Cory Vaillancourt

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Like bubbles bobbing atop bathwater, the sectors of Haywood County’s economy are separate but often attached to each other in ways not always readily seen. Although all the bubbles ebb and swell independently of each other, they also rise and fall with the level of bathwater in the tub.


The continuing saga of the Haywood County Republican Party’s attempts to deal with a troublesome member of an antagonistic faction will take a dramatic turn this week, one way or the other.


Residents in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District will soon have a few opportunities to reach out to their congressman and his staff on the health care issue.


Each year, one of the highlights of the 10-day Folkmoot Festival is the Parade of Nations. This year, 10 groups from across the globe walked down Waynesville’s Main Street, stopping at the Historic Haywood County Courthouse to perform for local dignitaries. Cory Vaillancourt photos


Home to some of the most important and sacred Judeo-Christian sites in the world, what should be a place of peace has instead seen almost ceaseless conflict since its incorporation in 1948.


Although the Municipal General Election isn’t until Nov. 7, when the candidate sign-up period closed on July 21, Canton’s fate was sealed.


For a while there, things seemed to be pretty quiet on the Maggie Valley political scene, but on the very last day of the candidate filing period three candidates joined two others in seeking the two aldermanic seats up for election this year.


Since late April, The Smoky Mountain News series on economic development has focused on the financial health of Haywood County, the mechanisms by which state, local and national governments encourage economic development and the various sectors that make up the county’s economy.

The Folkmoot Friendship Center on Virginia Avenue in Hazelwood is central to the festival’s operation.


Not long ago if you told someone you were taking your kids to a hip-hop show, they would probably call you a bad parent.


Amidst all of last year’s romping, stomping, clogging and dancing during Folkmoot USA, one event may have slipped off the radar of festival attendees.


As the sturdy old stake-bed dump truck — held together largely with rusty steel coat hangers — scrambled up the mountain laden with over a cord of firewood, the man behind the wheel finally found the address and pulled up the driveway.


Although Richard Reeves has spent the last 12 years splitting wood in an empty lot off Lea Plant Road in Hazelwood, he certainly hasn’t been alone in that endeavor; a plethora of locals — in that paradoxical individualistic, communal mountaineer spirit — give what they can, when they can, how they can.


Public outcry over North Carolina Department of Transportation plans to eviscerate historic Walnut Street during Russ Avenue improvements slated for 2022 has, apparently, been heard loud and clear.


A robust and vigorous health care sector is the cornerstone of any community; convenient access to health care facilities is a make-or-break issue for many, including the elderly, the disabled or even young families expecting children.

As North Carolina’s candidate sign-up period approaches its midway point, preliminary indications in Haywood County point toward some big changes, especially in Canton.


The schism between the Haywood County Republican Party and the Haywood Republican Alliance isn’t unique to this party, this county or this era.


Allegations made last week by a member of the Haywood Republican Alliance that the Haywood County Republican Party recently passed a resolution charging five local Republicans with political “party disloyalty” shocked and angered many across the region and the state.


Mission Health System is threatening to cancel its contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina if they can’t get rate negotiations that are more favorable.


During the long session of the North Carolina Legislature that recently concluded, hundreds of bills were again proposed, studied and debated.


Double-digit increases in both monthly and year-to-date tourist spending have the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority flush with cash, but still seeking to build on better-than-projected collections.


As the sun rises over Papertown one bright morning in 1958, a 30-year-old African-American by the name of Nathaniel Lowery wakes up and, like hundreds of others, heads for the mill.


With all the attention paid to downtown Waynesville’s bustling Main Street, the Frog Level Historic District is often overlooked by tourists and the town board alike.


In each year’s budget, the Town of Waynesville makes discretionary special appropriations contributions to a plethora of local nonprofits that help support everything from festivals to food for seniors.


In a story that sounds like it should have come out of Moscow in 1938 or Havana in 1961 rather than Waynesville in 2017, several Haywood County citizens have allegedly been charged with political “party disloyalty.”


As the candidate sign-up period for November’s municipal elections opens at noon on Friday, July 7, voters in most municipalities will start to learn who’s in, who’s out, who’s moving on and who’s moving up.


The cultivation of agriculture is the first and most important way Homo sapiens differentiate themselves from other creatures.

Leaders in both the North Carolina House and Senate have reached consensus on a $23 billion fiscal year 2017-18 budget June 19.


Any local, state and federal budget typically includes what is technically called discretionary spending but is commonly known as “pork.”


Assuming a legislative override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto — which happened as The Smoky Mountain News went to press June 27 — North Carolinians could be in for a slew of tax cuts that will save state residents by one estimate more than $530 million over two years when they take effect in 2019.


In what’s becoming a bit of a pattern for Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, he and his House Freedom Caucus aren’t 100 percent on board with another one of President Donald Trump’s agenda items. 


The day after the Senate’s own version of a new health care bill came out, influential leader of the House Freedom Caucus and Western North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, wasted no time in shooting it down.


Inside a nondescript miniature warehouse off Carolina Boulevard, Drew Singleton hovers about an imposing, intimidating metalworking machine; adjusting a knob here, spinning a wheel there, tweaking an armature and then stopping to assess the situation, he pauses and looks up to re-check his settings.

It’s not noteworthy to hear someone ‘round these parts say, “This will be the fourth generation of my family participating in a Fourth of July event at Lake Junaluska.” 

But it is when it’s being said by the leader of the Lake Junaluska Singers.


Although Haywood County shares many economic similarities with Cashiers, it also sees challenges distinct from those of Jackson County.


The climate and topography of Haywood County make it a place that people want to live.

A large-scale retail development featuring Lakeland, Florida-based grocer Publix as an anchor tenant moved forward without opposition after unanimous consent from Waynesville Aldermen June 13.


Emergencies like the Gatlinburg fires of 2016 and simulated emergencies like last week’s Operation Vigilant Catamount in Canton have brought disaster planning back to the forefront of many minds locally — perfect timing for Haywood County Emergency Services Coordinator Greg Shuping to make his pitch for a new emergency notification system.


Despite hiring challenges that persist across the region, Haywood County Commissioners had no trouble re-engaging a key employee June 19. 


Eminent figures have called for common sense, nonpartisan redistricting since even before Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry unwittingly lent his name to the unseemly practice of gerrymandering.


A squat little cinder block shop tucked away in a quiet mountain cove on the outskirts of Waynesville caught fire 43 years ago, around suppertime one night.


By the dawn’s early light, about 300 members of the North Carolina National Guard along with a host of local law enforcement personnel and first responders gathered at Guion Farm in nearby DuPont State Forest, outside Hendersonville the morning of June 8. 

Two aircrew had ejected from their F-15 just before it augured in to the rocky dirt, sparking a large fire and kicking off a massive search and rescue mission.


Haywood County’s 2017 property revaluation was like a bucket of cold water in the face of every local government official in the county, but nowhere more so than Maggie Valley.


Despite finishing first in an online contest with more than double the votes of its nearest competitor, Waynesville’s adaptive playground will not be funded by the annual Kiwanis “Legacy of Play” contest.


A strategic plan developed by a subcommittee of the Haywood County Affordable Housing Task Force that proposes 400 affordable housing units by 2028 makes a number of recommendations to help achieve that goal, including the passage of a general obligation bond and the establishment of a land trust.


Three Haywood County Schools will see new administrators this fall after the Haywood County Board of Education approved the personnel changes during a meeting the morning of June 13.


Joey’s Pancake House owner Brenda O' Keefe announced June 6 that the revered Maggie Valley landmark that served visitors and locals alike for more than 50 year will plate its last order on Tuesday, June 13.

Fans of the eatery from across the world are doubtless scrambling to slide in before then, for one last short stack or one last chat with Brenda and the gang; the restaurant is open from 7 a.m. until noon on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday through Sunday.

For those who can't make it, take a stroll down memory lane with these recent photos from Joey's Panckake House. If you'd like to share your stories and experiences, do so in the comments section below. 


Joeys Pancake House 1a 

Originally from Philadelphia, Joey O’Keefe worked for the famed Fountainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach – where he met wife Brenda – before opening Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley in 1966. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 2

Employees work the line at Joey’s Pancake House, which will close June 13 after more than 50 years in business. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 3

The kitchen at Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley is busy, even on an average morning. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 4

Married 66 years, Lake Junaluska residents Polly (right) and Bill McRae are regular visitors to Joey’s Pancake House. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 5

Joey O’Keefe had originally sought to open a restaurant with a Cuban investor in Williamsburg, Virginia; visitors to and residents of Haywood County are glad the deal fell through more than 50 years ago. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 6

Diners pack Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley around 10 a.m. a few hours the landmark restaurant’s closing is announced; read SMN News Editor Jessi Stone’s story here. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 7

A 1965 Ford Mustang – built the year before Joey’s Pancake House opened – sits in a parking lot adjacent to the revered Maggie Valley restaurant in June, 2017. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 8

The year prior to the establishment of Joey’s Pancake House in 1966, a brand new Ford Mustang cost $2,400 and the minimum wage was $1.25. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 9

Over the years, celebrities like driver Richard Petty, actor Gig Young and comedian Zach Galiafinakis – just to name a few – have dined at Joey’s Pancake House. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 10

Joey (left) and Brenda O’Keefe co-authored a recipe for success at Joey’s Pancake House over the course of 50 years. Donated photo.



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The August 10, 2016 cover of The Smoky Mountain News, in which SMN Staff Writer Cory Vaillancourt tells the story of Joey’s Pancake House. Read the story here. Cover design by Micah McClure.


Joeys Pancake House 12

The exterior of Joey’s Pancake House on a vibrant August morning in 2016. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 13

A familiar sight to many a Joey’s Pancake House patron over the past half-century – a cup of joe and paper menu. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 14

Beneath wagon wheel lamps, two travellers enjoy a quiet moment at Joey’s Pancake House in August, 2016. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 15

This photo of the late Joey O’Keefe adorns the cover of a work his wife, Joey’s Pancake House owner Brenda O’Keefe, commissioned called The Book of Joe. It is filled with letters of adoration from fans spanning decades and continents. Read all about it here.



Joeys Pancake House 16

Joey’s Pancake House first opened across the street, about a block down, but has been at 4309 Soco Road since 1971. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 17

Dan Kelly (left), an 88 year-old retired purchasing agent at Champion Paper in Canton cracks a joke with his 89-yeer old childhood friend Dr. Al Cline, a retired Canton dentist. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 18

The sun sets over Maggie Valley landmark Joey’s Pancake House on the evening of June 6, 2017. Cory Vaillancourt photo.


Joeys Pancake House 19

Gene (right) and Marsha Messer, part-time residents of Maggie Valley, have been visiting Joey’s Pancake House since the late 1970s. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 20

Hundreds of thousands of cars pass by Joey’s Pancake House, at the western end of Maggie Valley, each month. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 21

Amsterdam residents Ger (left) and Maryke van Praag-Beitsma stopped into Joey’s Pancake House June 6 while touring the U.S. from Washington, D.C. through Virginia and North Carolina on their way to Chicago. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 22

“We’re just a little restaurant on the side of the road in Maggie Valley,” said Joey’s Pancake House owner Brenda O’Keefe. “I mean, how smart do you have to be when you see 40 hotels and motels lined up on the same street?” Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Joeys Pancake House 23

Joey’s Pancake House slumbers before another morning of eggs, bacon, biscuits and coffee. Cory Vaillancourt photo.



Revenues are down, costs are up and local conservative factions haven’t been silent in their criticism of the Democratic-majority Haywood County Board of Commissioners, which is about to approve a budget utilizing fund balance for the first time in around a decade.


A problematic landfill in Waynesville’s Francis Farm community will be seeing a lot of activity between now and 2019 — about $5 million worth.


On a rainy June Monday in Maggie Valley, wispy mists lick lush mountaintops that tower behind nearly every business in town, including the Cabbage Rose gift shop on Soco Road. 

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