Cory Vaillancourt

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As first reported by Politico earlier this morning, Western North Carolina’s four-term Republican congressman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, will not seek a return to his NC-11 seat in 2020.

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UPDATED Dec. 19: Hours after this story was posted, Rep. Meadows announced he wouldn't seek reelection to the seat mentioned in this story. More on that here

 

The 2018 Democratic Primary Election winner in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, Phillip Price, ended speculation about another potential congressional bid against Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, by endorsing one of Meadows’ other Democratic challengers.

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Calling it a campaign promise kept, newly-minted Waynesville Mayor Gary Caldwell announced during the first few moments of his term the creation of a homelessness task force.

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The town of Waynesville swore in Haywood County’s first openly gay elected official — Biltmore Farms Director of Information Systems Anthony Sutton — last week, but the real story may be the retirement of a once-controversial and divisive issue in American politics.

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Local Realtors are about to experience a change most of them will barely notice, but the merger of the Haywood County and Charlotte-based trade associations that govern them could have a noticeable effect on the regional affordable housing crisis.

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Accusations of animal cruelty have been swirling about Haywood County stable operator James Lunsford for much of the year but finally evolved into formal charges and a civil suit earlier this fall. 

Animal welfare groups allege Lunsford mistreated more than a dozen horses in his care, along with a number of other animals, but Lunsford says he’s being unfairly targeted by overzealous nonprofits hoping to use him to raise money. 

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Haywood County resident James Lunsford, 65, is currently the subject of an animal cruelty lawsuit filed against him Oct. 11 in and by the county of Haywood. 

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It appears that some progress is being made in the fight against drug addiction in Haywood County, but a recent presentation to Haywood County commissioners proves there’s still a long way to go.

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Super PACs are starting to make a big-time impact on small-town Western North Carolina politics, and not everyone thinks that’s a super idea.

Luther Jones, a Sylva resident who came up short in his bid for a commission seat last month, said he wants to keep outside money out of local politics, but it may be too late for that. 

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If you think seems a bit early for candidates to be filing for the 2020 elections, you’re right — a change to state law pushing back North Carolina’s Primary Election from early May to early March means that candidates have already begun filing for a host of offices. 

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After months and years of litigation, a Wake County court decided Dec. 2 that North Carolina could proceed with the 2020 elections using newly-drawn congressional maps, and that there would be no delay in the sign-up period for the March 3 Primary Election. 

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After four terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, incumbent Rep. Michele Presnell (R-Burnsville) announced earlier today that she would not seek a fifth term.

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For nearly all of its 128-year history, the University of Alabama’s football program has been synonymous with gridiron excellence. Thousands of young men have gone there to play the game they love, and played it to win. 

Boasting a 73 percent winning percentage over almost 1,300 games, Alabama has laid claim to 14 division titles, 31 conference titles and 17 national championships while producing legendary NFL stars like Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, Cornelius Bennett and Derrick Thomas, along with at least one legendary coach — Paul “Bear” Bryant. 

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For most, childhood is a time of growth, learning and stability nurtured by fertile environmental and economic conditions that ultimately prepare young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. 

In much of North Carolina, the future’s not nearly that bright. 

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Waynesville’s new mayor and aldermen haven’t even been sworn in yet, but based on how the board’s most recent regular meeting transpired, a new dynamic in how town government will operate in the future appears to be taking shape. 

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A consultant with the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools recommended that Shining Rock Classical Academy’s charter should be renewed for five years despite ongoing concerns about the school’s lack of transparency, and the state’s director of charter schools has refused to answer why. 

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A recent property donation to the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministries could help create jobs, add value to agricultural products and feed the hungry in Haywood County, if local agricultural and food service sectors can demonstrate there’s a need. 

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For the tenth time in his long history of public service, Waynesville Democrat Joe Sam Queen announced his intent to represent his home county of Haywood in the North Carolina General Assembly. 

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Although the race between two incumbent alderman for the Maggie Valley mayor’s gavel was an important one, the bigger story on Election Day was the performance of Tammy Wight. 

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On Election Day, Waynesville voters could have chosen to send almost every single incumbent back to their seats, but when the new board is sworn in on Dec. 10, only two of the five will return to their previous positions. 

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His name is Newby, but he’s far from new — Justice Paul Newby was first elected to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2004, and was subsequently re-elected to another eight-year term in 2012. As that term nears its end in 2020, he’s not only seeking re-election, but election as the court’s chief justice. 

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Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of stories on Haywood County’s public charter school, Shining Rock Classical Academy, which has been beset by a host of academic and organizational problems since opening in 2015.

Despite a long history of illegal meetings, improper closed sessions and complaints about transparency, the story of Shining Rock Classical Academy’s efforts to conceal its expenditures of taxpayer money has just entered an alarming new chapter.

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Alderman Mike Eveland will be Maggie Valley's next mayor, after a convincing 191-145 victory over Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Janet Banks. 

Eveland, who has two years remaining on his aldermanic term, will join on the board new Alderman Tammy Wight, who narrowly edged out her husband, longtime incumbent Phillip Wight, to lead the field 199-196. 

Both Wights will serve on the board, and will be joined by whomever the board decides to appoint to serve out the remainder of Eveland's aldermanic term. 

Allen Alsbrooks, who fell short in the last election, saw a similar result this time, earning 150 votes. 

 

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With all eight Waynesville precincts reporting, it appears as though there will be some major changes in the Town of Waynesville’s governing board.

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Just after the polls close but before Election Day results are compiled, candidate totals from North Carolina’s early voting period are released. While they’re not final totals, they are an accurate summary of how hundreds of Haywood County voters cast their ballots in the weeks prior to today.

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It’s still early, but judging by Election Day vote totals at Waynesville’s four largest precincts, it’s going to be a long day.

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One of the most alluring and enduring qualities of the art of poetry is the vast spectrum of forms it may take — neat or free-wheeling, broad or tidy, emotional or intellectual, progressive or traditional. 

This weekend, Jackson County aficionados can experience most all of that, in the same place, at the same time. 

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The landscape of the 11th Congressional District is about to change literally and figuratively — a ruling in a gerrymandering lawsuit could result in new maps, and another Democratic candidate has joined the primary election field in hopes of unseating incumbent Asheville Republican Congressman Mark Meadows. 

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One month and one day after a lawsuit was filed alleging partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina’s congressional districts, a three-judge panel has ordered current congressional maps to be redrawn in time for the 2020 election. 

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Maggie Valley may be a small town, but its economic impact on and importance to Haywood County can’t be understated. 

After Mayor Saralyn Price announced she wouldn’t seek re-election this year, only two candidates stepped up — Mayor Pro Tem Janet Banks and Alderman Mike Eveland. 

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They’re both longtime board members — one’s a longtime mayor and the other a longtime mayor pro tem. 

One of them, Gavin Brown or Gary Caldwell, will be Waynesville’s next mayor come Nov. 5, and one of them will cycle out of city government, taking decades of institutional knowledge with them. 

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When she showed up at Haywood Pathways Center, the woman and her young daughter had been homeless for three years. After three months’ residence in the new women and children’s dorm, the pair recently became the first family to leave it for a home of their own. 

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Like much of the United States in 2015, the Town of Waynesville was still straining to stand up straight after the Great Recession of 2008 knocked it knobby-kneed; although Western North Carolina suffered less and recovered quicker, erasing a decade’s worth of economic growth comes with consequences — declining property values, a general economic malaise and few forward strides taken. 

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They’re all hotel owners, they’re all devoted volunteers in their community and they’re all running for a seat on the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen. 

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Much like this summer, a simple real estate transaction has led to important consequences for the Canton Board of Aldermen/women. 

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When North Carolina House District 119 voters get their ballots a little over a year from now, they’ll likely see two very familiar names.

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When Jim Moore ran for Clerk of the Superior Court back in 2018 he did so as a Democrat, but now that he’s running for a District Court judgeship, he’ll do so as a Republican. 

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A conditional rezoning request by developers of a 210-unit apartment complex located on the former site of a grocery store sailed through the Waynesville Planning Board on Sept. 16 with little opposition and is now moving toward a final hearing by the Waynesville Board of Aldermen on Oct. 22. 

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The race to fill an unexpired aldermanic seat in Canton just got a lot easier for Pisgah High School science teacher Tim Shepard.

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Like all of North Carolina’s universities, Western Carolina University in Cullowhee has some pressing capital project funding needs that aren’t being met, due to the stalemate in Raleigh over the state’s budget.

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Had he any other man for a father, William Franklin Graham III might still have become known as a North Carolina author, political commentator and conservative Christian activist. Instead, as the fourth child of America’s Preacher, Franklin Graham is so closely associated with and influenced by the ministry of Reverend Billy Graham that they merit near-constant comparison.


Counselors of presidents, proponents of charity, savers of souls, Franklin and Billy share more than just considerable political influence and a name, but Franklin’s taken on a far more high-profile persona in the political sphere than his father did.

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Western North Carolina’s brewery scene is a crowded, competitive place, but thanks to Canton-based BearWaters Brewing, Haywood County’s own small slice of the burgeoning industry is getting bigger, and getting better.

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Within the multi-layered strata of American governance, many people assume that the nation’s most sacred values — liberty and justice — are discussed only at the federal level, but the Town of Waynesville is about to demonstrate that often it’s local governments that must sort out what happens when the rights of one person bump up against the rights of another.

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As expected, a lawsuit alleging partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina’s congressional districts will utilize some of the same arguments that led to a state court finding a month ago that the state’s legislative districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. 

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Beloved but long-shuttered Maggie Valley mountaintop amusement park Ghost Town in the Sky is once again under contract, giving new hope to those who long for the park’s revitalization.

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While the benefits of regular exercise are well known, most people think the only way to stay in shape is to join a gym. 

But that doesn’t work for everybody, all of the time; busy lifestyles can compete with limited hours, the gym can be intimidating for some and a general lack of knowledge can leave beginners wondering where to turn. 

You don’t have to be a famous athlete or entertainer to take Pilates classes from Nikki Perkovich, but if you do, you just may find yourself training with some of them. 

It’s been said time and time again after forums, panels and public meetings held in communities across the country over the past dozen-odd years: if we could talk our way out of the nation’s opioid crisis, it would have been over a decade ago. 

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After more than six months spent searching, the Haywood Community College Board of Trustees announced on Sept. 19 that it had identified a successor to retiring President Dr. Barbara Parker. Parker will leave the school in December after six years, but not before spending her remaining days working with the school’s next president, Dr. Shelley White. 

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The last of Fred and Moody Parker Coward’s nine children, Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, was born in rural Haywood County in August 1938. His mother died early on, so Cowboy’s father worked at a number of jobs to support his large family, including a long stint at Barber’s Orchard in nearby Waynesville. 

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