Cory Vaillancourt

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Most years, voters head to the polls with a few candidates or a political party in mind, push some buttons, and go home. But this year’s ballot also contains six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution.

The bad news is almost six million North Carolinians still hadn’t voted as of Monday, Oct. 29. The good news is more than a million had — 1.23 million, to be exact.

Asheville Republican Mark Meadows has now served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives — the last two as a powerful figure in the majority party, the most recent under unified Republican control of the presidency, the Senate and the House. 

Since 2012, Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District has been represented by Asheville Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, a Florida native who moved to the region in 1986. Meanwhile, Meadows has enjoyed great electoral success and become the standard-bearer for what remains of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party nationwide.

The crew at The Blue Rooster Southern Grill is known for some of the best fried chicken in the region, but for the past eight years they’ve also been serving it up with a side of kindness. 

Comment

Business owners aren’t just retail or hospitality-based bricks and mortar shopkeeps; often overlooked are the sole proprietors selling a service or skill that comes from within, and many of those are members of the so-called “creative class” — artists, writers, performers and the like. 

Sitting at a low desk in a cozy nook of her mountaintop studio and gallery, Margaret Pennington Roberts, brush in hand, contemplates a canvas perched precariously on an easel.

Haywood County’s high-performing schools slipped a few notches in state rankings this year — from 11th the last two years to 14th this year, of 115 districts statewide — and although that’s not cause for alarm, school board members are focused on the challenge of returning to the top 10 percent again this year. 

More and more, Facebook is becoming a place not only to catch up with friends, read the news and look at pictures of cats, it’s also becoming a place where one can get into a lot of political trouble. 

Comment

Haywood County’s board of commissioners consists of five members, three of whom are up for election Nov. 6. All three of those seats are currently held by Democratic commissioners. One of them, Bill Upton, isn’t seeking re-election. 

The only two seats that aren’t up for election on Haywood County’s five-member board of commissioners this November are both held by Republicans. The other three are currently held by Democrats, and have attracted two Democratic incumbents as well as a third Dem candidate seeking to maintain that majority. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there should be at least 31,614 women in Haywood County, but judging by this year’s commission race that number is actually zero. 

Incumbent Republican Tax Collector Mike Matthews is seeking re-election to an office many people don’t even think should be elected at all. In fact, Haywood County is home to the state’s only remaining elected tax collector. 

Folkmoot will say goodbye to one board president but welcome another after a late September meeting where new board members were vetted. 

Comment

Worries last month over the potential defunding of local social service agency Mountain Projects’ Obamacare Navigator program became real when the organization wasn’t selected for funding, but a solution has now emerged thanks to one of North Carolina’s largest private trusts. 

Comment

Franklin Republican Sen. Jim Davis is probably one of the most popular legislators in the state with his constituents, winning four straight elections and garnering support on the order of 75 percent in some counties. 

While not quite reaching the level of Hatfield and McCoy, Western North Carolina’s longest running feud — that of Mike Clampitt and Joe Sam Queen — is no less competitive; after losses in 2012 and 2014, the Bryson City Republican Clampitt finally defeated the Waynesville Democrat Queen in 2016, and will predictably face him again this year in the race for House district 119. 

Ask Canton native Rhonda Cole Schandevel why she’s running for House district 118 again after a disappointing yet decisive loss in 2016 and she’ll tell you, in not so many words. 

Heaters that won’t heat. Lights that won’t light. Pipes that won’t pipe.

The modern conveniences most people have taken for granted are just that — taken for granted — until something goes awry. And when the basement’s full of sewage, who ya gonna call?

Comment

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Make sure you’re ready to vote by following the simple flowchart below. 

Comment

One of 43 spread across the state, North Carolina’s 30th Judicial District covers Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties and is where many people have their first interaction with the court system. 

You’ve probably seen the billboards by now, if not for months. Or, you’ve seen the candidates out campaigning in person — incumbent Superior Court Judge Brad Letts and well-known Waynesville attorney Mark Melrose.

The fiscal year for Haywood County’s Tourism Development Authority ended June 30, and now that all the data are in, it looks like 2017-18 was another banner year for overnight stays around the county. 

Comment

Waynesville attorney Gavin Brown pled guilty Sept. 18 to two felony counts stemming from an incident in which he forged a notary’s signature and seal on a deed in 2016. The charges were unrelated to his service as Waynesville’s mayor.

Comment

Jan Plummer is the Obamacare Navigator program coordinator at Mountain Projects, but probably not for much longer.

Unsurprisingly, after a three-year cooperative agreement expired Sept. 12, Mountain Projects wasn’t selected for re-funding of the Navigator program, which helps people sign up for health care coverage. 

Comment

It’s no secret homelessness across the region is a problem, but as in most parts of the country, it’s a bigger problem among veterans of the nation’s armed forces. 

Comment

When Dr. Bill Nolte was promoted to superintendent of Haywood County Schools this past summer, one of the first things he said he’d do was begin the process of creating a long-term plan for the award-winning school district that recently slipped in academic rankings from 11th to 14th out of 115 districts across the state. 

Comment

Imagine this — you’re atop a hundred-story building, and it’s on fire. As the flames and smoke close in, you really don’t want to jump, but there simply doesn’t seem to be any other way. 

Comment

While Hurricane Florence spared much of The Smoky Mountain News coverage area when it rolled through the region last week, the same can’t be said for a vast portion of the North Carolina coast, which saw rainfall totals of more than 33 inches in places. 

Comment

More than a year after a contentious public comment session during which the Haywood County Board of Commissioners weighed the pros and cons of having the state’s only elected tax collector, there’s no sign any change is coming despite the dispute still smoldering.

Comment

For months, Valerie Oberle has been the public face of the three-person partnership supposedly taking shape at the long-shuttered Ghost Town amusement park in Maggie Valley. Along with husband Spencer, Oberle’s had a frustrating summer marked by unmet promises and modest progress. 

Comment

Early on Sept. 14, a flurry of press releases from Haywood County, the Town of Maggie Valley and the Town of Canton declared states of emergency in each jurisdiction.

While no effect has yet been felt in Western North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence, the next 72 hours could bring heavy rain, downed limbs, gusty winds and localized flooding.

Here’s the full text of the Haywood County declaration:

As a precautionary measure, Haywood County will declare a state of emergency effective noon today. The state of emergency allows the County to access critical resources, coordinate support and provide assistance in case conditions worsen. In order to receive FEMA reimbursement, a local state of emergency declaration is required.

Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties in North Carolina on September 7, 2018.

Haywood County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick stated, “Our emergency response teams and law enforcement have been monitoring and preparing for the storm all week. Haywood County is taking the necessary precautions with the uncertainty of the storm.”

“We know the storm is coming. We don’t know the impact the storm will have on our area,” said Emergency Services Director, Greg Shuping. “A state of emergency alerts our citizens to monitor the rain, wind and landslide potential during the storm. Please take the time to make necessary preparations now.”

Citizens should stay tuned to your local news stations and the latest updates from state and local authorities.

Haywood County Alerts was developed for these types of emergencies. This system provides emergency alerts for Haywood County and all municipalities within Haywood County. To receive emergency (emergency only) *text message* alerts, simply text your Haywood County zip code to the number 888-777.To receive additional information including road closures and utility interruptions, visit http://alerts.haywoodcountync.gov to choose the types of alerts you want to receive.

Comment

Western North Carolina may not be over-“Flo”-ing with water just yet, but the region is awash in information about available resources for people affected by Hurricane Florence.

Comment

As The Smoky Mountain News went to print Tuesday, a potentially catastrophic storm was barreling down on the Carolinas, with North Carolina poised to bear the brunt of it. 

Comment

Slow progress and a string of broken promises from new Ghost Town operator and former Disney exec Valeria Oberle haven’t stopped her from talking to people about her plans for the park, but they have stopped her from allowing people to record or broadcast them. 

Comment

Recent uproar over dozens of tax payments improperly waived by Haywood County Tax Collector Mike Matthews seemed to be quieted with his announcement that he’d personally cover more than $1,200 of the $4,100 he’d waived.

Comment

Achieving high academic performance levels is one thing, but maintaining them is quite another, and after two straight years ranked 11 out of 115 public school districts in the state, recent reports from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction show that Haywood County schools slid three places to a still-impressive 14. 

Comment

Why don’t Polish salt miners ever get sick?

No, it’s not a joke, according to Marisa Spagnoli, owner of Waynesville Salt Room, a new Montgomery Street business that’s capitalizing on one of the latest trends in the spa industry. 

Despite pages and pages of published studies and hundreds or thousands of anecdotes extolling the benefits of cannabidiol, it’s the word stem — “canna” — that still raises eyebrows as much as the plant stem. 

Doug’s in Clyde is a typical manifestation of a stereotypical small-town barbershop in the rural American South. 

Its wooden walls are lined with knick-knacks, claptrap and faded family photos of people and places long gone. Three men stand behind three vintage teal and steel barber’s chairs, while three men sit in them. Others wait on red vinyl couches next to checkerboards beneath the watchful gaze of Andy Griffith and Floyd Lawson. 

Comment

When you take in the totality of photographer Bill Killillay’s work, you might think it comes as the result of intensive schooling at some fancy film or art school. But you would be wrong. In fact, you might say he just fell into it.

Comment

A slew of county tax penalties waived by Tax Collector Mike Matthews’ office will have to be re-added to some tax bills because they were improperly released.

Comment

It takes a lot of work throughout the year to produce the Folkmoot festival; much of that work goes on behind the scenes and much of it is done by volunteers, without whom the festival simply couldn’t sustain itself.

Comment

It's gameday in Haywood County! Here, for the first time anywhere, is Canton-based singer/songwriter Keil Nathan Smith's ode to one of the most intense high school football rivalries anywhere - the Black Bears of Pisgah High School versus the Tuscola High School Mountaineers. Scroll below to listen. 

 

 

Comment

Many among us have been touched by the tragedy of suicide, and in the age of social media, many more of us have heard or seen behavior from family, friends or even total strangers that gives us pause. 

Comment

The Town of Waynesville dropped the ball on a minor procedural change to how some zoning decisions are made, but at least taxpayers won’t be left holding the bag. 

Comment

One of the key stipulations in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is that those who go without health care coverage for all or part of a year will pay a substantial fine, tied to their income tax filings. 

Comment

For more than a century in the tiny Haywood County town of Canton, the sun has risen and set — literally and figuratively — on the sprawling paper mill located in the heart of town. 

Comment

Although none of them were personally in room 3A of the Haywood County Courthouse, pornographer Larry Flynt, Rev. Jerry Falwell, former President Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump, pop sensation Sonny Bono and acclaimed singer Cher have all emerged in a lawsuit brought by a local Republican Party official who says she’s been injured by a series of mocking memes. 

Comment

Amid high hopes for a rejuvenated Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park, it’s looking more and more like the been down this road before crowd may be on the right path. 

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.