaintop amusement park Ghost Town in the Sky, but as social media misinformation continues to arise, the property’s developers are now revealing tantalizing details of the incredibly complex plan for the venture and the progress that’s already been made. 

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As vaccination of North Carolinians continues and positive coronavirus case reports decline, today Gov. Roy Cooper announced changes to a number of previously imposed restrictions meant to quell the spread of the coronavirus.

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It’s not something that happens all that often, but a late fourth-quarter drive by Western North Carolina’s state and local elected officials helped them find pay dirt in the end zone — in this case, raising the coronavirus-related capacity limits on outdoor high school athletic events.

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Weary and sore they came upon a small copse of Loblolly pines swaying high above a sea of softly undulating golden broomsedge just as the first light of dawn faded in from the east. 

For weeks, they’d slept during the balmy spring days and walked mostly by moonlight, never by road. At times they’d take to the train tracks, ducking into the underbrush when one of them would sense the coming of the iron horse. Other times they strode along soaring tree lines edging fallow fields, damp spongy soil radiating the last of the day’s heat to their bare feet, until they found some small, safe, out-of-the way place as dark and anonymous as their faces.

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North Carolina’s fiscal and economic health, along with years of budgetary discipline and a commitment to economic freedom, bode well for a sustained long-term economic recovery so long as policymakers continue prudent decision making — particularly in regard to worker regulations and market restrictions. 

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After years of pecking away at Western North Carolina’s broadband problem at the state level, a large-scale federal investment in rural broadband access could bring a game-changing impact for schools, businesses and entrepreneurs across the country, state and region.

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It’s a rivalry that runs as deep as the waters of Lake Logan and as wide as the Pigeon River that snakes its way through this county of 60,000, but this year the annual Pisgah-Tuscola football game has already taken on a significance that extends far beyond the borders of Haywood County. 

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As promised, members of Down Home North Carolina presented to Haywood County commissioners a budget alternative that prioritizes treatment and rehabilitation over incarceration. 

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